GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH

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Movies Eddie McMullen Jr. Review by
E.C.McMullen Jr.
Godzilla vs. Hedorah
SHOULD YOU?
TIP JAR
GODZILLA vs. HEDORAH aka GODZILLA vs. THE SMOG MONSTER aka Gojira tai Hedorâ - 1971
Toho
Rated: NR

The movie starts with the familiar Toho logo serenely glowing in sunny technicolor. But something is amiss, the proud orchestra intro sounds like a bunch of drunks still reeling from a night of Bob Dylan's "Everybody Must Get Stoned" parties.

Then we see smokestacks, water pollution, and a misshapen head with glowing red eyes rise from the pollution. Then we cut to a woman singing something awful in Japanese. It's a good thing I don't understand Japanese and that it isn't translated on the DVD, because it sounds like a viral ditty. The kind that keeps running around through your bean. The nightclub singer, complete with late 60's/early 70's psychedelic gels squeezing in the background sings her song, with an imploring chorus, but her features are as cold and emotionless as an igloo ice block. This movie is clearly having a hard time getting started.

Song over we see a group of pretty flowers and, with Mount Fuji as a backdrop, a boy, Ken Yano (Hiroyuki Kawase: GODZILLA vs MEGALON) playing with his Godzilla toys. A toy mechanical songbird chirps happily in the background. This film is seriously sliding toward sucksville. A young man comes out, sees the boy, smiles and asks him if he likes Godzilla. No shit.

Now that we are firmly entrenched in sucksville, we desperately await the arrival of Godzilla, or the Smog Monster, pretty much any passing mutant would be nice. Said mutant comes in the form of a local fisherman who brings an overgrown tadpole to the kid's Pop, Dr. Yano (Akira Yamauchi), who is a scientist.

"That's a big tadpole isn't it?" the boy asks.

"No," says his father, "its too big to be a tadpole."

Just then a convenient news report on the television shows an even bigger version of the "tadpole" tearing ass through two ships at sea, destroying them both. So Dad takes his son to the area where they saw a giant monster destroy two ships. He Takes His Son (!) Pop's wearing diving gear and hopes that he'll be able to get a good look at the monster (!!).

Well, he does!

After that, he gets a good look at the world through one eye. So the old man may be a scientist, but he's also a dumb ass. And don't ask me why a guy wearing a diving mask would get one only eye damaged by contact with the monster, seeing as how the mask should have protected him, but there you have it.

The boy meanwhile, is trying to cut mussels from the rocks to eat, but they are all empty. The tadpole monster comes after the boy and the kid stabs the hell out of it. Truly the kid is more resourceful than his old man.

The radio and television media come to interview the one-eyed Scientist and his precocious son while the wife, Toshi (Toshi Kimura) provides backdrop and has little to add. The kid calls the tadpole monster Hedorah (sure, why not?) and the beast continues its rampage. So this is time for Godzilla. And here comes Godzilla, staggering, weaving and physically matching the drunken bleary trumpets that orchestrally announce his arrival. It's both funny and pathetic.

Then we get shot after shot of water pollution while some clown plays on a twangy juice harp. Pollution upsets Godzilla so he uses his mighty breath to set the water pollution on fire, turning it into air pollution. Well, we all said Godzilla was big but we never said he was smart.

Meanwhile, the fisherman's tadpole has dried into a charcoal brick. The Scientist decides to put the dust of the monster tad into some polluted water. Mirabile dictu! The dust comes alive and looks like a tadpole. His kid and wife come in. The kid has had a dream about Godzilla coming to save them. "Well, if you dream it," says his Mother, "I'm sure it will come true." How did a scientist ever marry such a dingbat?

A larger Hedorah approaches the shore while some disco folks dance in their favorite night club, singing the opening song. Hedorah climbs on some smoke stacks and starts huffing fumes. This makes his eyes all squinty and he seems to be enjoying himself until Godzilla drunkenly shows up. Godzilla goes through the city, doing a kind of funky shimmy to avoid knocking over any buildings. He's a good Godzilla now!

He calls Hedorah out and they roll around for awhile. While Godzilla and Hedorah fight, the disco dancing continues. Some drunk has a hallucination where everyone is wearing fish masks. When Godzilla gives Hedorah a spin, pieces of him/her/it/ fly off and kill some people.

Some of Hedorah comes drooling like filthy sludge down the disco's staircase scaring the club goers away. But Hedorah wasn't attacking, merely dropping off a live kitten, filthy but none the less worse for the wear. It mewls plaintively, unhappy with its lot. Hedorah eats cars, dissolves people and buildings, kills all manner of fish, and pollutes the air and water - but can't seem to harm a cat. I think there's a lesson in that for all of us.

Then Godzilla and Hedorah face off on each other again, apparently threatening each other without actually fighting until Hedorah finally throws up on Godzilla. Godzilla knocks her/him down for the affront. Hedorah passes out and shits itself. Godzilla wakes him back up with a blast of 'Zillah breath. Hedorah isn't interested in fighting, though Godzilla eggs her on. Finally, with nothing really happening, Hedorah goes for a swim. Godzilla languidly follows after.

Then we get a cartoon that shows a robot factory playing whack-a-mole with some plants that the robot can't quite catch. A cartoon Hedorah comes along and lays on top of the robot. Then the cartoon Hedorah flies off under the power of his own nasty farts.

I'm not making any of this up! This is the freaking movie and how it goes on for what seems like hours and hours but is actually less than 90 minutes!

Yoshimitsu Banno directed this mess based on a screenplay by himself and co-writer, Takeshi Kimura (RODAN!, CHIKYU BOEIGUN, ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE, FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD, THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS, KING KONG ESCAPES, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, GODZILLA VS. MEGALON). Takeshi apparently didn't catch hell for this flick as he retained a career after this preachy tank of effluvia.

We are never clear on what created Hedorah, the smog monster. The sexually ambiguous creature may have come from another galaxy and thrived on our pollution. Or maybe our pollution made it, or who knows?

One of the producers of the Godzilla series, Tomoyuki Tanaka, was in the hospital while Yoshimitsu made the movie. When Tomoyuki saw the result, he reportedly freaked, accusing Yoshimitsu of destroying the franchise.

He wasn't far from wrong. GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH is one of the worst, if not THE worst, of the Godzilla series.

One Shriek Girl. Three Negative Shriek Girls.

Shriek GirlsNegative Shriek GirlNegative Shriek GirlNegative Shriek Girl
This review copyright 2005 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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