Terror of Mechagodzilla

Origintal Title: Mekagojira no Gyakushu Alt.: The Terror of Godzilla
Year: 1975   Company: Toho Co. Ltd.   Runtime: 83′   Director: Ishiro Honda
Writer: Yukiko Takayama   Cinematography: Mototaka Tomioka   Music: Akira Ifukube
SPFX Director: Teruyoshi Nakano   Cast: Tomoko Ai, Katsuhiko Sasaki, Akihiko Hirata,
Katsumasa Uchida, Goro Mutsumi, Toru Ibuki, Kenji Sahara , Kotaro Tomita, Ikio Sawamura
Godzilla: Toru Kawai   Mechagodzilla: Kazunari Mori   Titanosaurus: Katsumi Nimiamoto
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It’s 1974… Toho Co., LTD’s famed Godzilla series is dying a slow unnatural death. The 20th anniversary came and went and the celebratory film, GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA, was a bigger success than usual at the box office. But the audiences just weren’t flocking to the cinemas to watch monsters when they can watch them for free thanks to Tsuburaya’s seemingly endless lineup of superhero shows. Desperate for some new blood and ideas to infuse into the series, Toho held a contest to come up with the story of the next entry of the Godzilla series, already slated to be a follow-up to MECHAGODZILLA. This is what won:

It’s some time after the fierce, jazz-driven, spaghetti western and Sonny Chiba-inspired showdown between Godzilla and Mechagodzilla and Interpol has sent out an exploratory submarine to find the remains of Mechagodzilla off the Bonin Islands (you’re not supposed to remember that Godzilla destroyed Mechagodzilla on Okinawa. Shhh!). Their detectors can find nothing of the metal beast (but not for the obvious reason) and suddenly they are beset by an underwater cyclone. Attempting to surface, they are attacked by the sea dinosaur Titanosaurus (Nimiamoto) who promptly makes short work of the sub.

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Ghidrah, the Three Headed Monster

a.k.a. Sandai Kaiju Chikyu Saidai no Kessan,
Monster of Monsters Ghidorah!

company: Toho Company, LTD.
year: 1964
runtime: 93?
country: Japan
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.

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Yog: Monster From Space

a.k.a. Gezora Ganime Kameba Kessan! Nankai no Daikaiju / Space Amoeba
company: Toho Co. Ltd
year: 1970
runtime: 84′
country: Japan
director: ISHIRO HONDA
cast: Akira Kubo, Atsuko Takahashi,
Yoshio Tsuchiya, Kenji Sahara
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The end of the 60’s was also the end of the Golden Era of Japanese tokusatsu. 1967 had come and gone with it’s kaiju boom in which every single major studio in Japan had released a monster movie. Toho had tried to end the Godzilla series in 1968 with DESTROY ALL MONSTERS for naught. Their collaboration with the Americans for LATITUDE ZERO [1969] had gone to seed, and even worse the film did poorly at the box office, resulting in the next Godzilla movie to be constructed of stock footage and aimed squarely at children. And now, refusing to slow down and take his doctor’s orders, the God of Special Effects, Eiji Tsuburaya, had literally worked himself to death. This is the stage set for Toho’s next monster foray.

Over footage of a brilliant sunset and a remarkably fake-looking rocket, an announcer tells us about how man is beginning to explore outer space. The rocket—one Helio 7—succeeds in making its way into space on a course for Jupiter to study the gas giant. However, once in deep space, Helio 7 is invaded by a gaseous cloud of glowing blue dots which proceeds to take over its mechanics. Helio 7 summarily turns around and heads back for earth.
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Gamera vs. Jiger

a.k.a. Gamera tai Daimaju Jaiga / Gamera vs. Monster X
company: Daiei Co. Ltd.
year: 1970
runtime: 82′
country: Japan
director: Noriaki Yuasa
cast: Tsutomo Takakuwa, Kelly Varis,
Katherine Murphy, Kon Omura
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It’s late 1969. You’ve got a five-picture franchise that you’ve been making on the cheap and reaping high profits that would make any Wall Street low-life jealous, so what do you do? You make a sixth! And that’s exactly what Daiei Motion Picture Company did, adding to their rather shaky series of Gamera, the giant flying turtle movies. Fortuantely, after a ginsu bat, a ginsu octopus, and a ginsu blade, the folks at Daiei decided to go back to basics with their new monster. . . sort of.

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Toho Co. Ltd [1977] 87′
country: Japan

Oshare (Ikegami) is just your average everyday schoolgirl. One day she comes home from school to find that her musician dad (who apparently works with Sergio Leone) is about to remarry. Not willing to accept a replacement for her deceased mother, Oshare tries to visit her mom’s home where her aunt currently lives. The aunt (Minamida) invites her to come for a visit.

Oshare and her pals Fanta, Kung Fu, Melody, Sweet, and Gari hightail it to the country where they find Auntie’s miniature house sitting on a set hilltop. Residents try to dissuade them from going, but they move on. Once there, they are greeted by the charming, but wheelchair-bound Auntie, who may just be the most attractive elderly person ever.

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