Royale volunteer, film buff, and stunt zombie Damon Foster
says he isn't quite sure where he found the film, but he was more than happy to bring the film to the Royale's big screen and says the screening will be the Japanese superhero romp's first proper premier on U.S. soil.
Foster says he regularly attends G-FEST
, an annual convention in Chicago for fans of Godzilla
and other Japanese monsters. And it wasn't until three years ago, during a discussion with other fans at G-FEST, that he realized that he hit the Japanese cult film jackpot.
"I told them I had English-dubbed versions," Foster says. "Their jaws hit the floor. People wanted to start buying copies. It's not the greatest movie, it's just fascinating to see these films dubbed in English."
The film is a collection of the first four episodes of a 1960s Japanese TV show called Mask of the Ninja's Red Shadow. They were edited together and released as a film in foreign markets to capitalize on the popularity of Godzilla and Gamera, but never took off.
"There is awkward, unintended humor," Foster says. "It'll end on an obvious cliffhanger, or you'd think it would end, but then it just keeps going. On TV it made sense, but as a movie it's strange."
The film's story is quite bizarre, much like an episode of Power Rangers
(also created by Japanese production house Toei Company
), but Foster attempts to break it down:
"It's basically good guys versus bad guys," Foster says. "The villains are a cult of sorcerers, they worship and evil deity and that's how they get their powers. Kage, they are hired to battle the evil monsters. They can turn invisible, they can teleport, somehow they can fly, though it's hard to tell if they're flying or if they jump really high. That's pretty much it for the story. It's so incredibly simple."
He also adds that the villains fly on magic kites, and the appearance of a gigantic toad. Count us in.
Ninjascope: The Magic World of Ninjas premiers at the Royale on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $5. Visit the Royale's homepage for more information.