This review is of the International Japanese version of the film.
FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD (aka FRANKENSTEIN VS. BARAGON), an engaging bit of Toho nonsense, has one of the more interesting openings of all the Toho monster films. Near the end of World War II, the Japanese get a secret weapon from the Nazis - the heart of the Frankenstein monster. How they are going to use this to win the war is unclear, but before they can do anything, they are killed when the Americans drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima! Goodbye, Takashi Shimura! Nice to see you!
The rest of the film takes place two decades later when the heart turns up once again and (I think) is eaten by a poor boy who then takes on Frankensteinian qualities, and is also prone to extreme growth, due to the effect of the radiation of the bomb on the heart. In short time, he is the size of your typical Toho monster. He's not a bad monster, and, although he will eat animals belonging to farmers, he only harms human beings in self-defense. Thus, the film needs a second monster, and unfortunately Toho decided against their original plan of using Godzilla and substituted a new monster named Baragon. Some monsters - Mothra, Rodan, Ghidorah - are instantly classic. Baragon, sort of a fire-breathing dog with a rhino horn, is not one of them.
Yet, the film remains fun thanks to a pretty decent performance of Koji Furuhata as the Frankenstein Monster (called "Frankenstein" in error several times throughout the film) and the heroic trio of Tadao Takashima, Nick Adams and Kumi Mizuno as the only people in Japan who don't want him killed. My only regret is that the DVD I watched did not have a choice for an English-dubbed soundtrack. Much of Nick Adams charm, if you want to call it that, comes from his voice, and he loses half his appeal when he is dubbed into Japanese. Kumi Mizuno has appeal to spare dubbed or undubbed, and it is fun to see them teamed together, although there is no doomed romance, or any romance at all, unlike their more memorable pairing in MONSTER ZERO the same year. ½ - JB