Giant Space Monster Dogora (1964)
Giant Space Monster Dogora (Uchu daikaijû Dogora), or Dogora for short, is one of my favorite Toho films and one of my favorite giant monster movies. Dogora is like no other monster —it’s a giant celestial cnidarian that feeds on carbon! Cnidarian? A jellyfish! With Dogora, the staff at Toho Films were at their creative peak, and along with Mothra (1961) and Ghidrah (Monster Zero, 1965 and other films) are Toho’s most inspired creations (I use Eiji Tsuburaya and Toho more or less in same vein, but Tsuburaya came up with the designs).
This poster pretty much sums up the action, but there was only one Dogora.
I love the design of Dogora. It’s like a huge box jelly-fish or Irukandji —these are dangerous marine invertebrates inhabiting warm Indo-Pacific waters. I wonder if Tsuburaya based Dogora on a specific jellyfish? There’s plenty of weird action in this film too. The animation scene where Dogora attacks a suspension bridge is exciting film-making on par with Disney animation and far more interesting than a man-in-a-suit crushing tiny model buildings.
Dogora the film combines at least two genres: a heist film and kaiju. That’s an odd combination and adds to the uniqueness of the film. Toho also experimented with this formula in other films from the era, including The Human Vapor and Destroy All Monsters. Dogora is the star and is one weird monster. It eats coal and diamonds “to replenish it’s energy” and I’m really puzzled how the beast stays afloat. The ending is memorable and I know of no other film where the monster is defeated in this manner.
Be sure to check out Tokyo Shock’s wide-screen DVD pressing. Here’s also a really cool vinyl figure of Dogora.