Daikaju Monster MAdness Week 5
Sorry, for getting this out late, but it is finally out. In today's blog post and the last in the series of Daikaiju Monster Madness Month, we will discuss some more of the Showa films. This last week I watched, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Godzilla vs. Gigan, Godzilla vs. Hedorah, Terror of Mecha Godzilla, Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters, Invasion of the Astro Monster, and Godzilla's Revenge. I also posted this blog a bit late so I could watch Godzilla Raid's again on Monday. Many of these films excluding Godzilla Raids Again focus on the changing of Godzilla from a symbol of nuclear destruction into a kid friendly superhero. Many of these films are iconic and Godzilla fans form the 70's and 80's have avid memories of these films.
Godzilla vs. Megalon
Godzilla vs. Megalon has a sort of infamy within the Godzilla fandom. It has one of the most hilarious dubs, and dub not withstanding the story had been parodied by Mystery Science Theater and even commercials. It is a very fickle title in the opinion of many Godzilla fans, and I have always enjoyed it. This film has a lot of nostalgia for me, it is one of the original Godzilla films I watched when I was a kid and I do have fond memories of it. So despite the fond memories let's dig into this film and examine why it is probably hated.
The film starts off with nuclear activity that disrupts the monsters of Monster Island. Godzilla is left alone on the island while Angiurus falls into a fault and Rodan flies alone. This sets the scale for Godzilla is now alone. It sets the tone for the film, and of course is critical of nuclear attacks.
This comes to ahead when those nuclear attacks disrupt the undersea civilization of Seatopia who unleash their most powerful weapon Megalon to destroy the world.
Meanwhile an inventor named Goro Ibuki, his little obnoxious nephew Rokuro and their friend Hiroshi Jinkawa are on a lake. The lake dries up and becomes the base of Seatopia and will exact it's revenge of humanity.
Goro has created a robot called Jet Jaguar and Seatopia agents try to steal the robot. After the attack Goro completes Jet Jeguar. Then Seatopia once again comes and knocks out Goro and his nephew. Goro and his nephew who is a kid genius are sent to be killed, but for some reason Hiroshi is abducted and told of Seatopia's plans, because … reasons.
Jet Jaguar leads Megalon to attack various cities. The heroes free themselves and end up breaking Jet Jaguar free from control. However, the robot gains sentience and goes and gets Godzilla for help. So Godzilla and Jet Jetgaur fight Megalon. The giant bug is beat by the teamwork, but the Seatopians get help from Nebula M aliens and get Gigan to help them.
Godzilla and Jet Jeguar defeat the two monsters and in the end Jet Jegaur reunites with it's inventors.
The film is a fun film, but has a pretty ridiculous plot. The characters are funny, and it is obvious why Mystery Science Theater decided to parody this film. If you haven't checked out that episode I do recommend it, because despite making fun of the film, it does it in a creative and earnest way.
Godzilla vs. Gigan
Technically, this film came out before Megalon, but I watched it the day after. The film is also a pretty silly film. It also features one of the most brutal Godzilla battles since Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla. The film also features the return of King Ghidorah and of Angirius.
The plot of the film is fairly simple giant cockroach-like aliens flee their dying planet to colonize on Earth. To do this they assume the forms of dead humans and work to establish a theme park themed around peace. It is called World Children's Land and in the center they have Godzilla Tower.
However, their plan gets threatened with mangaka Gengo Kotaka is hired as the concept artist for the park. When Gengo acquires the tape that the aliens will use to control Ghidorah and Gigan, it causes Godzilla and Angiurus who hear the tape to come to World's Children's Land and stop the evildoers plans.
Godzilla sends Angiurus to see what the sound was about, and he gets pushed back by the JSDF. Then the both of them head to World Children's Land and while Gengo and his friends try to sabotage Godzilla Tower a fight is about to begin.
The interesting thing about this fight that takes place is that Godzilla and Angiurus take on Ghidorah and Gigan who are assisted by Godzilla Tower. The tower and monsters proves too much for Godzilla who is pushed back, and brutally beaten. It really is one of the most brutal fights in Godzilla's history.
Gengo and his group of would-be saviors with the help of the JSDF plant explosives in Godzilla Tower, and have the bugs shoot the explosions. The funny thing is that Gengo draws a cook lifesize portrait of the heroes which is what sparks the guards to shoot it and blow up the tower themselves. With the Tower no more, Godzilla and his friend defeat Gigan and Ghidorah who flee into space. Then our heroic monsters return to Monster Island.
The film is pretty silly, but features some iconic lines. Some great characters, and some hillarious monster possibilities. Mamagon the monster of strict mothers and Shukra the homework monster. Apparently Mamgon is a borrowed name from a creature from the Ultraman series, which I didn't know about that until later.
Overall, this is a fun film, but has one huge theme. That over reliance of technology will make humanity stagnant. We must always strive to be creative, and not focus too much on technology. The characters are also interesting, and carry themes with them throughout the film.
Godzilla vs. Hedorah
Probably the most political, and social of Godzilla films, Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster or Godzilla vs. Hedorah is a trippy adventure that is quite bizarre. Godzilla's main enemy is a bloblike monster with multiple forms.
A scientist investigates a tadpole like organism which attacks ships. He is then attacked by the monster and is blinded in one eye for the remainder of the film. The theme of pollution is almost overbearing in this movie, but it is the main theme of the movie so I will let it slide.
Hedorah eventually mutates so that it can live on land and sucks up smoke from the pipes. It also attacks a dance hall, where two of our main characters are dancing/singing. Godzilla appears and fights Hedorah, but he is defeated in that encounter and Hedorah flees with a new flying form. After the attack, black scorch marks are seen. It is revealed that Hedorah can be defeated by using sparks. It is also discovered that Hedorah is from space.
The JSDF construct giant magnetic panels to shoot electricity to fry the smog monster. Meanwhile Japanese youths organize together a giant hippie fest. (I'm calling it that, because that is exactly what it is.) This attracts Hedorah who is then attacked by the mob of youths, who get their butts kicked until Godzilla arrives. Godzilla arrives and is initially defeated once again.
Hedorah then is led to the giant panels, but when it was fighting Godzilla it knocked the power lines out. This makes the JSDF scurry to fix the power problem. But, we don't have to worry, because Godzilla appears and uses his breath to power the panels and defeats Hedorah. He takes out a circular orb and it immobilizes the creature. However, it tries to escape, but Godzilla grabs it and forces it once again to be hit by the electromagnetic waves which cripples it and eventually destroys it for good.
The main theme for this film is pro-environmentalism, and is very anti-pollution. There is also a message about youth, but it is really hard to tell if it was being positive about the youth of Japan or being cynical. Despite these social problems addressed as themes, the film is a really weird acid trip. It uses pchadelic music along with weird scenes and lights to create a very 60's feel. The film is still enjoyable, but you don't need drugs watching it, you already feel like you are on them when watching the film.
Terror of MechaGodzilla
Now we move onto one of my most favorite Godzilla films, most notably because my favorite kaiju Titanasaurus is in this film. The film's intro sequences start out with flashbacks of Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla, where the vicious fight is depicted.
Then we begin with a submarine that is attacked by a giant dinosaur looking for the wreckage of MechaGodzilla. Interpol and a biologist find out that a similar dinosaur was discovered by Shinzo Mafune who was a disgraced scientist. Ichinose, the marine biologist and Interpol agent Kusaka, the two of them visit Mafune's lab, but are greeted by his daughter who says that he is dead.
What they don't know is Mafune is alive and is helping the alien simians in their destruction of earth and revenge against Godzilla. Ichinose and Mafune's daughter, Katsura ends up falling in love with each other. But, Katsura is actually a cyborg as she was killed in the first experiments in controlling Titanasaurus.
Desperate to get his revenge Mafune sends Titansaurus. This encounter allows Interpol to find out that the dinosaur has a weakness, supersonic waves. So the team gets together to build an weapon to stop Titansaurus. However, Katsura arrives to disable the machine. However, all is not lost as Godzilla appears to fight Titansaurus. Meanwhile the simians lay in wait as they will have Mecha Godzilla destroy the victor.
Ichinose tries to visit Katsura, but he is captured by the aliens. He is then tied up, and watches as Mafune and his alien allies unleash both MechaGodzilla and Titansaurus to destroy Tokyo. Meanwhile Interpol agents repair the sonic machine. Katsura who is now controlled by the aliens completely controls both monsters to destroy the city.
Godzilla comes to defend Tokyo, but he is badly outnumbered by the two monsters. Interpol distract the humbering Titansaurus with the supersonic wave oscillator Godzilla can focus on taking on his metallic other half. Interpol agents led by Kusaka save Ichinose and end up killing Mafune and many of the aliens. The remaining enemies try to flee, but are destroyed by Godzilla. Katsura who breaks free of the control commits suicide so that Mechagodzilla can be destroyed and now that it is no longer under controll, Godzilla defeats Titanasaurus.
The film is rather interesting as it was a direct sequel to Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla, but didn't do as successful. Many people don't like Titansaurus, but I loved his design. That is mostly because I love dinosaurs, and find the cyborg story arc with Katsura was interesting. I also felt that the human characters in general were better than the original film. But, the fight choreagraphy in both films were great.
Themes include that of love, and being more machine than man, or in the case of Katsura woman. The tampering of monsters, as well as with nature. A big theme is also vengence since that is what drove Mafune to the side against humans. There is a respect of science in this film, as the younger generation was much more eager to support Mafune, even though the old guard scientists thought he was crazy.
Godzilla: Destroy all Monsters
Godzilla: Destroy all Monsters is the big monster mash, and a ton of great fun. All the monsters are brought to Monsterland which is in the Ogasawara island chain. There a special control center was constructed to make sure the monsters stay safe and so researchers can study them with no danger to themsleve.s
Mysteriously, one day Monsterland is attacked and the signal is lost. Then monsters start to appear across the world and attack major cities. Dr. Yoshida who heads the UNSC has captain Yamabe and the crew of his spaceshift to leave the moon and head to Monsterland. There they see that the scientists have been controlled mind-controlled slaves of the Kilaaks who have the ability to control monster.s The leader demands humanity surrender or face destruction.
Godzilla attacks New York City, thirty years before Godzilla '98 making him a hipster. Rodan meanwhile is in Moscow, Mothra attatacks Beijing, Gorosaurs is in Paris, but is identified as being Baragon. These attacks initially were actually one big distraction to open Japan so that the Kilaaks can set up base near Mt. Fuji. They then attack Tokyo and in their arrogance, don't protect the thing that lets them control the monsters. In the same swoop the astronauts destroys the Killaks lunar base and return the alien control systems to earth. This allows the earthlings to unite the monsters to fight the Kilaaks.
The monsters now attack the Kilaaks base, but the aliens have a hidden monster in the form of King Ghidorah. Godzilla and his merry group of monsters team up and defeat King Ghidorah. The Kilaaks then bring out their trump card called the Fire Dragon. Which attacks the control center at Ogasawara Island. Despite this Godzilla attacks the base, knowing that their enemies are the Kilaaks. The space ship battles the Fire dragon and achieves victory for humanity. Then the remaining monsters return home.
There isn't any real themes to this film, it is just a fun ride. If you like giant monsters and some action sequences with humans doing a generic science fiction plot then this is for you. It is a simple film, and I do recommend the dub as it is a pretty hilarious.
Godzilla Raids Again
This is a film that is rather boring to talk about, but it is historically significant for a few reasons. It was the first film with Angirius, which is introduced fighting Godzilla in the first part of the film. The other reason this film is historically significant is for it's atrocious dub which cut scenes and ruined characters and plot points. The dub does have George Takei, but beyond that, it is pretty atrocious. I haven't watched the dub in a while, but what I remember was that it was bad.
The film starts with two pilots named Shoichi Tsukioka and Koji Kobayashi are hunting for fish for a tuna company based in Osaka. While surverying for fish, Kobayashi's plane malfuctions and he is dropped on Iwato Island. When looking for his friend, Tsuioka finds his friend safe with basic injury. Then they hear strange noises and find two monsters fighting. The two monsters who are fighting are Godzilla and Anguirus. The two return and a group of scientists reveal that Godzilla and Anguirus were from the same time period.
Kyouhei Yamane the paleontologist from the first film is present at the meeting. He shows some clips of the original monster attack. This is when the film starts to get boring, because it is silent footage and is played for an extended time. It is a huge part of this film where scene go on for a long time with no build up.
He reveals that they can't stop Godzilla because professor Serizawa took the secret of the oxygen destroyer with him. This is a nice tie in to the first film, and much like the first film this new Godzilla and Angirius were probably awoken thanks to the H-bomb tying into Godzilla's nuclear origins.
Despite this Godzilla appears in Osaka. A blackout and mass evacuation plan is needed. The JASDF lure Godzilla away from the shore with flames and starts to leave.
However, not all goes as planned as some prisoners escape in the darkness. The few of them that escape are followed by the police in a truck. The truck then crashes into a massive building used for some sort of chemicals which causes a massive fire. The fire attracts Godzilla and just a few minutes latter Anguirus swims ashore as well and the two monsters fight each other.
They destroy the tuna canner ythat Tsukioka and Kobyashi work for, which comes up later as well. In the fight, the criminals get what they deserved as they are submerged in water in the subways. Meanwhile Godzilla traps Angirius in the moat of Osaka Castle and burns it to death.
Days later Kobayashi is transferred the to Hokkaido plant. During the part he invites Tsukika and his own fiance Hidemi. There they are notified that Godzilla has destroyed fishing boats. The military and the pilots go looking for Godzilla. Tsukioka finds the monster and notifies the cannery where Kobayashi flies off to switch places.
Kobayashi dives his plane to distract Godzilla as the JSDF plan to bury Godzilla in an avalanche on the small island. Kobayashi is killed, but in his death they found out they can use the bombs they were using on Godzilla to bury him. So the shoot missiles at the mountain and bury the monster in ice freezing it to death.
The film is long and drags on forever. The first half has some slow parts, and the ten minutes or so of silent footage isn't needed. A recap was fine, making sure we knew who the monsters were, but it was a good half of the film. The fight in Osaka is interesting, but again drags on for a long time. The characters themselves were interesting, but didn't get enough development time. We also don't see Kobayashi's fiance, which is a huge part of the film. If we were shown her picture, I think that his death would have had a larger impact.
Overall, these films were the last Godzilla films I watched in October. Godzilla is my favorite movie monster and character. Throughout October, I rewatched and analyzed my favorite hero/villain/anti-hero with all his films. I have changed some of my opinions. Including finding new found love for Showa films, a new found dislike for the Heisei era, and still loving the films I loved the most. It has been a great month, so please keep reading my blog if you want more information on my books, what I am up to and the latest news.
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A.L. Hornbeck, historian, author, metalhead, and all around geek.