Godzilla

dir. Ishiro Honda
1954 / Toho Co. ltd / 96′
written by Shigeru Kayama, Ishiro Honda and Takeo Murata
director of photography Masao Tamai
music by
 Akira Ifukube
director of special effects Eiji Tsuburaya
starring
 Akira Takarada, Momoko Kochi, Akihiko Hirata, Takashi Shimura, Sachio Sakai, Katsumi Tezuka and Haruo Nakajima
Godzilla, along with Godzilla King of the Monsters!, is now available in a deluxe Blu-ray edition from the Criterion Collection

Unleashed upon an unsuspecting Japan to massive popular success in late fall of 1954, the original Godzilla was one of those rare perfect storms of cinema, a picture so tremendous in its impact that it ushered in not only a distinct new genre of Japanese film, but a bona fide pop culture revolution as well. It also touched a chord with a post-war Japan fresh from years of occupation, and finally allowed to openly discuss the full sum of its wartime experiences. Godzilla‘s considerable box office take all but ensured the long run of increasingly silly sequels that followed, and those familiar with those alone might be forgiven for expecting the same here, but the father of them all is an intelligent and at times downright cerebral affair, possessed of a raw power not seen in the genre since. Much more than just another monster movie, Godzilla is a spectacular public exorcism of the specters of World War II, and the tumultuous, emotional expression of a nation’s struggle to come to terms with its history as both a perpetrator and victim of incalculable wartime devastation.

The story, for those unfamiliar, begins with a series of dreadful shipping accidents off the coast of Japan, an investigation into which leads reporters and government officials to remote Odo Island, a sparsely populated speck of land near where the accidents occurred. There they find no answers beyond the superstitious ramblings of one of the island’s elders, who is convinced that the mythical Godzilla – a mysterious sea beast the Odo Islanders once sated with human sacrifice – is responsible for the maritime troubles. No one believes a word of it until something comes ashore one storm-torn evening, leveling several of the island’s residences and leaving a set of impossibly huge footprints in its wake.

A scientific expedition headed by noted zoologist Dr. Yamane (the great Takashi Shimura) is swiftly mounted to survey the destruction and investigate its cause. Once the scientists are on the island they make a series of surprising discoveries. The footprints left behind are intensely radioactive, and the area around them dangerously contaminated. What’s more, they’re littered with ancient sediments and the remnants of primitive life long thought extinct, leading Dr. Yamane and his team to the conclude that the impressions were made by something straight out of prehistory. It isn’t long before more conclusive evidence arrives in the form of a mountainous Jurassic-age monster, the Godzilla of legend, who has his sights set on Japan’s thriving metropolitan heart – Tokyo.

Co-written by director Ishiro Honda and Takeo Murata (Rodan) from an original story by Shigeru Kayama (which he also novelized), the basics of Godzilla‘s narrative development are pretty traditional, writ large, the origins for the monster having been freely adapted from elements of the classic King Kong (an island, a legend, talk of human sacrifice) and the contemporary The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (about a prehistoric monster roused from its icy slumbers by an atomic test in the Arctic). Indeed, the idea of a dinosaur wreaking havoc on modern civilization was nothing new in 1954, having been seen previously in the silent The Lost World, Max Fleischer’s Superman short The Arctic Giant, as well as in Godzilla‘s most direct inspiration, the aforementioned Beast. The difference, as ever, is in the details.

Under the creative auspices of Honda, Kayama, Murata, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, effects director Eiji Tsuburaya and even composer Akira Ifukube1, Godzilla‘s eponymous monster becomes one of the most singularly loaded metaphors in cinema history. Through references, both overt and subliminal, to such events as the irradiation of the fishing vessel Daigo Fukuryu Maru by the Castle Bravo H-bomb test, the fall of radioactive rain resulting from Soviet atomic tests, the firebombing of Tokyo and the A-bombing of Nagasaki, Godzilla becomes a fearsome and direct manifestation both of the horrors of World War II and the new and frightening realities of the Atomic Age. The monster’s steady, methodical destruction of modern Tokyo is a sequence unlike anything before it. Godzilla advances with the unrelenting force of an atomic blast, sending whole blocks crumbling into smoldering rubble and engulfing the city’s skyline in a curtain of nuclear flame. Dialogue clarifies whatever doubts may be lingering as to the rampage’s symbolic significance - “Godzilla’s no different from the H-bomb still hanging over Japan’s head…

In Godzilla’s wake millions lie dead or dying, both of physical injuries and radioactive contamination, while countless traumatized survivors wonder what terrors are yet to come. The imagery here – endless corridors filled with the wounded and an entire city reduced to wasteland – is potent, and evocative not only of the haunting aftermaths of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but of the wartime razing of Tokyo as well. Even Godzilla himself is granted a history of victimization, with Dr. Yamane insinuating that, much like Japan’s A-bomb survivors, the creature is traumatized by its recent brush with American nuclear might. “Don’t shine searchlights on Godzilla!” he gravely begs of a military officer, fearful that they might remind of the blinding flash that tore him from his deep sea niche and send the monster into a deeper rage. Of course Godzilla is not just a victim, but an aggressor as well, and the vision of a dragon rising from the Pacific alludes strongly to the ugly flip side of Japan’s wartime misfortune – the fact that through their own militant nationalism, and the brutal campaign of conquest that resulted from it, they had brought that misfortune upon themselves.

To that end the central dramatic conflict of the film might be viewed as an allusion to the position of the Allied forces during the war. Godzilla, awakened by the H-bomb and impervious to all modern munitions, seems unstoppable, but a brilliant young scientist – Dr. Serizawa (a convincing young Akihiko Hirata) – may have found an answer. The problem? His discovery has such immense destructive potential that any use of it, however good the cause, could prove catastrophic. It’s a narrative development that dramatically echoes the creation and eventual use of the Atom bomb in the final days of World War II, and that implies a certain understanding by Honda and his crew of the position of the Allied forces at the time. With a marauding force like the Imperial Japanese at large, do you set aside your most powerful weapon for fear of the horrific consequences of its use, or do you use it in spite of them? What the Allies decided is history, and their decision is paralleled by that of Dr. Serizawa – the result is that Godzilla is stopped, though at a tremendous cost. Another elemental force, as horrifying as the H-bomb, has been let loose in the world, and the film concludes with a grave Dr. Yamane wondering what other Godzillas might be unleashed as a result.

In terms of drama Godzilla has certainly aged in the decades since it was made, and a forgettable love triangle between Toho’s brightest young stars (top-billed Akira Takarada, Momoko Kochi and Akihiko Hirata) will be of minimal interest to modern viewers, but the complex substance of the thing remains, its power undiminished over the near-60 years since it was fresh. Godzilla is perhaps the best of its kind ever made, the ultimate, indelible atomic monster experience and the birthplace of an unlikely pop-culture icon. It’s must-see material, folks, and that’s all there is too it.

1 Some of Ifukube’s cues for the film, both the elegiac pieces set to Godzilla’s aftermath and demise and the descending motif that accompanies the earlier ship disasters, are highly evocative (and in the latter case a direct adaptation) of his past work on Kaneto Shindo’s Children of Hiroshima (a somber, thoughtful film about the human toll of the Hiroshima bombing), an allusion that only further cements Godzilla‘s connection to World War II and the burgeoning Atomic Age.

disc details:
released January 24, 2012 by the Criterion Collection
disc:
dual layer BD-50
video: 1080p | AVC | 1.37:1
audio: LPCM 1.0 Japanese
subtitles: English
supplements: commentary track with David Kalat, interviews (star Akira Takarada, suit actor Haruo Nakajima, effects men Yoshio Irie and Eizo Kaimai, composer Akira Ifukube, critic Tadao Sato), composite test footage, The Unluckiest Dragon illustrated audio essay, theatrical trailer and Godzilla King of the Monsters! (also featuring a David Kalat commentary and theatrical trailer)
retail price:
$39.95
Available now from Amazon.com, and also available on 2-disc DVD

The Criterion Collection has certainly started the year off right, getting one of their most anticipated releases of 2012 onto store shelves right from the start. A few niggling video issues may keep their high definition presentation of Godzilla from being the end-all be-all of the format, but compared to what’s come before (an awful edition from Classic Media and a dull, over-processed alternative from Toho itself) it’s a revelation. Those simply wondering as to whether or not their Blu-ray is worth the price of admission need read no further – of course it is, so get out there and buy it you fools!

The thorn in Godzilla‘s side is just a case of Criterion cramming too much stuff (and there’s a lot!) onto one disc – this really should have been a 2-disc Blu-ray, a la the simultaneously released 2-disc Criterion dvd, and the video presentation suffers a bit for it in the form of artifacting. The AVC-encoded video for Godzilla, running a modest average bitrate of 23.5 Mbps, does well by the majority of the show, but moments of flatter contrast and more ambiguous detail (like the underwater finale) present with notable, if not exactly damning, grain artifacts.

Otherwise I’ve nothing to complain about with this 1080p presentation, which Criterion have sourced fresh from a fine-grain 35mm master positive (the original negative for Godzilla is long gone) with excellent results. Detail improves handily over past editions, finally appearing at a level in keeping with the show’s 35mm photography, and contrast is dead-on. The usual limitations associated with Godzilla are all here, including some flicker and an assortment of damage, but Criterion’s work to clean up the material will be obvious to anyone familiar with past iterations. There’s a lot of obtrusive, large-scale damage I’m used to seeing that just isn’t here, and Criterion have struck their usual attractive balance between cleanliness and source authenticity. It may not be pristine (given the state of surviving elements it was never going to be – the first three Godzilla films are all in rather dire condition, with King Kong vs. Godzilla evidently having no usable 35mm elements at all for some scenes), but for the first time ever the film looks as good as it rightly should. This gave me the most satisfying viewing of Godzilla I’ve had to date, enough so that my boundless devotion to the 2006 BFI dvd has finally been broken, and those with realistic expectations for the title should be thrilled.

Screenshots were taken as full 1920×1080 resolution .png in Totem Movie Player, then compressed to .jpg at a quality setting of 95% using the ImageMagick command line tool. See our complementary review of Godzilla King of the Monsters! for screenshots from that version of the film.

Strong as the image can be, my minor quibbles aside, the audio is tremendous. Criterion present Godzilla in its original Japanese courtesy of a robust uncompressed 24-bit LPCM 1.0 track that restores the film’s sound mix to its original luster. I usually complement the score with regards to these uncompressed jobs, and Ifukube’s work sounds better than ever here, but it’s Godzilla’s roar that really hooked me on this track. There’s a visceral depth to it that I had never caught onto before, in my many viewings of the film, and at times it can be downright chilling. Complementing the audio is a wonderfully translated new set of subtitles that are more complete than those on the BFI edition.

Supplements are stacked, beginning with the full 80 minute American edition of the film, newly transferred in 1080p from a fine-grain 35mm master positive and a 16mm dupe negative, which comes with its own commentary track and trailer (see our review of Godzilla King of the Monsters! for more details). Otherwise there’s a fine commentary with critic David Kalat, as well as a solid slate of interviews, most newly-produced, and a substantial piece on the Daigo Fukuryu Maru. The standout for me is a retrospective interview with late composer Akira Ifukube, recorded in 2000, that runs a whopping 50 minutes. Everything here appears to be rendered in HD (though a couple of pieces are upscaled from SD), and the menu is conveniently accessible disc-wide. Bill Sienkiewicz’s packaging design is earning no end of fan ire, and I can confirm that which has so many in an uproar - that is, in fact, one of the Millennium-series Godzilla designs illustrated on the interior pop-up (itself a bit of an oddity, but kudos for thinking outside the box). Having finally seen it in person I can’t say that I mind – the art has terrific impact, particularly the front cover image, and those for whom the offending bits are an honest distraction will find them easily enough avoided in the Blu-ray edition (you have to fully unfold the two-fold digipak-style interior to see the pop-up, and the disc can be accessed without doing so). A booklet featuring a nice essay by J. Hoberman rounds out the package.

There’s some lost potential here with regards the encode (spreading the content over two discs instead of just one would have readily solved that problem, which is much more pronounced in Godzilla King of the Monsters than it is here), but overall the Criterion Collection’s Godzilla is as strong as fans might have hoped. The film has never looked, sounded, or read better than it does here, and that alone makes this Blu-ray more than worth the price of admission. Recommended!

Continue to Godzilla King of the Monsters!

Godzilla King of the Monsters!

dir. Terry O. Morse
1956 / Jewell Enterprises / Trans World / 80′
written by Al C. Ward
director of photography Guy Roe
edited by Terry Morse
starring
 Raymond Burr, Frank Iwanaga and Mikel Conrad
Godzilla King of the Monsters! is now available, along with Godzilla, in a deluxe Blu-ray edition from the Criterion Collection

“This is Tokyo, once a city of six million people. What has happened here was caused by a force which up until a few days ago was entirely beyond the scope of man’s imagination. Tokyo, a smoldering memorial to the unknown – an unknown which at this very moment still prevails and could, at any time, lash out with its terrible destruction anywhere else in the world. There were once many people here who could have told of what they saw. Now, there are only a few.”

Though a phenomenal success in its native Japan, garnering nearly 10 million admissions during release, Godzilla remained relatively unknown abroad – unknown, that is, until the international distribution rights were secured by Jewell Enterprises (otherwise best, and seemingly only, known for the Mara Corday crime picture Girls on the Loose and the shabby cavegirl adventure Untamed Women, one in a long line of shows that repurposed the creature effects from Hal Roach’s One Million B.C.). The firm would would go on to hire Terry O. Morse, an experienced film editor with limited directing experience, to oversee their American adaptation of Godzilla, and cast recognizable talent Raymond Burr, here just before his rise to fame on television’s Perry Mason, as their new star. The resulting film would eventually be seen world wide, even in Japan (where it was retrofitted for ‘Scope projection for a 1957 release), and bestow upon its eponymous attraction a title still familiar to this day – King of the Monsters.

Though drastically restructured for its Stateside adaptation, the meat of Godzilla King of the Monsters!’ narrative remains familiar. Ships are disappearing off the Japanese coast, their survivors recounting stories of boiling seas and brilliant light. Officials are at a loss for why until an expedition to an isolated island near to the disappearances reveals the terrifying truth: Godzilla, a monster right out of prehistory, has been torn from its undersea niche by Pacific H-bomb testing and is making a bee-line for the Japanese capital. Impervious to all known armaments, Godzilla seems unstoppable until a young inventor reveals his own horrifying discovery – a new elemental power with more deadly potential than the atom.

The difference lies in the framing, accomplished through new footage starring Raymond Burr as American press correspondent Steve Martin, who recounts the majority of Godzilla‘s events in flashback. On layover in Tokyo, Martin takes to investigating the shipping disappearances out of a natural journalistic instinct, but soon finds himself witness to the utter destruction of Tokyo.

Though filmed in a matter of days, the footage that serves as Godzilla King of the Monsters!’ backbone is remarkably ambitious for its type, with a good deal of effort made to match locations and even actors (with doubles only seen from behind) so that the new story line fits properly with the old. One can question just how Martin so insinuates himself into some of the film’s lesser drama, like an underlying romantic triangle, but writ large the material works quite well, and no future attempt at the same would ever be so successful. A lot of that success is undoubtedly linked to the casting of Burr, who could deliver a stereo manual with thrilling authority, but the script by seasoned television writer Al C. Ward is no slouch either. Martin’s narration remains sensible and intelligent throughout, even when he’s privy to unlikely plot details, and the few new dramatic scenes – largely between Burr and Frank Iwanaga, playing a Japanese official – are well drawn and plot-driven. It’s much more than could be said of the comparable Half Human, the American adaptation of Ishiro Honda’s second monster feature Ju Jin Yuki Otoko, which has John Carradine ponderously spilling the full details of its foreign action from the comfort of an office chair.

Despite being shorn of some of its original drama (including all overt references to World War II) and re-structured with a distinct focus on action, Morse’s Godzilla King of the Monsters manages to retain much of the feel of the original. Morse shows a notable respect for his material throughout, something lost on the purveyors of many of these fantasy and science fiction imports, remaining true to the Japanese source during the occasional dubbed scenes (much of the dialogue is retained in Japanese) and leaving Akira Ifukube’s phenomenal score untouched. He even gets away with some critical commentary on the H-bomb, courtesy of Dr. Yamane’s dubbed remarks, an intellectual thread dismissed by critics at the time. “We assure you that the quality of the picture and the childishness of the whole idea do not indicate such calculation,” notes a condescending Bosley Crowther, writing for the New York Times in May of 1956. “Godzilla was simply meant to scare people.”

Regardless of contemporary critical opinions Godzilla King of the Monsters! was immensely successful upon release, and helped to pave the way for the colorful kaiju boom of the 1960s, as well as for the original Godzilla‘s more recent rediscovery. Indeed, with memories of the unvarnished Godzilla so fresh in mind I was a little surprised to find that this still works as well as it does, fifty-six years after it first stomped onto domestic screens. That’s not to say that Godzilla King of the Monsters! is a perfect film, not by a long shot, but it’s better than it really should be and a bona fide piece of film history besides, and worthy of the care and attention it has finally received.

disc details:
released January 24, 2012 by the Criterion Collection
disc:
dual layer BD-50
video: 1080p | AVC | 1.37:1
audio: 24-bit LPCM 1.0 English
subtitles: English 
supplements: commentary by David Kalat, theatrical trailer, plus the original Godzilla (featuring its own commentary, interviews, documentary subjects and more)
retail price:
$39.95
Available now from Amazon.com, and also available on 2-disc DVD

When the Criterion Collection’s Godzilla arrived I actually watched Godzilla King of the Monsters! first, and with some reservations I was duly impressed. Those familiar with the history of the film know that Toho has no elements of their own for the title, and as such no new transfer from quality material has been minted for decades. The 2002 Classic Media DVD and their later 2-disc edition, as well as earlier VHS releases from Simitar, Paramount and others have all been sourced from the same transfer, but change (for the better) is finally afoot courtesy of Criterion, who tracked down privately owned 35mm and 16mm elements from which to mint their new HD transfer.

Sourced from a combination of fine-grain 35mm master positive and 16mm dupe negative at the original aspect ratio of 1.37:1, Criterion’s new 1080p transfer of Godzilla King of the Monsters! represents the best that can be expected of the title at this point in time. There is damage, of course, plenty of which was inherent in the materials from the start, but don’t let that dissuade you. Godzilla King of the Monsters!, like its Japanese counterpart, finally exports a level of detail consistent with its 35mm photography, with excellent contrast to match. Guy Roe’s photography shines in close-up, even if lighting is flat compared to the Japanese footage. It all looks quite good overall, though there are issues worth noting for those wishing to give the transfer a closer look. Godzilla King of the Monsters! suffers most from Criterion’s efforts to stuff everything onto a single BD-50, and its modest 17.6 Mbps AVC encode just isn’t healthy enough to support the finer points of the transfer. Grain artifacts are evident throughout and the image just doesn’t hold up consistently to really close scrutiny, but it’s important not to overstate the issue (this is nowhere close to being an encoding disaster on the order of Horror Express). In motion I must admit that this looks very good, and ultimately I’d rather have the film available, even in a slightly insufficient encode, than not have it at all.

Screenshots were taken as full 1920×1080 resolution .png in Totem Movie Player, then compressed to .jpg at a quality setting of 95% using the ImageMagick command line tool. Comparison shots were taken from the 2002 Classic Media DVD of Godzilla King of the Monsters! in VLC in .png format, and compressed to .jpg using the same method as above. Frame matches in comparisons are exact. See our review of Godzilla for screenshots from the original version of the film.

More Blu-ray Screenshots:

Audio is again presented in uncompressed 24-bit LPCM, and the limitations of Godzilla King of the Monsters!‘ low budget mix are readily apparent. The track is clear enough (Criterion’s restoration has worked wonders on some of the crackle and damage) but sounds quite flat, and both the sound effects and score lack the dynamism evident in the original Japanese. That said, it also sounds perfectly accurate to the source, and I wouldn’t ask for more. Criterion have even provided optional English subtitles, leaving me no room to complain on that front. Supplements are limited for this cut of the film, unsurprising given that it’s a supplement itself, and include another commentary from critic David Kalat and the original theatrical trailer (featuring some of my favorite film ad phrasing – “A cyclonic cavalcade of electrifying horror!”).

Godzilla King of the Monsters! may not be enough to recommend this Criterion Blu-ray outright, but its inclusion certainly helps, improving upon an already strong release. Like plenty of others I know this is the Godzilla film I grew up with, watching it on TV or renting it from the video store at every opportunity before some enterprising adult finally decided I deserved a copy all my own. Seeing it looking as good as it does here was a real treat, and fans should be very pleased.

Merry Kaiju Christmas!

Well friends, Kaiju Christmas is finally upon us.  Hedorah is out there spreading holiday cheer to all the good little girls and boys, with deadly sulfuric acid mist for the rest.  As festivities here draw to a close I’d like to take a moment to thank all of you for joining us – I hope you all enjoyed yourselves, and that you’ll be so kind as to join us next year for Kaiju Christmas 2011!

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
Order this film on DVD (Japanese and English versions) from Amazon.com

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.

Continue reading

Terror of Mechagodzilla Trailer Show

Thanks are due to Wtf-Film friend of and sometimes contributor Ted Johnson for providing coverage of this, the last of the Showa-era Godzilla series, especially since I don’t really care for the film myself.  Those pesky Black Hole Aliens are back, and this time they have a disgruntled Earth scientist and his pet dinosaur to help them!

In America the property was handled by Bob Conn Enterprises, who renamed it The Terror of Godzilla and trimmed it of several minutes of footage.  U.P.A. Productions of America would retain television rights and release a mostly complete version to television under the title Terror of Mechagodzilla, complete with a lengthy prologue that blandly detailed the history of Godzilla.

In Germany distributors seem, as ever, to have been confused as to how to advertise their new acquisition, and the two villainous monsters were referred to as Konga and King Kong in their advertising materials:

Godzilla’s Revenge

Origintal Title: Gojira, Minira, Gabara: Oru Kaiju Daishingeki Alt.: All Monsters Attack
Year: 1969   Company: Toho Co. Ltd.   Runtime: 69′   Director: Ishiro Honda
Writer: Shinichi Sekizawa   Cinematography: Sokei Tomioka   Music: Kuniyo Miyauchi
SPFX Director: Ishiro Honda   Assistant SPFX Director: Teruyoshi Nakano
Cast: Tomonori Yazaki, Eisei Amamoto, Sachio Sakai, Kazuo Suzuki, Kenji Sahara,
Machiko Naka, Shigeki Ishida, Yoshifumi Tajima, Chotaro Tagin,  Ikio Sawamura,
Godzilla: Haruo Nakajima   Minya: “Little Man” Machan,   Gabara: Yu Sekida
Order this film on DVD (Japanese and English versions) from Amazon.com

When it comes to the King of the Monster’s 10th screen adventure I can honestly say that my memories are fond.  It aired on television constantly as I was growing up (being one of the U.P.A. Productions of America properties that TNT broadcast on a regular basis) and, thanks to a grandmother sympathetic to my monster obsession, it was also one of the first Godzilla films I ever owned.  Produced at a fraction of the cost of the previous year’s big budget box office disappointment Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla’s Revenge would be the first entry in the series to be aimed squarely at children – something that has earned it the ire of many a tokusatsu fan in the years since its release.

Godzilla’s Revenge (or All Monters Attack, as Toho would prefer it be called) is easily the most compact of all the mosnter’s outings, focusing not on prehistoric behemoths laying waste to modern civilization but on a child who, in his day-dreaming, visits Monster Island as a means of coping with the problems in his life.  You’ll be forgiven for thinking that sounds a little strange – it is.  But it also makes the film one of the most narratively intriguing of the lot, for Godzilla’s Revenge takes place in a Japan unlike any other in Godzilla history; one in which the eponymous monster is entirely fictional.

Continue reading

Godzilla’s Revenge Trailer Show

One of the real oddities of the franchise, Godzilla’s Revenge follows latchkey kid Ichiro as he deals with life’s difficulties through imaginary visits to Monster Island.  More drama than fantasy, it’s clear that even Toho didn’t know how to market this one – the company opted to bypass the human drama and focus almost exclusively on the monsters.  The problem is that there’s not much in the way of original monster footage in the film to begin with, and plenty of the stock footage used in the trailer doesn’t even appear in the final cut.

Released domestically through U.P.A. Productions of America and Maron Films in 1971, American advertising for Godzilla’s Revenge focuses even less on the human element, and instead decides to lie to the audience outright with regards to what the film is actually about.

Those are, sadly, the only two pieces of advertising I could locate for Godzilla’s Revenge, but since so much of its monster content was lifted from Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster and Son of Godzilla (both of which had been released directly to U.S. television a few years prior to Revenge‘s theatrical debut) I’ve included a pair of domestic television spots for them as well: