For it’s next city crushing extravaganza, Toho Studios had something big in store.
But, I hear you cry, what could possibly be bigger than a giant monster turning Tokyo into an atomic wasteland?
Try eleven of the bastards.
This was the ninth Godzilla film, and the twentieth monster movie made by Toho overall so something special was obviously going to be put in place but while bigger is actually better in this case, the basic plot isn’t anything we haven’t seen before.
Yup, it’s standard aliens control monsters, monsters cause untold property damage, humans thwart alien’s plans, monsters attack aliens. Classic. But while Toho seems to have next to no interest in reinventing the wheel (they even brought back some key past contributors behind the camera) they ARE interested in scale far above substance and for once, so should you.
The year is now 1999 and all the world’s monsters have been corralled and contained on Monsterland, an island which uses various scientific methods to keep them in one place and not turning the closest capital city into gravel. However aliens called the Kilaaks abduct the monsters and the staff assigned to monitor them and soon both humans and Kaiju pop up all over the globe, mind controled and causing more havoc than a kleptomaniac at a baby shower. Only a plucky bunch of astronauts stationed on the moon and their state of the art rockship have any hope of saving the world but the devious Kilaaks have an ace up their sleeves; a 3-headed one by the name of King Ghidorah.
To make this entry special the studio raided their sizable monster back catalogue to make this an all-star event, sure Mothra and Rodan had appeared in a Godzilla movie before, but they had debuted in their own movies first. Also making the leap are the gliding Varan, Baragon (last seen fighting a giant Frankenstein’s monster. Seriously.), the eel-like Manda and previous Kong opponent Gorosaurus, each are given their own city to destroy (Godzilla gets New York, pre-empting the ’98 U.S. reboot by 30 years) and do so with gusto until the final, very impressive final brawl.
Of course, this being a monster movie that was made in 1968 means that wires and painted background are all hugely visible but that shouldn’t take away from what a huge techinal achievement the climatic fight is. Despite how incredibly unfair the final battle is (8 against 1 is ridiculous odds even if your antagonist has 3 heads!) the sheer amount of planning it must have taken boggles the mind, some creatures are entirely puppeteered, some are men in suits, how they didn’t regularly get all tangled up is a marvel to me.
The film is loaded with memorable moments, one being the hapless Anguirus (surely the Eeyore of Toho’s monster menagerie) clamping onto King Ghidorah’s neck only to be hoisted high up into sky and then dropped like a spikey bad habit. Or the eyebrow raising scene where one of our heroes works out that the Kilaaks are controlling his sister through her earrings; so he simply just rips them out and proudly shows them to the crowd as she sobs on the floor. Charming.
Due to it’s sheer scale and value for money when it comes to it’s expansive monster line up (unbeaten until 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars which features 15 of the fuckers), it really is the go to film for the early Godzilla sequels, although for my money Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster and Invasion Of The Astro-monster are the better films.
Still, a monster mosh pit like no other.