GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN (1955) / MOTHRA
VS. GODZILLA (1964)
a species we've always managed somehow to get our priorities all wrong.
Technology-wise we can destroy the entire planet
several times over, but we can't cure the common cold. A guy gets paid
several times more money for hitting a little small white ball into a hole
than the medical doctor who would save your life or the teacher who
will help form your child's future.
Take the deluxe treatment that some of the Godzilla
movies have recently received on the DVDs released by Classic Media and
Sony Entertainment. This sort of attention and care haven't even been
lavished on, let's say, Akira Kurosawa movies by Criterion.
As with their release of the very first 1956 Black &
White Godzilla movie you get two versions of each film, namely the
American one and the Japanese one, here both included on the same disc as
opposed to two discs. (Often the version of a Godzilla flick released in
the States would differ substantially from the Japanese one. In Mothra
vs. Godzilla there is one entire special effects heavy sequence with
American actors, which probably cost them a fortune to produce, made
especially for the American release. To this day it has not been included
in any Japanese version of the film.)
The image and sound restoration is pristine, the sound
boasting a Dolby stereo mix and the image being presented in its original
aspect ratio. You get audio commentaries by two dry yet very knowledgeable
film geek types with an encyclopedic breadth of Japanese pop cultural
arcana at their command plus the occasional featurette. Plus, the special
cardboard packaging is pretty impressive and despite our dislike of this
sort of non-standard packaging actually looks quite sturdy and as if it
wouldn't wear and tear too easily.
All round these are very good discs. So what's the
problem? Well, it just seems, uhm, plain wrong to lavish this sort of
attention on movies that are so . . . inconsequential. Don't get me wrong.
I love these old hokey stuntman-in-a-rubber-suit-demolishing-train
set-models flicks as much as the next guy, but let's face up to it: they
aren't very good movies, and are usually only enjoyable in a
Science Theatre 3000 so bad, it's good way if you're an adult. (Boys of
a very impressionable age ought to eat them up though.)
GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN (1955)
Godzilla Raids Again is the very first Godzilla
sequel and the rubber-suited guy has his (its?) feet stuck in two
different worlds: the overt seriousness of the first
giant-reptile-demolishing-Tokyo-as-metaphor-for-the-atom-bomb movie and
the Godzilla kicking monster butt silliness of the later sequels. Also
filmed in Black & White it can never seem to find the right tone to settle
on and ends up being on the dull side. Check out the American version for
some extra stock footage and unintentional laughs as well as a lesson in
how States-side film distributors repackaged overseas material for
American audiences back then.
MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA (1964)
Mothra vs. Godzilla
(also released as Godzilla vs. the Thing) is an entirely different
kettle of fish as they say.
Forget any pretence at
metaphors and symbolism. Filmed in glorious Technicolor it is a glorious
goofball of a movie, one which ought to make for fantastic viewing whilst
high on recreational drugs. It has Godzilla fighting it out against not
just the Japanese and American armies and navies, but also against a
gigantic moth named (you guessed it) Mothra and two of its over-sized
larvae which finally defeat Godzilla by spewing a suspicious-looking white
fluid all over the big guy.
Along the way we are
treated to a set of miniature 30cm high identical twin girls who
communicate with Mothra by singing to it (her?) who were played by a
popular real life twin 1960s Japanese pop music duo named The Peanuts. You
also get: disgruntled South Sea islanders who look suspiciously Japanese
and an enormous mountain-sized egg that washed out onto the beach where it
is turned into a theme park attraction by two unscrupulous entrepreneurs,
to mention only a few of the film's delights.
Yes, Mothra vs.
Godzilla is bad, but it so revels in its sheer badness that you cannot
help but like it. It is abundantly clear why Mothra vs. Godzilla is
often considered to be the best of all the Godzilla movies by fans.
Some notes: The American
version of Mothra vs. Godzilla is presented in a slightly cropped
version instead of the correct widescreen aspect ratio. The following
explanation was given:
"The DVD also features
the original U.S. version, Godzilla vs. the Thing, which has a
running time of 88:07. After comparing the available source materials, it
was decided to not use the scope version previously released on DVD
because it has several problems including missing dialogue and special
effects footage, out of synch audio, and poor color that weakened the
quality of animated effects. Instead, Classic Media chose a down convert
from a High Definition Master that presents Godzilla vs. the Thing
complete and in top quality at 16" widescreen (approx. 1:78:1)."