Monday, May 12, 2014

The Litany of Godzilla: Showa Series Part Four- Shrinking Budgets

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All Monsters Attack
(aka Godzilla’s Revenge)
1969

Ichiro is a typical Japanese latchkey boy, in disturbingly short pants.


He spends most nights with a goofy, yet good hearted, neighbor, and has to deal with a bully, Gabera, and his gang after school.

He’s spotted by the world’s worst bank robbers in an abandoned broken down building he plays in.  Though he didn’t see them, they come to kidnap him anyway, stealing the goofy, yet good hearted, neighbor’s car to do it. This ultimately gets them found by the police when he discovers his car a few blocks from home.  

Ichiro manages to escape anyway, because the robbers keep falling into Home Alone type traps. No one’s set them in the abandoned house, they’re just clumsy.

“Where’s Godzilla?” you ask.
He’s not real.

Ichiro has a Dino Dan style delusion about visiting Monster Island where he mostly sees stock footage from the past three films.  (This makes Godzilla’s appearance jarringly inconsistent.)  The only new footage is of Minilla shrunk down and talking to Ichiro, and scenes with Minilla’s own bully, also named Gabera.

Instead of a bad boy, this Gabera is a scaly, electric handed, horned, apey looking thing.

Ichiro uses his daydreams to find practical applications of Kaiju Kombat in everyday life.  He thwarts the robbers and gets a Scott Farkus moment against Gabera.  Then, we get to the moral, where he acts like a brat and makes a sign painter fall off a ladder, endearing him to the bully gang.

When looked at from a psycolohgical point of view…

Oh I can’t do it.

This one is terrible, and it was on TV all the time when I was a kid.

I always confused the All Monsters Attack title with Destroy All Monsters and was soundly disappointed every time.

I mean, I still watched it, and enjoyed it...but can't really defend it.

Let’s just pretend it never happened and move on.



Godzilla vs. Hedorah
(aka Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster)
1971

There’s pollution and a lava lamp hippie song, before we meet Ken the son of a scientist. He’s another little boy in disturbingly short pants with a Godzilla fixation. This time the monster is real, and the kid seems to have a psychic link with him, having visions of the big guy before he appears.

The scientist is studying a larger than usual (about a foot long) sludgy tadpole, when a report of an MUCH larger than usual (tugboat sized) one appears on TV.  Ken’s dad figures out the tadpoles grow out of pollution, come from a meteor, and can merge into larger ones.  He goes scuba diving for evidence and gets his face burned by a monster one for his troubles.  The same creature pulls a Free Willy over Ken and burns his hand.

Ken names the monster “Hedorah” because it came out of the mud.  If I had a way to look up that the Japanese word hedoro meant sludge, this would have made more sense when I was young. 

Ken also writes a poem about Godzilla saving the Earth where we get to see him for the first time, and hear his new, still excessively brassy, but much more heroic theme.

There’s a scene in a Go Go dance club for no visible reason, where a guy is looking at a girl dancer and having a bad trip involving fish hallucinations.

You knew these movies were weird when we started this journey, don’t quit on me now.

Nobody’s worried about Hedorah on land, because tadpoles can’t leave the water.   Sadly, no biology teachers were available to explain metamorphosis, because that’s exactly what happens.  The Smog Monster comes ashore as a shambling pile with big red eyes, starts sucking on some smokestacks and grows four limbs.

Godzilla wanders by to see what’s going on, Hedorah jumps on his head, and gets hammer tossed into the next county.  While the excessively heroic Godzilla spins him, blobs of Hedorahness fly off and kill a small Mah Jong Group, and ooze into the already oozy Lava Lamp looking Go Go bar. 

The two Kaiju face off a bit. Hedorah spits acidy goo, and Godzilla breathes on him. Hedorah sparks a bunch from the attack, which makes Godzilla pensively think a bit before yelling.  Smoggy plops back into the ocean with the Big G right behind him. Instead of giving chase, Godzilla pauses to burn all the pollution floating on the water.

With his highly radioactive breath...yeah, that’ll help.

There’s a bunch of cartoons throughout the film that I think are supposed to explain things.
They’re not very effective.

We learn the Go Go Bar scene was only a partial waste of time, as the dancer is Ken’s sister, and Bad Fish Trip is her boyfriend.   We also learn that having Hedorah eat all the pollution is not as good as it sounds because he processes it into Sulfuric Acid Gas - basically, weaponized airborne Smog Monster farts.

The hippie couple takes Ken to an amusement park and he “sees” Godzilla again, which means the new stage Hedorah is on the way.  Now the pollution monster flies, leaving a jet of lethal smoke in his wake.  It corrodes buildings (in a very cool scene) chokes people, destroys plant life, and pollutes fish tanks (in a somewhat less cool scene.)

Ken proves to be much smarter than his sister’s aquatic drug hazed boyfriend.  He figures out from what his dad explains that electricity will dry out Hedorah.  The initial tests work and plans start on a giant electrical generator thingy, since Godzilla broke all the high tension wires in the old movies, I guess.

Sadly, Bad Fish Trip has his own spectacular idea.  The “Million Man Go Go.” 
I kid you not

They set up a huge party with a band and bonfires on Mount Fuji, hoping their unwashed masses and bad psychedelic rock will embarrass Hedorah into leaving, perhaps? 
Honestly, I ‘m a little muddy on what he hoped to accomplish.

What he does accomplish, with the noise and smoky fires, is attracting the Smog Monster, who flies in and transforms into a new, ginormouser than Godzilla bipedal form.

Godzilla shows up for several consecutive face offs with the Smog Monster, who can now jet toxic blobs of goop and shoot laser beams out of its eyes.  Each Kaiju closes one eye of the other, but on the whole, Godzilla ends up the worst in all the encounters.  At one point, he’s knocked into a hole, and Hedorah basically poops sludge all over him.  Not exactly our star’s finest moment.

The only ones who fare worse than Godzilla are the hippies, who decide that the smoke eating Hedorah doesn’t like fire. They throw torches at the creature until it oozes over and skeletizes the geniuses.  Fortunately for her, Ken has another psychic Godziallagram and gets his sister out of the doomed plan before the monster gets there.

The army does unusually well at accomplishing their plan. They lose a couple helicopters dropping oxygen on Hedorah, but do manage to lure him directly between the giant electrodes constructed to dry him out.  Their effectiveness takes a sharp drop off at this point, because during the Kaiju battle, the monsters rolled through the power lines, preventing the electrodes from powering up.

Godzilla recovers from his pollution based butt kicking to stroll over in time to use his radioactive breath to activate the electrodes. 

Try not to think too hard about why that worked, you’ll hurt yourself.

Hedorah gets crisped, and Godzilla triumphantly punches into his squishiness to pull out two eggs, which he electro breath fries as well.

Now.

If the film was smart enough to end here, even taking the hippies and cartoons into account, it would go down as a visionary, forward thinking Kaiju film, possessing many of the elements of the much more respected .Heisei Series:

No Stock Footage
Psychic Links to the Monsters
Original Transforming Kaiju with a unique musical theme
Symbolic message about the Earth
Dark and realistic damage and casualty effects
Enough budget for detailed models and many monster shots

But no, it didn’t end.  Hedorah jumps up, transforms and flies away.

Then Godzilla, accompanied by his own snappy “Up in the Air Junior Birdmen” type song, uses his breath weapon to lift himself into the air and fly backwards after his foe.

And that’s all anyone remembers about this movie.

Once the image that can never be unseen has been experienced the rest of the story is kind of a blur.

Godzilla catches the near dead Hedorah, slams him around by his tail for a bit, and flies him back to the army.  They still have power problems, prompting Godzilla to give them a radioactive eye roll, before using his breath to fry Hedorah one last time.

He stomps and splats the remains of the icky beast around a bit while the groovy hippie music plays again, until he realizes he made a giant mess and electrifies it all away.

Finally, he walks off into the sunset, to the farewell cries of Ken, who still thinks it would be a good idea to have Godzilla hang around.  Maybe he was just hoping to get rid of more hippies.


Earth Destructive Directive: Godzilla Against Gigan
(aka Godzilla on Monster Island, Godzilla vs. Gigan)
1972

Gengo the comic book artist can’t sell his ideas, mostly because they’re terrible. Oddly, the World Children’s League likes his designs for things like “The Homework Monster” and “The Monster of Too Strict Mothers” and hires him.

The Worlds Children’s League has built a larger than life sized Godzilla statue and plans to do more.  Once they make the monster models, they’re going to kill the denizens of Monster Island.  All the employees of this group dedicated to “Absolute Peace” wear odd colored pastel shirts.  They also have a secret room with an odd looking globe and a guy calculating orbits of the Space Hunter Nebula-M.  Gengo is suspicious enough of this to hold on to the tape a girl (and “enemy of peace”) dropped when running out of the building. 

And rightly so, as these men are a combination of two sets of previous enemies of Earth.
Yes, the evil businessmen constructing an amusement park are really space aliens.

Turns out the girl’s brother is a computer programmer being held captive by the pastel crowd, but he got the tape out to her.  Her friend, an aging hippie, also helps out.  The tape makes no sound any human can understand, but it’s heard on Monster Island, where Godzilla and Anguirus have a chat about the noise.

Personal Aside:
This was the last of the original films that I added to my collection, and I’d never seen it on broadcast television.  After hearing the Kaiju speak, I figured I had imagined it and rewound the tape and played it over…
TEN TIMES

Then I started screaming, and didn’t stop until my family came in to check on me and could confirm what I heard.

And people say Japanese monster movies aren’t scary.


Godzilla sends his spiky buddy to check it out; much in the same way the Lone Ranger sends Tonto into town for information.  Except instead of some cowhands, the entire army beats the snot out of poor Anguirus, sending him back home before he gets all four feet on shore.

The intrepid group of heroes tries investigating city hall, and finds a match for the young genius in charge of the World Children’s League, and nebula orbits -  “The Controller.”

There’s a problem with their match, though. When they meet the boy’s family, they learn not only is he not very bright, but he is also very dead.  He died in a climbing accident with his teacher, who looks suspiciously like the guy who hired Gengo.

A message arrives from Nebula M with a new tape, “of peace,” which is played.  Anguirus returns to Monster Island, and this time he and Godzilla swim to the mainland.  Meanwhile, our heroes enact a staggeringly bad rescue mission that not only fails to free the computer programmer, but arouses enough suspicions that Gengo is given a pack of cigarettes with a tracker.  He obligingly brings it home, nearly allowing the whole gang to get captured.  Luckily his girlfriend shows up, and she knows Karate…which apparently trumps space laser guns in this movie, since the aliens get scared and run away.

The signal from the “Tape of Peace” goes way way waaaaaay out into space, and we get to watch it, because it eats time without eating the effects budget.  Eventually it reaches a Fiery Space Thing and a Crystal Space Thing.  The Fiery Space Thing is, of course, King Ghidorah. He’s gotten his twin tailed tush kicked so many times that he’s been reduced from taking on an army of Kaiju himself to being second banana.

The Crystal Space Thing is Godzilla’s newest opponent, the love child of a giant chicken and a Cuisinart:  Gigan.


Godzilla and Anguirus are still swimming.

The heroes break into the tower again, and get caught almost immediately, in spite of some girlfriend karate.  They learn the pastel wearing aliens from Space Hunter Nebula-M plan to use them as uniforms.  They came from a planet where the dominant human like life forms polluted it to death (MESSAGE MESSAGE MESSAGE) Since their race can survive nearly any condition, they took over and are going to get Earth before it becomes dead too.  

Yes, the evil businessmen constructing an amusement park are not just aliens, they’re alien cockroaches.   Their true identity is revealed when the emergency lighting makes them cast bug shaped shadows…

Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

OOH LOOK GIGAN AND KING GHIDORAH ARE HERE!

They fly around the Godzilla tower for a bit, while Godzilla and Anguirus are still swimming.

And talking.
AAAAAAHH!


The military lines itself up to be more targets for the two space monsters on their way to (where else) Tokyo.

Godzilla and Anguirus are still swimming.

There’s a large amount of Space Monster caused destruction, until Godzilla and Anguirus finally show up, and start fighting in slow motion.  After a bit, King Ghidorah and Godzilla watch videos of their past fights, leaving Gigan to beat on Anguirus.

The Sister and the Aging Hippie weren’t with the useless rescue attempt, allowing them to free everyone from the completely open top of the tower using a giant helium balloon (which apparently grow on trees in Kaiju Japan) and a zip line.  When they escape, the aliens reveal the Godzilla tower was built with a devastating laser breath weapon.  Their plan is to use the space monsters to lure Godzilla to them. This way they can kill him and take over the Earth.  It may have made more sense to simply develop a mobile version of this weapon and take over the Earth with it, but what can you expect from cockroaches.

We have another first, almost as disturbing as monsters talking: monsters bleeding.

Gigan hacks big gouts of blood from Godzilla’s head, blinding him. This leads him to stagger toward the tower, where the laser can blast the boojeebers out of him.

Luckily, besides balloons, our heroes also have many crates full of TNT.  They hide these in the unguarded elevator of the tower behind a drawing of all of them that Gengo made in an alarmingly short amount of time.  The ruse works perfectly, (what can you expect from cockroaches) and when the aliens fire on the picture, they and the control center goes BOOM!

King Ghidorah and Gigan stand around stupidly for a bit, but unlike past times alien control was broken, they snap out of it almost immediately.  Anguirus and King Ghidorah watch their old fights, but Anguirus came out pretty badly then too.

Gigan starts in busting open Godzilla’s head again, and then throws him at the tower in his image.  One of the girls says, “Godzilla’s strong again.”  It isn’t obvious why she says this, as Gigan continues to ginsu him with relative ease.

When things look bleak, again, Anguirus suddenly remembers he’s completely covered with large dangerous spikes and begins launching himself backwards into his foes.  They get confused, and run into each other, and the Big G, who holds them while his little pointy backed buddy bounds into them.

The space monsters finally flee, the alien’s entire amusement park has been leveled, and the good Kaiju head home to Monster Island.  The heroes wave goodbye, and Godzilla treats them to a farewell roar, before a monumentally catchy Go-Ji-Ra song plays over the end credits.

And speaking of catchy:

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