Just Plain Xilly: Nick Adams in MONSTER ZERO

I was never a big fan of kaiju eiga movies. I watched them as a 60s Monster Kid in good standing, but much preferred the Universal classics, Technicolor Hammer horrors, and AIP/Poe epics. Those badly dubbed, fake looking Toho flicks just weren’t my cup of gruel.

I was however a fan of Nick Adams. The actor had roles in major films of the late 50s (REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, PICNIC, NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS) and scored big as Johnny Yuma in TV’s THE REBEL (1959-1961). He was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for 1963’s TWILIGHT OF HONOR. Yet a scant two years later, Adams found himself in Japan appearing in low budget nonsense like FRANKENSTEIN CONQUORS THE WORLD and MONSTER ZERO.

MONSTER ZERO begins with astronauts Glenn and Fuji landing on the newly discovered Planet X, just beyond Jupiter. A race known as the Xilians are being attacked by Monster Zero, their name for the fearsome Ghidrah. The Xilian Controller has a plan to import Godzilla and Rodan from Earth to combat  the three-headed beast. In exchange, the Xilians promise to give Earth a miracle drug that will “cure all diseases”!

Glenn and Fuji relay the message to Earth’s Supreme Counsel, who begin searching for the two monsters. Suddenly, three spaceships rise up from the lake which supposedly contains Godzilla. The Controller tells the Earthlings they’ve come in peace to help capture the monsters. They snatch up the creatures in their “nuclear bubbles” (or something) and invite Glenn, Fuji, and their boss to Planet X to observe.

Meanwhile, Fuji’s future brother-in-law, Terry, has invented a sonic disruptor devise. This draws the interest of some Xilian spies hiding on Earth, including Glenn’s girlfriend, Namikawa. The aliens capture Terry and hold him in their secret hideout.

Godzilla and Rodan are set on Ghidrah, and a mighty battle ensues. Well, as mighty as these things get. Ghidrah is sent packing, and the Xilians give our heroes a tape containing the formula for the wonder drug. When the Earthmen return, it’s discovered the tape is actually the voice of The Controller stating Earth must immediately surrender and become a Xilian colony or they’ll wipe us out. Those dirty rats!!

The monsters are brought back to Earth under the control of Xilian magnectic waves (or something) and begin doing their rampaging destruction thing, which consists of crushing a bunch of miniature sets. Glenn and Terry manage to escape the aliens clutches, and the Army uses his sonic distrupter to combat the fiends. The world’s citizens are told to crank up their radios, and the piercing noise causes the Xilians computers to malfunction. The alien spaceships blow up in mid-air! The three behemoths are freed from Xilian control, and Godzilla and Rodan vanquish Ghidrah, bringing peace back to our planet.

MONSTER ZERO is pretty bad as far as these things go. I know there are plenty of kaiju eiga who will vehemently disagree, but to me the movie’s just plain Xilly. Toho Studios had success with this one though, and continued to crank out more rubber suited epics well into the 80s.

As for Nick Adams, his life and career continued on a downward spiral. An ugly divorce, with rumors of infidelity and domestic violence, ruined is reputation. Adams found work only in TV guest shots and Grade-Z dreck like MISSION MARS and FEVER HEAT. Adams died of a drug overdose in 1968 at the age of 36. MONSTER ZERO wasn’t released in the US until 1970, as a double feature with WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS, featuring another American ex-pat, Russ Tamblyn. A sad ending for a once promising actor.

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