Drive in Double Feature: Prince of Space/Invasion of the Neptune Men DVD
Dark Sky Films
This DVD features two old sci-fi movies put together in a double feature style of package, just like they were probably packaged back in 1964 and 1965 when these movies were originally shown in drive-in theatres. The movies are somewhat similar, so it makes sense that they would be paired together on this disc and were in fact written by the same person, Shin Morita.
Prince of Space is about some aliens from the rock planet of Krankor decide to attack Earth in hopes of taking it over and making it their new home. Some children discover their ship and are about to be taken by the aliens when a mysterious masked man named the Prince of Space saves them and sends the aliens packing. They don’t stay away for long. Frustrated by their defeat, they regroup and try again only to again be thwarted by the masked avenger, who much like Superman, has a day job where he is a mild mannered shoe-shine boy. The aliens decide to take a different approach and kidnap all of Japan’s top scientists and hope to also kill the Prince of Space, who is the only one with the ability to rescue them and save the Earth. The movie is a pretty light hearted, popcorn film and was about 90 minutes long.
Invasion of the Neptune Men stars Sonny Chiba, who much like the Prince of Space, is the hero of this film. Some children witness a ship landing on Earth and go to check out out. They find themselves surrounded by space aliens (who unlike the last film, don’t look like humans with pointed rubber noses glued on their faces, but more like robots), it looks like they are doomed until a mysterious man flies in on his own spaceship and saves the children. The children name him, Space Chief, and run to some scientists office to report what happened, but no one believes them. It isn’t until all the power goes out and things like trains and jukeboxes start moving backwards do the adults realize the kids were in fact telling the truth, and the earth is under attack. The scientists construct a barrier to protect the Earth (or at least Japan) but that just prolongs the inevitable, that the aliens are going to attack Earth and destroy it. When they finally breach the shield, it is up to Space Chief to battle them ship to ship in a space age dogfight. Space Chief also has a secret identity as one of the scientists and much like Prince of Space, we never learn the origin of this hero either or why he is there.
Both movies are pretty good mindless fun, but not without their share of holes, the biggest being we never know who the heroes really are, where they came from, or why they are really there. A few minutes to tell their origins would have really made the stories a lot more enjoyable, especially Invasion of the Neptune Men which was only 70 minutes long and certainly could have had a few extra minutes tacked on to tell that story without it making the movie too long. That aside, they were still a pretty fun, and mindless watch while eating some popcorn.
The disc is done is such a way that it really is made to be just like the old drive-ins. From the main menu you simply hit the enter key and you are first treated to some old-time commercials for the concession stand and some coming attractions. This leads straight into the feature presentation which starts with Prince of Space. When that movie ends, there is an “intermission” feature with another ad reminding you of the concession stand and then it goes right into Invasion of the Neptune Men. The only thing that could make watching this disc any more like being at the drive-in would be to park your car in the living room, and have one of those cheap little metal speakers to hang from your window. I thought that was a pretty clever concept which fit perfectly for this disc and made it a little more fun, and added to the retro style of these films.
Both movies are black and white and are anamorphic widescreen. The sound is the original mono soundtracks and are dubbed in English (both of these movies were made in Japan). Both the image and audio quality are excellent. The contrast is quite sharp and the mix between sound effects and speech is nice. There are no special features or commentary tracks. The total run time of the DVD is about 2 hours and 40 minutes. Fans of old Japanese sci-fi and robot shows like Ultraman would enjoy these films as it is just like those shows without the giant monsters. I myself had some fun with this disc and some snacks.
Dark Sky Films website