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Dogora, a.k.a. Space Monster Dogora, was one of the last giant monster movies produced by Toho to feature only one monster in it's own movie. It was produced and released in Japan in 1964, after Mothra vs. Godzilla, but before Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster. 1964 was a very productive year for Toho. Despite the other films in the showa Toho-verse being all connected, the events of Dogora have never been mentioned in any other movie, not even Destroy All Monsters or Godzilla: Final Wars. Because of this, and due to the film's relative obscurity to anyone whose name isn't Sanford, the film's plot will be given a somewhat detailed description below. On a related note, Dogora shares much of the same cast as Ghidorah, albeit in mostly different and unrelated roles. For a short synopsis, as seen in this paraphrased quote from Sanford and Son, "That's the one where the monster eats all the Tiffany stores." For a more detailed synopsis, please look below.
The film itself begins the mysterious destruction of several satellites in space by an unknown force. This is observed in a mission control station by various technicians. Meanwhile, all over the world, diamond heists are being pulled off and no one can find the culprits. During one particular heist by a gang of diamond thieves, everything goes horribly wrong when all of the thieves, except for the getaway driver, Hamako (played by Akiko Wakabayashi), are mysteriously lifted into the air and carried out of the building by an invisible force. Meanwhile, far away, in the home of Dr. Munakata (played by Nobuo Nakamura) we meet the film's two heroes: Inspector Kommei (played by Yosuke Natsuki) and Mark Jackson (played by Robert Dunham, under the stage name of Dan Yuma). Jackson and Kommei have a brief faceoff, during which Jackson quickly knocks out Kommei before politely leaving through the window of Munakata's house. Jackson doesn't get very far, however, as he's soon picked up by the diamond thieves/gangsters from earlier.
Back at the house of Dr. Munakata, Kommei wakes up hearing Munakata's voice, but sees the face of his beautiful assistant, Masayo Kirino (played by Yoko Fujiyama). When Kommei asks Munakata why he isn't concerned about his diamonds being stolen, Munakata reveals that the diamonds were fake, artificial creations of his. Meanwhile, at the diamond thieves' hangout, the gangsters soon make the same discovery, much to their disappointment. For no discernable reason, the gangster boss (played by Seizaburo Kawazu) decides to lock up Jackson, even though Jackson himself was also ripped off, but Jackson soon escapes. The next day, Kommei is being taken by Masayo to her home (that was pretty quick), which is inside an industrial area with coal factories. Kommei and Msayo discuss Munakata's work and how they might be in danger from industrial spies, but are soon interrupted when Masayo's brother (played by Hiroshi Koizumi), one of the technicians who observed the satellites' destruction at the beginning of the film, arrives on the scene. He points out that a large storm is brewing overhead, and mentions that this was similar to conditions seen before the destruction of the satellites. Soon, however, a factory has it's smokestacks violently wrenched up into the air, along with tons of coal and various vehicles. In the cloud above, where the cyclone of material is being drawn, there are various, large sparks.
Later on, after examining photographs of the sparks, Dr. Munakata hypothesizes that the sparks could have been the result of a carbon substance, and he's not exactly talking about the coal that was lifted into the air. Just before Kommei can ask any questions, he gets a call from the chief (played by Jun Tazaki) that a detective named Nitta (played by Jun Funado) has spotted Jackson in Ginza, looking at various jewelery stores. Nitta follows Jackson to his hotel and relays the news back to the chief. Shortly afterward, as in barely a few minutes later, Jackson is confronted in his hotel room by Kommei (how did he...never mind). After a brief scuffle, Kommei believes that he has the upper hand when he pulls Jackson's own gun on him. However, the joke is on Kommei as the gun is loaded with confetti. Jackson once again escapes.
Later on, after being reprimanded by the chief for letting Jackson slip away, they are informed of a diamond robbery in Rhodesia, where an entire truck was stolen. Later that night, an armored car carrying diamonds in stopped when the drivers see a beautiful woman lying on the road. This turns out to be Hamako, and the rest fo the diamond thieves break into the truck. Before they can get too far, however, Jackson arrives uninvited at the scene. The thieves manage to to get a strongbox out of the truck before a shoot-out occurs, shrotly before a coal truck arrives on the scene. After the truck is hijacked by the thieves, hwo plan on running Jackson over, the coal-truck is lifted into the air (these guys just can't stay on the ground). The thieves manage to escape, and the coal truck soon returns to the road, smashing into the diamond truck.
The next day, the police, Kommei in particular, theorize that the recent diamond thefts and the incident at the factory are all connected, in the sense that they were not committed by a human being, but instead by a monster in the sky. During the meeting, Kommei receives a call from Masayo, explaining that Jackson has stopped by at Munakata's place. Kommei takes this opportunity to catch Jackson, who is currently sharing photographs of recent diamond heists with Munakata. Before Jackson can be handcuffed, he reveals to the police (Kommei brought backup) that he is actually a detective working for the World Diamond Exchange Commission. He offers to help them, but he is turned down, since he is a gajin, although the police do allow him to conduct his own independent investigation.
Meanwhile, at the diamond thieves' hideout, the strongbox they stole is revealed to be filled with bags of sugar candy, and everyone except the boss and Hamako are pleasantly surprised. Hamako just pouts and The Gangster Boss, as he is referred to in the credits (his name is never mentioned), gets angry with his men for being jolly. Meanwhile, again at Munakata's house, Kirino (Masayo's brother) arrives and is informed by the doctor that the monster is the product of space cells that were exposed to radioactivity. When pressed about why it wants coal and diamonds, Munakata says that it uses the carbon based material for food. He soon realizes that since this thing eats carbon, everything that's carbon-based, including people, will soon be in grave danger. Soon, a strange rock and a weird glowing space cell crash through the window of the doctor's home. The space cell soon attacks a vault and burns through it.
During a news bulletin interlude, we learn that the monster has been sighted in various places around the world and has been given the name Dogora. As Mr. Saito from the Heisei Gamera films said, "These monsters do need names."
The Japanese Self Defense Force begins sending units to northern Kyushu, to engage Dogora. Dr. Munakata and Masayo both decide to head to Kyushu as well. Back at the police headquarters, Kommei realizes that the diamonds in the armored truck from earlier were fake, since both the coal truck and the armored truck were in the same vacinity, yet only the coal truck was attacked by Dogora. After this revelation, the police decide that they should track down Jackson, and Kommei heads off for Kita-Kyushu, where Jackson is discovered to be heading. Later, on a night-train bound for Kyushu, Jackson runs into Munakata and Masayo. After both parties decide not to talk to each other about their business, Jackson soon runs into Hamako, who reveals that she and rest of the diamond theft gang discovered the sugar candy. Hamako tries to cut a deal with Jackson for the diamonds that were supposed to be in the armored car, but he doesn't bite. Hamako asks him the bag he's carrying has the real diamonds in it, but he assures her that they aren't. Hamako silently disbelieves him.
The following morning, Dr. Munkakata and Masayo meet up with General Isawa (Susumu Fujita) and some JSDF infantry alognside some rocky foothills in Kyushu. They are told to leave the area for their safety, but Munakata manages to jog the general's memory when he tells him "I'm a young soldier." The general and the doctor go a long way back, so the general decides to let the two stay and even puts them on his staff. Soon, after receiving word that something is heading their way, the doctor, the general, and the pretty lady head to the military headquarters. They try to hear the sounds of the approaching thing via some high-powered directional microphones. First they hear a passing bird, but then they hear the sound of insects. A reconnaissance plane is sent out to investigate, and soon reports that what appears to be a large swarm of bees in being sucked into a cloud. Soon, some strange rocks start falling from the cloud and cause collateral damage to the city below.
Later that night, at a hotel, the diamond thieves have been tailing Jackson, convinced that he's hiding the real diamonds somewhere. Hamako tells the rest of the gang that Jackson is in his room, as she had called the room four times and received an answer each time. However, the thieves are soon shocked when they see Jackson entering the hotel lobby from outside. When Jackson enters his room, he is again confronted by Kommei, who tells him about his room getting called four times but with no messages. Kommei soon cuts to the chase: he wants to know what Jackson did to the diamonds that were in the armored truck. Jackson won't say anything and he asks for Kommei to leave the way he came in. Kommei exits through the window and enters the room below, where Dr. Munakata and Masayo are coughcoincidentallycough staying. Currenlty, the science team is investiagting some of the strange crystallized rocks that had fallen from the sky earlier.
Air raid sirens sound once more, and Dogora attacks again. Once more, a huge dark cloud has appeared over head, but now large, greenish-blue tentacles emerge from it. We soon get our first look at Dogora, and its appearance is most analogous to a giant jellyfish. Dogora is quickly attacked by the anti-air batteries set up by the JSDF, but they do little to impede it. Dogora soon uses its tentacles to grab hold of a bridge connecting the islands below and lifts it into the air (a sequence with some rather good SFX work). Dogora soon drops the bridge as the AA guns continue their barrage, but Dogora's assault is still not stopped until the military decidest o use some missiles instead of guns, which causes a big light-show in the clouds above.
The miltiary think that they have defeated Dogora, since it has stopped its attack, but soon things get worse, as operators back the the miltiary base begin picking up hundreds of radar contacts. It turns out that Dogora is undergoing a form of cellular division, caused in part by the explosve missiles. And, yes, Dr. Munakata is the one who tells us this. Later on, after examining the rocks more closesly, Dr. Munakata theorizes that they are actually pieces of Dogora, more speficially pieces that had died. Remembering the bees that the recon plane had reported earlier, Dr. Munakata thinks that bee stings may be responsible for this. Kommei and Masayo soon enter the lab and tell Dr. Munakata that they had investigated some of the coal mines near the location of some of Dogora's dead rock cells. It turns out that the mines were filled with wasp nests. Dr. Munakata decides that the wasps had instinctively attack Dogora when their nests were disturbed, and that the toxins in the wasp venom must have caused a chemical reaction inside of the monster, resulting the dead pieces that fell from the sky.
After sharing this discovery with the military, the informaiton is sent to military installations and bases all over the world. World-wide, various industries begin producing a special synthetic wasp toxin to combat Dogora in a narrated montage. The film doesn't specify how much time has passed during this rather brief montage, but given the next set of events, it can't be much longer than two days at the most.
Later, as Jackson is packign his clothes to leave the hotel, he is confronted again by Kommei, who is insistent on asking him about those diamonds from the truck. Before Jackson can tell him off, the diamond gang arrives and asks the same question. After roughing up our heroes, the gang find a key to a safety deposit box, and they decide that Jackson is hiding the diamonds there. Hamako and Sabu (a jittery young thief played by Haruya Katou), go off to get the diamonds and then meet up with the rest of the gang at a beach where a boat is waiting for them.
While the two thieves are gone, The Gang Boss has Jackson handcuffed to a wall and Kommei handcuffed and tied up to a chair. Jackson soon tells The Gang Boss that Hamako is going to betray them. Shortly afterwards, Sabu returns alone and tells the rest of the gang that Hamako took off with the diamonds by herself. Before they leave the hotel room, TGB puts two sticks of dynamite in the pockets of both of the detectives' shirts, and lights a fuse. After the gang leaves, Kommei and Jackson have a harrowing experience getting rid of the dynamite. Kommei manages to squirm out of the chair, but he is still handcuffed. Jackson tells him to get his gun out of his suitcase, which Kommei manages to knock onto the floor. After a few missed shots, Kommei shoots Jackson's handcuff chains with his hands behind his back. Jackson then takes his and Kommei's dynamite sticks and throws them onto the balcony. Both men soon leave, tailing after the diamond thieves.
The thieves, to their credit, are fast in pursuit of Hamako, who has just arrived at the beach. Before Hamako can escape, she is cornered by her former comrades. Before they can finish her off for her betrayal, Jackson and Kommei, along with a few other police, arrive on the scene. A shoot-out follows, during which Hamako again tries to escape, only to be killed by TGB. Hamako dies as she lived, in the pursuit of diamonds. To add to the excitement of the fight, the thieves use dynamite, with some Looney Toons-esq antics by Kommei and Jackson when they throw the dynamite back at the thieves. Anyway, Dogora soon attacks again, but this time the military is ready with the special wasp venom.
The JSDF use helicopters with bags of venom flying over the clouds, and giant sprayers on wheels that show a spray of wasp venom into the sky, and later some jets that release a trail of chemicals behind them. After a lengthy barrage of the wasp venom, Dogora soon succumbs to the toxin, and crystallized pieces of the space cell begin falling to the Earth below, killing the diamond thieves (although not intentionally. The thieves were just in the wrong place at the wrong time) and smashing up various parts of Kyushu.
After Dogora has been neutralized, everyone says their farewells to each other. Dr. Munakata leaves for a UN meeting to discuss the recent events with other scientists, and Jackson follows him. Before he leaves, Kommei asks Jackson if the diamonds at the beach were real. Jackson tells him that they were fake, and Kommei wonders if there were ever any real diamonds at all to begin with. Jackson offers to carry Dr. Munakata's bags for him, but the doctor insists that he can carry them himself. The end.
- Combat Tentacles: Played with. Dogora definitely has tentacles, but it only uses them in one scene, instead preferring to just suck everything up through some other unknown mechanism.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: This film shares much of the same cast as Ghidorah The Three Headed Monster. Many Toho films share much of the same cast and crew, actually. Most of these examples are from Ghidorah, however, with some exceptions:
- One Film Wonder: Dogora has only appeared in this one film. No other Toho movie has ever referenced it. Ever.
- However, the show Godzilla Island does feature a small appearance by Dogora.
- Spell My Name with an "S": This troper still isn't sure if Kommei's name is Kommei or Komai, given that both spellings are used in various sources.