Japanese release title: All Monsters Attack
U.S. release date: May 23, 1969 (re-released in 1972) by American International Pictures
Japanese audience attendance: 2,580,000
Director: Ishiro Honda
Screenplay: Ishiro Honda and Kaoru Mabuchi
Sfx: Sadamasa Arikawa, supervised by Eiji Tsuberaya
Musical score: Akira Ifukube
U.S. version available on home video by A.D. Vision Video.
In the year 1999, all of Earth’s remaining monsters, which consists [onscreen] of Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra [in larva form], Anguirus, Gorosaurus, Manda, Kumonga (referred to as 'Spiga' in the American and international version), Minilla (not identified by name), Baragon, and Varan, have been gathered and entrapped on a large island far off the coast of Japan called “Monsterland,” formerly the Ogasawara Island chain, also referred to as 'Monster Island.' Advanced technology has been set up on the atoll to keep the monsters from leaving, and a thriving ecosystem supports their existence. Further, scientific bases have been set up underground to study the monsters, and a spaceship called the Moonlight SY-3, which can easily travel to the moon and back, is stationed there.
One day, however, a strange mist suddenly permeates the island, rendering both monsters and humans alike unconscious. Soon after this disaster, the monsters are mysteriously freed from the island, and they begin attacking major cities across the world: Godzilla trashes New York City (where he is later joined by Manda), Rodan invades Moscow, Mothra deliberately collides with a train in Peking, and Gorosaurus appears from underground to smash the Eiffel Tower in Paris (where he is mistakenly identified as Baragon in all versions of the film). Strangely, of all the world capitals, only Tokyo is spared an attack (for once!).
When the crew of the Moonlight SY-3 returns from the moon to investigate the disaster on Monster Island, they find that the base and its human personnel have been taken over by an all-female race of seemingly humanoid aliens known as the Kilaaks. The Kilaaks announce that they control both the monsters and key humans across the globe, and they plan on using this advantage to take over the planet. After waging a gun fight with the alien-controlled personnel on the island, the SY-3 crew manages to take the base commander back with them. Unwilling to betray his alien controllers, the base commander escapes from the authorities and commits suicide by leaping out of a building. During a (fairly ghastly) autopsy scene, it’s discovered that a small spherical device was surgically implanted in the man’s skull, which is how the Kilaaks controlled him. Much larger devices have been placed in the monsters' skulls to control them, and the devices sending out the mind-altering signals are too well hidden around the world to be found.
Soon after the worldwide monster attacks, the Kilaaks set up a base within Mount Fuji, and then unleash Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and Manda on Tokyo (we should have known that the sparing of Tokyo was too good to last!), demolishing the city and proving as resistant to the military weaponry of the 90’s as they were to the corresponding arsenals of the 60’s. Afterwards, the United Nations send a military unit into the Kilaak base in the Mount Fuji area, only to have it crushed by the combined might of Godzilla and Anguirus. However, analysis of the control devices lead to the discovery that the master control signals originate from a base hidden on the moon. The SY-3 launches an attack on the moonbase, where the Kilaaks unsuccessfully attempt to destroy the ship. It is then discovered that when the temperature is sufficiently lowered, the Kilaaks revert to their true form, which appear to be small, rocky slug-like creatures that quickly go into hibernation.
Taking over the Kilaak control system, the human victims are released, and the monsters fall under the control of the U.N. All ten kaiju are brought to the Kilaak base near Mount Fuji to attack it. Deciding to save the best for last, the Kilaaks bring forth their ultimate kaiju slave, King Ghidorah, who is sent to destroy all the Earth monsters. However, after a tremendous battle, King Ghidorah ultimately proves no match for the combined might of all the Earth kaiju, and the three-headed terror is severely thrashed.
Just prior to this, the Kilaaks send a fiery, meteor-like monster to attack the U.N. command center, who retaliate by sending Rodan after it. The fiery thing injures Rodan and still manages to destroy the apparatus at the base, freeing the monsters from human control. However, sensing the danger posed by the Kilaaks, Godzilla destroys the base under his own initiative, ending the Kilaak threat on Earth, and the fiery monster is subsequently attacked by the SY-3. The creature is then discovered to be a Kilaak ship in disguise, and it’s quickly destroyed in battle with the Moonlight SY-3.
After this, all the monsters are peacefully returned to Monster Island, and they resume their harmonious existence with the human race.
After its two previous budget-savers, which removed Godzilla and company as a direct threat to Japan amidst shrinking box office receipts, Toho decided to take one last shot at producing an extremely grandiose kaiju epic. The result was a breathtakingly monster-packed film with great city destruction scenes and a rather decent budget (the last time, in fact, that such a budget would be afforded to a G-film in the Showa Series). Better yet, the great Ishiro Honda had returned to the director’s chair, and master maestro Akira Ifukube was likewise back, and he created perhaps his best Godzilla soundtrack of all time for this movie, including the extremely excellent and memorable military march that stampedes throughout the film. Luckily, a new, very popular Godzilla suit was constructed for this flick, and many new monster costumes were created for this venture, as well as older ones being pulled out of inventory. Honda’s slick direction featured an adult oriented sci-fi epic that nevertheless lacked any important social themes; in fact, no explanation was ever given as to why the Kilaaks wanted to conquer the Earth (not that we could have expected a particularly logical reason, anyway).
Although Godzilla's overly "cutesy" surrogate son Minilla appeared in this film, his appearances were brief enough so as not to offend the adult audience, and the American version thankfully trimmed his childish antics even further.
Unfortunately, Eiji Tsuberaya was in very ill health during this production, and he could only supervise the efforts of his protege' Sadamasa Arikawa here. The monster scenes were still well done, and the climactic battle between King Ghidorah and Earth's kaiju army was perhaps the greatest monster battle ever filmed to date. This was also the first time Toho ever took the G-series to the future, as with the next film, the focus of the series would return to the (then) present. Moreover, the concept of Monster Island caught on in a big way with fans on both sides of the Pacific, and would thus be incorporated in the series continuity of the present beginning with the next G-film, and would remain a motif of the Showa Series from then on. It's rather unforunate, however, that after this movie, the Showa Series was never again allotted a budget allowing them to take full advantage of the Monster Island concept, and the intriguing atoll was then reduced to only bit parts in the G-films of the '70's, when it appeared at all (it wasn't seen or even alluded to in Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster , Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla , or Terror of Mechagodzilla ). The only time Monster Island played a major focus in the plotline of another G-film was in the following year's Godzilla's Revenge, which was nevertheless Toho's ultimate G-film budget-saver, with the majority of the monster battles being realized via stock footage from Godzilla's two previous island films, and the entire story didn't actually "happen" even in the context of the film itself (see the entry on Godzilla's Revenge elsewhere in this section of the site for full details). Even more unfortunately, an updated version of Monster Island was never introduced in the timeline featured in the Heisei Series, and at this writing the current Millennium Series has yet to feature a parallel version of that monster-inhabited locale.
Although the aliens-controlling-monsters motif was done before, and to better effect, in Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, it was still a fairly original concept at this point in time (before becoming woefully overused in the G-films of the '70's, during the decline of the Showa Series).
Luckily, this 'ultimate' film in the dai kaiju eiga ("giant monster movie") saga was handled by AIP for its American release, who gave the movie a polished U.S. box office enterprise with top-notch dubbing, and scant footage was excised from the film.
As for the monsters featured in the movie, all previously seen before, this included both Toho’s most and least popular kaiju, and other than Toho’s four superstars, Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah, the other kaiju seen in the movie were: Anguirus, Godzilla’s first ever nemesis from Godzilla Raids Again (1955); Manda, the giant sea serpent menace from the classic Toho adventure film Atragon (1963); Gorosaurus, King Kong’s Allosaur-like foe from King Kong Escapes (1967); Baragon, the subterranean burrowing dinosaur mutation who battled Toho’s giant Frankenstein Monster in Frankenstein Conquers The World (1965); Varan, the flying dinosaurian beast who starred in his own memorable but obscure kaiju flick, Varan The Unbelievable (1958); and the giant spider Kumonga/Spiga, along with Godzilla’s surrogate son Minilla/Minya, both from Son Of Godzilla (1967). Unfortunately, since the Baragon and Varan suits weren’t completed by the time the film began production, these two kaiju were both limited to only two brief scenes in the entire movie, and thus could not be featured in the climactic battle with King Ghidorah (more's the pity, as good as this battle was without them). In fact, Varan was only depicted using the small, dilapidated flying model left over from his own film ten years earlier, and isn’t referred to by name in any version of this movie for reasons unknown. The Baragon suit wasn't finished until after the major production on the film was completed. Thus, as stated above, Baragon and Varan were relegated to two appearances so brief that (to make note of an observation by John Rocco Roberto and Robert Biondi) their appearance in the movie was hardly justified, and they could have just as easily been left out with no major or minor alteration in the film's plot. Consequently, though the script originally called for Baragon to attack Paris in an early scene in the film, the delay in the suit construction forced the sfx department to replace him with Gorosaurus when that scene was shot, which looked a bit inappropriate since Gorosaurus wasn't previously attributed with the ability to burrow underground, and the screenwriters never updated the script to reflect this last minute change, resulting in Gorosaurus being referred to as "Baragon" during this particular scene when it appeared onscreen. Although Baragon was a fan favorite, it was to be 33 years before he would appear in a Toho kaiju film again, and Varan has yet to re-appear in a G-film at this writing (34 years later), even though both Baragon and Varan were prominently featured in many Godzilla video games from the 1980's to the present.
Because Manda was portrayed by a marionette, he was likewise divested of inclusion in the action of the grand finale battle, possibly because the sfx crew decided that it would be too difficult to portray him in such a scenario convincingly.
The only major difference between the American and Japanese versions of this movie was that the latter played the theme song amidst the title credits and interior and exterior shots of the Moonlight SY-3 at the beginning of the film, whereas the former deleted this opening sequence and instead played the theme song to the title credits at the end of the movie, the only time this was done in the U.S. version of a G-film (which I and several other G-fans believe was far more effective in cementing the "feeling" of the movie to the audience as the feature ended). Despite the movie’s minor shortcomings, this film was the last hurrah of Toho’s period of greatness in the Showa Series, and the monsters were portrayed as both menace and friend to humankind, depending upon what side of the Kilaak/Earth control fence they were on at any given moment, since this film was produced during the tail end of Godzilla's ambiguous-to-humankind period.
Sadly, the superior American version is very hard to come by these days, and is very rarely ever seen on television today [I am not sure at this writing if the American version of this film was the version released to home video by A.D. Vision Video; if any visitor to this site has the answer to this question, then feel free to inform this author and the rest of the visitors via the guestbook]. Instead, whenever the movie appears on American TV today, which is usually on G-marathons seen periodically on the Sci-Fi Channel, we instead see the international version of this film, which simply features the Japanese version in its entirety dubbed in English. This leaves all of the clipped scenes and alternate usage of the soundtrack at the beginning, rather than ending, of the film intact, which, in my opinion, leaves viewers with a much less effective version of this movie.
Also, this version of the movie utilizes the inferior dubbing done by the Australian company hired by Toho to create the international versions of its G-films. AIP would do its own, professionally superior dubbing for the American release of these movies, in order to make it more polished. As a result, the international version currently featured on the Sci-Fi Channel (along with its other inferior copies of various G-films) results in its periodic G-marathons to be much less entertaining than they would be had the superior versions of each of these films been shown instead.
Strangely, prior to 1998, due to confusing legal complexities, this was the only G-film in the Showa Series that wasn’t available legitimately on home video. However, it still played on TV occasionally, which for a very long time was the only place that G-fans could see it. Recently, A.D. Vision finally released the movie to home video (though this may be the international version of the film that currently plays on the Sci-Fi Channel G-marathons). An excellent quality Japanese version with English sub-titles can be affordably purchased from Video Daikaiju, but, as stated above, acquiring the American version these days can be quite difficult.
This was the last G-film to enjoy great international success before the slow decline in both quality and the adult tone began signaling the demise of the original, Showa Era G-series.
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