a.k.a. Sandai Kaiju Chikyu Saidai no Kessan,
Monster of Monsters Ghidorah!
company: Toho Company, LTD.
director: Ishiro Honda
cast: Yosuke Natsuki, Yuriko Hoshi,
Akiko Wakabayashi, Hiroshi Koizumi,
Emi & Yumi Ito
writer: Shinichi Sekizawa
cinematography: Hajime Koizumi
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1964 turned out to be a prolific year for Toho Studios and their kaiju eiga output. The studio’s Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) had reaped massive success at the box office and Dogora the Space Monster (1964) wasn’t the box office disappoint one might assume. And next year’s Godzilla movie was on the horizon… But there was one hitch for Toho that year—the shooting of Akira Kurosawa’s current film Red Beard (1965) was running over schedule and was not going to meet its December 1964 release date. Toho was in a pickle. They needed a big New Year’s release and Kurosawa’s new film was out of the question. So much like the characters in the resultant film, they turned to Godzilla to bail them out, and the movie that would have been released in 1965 wound up being pushed into production to replace Kurosawa. If there’s one force on earth that could accomplish such a task, it’s the King of the Monsters and did he ever deliver…
As we begin our story, an intrepid reporter named Naoko Shindo (Hoshi) is investigating a group of scientist/stargazers who are hoping to find some evidence of the “saucer people” in hopes that they may explain the great heat wave Japan is suffering in the middle of January. No saucers (or for that matter, saucer people) are spotted, but a meteorite shower does bring an unwanted cargo to the earth. One such meteor strikes the earth near the famous Kurobe Dam.
That same night, young Princess Selina Salno (Wakabayashi) is on a flight to Japan to avoid assassins in her home country of Selgina who hope to end the monarch rule and bring about communism. Before going to bed, Princess Salno’s unconscious mind tells her that she must leave the plane, and she summarily jumps out the escape hatch. Seconds later, the plane explodes.
Professor Murai (Koizumi) and a team of geologists hoof it into Kurobe Gorge to study the fallen meteorite. They nearly get lost when their compasses begin pointing the wrong direction and are flabbergasted to find that the meteorite has a strong magnetic pull.
Back in Tokyo, Salno’s would-be chaperone and Naoko’s brother, Detective Shindo (Natsuki) discovers that a mysterious vagabond woman who claims to be from Venus (Mars in the U.S. version) that has popped up warning people of future dangers bears a strong resemblance to the princess he was supposed to protect. Naoko is assigned to follow the mystery woman, who appears at Mt. Aso warning of the reappearance of Rodan (Masaki Shinohara). The Venusian is met with jeers but almost immediately, Rodan breaks forth from the crater of the volcano and wings it into the air.
The conspirators in Selgina have since discovered the story of the Venusian and believe her to be Princess Salno, but aren’t 100% sure. The lead man (who, along with his fellow Selginians, is dressed like a harlequin) orders his top assassin, Malness (Hisayo Ito) to travel to Japan to finish the job. Malness and his gang (which includes a thin-mustached Susumu Kurobe—Hayata from Ultraman) arrive on the island nation and begin plans to find the Venusian and discover whether she’s truly Princess Salno or not.
The doll-sized Shobijin (the Ito sisters) of Infant Island have been visiting Japan and doing television broadcasts (why is never explained) but are planning to return to their home via cruise ship. The Venusian appears out of nowhere and warns that the ship mustn’t set sail. Covering the Shobijin’s egress, Naoko takes the Venusian away to do a story about her.
Once in a Yokohama hotel room (but unfortunately, exactly across the hall from the assassins) and after discovering the Shobijin listened to the warning, the Venusian again explains that the ship shouldn’t have set sail. Out at sea near the ship, a pod of whales surface and fearfully swim away. Just behind them is Godzilla (Haruo Nakajima), having returned to activity after his defeat in the previous film. In a magnificent optical effect, Godzilla’s back lights up and he incinerates the cruise ship with his heat ray.