I still remember it clearly today. I think I was around 3 or 4 years old. My family lived in the rear apartment of a small two-flat. We had a black and white TV, the kind with a hard to turn channel dial that went clunk! clunk! when you changed channels. Like any kid I was glued to the TV all day long. In the morning I would watch GARFIELD GOOSE AND FRIENDS with Frazier Thomas on WGN Channel 9. Frazier and his puppet friends would host a daily fix of the coolest cartoons. The variety of programming was amazing. Not only did you get classics like CLUTCH CARGO and SPACE ANGEL, but they also ran the original FLASH GORDON serial with Buster Crabbe. I couldn’t wait for the day when they would show the episode when Flash would fight the Mongo dinosaur in the cave. The icing on the cake was when they showed Karel Zeman’s Czech classic, JOURNEY TO THE BEGINNING OF TIME (CESTA DO PRAVEKU) shown in daily 10 minute clips. If you saw this one when you were a kid, no other dinosaur movie would have mattered.
GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER was the beginning of what I like to call the island series. After ripping off a yacht to find his brother lost at sea, Ryota and his two buddies, along with a bank robber Yoshimura, get stranded on an island. The survivors not only have to deal with a terrorist (Red Bamboo) operation on the island, but a giant lobster, Ebirah as well. While hiding out in a cave they discover Godzilla sleeping beneath them. They decide no revive the monster to help them escape from Red Bamboo and Ebirah. As an extra treat, Godzilla fights a giant condor and Mothra shows up to save the day.
The music in GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER is a plus too. You get cool go-go music early in the film during a dance contest. When Ebirah first surfaces it's almost like he has his own wrestling entrance theme, a catchy repetitive acoustic surf guitar. You can't beat the new Mothra tune either.
Shot on location, SON OF GODZILLA features an adventure on a beautiful tropical island. A team of scientists conduct weather experiments on the remote Sollgel Island. A mishap causes a weather balloon to rain radioactive particles on the island and cause mutations among the flora and fauna. Roaming around the island now are giant mantises (Kamakiras) and a giant spider (Kumonga). The Kamakiras dig up an egg out of a pile of boulders that reveals a baby Godzillla called Minya. The little G's cries are heard by Daddy who comes to save the day.
Imagine turning on the television when you were a kid one afternoon seeing a movie with eleven giant monsters battling it out on the screen. I never heard of DESTROY ALL MONSTERS until that day. It was a high without caffeine. It was the debut of my favorite Godzilla design and also became my favorite movie of all time. The story was simple, a race of aliens known as the Kilaaks take control of Earth’s monsters and unleash them on the whole world. Of course we get control back, to have the greatest movie ending EVER!!!! Godzilla, Minya, Rodan, Angilas, Gorosaurus, Baragon, Manda, Mothra, Kumonga, and Varan vs. King Ghidorah.
For me GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTER is Godzilla at it’s best. I know, I know, you might say what about MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA or the 1954 original. They are awesome, but here you get the DESTROY ALL MONSTERS suit and a Godzilla that has personality in a bizarre, surrealistic atmosphere that was ahead of it’s time, grasping a real problem issue in Japan, pollution. Hedorah a life-form from space, takes advantage of the nature crushing pollution by consuming it and growing to monstrous proportions. The monster evolves throughout the movie, also spreading toxic gases and flesh eating sludge on the way. Godzilla appears, he seems tired and tired off the human race and it’s mistakes. After getting poisoned, acid burned, and beaten to death, Godzilla finally destroys Hedorah.
GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTER blends visuals of beauty (flowers, Mount Fuji) and psychedelic imagery against fuming factory smoke stacks. The enemy is not Hedorah, it’s ourselves. Director Yoshimitsu Banno had it figured out, taking Japan’s biggest icon to send the message. In the young boy Ken’s school report he writes “If Godzilla were here he’d save the day”. I just turned 40, and 30 years later that line still crosses my mind with all of the world’s problems. Speaking of Ken, how many of you wanted to hang out in his back yard! Geez, I was finally able to get a recast of that freakin’ Godzilla he was sliding down the slide. The end of this movie would always make my eyes water, with Ken yelling “Godzilla stay here!!” “Godzilla thanks a lot” with the upbeat music kicking in, just left me fulfilled and smiling