SCIENCE FICTION DOUBLE FEATURE
Godzilla vs. Steve Martin. Wait a minute, don't leave! I'm going somewhere with this.
GODZILLA: King of the Monsters was written and directed by Ishiro Honda (RODAN, MOTHRA, CURSE OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE). It contained no Americans and is more correctly called GOJIRA. Then this movie was released in the USA, re-named GODZILLA, and re-edited to include foreign correspondent Steve Martin (Raymond Burr: GODZILLA 1985 and about a million Perry Mason episodes). The American version also removed a lot of the anti-nuclear subtext in the original. In fact far from being awakened by atomic testing, the impression you get here is that Godzilla is pissed because the local native stopped sacrificing virgins to him.
The story opens with Tokyo a smoldering ruin. Steve Martin (a funny image pops into my mind every time I say the name, but I'll restrain myself) narrates as he pulls himself from the rubble. We learn he is a foreign correspondent who was on his way to Cairo. He'd stopped in Japan on the way to meet friend and scientist Dr. Serizawa (Akihiko Hirata: MOTHRA, GODZILLA vs. MECHAGODZILLA), who has recently made an amazing discovery. Bad timing on Steve's part because no sooner does he arrive (as we learn in a flashback that covers most of the movie) than mysterious things begin happening. At the airport a security guard pulls Steve aside for questioning. Apparently a ship was destroyed at sea by a "bright flash" and Steve's plane was nearby. All the passengers are asked if they saw anything unusual.
Steve saw nothing but now he smells a story. With the help of his friend Tomo (Frank Iwanaga: his only credited role), a security officer, Frank talks his way in to places and finds out eight ships near Japan have been destroyed recently. The few survivors, who usually die quickly of mysterious burns, all report a flash of light coming from underwater.
The government consults respected scientist Dr. Yamane (Takashi Shimura: MOTHRA, FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD) who wants to investigate Edo Island, because the natives have reported similar flashes of light. They ascribe these flashes and the lost ships of Gojira, a legendary monster.
The small expedition choppers over and witnesses a strange ritual performed by the natives meant to appease Gojira, which Steve mispronounces as "Godzilla". Stupid gaijin. Late that night a typhoon hits and terrible roars are heard but we don't see the monster yet. Instead we see his extra large footprints on the beach. Even Godzilla's footprints are radioactive and a living trilobite (!) is found flopping in the bottom of one of these prints. That's just so odd I feel the need for a
Continued at SCIENCE MOMENT
Back to the movie. A better equipped expedition returns to the island. This time Steve's friend Dr. Serizawa and his lab assistant Emiko (Momoko Kochi: ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN, GODZILLA vs. DESTROYER) come along. There's a whole subplot about Emiko being engaged to Dr. Serizawa (arranged by their families) but actually in love with a young soldier named Ogata (Akira Takarada: GODZILLA vs. MOTHRA, GODZILLA vs. MONSTER ZERO). I'm sure it made more sense in "Gojira" but here it takes a lot of narration by Steve the storyteller to make it clear.
Everyone finally sees the Big Green One and it's just a matter of time before Tokyo is toast. Dr. Serizawa has a secret weapon, which may be able to defeat Godzilla, but he thinks it's so terrible that even using it to kill the monster may not be worth it (when you find out what the secret weapon is youre reaction will be, "That's it?!").
Even before I found out about this being a re-edited version of an older movie I suspected
it. Steve does a lot of narration and the scenes where he's in the
shot with a few of the other principal actors have a different look and
feel from the rest of the movie. I did like the devastation shown, including
rows of dead and injured at a makeshift hospital and screaming children
asking for their parents. Most giant monster movies concentrate on the
cool explosions but if something like this really happened the human toll
would be terrible. I like that it wasn't sugar coated. Even so this
is not a good movie by any standards. Because I'm a fan of the genre
I'll give it a generous two negative shriek girls.
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