Godzilla, King of the Monsters

By Bill Laidlaw

Originally titled Gojira ("Go" from Gorilla and "jira" from Kujira, which means "whale" or big in Japanese) in 1954, an atom bomb releases the giant monster from his frozen sleep (the deepest part of the ocean is near Japan). He wades ashore and destroys Tokyo. Sounds like an allegory of Hiroshima right? Wrong. Godzilla's creator says the first Godzilla movie was written after a Japanese fishing boat didn't get the word about an atmospheric (above-ground or above-ocean) A-bomb test and was too close when it went off. Some of the fishermen died without reaching home, the rest died eventually from radiation. Two years later, Japan's first sci-fi monster movie was released in America, with 20 minutes cut and replaced by footage of Raymond Burr as an American reporter. Burr also appeared in the 1985 remake.

Over the years, Toho Studios couldn't quite decide whether their audience was adult fans of science fiction, fans of high camp, or children. For the latter, they made Son Of Godzilla (1967) and Godzilla's Revenge (in which a little, clumsy offspring befriends a small boy and they chat, in human language). And that encouraged a whole line of films about flying turtles, robots, Power Rangers, etc. The sequel 6 months later "Revenge Of Godzilla" was released in America in 1959 dubbed into English. Voices included George Takei as the voice of the dive-bomber pilot in this clip
Godzilla himself was always played by a man in a rubber suit, stop-mation models and mechanical miniatures, designed by special effects man Eiji Tsuburaya.
Click here to stop background music

Movies

Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956) aka Gojira (1954/1956), already described
Monstervision review/host segments for Godzilla, King of the Monsters

Rodan (1957)
A giant pteranodon hatches in a northern Japanese mine and destroys Tokyo's fragile cardboard models of buildings with the gale force winds created by its wings. Japan's first color science fiction film, originally released there in 1956 as "Sora No Daikaiju Radon" (Happysmurfs4000@aol.com says that means Rodan, Giant Monster Of The Sky). Rodan would return in Ghidra, the 3-Headed Monster (1965) and Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Gigantis the Fire Monster (1955, 1959 US) aka Revenge of Godzilla, aka Godzilla Raids Again
A copyright problem forced Warner Brothers to rename the big guy Gigantis in the original release, in which he takes on a spiny monster called Angorous. Godzilla, King of the Monsters was released by another studio in the U.S. in 1956 so WB had to wait until 1959 to release Gigantis here.

King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962, 1963 US)
It's warm blood against cold blood when the gargantuan ape king takes on the flame-breathing saurian. As the behemoths battle, Tokyo trembles and Japanese architecture takes a beating. Oh, and there's a giant octopus too, which probably counts as a cold blood. Anyway, Leonard Maltin says this one's all talk, talk, talk until the rousing finale, when the title bout starts.

Attack Of The Mushroom People (1963)
Hungry for mushrooms? Make sure they don't come after you like in
Attack of the Mushroom People, produced & directed by your favorite Godzilla people in this horror movie attempt

Godzilla vs. The Thing (1964) aka Godzilla vs. Mothra
Vivid special effects highlight this battle between reptile Godzilla and Mothra, a giant moth that tries to tangle him up by spitting silk webs at him. Monstervision review/host segments for Godzilla vs. Mothra

Ghidra, The 3-Headed Monster (1965) aka The Greatest Battle On Earth
Godzilla, Rodan & Mothra team up to protect Tokyo against new rampaging creature. Are they protecting the people of Japan or just protecting their turf? Only Mothra ever showed any interest in actually protecting humans (in the previous movie). This one was actually released simultaneously in the US & Japan, unlike most of the others.

Gammera the Invincible (1965, 1966 US)
With the success of Godzilla, competing studio Daiei came up with this monster movie about a giant flying turtle, awakened from Arctic deep-freeze by an A-bomb test (which also gives him the power to fly and spew radioactive fire). After terrorizing the world, he is finally brought down by Japanese scientists and the US Air Force (Godzilla movies by contrast always feature Japanese home-defense jets). A hit with little kids, there were many sequels, some of which have been released in the US: Return of the Giant Monsters (1967), Gammera vs. Guiron (1968), Gamera vs. Monster X and Gammera the Invicible (1970). Some of the Gamera movies are available as is, while others became fodder for Mystery Science Theater 3000. By the way, you may notice that the name is spelled with one "m" starting with the 1970 film. It was accidentally released that way before anyone at the studio bothered to notice...

Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster (1966)
In this colorful and lively entry, a yachtload of castaways help captives of paramilitary villains while Godzilla battles a giant shrimp and Mothra joins the party.

Monster Zero (1966) aka Godzilla vs. Monster Zero
Godzilla and Rodan are kidnapped from Earth to battle Ghidrah on an alien planet, apparently known by them as Monster Zero, though this is never explained

Son of Godzilla (1967)
Godzilla and cutsy son are menaced by giant mantises and a huge spider. Where's Mrs. Godzilla?

King Kong Escapes (1968)
Odd Japanese sequel to 1933 U.S. classic has contrived new plot involving girl who wins ape's heart and a battle against a would-be world conqueror. No other monsters as with 1963 movie King Kong vs. Godzilla. Undeterred, Italian producer Dino De Laurentis would make King Kong movies in 1976 & 1986.
Monstervision host segments for his King Kong 2: King Kong Lives (1986)

Destroy All Monsters (1968)
It's the kaiju tag team match of the millennium when the residents of the island for misfit behemoths start a fracas amongst themselves. Of course, the world is their gameboard, so every city from Paris to London to New York can expect to take a drubbing as well from Godzilla, his son, Mothra, Rodan and 3 other giant monsters. It turns out some of them are being controlled by a mysterious UFO - from their lunar outpost, alien forces are wreaking havoc by simultaneously setting free all the monsters of yore, from Godzilla to Ghidrah. Only the United Nations Starship "Moonlight SY3" can save the citizens of Earth from utter chaos and imminent trampling.

Godzilla's Revenge (1969)
When the man who made Godzilla movies died suddenly, the studio slapped together this one in which a little boy daydreams that Godzilla's son talks to him while dad's battling monsters. Fight scenes are exciting stock footage from "Son of Godzilla" and "Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster."

Godzilla vs. Gaigan (1971) aka Gigan, rereleased in 1972 as Godzilla on Monster Island
In this one, Godzilla talks, as he and spiny Angillus (who are now friends) battle UFO-alien controlled Ghidrah and new playmate Gigan, who has a buzz-saw in his torso

Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1972) aka Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster
The cold-blooded big guy takes on a smog monster (technically a no-blood), who is born from the toxic wastes of civilization. The fighting's down and dirty as Godzilla teams up with the Sierra club. Dubbed and daffy. G-rated in US, PG in Japan (I wonder what they cut out?)

Godzilla vs. The Cosmic Monster (1974 in US) aka Godzilla vs. The Bionic Monster, aka Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla
An alien planet of apes builds a mechanical version of Godzilla to take over Earth. Godzilla takes it on with help from an ancient monster from Okinawa known as Kingseesar.

Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973, 1976 in US)
The mighty Godzilla and Jet Jaguar (a giant robot) battle to save man from Megalon and Gigan, sent by the enemies of mankind to destroy the Earth. Lots of unintentional laughs

Terror of Mechagodzilla (1978)
Nasty ogres from a black hole in space send a giant robot monster to Earth to destroy mankind. Only the flesh-and-blood Godzilla can stop the silly looking mechanical creature.

Godzilla 1985 (1985)
Semi-remake of the first Godzilla movie with Raymond Burr again inserted in English-language version of release. Burr is 30 years older and keeps a straight face throughout. Monstervision review & drive-in totals for Godzilla 1985

Godzilla Vs. Biollante (1989)
Using some rare cells from Godzilla, Dr. Shiragami has genetically engineered a indestructible plant life form. Known as Biollante, the creature is content to be alone until Godzilla comes back to wreak havoc on Tokyo. Upon his return from the deep, Godzilla finds a worthy opponent in his genetically-cloned Biollante and the two creatures come face to face in an explosive fight to the finish.

Godzilla Vs. King Ghidora (1991)
Emissaries from the future arrive in Japan with a shocking proposal: travel back through time to eliminate the monster that would become the fearsome Godzilla. But are their motives pure, or are they merely the puppets of Godzilla's newest foe, King Ghidora? A monster "mano a mano" is sure to ensue, in the best "Godzilla" tradition.

Godzilla And Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992)
The fate of the human race is at stake while Godzilla and Mothra face off on Monster Island.

Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)
Monster vs. machine! When Japan appeals to the United Nations for help with their "kaiju" (giant monster) problem, a team of international scientists respond by building Mechagodzilla, a super-sized robotic defense-monster. Godzilla, with the help of Rodan, battle this chrome doppelganger in a fun men-in-monster-suits feature.

Godzilla Vs. Space Godzilla (1994)
When a devious Godzilla clone arrives from outer space to ravage the earth, Godzilla, Godzilla Jr., and Mogera (a giant robot created to destroy Godzilla) must team up to protect their planet. All the while, a team of psychics attempt to control Godzilla telepathically, much to the annoyance of the radioactive lizard.

Godzilla Vs. Destroyah (1995)
Will Godzilla be the source of his own downfall? The atomic particles that give Godzilla his powers are on the verge of meltdown, and the evil oxygen-destroying monster Destroyah, Godzilla's most formidable opponent, has invaded the earth. Can he defeat Destroyah before he self-destructs? An excellent, introspective chapter in the Godzilla saga.

Rebirth of Mothra (1996)
Everyone's favorite giant Japanese moth from the 60s returns to vanquish a three-headed monster with the power to turn Earth into a desert. From the creators of the original Godzilla comes this high(er) tech '90s update of an old friend.

Rebirth of Mothra II (1997, kids uncover a lost city that is home to a giant monster attracted to environmental calamities) and
Rebirth of Mothra III (1998, Mothra time-travels to defeat a killer dinosaur)
Just as Toho Studios' signature monster Godzilla returned for a series of slick 1990s films, so did the Earth-spirit creature called Mothra, first seen in the 1961 Japanese film bearing her native name, Mosura. The two battled in the classic "Mosura tai Gojira" (1964), a.k.a. "Godzilla vs. The Thing" and "Godzilla vs. Mothra", and Mothra was modified for the modern day in 1992's "Gojira vs. Mosura" a.k.a. "Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth." Now see two of the subsequent, contemporary Mothra movies that re-established her as a star kaiju (Japanese for "big mysterious beast"). In this third film, a.k.a. "Mosura 3", Mothra time-travels and metamorphoses into a metallic form in order to confront a young version of the three-headed creature King Ghidora. (In Japanese; dubbed)

Rebirth of Mothra 2 (1997)
From the creators of the original Godzilla comes a new adventure for the giant Earth-protecting moth. In this one, she must "defeat a giant garbage-eating monster before the planet faces irreversible damage!" Sounds like another Smog Monster to me...
Followed by Rebirth of Mothra 3 (1998)

Note: Godzilla movies made in the 1990s were not widely released in the US but are on video. This was done so an American studio could make:
Godzilla 1998 (1998)
The first US-made Godzilla movie has an unrecognizable giant lizard attacking New York while actors use enough bad words to avoid the dreaded G rating. Nevertheless, Godzilla 1998 had the largest premiere ever - 12,000 people with nothing better to do crammed into an arena to see it that night. The same director would go on to make the plot-thin Independence Day starring Will Smith as a fighter pilot in search of a girlfriend with large breasts while fighting aliens

Godzilla 2000 (2000)
Meanwhile back in Japan, the real big guy is still smashing cities while the army, navy and air force try to stop him. This time he's trying to smash and destroy all of Japan's nuclear reactors and power plants. 23rd film in the cult series of monster movies that began in 1954, Godzilla 2000 beckons the giant, indestructible lizard from his hiding place deep in the ocean. A local scientist who tries to decode the giant lizard's motives and predict where his next terrifying steps will land, concludes that there must be a reason why Godzilla has emerged from the sea. However, when a 6,000-year-old meteor surfaces from the bottom of the ocean and turns into a spaceship, Godzilla--along with the entire population of Japan--is overwhelmed by chaos, crisis, and hysteria. Yuki, a local journalist trying to get a close-up shot of Godzilla, along with Shinoda and his kid daughter, form a guerilla research group called the GPN (Godzilla Prediction Network). The CCI (Crisis Control Intelligence), headed up by a hilariously nihilistic Katagiri, are the "bad guys." Takao Okawara's GODZILLA 2000 is perfectly consistent with its predecessors: the monsters are nasty and ferocious and they wipe out every skyscraper in Tokyo, literally leveling the city. The film brings back all the old tricks, with special effects akin to the Godzilla films of yore and plenty of monster mania. Godzilla emerges and marches into Tokyo (chomping down an ocean tanker in the process) to the alien spaceship named Orga that first appears as a large rock. When the ship is pulled off the ocean floor by a team of scientists, Orga first morphs into a sleek, silvery triangular spacecraft, then sucks all the data out of Tokyo's computer tower, including genetic information on Godzilla, becoming the ultimate enemy: a slimy octopus-like beast that attempts to swallow Godzilla whole. Theatrical release: August 18, 2000. Actor Tsutomo Kitagawa, who plays Godzilla, is now 46.

Godzilla wasn't released in the US until 1956.
To cash in on the monster movie craze, writer/director/producer Bert I. Gordon quickly made King Dinosaur (1955) with unknown actors and paper mache sets to portray an alien planet on which astronauts discover menacing dinosaurs, but it was such a hit that it launched Gordon's career making ultra-cheap movies for the drive-in circuit.
In fact, the only recognizable name in the cast was narrator Marvin Miller, a popular network radio actor of the 1940s & 50s. He also narrated the scifi movie Red Planet Mars (1952)

And then there was Half-Human (1955, 1958 US), with Americans John Carradine & Morris Ankrum spliced into something about a Japanese 1400-pound big-foot-type monster and it's son. Carradine narrates. "Half man, half beast, but all monster."

By the way, in case you are wondering -
Bambi Meets Godzilla is available on The Rocketship Reel cult favorites videotape
Description: A collection of animated shorts from Rocketship Limited. Contains "Bambi Meets Godzilla," "The Butterfly," "Lupo the Butcher," "Hooray for Sandbox Land," "Waddles," and more.

Godzilla and Other Movie Monsters (1998)
A collection of train chomping, skyscraper swatting, human terrorizing classic scenes featuring favorites such as Godzilla, Gammera, Hedora, Ghidrah, the Smog Monster, Gorgo, Reptilicus, and more! Includes rare footage revealing how the monsters are created, plus the cult-classic campy short "Bambi Vs. Godzilla," the "Godzilla Rap" music video, and a 1948 featurette titled "Lost World."

The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953)
A-bomb accidentally thaws out a rhedosaurus, which then wreaks havoc in every direction, leveling cities and amusement parks in its path (with Ray Harryhausen special effects). Based on Ray Bradbury's short story "The Fog Horn."
Remade two years later as It Came From Beneath the Sea, not to be confused with The Creature From The Black Lagoon.

Reptilian (2001)
Who would remake a cheezy Godzilla movie as a cheezy Korean movie with a nod to Plan 9 From Outer Space? Why the Koreans, of course. In this South Korean epic, invading space aliens reanimate a dormant giant lizard called Yonggary (probably easier to pronounce in Korean), to wipe out mankind and take over the Earth.
Stars Harrison Young and Donna Philipson
Not to be confused with Monstervision movie Replikator

Not to be out-done, Roger Corman came out with Carnivore to cash in on the publicity for the first Jurassic Park movie



Godzilla stuff available (books, DVDs, videos)

Godzilla DVDs only

Godzilla videos only (VHS)

Of course, it all started with that great sci-fi movie One Million Years B.C. starring Raquel Welch

Download & watch your favorite TV-shows online from episodes of "24" to Star Trek, whether they're available on video/DVD or not!
Or your choice of over 3000 movies online

Godzilla on American Movie Classics:
Previously on AMC:
Godzilla (1954) Sep. 16, 2004 @ 9:50 PM & 1:10am
Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)  Sep. 17   4:40 AM  
Godzilla Vs. the Sea Monster (1966) Sep. 25  12:45 AM
Godzilla (1956)    Wednesday, Apr. 26, 2006  4:30 AM  
                         Mon,  Oct 23, 2006  3:30 AM
Godzilla (1956) Fri  Dec 29, 2006  07:00A    
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       OTHER CHANNELS:

Godzilla vs. Destroyer (1995)
Tue  July 3  03:00A on Wam!
Wed  Jul  4  02:45P & 10:05P on Action
Sun  Jul 22  08:50P on MoviePlex
Thu  Jul 26  09:35A & 8:05P on Action
Thu  Jul 26  10:35A & 9:05P on MoviePlex

Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991, aka Ghidra)
Tue  Jul 31  11:00A on Action

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1993)
Sun  Jul 29  04:30A & 6:10P on Action

Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (1994) 
Tue  Jul 31  10:00A on Wam!

Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: The Giant Monsters' General (2001)
Fri  May 11  10:45A on Starz Edge

Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995)
Wed  Apr 25  11:20A & 5:40A on Showtime Beyond
Mon  May 14  07:15A on Showtime
Tue  Jun 26  03:00P & 3:20A on Flix Movie Channel
Fri  Jun 29  09:45A & 4:40P on Flix Movie Channel
Mon  July 9  05:20A on The Movie Channel
Mon  Aug 20  10:20P on Showtime Family Zone
Thu  Aug 23  07:00P on Showtime Family Zone
Sat  Sep  1  02:50A on Showtime Family Zone

Mothra (1962)
Thu  Feb  2  07:20A on  Action

Rebirth of Mothra (1996)
Wed  May 30  04:20A on Starz Kids and Family

Rebirth of Mothra 2 (1997)
Thu  May 17  08:35A & 5:30P on Movie Plex
Godzilla movies showing (before 6am is night of date shown) on the Sci-Fi Channel:
04/28/2007 03:00 AM MOVIE GODZILLA, MOTHRA, AND KING GHIDORAH 
    ----------------------------------------
    Previously on the Sci-Fi Channel:
27-JUL-04 03:00 AM  GODZILLA, MOTHRA, KING GHIDORAH  
11/19/2006 03:00 AM  GODZILLA VS MEGAGUIRUS 
12/25/2006  9:00 AM  Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: The Giant Monsters' General (2001)
02/02/2007 03:00 AM  GODZILLA VS MEGAGUIRUS     
02/03/2007 03:00 AM  GODZILLA, MOTHRA, AND KING GHIDORAH 
02/06/2007 03:00 AM  REBIRTH OF MOTHRA    
02/07/2007 03:00 AM  REBIRTH OF MOTHRA II    
02/08/2007 03:00 AM  REBIRTH OF MOTHRA III 
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SciFi Channel 2003 promo:
Ready for excessive property damage? A Godzilla/Mothra Marathon means film after film of city-stomping, ray-blasting excitement as we bring you hour after hour of the screen's biggest lizard and its most beautiful giant moth, all day and all night long . . . and this time featuring the U.S. premieres of two new Godzilla films international hits never before released here in any format!

First, watch a triple feature of modern-day films that re-established the classic '60s monster Mothra as a star kaiju (Japanese for "big mysterious beast," originally released in America as Godzilla vs. The Thing).
Then see the the U.S. premieres of Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (Japan, 2000) in which the King of the Monsters takes on a gargantuan, dragonfly-like creature that feeds off Earth's water supply as well as human energy and Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (Japan, 2001), in which Godzilla returns to Tokyo, where members of a religious cult summon the kaiju King Ghidorah, Mothra and Baragon to help protect Japan from total devastation.

Then after a break for the miniseries Peter Benchley's Creature, return for two widescreen Godzilla films: the camp-classic Godzilla vs. Megalon (Japan, 1973) and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, featuring perhaps the coolest-looking of all of Big G monsters.
Aired August 31, 2003 from 9am to 3am ET/PT on SciFi

14-DEC-02 3:00 AM  GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA (LBX)     
09-JAN-03 3:00 AM  GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORA 
          

Monster Movie Marathon on the Sci-Fi Channel Sunday, 9/1/02:

9:00 AM GODZILLA VS. HEDORA (1971) 11:00AM GODZILLA VS. GIGAN (LBX, 1972) 1:00 PM GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA (LBX, 1993) GODZILLA AND MOTHRA: THE BATTLE FOR EARTH Monster Movie Marathon on the Sci-Fi Channel, 3/16/02: 9:00 AM MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 BOGGY CREEK II: AND THE LEGEND CONTINUES 11:00 AM GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORA 1:00 PM GODZILLA AND MOTHRA: THE BATTLE FOR EARTH 3:00 PM GODZILLA VS. SPACE GODZILLA (LBX) 5:00 PM GODZILLA VS. DESTROYAH (LBX) 7:00 PM SPIDERS (no Godzilla, but plenty of mutant spider webs) 9:00 PM REPTILIAN (Korean remake of Godzilla) 11:00 PM GODZILLA VS. MEGALON (LBX) 1:00 AM GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA (LBX) 3:00 AM GODZILLA VS. GIGAN (LBX) No further Godzilla movies in March except SCINEMA FEATURE "Destroy All Monsters"

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MonsterVision host segments for Godzilla (1956)

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