Monday, June 2, 2014

The Litany of Godzilla: Heisei Series Part One: Reintroducing Kaiju

Click here to go back to the end of the Showa Era


Gojira
1954

An H-bomb test on Bikini Atoll mutates a dinosaur into the 50 meter tall living nuclear reactor Godzilla, who gets his name from some natives on Odo Island, also known for dancing in masks that look like caricatures of Richard Nixon.  He scares the boojeebers out of natives and visitors on Odo and creates many urban renewal jobs in Tokyo.  Doctor Serizawa creates a new horrible weapon, the oxygen destroyer.  He only tells Emiko, his betrothed who loves another, about it.  She decides that his alka seltzer of doom is preferable to a giant radioactive behemoth destroying the entire country and rats him out to her new squeeze Ogata and her Dad, Doctor Yamane.  The eye patch sporting Doc sets it off in the water (with an assist by Ogata as Doctor Yamane and Emiko watch) where it makes a lot of bubbles and disintegrates Godzilla, Doctor Serizawa, and its own secret (tragedy tragedy tragedy).  The film is released in the US two years later with added scenes of reporter Steve Martin (played by Raymond Burr) commenting dramatically.

Godzilla was not seen for the next thirty years.  All fourteen of those movies between 1955 and 1975 never happened.  No Jet Jaguar, no flying after the Smog Monster, no Berry Juice, no alien monkeys, cockroaches, or women who fall for Nick Adams. No Monster Island, no spin offs (Rodan, Mothra, the giant Frankenstein stories, Mechani-Kong, and the other one shot films that supplied all the guest stars in Destroy All Monsters)…

None of it.

You didn’t see it …

These are not the monsters you're looking for (Jedi finger wave).

Gojira
(aka The Return of Godzilla, Godzilla 1985)
1984



In 1984, Godzilla reappears, at eighty meters tall, with no explanation.  He’s got his fourth toe and fangs, but his little ears will have to wait another film to return to prominence.  Also, his nostrils seem to be gone. 

Things return to business as usual. There’s a mysteriously destroyed fishing boat, also hosting the giant bugs from the original Rodan for extra grossness factor.   There’s a Scientist who has a history with Godzilla, and a message. There’s a Plucky Reporter, fighting against the government keeping Godzilla a secret, and apparently hoping that no one will notice the enormous radioactive lizard if he comes to town.  And, of course, there’s a Brother and Sister separated by the secret.

Godzilla comes ashore and smashes up Tokyo pretty well again. No regular weapons work against him, and since he eats radioactivity, only the war happy United States and Soviet Union think nuclear weapons are a good idea. 

The Scientist starts to show his new invention will lure the Kaiju away, when laser tanks distract the beast into almost destroying the building.  Then Japan unleashes their first in a new series of crazily armed machinery with a catchy march theme song.  The Super-X plane shoots some flares.  While Godzilla is looking at them and going, “OOOH!” it fires cadmium missiles into him to absorb his radiation, and he falls asleep.  


While they try to figure out how to move him, a Russian spaced based nuclear missile is fired from a fishing boat in Tokyo bay. (Orginal version: accidentally, US version, on purpose.  Also in the US version, the drunken comic relief DIES.  And people wonder why they didn’t let us make any more US versions of this series.) 

The US manages to intercept the nuke with one of their own after they learn about the launch via the Bat-Phone.  The radiation from the explosion wakes up Godzilla and the Super-X resumes its valiant attack, until he drops a building on it.  Brother shows up in a helicopter to rescue Plucky Reporter, Sister and Scientist.  He only gets the latter before being forced to leave.  Sister and Plucky Reporter have a romantic escape from the building together, but with the amount of radiation in the air, don’t expect them to have kids any time soon.

Scientist puts his device into practice. Since Godzilla is a dinosaur, which evolved into birds, he will follow the Scientist’s electric bird calls.  

I am not making this up.

They use this to lure him into a volcano, which is then exploded on him, while everyone looks sad. The Prime Minister even cries.  I guess the tourism and construction trade he brings in outweighs the loss of life.

The film is released in the US one year later with added scenes of reporter Steve Martin (played by Raymond Burr) commenting dramatically, and making sure no one says both his first and last name together to avoid confusion with a now famous comedian.

He does not however, indulge in the rabid Dr. Pepper product placement and comic relief the folks that made the US version wanted from him, because he’s awesome and demanded Godzilla be given the respect he deserves. 


Godzilla vs. Biollante
1989

After some reminder footage of the previous adventure, extensive interest has formed in the amazing regenerative power of the Godzilla cells.
(As in, regenerative to the point that they completely re-grew him after the oxygen destroyer.)

The harvested cells are stolen by Evil Americans, who then have them stolen from them by an Even More Evil Arab.  They are brought to a Japanese Scientist in the Evil Arabian Country.  He and his daughter are trying to turn the desert into fertile ground by crossing wheat, cactus and Godzilla. 
Hey, what could go wrong? 

He loses his daughter in an attack by the Evil Americans. 
(You can kinda guess why this series didn’t get too much distribution state side.)

Five years later, he’s retired back to Japan, with a rose bush that he’s grafted his child’s genetic material onto. (Wait it gets better.)  Meanwhile, Godzilla is rumbling about in the volcano he fell into.  His return is foretold by the entire class at the Japanese School for the Psychic having Godzilla dreams, drawing pictures of the Kaiju and cheering about them. 

YAY! 

"Plant Psychic" Miki Saegusa (still not making this up) knew Godzilla was awake shortly after she was checking out the daughter/rose. Maybe she's related to Ken?

The Scientist's home (and rose bush) is damaged in an Earthquake caused by a small eruption of the volcano.  This drags him back to the Godzilla Cell trade to allow him to make the brilliant decision to save his daughter/rose by grafting the Godzilla cells onto the damaged flowers, because, regeneration, right?  The Godzilla Cell trade is hot, because they are the only way to make the Anti-Nuclear Energy Bacteria, which someone is going to need quickly if he wakes up.

In case that doesn’t work, Japan is also building the Super-X2, with its Godzilla ray reflecting coating.  They’ve learned a bit this time, as the Super-X2 is remote control. 

The Evil Americans and Evil Arab break into the Scientist’s lab/green house to steal the cells. They fight each other, but the winner is the daughter/rose/Godzilla thing which gets crazy big and runs away.  Soon there’s a Godzilla sized rose in a nearby lake, named Biollante.

The Evil Americans threaten to blow up the volcano, releasing Godzilla if they don’t get the Anti Nuclear Energy Bacteria.  They almost do, but the Evil Arab kills them, steals the stuff, and the volcano blows up.

Godzilla’s back!  He is dark and beady eyed with two rows of teeth. His nose is back, which is nice. However, he is a much more methodical and serious Kaiju in this series.  There will be no dances, and no martial arts moves, instead defaulting to the practicality of his breath weapon most times.  His awesomeness now comes from his sheer size and power, plus a sort of mystical quality.  This is a VERY Japanese Godzilla.

With all those personality changes, he’s still heading straight for Tokyo.  The Super-X2 with its Godzilla ray reflecting coating reflects a bit and then gets the snot blown out of it.   Godzilla detours from his home city when called by Biollante. Since they are the same they have a connection.  That would make sense if they both didn’t start instantly attacking each other the moment the King of Monsters reaches the lake.  Oh, and Miki is part of their connection too, because what else is a plant and monster psychic going to connect to?

The fight is completely one sided, since one of them is an immobile giant flower. Biollante gets some vine swats and acid spits in, but mostly she gets breathed on until she explodes.  She’s not dead though, she turns into Magic Dust.

Magic Dust: the Berry Juice of the Heisei Series.

The defense force fixes the Super-X2 as best as they can.  Somehow, they lose Godzilla.  The entire navy isn’t enough, and they have to fly Miki over the ocean until she senses him.  They really should have kept her out there, because they guess he’s heading to a concentration of nuclear plants, and position every military vehicle on land, sea and air in Godzilla’s path, while a catchy, Eighties style, march plays.

Godzilla goes the complete other direction, heading for the unguarded Osaka.  In another move I am not making up, they fly Miki onto an ocean platform to think at him in order to slow Godzilla down.  He stares at her, glows a bit, and chuckles when she falls down.

Godzilla’s not the only one in Osaka for no reason.  Kaiju Obsessed Defense Guy finds the Anti Nuclear Energy Bacteria at an oil company office of the Evil Arab nation, and gets it back.  The Super-X2 has been fixed(ish) and heads back to lure Godzilla toward the Anti Nuclear Energy Bacteria. (I keep saying it, but it doesn’t sound any less ridiculous.)  Proving the Defense Force hasn’t really learned anything, the remote control plane is leading Godzilla toward a bunch of guys with Anti Nuclear Energy Bacteria Bazookas, who are on foot.

They nail Godzilla as he damages the Super-X2…again.  Kaiju Obsessed Defense Guy fires of a second shot directly into the roaring open mouth of the monster.

Right before Godzilla destroys the entire building he was hiding in.
We’ll call that one a tie.

Godzilla stomps away for more hours than he should be able to, pumped full of Anti Nuclear Energy Bacteria as he is.   Scientist figures out that Bacteria reproduce far faster with heat, and since Godzilla is a cold blooded dinosaur, that’s why it didn’t work.

Yes, I know he breathes fire.  This is the guy who gene spliced his dead child with a flower, and a radioactive prehistoric creature.  Let’s not give anything he says too much credit.

The army seeds the clouds and builds a giant minefield. Instead of exploding, the mines summon lightning from the man made storm at the push of a button.  You’d think if they could control the weather better than the Son of Godzilla crowd, they wouldn’t need to hybridize wheat/cactus/Kaiju to grow food in the desert, but there you go.

Godzilla is forced and contained in the mine field by a bunch of military hardware, including those cool laser tanks from Invasion of the Astro Monster.  After many blasts by them, and the lightning mines, the Big G reels a bit.  Scientist takes this as proof that the bacteria is working, but is surprised that Godzilla seems to be resistant enough to easily take out the helicopters shooting at him.  Ok Doc, whatever you say.

Miki shows up. She knew Biollante was coming back because she drew a rose in a precursor to MSPaint.  A bunch of Magic Dust falls from the sky on the puzzled Godzilla.  Biollante’s new form then explodes from the ground.  Now she has a giant Venus Flytrap type head, and is taller and way more massive than the source of her monster cells.

Her tendrils are still no match for radioactive breath, but now she’s mobile.  She trundles at the King of Monsters, and pierces him several places with her fronds of doom. While he’s yanking bits of her out of him, she fires off a crazy electro-acid spit that makes Godzilla all smoky.  Then she tries to eat his head.

In spite of the fact that Biollante can easily fit the entire top half of Godzilla in her giant maw, when one’s foe can expectorate blue hot radioactive death, eating his head is a major tactical error.

Godzilla unleashes a blast inside that sets off a chain reaction of unhappy looking explosions inside the giant plant monster.  Scientist is thrilled to notice that Godzilla powers down and collapses onto the shore when “the anti nuclear energy bacteria takes effect.”  Right, it wasn’t the caustic vomit and nearly being devoured that knocked out the Big G…it was your bacteria, Doc.

Scientist refuses to work with the now giant supply of Godzilla cells, because he believes Scientists are to blame for everything.  Actually, in this movie, he’s right, and he’s the one to blame.  But it doesn’t much matter, because Evil Arab Guy shows up and shoots him.  The Other Scientist chases Evil Arab guy, leading to both their cars crashing.

Oh yeah, there is an Other Scientist, and also a Second Psychic Lady. They flirt a lot. Sometimes I forget about the people with all the Kaiju stuff going on.  After an understandably short scuffle between the Other Scientist and the hit man, Evil Arab Guy pulls his gun and aims at his lesser combat skilled enemy.

In the second major tactical error of the evening, Evil Arab Guy is standing on one of the giant lightning attracting mines.  Super-X2 pilot pushes a button, generating an Evil Puff of Smoke.

Godzilla wakes up after catching his breath, and heads back out to sea.

What happened to Biollante?

Oh yeah.

Right after Godzilla takes his nap; Biollante turns back into to magic dust, then a picture of the daughter, and flies into space.  During the closing credits we see it’s turned into a shiny rose in space and…

No really, that’s what happened!

As you can see, the Heisei Series Films are complex, richly detailed and filled with plot twists and character moments.

Or, if you will, insane.

Therefore each subsequent one will get its own post.

Also because they are awesome and I love them.



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