April 06, 2006

SPECTREMAN (1971) - Gorilla TV

(1971, Japan)

An outrageously bad seventies live-action superhero TV show from Japan

Thai PAL VideoCD review

Hells bells! I thought there were a couple of dodgy special effects in the early Ultraman series. Wait till you see Spectreman. The opening title sequence alone packs in dodgy animation, dodgy models and dodgy, well, drawings - and that's the good stuff.

Spectreman himself looks OK, with his golden helmet and snazzy boiler suit (unlike Ultraman's expensive-looking, figure-hugging rubber outfit). But the baddies are, well, a guy in a gorilla mask wearing shiny pink and a blond wig - his sidekick is a guy in a gorilla suit wearing a lot of jewellery. I know Planet of the Apes was all the rage at the time, but this looks truly ridiculous.

The two Space Apemen sit in a flying saucer and try and wreak havoc by activating a load of really weird monsters.
The saving grace of the whole enterprise is that the monsters are fun because their designs are so way out. For instance the black furball with two foxes heads (on the cover of volume 5, pictured at centre) is unlike any real animal, but still lively enough for action-packed biting and fighting.

Spectreman's transformation involves a lot of rapid cuting between the guy in the suit and a drawing (apparently done in felt tip). His flying sequences involve close ups of him with his arms in the air, and a model of him swinging around on wires. His back-up team are 5 people crammed into a car - so no need for an expensive secret base.

Because of the bad special effects, the mad monsters and everyone taking it so seriously, it's an awful lot of fun in an Ed Wood sort of way. There's a fair amount of bad taste violence (bystanders being stomped by the monsters) to top it all off.

But I can't say it isn't entertaining... because it really is.

I found three double-episode VideoCDs (pictured at top) going for under a dollar each. The video quality is good, but the Thai dubbing is atrocious, adding to the hilarity. Strangely the theme tune remains in Japanese while all the dialogue has been replaced by Thai, obliterating all music and sound effects whenever anyone speaks!

Another way to see Spectreman in action is to hunt around on YouTube. At the moment, you should at least be able
to see the theme tune to the series, even though the entire episodes have been taken off the site.

A Spectreman DVD boxset is now available in Japan... see the CDjapan website for details.

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  1. Hi,
    Cool article. I remember this show.Nevertheless, Spectreman was not as good as San Ku Kai or Bomber-X. Maybe this site can help you in your quest. Unfortunately in french langague, but with full of videos.

  2. yes cool site... oh it's mine ok ... it's normal !!! i joke... but i'm realy prode that you like my website, thanx a lot bye bye