Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964 Japan)

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Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964 Japan)

Post  BoG on Sun Oct 06, 2013 5:33 pm

There's a DVD-R of this film from BijouFlix, a full screen version which looks like it was copied from a TV broadcast. When played, I realized that a few minutes of footage must be missing (this is the American version released in '65) because a couple of scenes are mentioned at the Million Monkey Theater site (GHIDRAH Review at MillionMonkeyTheater) which are NOT on my copy. Aaaiii - someone must pay! But, later for that.
The review at Million Monkey Theater is a blow-by-blow overview: this lengthy review covers every minute of action which takes place during the 'about-85-minute' film and you will learn every plot turn in the film. But, be warned: it's written by a guy named Mike Martinez who is NOT a fan of the film; he writes quite condescendingly about it and thinks of himself as a very funny writer;  for example, right at the start, in his list of credits, he throws in "Godzilla, Rodan, Bugs Bunny, Michael Jordan, and the rest of the gang" - ha-ha, you funny, Mike! You very funny!  His attitude (and review comments) underscores how this film divides the fans of Kaiju cinema. Some fans are still  entertained by the juvenile 'dumbing-down' of Japanese monsters with this pivotal film because it's fun; others really hate how Godzilla and other monsters were turned into jokes. I also used to mix this one up with the follow-up, Invasion of  Astro-Monster (65) a.k.a. Monster Zero.
And, this IS a pivotal film - in several ways. Godzilla takes his 5th bow here. It's the first teaming up of Godzilla & Rodan (after they rumble, that is), functioning as a sequel to Mothra vs. Godzilla (64) and Rodan (56). And, as mentioned, it signaled the last time that Godzilla was portrayed as a villain (he's a villain in the 1st half here, then switches to Earth's savior). At least, Godzilla wasn't a villain for a long time after this film. This was also the first monster mash: besides the Big G and Rodan, there's the new Mothra (still a young larva here) and the 1st appearance of the 3-headed Ghidorah a.k.a. Ghidrah. It was also the latest (and last for the actresses) appearance of the tiny twin fairies (from Mothra vs. Godzilla), who would return in Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster (1966). Mothra is the truly heroic one here, tackling the menacing Ghidorah by itself after trying to 'talk' sense to Godzilla & Rodan; these moments probably elicited emotional responses from children back then, the new target audience at this point.
I admit I do find a lot of this entertaining, even with the poor DVD-R version I have (and even with the bad changes, as usual, to the Japanese version in the American one).  The key moment occurs when the 3 'good' monsters (G, Rodan, Mothra) have a discussion about whether to defend Earth from the destructive Ghidorah - this is translated by the twin fairies. First, is this the pot calling the kettle black? Ghidorah is very destructive, yes, but what were Godzilla & Rodan doing just minutes before? I had to laugh as the translators tell us of Godzilla's problems with the troublesome humans since, a half-hour earlier, the Big G had blown up a ship with his bad breath for no reason. The underlying message to me was that Godzilla & Rodan are kind of a-holes, even as heroes. Their main objective in the first half of the film was to simply kick ass and cause damage; maybe they're just cranky because they're the last of their kind. I'm also kind of surprised that this film wasn't titled "Godzilla vs. Rodan" or "Rodan vs. Godzilla" - as the Big Two of Japanese monster cinema back then, I would think that title(s) would have been good marketing. Oh, well, a little late to be considering that now and what's in a name, anyway? Also known as Earth's Greatest Battle, Monster of Monsters, The Biggest Battle on Earth and Three Giant Monsters. BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10
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