The Space Mission Helios 7 has blasted off for a three year journey to the planet Jupiter, but four months in, something strange occurs: the unmanned craft stops, turns around and heads straight back to Earth. Meanwhile, photographer Taro Kudo (Akira Kubo) is on a flight home over the Pacific Ocean when he spots part of the Helios 7 parachuting down through the clouds. He doesn't manage to secure a picture of it, so when he returns to his editor with the news, he is held up to ridicule and ordered to pick up his next assignment. But he was right - there is something out there, on one of the islands...
Also known as Yog, Monster from Space, or Gezora, Ganime, Kameba: Kessen! Nankai no daikaijû if you were Japanese, Space Amoeba didn't enjoy a great reputation in the annals of monster movies. Part of the perceived problem was that the expert special effects man Eiji Tsubaraya has died before production began and he was seen as one of the genre's great assets, designing a host of Godzilla related creatures. Watching it now, this film's monsters don't seem too bad, they might not be the most impressive of all but they fill out the roles of mayhem adequately and amusingly.
Perhaps much of the blame lies with Ei Ogawa's script, which is pretty blatantly a rehash of past glories and overfamiliarity could breed, if not contempt, then a certain lack of interest. This was to be Ishirô Honda's last film before the brief return to the genre with Terror of MechaGodzilla five years later, and there's a sense of him going through the motions on this one. But even half strength Japanese monster movies are better than no Japanese monster movies at all, and the creations that the alien intelligence conjures up are entertaining.
Our hero, Kudo, is dispatched with a doctor (Yoshio Tsuchiya) and a tourism representative called Ayako (Atsuko Takahashi) to the island near to where, they find out eventually, the Helios 7 probe landed. And wouldn't you know it, the space cloud it carried has infected a local squid and blown it up to enormous size where it can pick a man up and fling him away with the flick of a huge tentacle, which is exactly what it does to one hapless native. It's not long before the party from Japan, including researcher Obata (Kenji Sahara) - or he claims to be a researcher, at any rate - are doing a spot of investigation themselves.
And they encounter the giant squid, which has somehow gained the ability to walk over land and is laying waste to the area. There's a conflict between the natives' primitive beliefs that this is some kind of god delivering vengeance upon their heads and the more pragmatic Japanese who have to work out a way to take the wind out of the monster's sails. Also, an ecological side arises, very contemporary for the seventies, where nature is rebelling - the plan was to build a tourist attraction just off the shores of the island. But in the main it's the battle between the humans and the alien that prevails, with the squid joined by a mutated tortoise and a crab who somewhat perfunctorily are engaged in combat before the film is over. With the message that even evil corporations can help out humanity, Space Amoeba at least has its heart in the (absurd) right place, though it is no classic. Music by Akira Ifukube (using a bit of electronics).