Monday, April 28, 2014

The Litany of Godzilla: Showa Series Part Two- Flying Regulars

Click here for the first films.

Mothra Against Godzilla
(AKA Godzilla vs. the Thing)

The story begins with a giant storm and waves flooding a coastal area of Japan. This is revealed to be caused by nuclear testing, but it could also be the storm and disasters caused by the Kaiju in the last film, he said pushing his Grand Unified Monster Theory.    A giant egg washes ashore causing conflict between the good hearted altruistic reporters (plus a scientist) and the selfish evil businessmen…who build an amusement park.

The Shobijin show up to plead for the Mothra egg back, which was knocked loose when their home of Infant Island was used for the aforementioned nuclear tests.  For the record, this is another island full of ambiguously raced, musical, berry juicing natives.  The twin fairies are wearing modern dresses and fur wraps this time, indicating the high end Tiny Lady Fashion boutique on their island survived the nuclear testing.  The business men try to figure out how to charge extra admission to see the tiny ladies and the reporters (plus a scientist) are sympathetic but useless.  The Shobijin go back to Infant Island riding on Mothra, who was hiding nearby.  Considering she emits high pitched shrieks and creates a hurricane when she flies, not to mention being over four hundred feet wide, hiding was quite impressive.

Godzilla makes one of his most impressive entries, in one of his most well made and impressive looking films, bursting from beneath a beach.  Perhaps he was recuperating from the Kong altercation just below the surface after falling in the ocean.  [Later edit- The original Japanese version makes it clear its reclaimed ocean floor, my theory stands!] 
The Big G is more expressive and advanced looking this time around, but also acts clumsy and disoriented.

While the military pull their tradition of outlining several plans that won’t work, the reporters (plus a scientist) head for Infant Island to ask for help. (And berry juice)  The natives, having been nuked and rebuked, tell them they deserve Godzilla.  Eventually, they appeal to the Shobijin’s better nature, who agree to send Mothra on a death flight to help.  It’s OK though, because there’s a Dalai Lama thing going on with the giant bug, and she’ll be reborn when the egg hatches, or something.

Meanwhile, the military starts off with Plan A, which involves the most powerful rockets in the world.  The ship borne Frontier Missiles make Godzilla fall down.  This would be an accomplishment if he hadn’t done that on his own several times already.  Basically, they just make him dusty.

The military then switches to setting up Plan B, which involves Artificial Lightning, or as we sane people call it, electricity.   While they prepare, the evil business guys get in to a fight, one shoots the other and Godzilla then kills him along with his entire building.  This may be The King of Monsters’ first heroic act.

As Godzilla starts to whomp on the amusement park construction, Mothra shows up to help her egg.  She drags him around, flaps in his face, and creates a giant wind that does succeed in knocking him down again, but also does more damage to the egg containment building than Godzilla could have hoped to.  She finally dumps her “last weapon” - poison dust off her wings.  Godzilla breathes on the dust, and Mothra, ending the fight...

And Mothra.

The Shobijin sing a new song to get the egg hatching while military Plan B goes into action.  Having bought multiple cargo copters since the last movie, the army drops three metal nets on Godzilla. 

Or, based on the footage, the same net three times.

 The “artificial lighting” only manages what everything else, including his own clumsiness did- knock Godzilla down again.  He shrugs off the jolt, supporting a theory I’ll be advancing as we continue, and radioactively blows the power line towers out. 

This leaves the military with their final option and the first one that makes any sense:
Plan C, which involves running away and screaming like a nut.

Godzilla decides to visit an island full of kids on a school trip, most likely to reprimand their teachers for choosing an inescapable time and place for a hike right next to a rampaging radioactive giant monster.   

Before the movie can get way darker than allowed in the Sixties, two giant caterpillars hatch out of the egg, and swim to save the children.  They never explain how both of them can be Mothra reborn, but since one is gone by the next outing, we probably don’t want to know.

The giganto larva play the peek-a-boo web game, ducking in and out of caves until Godzilla is completely cocooned, falls over yet again, and rolls back into the sea.

[Later edit: HEY! Hiroshi Koizumi plays Professor Murai in both this movie and the next one. (And he's Chujo from the Mothra solo film.) Its much easier to notice how many people show up mulitple times in the old Too studio system watching in the original Japanese because they don't have different voice actors.  I knew this era had more continuity than people think!]

Three Giant Monsters Greatest Battle on Earth
 (aka Ghidorah [Ghidrah] the Three Headed Monster)

A heat wave in July, back in the good old days, didn’t mean an Al Gore lecture. It meant the saucer people were trying to tell us something.  This is backed up by an unusual meteor shower. 

One somewhat unusual meteor lands near a volcano and is highly magnetic, until it isn’t, but it’s growing and very hot.

A VERY unusual meteor hypnotizes a princess to jumping out of her plane right before it explodes. People are sad as she was to be protected to prevent her country from becoming communist, as opposed to a hereditary monarchy, which have always worked out fantastically for the governed. 

A familiar, Princessy looking, Martian Prophet [Later Edit: Original Japanese version- Venusian Prophet...what a weird change.] appears shortly thereafter to warn everyone about coming badness, and is laughed at for her troubles.  Speaking of magical ladies, the Shobijin show up, looking all Native like again, on a “Where are they now?” TV series. It’s kind of like Dancing with the Stars but without dancing.  They sing a new Mothra song after telling of the single male caterpillar Mothra left.  Since a female moth shows up in later films, she must be cocooning during this period...
Or, more likely, the translators screwed up again. We’ll just keep calling Mothra a she, as it should be.

The Princess/Martian/[Venusian] Prophet issue is explained by a scientist talking about gaps between dimensions caused by the curvature of the earth. 

Um…forget that. 

The Princess/Martian Prophet issue is explained by a loopy old fisherman who traded his clothes for the royal bracelet after fishing her out of the sea.

Martian Lady’s predictions prove more correct.

Rodan (or one of that family) pops out of the volcano they were buried in at the end of their solo film. 

Godzilla, finally free of caterpillar silk, pops out of the ocean next to the soon to be ex-ship the Shobijin were supposed to be on. Luckily, they understand the value of listening to magical fortune telling women.

And, not to be left out, the unusual meteor grows some more and becomes magnetic again.

The people behind blowing up the princess’s plane send a gang of depression era Hollywood bad guys after her.  The main non-monster characters converge at a hotel for some good old fashioned Cops and Gangsters interplay.  OK, technically it was Cops and Gangsters and Fairies and Reporters and Martians, but that would be excessive.  There’s a bit of fighting and shooting but no one gets dramatically hurt, unless you count the princess briefly speaking German for no explainable reason.

Godzilla makes a bee line across land for Rodan, and this time the military goes directly to plan “run and scream.”  The meteor chooses this point to command more attention by Hatchsploding.

Martian Princess Lady knows the three headed, lightning spewing, hatchling since it is the reason Mars has been lifeless for centuries.  She also explains why she’s a Martian, because after the planet died thousands of years ago, some Martian consciousnesses came to earth people and occasionally manifest as prophesy. 

Actually, “explains” might be too strong a word.

Two methods to deal with the monster arise:

A) The police drive around like the Blues Brothers announcing the monster has been identified and is King Ghidorah.

B) The Government asks the Shobijin to call Mothra, since it defeated Godzilla in the last movie.

The Fairies try to remind everyone that it took two caterpillars, with an initial attack from a full gown Mothra in the last film.  However, they can’t deny that Plan B is still infinitely better than Plan A, which is basically just “Run and Scream” again, but with a Bullhorn.

There’s more bits of gangster stuff and weird Martian science but who cares, Monsters are fighting!

King Ghidorah destroys things, and the Shobijin sing a very long song (caterpillars are not high speed swimmers).  Meanwhile Godzilla and Rodan smash through a couple cities to get to each other and begin a battle. 

Unlike the ruthless Kaiju fights seen before, the altercation between these two looks like brothers goofing around during Saturday Morning Wrestlefest commercial breaks.  Their attacks seem more geared to annoy than damage, and there is much mocking monster laughter.

Mothra finally shows up and her attempts to convince the other two are hilariously translated by the Shobijin.  Minus one point where Godzilla expresses his opinion of how deserving humanity is of protection:

“Godzilla!  What terrible language!”

Mothra caterpillars off to take on the planet killing Kaiju on its own, and does excessively poorly.  Luckily, the little giant bug’s gumption shames the other two into helping out.

The big three of Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra lay an epic smack down on King Ghidorah, and conveniently knock off all the anti-princess gangsters with collateral damage.

The Martian Princess Prophet falls off a cliff, but luckily only two of her three names die, or something. The Princess part is OK, and heads home, after tragic farewells to the policeman who protected her.  Yeah, there was some romantic subtext going on that I ignored with all the monstering.

King Ghidorah runs away to outer space, never to be seen again. (Until next year.)

Mothra swims the Shobijin home to Infant Island.

Godzilla and Rodan are kind of left hanging around Japan, which is fine because they’re heroic and helpful Kaiju now…

Y’know, if you ignore the cities they trampled getting to each other, the whole boat full of people Godzilla barbecued, and five previous Toho productions.

Great Monster War
(aka Invasion of the Astro Monster, [Godzilla vs.] Monster Zero)

A new planet has been discovered right past Jupiter.

It was dark…or something…

This kept it hidden, until some brilliant astronomer remembered radio telescopes were invented in the Thirty’s and scientists were detecting “invisible” objects by their gravitational effect hundreds of years before that.

Astronauts Fuji (who looks a lot like Ogata) and Nick Adams fly to Planet X in the Space Authority P1 Rocket to check it out, with a travel time that is quite impressive four years before the moon landing…
And exceedingly impressive considering their navigation consist of believing Planet X is in the Scorpio Constellation while still being in the solar system.

Luckily, they could easily see the dark planet once they passed the giant cardboard cut out of Jupiter that was in the way.
[Later Edit- It makes much more sense in the original Japanese. Planet X is a newly discovered moon of Jupiter that is always on the far side from  Earth. It doesn't make good sense, but it does make more sense.]

Meanwhile on Earth, in a classic Toho trouble triangle, Fuji’s sister is dating a man he doesn’t approve of.  He invents useless things. His latest is the "Lady Alarm," a buzzer that makes an excessively annoying noise.  It is strangely a big hit with a toy company.

Very familiar looking lightning abounds on the surface of Planet X.  Astronaut Fuji manages to lose both Nick Adams and the spaceship in short order, before being brought below the surface in a human size pneumatic tube thingy like they have at the bank.

Nick Adams’s Jersey City accented reactions are played for laughs throughout the film, but he ends up displaying a greater knowledge of love, psychology, and interplanetary relations than the rest of the cast most of the time.

Below the surface of Planet X, our Astronauts are reunited and meet the aliens, who look Japanese and dress like rejects from the Devo fan club.  The astronauts learn why they all live underground; the familiar looking lightning is coming from three connected familiar looking heads atop King Ghidorah.  The Xiliens (Silly-ans?) call him “Monster Zero” as they number everything (except their planet for some reason)  to prove they have computer brains. The must have extremely cheap computer brains because one of them lets slip how dangerously damaged they “Hydrogen Oxide” plant is.  Even Jersey City Nick Adams figures out Planet X is low on water.

The New Wave Aliens want to “borrow” Monster 01 and 02 (Godzilla and Rodan) in exchange for which they’ll provide a tape with the cure for everything on it.  [Later edit- or in the original Japanese, just the more believable cure for cancer on it.] Humanity, of course, falls for this, even after discovering the Xiliens saucers were already parked right next to the Kaiju’s locations.

Astronaut Nick Adams is the only one to notice this might be suspicious, especially when the controller from Planet X shows up in the bedroom of Miss Namikawa, the toy company lady he’s getting lucky with.  Despite this rather obvious concern, the Astronauts head back to Planet X to escort the monsters on one of the flying saucers. The aliens boast about being able to reach “One Tenth the Speed of light.”  Given the travel time the P1 needed to reach their planet at the start of the film, this shouldn’t really impress the Earthlings.

Nick Adams and Fuji make several disturbing discoveries on Planet X. 
A) The Xiliens have easily duplicated the P1 spacecraft.
B) All Xilien women are exact duplicates of Miss Namikawa, back home.
C) Godzilla does a happy jumping victory dance after he and Rodan beat King Ghidorah.

Nick Adams and Fuji return in the fake P1, and to no one in the audience’s surprise, the tape plays, “Ha ha, we fooled you! Give us all your water and become our slaves or we’ll remote control all three Kaiju to destroy you.”

Monsters destroy, scientists experiment, and Nick Adams and noisy alarm inventor get captured by the aliens.

The scientists come up with a cannon that looks like a giant lightning firing syringe to block the remote control signal. For some reason they call it a “laser.”

Nick Adams’s alien babe defies her programming out of love and gets vaporized for her trouble.  However, Miss Namikawa is able to slip him an embarrassingly mushy love note first.  Fortunately for the Earth, it also contains the information that the inventor’s annoyingly loud “lady alarm” makes a sound that blocks the computer signal which controls all of the Xiliens technology and the aliens themselves. 

Even more fortunately for the Earth, the Planet X’ers neglected to take the alarm away from the goofy inventor before putting him in a “soundproof cell” equipped with ordinary bars on the front side.

The revelation that King Ghidorah has always been a tool of the Xiliens makes sense, now. Only their stellar levels of ineptitude could have used such a powerful creature to destroy Mars thousands of years ago, and then accomplish nothing else.

A combination of Killer Tomatoes like broadcasts of the noise destroying the aliens and the bizarre lightning tanks tickling the monsters gets the Kaiju dropping to the ground and twitching.

Godzilla and Rodan’s minds are their own again, and boy are they pissed off.  They tag team up on the three headed dragon with a variety of moves.  Godzilla leads the way with a display of his boxing skills including an impressive floppy footed version of the “Ali Shuffle.”

The rest of the fight consists of variations of pro wrestling style, “I hold ‘im, you hit ‘im” moves, as they beat the snot out of King Ghidorah.  Combat ends with Rodan flying Godzilla in for a charging finisher that would do the Heart Foundation or Road Warriors proud.  All three creatures fall into the ocean, and King Ghidorah flees into space once more.  We don’t see the “good Kaiju” but are assured by the same scientists that don’t seem to know what a laser is that they are OK.  Forgive me for waiting for the next feature for confirmation.

The humans celebrate, and Astronauts Nick Adams and Fuji learn they are being sent back to Planet X as ambassadors. [Later edit- Or the much more logical reason, to do a full survey in the original Japanese.]  Considering it looked like the entire male population of their world appeared to be on Earth for the invasion, and either blew up or “escaped into the future” the big grin on Astronaut Nick Adams’s face at returning to Planet of the Miss Namikawas is understandable.


Unknown said...

Hahaha! That's hysterical...

Unknown said...

I remember thinking Whaaaa? ? At the Mothra episodes...the storyline is bafflingly funny when you break it down like that

Jeff McGinley said...

Thanx much, glad to entertain. And thank you for calling them "episodes" in my head, it's all one narrative. (Not just the Godzilla movies...everything!)