aka Godzilla, il re dei mostri
aka Godzilla, il re dei mostri
We start out the second March of Godzilla with the second Godzilla movie, Godzilla Raids Again! Or Gigantis, the Fire Monster, as it is known in the US. What a mess the American version of this film is. A complete an utter destruction of cinema. The Japanese version suffering from some of the faults of films of the time, but the American distributors just completely butcher the entire film. Most noticeably, Godzilla is not called Godzilla, but instead Gigantis. Now, he is technically not the original Godzilla, they make reference to the fact Godzilla Number One was disintegrated in Tokyo Bay. This new Godzilla is his brother, Marvin Godzilla, and he is actually the Godzilla that the next several movies in the series follow, as they are loosely connected. But in America, they just called him “Gigantis” because of reasons mentioned later. Joining Godzilla is the first fellow daikaiju, a creature named Anguirus. He’s loosely based on Ankylosaurs, and has a shell armored with many spikes all over his back. Crawling on four legs, Anguirus was stylistically different from Godzilla and made a good contrast for a first foe. Later monsters would get beam weapons, wings, multiple forms, but Anguirus fights with just one thing: guts!
There are some familiar faces in this film as well. Most notably, main character Shoichi Tsukioka is played by Hiroshi Koizumi, who has been previously seen here in Godzilla vs. Mothra and Ghidrah, playing Dr. Miura. I’ve met Hiroshi Koizumi, which I also mention each time he pops up in a Godzilla movie. Another big name is Takashi Shimura, playing Dr. Yemane, who he also played in the original Godzilla. He is probably best known for Seven Samurai or other Kurosawa films. Another Kurosawa veteran is Minoru Chiaki, who was another of the Seven Samurai, and here plays fellow pilot Kobayashi. All Godzilla movies need a girl, and actress Setsuko Wakayama makes her only Godzilla series appearance as Hidemi Yamaji. Directing this time is Motoyoshi Oda, who is also making his only appearance in G-history.
Both the US and Japanese versions will get reviewed simultaneously here. This is made possible because the US version is not chopped out of order, but follows the same pathway. They both deviate from the set path, as the US distributors added and removed footage, sometimes seemingly at random. The most obvious aspect aside from the Gigantis name is that the US version has narration. Lots of narration. The entire film is narrated. Every second someone is not speaking, the narrator has to talk. The Japanese version has no narrator, so is full of long moments of no dialogue, and little to no sound as the score only drops in randomly. We will note that the US version was produced by Paul Schreibman, who has expressed regrets for ruining the movie so badly. He claims responsibility for renaming Godzilla, as it was his desire to make Americans think they were getting a new monster. Other problems we will experience along the way, including the education film that makes me think Paul Schreibman must be insane.
aka San daikaiju: Chikyu saidai no kessen
Yosuke Natsuki as Detective Shindo
Yuriko Hoshi as Naoko Shindo
Hiroshi Koizumi as Professor Miura
Akiko Wakabayashi as Mas Selina Salno, Princess of Sergina
Emi Ito as Shobijin (Twin Fairy)
Yumi Ito as Shobijin (Twin Fairy)
Takashi Shimura as Dr. Tsukamoto
Akihiko Hirata as Chief Detective Okita
Hisaya Ito as Malmess, Chief Assassin
Ikio Sawamura as Honest Fisherman
Kenji Sahara as Editor in Chief Kanamaki
Directed by Ishiro Honda
It’s a Special Edition of Ghidrah – The Three-headed Monster! From the depths of the 1980’s comes a flash from the past, TBS Superstation’s Super Scary Saturday! Yes! Back when TBS would show monster movies every Saturday morning, hosted by none other than Grandpa Al Lewis, from The Munsters! Several select movies from the Godzilla series still survive with the Grandpa Al Lewis hosting on VHS tapes of mine. As they were part of the experience when I saw some of these for the first time as a tyke, I am including them in the recaps for March of Godzilla so you, too, can join in the experience. This is the first one of the series to be on TarsTarkas.NET, so it will get the most introduction.
The actual film is Ghidrah – The Three-headed Monster, a classic in the Godzilla series. This film introduced the most notable monster villain in the history of the G-series. It also features the first monster team-up against a greater monster force, as well as Rodan and Godzilla’s first meeting, and the introduction to the theme Godzilla saving Earth from greater threats. Mothra, Rodan, and Godzilla were Toho’s big three, and this star-powered film set a large standard for films that later entries in the series couldn’t match. Films directly following this one still came off great, but by the Showa-series’ later years, the Godzilla formula had gotten pretty stale. In keeping with theme, we’ll call those the “Jet Jaguar years.”
The Super Scary Saturday Logo Commercial plays, with graphics of various monsters, aliens, and ugly people flying by as the words “Super”, “Scary”, and “Saturday” float by in red. Finally, after a buzz by the 1950’s War of the Worlds‘s Martian craft, we get a scream, followed by the conclusion “Super Scary Saturday” graphic, as the TBS theme plays. This jumps us right into Grandpa, who opens with his line “It’s me, Grandpa!” which he seemed to say every week. This week, it’s light on the skits, as Grandpa digs through dusty old film reels, searching for this week’s film. We get some lame jokes on the caliber of “Heaven Can Wait. Believe me, it can wait, it can wait, it can wait, it can wait, it can wait, it can wait!” We get to our film, promised as “One of the monstrous tag team battles of all time!” and “This creature is living proof three heads are better than one!” Grandpa rattles off all the monsters that will soon be stomping across the screen, then remarks “If I had a dollar for every monster in this film, I’d have more money than Transylvania T&T!”
I love Grandpa.
Grandpa sits in his movie set, the one next to him always empty (only two seats) because it’s the seat for you, the viewer at home. “Roll it, Igor!” he shouts, to the often unseen Igor (I can’t remember if he ever shows up, but I have some more of these on tape, so maybe he does pop in on one.) and the movie begins…
Ghidrah The Three Headed Monster!
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…