From Strange and Distant Shores: Godzilla Movie Marathon, Part Two

By Orrin Grey

Director: Ishiro Honda Country: Japan

Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)

mothra_godzillaThe next film in the Showa-era series, Mothra vs. Godzilla, is, in a lot of ways, pretty much identical to King Kong vs. Godzilla (albeit less silly).

A giant egg washes ashore and a greedy corporation (see?) buys it. Mothra and her doll-like twin attendants show up from Infant Island (which, in the version we watched, was mis-translated as “Monster Island”) to try to get the egg back by peaceful means but no dice. Then Godzilla shows up and starts wrecking everything (mostly by stumbling over it; he seems kind of hung over in this one), and the human protagonists go to Infant Island to try to convince Mothra to help defeat Godzilla.

The natives (who bear a striking resemblance to the ones from King Kong vs. Godzilla, albeit with more ostrich feathers) are initially disinclined to help, but eventually, the twins sing an awesome song and Mothra agrees and sets off for Japan, even though (as we’re told) she is dying and will not have enough energy to return to the island after fighting Godzilla.

Mothra proceeds to knock Godzilla around for awhile and then dies and two new larval Mothras hatch from the egg and chase Godzilla around an island before finally cocooning him in one of the most boring monster battles ever filmed. Then they swim off back to Infant Island in a shot almost exactly like the closing scene of King Kong vs. Godzilla, only with a couple of giant caterpillars in place of a giant ape. (Which, admittedly, is cooler.)

Monster Zero (1965)

godzilla_monster_zero_frontAlso known as Invasion of Astro-Monster, Monster Zero is actually not the first appearance of Ghidorah. That would be the 1964 film Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, which we skipped in favour of this one because we didn’t want to double-up on Ghidorah-centric movies and I specifically wanted to see this one because it introduced Planet X.

The story opens with a mysterious new planet having just been discovered beyond Jupiter, and it doesn’t take long for earth to send a couple of astronauts (played by Akira Takarada and American actor Nick Adams) to Planet X to investigate. They land and discover that Planet X is pretty cool-looking and also inhabited by what appears to be a techno band. The leader of the band, known as “The Controller of Planet X,” explains to the astronauts that Planet X is being plagued by King Ghidorah, who supposedly fled there after his battle with Godzilla in the last movie. The Controller wants to borrow Godzilla and Rodan to fight Ghidorah, and in exchange, Planet X will give the people of Earth a recipe for a drug that can cure all disease (in the original Japanese version, apparently, it’s just the cure for cancer).

Still, this sounds like a pretty sweet deal to the people of Earth and so, to make a long story short, Godzilla and Rodan end up on Planet X, beat up Ghidorah, and then Godzilla does a very odd little victory dance (apparently a “jumping shay” dance that was popular in Japan at the time, also apparently protested by the director, but to no avail). It doesn’t take long, though, for the human protagonists to figure out that the aliens are full of it, and that they are, in fact, planning to conquer the Earth by mind-controlling Godzilla and Rodan (and also Ghidorah, who was in fact under their power all along). Fortunately, the Earth scientists figure out ways to defeat the aliens. Just before their flying saucers explode, though, the aliens claim that they’re going to “escape into the future.” Remember that, because it’ll come back up in our final movie.

All Monsters Attack (1969)

all_monsters_attackBy the time we started All Monsters Attack, we were getting pretty tired of Godzilla movies. We had been prepared for them to be silly, but so far, they had also been repetitive and occasionally boring, which was harder to deal with. When we put in All Monsters Attack – the second movie to feature Godzilla’s son Minilla and also the second of Toho’s huge monster mash films after Destroy All Monsters, which was sadly unavailable – we were hoping for a change of pace. We got one, but unfortunately, it wasn’t for the better.

All Monsters Attack is the first film in the Godzilla franchise to be openly aimed at children. As such, it’s the exploding-toilets episode of the Godzilla movie series.

As previously, we were watching the American version and so, what we were in for became immediately apparent with the brightly-coloured titles and Pink Panther music playing over the opening credits. We probably could’ve survived that, but when Minilla showed up and started to talk, everybody died. And by “died”, I mean turned off the movie, by instantaneous mutual agreement.

Which is a long way of saying that we didn’t give All Monsters Attack a fair shake, but also that it probably doesn’t deserve one. I remember seeing it as a kid and, like most kids I knew, couldn’t stand Minilla even then. As has happened in so many movies, when the makers of the Godzilla films realized that children formed a large part of their audience they attempted to make their movies more appealing to children, which produced Minilla, which all children hated. I’m afraid, five movies into our marathon, we were all burned out enough that none of us had the mental fortitude for Minilla any longer, especially a talking one.

Purchase Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), Monster Zero (1965) and All Monsters Attack (1969) from Amazon.com