Welcome to part 2 of our look back at the venerable Godzilla franchise. This week, we dive head first into the campiness and outright sillyness that would define the series, so let’s get started.
Ghidorah The Three-Headed Monster (1964)
This was the first real big “monster brawl” movie where multiple beasts team up for one big throw-down. In this case Godzilla, the giant Pterodactyl Rodan and Mothra (but only one, and it stays in larval form the entire movie) team up to fight the three head-headed space dragon King Ghidorah.
King Ghidorah will be showing up a lot in future films, he’s the closest thing Godzilla has to an arch-nemesis. And before you ask, I’m not really sure what Ghidorah is king of.
This film changed the franchise quite a bit. It’s the first film where Godzilla is portrayed as a hero, and the first one where he and the other monsters display sentience. In one scene, Mothra has to talk Rodan and the Big Guy into teaming up to fight King Ghidorah, which is translated to the human characters by Mothra’s fairies.
This is definitely where the series shifted more into kiddie entertainment than serious sci-fi, but it’s mostly harmless fun and an enjoyable watch.
Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)
While on an expedition to Planet X (yep), a team of astronauts meet the planet’s native people, who wear antennae on their heads and fly hokey looking flying saucers (yep..) The planet is being repeatedly attacked by King Ghidorah, and the aliens implore Earth to let them borrow Godzilla and Rodan (but not Mothra for some reason) to fight King Ghidorah in exchange for a cure for cancer (yep…..).
Of course it all turns out to be a double-cross and the aliens take control of all three monsters in a bid to conquer Earth (of course!).
This one is just….dumb. It’s a dumb, hokey, silly 70s sci-fi movie, and for me, this is the real turning point for the original series from serious sci-fi to kiddie fare. And if you need proof, after initially beating King Ghidorah…..this happens
Yeah, that just happened. Godzilla is doing a victory dance. I hope it’s worth it big guy, ’cause you’re dancing away your credibility for the next 20 years.
Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster (1966)
“So gang, in our last two movies, Godzilla fought a giant, three-headed, flying space-dragon. We need to follow up with something amazing, any ideas?”
“Uhh…well, that lobster I had last night was pretty good….what if Godzilla fought a giant lobster?”
“That……is brilliant! Film it!”
Cause yeah, in this movie Godzilla fights Ebirah,a giant lobster. Oh, and the whole thing is set to twangy surf-music.
This whole film just baffles me. The human protagonists literally just find Godzilla sleeping in a cave after washing up on an island where some evil cultists or something are doing evil cultist stuff, and in order to fight Ebirah they wake up Godzilla by attaching a lightning rod to him.
There were a lot of new faces behind the scenes, and this film was actually originally meant to star King Kong, which explains a lot of it.
I would honestly have enjoyed this movie more if it wasn’t for that damn soundtrack. I guess they figured since it involves water a lot, the soundtrack from a beach party movie would be appropriate?
Son of Godzilla (1967)
Let’s talk about Minilla. Or Minya. Or just…baby Godzilla. He’s basically Godzilla’s adoptive son, a giant cutesy annoying little Jar Jar of a creature and I just can’t hold it in any longer, I hate this little bastard.
He was clearly created solely to sell plushies and appeal to kids and he’s just sooo damned annoying, waddling around and bleating like a lamb with its foot in a threshing machine.
The film is set on an island where some scientists are doing weather experiments and they discover Godzilla and some mantis creatures called Kamacuras and the…abomination. It all culminates in a half-decent fight between Godzilla, Minilla and Komonga, a giant spider, before the scientist freeze the whole island.
The film is just generally abysmal over all. By this point the Godzilla’s suit design has morphed into this duck-billed looking mess, the human characters are forgettable and far too much screen time is devoted to Minilla waddling around looking “cute”.
I wish to God I could say this is the last we’ll see of Minilla, but it gets worse…it gets so much worse….
Destroy all Monsters (1968)
This one is set in the far-off future of 1999, where all the world’s monsters have been collected on the conveniently named Monster Island for study. Apparently the people of 1999 are freaking insane. So you want to take this highly volatile, in some cases nuclear powered engines of destruction, and throw them all together on one island? Genius! And don’t even dare to act surprised when some evil aliens take them all over, you brought that on yourselves.
And also, how exactly did the people on Infant Island feel about you taking Mothra away? I can see it now
“Hi, we’re here to take Mothra to our new island for study”
“But…he’s our god. You can’t do that”
“Yes, we can, it’s for science!”
“No but, it’s for science!!”
Anyway. The movie touts itself as having a ton of monsters in its cast, and while a ton of monsters do appear, a lot of them show up in very brief clips taken outright from previous films. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a pretty massive cast but still, it isn’t quite the all-monster jamboree you may expect.
One thing as well is that a LOT of focus is put on the human cast, more so than before, I think. This is something we’ll see more and more of, but this film seems to have that problem in particular.
Also, as odd as it sounds…I almost don’t consider this a Godzilla movie. It’s a movie with Godzilla, but as I said, it’s almost like The Avengers, it’s like a giant monster ensemble piece. Godzilla is in it, in a fairly prominent role, but I don’t think he’s really the star.
This one is definitely enjoyable and one of the better films from the era.