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September 22, 2018, 02:43:03 AM
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Latest Member: JudyKgk56 Forum  |  Movies  |  Good Movies  |  Ultraman USA (1987/1989) « previous next »
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Author Topic: Ultraman USA (1987/1989)  (Read 505 times)
Frightening Fanatic of Horrible Cinema

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« on: July 30, 2016, 11:20:23 PM »

Three members of a US Air Force stunt squad (Chuck, Beth, and Scott) are putting on a show when they are suddenly engulfed in a blinding light and crash.  Mysteriously, they survive unharmed.  A little later, they are approached by a man who informs them that they have been chosen as hosts for three superheroes from the planet Altara (which was probably supposed to be translated as "Ultra").  Like other members of the Ultra race, the heroes can't live on Earth for long in their normal forms, which explains the possession.  Chuck, Beth, and Scott seem to be ok with this.  They're even ok with relocating to a secret base inside Mount Rushmore and being saddled with three annoying, robot sidekicks.  The robots' names are Ulysses, Samson, and Alex, by the way.  Get it?

Why would three heroes from Planet UltraAltara need to come to Earth, anyway?  Because of the giant monsters from Planet Sorkin, of course!  You know, the ones who were hiding inside that giant asteroid that entered Earth's atmosphere and broke apart a few scenes ago?  The pieces of asteroid fell in various locations in the United States.  The Ultra Squad heads for Louisiana, where one of the monsters - a giant plant - has already become active and is wriggling around New Orleans, dunking cars into the acid pit inside its head.  Since no one on the Squad knows how to transform yet, they try to fight the thing (its name is apparently Green Shanks if you go by the title of its theme song on the soundtrack CD) with their fighter jets.  It goes about as well as you might imagine.

Oh, no!  Another monster comes to life in San Francisco.  This one is a giant robot-bull-dinosaur-type thing.  Scott breaks off to go fight it and gets there in, like, thirty seconds.  That's about how long he lasts before he gets shot down, too.  Ah-ha!  Near-death experience is what it takes to trigger the Ultra transformation.  Scott becomes Ultraman Scott and stares angrily at the monster, which stares angrily right back!

But enough of that exciting stuff, back to New Orleans.  Beth's jet gets caught by Green Shanks and stuffed into the acid pit.  This near death experience transforms her, too!  More importantly, Ultrawoman Beth's arrival triggers the start of Green Shank's theme song I mentioned up above ... and it is AWESOME!  Seriously, it's the only reason I spent $45.00 to buy the OST from a Japanese retailer.  Ultrawoman Beth puts quite the smackdown on Green Shanks, but he keeps regenerating new tentacles to wrap around her thighs and in an x-pattern across her chest faster than she can destroy them.  One of the annoying robots suggests dunking the monster in salt water, because plants hate it.  Flying Green Shanks into the Gulf of Mexico does indeed kill him, but he manages to detach one tentacle before Ultrawoman Beth dunks him, and it regenerates into a whole new monster!  Ultrawoman Beth is all like, "Screw this!" and just disintegrates him with her specium beam.

Back in San Francisco, Ultraman Scott beats the snot out of the other monster, destroying the robot body to reveal it's actually just an orb.  The orb manages to stunlock Ultraman Scott with an electric beam.  The annoying robots pilot their mothership into the beam to free Ultraman Scott, who promptly overkills the orb by hitting it with an exploding energy ball, energy sawblades, and his specium beam, all at once.  He turns back into human Scott.  About that time, a helicopter lands and a b***hy scientist, Dr. Susan Rand, steps out to b***h at Scott for killing the alien instead of trying to communicate with it.  Scott just hits on her because, you know, he's American.  In America.  That's what Americans do.

The next monster to show up is a mostly harmless thing that looks sort of like a hippo with fairy wings.  It's only dangerous because of its size.  Dr. Rand wants to try communicating with it because it's obviously not malicious, but the National Guard shows up and opens fire on it.  During all this, Chuck manages to fly his jet into the creature and crash, which triggers his transformation.  Ultraman Chuck hugs the monster to calm it down, then encases it in an energy bubble.  This puts it in stasis so that Ultraman Chuck can fly it into outer space and send it toward another planet where it will be safe.  Aww.

The final monster seems to be harmless at first, too.  I mean, it's a bipedal bunny, and it's only about three feet tall.  Dr. Rand takes custody of it and tries to communicate with it, with some success.  Unfortunately, her a***ole colleague subjects it to some painful and unnecessary tests, which change its disposition.  Worse, it starts growing rapidly.  Much like a baby chimp that someone tried to make into a pet, once the creature begins to reach maturity, it goes from cute to violent, strong, and dangerous.  Given that it's still only about the size of a person, it won't be so hard to ... Oh, it keeps growing.  Soon, it's more than twice as big as the Ultras!  It kicks their asses so hard, and the fight goes on for so long, that the Ultras run out of power and start to die.  The annoying robots have to take them into outer space so they can recover.  While this is going on, Dr. Rand rigs up an ultrasonic device which can paralyze the monster.  The Ultras use it, which buys them enough time to hoist the monster into space and throw it into the sun.

According to the internet, Ultraman USA was a co-production between Hanna-Barbera and Tsuburaya.  It was supposed to be a pilot for a TV show but wasn't picked up, so it was released straight to VHS in the United States in 1987 - although I'm certain I saw it on TV around that time.  After some ownership issues or whatnot were cleared up, it was released in Japan in 1989.  You can tell this was meant as three or four episodes of a TV show, what with all the fade outs for commercial breaks at dramatically appropriate moments, but it does hold up pretty well as a standalone feature.  I'd like to get my hands on a Japanese cut, because it looks like some violence may have been removed for the American release.  Green Shanks, for instance, attacks two unlucky guys in a canoe right after he lands but the scene quickly cuts right as he reaches for them.  The animation is good by 1987 TV standards, and the monster designs are downright excellent.  Green Shanks is my favorite, because I haven't seen very many ambulatory tulips with acid pits in their heads.

Give this one a watch if you're in the mood for some kaiju action.

Kneel before Dr. Hell, the ruler of this world!
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