Welcome to part two of the Godzilla Chronicles, celebrating 69 years of the big guy in cinema (see part one here). In part one I covered the years 1954 with the original GODZILLA and went to 1966 with EBIRAH, HORROR OF THE DEEP. In this blog, I will cover SON OF GODZILLA up until TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA.
SON OF GODZILLA (1967)
The 1967 film SON OF GODZILLA, also known as “Kaijū-tō no Kessen: Gojira no Musuko” in Japanese, is a part of the Showa era of Godzilla films. Directed by Jun Fukuda, this movie takes a somewhat lighter and more family-friendly tone than some of the earlier Godzilla films.
The film opens with an experiment being conducted on Solgell Island. Scientists are experimenting with a weather control device known as the “Sonic Condenser.” The aim is to reduce temperatures and alter the weather on the island. However, the experiment goes awry, causing unintended consequences.
As a result of the experiment, a massive storm erupts over Solgell Island. In the midst of the storm, Godzilla emerges from a cavern, revealing a previously unknown population of the iconic Kaiju. To everyone’s surprise, it is revealed that Godzilla is guarding a newly hatched, smaller version of himself, known as Minilla.
It becomes apparent that Minilla is not a typical baby. He is shown to have the ability to breathe atomic breath, although it is much weaker than his father’s. Minilla also undergoes a unique and unusual growth process. He initially appears more like an infant and gradually grows in size over the course of the film.
The film introduces the human characters, including the lead scientist, Dr. Kusumi (Tadao Takashima), his daughter Saeko (Bibari Maeda), and other scientists and researchers stationed on the island. They are faced with the challenges of dealing with the unpredictable weather caused by the Sonic Condenser experiment.
The unintended side effect of the experiment is the emergence of giant insects on the island, including Kamacuras, a mantis-like creature, and Kumonga, a giant spider. These insects pose a threat to both the human characters and Minilla.
As Minilla grows, he is shown struggling to master his atomic breath abilities. Godzilla takes on a paternal role, attempting to teach his son how to properly use his atomic breath to defend himself. The film features several battles, including confrontations between Minilla and the giant insects, as well as fights between Godzilla and Kumonga and Kamacuras. These battles are a blend of action and lighter comedic moments.
The climax of the film sees Minilla using his atomic breath effectively to thwart the giant insects. Godzilla and Minilla work together to eliminate the threats and establish themselves as the dominant Kaiju on the island. The film ends with a return to a more stable climate on Solgell Island. The human characters leave the island, leaving Godzilla, Minilla, and the island’s ecosystem in peace.
SON OF GODZILLA stands out as a more family-oriented and whimsical entry in the Godzilla series, with its focus on the growth and development of Minilla. It explores themes of parenthood and acceptance while providing a mix of entertaining monster battles. The film is known for its unique charm and is a testament to the versatility of the Godzilla franchise in exploring different tones and themes.
DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (1968)
The 1968 film DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, known as “Kaijū Sōshingeki” in Japanese, is a significant installment in the Showa era of Godzilla films. Directed by Ishirō Honda, this movie brings together an ensemble of Kaiju, including Godzilla, Mothra, and more.
The film is set in the near future, in 1999, when a united Earth has established a research center on Monsterland, an isolated island in the Ogasawara archipelago. The film opens with a global society living in harmony with Kaiju on Monsterland, where the Earth Defense Force (EDF) conducts research and observation. The Kaiju, including Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and Anguirus, live in relative peace and isolation.
The peaceful coexistence is disrupted when a mysterious alien race known as the Kilaaks takes control of the Kaiju, forcing them to attack major cities across the globe. These attacks cause widespread destruction and chaos. The Kilaaks reveal themselves and demand the surrender of humanity to their rule. Their ultimate goal is to seize control of Earth and its resources. The United Nations rejects the Kilaak ultimatum, vowing to defend the planet.
The EDF takes action by launching an expedition to the Kilaak’s lunar base to destroy their control devices and break the mind control over the Kaiju. The human protagonists, including astronauts Katsuo Yamabe (Akira Kubo) and Tetsuo Toru (Yukiko Kobayashi), are tasked with this critical mission.
The controlled Kaiju continue to wreak havoc across the world, including Godzilla attacking New York, Rodan assaulting Moscow, and Mothra devastating Beijing. Humanity is powerless against these behemoths.
The Earth expedition arrives on the moon and confronts the Kilaaks. A battle ensues, resulting in the destruction of the lunar base and the liberation of the controlled Kaiju, who return to Monsterland. The final showdown takes place on Monsterland. The freed Kaiju unite to confront King Ghidorah, who is revealed to be under the Kilaak’s control. The ensuing battle between the Earth’s Kaiju and King Ghidorah is an epic clash of titans.
The united forces of the Kaiju manage to defeat King Ghidorah. They focus their efforts on the alien’s UFO, destroying it and eliminating the Kilaaks’ threat. With the Kilaaks defeated, the controlled Kaiju are freed from their mind control, and the monsters return to their respective homes. Humanity and the Kaiju once again coexist peacefully on Monsterland, ensuring the safety of Earth.
DESTROY ALL MONSTERS is known for its grand scale and epic Kaiju battles, with a multitude of iconic monsters sharing the screen. It reflects the spirit of unity and cooperation, emphasizing humanity’s ability to overcome any threat, even when faced with controlling aliens and their destructive forces. The film is celebrated for its action-packed sequences and is a beloved classic in the Godzilla franchise.
ALL MONSTERS ATTACK (1969)
The 1969 film ALL MONSTERS ATTACK, also known as GODZILLA’S REVENGE, or MINILLA, SON OF GODZILLA in some regions, is a unique entry in the Showa era of Godzilla films. Directed by Ishirō Honda, this movie takes a different approach by focusing on a young boy’s imaginative adventures and his relationship with Minilla, the young Godzilla.
The film opens in a suburban neighborhood in Tokyo, where a young boy named Ichiro Miki (Tomonori Yazaki) lives with his parents. Ichiro is often left alone as his parents work long hours, and he frequently escapes into his vivid daydreams.
Ichiro’s loneliness is palpable, and he is often bullied by his peers. He takes refuge in his dreams and his admiration for the monsters from Monster Island, particularly Minilla, the young Godzilla. In his daydreams, Ichiro travels to Monster Island, where he interacts with Minilla and witnesses the Kaiju’s various struggles and battles. Ichiro learns important lessons about courage, facing his fears, and standing up to bullies from these imaginary adventures.
In the real world, Ichiro stumbles upon a criminal plot involving bank robbers and a mysterious gang led by a man named Gabara (Yoshifumi Tajima). These criminals attempt to use Ichiro to their advantage. Gabara, who also appears in Ichiro’s dreams as a menacing monster, bullies Ichiro and his friends. In his dreams, Ichiro seeks guidance from Godzilla and Minilla on how to stand up to the monstrous bully, Gabara.
In a climactic dream sequence, Ichiro and Minilla face off against Gabara, with Minilla ultimately summoning his atomic breath to defeat the bully. Ichiro learns to confront his fears and finds his inner strength. In the real world, Ichiro manages to escape from the criminals and report their activities to the authorities. With the criminals apprehended, Ichiro’s parents become more present in his life, alleviating his loneliness.
The film concludes with Ichiro coming to terms with the importance of facing his fears and the realization that he can be courageous both in his dreams and in the real world. He no longer needs to escape into his fantasies to find strength.
ALL MONSTERS ATTACK is notable for its unique approach, focusing on the personal growth of its young protagonist and his daydream adventures. While it has a different tone compared to many other Godzilla films, it still features appearances by classic Kaiju like Godzilla and Minilla. The film’s theme of empowerment and standing up to bullies gives it a distinct message and appeal.
GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH (1971)
The 1971 film GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH, also known as “Gojira tai Hedora” in Japanese, is a unique and environmentally-themed entry in the Showa era of Godzilla films. Directed by Yoshimitsu Banno, this movie tackles pollution and its consequences through the introduction of a new Kaiju, Hedorah.
The film opens with a montage of polluted water and industrial waste, setting the tone for its environmental message. We see a small boy, Ken Yano, playing on a beach and discover a small, tadpole-like creature. This creature is the juvenile form of Hedorah, a pollution-fed Kaiju.
The film follows the rapid growth and transformation of Hedorah as it feeds on pollution. Hedorah evolves from a small tadpole into a towering, smog-spewing creature capable of flight. It leaves destruction in its wake and becomes a significant threat to humanity.
As Hedorah’s attacks escalate and pollution levels rise, Godzilla emerges to confront this new menace. At first, Godzilla struggles to deal with Hedorah’s toxic and corrosive abilities, as the pollution-based Kaiju proves to be a formidable adversary.
The film focuses on the Yano family, particularly Ken’s father, Dr. Toru Yano (Akira Yamauchi), who is a scientist studying Hedorah, and Ken’s mother, Toshie Yano (Toshie Kimura). Ken becomes increasingly involved in the battle against Hedorah as he witnesses the destruction caused by the pollution-fed monster.
As the battle with Hedorah intensifies, Godzilla undergoes his own transformation, developing an ability to fire his atomic breath as a concentrated, heat-based laser. This new power proves crucial in the fight against Hedorah. The film features several battles between Godzilla and Hedorah, showcasing their contrasting fighting styles. Hedorah’s adaptability and corrosive power challenge Godzilla, who must find innovative ways to combat the pollution-spewing foe.
The film also explores the impact of Hedorah’s attacks on human society. Scenes depict the victims of Hedorah’s pollution and highlight the environmental message of the film. Dr. Yano, Ken, and other scientists devise a plan to defeat Hedorah. They aim to dehydrate the monster by draining its moisture through massive electrodes set up near Mount Fuji.
The film concludes with a climactic showdown between Godzilla and Hedorah at Mount Fuji. Using the electrodes, they manage to dehydrate Hedorah, causing it to become a dried-out husk. Godzilla then uses his new concentrated atomic breath to reduce Hedorah to a pile of ash.
The film ends with a stark message about the dangers of pollution and its potential consequences for the planet. It underscores the need for environmental consciousness and action to prevent disasters like Hedorah.
GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH is renowned for its bold environmental message and its unique approach to the Godzilla series. It addresses the pressing issue of pollution and serves as a cautionary tale about the consequences of environmental negligence. The film’s distinctive tone and message make it a memorable entry in the Godzilla franchise.
GODZILLA VS. GIGAN (1972)
The 1972 film GODZILLA VS. GIGAN, also known as “Chikyū Kogeki Meirei: Gojira tai Gigan” in Japanese, is another installment in the Showa era of Godzilla films. Directed by Jun Fukuda, this movie introduces Gigan, a new Kaiju with a buzzsaw in its chest, and it features Godzilla teaming up with another fan-favorite monster, Anguirus.
The film opens with the introduction of a futuristic children’s amusement park called the “World Children’s Land.” The park is set to open soon and is being promoted by the Peace Land Corporation. A young manga artist named Gengo Kotaka (Hiroshi Ishikawa) is hired to work on the promotional material for the park.
Gengo begins to notice unusual occurrences related to the park. He becomes suspicious of the Peace Land Corporation and their activities, suspecting that something is amiss. Gengo’s girlfriend, Tomoko Tomoe (Yuriko Hishimi), also becomes involved in the investigation.
Gengo and Tomoko discover that the Peace Land Corporation is a front for a group of alien invaders. These aliens, from the Space Hunter Nebula-M, are conspiring to take over Earth. They plan to use the monsters King Ghidorah and Gigan to assist in their conquest. Godzilla and Anguirus, who are living on Monster Island, are alerted to the alien threat and make their way to Japan to confront Gigan and King Ghidorah.
The film features a series of battles between Godzilla and Anguirus on one side and Gigan and King Ghidorah on the other. The monsters clash in the midst of the World Children’s Land amusement park, causing widespread destruction and chaos.
The aliens use a device to control Gigan and King Ghidorah, causing the Kaiju to attack Godzilla and Anguirus. The control devices make the monsters particularly formidable opponents. Gengo, Tomoko, and other human characters join the fight against the alien invaders. They aim to disrupt the control device, freeing the controlled Kaiju from the alien influence.
In the climax of the film, the human characters manage to damage the control device, breaking the alien’s hold over Gigan and King Ghidorah. With their freedom restored, the monsters turn against their alien controllers. The film ends with a climactic battle in which Godzilla and Anguirus team up to defeat Gigan and King Ghidorah. The alien invasion plot is thwarted, and Earth is saved from alien conquest.
GODZILLA VS. GIGAN is known for its unique storyline involving alien invaders and their control over Kaiju. It features memorable battles between classic monsters and underscores the enduring appeal of Godzilla as a protector of Earth. The film is a notable entry in the Showa era of Godzilla films.
GODZILLA VS. MEGALON (1973)
The 1973 film GODZILLA VS. MEGALON, known as “Gojira tai Megaro” in Japanese, is another installment in the Showa era of Godzilla films. Directed by Jun Fukuda, this movie introduces a new Kaiju, Megalon, and features the return of Godzilla.
The film opens with an underground nuclear test near the Japanese Sea, causing seismic disturbances and raising concerns about potential environmental damage. Unbeknownst to humanity, this test disturbs the undersea kingdom of Seatopia, leading to the awakening of their guardian monster, Megalon.
Seatopia, a fictional undersea civilization, is upset by the nuclear testing and sends two agents to the surface world to steal a powerful robot named Jet Jaguar. The Seatopians plan to use Jet Jaguar to awaken and control Megalon, unleashing the monster to seek revenge against humanity.
The Goro family, consisting of inventor Goro Ibuki (Katsuhiko Sasaki), his younger brother Rokuro (Hiroyuki Kawase), and their friend Hiroshi (Yutaka Hayashi), becomes embroiled in the conflict. They discover Seatopia’s plan and the stolen Jet Jaguar, which has been reprogrammed to summon Megalon and lead it to attack the surface world.
In an unexpected twist, Goro reprograms Jet Jaguar to fight for humanity instead. The robot is now under human control and is tasked with stopping Seatopia’s destructive plans. As Jet Jaguar is activated and the Goro family sends a distress signal to Monster Island, Godzilla responds to the call. The film features an epic showdown between Godzilla, Jet Jaguar, and Megalon, with Megalon also receiving assistance from the Seatopian agents.
The battle unfolds with dynamic action sequences, featuring Jet Jaguar’s versatile abilities and Godzilla’s brute force. Together, they face off against Megalon’s formidable drilling and missile-launching capabilities. In a climactic battle, Jet Jaguar and Godzilla manage to defeat Megalon. Jet Jaguar unleashes a powerful uppercut that sends Megalon into retreat. The Seatopian agents are also defeated.
The film concludes with Megalon retreating back to Seatopia, and Jet Jaguar allowing him to escape. Jet Jaguar then salutes Godzilla and flies off into the sky, leaving the Goro family to return to their normal lives.
GODZILLA VS. MEGALON is celebrated for its entertaining, action-packed sequences and the introduction of the quirky and unique character, Jet Jaguar. The film offers a different tone compared to some other entries in the series, with its blend of humor and fast-paced Kaiju battles. It remains a notable installment in the Showa era of Godzilla films.
GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA (1974)
The 1974 film GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA, known as “Gojira tai Mekagojira” in Japanese, is a significant installment in the Showa era of Godzilla films. Directed by Jun Fukuda, this movie features the debut of Mechagodzilla, a robotic counterpart to Godzilla.
The film opens with a series of mysterious and destructive Kaiju attacks on Japan. The perpetrator is initially believed to be Godzilla, but the military begins to suspect that something unusual is happening. The Japanese government, led by the fictional Interpol organization, investigates the Kaiju incidents. They are puzzled by Godzilla’s behavior and the fact that he seems to be causing uncharacteristic destruction.
As the investigation unfolds, it is revealed that the Kaiju responsible for the attacks is not Godzilla but a doppelganger known as Mechagodzilla. The alien race from the Black Hole Planet 3, who created Mechagodzilla, have sent it to Earth to wreak havoc and pave the way for their planned invasion.
To combat Mechagodzilla, the ancient guardian monster King Caesar is awakened from his resting place in Okinawa. The Shisa-like creature possesses great power and agility and is believed to be Earth’s protector against threats like Mechagodzilla.
Mechagodzilla is revealed to have numerous advanced weapons, including finger missiles, eye lasers, and the ability to create a forcefield. Its technological superiority poses a significant challenge to Godzilla and King Caesar. The film showcases a series of battles, with Godzilla, King Caesar, and Mechagodzilla facing off in epic confrontations. Mechagodzilla utilizes its advanced weaponry, putting the Earth’s defenders at a disadvantage.
The film also introduces the concept of ancient prophecies, which foretold the arrival of Mechagodzilla and the need for King Caesar’s assistance. These prophecies play a significant role in the narrative.
In the climactic showdown, Godzilla, King Caesar, and the human forces unite to confront Mechagodzilla. They devise a strategy to disable Mechagodzilla’s forcefield, allowing Godzilla to land critical blows and ultimately defeat the mechanical Kaiju.
The film concludes with Mechagodzilla’s destruction and the thwarting of the alien invasion plans. King Caesar returns to his slumber in Okinawa, and Godzilla is once again recognized as Earth’s protector against the forces of destruction.
GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA is celebrated for its introduction of the iconic Mechagodzilla character and its action-packed battles between the Kaiju. The film is notable for its blend of science fiction and ancient prophecy elements, adding depth to the storyline and the Godzilla universe. It remains a fan-favorite in the Showa era of Godzilla films.
TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA (1975)
The 1975 film TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA, known as “Mekagojira no Gyakushu” in Japanese, is a significant installment in the Showa era of Godzilla films. Directed by Ishirō Honda, this movie serves as a direct sequel to the previous film “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla” and brings back Mechagodzilla.
The film opens with the remnants of the alien race from the Black Hole Planet 3, who survived the defeat of Mechagodzilla in the previous film. These aliens are determined to rebuild Mechagodzilla and continue their conquest of Earth.
The aliens, led by the enigmatic Kuronuma (Tomoko Ai), seek the assistance of a scientist named Shinzô Mafune (Akihiko Hirata). Dr. Mafune has discovered a new Kaiju, Titanosaurus, and can control it using a device. The aliens aim to use Titanosaurus in conjunction with the reconstructed Mechagodzilla.
Meanwhile, Interpol becomes aware of the alien threat and assigns their top agent, Jiro Murakoshi (Katsumasa Uchida), to investigate. Murakoshi uncovers Dr. Mafune’s involvement with the aliens and learns about Titanosaurus. Dr. Mafune’s daughter, Katsura Mafune (Tomoko Ai), is revealed to have been cybernetically modified by the aliens after surviving an accident. She is under their control and helps them with their plans.
Godzilla, who has been in hibernation, emerges to confront the new threat posed by Titanosaurus and the rebuilt Mechagodzilla. Interpol seeks assistance from the scientist Akira Ichinose (Katsuhiko Sasaki), who has expertise in marine biology and a romantic interest in Katsura.
Godzilla and Titanosaurus engage in a series of battles in Tokyo, with Titanosaurus proving to be a formidable opponent. Meanwhile, Mechagodzilla is also rebuilt and joins the conflict. Katsura, who has retained some of her humanity, has conflicting loyalties. She ultimately aids the humans by sabotaging Mechagodzilla’s programming, giving Godzilla the upper hand in the battle.
The climax of the film features a thrilling showdown between Godzilla, Titanosaurus, and Mechagodzilla. Godzilla’s determination and resilience help him overcome the combined forces of the alien-controlled Kaiju and the mechanized Mechagodzilla. The film ends with the defeat of Titanosaurus and Mechagodzilla. Dr. Mafune and the alien invaders are thwarted, and Katsura, in a tragic but redemptive moment, sacrifices herself to prevent the aliens from causing further destruction.
TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA is celebrated for its complex characters and the return of Mechagodzilla to the franchise. The film explores themes of redemption and the consequences of technological manipulation. It remains a memorable and impactful entry to conclude Showa era of Godzilla films.
I hope you enjoyed part 2 of my retrospective on the Showa Godzilla series. Through both articles I have included individual links for each of these films in case you want to add any titles to your movie collection. In addition, I have included a link below for the Criterion GODZILLA, THE SHOWA ERA FILMS, 1954-1975. Though pricey, it is the only way currently to own the whole series on Blu-ray. You can also read my review on this collection here.