There will be plenty of romping and stomping May 23, 1998, when MonsterVision presents the original “Godzilla” with running commentary by Raymond Burr – Perry Mason himself! Originally released in Japan as “Gojira,” the American distributor cut out 20 minutes of the movie to make room for Burr’s scenes, leaving a sometimes confusing plot in the U.S. version. Then stick around for Joe Bob’s second feature, “Godzilla Vs. Mothra.” Now here’s Joe Bob Briggs with those drive-in totals:
You know that big new Godzilla movie (1998) that came out this week? Don’t even mess with that. They spent a hundred million dollars making that movie, but we have two Godzilla movies tonight that are just as good. And both of ‘em together cost about … a hundred dollars. Other than that, no difference.
Anyway, “Godzilla” was the first of all the great Japanese monster movies. It came out in 1954 under the title “Gojira,” which was the nickname of a stagehand who was big as a whale and strong as a gorilla, it was very popular in Japan. And then it got discovered by accident in the U.S. – two producers in El-Lay bought a bunch of special effects footage from Japan to use for their own projects, and some of that footage included Godzilla. So they got the idea of changing it into an American movie, so they hired an American director, Terry Morse, he wrote some additional dialogue, they dubbed all the Japanese actors into English, they took 20 minutes out of the original Japanese version, then they hired Raymond Burr so they’d have a narrator to help them edit it all together…
They spent a total of $100,000 on this and then Joe Levene, the great promoter, bought half of the movie and within a year it had grossed two million bucks, which is not that much in Hollywood today, but it’s a two-thousand percent return on their investment.
OK, let’s see what we got here. Those Godzilla totals are:
22 dead bodies
2 firey shipwrecks
1 helicopter crash
Railroad car eating
Bad-breath tower melting
Exploding fuel tanks
2 jeep crashes
Flaming Godzilla breath
Cop car incineration
Multiple high-tension wire toppling
Glowing tailfin building wasting
Clock tower eating
Radio tower eating
1 tidal wave
Gratuitous tribal dancing
Giant lizard fu
4 stars. The movie that made the reputation of director Inoshiro Honda, who would go on to make “Rodan,” “Mothra,” “Ghidrah the 3-headed Monster,” that under-appreciated favorite of mine “Matongo, Fungus Of Terror” (1963), aka Attack of the Mushroom People. In 1985, they decided to do a remake of the original Godzilla, and even hired Raymond Burr again!
MonsterVision's Godzilla movie marathon promo
(click 2 or 3 times to play clip)