Running Time: 153 minutes
MPAA Rating: NR
Format: Standard 4:3
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Languages: English
Subtitles: None
Region: 1
MSRP: $24.99

Own It!
Starman, Vol. 1 - Attack from Space / Evil Brain from Outer Space (1965)

There are a few things about Starman you need to know before we can continue.

First of all, Starman began life as Supergiant, a superhero in a series of short black-and-white Japanese films of the late 60s. These movies ranged from 45 minutes to an hour, and some told serialized stories, imitating the popular cliffhangers of the 40s and 50s. Several of these Supergiant films were gathered, spliced into feature length, and unleashed on American TV as Starman adventures.

Starman himself hails from the Emerald Planet, and is dispatched to Earth every now and then to foil evildoers. We are informed he is "made of steel" (but he’s not Superman!) and wears a device called "The Globemeter", a super watch that enables him to fly (unlike, say, Superman), detect radioactivity, speak every language on Earth, and other plot specific powers.

The first movie, Attack From Space, is notable for several reasons. First, Starman is up against Space Nazis, who apparently spent all their R&D funds on snappy uniforms, because they have to kidnap an Earth scientist and his kids to build an unbeatable space warship for them. Second, Starman is absent for a sizable length of the movie. Third, when he does show up, he occasionally gets tired of simply throwing the Space Nazis around and letting their bullets bounce off his steel hide - he picks up some guns and starts mowing the screaming bad guys down, grinning like a psycho. More like Starmaniac, if you catch my drift.

This is followed by one of the more famous of the Starman conglomerations, Evil Brain from Outer Space. The lurid title masks an incoherent tale of indestructible brains, evil super germs, leotard-wearing monsters with cobalt claws, and more villainous cripples than you can shake a crutch at. Evil Brain is cobbled together from three completely unrelated Supergiant featurettes, so it’s amazing it hangs together at all. How weird is it? Find out at The Bad Movie Report.

The features are in very good shape. There's quite a bit of the traditional problems of dispensable movies of this age: lining, dust speckling, flutter. But the image remains nicely clear, if rather grainy. That's the fault of the original film, though, not the transfer. The grays tend to lean a bit toward the sepia on my monitor, but I found that rather soothing. Evil Brain is in slightly better shape than Attack. Something Weird once again delivers a nice, even artistic, menu design. Transitions put clips from the movie to clever use.

One of the most useful extras ever is a reprint of an article by August Ragone from Planet X magazine detailing the history of the Starman movies and the differences between the original featurettes and the American TV versions (though in very small print). And one of the most disturbing extras ever is My Milkman Joe, which takes us to a strange Lynchian universe where teachers convert their classrooms into living dioramas about the dairy industry, and milkmen travel with squeaky-voiced alien ventriloquist dummies who perform milk-related magic tricks. I still wake up screaming.

There is an episode of a venerable early anime called Prince Planet; the Tesuka influence is obvious, and though not without its charms, it will make you pine for Astro-Boy. There is, additionally, the usual smorgasbord of movie trailers, this time superhero-related (though sometimes only tangentially so): Goliath vs. The Vampires, The Three Fantastic Supermen, Sergeant X of the Foreign Legion, Superargo vs. Diabolicus, Superargo Against the Faceless Giants, The Black Devil, Lightning Bolt, and a piece of weirdness entitled Super Stooges vs. The Wonder Women. I wish to publicly go on record begging Something Weird Video to put that last one out on DVD… Pretty please?

Dr. Freex, 3/24/2003