Entry updated 3 July 2023. Tagged: Film.
Japanese film (1964; original title Uchû daikaijû Dogora; vt Dagora, the Space Monster; vt Space Monster Dogora). Toho. Directed by Ishirō Honda. Written by Jojiro Okami and Shinichi Sekizawa. Cast includes Robert Dunham, Nobuo Nakamura and Yosuke Natsuki. 83 minutes. Colour.
Japanese Scientists monitoring an orbiting television satellite witness its swallowing by a giant blue amoeba; it was not the first to disappear whilst passing over their country. Later, a police patrol is bemused by the sight of a hovering, singing drunk; nearby, criminals breaking into a jewellers also begin to float; as they flee, the audience sees a blue amoeba melt a hole in the safe. The would-be robbers are part of an international gang puzzled by the spate of recent diamond heists, since they are responsible only for one. Some time after, a coal refinery's giant industrial chimneys are pulled into the sky by a vortex of clouds, followed by the machinery and all the coal. More worldwide diamond and coal thefts follow.
As the police interview diamond expert Dr Munakata (Nakamura), the UN Space Planning Committee release a report stating that the immense amounts of radiation in the skies above Japan (presumably a reference to the atomic bombs – see Nuclear Energy – dropped on the country during World War Two) has mutated cells from space (see Mutants), of a type which feeds on carbon – thus its depredations of diamonds and coal. However, as Dr Munakata points out, once it has used up those resources, it will likely move on to other sources of carbon (the implication is humanity). This explanation is initially met with disbelief from the police – until an amoeba obligingly throws a boulder through a window, enters the room and cuts into the doctor's diamond safe.
The cluster of space cells is named Dogora, it can levitate objects (see Telekinesis), with any nearby humans also being affected. It approaches Japan's main coal mining district, where we see it is now a huge squid/jellyfish-like creature (see Kaiju) within the swirling storm clouds. As Dogora draws up and absorbs the coal heaps, the military opens fire, to little effect: however, Dr Munakata has noticed a swarm of insects – he initially thinks bees – attacking Dogora, resulting in parts of it turning to crystal and falling earthwards. Investigating, he discovers an abandoned section of the coal mine complex had been infested with wasp colonies, which were destroyed by Dogora: the wasps retaliated, their poison causing crystallization. Chemical plants now work to mass-produce synthetic wasp venom, which is sprayed into the vortex housing Dogora by parachute, jet plane and an odd vehicle on caterpillar tracks. Dogora dies, its pieces falling from the sky.
There is a subplot focusing on detective Komai (Natsuki) – who is investigating the diamond thefts – a mysterious American named Mark Jackson (Dunham) and the jewel thieves. The central stretch of this is largely irrelevant to the main story, but rejoins it at the end when, chased by Komai and Jackson (who turns out to work for a diamond insurance company), the gang flees across a beach, only to be crushed by a lump of crystallized Dogora. The film closes with Dr Munakata going to the UN to give a lecture on the peaceful applications of the Dogora experience.
Dogora is an enjoyable film, with some impressive special effects, particularly of squid Dogora in the clouds and the devastation of the coal industry. The Komai sub-plot has a few good moments but is over-long, often dull and gets in the way of the main story. How Dogora, usually a group of amoeba-like blobs, becomes a squid creature at one point is unclear. [SP]
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