Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
aka Kaijû no Gojira
Raymond Burr as Steve Martin
Takashi Shimura as Dr. Kyohei Yamane
Akira Takarada as Hideto Ogata
Momoko Koochi as Emiko Yamane
Akihiko Hirata as Dr. Daisuke Serizawa
Frank Iwanaga as Security Officer Tomo Iwanaga
Toyoaki Suzuki as The Boy from Oto Island
Directed by Ishiro Honda and Terry O. Morse (USA)
Disclaimer: This is the 1956 American-cut version of Gojira. The 1954 film Gojira will be getting it’s own review eventually. Comparisons between the two will be discussed, but will not go into in depth at this time. So let’s get dangerous!
The original cinema production that introduced Godzilla to millions of Americans is still a powerful piece of film. Unlike later installments, when Godzilla was relegated to defending the world mode, here he’s non-stop brute force. People die, casualties of his attacks are seen in detail never reached again. Even so, the film is watered down from the original Japanese film. Thus, we’ll be hitting the brutality the hardest when the original is recapped. Be that as it may, we’re here with the American version, and we will soldier on. The major difference to even the most untrained eye is the addition of Raymond Burr. This was pre-Perry Mason. Pre-Ironside. Pre-Godzilla 1985. Raymond Burr plays American Reporter Steve Martin, no relation to our Steve Martin. He’s not a wild and crazy guy, he was not born a poor black man, and he doesn’t star in terrible remakes with 9,000,000 children. Burr and his translator wander around, inserting themselves into scenes from the original movie, basically recreating the film around him. Instead of a straight shot, the movie is recut to begin with a flashback to before Godzilla’s initial attack on Tokyo, and then regains real time after the plot has reached the initial beginning point. Thus, American audiences instantly see the destruction of Godzilla, without seeing the monster behind it. And so shall we…
Godzilla vs. Gigan
aka Chikyû kogeki meirei: Gojira tai Gaigan
Hiroshi Ishikawa as Gengo Kotaka
Yuriko Hishimi as Tomoko Tomoe
Minoru Takashima as Shosaku Takasugi
Tomoko Umeda as Machiko Shima
Toshiaki Nishizawa as Kubota, Head of Children’s Land
Zan Fujita as Fumio Sudo
Kunio Murai as Takashi Shima
Directed by Jun Fukuda
Godzilla Freakin’ Talks!!!?!?!?! What the Monkey Slurm???
Excuse me, let me start again….
Before Godzilla vs. Megalon, Gigan fought Godzilla in his own headlining movie, Godzilla vs. Gigan! Actually, that isn’t exciting enough to warrant the exclamation point, but I’ll keep it in as it’s too much a bother to hit the back button. GvsG is amazingly similar to GvsM in monster fight style, as they both mirror the 2 vs. 2 scenario. We have Godzilla teaming up with another staple, Anguirus, to take on the Dastardly Duo, Gigan and King Ghidrah. Wait, King Ghidrah is working with people now? He first showed up headlining his own film, Ghidrah (or Ghidorah), and it took the combined might of Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodan to take him down. Ghidrah later reappears in the very next film, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, and just Godzilla and Rodan take him down. For Destroy All Monsters, Ghidorah seemed to return to superpowered mode, as it took half a dozen or so monsters to make him pay. Now, we see how far the King has fallen, that he’s teaming up with an upstart, the buzzsaw-chested Gigan. Gigan (as discussed in the GvsM recap)is a cylon-looking freakshow. He’s got a beetle-shaped head, can fly, has huge hooks for hands (must make peeing hard) and a rarely used buzzsaw in his chest. Gigan’s single eye glows red, red with hate, hate for all things Godzilla. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for us, Godzilla flows with far much more hate. Or is it love? After all, at this point Godzilla is a good guy. So it’s love. Yeah, love. Godzilla’s pal Anguirus makes his first appearance besides a bad cameo of stock shots on this site. Anguirus is based on an Anklyosaur, from back in the days when you didn’t need to be shooting lasers or energy beams or buzzsaw chests to be a cool monster. He’s from the second Godzilla film, which was released here as Gigantis, the Fire Monster but is now properly called Godzilla Raids Again. Godzilla’s suit here looks just plain awful, and in some of the scenes, you can see the arms are worn ragged, with pieces nearly falling off. As I only have the English version, that’s what will be reviewed, though the few differences will be highlighted as we hit them.
The plot involves two Godzilla staples, alien invasions and environmentalism. Space Cockroaches (spoiler!) invade disguised as humans, with a nasty plan that shows they failed to watch the dozen other films where aliens invaded, only to be beaten by Godzilla. Does the universe have no collective memory? Also, why are aliens always invading Earth, with the amazing plan of destroying it by one or two solitary monsters? At least in Final Wars they had dozens of monsters, but it’s still very inefficient. Enough of logic, it’s time to get this bug’s nest humming. Gigan. Anguirus. King Ghidrah. Godzilla!
Godzilla vs. Megalon
aka Gojira tai Megaro
Katsuhiko Sasaki as Inventor Goro Ibuki
Hiroyuki Kawase as Rokuro ‘Roku-chan’ Ibuki (Rock Salt)
Yutaka Hayashi as Hiroshi Jinkawa (Rex Dart- Eskimo Spy)
Robert Dunham as Emperor Antonio of Seatopia
Kotaro Tomita as Lead Seatopian Agent (Oscar Wilde)
Wolf Otsuki as Seatopian Agent (Rasputin)
From the magic land of Japan we get the epic story of a robot and his giant lizard friend as they defend the world from a giant cockroach and a big beetle. Yes, Godzilla is back, and this time, he’s teamed up with his greatest companion, Jet Jaguar. Now this is generally considered one of the worst of the series (in fact, of all the different series) and there is a strong argument for that honor. The lack of budget is apparent throughout the film, from the lack of extras, to the reuse of stock shots from many prior films, to the shoddy costumes for the monsters and Seatopians. The worst offender is the character of Rokuro, aka Roku-chan, or what we’ll be calling him in this review, Rock Salt. Every time his name is called, it sounds like they’re just saying “Rock Salt!” so there we go. (MST3K referred to him as “Roxanne” in their airing.) Rock Salt is the worst instance of a “Kenny” in a Godzilla film. Kennies are named after the many different Kennies from the Gamera series of films, in which each movie had a different annoying kid named Kenny who seemed to have higher security clearance than the highest generals in Japan. Kennies are also known to wear shorts so tiny they’d cover more skin if they didn’t wear pants at all. Kenny’s main job is to give kids a movie representation of themselves to bring them into the film. Unfortunately for us, anyone over 9 realizes Kennies are annoying. Rock Salt is one of the most annoying Kennies to emerge from Japan. He’s dubbed by a woman who does male child voices by just whining in a baby’s voice. The screeching heard every time Rock Salt opens his filthy mouth is enough to grate your ears so you’ll rip them off. Rock Salt lives with two men, one of who is called his “brother,” named Goro. The fact that Goro is over twenty years older than Rock Salt, yet no other parents are around, is oddly suspicious, especially since the only other parental figure is fellow male Hiroshi Jinkawa. No one calls him Hiroshi Jinkawa at any point in the film, and MST3K dubbed him Rex Dart, Eskimo Spy; and so he shall be called here as well.
Enough of the human characters, we’ll go into them in more detail later, let’s get to the whole reason we watch these films, the monsters. The Daikaiju. The Big Boys. We know the headliner, Big G himself, Godzilla. We got us a brand new Godzilla suit for this film, which makes him look like a frog. As the current kid-friendly trend made Godzilla’s eyes get bigger and bigger, we see the extreme right here. If you’re nostalgic for some of the older suits and face designs, you’re in luck, and the liberal use of older footage gives us the Godzilla vs. Gigan suit, as well as the suits from Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster and Destroy All Monsters. Teaming up with Godzilla is the reason this film was made, Jet Jaguar. Jet Jaguar, in addition to having an awesome name, is a robot with special powers. He has the ability to think for himself, evasion sensors so he’ll always get out of your way (props to dumb dialogue), punch-card powered programming, and the ability to program himself to change his height. Not by any build in means, he just magically grows big or shrinks depending on what the script calls for. More on that as it happens, let’s look at the villains. The evil headliner is Megalon, making his movie debut. This was the first in a series of one movies Megalon is featured in in his quest to destroy Godzilla. That puts him on equal footing with Jet Jaguar, as they’re both one-hit wonders. Megalon is a giant cockroach. He has the magical power of shooting lightning from his star shaped antenna on his head (a singular antenna) and can spit red bricks that explode upon impact. Megalon’s most far out feature is what cements him in the dredges of G-History: Drill Hands. Yes, each hand of Megalon is half a drill. No thumbs, no claws, no use of any kind, but drills. Maybe Japan had an irrational fear of the Chrysler Building during the early seventies. He’s joined by Gigan, who’s returning from the previous film, both because the costume was still in good condition, and because that allows to use a good chunk of the previous film’s fight between Godzilla and Gigan. After this, Gigan won’t be seen again until Godzilla Final Wars (and his second form in that movie makes him look even more silly.) Gigan is a beetle-looking freak with a single red glowing eye, like old school cylons from Battlestar Galactica, minus the ping pong action. Gigan has hooks for hands, making his only slightly less useless than Megalon’s.
So we know our characters, we know our monsters, we know our potential pitfalls, let’s get this party started!
Godzilla Versus the Sea Monster
aka Gojira, Ebirah, Mosura: Nankai no daiketto aka Ebirah, Terror of the Deep
Akira Takarada as Yoshimura (Robber)
Kumi Mizuno as Daiyo
Hideo Sunazuka as Nita (Flattop)
Toru Watanabe as Ryota Kane
Chotaro Togin as Ichino
Toru Ibuki as Yata Kane
Akihiko Hirata as Captain Yamoto
Jun Tazaki as Red Bamboo Commander
Pair Bambi as The Mothra Twin Fairies
Godzilla returns again (Godzilla is always returning….) to fight the greatest threat the world has ever known, giant shrimp! The King of the Monsters versus the King of the Krill in a battle royale! Still, I can pump it up all I want to, but it doesn’t make Ebirah any more exciting a villain, for he is stuck in lame-mode. Instead, we’ll go for broke, and say Godzilla is a prophet, fighting something that decades later America herself would be fighting: A international terrorist organization. The real villains of the film is Red Bamboo, the terrorist organization that took root on the island that Godzilla just happened to be hanging out in. The American dub doesn’t bother to call them Red Bamboo, but the American dub has a lot of other problems. In addition to Godzilla and King Shrimp, we have Mothra making a cameo appearance. Cameo is the right word, as the Mothra suit looks like it would disintegrate into dust had it been used for one second longer in the film. A fourth monster shows up, a giant bird known as DaiKondoru (though I’ve only seen it listed as Okondoru, so that’s what we’ll call him) who is even lamer than Ebirah. There are some well-known G-Movie actors along for the ride, who we’ll get to when they show up in the film.
This movie is different from many of the other Godzilla movies, as Godzilla acts a little different. Mainly because this film was written for King Kong, but some rights disagreements scuttled that idea, and a few minor changes (aka substituting “Gojira!” for “Kong!” in the dialogue) made this the newest Godzilla film. This probably explains why Ebirah is so lowly powered, had he been able to shoot laser beams or heat waves or something, Kong would have had a tougher time. It’s also why Godzilla gets the hots for the lovely Kumi Mizuno, despite being a lizard. Godzilla’s sleeping in a cave is another artifact from the older script, but Godzilla shows his love for sleeping in Son of Godzilla, so it could happen. The version MST3Ked was from Film Ventures, which used shots from Son of Godzilla in it’s opening titles, but the most common versions here don’t have the Film Ventures credits. It still has all the bad, all the good, and all the lobster. Sit back, relax, and get ready to fight…the Sea Monster!