Destroy All Monsters (Review)

Destroy All Monsters

aka Attack of the Marching Monsters aka Kaiju soshingeki


Directed by Ishiro Honda

Godzilla before that first morning coffee.

When I was but a wee lad first learning about the Godzilla experience, catching Super Scary Saturday showings of G-flicks, buying Godzilla films on VHS that weren’t showing up on tv, recording films airing on the local UHF station, I was also reading up on every monster movie related book I could read. My favorites were by a guy named Daniel Cohen*, who wrote such books as Super-Monsters and Science Fiction’s Greatest Monsters, well-read copies of which still lie somewhere in my mom’s attic. There was also another set of books at the library that were neon orange with a book each for Dracula, the Mummy, King Kong, Godzilla, and a few other monsters. The thing was, every library in the area did NOT have the Godzilla book! I was so angry! Imagine 8 year old Tars so mad he purposefully murdered his entire Oregon Trail travel party. Some say I went too far, but they say so only via their gravestone markers…

Manda and Godzilla set up their slot car racers!

But is there a point to that rambling first paragraph? Yes! You see, of the Godzilla flicks and lore of Godzilla flicks, knowledge of a movie containing all sorts of Toho monsters was spread. This mythical, magical movie, had like all sorts of monsters, including monsters I had never heard of, beat the tar out of each other and aliens attack. It was Destroy All Monsters. And it never aired on TV anywhere near me. So sad! It also wasn’t at any video store. Destroy All Monsters became a mocking ghost, forever out of reach. Until one day in college suddenly it was on VHS tape. I was like “HELL YEAH!” and bought me some Destroy All Monsters, watched it, loved it, and now don’t know where the tape is because a DVD version was released shortly thereafter. So yeah. And now I have this cool version, which has the AIP dub merged with a widescreen format custom made by some guy on the internet. Because I’m awesome like that.

Check out this curve, ladies!

Was Destroy All Monsters worth the 14 years of questing to find? Damn straight it was! Though it isn’t perfect, it is entertaining. It’s got alien invasions, an awesome monster fight finale, Akira Kubo, alien chicks in silver hoodies and capes, 1960s astromen costumes in bright primary colors, attempts to make rocket propulsion scientifically accurate, lasers, and Minya! The only thing missing from this film is Don Frye, but he pops up in another flick years later to make it all right.

Gah this water’s too cold! Back to the blanket for me!

Captain Katsuo Yamabe (Akira Kubo) – Captain of the Moonlight SY-3 spaceship along with first officer Okata. Is the designated hero of planet Earth, because he saves the day again and again and again. His sister is Kyoko.
Kyoko Yamabe (Yukiko Kobayashi) – Katsuo’s sister who has just started her new job on Monsterland the day it is invaded by aliens. What awful timing. Spends most of the film under alien control via earrings. Yukiko Kobayashi is an artist now, if I’m using Google correctly and it isn’t a different Yukiko Kobayashi.
Dr. Yoshita (Jun Tazaki) –The old UN science guy who seems to be in charge of the entire world, as he takes command of everything when the aliens invade. Jun Tazaki is in such G films as King Kong vs. Godzilla, Atragon, Godzilla vs. the Thing, Frankenstein Conquers the World, War of the Gargantuas, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, and Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster.
Kilaak Queen (Kyoko Ai) – The Queen of the Kilaaks and the Queen of Fashion. This Space Lady wants to conquer the Earth and make all humans part of the Kilaak tribe. Why? Because!
Dr. Otani (Yoshio Tsuchiya) – Dr. Otani is head of research at Monsterland and is a cool guy. Until he’s mind controlled by the Kilaaks and turns evil! Then he goes all Peter Pan out a window, except he doesn’t have magic fairy dust, so he has a tragic ending. Yoshio Tsuchiya has been seen here before in Son of Godzilla, Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, and Gigantis the Fire Monster.
I save the whales….for dessert!

Monster Roll Call!

Godzilla – Godzilla rules monster island, and is then brain controlled and sent to destroy New York. After being set free, Godzilla figures out who the real bad guys are and blows up the alien base.
Minya – Godzilla’s son is here, proving once again why he is the awesome son. He even delivers the finishing blow to King Ghidorah. How many monsters can claim that?
Mothra – Mothra is only in larva form for Destroy All Monsters, probably because the rotting Mothra moth costume last seen in Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster had deteriorated into a big pile of moth goo.
Rodan – Rodan is a flying jerk who thinks the best way to save the whales is to save them for supper! Oh, and he helps save the Earth after he’s not mind controlled.
Anguirus – Anguirus shows how brave he is here by charging in full speed ahead to take on King Ghidorah. Hooray for Anguirus!
Manda – Manda takes a break from the land of Mu to hang out on Monsterland for a while. See this Manda in Ultra Q as well
Baragon – Baragon is around. Yep. It’s surprising Baragon is in this movie, as the suit was currently being hacked to pieces for use in Ultraman. But they managed to glue him back together for a small cameo.
Gorosaurus – Gorosaurus isn’t just a background monster, he trashes France and does some butt-kicking of King Ghidorah himself! A refugee from King Kong Escapes, Gorosaurus would disappear (except for stock footage) until showing up with a badly decaying monster suit on Ike! Godman, and then on Godzilla Island.
Speiga/Kumonga – Speiga has returned from the dead to be a spider and spit some web. So don’t be hatin’ this spider jerk, because for once he’s sort of good. But he still sucks, so screw ’em!
Varan – Varan flies around in the background of the big fight, then suddenly gets a huge closeup during the final flyby of the film. Oh, Varan, why are you so unbelievable? Varan’s solo other movie appearance has three different versions (Japanese, English, Japanese TV) so it’s like Varan was in four films!
King Ghidorah – King Ghidorah returns, once again under control of some crazy alien race, this time the Kilaaks. Oh, King Ghidorah, why do you keep whoring yourself out to the highest bidder? Have some respect for yourself, you’re a “king” for goodness sakes!
Fire Dragon – Hey, you ain’t a real monster! I want my money back…
Moonbase Mission Control stole it’s color scheme from TarsTarkas.NET!

Mothra hits the hookah clubs
TarsTarkas.NET Mission Control is hard at work!

It’s 1999. The Future! Okay, the Past, but Pretend it is the Future! The Future of 1999! Prince is partying like it is the current year, and is his name is currently a symbol instead of Prince. But enough of Prince, the UN has a base on the moon, and they send rockets there every day! The UN uses this moon base to control my thoughts.. I mean, study the moon. And control my thoughts with their black helicopters..

I knew I should have taken that left turn at Infant Island…
Ptoo! Ptoo! Ka-BLAAAM!

The United Nations Scientific Committee are the people in charge of the moon, and they are also in charge of Ogasawara Island – where Monsterland is. Also lots of genetically engineered fish. Way to not care about the local ecology of Ogasawara island, Future UN Scientists of the Future that is now Past! The helpful narrator explains that Monsterland is the home of Godzilla, Rodan, Anguirus, Mothra and Gorosaurus. (There are others he doesn’t mention. Way to be lazy, narrator!) The monsters are kept on the island mostly by various gas dispensing devices and also an invisible magnetic force screen (so invisible that we can see it!) that stops Rodan from flying off. Lack of puberty prevents the Mothra larva from flying off. Rodan eats some dolphins…OMG it’s like The Cove all over again!

Okay, who’s the wisenheimer who turned the ship 90 degrees?
We shall destroy the humans and their fashion sense!

In the underground command center we can see Minya, Manda, and Baragon on the monitors as well. Just so you know, Speiga/Kumonga and Varan round out the Monsterland inhabitants. It’s Kyoko Yamabe’s first day there, her bro Katsuo Yamabe works on the moon flying the Moonlight SY-3 rocketship. But soon the power on Monsterland cuts out and the scientists are blasted with poison gas! Ha! Take a dose of your own medicine, scientists! Even the monsters don’t know WTF as they are blasted with gas as well. I can’t make any ironic snarky comments about that.

No means no!

The UN struggles to reestablish contact with the island…

Suddenly… Rodan shows up in Moscow! Gorosaurus pops out of the ground and trashes the Arc de’Triumph!
A news announcers says but doesn’t show Mothra attacking Peking, Manda attacking London, and Baragon attacking Paris (Gorosaurus was erroniously used for the live action shot, as Baragon burrows undergrown while Gorosaurus just kicks!) Godzilla then trashes New York City decades before a stupid CGI monster stealing his name does the same thing. UN commander guy Dr. Yoshido tries to hold things together on Earth.

Look at how evil smug I’m acting!

On the moon, spaceship Moonlight SY-3 is ordered to return to the moonbase, but Captain Kastuo sees a UFO and has the ship give chase. Space is pretty groovy, as the astromen are decked out in bright yellow outfits with yellow hard hats and glass faceplates. They look like space construction workers. Well, maybe if they were on a six hour lunch they would look like construction workers. The other crews in space have bright reds and blues – the bright colors are pretty cool and would increase visibility, but are also a 1960s artifact, by the 1970s everyone would be white and earth tones. Nowadays it would be all ridiculous Matrixy jumpsuits. Damn you, Matrix!

The director got all arty all of a sudden…
One day the Blue Fairy will make me a real boy!

The UFO escaped when I was describing their outfites, so they return to the moonbase, then take SY-3 back to Earth…to Ogasawara Island…with guns! They also didn’t take their helmets, even though the island was attacked by gas and there is probably gas residue detected all over by their scanners.

Kyoko and UN Ogasawara Island Scientist Dr. Otani explain that they are controlling the monsters, and show a few brief shots of monsters blasting things up. The space crew can’t figure out why the scientists are now evil, so they take them to meet the Space Lady! Space Lady has a metallic silver hoodie and cape and gloves. It’s SciFi-riffic! She says no one has anything to fear from her (except the giant monsters attacking everyone!) and the aliens will control everyone’s minds, or else!

The Kilaak Women’s Choir prepares to sing their biggest hit, Kilaak Me Amadeus
This thing gets like 37 inches to the gallon.

Space Lady claims the aliens come from Kilaak – one of the asteroids between Mars and Jupiter. She’s behind an impervious force field- neither fist nor bullets can penetrate. Space Lady gets sick of the human’s whining about not surrendering to her, so…gas ’em! But help arrives from the ship with gas masks so they can escape – with Doctor Otani in tow. Kyoko has escaped back to the rest of the base. Some mind controlled scientists fire guns at them, so the crew leaves the island and Kastuo is forced to leave his sister behind.

Okay, we’re all here for the free punch and pie…
I got your punch and pie, fools!

Captain Katsuo takes Dr. Otani back to Tokyo. Some troops sent later to the island find it deserted, and Doctor Otani isn’t talking. In fact, all he does is open a window and step out to his death! A totally real mannequin falls down the cliffside. Kyoko and guys with laser guns capture Captain Katsuo and Yoshido. The bad guys keep trying to cut something out of Dr. Otani’s body, but they are interrrupted when cops show up and drive off the Kilaaks. Later, when examining the body, the UN scientists find a mind control device implanted behind Dr. Otani’s ear. They figure out the radio waves, and then use their spaceship to try to track down the radio waves to find the hidden alien base. They instead find rocks with transceivers in them hidden all over the world.

The Kilaaks have had enough of the humans starting to figure out their plans, so instead they send Rodan, Godzilla, Manda, and Mothra to destroy Tokyo! Things are smashed, squished, blown up, destroyed, and devestated. And then the Japanese army readies many many many missile launchers and other weapons that were just chillin’ outside the city. Hundreds of rockets are fired at Godzilla as a peppy Akira Ifukube plays. A few of the rockets even manage to hit Godzilla! The rest probably did more damage than the monsters every would. By the next morning the city is in ruins…

No punch and pie? You monster!
I just wanted punch and pie!

The UN thinks they have located the Kilaak base in Izu. So they send Captain Katsuo there to look for the base, as a rocket pilot will have plenty of experience exploring a forest. Before Katsuo can go, his Kilaak-controlled sister Kyoko marches in to the UN HQ to demand everyone surrender. Katsuo rips off her earrings-bloodily, then holds them up declaring how the aliens control her mind with them as she bleeds on the floor. Seriously, dude, your sister is lying bleeding on the floor, after being mind controlled by alien monsters for weeks! Perhaps you could stop being all triumphant for a few seconds and help her not be bleeding on the floor. Maybe get her a band-aid…then be triumphant all you want.

The army goes to Izu with tanks and missiles, but they can’t land the spaceship cause of Godzilla! Anguirus shows up to help smash tanks. They retreat, but follow a nearby UFO to Mt. Fuji until they’re chased off by Rodan.

I even jumped without a parachute, so eager to have some punch an pie…

The next step is to wander around Mt. Fuji looking for the Kilaak base. Godzilla harasses the investigators, but Katsuo and two others find a cave entrance to the base. They get trapped behind a force field and then Kilaak ladies beam in, lead by the Space Lady. Space Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaadies!

The Kilaaks act all smug as frak and demand everyone surrender, then kick them out. Women.

Gorosaurus, we’re all gonna pool our money and order takeout from the Punch and Pie Store, you in?
I punched him all right, now all I need is some pie…

Back on Monterland, scientists have returned and are trying to figure out the remote control devices on the monsters. They do figure out the master control is based on the moon! So this is a job for…Moonlight SY-3!

There is a swamp mentioned as being on the moon for some reason…

SY-3 lands in a crater, but the ship is immediately hit by many giant flamethrowers! Flame on! They abandon ship, luckily we have this groovy retro-future car with giant laser cannons on the top of it to drive away from the rocket ship. Giant laser cannons that can blast through the alien forcefields.

Ghidorah ate all my pie!
I’ll encase you in magic donuts for eating all the pie!

Kenichiro Maruyama shows up for half a second answering a phone on the lunar station during all this drama.

The SY-3 crew investigates the room they just giant laser cannoned the frak up. They find weird worm things (the Kelaaks) hiding in rocks. They also find the transmitter, and laser cut it loose after some difficulty. Much dramatic difficulty, but luckily grimaced faces can overcome wiring and power limitations!

Finally, we can have some punch and pie!
Here comes the punch and pie delivery guy..

Now the humans can control the monsters! After SY-3 leaves the Kilaak moon base, it explodes because all alien bases explode after the heroes are finished doing heroic heroisms. We find out the Kilaaks need super heat to wake up from worm hibernation (this is just told to us) and now it’s time to send all the monsters to attack Mt. Fuji!

Minya! Godzilla! Mothra! Anguirus! Manda! Baragon! Gorosaurus! Speiga! Varan! Rodan! It’s the monster All-Stars! They are ready to attack…but..King Ghidorah is here! Oh snap!

That pie looks awfully hot…
Mmmmmm…cherry pie!

The Kilaaks broadcast a smug announcement about how they control King Ghidorah and he will beat all these monsters, despite losing to smaller bands of these monsters in previous films. Maybe they should have gotten King Ghidorah a buddy…

Attack! Gang up on that three-headed mofo! Anguirus is very brave, and keeps on attacking despite having no cool powers. King Ghidorah carries him up in the air and drops him. Then lands on him! Poor Anguirus! The monsters all team up, complete with Gorosaurus kangaroo kicking, Godzilla neckstomping, monsters grabbing heads, and Minya finishing Ghidorah off with a donut ring to the center head. And that’s the end of King Ghidorah!

Dude, that pie was awesome!
I am happy we had pie

A new monster! One made of flames! I will call him Johnny Firecakes. Okay, fine, I guess his name is “Fire Dragon” or some crap. Whatever, he’s just a damn UFO with an all-too-realistic flame decal. So the SY-3 chases after Fire Dragon after he harasses Rodan. Kastuo blows him out of the sky. While Fire Dragon was being a lame aside, Godzilla got ticked off and just completely destroyed the Kilaak base. He’s tired of all these alien fools… Big G was living large retired on Monsterland with his kid enjoying life when these idiots came along.

We end with a helicopter circle around Ogawasara Island and we see all the monsters living there again in peace.

Let’s all meet for more punch and pie next month! Wooo, pie!

Destroy All Monsters takes elements from the previous Godzilla films and ramps them all up a notch. We’ve had alien invaders, monster mind control, King Ghidorah, monsters on islands, space shenanigans, and alien controlled babes all before, but now we have them all, and a bunch of other monsters running around. The stakes are higher. But like many of the Godzilla films at this point, we don’t really see the consequences of a massive alien invasion around the world. There is no food shortages, government breakdowns, or characters dying. In fact, things seem pretty well organized despite major cities going up in smoke worldwide. Godzilla Final Wars may be a rehash of Destroy All Monsters, but it did at least acknowledge that everything was destroyed before the heroes decide to fight back anyway. Here, major cities getting blown up are just a minor inconvenience to the search to attack the alien base. But, as Destroy All Monsters like many of the other Godzilla films at this time are more geared towards children, one can hardly expect the death and destruction to be so visible on camera. And 9 year old me wouldn’t have cared, and would have wanted to get back to the action.

Destroy All Monsters knows its audience, knows what it is, and gives us an awesome finale. And in doing so, becomes one of Toho’s best monster films of that generation.

Rated 10/10 (Army man, rocket time, first officer, AIP, helicopter, UFO, microcircuits, hidden stone, Rodan buzzed, I believe I can fly)

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*It is only lately that I discovered more about Daniel Cohen and his daughter’s murder in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103. I didn’t really want to lead off this review on that sad news, but I felt I should at least mention it somewhere.

4 thoughts on “Destroy All Monsters (Review)

    • The only one I know of is Media Blaster’s OOP Tokyo Shock DVD with the dub, the AIP cut is only available on the grey market via bootleggers and/or trading, though the only difference is the title screens and credits.

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