Zombies have saturated the market, aliens are not in season, and vampires & werewolves are locked in a prissy slap-fight for young adult literature dominance. Let’s face it, now is the suck-all time to be a fan of monsters.
But I have the answer. It’s time to bring the Big Guy back – Godzilla.
Normally, this is the point where I bring out all the scientific evidence to back up my claim that the next decade will belong to the G. Sure, all eyes are on Japan in the wake of tragedy – just like his debut in 1954. He hasn’t had a new film in seven years, a long stretch for a character that has been in 28 movies in 5 decades. I could even mention the underlying message of caution in Godzilla flicks would blend very well in our age of being afraid of meat, anal sex, and the sun.
But none of that really matters when you consider he breathes atomic death and fights a THREE-HEADED DRAGON WITH NO ARMS. Come on, what else do you want? Crazy space babes? Hallucinating kids? A pterodactyl? Oh wait, those are there, too.
It’s my mission to show you exactly why Godzilla is called the King of Monsters. It’s an ambitious project, but I have watched all the Godzilla movies in order of release, in their original Japanese cuts. And let me tell you, some of these lost classics were not easy to come by in that format. I had to trade some pretty high-level Pokemon for a copy of Godzilla vs. Megalon.
Special note: I don’t use the term kaiju to describe “big monsters,” because the people that know what it means have already masturbated to these movies at least a dozen times each, and don’t need these reviews.
A.K.A.: Godzilla, King of Monsters
Story: A prehistoric dinosaur-like monster is woken by the testing of nuclear weapons. He makes return trips to Japan, each one more destructive than the last until the Nick Fury of scientists kills Godzilla (and himself) with an invention called the Oxygen Destroyer. No one is happy at the end.
Comments: Let me get this out of the way so there is no confusion about this project: this is the good one. The first Godzilla movie was a terrifying, unnerving tale of the horror that man hath wrought. It created the blueprint for fearsome giant monster movies that would be completely ignored for the next 27 films. There’s a scene during Godzilla’s attack on Tokyo where a crying mother is huddled with her small children, telling them they’ll be seeing their father soon. Holy. Shit. You are not going to see that kind of drama in Son of Godzilla. Just wait, you’ll see what I mean.
Crazy Scientist: Dr. Daisuke Serizawa spends a good portion of his scientific career creating the ultimate fish-killer, and he has the badass eye-scar to prove it. To keep this devastating weapon from being abused, he kills himself instead of not telling anybody. That is dedication to the craft.
Message: When you fuck with powers you don’t understand, nature will find a way to stomp you and thousands of your closest friends.
Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
A.K.A. Gigantis, the Fire Monster
Story: Two tuna company pilots land on an island to discover a one pinfall, no disqualification match between Godzilla and an Ankylosaurus that ends disappointingly in a draw when a landslide carries them into the ocean. But after a whole lot of scenes of scientists freaking out about another Godzilla and new threat Anguirus, and way too much focus on the romantic subplot, we get a rematch in Osaka.
After a poignant exchange of ideals (“Graaaaaaaah!” “Raaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!”), these two monsters throw down in a comically high-speed battle that would teach future directors to slow it down, man. Godzilla eventually wins a fair bout by cheating and using his fire breath to burn Anguirus. That’s not Queensbury Rules, chap.
Of course, Japan still has one big-ass monster to deal with. They do that by burying him under an ice avalanche, which doesn’t have near the punch as destroying all the oxygen in the sea did.
Comments: My favorite part of this movie is the meeting between scientists after the discovery that Godzilla is alive, and he has a buddy. Usually any scene without guys in rubber suits is a drag, but I love that the dialogue is almost identical to the dinosaur facts I came up with when I was seven. “Oh, Ankylosaur? He’s a vicious killer, dude. Total meat devourer. Also, he has a cool spinning attack that will make you dizzy if he hits you three times. That’s assuming he doesn’t death-hump you first.” I re-checked Wikipedia to confirm that Ankylosaur is, in fact, the armored vagina of the Cretaceous Period. No spin move, no aggressive nature… the guy is a veggie. He never had a chance against a walking, atomic fire-breathing boner.
Notable Because: This is the first giant monster fight in the Godzilla movies. The rubber monster suit industry can thank Godzilla Raids Again for the sudden cash infusion that bought their awesome breast milk jacuzzi.
King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
Story: Second billing to that poop flinger? Fuck that. Anyways, A pharmaceutical company looking for publicity sends a couple guys to Faro Island to capture a legendary giant monster. What this has to do with erectile dysfunction, I don’t… oh, I get it now. At the same time, a sub runs into the iceberg that has encased Godzilla for the past 7 years since he Raided Again.
The two company men discover the monster is the giant gorilla King Kong, who shows up to throw rocks at a mega-sized octopus that was attacking the native village. (Fun fact: real octopi were used for this scene, one of which ended up as dinner!) Kong celebrates with a hit off some Ol’ Uncle Voodoo Brand sleepy berry juice, and finds himself tied to a raft being towed to Japan. He breaks out and heads to the mainland, where Godzilla is already pissing everyone off.
They stomp around a bit, but Kong is surprised that his scaly enemy has heat breath. He wasn’t ready for that shit, so he bails fast to make trouble elsewhere. All of Japan is pretty screwed, so the Defense Force decides to get the two back together again and hope they kill each other. Pretty sound plan, right?
In an overly slapsticky battle, you see the two play hide-and-seek, grab-ass, volleyball, and what looks to be heavy petting. Godzilla starts to win until Kong gets weird electric grabbing powers after being struck by lightning. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but King Kong wins.
Comments: Here comes the goofy. The King Kong suit is about as convincing as your hirsute uncle Benny. The head of the pharmaceutical company is Japan’s answer to Jerry Lewis. The fight doesn’t even have a real ending. But just the idea of these two throwing down STILL gives me chills… even if they are both inexplicable judo masters.
Notable Because: Other than being the ultimate fan fiction made true, this is the first time either character appeared in color and widescreen.
Made-Up Powers: King Kong channels electricity. If he would have had that ability in Times Square, he’d still be fondling Fay Wray’s bones on the Empire State Building. And the terrorists wouldn’t have dared.
Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
A.K.A. Godzilla vs. The Thing
Story: After a violent storm, a huge egg washes ashore and a thrilling ownership battle begins! The fishermen that found it sell the egg to the sleazy Happy Enterprises company, who plan to make it some kind of visitor attraction… because that’s where all the real money is made. But miniature twin girls from a place called Infant Island claim it’s Mothra’s egg, and needs to be returned to her. If you didn’t watch Mothra before this, just go with it. This isn’t even close to being the most inexplicable bump in our magical journey.
Then Godzilla shows up because… this is a Godzilla movie. Someone gets the bright idea to ask Mothra for her help in defeating Godzilla, because the military geniuses are still trying electricity and bombs – which haven’t worked in the three movies previous. The Infant Islanders tell them to screw off because the egg hasn’t been returned, and oh yeah… your nuclear bombs have made freaks of everything. But Mothra is a nice monster, and goes off to fight Godzilla and get utterly destroyed. Because it’s Mothra.
The twins hatch the egg with the power of song, and two larvae Mothra emerge! Which means mighty Godzilla fights what looks like two sentient turds for the rest of the movie. Turds that spit webbing. Godzilla is so goddamn disgusted with the whole affair that he feigns defeat just to make them go away.
Comments: This is the first Godzilla movie I remember seeing when I was a lad, and when they used to show crazy shit like this on television. So I have a fondness for it, despite it being the King of Monsters versus insects. The first fight with Mothra is alright, but too short. The fight with the larvae is awful. If someone busted in on me watching it, I’d lie and say I was flipping channels in search of Cupcake Wars. Way less embarrassing, and only half the semen jokes.
Weird Women: The Shobijin of Infant Island are telepathic, singing twins in cupcake hats that are only a few inches tall. Everyone else on the island is normal-sized. I don’t think anyone has ever bothered to question this. Fun fact: I’m pretty sure seeing this movie when I was a kid began my lifelong dream of twin Asian girlfriends.
To be continued in part two!
Godzilla is coming back to comics, beginning this week with the release of IDW’s Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #1. Pictured here is the special variant cover of Godzilla squashing the comic store I manage, Austin Books & Comics!