Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla
Godzilla, if you take him out of his original package, he’s only going to be worth half as much!
It’s Godzilla time once again at TarsTarkas.NET, as March of Godzilla 2012 continues into April and stomps right up to the fabulous Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla! Yes, Godzilla fights his metal double, other monsters run around and help, and we find out what happens when damn dirty apes get their hand on robot parts!
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla was one of my favorite Godzilla flicks growing up. I vividly remember buying the VHS tape with my own money (as the film was never shown on TV in my area) and the tape box had an awesome painting of Godzilla fighting Mechagodzilla. King Caesar was nowhere to be found on the cover, which did sort of make me sad. But the film totally made up for that, and this tape spent many days grinding away in the vcr, almost as much as my copies of Godzilla’s Revenge and King Kong vs. Godzilla (both taped off of tv the way nature intended!)
There are some who call me…Tim!
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is a classic Godzilla film and helps trend the trajectory of Godzilla films upwards from the children’s level entertainment Big G had been stuck in. While there is still a largely kid-safe feel to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, there are signs of the audience being treated as more mature. Sprays of arterial blood, torture, human characters being blown away onscreen…all things you would be hard-pressed to see with Jet Jaguar running around. Of course, the same year Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla was released, Godzilla was still running around with Zone Fighter violently murdering monsters to the delight of children across Japan. So maybe things aren’t so much mature as they are just bigger budgeted.
They had commercials for energy drinks in 1974 Japan?
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla succeeds partially because the villain is memorable. It is inevitable if a series goes on long enough that evil doubles will show up. Toho even had their King Kong fight his own mechanical double early on, and it is about time Godzilla got into the mix. It also helps that Mechagodzilla just looks cool. He bristles with weapons and is a danger to the good monsters of Earth. Mechagodzilla worked so well as an adversary to Godzilla, he was later reimagined as a weapon to fight Godzilla in both the Heisei and Millennium film series. But here he is pure evil, a killing machine first seen as a disguised Godzilla brutally injuring Anguirus, one of Godzilla’s best buds. We know things aren’t right, the roar is different, Godzilla is mean. Mechagodzilla is fooling no one except the dopes who actually live in this movie world.
There are some weird contradictions in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. Most notably, Godzilla himself is an allegory about nuclear weapons and destruction, the hubris and violence. But now things get flipped and instead Godzilla is part of a prophecy of ancient Japan, to defend Japan against a technological monster bent on destruction, with the help of a monster that resembles classical Japanese artwork of a lion/dog. Godzilla is now part of the spiritual order of things, a protector spirit to help save Japan and the world. Just ignore all those films where he kill thousands. Godzilla does not escape his role as hero that has been cast upon him by the later films, and instead is integrated more as something that has always been meant to be a hero. His violent origin is hinted at in the film, when the characters sigh that “Of course Godzilla will be the monster to destroy the world…” but that is quickly thrown aside once the truth is revealed. This is probably the seed of how Godzilla would be treated later in the Heisei and Millennium series, as a force of nature and less of an evil or good monster. It is certainly an improvement over his prior films, where he’d be called in to go beat up the monster of the year.
Planet of the Herpes!
A change of direction was needed, as this was the 20th Anniversary film for the Godzilla franchise and something special should happen. It was also the last Godzilla film directed by Jun Fukuda, the man who helmed many of the films during Godzilla’s descent into children’s hero (and a few episodes of the Zone Fighter series!) Though he would still direct The War in Space and ESPy if you need some more Japanese scifi to track down.
By the time it showed up in the US in 1977, Cinema Shares International (who purchased the distribution rights) had renamed it Godzilla vs. Bionic Monster. That ticked off Universal, who said the title was too close to their TV show The Bionic Woman. Although laughable, Cinema Shares went the easy route and just retitled the film Godzilla vs. Cosmic Monster. By the time it showed up on VHS tape, the Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla name was reattached. And though I could drag out my old VHS copy from storage, instead take some remastered DVD action!
No matter how often they redesign the dollar coin, it will never catch on…
Now hold still and pretend there aren’t wires attached to you!
Monster King Godzilla
1980 (yeah, right!)
Directed by Who the Frak Knows!
It’s March of Godzilla 2011, so let’s get right into it with some weirdo Godzilla flicks you probably haven’t heard of!
Monster King Godzilla is a Godzilla movie mashup that is a very truncated version of the movie ESPy mixed with fight scenes of Godzilla from a bunch G flicks randomly inserted. Part of a couple of films (2, really) supposedly from a Hawaiian TV station that edited them for broadcast. Whether or not that is true, I am not convinced at all (this is discussed more in the upcoming Attack of the Galactic Monsters review) but it is probably just a clever fake. Good job trying to make this look like it came from a VHS tape, it might even have been copied onto one. FYI, the title Monster King Godzilla comes from the Japanese name for the 1956 Godzilla, King of the Monsters recut when it was released in Japan in 1957.
The best piece of research I have found on this is a blog entitled Monster King Godzilla that has one post, entitled Monster King Godzilla, that is just a scan of the supposed VHS jacket the bootleg is from with the same text you see everywhere. Huzzah!
Here is the text that accompanied this film:
“Very rare Godzilla film made for Hawaiin TV in 1980 by Filmways TV USA, 99% stock footage and a bizare wrap around plot involving physic powers make this a very strange film. AVI is from a VHS purchased at the Chiller Theatre convention in the mid 90s. I have never found any record of this film anywhere else.”
Ignoring all the misspellings, either this guy purchased what is probably a hoax and released it himself, or he just made up this story after creating the hoax and is feigning ignorance about the film ESPy.
Whatever the case, it doesn’t matter, as this is a frakked up Godzilla film so we’re gonna review it for March of Godzilla 2011!
First of all, since ESPy is used as a template for all the Godzilla mashup footage, let’s take a brief look at the 1975 Toho ESP/spy flick. It was part of their “mutants” series of films, back when Toho was making wacked out 1970s films that are rather freaky to watch today. The UN sets up an organization called Espy filled with psychics and ESP people, to stop a group called Counter Espy, who are evil psychics and ESP people. Why Counter Espy is named first I have no idea, having not seen the film, but I am guessing because they are psychic! Being psychic probably explains all sorts of plot problems with ESPy. How convenient! Counter Espy tries to kill the Prime Minster of Baltonia:
Espy stops them, and newbie Espy agent Jiro Miki (Masao Kusakari), his dog Cheetah, veteran Espy agent Yoshio Tamura (Hiroshi Fujioka), and girl Espy agent Maria Harada (Kaoru Yumi) must do battle with the evil Counter Espy leader Ulrov/Wolf (Tomisaburo Wakayama) to save the world from evil people who have special powers. No heads explode, which is a failing of the ESPy series, all one entries in it. Jun Fukuda directed this film along with War in Space, the other source film used in a Godzilla Mashup.
Godzilla flicks used in this film include
Godzilla vs. Megalon
Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla
Revenge of Mechagodzilla
Godzilla vs. Gigan
There are lots of quick edits and huge portions of ESPy is skipped as the film moves in in order to throw in all the Godzilla footage. So there will probably be some vary confusing things mentioned in the plot section, but it is accurate. Having not seen ESPy, I was at an even worse advantage, but I persevered because I’m awesome. You can be awesome too, all you need to do is read this review!
Who cares about the crappy humans, it’s Monster Roll Call!
Say kids, what time is it? It’s Godzilland time! YAAAAYYY!!
Wait, what the frak is Godzilland? Godzilland was a morning show for the kiddies that aired in Japan around the time Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla 2 came out. Besides that, I know nothing about the show except for this sample episode that will get documented here. There is little to no information about this show anywhere (at least in English) so join TarsTarkas.NET as we sail into uncharted territory! March of Godzilla 4 had to have some crazy surprise, now didn’t it?
The best part of Godzilland is the stylized cartoon kaiju
They are all over the opening sequence, we have larva Mothra, that human who we will see is the host, Mechagodzilla, Anguirus, Rodan, Baragon, Gigan, Godzilla, Moguera, Mechagodzilla, Mothra egg, and more Mechagodzilla
All of those Mechagodzillas probably mean that film either is about to or just came out. The inclusion of Moguera might indicate they already are working on SpaceGodzilla, but might not as SpaceGodzilla is MIA in the opening credits.
King Ghidorah, Mothra as a Moth, and Mecha-King Ghidorah show up in this frame
The top Kanji translate to “bouhan” which means “an exciting adventure” And Godzilland sure is!
Here is our host, I think his first name is supposed to be Russell but I might be wrong.
Russell hangs out with four Japanese chicks who are big Godzilla boosters
They are the Godzilla Chicks (a name I made up for them) and in the beginning Russell asks them questions from a pile of cards.
Interspacing animation time!
Holy Godzilla vs. Bambi, Batman!
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla 2
aka Gojira VS Mekagojira
Directed by Takao Okawara
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla 2 is not one of my favorite movies in the Heisei series. This is due to several factors, but largely because I hate Babygodzilla. I am a big fan of Minya, but Babygodzilla is just annoying. He fills me with disgust. Parts of this film are pretty great, but besides annoyance at the offspring, other problems creep up. Rodan is pretty much wasted in his only Heisei appearance. He does little more than show up, get beat up, and then die. Twice. The music is also odd, partially because it is inspired by King Kong Escapes and not a Godzilla film. And let’s just not go into how annoying it is to have multiple films with the same title!
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla 2 was released dubbed on VHS years after its release in Japan, it was so delayed that they changed the sprites in a Godzilla video game from the new Mechagodzilla to the older 1974 one because America didn’t even know about this new one. I guess the USA just can’t handle updated robots.