Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 12th, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1959 (Prince of Space), Japan, 1961 (Invasion of the Neptune Men)
Directors: Eijirô Wakabayashi (Prince of Space), Koji Ota (Invasion of the Neptune Men)
Cast: Tatsuo Umemiya, Ushio Skashi, Joji Oka (Prince of Space), Sonny Chiba, Kappei Matsumoto, Shinjiro Ebara, Mitsue Komiya (Invasion of the Neptune Men)
DVD Released: April 25th, 2006
Approximate Running Time: 85 minutes (Prince of Space), 69 minutes (Invasion of the Neptune Men)
Aspect Ratio: Both films are 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Sorround
DVD Release: Dark Sky Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.98
Prince of Space: A professor has created a powerful rocket fuel that can make space travel at long distances even more plausible. Phantom is the leader of a space ship carry aliens from the planet Krankor and they have come to earth to obtain the professors’ rocket fuel formula. The planet Krankor has become barren and they must now find a new world to inhabit. The Phantoms’ plans are quickly stopped by a masked super hero know as the Prince of Space. The Phantom and his henchmen don’t give up that easy and they have come up with a new scheme to secure the professors’ formula. Will the Prince of Space foil the phantom’s plans once again?
One thing that is always exploited in just about every Sci-Fi film from the 1950’s is how everyone assumes that when aliens visit Earth that they have hostel intentions and that they are not here to be friends. In many cases these theme of paranoia works extremely well and then there is Prince of Space which starts off with the right ingredients before morphing into something that becomes unintentionally absurd.
Two main plot holes that just can’t be ignored are how come the Phantom and his henchmen continue to fight Prince of Space when he always ends up beating them time and again. The other and more obvious plot hole is how did the Price of Space end up with the most powerful weapons on the whole galaxy?
The acting and dubbing is atrocious. The Krankors’ are badly dressed villains with hook noises that if you look closes look like they might fall off at any time. The miniatures and special effects are pretty good for their time. The Prince of space character spends too much time toying around with the Krankors’ instead of delivering a knock out to get rid of them once and for all. After watching this film it is easy to see how this film is one of the most popular episodes of Mystery Science Theater.
Invasion of the Neptune Men: Aliens from the planet Neptune plans to invade Earth are thwarted by a masked hero named Space Chief. The Neptune men regroup and they launch a full scale attack as they demolish everything that gets in their way. Is Earth on the verge of destruction or will Space chief save the day once again?
Invasion of the Neptune Men is one of those films that never really establishes’ any direction as each scene just unfolds into the next. Besides having no plot development there is absolutely any time devoted to character development. This films’ greatest asset is Sonny Chiba in his feature film debut in the duel role of Tabana/Space Chief and even in this early role his fighting prowess is noticeable. Chiba is the only reason to watch this film as it feels a lot longer then its mere sixty nine minutes time length.
The film for some of its biggest explosion used actually World War 2 stock/news reel footage. Besides the poorly constructed Neptune men the films also sports card board looking sets which add to the films overall appeal. There is a fight scene between Space Chief and the Neptune Men near the end of the film that looks like it is the small four or five shots looped over and over again. Invasion of the Neptune Men is a really bad film and the only really reason to check this one out is if you are a Sonny Chiba fan.
Both films Prince of Space and Invasion of the Neptune Men are presented in aspect ratios of about 1.78:1 and there are both anamorphic enhanced. These two films also suffer the same fate that befell Dark Skies Terror beneath the Sea as the image feels too tight and faces are off the edge of the screen from time to time. This would lead one to believe that the aspect ratios that they are presented in for this release in not their correct aspect ratios. Both films have a stable black and white image that exhibits strong contrast levels and details look sharp through out. Outside of some minor print damage and the cropping issues these two films look exceptional good considering their age.
Both release come with one audio option an English Dubbed audio language track that is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. These dubs that are provided for the films offer more then a few unintentional laughs at the various voices chosen for characters that just don’t look like they could be the same person speaking. There is some minor hiss and the audio is a tad thin at times. Overall both releases audio mixes are more then adequate as they get the job done. Removable English subtitles that are easy to read and follow have been included.
Before the film and in between the features is where all the extra content takes place. Extras’ consist of some old school drive in concession stand ads and coming attractions’ which are essentially trailers for films released by Dark Skies.
Fans of cheesy low budget Japanese Sci-Fi films should check out Dark Skies Prince of Space /Invasion of the Neptune Men double feature DVD release.
For more information about Prince of Space, Invasion of the Neptune Men and other titles released by Dark Sky Films visit their website.