By: Denis Blot
“Godzilla” is one of the earliest and most famous of Japanese film imports, spawning several sequels, and a whole lot of merchandise. The attraction to these Sci-fi monster movies is different for everyone, some love the camp element of rubber suited creatures and zany story lines, for others its memories of seeing them on TV in the 1980s or at the movies in the 1950s and 1960s, and you’ll also find those who embrace the amazing special effects found in the films. Luckily now these movies have been lovingly released on DVD in their original widescreen format (or as the Japanese call it “Tohoscope”) and in both Japanese and American versions.
“Ghidorah – The Three Headed Monster” reunites Godzilla with Rodan and Mothra (in caterpillar form) to combat a three-headed creature from outer space. A secondary story line of an assassination planned against a visiting princess combines with the primary monster from space story as the princess is hypnotized by lights from space and transformed into a “Venusian” woman who has come to earth to warn of the impending doom. The absurdity of the plot is a staple of the Godzilla series, and embraced by fans. These movies have always had B-movie screenplays with high production values and it is perhaps why they have longevity as opposed to so many poorly devised B-movies that simply disappeared.
The DVD extras are fair for an older film most enticing is the ability to see the film in both the Japanese and American versions. The American dubbed version, where the humorous element of English dialogue oddly synched up to the Japanese actors moving mouths, that which most remember seeing is several minutes shorter than the Japanese version, though the cuts are not damaging to the storyline. There is a good brief documentary on Eiji Tsuburaya who was the man behind all the special effects of the Godzilla movies. There is also feature length audio commentary with the American film version by film scholar David Kalat. His knowledge of the Godzilla movies and Japanese film history is profuse and his voice, which sounds eerily like the movie-fone guy, is quite engaging. The film trailer and stills of the movie poster variations are interesting for those who like to compare the cultural differences in how films are promoted.
Godzilla films, like sushi and Japanese cars are products that Americans have come to accept and enjoy in their lives. Fans of the monster film genre should definitely buy these films for their collection. For those who have never had the fortune to watch a classic Godzilla film rent one today and watch it with your kids.