Last month, we watched the first Walter Manley Enterprises’ treatment of Starman, the
Japanese hero who dominated special effect films (“tokusatsu”) in 1950s’ Japan (and not David
Bowie). This month, we are checking out more of Starman’s adventures in 1965’s Invaders from
To recap Starman’s abilities: he has a “Globe-meter” to wear on his wrist that gives him the
abilities to fly, to detect radiation, and to speak and understand all languages. He also is
impervious to bullets and incredibly strong. He also gets along with most people, especially
connecting with children.
Early on in Invaders, we meet the film’s villains, the Salamander Men from the planet Kulimon.
You really have to hand it to the special effects department for creating a fairly convincingly sinister
villain, particularly in their human-ish incarnation. While they don’t resemble salamanders as much
as people with starfish pasted to their faces, their threatening exaggerated smiles are quite
chilling. After these truly frightening versions of the Salamander Men, we get the actual version,
which is naturally guys in scaly body suits with bulbous heads and flaps that resemble tutus. It’s
fairly typical of these kinds of movies, and represents an imagining of the consequences of the
reckless use of atomic power while still maintaining a cheesy, dated vibe.
While the body-suited version of the Salamander men is a little cheesy, it does allow for an
interesting fight scene early on in the scene complete with backflips. It looks like an interpretive
dance, and I consider adding my own soundtrack of pumping beats until I remember I’m supposed
to be writing an article for Unreal Film Fest. (Later, I am thrilled to learn that interpretive dance
actually figures as part of the plot.) This early fight scene is already more exciting than the stoic
fights that mostly characterized Atomic Rulers of the World.
In fact, Invaders from Space is overall a better treatment of Starman than the first film in the
series. For starters, the Kulimonian invaders are truly a formidable enemy. Not only are they
competent at hand-to-hand combat, but they also do not simply rely on nuclear weapons. Some of
their more interesting plots involve unsettling the populace with high-decibel soundwaves and
using germ warfare.
Watch Invaders from Space and try to pretend you don’t see the zippers on the Kulimonian’s
costumes or the wires holding up Starman as he flies.
Sci-Fi Rewind: Invaders from Space (1965)
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Director: Teruo Ishii
Starring: Ken Utsui, Minako Yamada, Junko Ikeuchi