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Nippon Chinbotsu

The Submersion of Japan

Japan 1973
produced by
Tomoyuki Tanaka for Toho
directed by Shiro Moritani, Andrew Meyer (US version)
starring Keiju Kobayashi, Hiroshi Fujioka, Tetsuro Tanba, Ayumi Ishida, Shogo Shimada, John Fujioka, Andrew Hughes, Nobuo Nakamura, Haruo Nakajima, Takeshi Yamamoto, Hideaki Nitani, Isao Natsuyagi, Tetsu Nakamura, Yusuke Takita, and exclusively in the US-version: Lorne Greene, Rhonda Leigh Hopkins, Joe Dante, Susan Sennett, Clifford A.Pellow, Philip Roth
screenplay by Shinobu Hashimoto, based on the novel by Sakyo Komatsu, music by Masaru Sato, special effects by Teruyoshi Nakano

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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After an island near Japan has submerged without warning, eccentric scientist Tadokoro (Keiju Kobayashi) and submarine captain Onodera (Hiroshi Fujioka) go down in a submarine to see what has happened - and find some uncomforting developments at the Japanese Deep that will mean the submersion of Japan in no more than a few months.

Of course at first noone believes the two but an wheelchair bound old man, Watari (Shogo Shimada) - but he has the means to set up a research team and have experts figure out some evacuation strategies ... and when an earthquake hits Japan as a warning of things to come, even prime minister Yamamoto (Tetsuro Tamba) chooses to listen to Tadokoro's warnings and take action, trying to evacuate as many as he can of the 110 million Japanese - which isn't easy, since most other countries have only limited capacities to house Japanese survivors and are often just unwilling to accept them into their country ....

Onodera meanwhile plans his own escape to Switzerland with his girlfriend (Ayumi Ishida), but when she is killed in another earthquake only hours before their departure, he realizes his responsibilities with his people and stays aboard, so to speak.

The day Japan effectively sinks, the last Japanese leave the country, among them the Prime Minister himself. Just before he's taken away by helicopter, the PM runs across Tadokoro and offers him a lift ... but Tadokoro is too much of a patriot to leave his country even now ...

 

By 1973, production company Toho had quite a reputation of destroying Japan, but up until now, this was primarily done by their stable of monsters - most prominently Godzilla. Compared to these rather juvenile monster movies, Submersion of Japan is much more grown up and dead serious, with most of its destructive scenarios being firmly rooted in science, which is also explained in the course of the movie ... which is exactly what is possibly wrong with the film: Way too much time is spent explaining the science behind the fictionm as well as depicting the details of the PM's negotiations with other countries to accept Japanese fugitives, and way too little time is spent with storytelling and character development, key elements of any narrative movie. As a result, the film only comes into its own when it shows scenes of destruction, which are mostly excellent by the way - just like in these juvenile Godzilla-films.

 

By the way, in 1975, New World decided to release the film in the USA with tagged on scenes involving American (b-list) actors in the proceedings - which makes very little sense, since the film is specifically about Japan.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies
starring
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special appearances by
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directed by
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written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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