Saturday, June 11, 2016

"Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster" (1964) d/ Ishiro Honda

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What we've got on our hands tonight, folks, is tantamount to Toho's first big cinematic daikaiju Wrestlemania ticket, featuring the three biggest monsters to date, and introducing a brand spanking new one that would endure the ages while endearing kaiju fans the world over. Of course, I speak of none other than King Ghidorah, whose eight movie appearances span the Showa era, the Heisei era, and the Millenium era, in various incarnations. There's been a cretaceous variation, a Keizer version, a Death Ghidorah on all fours, and even a partially robotic incarnation, with just as many roles and backstories to mention, though here, in his first movie, it should be noted that he's the familiar gold scaled, dual-tailed, lightning breathing, three headed destroyer of planets that we've come to know and love, as Godzilla's baddest interstellar nemesis.

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"Ain't nuthin' in this mountain but us prehistoric chickens!"
After Princess Selina Salno of Selgina (Akiko Wakabayashi)...phew, that's some serious alliteration right there... disappears mysteriously moments before the plane she's aboard suddenly explodes in mid-air, Det Shindo (Yosuke Natsuki), who's assigned to protect her on her visit to Japan, can only assume he's failed in carrying out his orders. Elsewhere, Professor Murai (Hiroshi Koizumi) investigates an equally mysterious meteor shower that has deposited an enormous meteorite in the nearby forest, one that displays great magnetism from time to time. Meanwhile, Selina turns up unharmed in Japan, in plain clothes, and claiming to be Venusian, to boot, while spouting familiar prophesies of impending doom. The miniature Shobijin (The Peanuts) also happen to be in Japan, on vacation from Easter Island for a television appearance, where they sing to Mothra back home, to the glee of probably nobody that isn't five years old and wearing vasectomy shorts. Before Selina's corrupt uncle, who tried offing his niece in the first place, can send hit men from Selgina to finish the job, Godzilla and Rodan both make the scene, and their colossal scrap means death and destruction, as always. Cue: Stock footage of fleeing Japanese.

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This would've made a great 7th grade math book cover drawing or a back patch for a denim vest.
After Selina foregoes a psychiatric evaluation where the doctor's sole, reasonable prognosis is that she is, indeed, possessed by a Venusian consciousness, she relates the horrible extinction of her people at the electrical gravity beams of a terrible three-headed monster named Ghidorah, and further prophesies his arrival for more of the same right here on Earth! At this point, Murai's meteorite proves to be an egg, instead, and one from which King Ghidorah emerges. Before too much of civilization is wiped out, the Shobijin enlist Mothra, in larval form, to convince Godzilla and Rodan to stop their monstrous bickering long enough to save the planet from the invading dragon. Cue: subtitled monster convo, ready your diapers. Mothra shrugs off the unreasonable, unreachable behemoths, and takes on Ghidorah itself, not the brightest of ideas the heroic caterpillar has ever come up with. The larva's bravery (Am I actually writing this? Wow.) inspires Godzilla and Rodan to join the brawl, and what follows, must be considered an epic daikaiju battle for Showa era supremacy, and one you'll want to experience for yourselves.

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"Easy for you to say, you sprayed me with silk until I fell into the sea!", grumbles Godzilla (Haruo Nakajima).
We last saw Hiroshi Koizumi in 1963's Matango, but his next Godzilla appearance would come in 1974's Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. Akiko Wakabayashi would graduate from Toho-born kaiju films to You Only Live Twice three years later as a Bond girl. The fifth film in the Showa Godzilla series, the second of 1964, following Mothra vs Godzilla aka/Godzilla vs the Thing, and the first movie where Godzilla has a change of heart, turning heroic from his usual villainous role to this point. The Showa Ghidorah suit seen here would appear four times in Godzilla movies over a nine year period, before turning up for the last time in a mostly pulverized state in a pair of Jun Fukuda-directed Zone Fighter episodes in 1973. There's enough giant monster suit-age here to satisfy most kaiju fans, and ample silliness to cap off multiple viewings of this cult classic. Therefore, two respectable Wops, it must be. Check it out.

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"I'm giving out free...GRAVITY BEAMS! Ha-ha, take that!"
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