Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (1965)
After taking a much needed hiatus to work on other projects, I'm now ready to get back to movie reviews. I initially considered finishing my half-completed review of Godzilla versus Megaguirus, but my disk of that movie has since been scratched all to hell. So I decided to reach deep down into my smoking vault of oldies and came up holding 1965's Godzilla versus Monster Zero. Eek, this is not going to be pretty...
Our feature was first released in Japan on December 19, 1965. It was originally titled Great Monster War and ran 96 minutes long. It didn't make it to America until July 29, 1970, for reasons that have never been fully explained. Here it was released as Invasion of Astro-Monster and was trimmed to 92 minutes. It was later released on home video under the more marketable title of Godzilla versus Monster Zero. The copy that I'll be reviewing is a pirated VHS purchased at a Japanese market in San Francisco and later ending up in my hands. It was released by Paramount in 1988 and the tape gives it a 93-minute running time.
This one is a sequel to the very popular Ghidrah, the Three Headed Monster from 1964. That movie first introduced Ghidrah and the audiences loved him. The next Godzilla movie was rushed through production to capitalize on this interest and wisely revolved around Ghidrah as well.
Godzilla versus Monster Zero is also the first in a long and often painful series of Godzilla movies featuring Godzilla involved in invasion attempts by aliens from other worlds. Following on the success of 1957's The Mysterians, Godzilla versus Monster Zero mirrors the 1960s fascination with aliens and space. This is probably the best of them, as it received the most effort in screenwriting and budget. From here on, they just got more and more silly. This was probably a result of lower and lower budgets than anything else.
This movie also is auspicious because it gave us the first large-scale use of reused stock footage lifted from past Godzilla movies. This worked well enough that it became standard practice for the next fifteen years. I will point these out as they come along.
All the usual Toho production staff are back for Godzilla versus Monster Zero. Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, director Ishiro Honda, screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa, composer Akira Ifukube and FX wizard Eiji Tsuburaya are all in their peak forms in this movie. Much of the cast is also veteran Toho players, and I will detail them as they appear in the movie.
For the first time in the series, American and Japanese producers worked together. Thus, the American version is only a little different from the original Japanese version. Those changes that are evident will be dealt with as they pop up. As well, an American actor was a prime character in the movie.
Ok, on to our show...
Well, first we must get one thing clear. Despite some thoughts to the opposite, I'm firmly in the camp that this movie is indeed intended to take place in 1965. There are numerous reasons for this, and I'll hopefully get to some later. The most important is that by placing it in a contemporary 1965 timeline, all the other movies slide into place.
We open with the film credits, the usual stuff. The only thing notable is that the American actor Nick Adams gets top billing here. I'm sure in the Japanese version he didn't.
We then go to a lingering title card that says, "A mysterious planet has been discovered beyond Jupiter, and Earth has sent an exploratory spacecraft." Then a bad visual of our spaceship zipping through space. [Editor Pam: No kidding, it looks like something a bunch of sixth-graders put together. Pretty typical of low-budget science fiction movies from that time period.] Aboard are our two heroes, two astronauts who will play the pivotal roles.
First, the spaceship needs some detailing. It's your standard 1960s spaceship, looking like an ICBM with four long fins that might be engine nacelles. It's called the "P-1" and has a crew of just two, despite its large size. Inside, it has the standard pre-Star Trek banks of levers, dials and blinking lights.
The two pilots are Glenn and Fuji. Glenn is played by 35-year old Nick Adams. He was an American actor of some note in the states, having been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar just two years before. He was also having a steamy, illicit affair with his leading lady costar Kumi Mizuno, which was tabloid fodder in the mid 1960s. Adams would end up going back to his wife after Mizuno abandoned him, leaving Japan, and becoming more and more depressed. He eventually committed suicide by drug overdose in 1968. This was a sad ending to a promising career. Adams speaks English throughout the entire film, despite the rest of the cast speaking Japanese. In the Japanese version, his voice is dubbed.
Astronaut Fuji is played by the outstanding Akira Takarada, the hero of the 1954 Godzilla. Takarada was already one of Toho's finest actors and most recognizable faces. Here, he's in full-bore leading-man macho-mode.
The ship and crew are part of an Earth agency called the "World Space Authority", which is kind of a NASA for everyone. This multi-national group and their fancy spaceship are surely the result of studying the alien material remaining behind after the Mysterians were defeated in 1957. Eight years is enough to reverse-engineer a spaceship, or at least a propulsion system. This seems to be the top reason people want to put this movie in the future, but if you take into account the aborted Mysterian invasion, it still works in 1965.
Our brave astronauts.
We cut now to the WSA headquarters, which is a bunch of miniature building sets that just scream, "Monster, smash me!" A Johnson Space Center-esque control room is monitoring the flight of the P-1.
Here we meet Doctor Sakurai, the head man at the WPA. He's your typical black-frame glasses/white lab coat-wearing scientist type. To keep all these Japanese names straight for us, I'll call Doctor Sakurai, "The Doctor" from here on.
The P-1 is relaying them some co-ordinates, asking for a location verification. The co-ordinates are on an X, Y, and Z axis on a 3-D grid, which just sounds strange. It's also strange that the communication seems to take place without any delay for the incredible distance between the ship and the Earth.
They're also flying at "1,000 kilometres per second". Seeing as how the average distance between Earth and Jupiter is about 629 million kilometres, this is an impressive figure. At 1,000 kph, the P-1 would take about 7.3 days to travel this distance. This is blindingly quick, and certainly far beyond anything that man can do now. More evidence that we're seeing a reverse-engineered alien powerplant.
They also state they are headed for Planet X in the "Scorpion constellation". I assume they mean Scorpio. This makes little sense, but sounded cool at the time. It makes it seems that the planet is actually inside the constellation, when it's clearly not. As stars and planets move in relation to Earth, it would be pointless to use constellations as landmarks when traveling within our solar system.
Once the ship's status is confirmed, Astronaut Fuji asks WPA HQ to give his little sister Haruno a message. He wants her to "not do anything foolish until he gets back". Hmm...
This cryptic message is delivered by The Doctor to Haruno Fuji. Here she's employed by the WPA as The Doctor's assistant, I think. The fact that this young girl has this job is probably a sign that Astronaut Fuji has some serious pull in the Agency. She's pissed off that her big brother keeps meddling in her life. It seems she wants to hook up with this brainy nerd scientist inventor dude, and her macho brother does not approve. The Doctor seems rather sympathetic to her, perhaps he's the sensitive type.
Haruno Fuji is a pretty girl, but with an oddly shaped nose and a flat chest. She reminds me of the Killer School Girl Bodyguard in Kill Bill, Volume I. To keep her straight, we will call her "Little Sister" for the rest of the review.
We now cut out to Little Sister's boyfriend's pad. His name is Tetsuo Teri and he plays the typical socially helpless geeky inventor stereotype to the max, dangerously approaching campy levels. Is it so hard to imagine a well-groomed, socially-adept inventor? Why must all scientist types be wild-haired eccentric loners? Damn, you, Einstein with your crazy hair! You ruined it for us all! Just a thought. We know Tetsuo will end up being the hero, as all goofy inventors end up saving the day in Japanese movies.
We see that Tetsuo is apparently living at home with his mother (or some other older female relative, or maybe his landlady), which pushes his geek level even higher. His project is the "Ranger", which is a personal security alarm for women. It's in what appears to be a makeup compact and produces a shrill siren noise. We learn here that he has an interested buyer for the Ranger, more later.
I'm going to jump a bit out of sequence here, but that's ok. We now see Little Sister and Tetsuo out to a swanky restaurant for dinner. Little Sister is concerned that they can only afford water and breadsticks. Hmm...working as the personal assistant to the WPA's head man must pay crap. You'd think she would have some extra spare cash. Anyway, Tetsuo tells her not to worry, he has sold his invention. The buyer is the horribly named "World Education Corporation", an international toy company.
Enter the WEC's corporate rep, who is meeting Tetsuo here to finalize the deal. This would be Miss Namikawa. The very lovely Miss Namikawa is played by the very lovely 28-year old Kumi Mizuno. She has continued to act regularly over the last forty years and has even agreed to appear in the latest Godzilla movie slated for 2005. Mizuno is perhaps the darling of 1960s giant movie monster buffs because of her acting ability, stage presence and extreme natural hotness. As mentioned, at the time this movie was made, she was having a steamy affair with her costar Nick Adams.
When first we meet Miss Namikawa, as she sits down at their table, she's the spitting image of a Japanese Jackie Kennedy. Her purple dress is form fitting and she has a pillbox hat with a slight veil. A very striking look. It's clear that Little Sister is uncomfortable with this curvy bombshell talking to her boyfriend.
She hands Tetsuo a two page contract, telling him that he will receive payment only when his product is marketed. Tetsuo, perhaps blinded by the money or the girl, signs it without even reading it. Dumb boy, that might come back to haunt you... However, the compensation is a whopping $100,000. In 1965, that was a hefty chunk of money, maybe a million bucks in today's money.
Miss Namikawa then turns to Little Sister. Upon hearing her name, she pegs her as Astronaut Fuji's sister. This makes Little Sister feel a little better. It appears that WEC is very interested in the space flight. Hmm...
Poor Little Sister, stunned in the presence of such beauty...
Miss Namikawa leaves and the couple talk a bit more. We see that Tetsuo is happy to have something to rub in Astronaut Fuji's nose. Little Sister seems happy too, but is concerned that 100 gs is way too much for his invention. Hmm...
Back to the WPA HQ, where we get a briefing by The Doctor for a gaggle of reporters. In this bit of exposition, we learn that Planet X was not detected before because it was "very dark" and they couldn't see it through telescopes. They only found it only by observing radio waves.
Ok, that makes no sense. I always thought that you spotted large masses in space by observing them blocking out visible stars as they cross the sky. And how would it be very dark? If I'm not mistaken, Jupiter, being pretty darn big itself, produces a lot of light that would surely be reflected by Planet X. And whatever happened to finding planets by watching the way their gravity affects the orbits of other planets? Am I missing something here?
And this is a revelation in itself. I had watched this movie when I was much younger and came away with the impression that Planet X had somehow entered our solar system just recently, looping in from some other galaxy. Now, I realize that they want us to believe that Planet X was here all along, hiding behind Jupiter and defying observation until 1965. I think I'd be more inclined to believe that Planet X was a visitor...
Anyway, The Doctor also explains that the "magnetic waves" from Planet X have been causing all the weird weather problems recently. This is not shown at all in this movie, but perhaps explains the strange heat wave remarked upon in the beginning of Ghidrah from 1964. This was unexplained in that movie, but now makes sense. This is further proof that our movie is meant to take place in 1965.
When asked if the mysterious planet harbors intelligent life, The Doctor says that they'll just have to wait and see what P-1 finds.
And back out into space we go. The P-1 is in final approach to Planet X now. An interior shot shows a control system labeled in English. This is a bit confusing, as clearly Fuji speaks no English.
We get a visual of the planet Jupiter, and Planet X looming large behind it. From this visual, it seems that Planet X is huge, perhaps 10% of Jupiter's mass. As well, it seems to be relatively close to Jupiter. Certainly, if it was that close, Jupiter's extreme mass would have long ago captured it and made it a moon. And a body the size of Planet X and as close to Jupiter as it shows would be wracked by tidal forces from Jupiter's gravity. And it sure doesn't look very dark here. In fact it looks pretty bright, and blue. Someone didn't do their homework here.
The P-1 nearing the planet.
Anyway, the astronauts ask WPA for permission to "act on their own authority" once they land. The Doctor sighs and says he can't control them from so far away. What? So our two astronauts answer to no one? Imagine if two shuttle crewmen told NASA control that they were just going to do what ever they please and NASA said, "Fine, not much we can do to stop you."
So they head in. The planet's surface looks bluish-gray and pockmarked by craters, and there is apparently no atmosphere. They steer for either a "grassy plain" or an "open sea". The techno-babble of the P-1 is great, and they see that their "radar thermometer reads fifteen degrees". Radar thermometer? How does that one work? [Editor Pam: I Googled it, and it seems there actually is such a thing. It's used to measure the temperature of a surface without actually touching the surface with the thermometer. I have no idea if it existed in 1965, or if the scriptwriters just made up something that sounded cool.] They comment that that seems awfully warm for so far away from the sun, and it certainly is way too warm. The surface temperature of Uranus, the second planet in line after Saturn, is like -300 degrees.
The surface of Planet X.
The P-1 lands like most 1960s spaceships, by turning around and descending to a standing position, supported by extendable legs. Once landed, the crew exits the ship via a nifty elevator. Here we see two big Japanese flags on the hull of the ship. I thought this was a "World" space effort?
The surface of the planet is suitably desolate, rocky and eerie. It reminds us of so many Star Trek planets. There's a considerable amount of natural light, perhaps too much for the distance from the sun. Expecting some sort of trouble perhaps, Fuji is armed with a nifty ray gun pistol.
Fuji with his flag and his ray gun.
OK, Glenn stays at the ship to set up some instrument. Fuji takes a flag and goes up on a ridge to plant it. The flag is cool, with three small flags in a row on it. On the top is what appears to be the United Nations flag, then Japan, and then America at the bottom. The order of flags from top to bottom is interesting, in an American movie the US flag would surely be on the top.
Glenn's instrument tells him that the gravity is about 2/3 that of Earth and the pressure is about half. Well they sure seem to be walking just fine. With gravity 2/3, you'd think they would be bouncing a bit, eh? They also see some thunder and lighting (!!!), which is just flat out weird, but they give it just a passing comment.
So Fuji heads up the ridge and plants the flag. Suddenly, he sees two sets of footprints nearby! He tries to warn Glenn but he doesn't answer. He runs back to the ship to find it, and Glenn, gone!
Suddenly an "elevator shaft" rises up out of the ground. A voice commands Fuji to enter the cylinder. The voice is identified as that of the "Controller of Planet X". At first resistant, Fuji is convinced when a blue laser beam zaps the pistol out of his hand and the voice tells him that Glenn and the P-1 are below the surface of the planet. Stranded alone, Fuji has no choice but to comply.
Hmmm...I've seen this before...
The elevator takes him down into a large, cavernous complex beneath the surface. He's led by the voice down a series of passageways. The complex appears to be empty and devoid of any sort of sign of habitation. All the sound effects are here are total Star Trek rip-offs, especially all the humming and tonal buzzing.
Coming out finally to a "conference room" of sorts, Fuji finds Glenn. Whoa, seeing them both now standing side by side, we see that either Nick Adams is inordinately short for a white guy or Akira Takarada is inordinately tall for an Oriental man. [Editor Pam: Both, probably. IMDB says Akira Takarada is six feet tall. It doesn't give Nick Adams' height, but judging from other films I've seen him in, he was fairly short.]
As they chat, three aliens enter the room, walk silently over to a large, fancy chair, one sits down and the other two stand at attention behind him. These are the residents of Planet X. And they are Devo. Yes, it's not my invention, but they really do look like the 1980s techno band Devo. They are really Asian men wearing ultra-tight leather bodysuits with these high-collared vests. On their heads are what looks like motorcycle helmets with an antenna glued to the top. Wide, amber sunglasses cover their eyes. Whip it good!
The head dude introduces himself as the Controller of Planet X. Curious that they should refer to their own planet as Planet X, but perhaps they're just using a term that the earthmen are familiar with. Let's hope so.
The Controller of Planet X is played by 38-year old Yoshio Tsuchiya. Tsuchiya is one of the best-known actors in Japanese film, having made some 80 movies up to 1991. He's best known for being the leader of the Mysterians in the movie of the same name, as well as several great roles in Kurosawa samurai movies. I'll remember him best as Rikichi in 1954's The Seven Samurai, perhaps his greatest role. Today, he's mostly a stage performer and a prolific writer.
Glenn and Fuji react to all this differently. Fuji seems more surprised and cautious, more analytical. Glenn, the typical American, acts all blase and even arrogant. Perhaps he's trying to cover his fears with a mask of bravado.
The chatting goes on a bit before suddenly we hear that "Monster Zero" is attacking! The Controller (Whip it good!) orders all defensive units to positions, and clearly there is going to be a fight. When asked, the Controller states that Monster Zero is the "demon of our galaxy". A viewscreen shows King Ghidrah!!! The astronauts recognize the monster immediately. The Controller states that "everything is numbered here" and they call the beast Monster Zero. It's because this monster keeps attacking that they have to live underground.
Ghidrah is busy zapping the surface, blasting random rocks with his energy beams. He's looking pretty good here, heads all flopping around and wings beating furiously. Contrast this entrance with his look in the horrible Godzilla versus Gigan.
The Controller gets a bit testy when Fuji asks if they can stop it. He says nothing works, they just have to hide and wait until it goes away. Just then, it's announced that the "hydrogen oxide plant" has been damaged. This freaks Devo out and they start to run about (Whip it good!). To preserve the secrecy, the two astronauts are momentarily sealed in a force field.
Fuji and Glenn in the force field.
While inside, they discuss what is happening. Fuji says, "Hey, hydrogen oxide is water!" To which Glenn replies, "Yeah, it is." Umm...no. Water is dihydrogen monoxide, look it up. Where did our two astronauts go to school? Hollywood Upstairs Spaceman College? Seriously, though, shouldn't somebody on the editing or dubbing staff have caught this?
The crisis over, Ghidrah apparently leaving, the aliens return to the room. The Controller is vague about what has just happened, glossing over the water plant incident as an "industrial accident caused by an oversight". He then says that they have a plan to kill the monster. They wish to "borrow" from Earth Monster Zero One and Monster Zero Two, Godzilla and Rodan, respectively. These two monsters defeated Ghidrah before and it's hoped that they can do it again.
Hmm...if Godzilla and Rodan are called Monster Zero One and Monster Zero Two, then shouldn't Ghidrah be called Monster Zero Zero, instead of just Monster Zero? Am I wrong? Anyway, The Controller says these two bested Ghidrah before, totally snubbing the valuable efforts of Mothra in that effort. Why the snub? And why isn't Mothra in this movie? Who knows. Perhaps the minds at Toho thought that Mothra was in too many movies and needed a break.
Oh, and why the heck are the aliens (Whip it good!) requesting this of two astronauts? Surely they don't believe that these two guys can speak for the entire planet? They don't even know that water is.
Glenn claims that they don't even know where Godzilla and Rodan are. This is another hint that the movie is in 1965. At the end of Ghidrah we never see what happened to the two monsters after they vanquished Ghidrah. The Controller tells them that they are both in Japan. Rodan is in "Marsh Washigasawa" and Godzilla is in "Lake Myojin". He also says that they merely seek permission to act freely on Earth to get the monsters. As a trade, they will give Earth a miracle drug that will cure all diseases. Cool.
BTW, we plainly hear Glenn call Rodan "Radon". This is the original Japanese name for the monster, before it was changed in American versions. Since Nick Adams spoke his lines in English, he obviously used the Japanese version of the name. When it was dubbed, Adams' lines were left alone, resulting in this little slip-up.
Anyway, Glenn and Fuji are given back their spaceship and asked to go back to Earth and convince the world to agree to their terms. The two astronauts seem to believe that they have found friends on Planet X. As they fly off for Earth, however, we see the Controller laughing evilly. Hmm...is there something bad and rotten about Devo? Whip it bad!
The P-1 takes off the same way it lands, straight up with engine blasting full power. They must be using some seriously compacted fuel source to be able to burn up that much power every time they land or take off. Perhaps the aliens refueled the ship and checked the oil and wiper blades.
So now we cut to the Diet Building in Tokyo, where there is a meeting of all the government to discuss the Planet X proposal. Present at the table facing the Diet are the two Astronauts and The Doctor. There's also Little Sister, which is curious. Sure she's The Doctor's personal assistant, but why is she up in front of the Diet? We also see that Miss Namikawa is present in the audience.
There is little debate on the proposal. A representative of the medical profession is all gung-ho for it. He should think ahead. If all diseases are cured, doctors and hospitals are out of business. If this was America, his lawyers would suggest that he strongly oppose the Planet X proposal to protect the doctor's union.
As well, a chunky woman representing the "organizations of women" gives it a thumbs-up. I guess this is supposed to show us that a consensus has been reached across every demographic. She also says that they can "learn humanity from these aliens".
The chunky woman.
The matter will be sealed if Godzilla and Rodan are both found where the aliens said they would be. A three-star general states his troops are now out looking.
And out we go to Lake Myojin, where a full company of Japanese soldiers is running for the lake. Hmmm...if Godzilla is indeed here, what are a bunch of foot soldiers going to accomplish? We also get a view of Washigasawa, where two jeeps and two deuce-and-a-half trucks are coming to check on Rodan. Again, what are they supposed to do if they find the monster? BTW, Lake Myojin is in Nagano Prefecture in central Honshu. But where is Washigasawa? I can't find it anywhere, even with Google.
Ok, that was a quick segue...now we rejoin the crazy inventor Tetsuo. Apparently he's curious about what World Education Corporation is doing with his fancy invention. I'm guessing that the HQ for this company is in Tokyo. Everything is in Tokyo in Godzilla movies. He talks to a spokesman, who is a fine looking man, indeed. The man tells him that Miss Namikawa is busy. At this, Tetsuo visibly slumps. Clearly his real intent in coming here is to see the woman. Bad boy, I'm telling.
The Attractive Japanese Man.
Tetsuo persists and the spokesman goes to ask his boss. We see that his boss is a balding, pudgy Asian man. Strangely, we also see that he has two "metal jacks" that look like data ports on his back. They look kinda like the ones in The Matrix. We also see that this guy always wears sunglasses, even indoors. Remember that the groovy Planet X aliens (Whip it good!) always wore sunglasses, too. Hmm... Anyway, the boss takes a cigar lighter to Tetsuo's invention blueprints. What?
Tetsuo apparently leaves of his own free will, because we see him now with Little Sister walking to meet her brother and Glenn for lunch. He's nervous. We learn here that Tetsuo has yet to see a single yen from his invention. I think I would have asked for a little dinero up front before I sold my invention to a company, eh?
The less than happy couple.
Cutting to Fuji and Glenn, we hear that Fuji is nervous, as well. As they wait, they chat. Glenn apparently has a date that night with a Japanese girl. Fuji cautions him to avoid "the wrong type". They also talk about Planet X. Glenn is convinced that something is screwy with "that H2O plant". He's sure that the planet is running out of water. This might be a valid assumption to make, considering Devo's reaction to the damaged plant. Fuji agrees and says they shouldn't trust the aliens too far.
At last all seated for lunch, the four of them make strained small talk. Astronaut Fuji is concerned that Tetsuo can't pay the rent and buy groceries for Little Sister. Tetsuo seems to agree, and Little Sister has to smack both of them down like puppies. This is a cute little scene and Takarada really plays it well, acting all concerned and playing nice at the same time. Glenn begs off, it's time for his date.
Fuji and Glenn grill poor Tetsuo.
And lo and behold, his date is none other that Miss Namikawa! Damn, imagine the coincidence. They get into an orange Toyopet convertible and drive off down the freeway. They apparently have met before, and have a relationship of some sort, as he calls her "babe" and she lets him drive her car. Tetsuo seems more hurt than surprised. The scene ends with Fuji leaving with a warning to Tetsuo that he needs to do "something spectacular" to impress him.
Ok, all that over, we now go back out to Lake Myojin where the Army is still looking for Godzilla. And apparently they have found them, as their dipped radioactivity sensor is going off the chart.
Back to the HQ of the World Space Agency, we see Fuji discussing the finding of Godzilla. No mention is made of what Godzilla is doing in the lake. Glenn comes into scene now, leaning in to whisper something to Fuji so that Little Sister cannot hear. They both leave.
"Psst, your sister is hot."
We now see our two astronauts driving through the countryside in a little white convertible. This is not the same car as before and clearly it belongs to Glenn. It must be a fancy model from 1965 as the camera lingers on it for a few seconds longer than it should have. They're driving up towards Lake Myojin.
Apparently, last night Glenn and Miss Namikawa drove up here to a bungalow near the lake for a little hanky-panky. Glenn explains that during the night, he awoke to see the Controller from Planet X in his room!!! The Controller said, "All plans are in order." Then left.
Two questions remain unanswered. One, did the girl see the Controller? Glenn is vague on this. And secondly, why the hell did Glenn go to Lake Myojin when he knew that the Army was looking for Godzilla in that lake?
Anyway, they drive up to an Army checkpoint on a ridge overlooking the lake. Ok, two armed soldiers stop them and order them out of the car. Fuji asks to see the commander, and the soldiers just wave them on through!!! What the hell? What's the use of having security if they just let anyone in without checking identification?
They find the commander with his staff, all wearing these fancy white gloves, watching the lake through binoculars. They're all looking at a frothing disturbance in the lake. They think its Godzilla, but suddenly three UFOs emerge from the lake!!!
These are your standard 1950s flying saucers, showing no originality in design or realization. They pulsate with light and make that classic "UFO hum". You would think they could come up with some new, inventive design for the ships. I guess, though, that they spent all the entire budget on those cool Devo outfits.
Devo flying saucer.
The three ships just hover about fifty feet over the lake, apparently all night. The next day we see that they are still there, and now a considerable peanut gallery has assembled on the shore to watch the sight. The soldiers stand in a line with their carbines pointed at the ships. We see that Glenn and Fuji are back (or still here). Also here are The Doctor and Little Sister, along with several other scientist types from the WSA. We also see that Miss Namikawa, the boss, and the really attractive man are in attendance, watching from a car.
Suddenly, one of the UFOs peels off and comes to land near the crowd on the beach. A ramp opens and out stroll five members of Devo (Whip it good!). Out in the harsh sunlight, their skin is strangely ashen, almost battleship gray. Their lips are normal color, so perhaps they are wearing sunscreen. Note behind them the backs of several soldiers. These soldiers are clearly facing out to the lake as they were before, not looking back at the landed UFO or the aliens coming out. Now, that's dedication and discipline!!!
The Controller is in the lead, and he addresses the people. He tells them (in fluent Japanese) that all is peachy now that their two worlds are working together for greater good. The Doctor, now the spokesman for the planet apparently, reminds them that they were in the Lake without permission. The Controller admits their mistake, but says they had to come quickly or Japan would have been in great danger from the monsters. Hmm...this cryptic explanation is never expanded upon.
Those aliens really need to wear looser pants, if you know what I mean.
When asked how they will carry Godzilla off, the Controller claims that they will use the "nuclear sphere", which can lift anything and carry it through space. Cool! With a signal, the Controller sends one of the other UFOs off to Washigasawa.
There, we see the UFO hover over the lake (I guess Washigasawa is a lake?) and then start to glow a bright white. The soldiers here gaze in wonderment, chattering like school kids. The ship uses some sort of laser beam to blast open the face of a mountain. Then a crackling blue "tractor beam" latches onto a form embedded in the rock. It's Rodan!
The one over Lake Myojin does the same tractor beam thing. And Godzilla emerges! Unlike other movies where Godzilla's first entrance is a dramatic affair with exploding cities and burning monsters, here he's first seen trapped in a force bubble of energy. He's clearly a small rubber doll here, either that or the bubble somehow keeps him from moving a muscle. Either way, this is a lame way for us to first see our titular monster.
Godzilla being tractored.
Now the two UFOs with their monsters meet up again over Lake Myojin. All the spectators ohh and ahh at the sight. We never have any explanation what Godzilla was doing apparently sleeping peacefully at the bottom of the lake, or what Rodan was doing sleeping peacefully buried in the side of a mountain. When we last saw them, at the end of last year's Ghidrah, they were out and about. Somehow, the planet "lost track of them". Just how the hell do you loose track of a 20,000-ton green lizard? Didn't someone see him enter the lake? Didn't anyone think to follow them to see where they went next after they kicked off Ghidrah? What the hell? And the mountainside that Rodan was buried in sure looked like it had been intact for decades? Double what the hell?
With the humans sufficiently wowed, now Devo has to give us the cure in exchange, right? Fair is fair, after all. So the Controller reaches into his pocket and ta...wait, he doesn't have it on him? What, he says that the Earth has to send three people back on the UFOs with them to Planet X to pick it up? Don't they have fax machines or email attachments? Hmmm...Devo (Whip it good!) came to Earth all sneaky like to grab Godzilla and Rodan, saying it was for our own good? And then they very publicly came out of the lake and waited a whole day before explaining themselves? I don't understand, why didn't they just take Godzilla and Rodan back with them and tell the Earth to "suck off"? Clearly they didn't need permission from us, they didn't even ask it when they came. And clearly they are evil, thus the evil laughs and all, so why would they even go with the pretext of asking nicely to have the monsters? It doesn't make any sense.
Anyway, this part of the plan was already established, apparently. Glenn and Fuji will accompany The Doctor back to the alien world. There's a short sequence where the astronauts say good-bye before they leave. Fuji, apparently a single man, has a little moment with Little Sister. She seems more concerned that the chick that Glenn is dating seems like a bad girl than the awesome spectacle of multiple monsters and aliens. Glenn is busy slobbering on Miss Namikawa as they say good-bye in her convertible. Her hair here is not-so-good, but typical of the 1960s. For some reason, the seats of the car, both front and back, are covered in loose plastic wrap, like it was fresh from the factory or something. Strange. Also strange is that Glenn calls her "Miss Namikawa". Don't you think they would be a little less formal by now?
Miss Namikawa gets all gushy.
As Glenn leaves, Miss Namikawa drives off. For some reason, the goofy inventor Tetsuo sees her leave and follows her in his cab. Hmmm...he just left his girlfriend back at the lake to go chase the lovely Miss Namikawa...I think he has some feelings for her. Back to this later.
Our two astronauts and The Doctor are now dressed in matching jumpsuits for the trip back to Planet X. It's not exactly clear if this was part of the plan, but it seems as much. They board the ship still sitting on the lake beach and are off.
And why these three men? I guess that Glenn and Fuji, being the first contacts, might be along. But why The Doctor? So far we have only seen that he's the head of the WSA, not the spokesman for the entire human race. I'm actually surprised that Little Sister didn't come along. For some reason, Fuji is wearing these tacky amber sunglasses, and will keep them on for the entire trip in space.
Aboard the ship, they sit around a table with a simple glowing half-sphere in it and flashing lights all around. This apparently is the control room. The Controller explains to the men that the ship is controlled by his brainwaves. He also says he can thus control other creatures and such. Hmmm...does he mean that only him, the Controller, has such power, or all the aliens of Devo? If the entire race of aliens were able to telepathically control other creatures, then they would be the most powerful race in the universe, or have the most war and anarchy.
The interior of the spacecraft looks like the basement of an office building with the walls painted white and props hung up. There are obviously concrete steps leading up and metal handrails. The doors have simple doorknobs with keyholes. This is indeed, the lamest spaceship interior set since Plan 9. The old, "our ship runs on mental energy" thing is just a way to avoid having to build expensive control room sets, I'd say.
Seriously, that's a basement.
The Controller seems intent on rubbing their superior technology in their faces. Like that bastard at work who has that new BMW and is always trying to get you to ride in it so he can say, "Runs a lot smoother than your Ford POS, eh?" I hate that guy.
The Controller then tells them that they just traveled 450,000,000 kilometres in four and a half hours. He then says they are able to travel at one-tenth the speed of light. Oh, and his BMW has a bitchin' Bose stereo system... While all this sounds cool, the numbers are a bit goofy. The distance to Jupiter from Earth is more like 629,000,000 kilometres, and maybe 700,000,000 kilometres to Planet X. You'd think they would know the distances better in 1965. Now, the speed of light in a vacuum is normally rounded to about 300,000 kilometers per second. A tenth of that is 30,000 kps, which is 108,000,000 kilometres per hour. So four and a half hours is 486,000,000 kph...wait, that sounds about right. Damn, they got that one right. Lucky guess.
BTW, at no point does Glenn say, "Hey, Controller dude, what were you doing in my room the other night talking to my girlfriend?" I would think this would be the first question I'd ask.
We cut away here to rejoin Miss Namikawa, as she has taken a boat to a cottage on some lake island. At a house on the island are her Boss from the Toy company, as well as some other dudes and the Attractive Japanese Man. Miss Namikawa walks into the room with a stiff formality, looking like the Russian agent from The Spy Who Loved Me.
She's berated by the Boss for getting too emotionally involved with Glenn. She claims she's just gathering information the best way she knows how. A little more dialogue establishes that these are all Devo aliens!!! But we guessed that, didn't we? From now on, the Boss will be known as the Colonial Commander, as that is what he is.
The Colonial Commander.
We see that Tetsuo has also hidden on the boat that brought the girl. Man, he's persistent. Apparently, he has been seen, as the Attractive Japanese Man reports to the Colonial Commander that he's now on the island. We see Tetsuo approach the front door and then suddenly fall into a trap door!!! Wow, a trap door. How cool. [Editor Pam: And it shows foresight, too.]
Back now to Planet X, where our main characters have returned to the conference/throne room that they were in before to watch the coming battle on the big screens. Godzilla and Rodan are deposited on the surface of the planet, there to await the coming of Ghidrah.
And Ghidrah soon arrives, slashing the ground with his electrical beams. A mechanical laser of a sort emerges and zaps the two force bubbles holding Godzilla and Rodan, freeing them to do battle.
Rodan and Godzilla in space!
Despite the fact that the planet's gravity is just 2/3 of Earth, Godzilla moves around like normal. For that matter, both creatures seem to do quite well in what might be airless conditions. Hmmm...this needs more thought. When the astronauts first landed, they were wearing their space suits and helmets even after running instrument tests, indicating that there was no atmosphere. As well, none of the visuals of the planets, both on the surface and from space, show anything resembling a "sky" or an atmosphere. But then we saw some lightning. But that could have been just electrical discharge from something Devo built. And the whole lack of water thing might mean that there is no precipitation due to a lack of atmosphere, thus the need for water plants. But without air, how do Godzilla and Rodan survive? In many movies we see Godzilla clearly breathing air like all animals. But here on the surface of Planet X he seems to be doing just fine. And without air to create differing air pressures, how could Rodan fly in such a regular manner? Sure, sheer muscle power would propel Rodan into the air from the ground, but could she really flap her wings and fly in an airless sky? But then again, both these monsters seem to be able to sleep at the bottom of lakes and encased in rock without any ill effects.
Anyway, the fight is quick and relatively bloodless. The main activity seems to be Godzilla hiding behind cover and throwing and kicking boulders at Ghidrah's heads. Rodan's sole help is dropping a big rock on Ghidrah's back. Ghidrah doesn't seem to be trying very hard here. The result is hardly conclusive, and it seems that Ghidrah pulls out when he could have probably won out in the end. Regardless, Ghidrah retreats somewhere, maybe to the other side of the planet, though more likely out into space.
Following the battle, Godzilla suddenly busts a move, breaking out the "Jumping Shay" dance as the music turns comical. It's impossible to describe, you have to see if for yourself. This is shocking, especially since so far the movie has tried to have a serious tone. The dance is especially corny, and was very popular in Japan in the 1960s. If this movie were made in America in the 1990s, he would be doing the Macarena. Nothing Godzilla has ever done in any movie in the last 50 years is as totally stupid and goofy as this little dance. Kill me. You can also really see the zipper track on the front of Godzilla's suit during the dance number.
While waxing about his victory, the Controller turns back to the humans, only to discover that Glenn and Fuji are gone!!! He looks to The Doctor, who in a cute moment, just shrugs. Umm...so there were no other aliens anywhere in the control room? Just the Controller left alone with three Earthlings? No Devos saw them leave and sneak down the hallway? Dumb aliens.
We see that Glenn and Fuji are out wandering around the hallways of the complex. Again we notice just how huge Akira Takarada is next to Nick Adams. If this was an American movie, you just know that the Japanese lead would not tower over the American lead so much.
Running from some guards, they enter a room full of gold! Hmm...yes, as the Controller said, water is more precious than gold to them.
Just then someone comes in, it's...Miss Namikawa!!! What the hell? The girl is wearing a female version of the standard Devo uniform and she makes it look good, if you know what I mean. She seems shocked, as if she hasn't a clue who these two men are. Glenn approaches her, but she steps back in fear. Just then, another woman comes around the corner. It's another Miss Namikawa!!! Hmmm...clearly the aliens have cloned a female and all the women here look like her. They could have done worse. I wonder how they keep them all straight. Do they have numbers or names? That must be confusing for families and couples, like a planet-wide case of The Parent Trap.
Miss Namikawa's clone works for UPS.
Their fate is never in doubt. A bunch of Devo guards corner them soon. They give up without a fight, wisely. Captured, Glenn and Fuji are led back to the Controller, who berates them for wandering off. He says they have violated their laws. One wonders just what Glenn and Fuji hoped to accomplish. Two humans alone on an alien planet can only get into trouble, or end up dead. I guess that's why they are leading men.
Glenn calls the Controller's bluff about the lack of water. The Controller neatly sidesteps the issue. Glenn also asks about the planet's lack of women. The Controller also deflects this question. Suave dude.
All is forgiven and Devo gives them a gold-colored pizza box, the tape with the miracle cure on it. They also present them with an exact duplicate of the Spaceship P-1! It seems that when they had it the first time, the aliens analyzed it and built an exact copy. Why did they do this? Who knows, as it would have been much easier to just ship them back on one of their own ships. And if they are planning on conquering the planet, then why give the humans another advanced spaceship? I think that it was almost 100% a way for Toho not to have to build another expensive model ship, they could just reuse the P-1.
And off they go back to Earth with the Controller's blessings. Hmmm...when we first saw the P-1, it was most clearly a two-seater. Now, it seats three. I guess the aliens modified it somewhat from the original plans. The Controller also made a big deal of saying that they made some major improvements to the ship. We never see any major improvements, perhaps they managed to return to earth much faster than in the old P-1.
The P-1 special edition model seats three now.
As they take off, they see Godzilla and Rodan on the surface, seemingly now just wandering around. Fuji seems rather sorry for having to leave them alone, but Glenn snaps at him with uncharacteristic venom that those two beasts have caused humanity enough trouble. As they fly off, the sappy music tells us we should feel bad for the two monsters. I'm with Glenn on this one, good riddance to them both.
Hmmm...you know, what is to become of the monsters? Didn't anyone on Earth wonder what would happen to them when Ghidrah was finally defeated? Was there a clause in the contract that said that Devo would keep them forever? I wonder...
Meanwhile, we rejoin Little Sister as she visits the office of Miss Namikawa at WEC. She's in total submissive girlfriend mode here as she asks Miss Namikawa if she has seen Tetsuo. It seems he has been missing for several days now, ever since the day at the lake. Poor girl. Miss Namikawa lies and tells her, "Sorry, no Tetsuo here." She leaves bummed even more. BTW, in this short scene in her office we get a look at some of the art pieces that decorate the room. There is a ship model in a glass display, it looks like a Yamato class battleship.
We now cut to Tetsuo, who is locked up in a cell in the house on the island. The Colonial Commander and the Attractive Japanese Man are here, dressed in matching dark brown suits (the suit of choice for aliens). They banter a bit, and then the Controller calls them on the radio. We see that there are a bunch of Devo aliens in the house now, running all the gear.
The Controller tells the Colonial Commander the time is at hand and to implement "Plan Two, Item Four, of Schedule Five". Hmmm...wouldn't we like to know what all those other plans and schedules are? Is Plan Three, Item One of Schedule Two to torture the populace with techopop music? Whip it good!
We return to our main storyline. Back now on planet Earth, our three spacefaring heroes come to the Diet Building under a shower of applause and cheering from the packed crowd. We see that Miss Namikawa is in attendance. They set the Devo tape reel (yes, an old 1960s style tape reel) into the huge tape reel recorder/player and turn it on.
The tape machine is American, which is neat. A close-up shows a "Concertone Reverse-o-Matic" model machine, the brand name center frame. I wonder if the Japanese version had a Sony there and the American editors inserted a clip of an American brand to get some advertising dollars?
Listening to the tape.
The tape is played, but it's not a cure for the sniffles that is heard. There is a hum and then "If a problem comes along, you must whip it!" blasts out. Hehehe, no, not really. The voice of the Controller booms out of the speakers. He tells the world that they are now a colony of Planet X! Resistance is futile and all that. Either the Earth will hand over total control, or Devo will destroy them utterly. Like we didn't see that coming. Glenn sums it up by sneering, "Double crossing finks!"
The ultimatum causes the planet to go into a frenzy. This is not the first movie in the Godzilla series that will feature an alien race intent on destroying the world and in every instance, the populace goes crazy. It's always our heroes who remain calm and cool. I'm reminded of the line from Men in Black where Tommy Lee Jones' character tells a frantic Will Smith that, "there is always an alien death armada out there, you just have to learn to accept it." Or something like that, I haven't seen that movie in a while.
We get some stock footage of riots, mostly black and white images. A voice-over tells us that most people want to capitulate, while a large body want to fight to the death. Civil control is lost and the people take to the streets, burning and looting like it's 1999 or the Lakers just won the ring.
Glenn goes to find his lover Miss Namikawa, presumably in the ruins of the Toy Company building. The interior has been trashed by a riot of some sort. Glenn is armed with a small automatic pistol, so he was expecting trouble. He finds the girl, but she's wearing a Devo outfit now. Man, she looks good in leather. She has also changed her haircut to match the clone girls on Planet X, and now looks like Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction. The gig is up, well, it's been up for some time now.
The two of them trade some patriotic banter. The girl wants Glenn to become a Devoite so they can get married. Glenn wants her to stay on the planet and help them fight the Controller. Adams appears to have studied under the Mickey Rourke school of acting, as he grabs and yells at the girl, then alternately soothes and calls her "baby". For her part she just whimpers and says, "Oh, Glenn," a lot. At one point he says "robots" but with his thick New England accent it comes out "row-butts". That is funny.
Glenn and Miss Namikawa squabble over the kids' preschool.
They get nowhere and soon a gaggle of Devo aliens appear, laser ray guns drawn. The Colonial Commander is with them, all decked out in Devo threads now. Glenn gets all huffy and the aliens have to zap the pistol out of his hand. Nice shot considering the dude fired from the hip. Glenn is then led off.
Miss Namikawa runs to him one last time. She hugs and slobbers on him (we didn't need to see that), but also slips a piece of paper into his pocket. She then stands back and resigns herself to her fate. The head Devo there zaps her with his laser ray gun. She totally disintegrates before their eyes, just like an old-style Star Trek phaser. And how does Glenn react to the love of his life, the woman he was going to marry, being atomized before him? He turns and says, "You rats!" and then recovers remarkably well and is led off. No explosion of rage or grief, nothing. The strong type, eh?
Miss Namikawa being atomized.
Tell me why they didn't just kill Glenn? They are planning on slaughtering the human race anyway, why keep him alive for a short time? Besides, Glenn has already proven himself as being a dangerous menace to Devo's plans, they should kill him while they can. I guess it pays to be the hero.
Back now to WSA HQ, where The Doctor and Fuji are chatting. It seems that the "military men" want to use all their nuclear weapons. Fuji declares that they can't because the danger of the radioactivity. The Doctor nods, saying that they have "A tiger at the front door and a wolf at the back."
Hmm...I assume they would be using these nukes in space, to stop the aliens before they invade. I know this is 1965 and all, but surely the idea that the radioactive fallout from the use of nuclear weapons in space would kill all life on the planet was not taken seriously. Maybe it was. Besides, if the choice was slow death by fallout or living under the boot of Devo, I would choose the strontium and cesium. And the dialogue suggests that Japan has its own nuclear weapons. Surely this is an error, for Japan isn't allowed to have nukes. Perhaps since all the monster attacks, Japan has decided to get a serious deterrent.
The Controller's spaceship (which seems to be doing all the direct action) zips in low over the World Space Authority's launch complex. It zaps the P-1, which is sitting on its pad, exploding it in a huge fireball. The Controller then laughs a bit and reminds them that they are facing superior beings. Hmmm...I wonder if this was the original P-1, or the copy the aliens made themselves? We never learn.
The UFO fires!
He says that because Earth has chosen to way of the sword, then the sword shall be swift. He will give the Earth 24 more hours to surrender. They have brought the three monsters back to Earth, having them under control by "magnetic waves". These monsters will crush and rend the world in 24 hours if they do not give it up. The Doctor murmurs, "Ghidrah was one of theirs all along." Thus an explanation for the mysterious appearance of Ghidrah in 1964's Ghidrah. They then speed off.
I'm confused. Why did Devo (Whip it good!) set up the first fight between Godzilla, Rodan and Ghidrah? Was it just to show our humans that they were not being devious? If so, weren't they taking a risk that one of the beasts would be killed? It doesn't make any sense if you think about it.
Well, now humankind is in a pickle. Only a day to go before being toasted, what to do, what to do? The Doctor has a revelation and goes over to a file cabinet, pulling out a folder. Fuji skims it and declares it to be the "A-Cycle Gun" plans. Ah, some fancy super weapon, no doubt. It's an energy beam that can block magnetic waves. Now they just need to find the right frequency and the right power levels.
Apparently, Fuji is also Japan's leading experimental scientist as well as her best astronaut, because he now dons a white lab coat and begins heading up the A-Cycle development team. What the hell? I know he's the leading man, but must he be an expert on everything? Would it have hurt to have a specialist in such things be brought in?
As well, Little Sister is now assisting him, donning her own white lab coat. As this movie goes on, I'm increasingly annoyed by Little Sister. She's really playing the whole demure Asian chick thing too far. She spends all her scenes looking at the floor and acting all meek and helpless. Especially contrasted against the commanding presence of Miss Namikawa, Little Sister's character is hopelessly 15th Century.
While a bunch of politicians and generals watch, a test is conducted quickly, with some magnetic waves being intercepted by the A-Cycles. The visuals on this are great, with streaky lines to represent the magnetic forces and sparky dots to represent the A-Cycles. Also note that when the experiment is carried out, a hapless scientist is standing directly in line with the stream of A-Cycles. The beam, however, magically seems to stop once it reaches the magnetic wave stream. This is scientifically bogus, but at least it saved the poor scientist. Two more things from this experiment scene. Akira Takarada is freakin' tall! And The Doctor looks just like a young Michael Caine, especially when he wears his glasses. And hey! One of the other scientists looks like a young James Woods.
James Woods there on the right.
We cut now to the Colonial Commander's house, where he's addressing a gaggle of Devos. Carrying a riding crop (!!!) he tells them in his best George Patton impression that they are to be in charge of the mop-up operations. He tells them to seek out and kill every human being. Hmm...why are they still holding Glenn and Tetsuo alive?
Glenn is taken to the same holding cell where Tetsuo is being held. They exchange pleasantries and then begin planning their escape. They learn (how?) that the walls are sound proof, and that even the bars in the iron gate door are sound proof (what?). How do you make iron bars sound proof? When they opened the door to toss Glenn in, the doors made clanking and squeaking sounds, so why is it that when Glenn now taps them they make no sound?
Glenn and Tetsuo in the cell.
Then they find the note from Miss Namikawa in his pocket. Certainly they didn't frisk him either. The note says that she loves Glenn forever and ever (blah blah blah) and the aliens can be incapacitated by a certain loud noise. Curiously, an over-the-shoulder shot shows the note written in perfect English. This must have been an American version add-in.
Tetsuo immediately makes the link to his invention. Very shrewd! He then produces one from his pocket. What the hell!!!! So you mean that the aliens, knowing full well that Tetsuo invented a device that could harm them, captured Tetsuo and both let him live as well as not even bothering to frisk him or check his pockets? What if he had a MAC-10 in his drawers, or a grenade up his sleeve? How dumb are these aliens?
So they turn on the Shrieker (I'm going to call it that for lack of a better term), and yes indeed, the sound makes the guards scream and writhe around in pain. Wait, I thought the bars were sound proof? What the hell? Can this shrieking noise go through any substance? And the two guards for some reason stumble several yards over to the door to the cell, allowing Glenn and Tetsuo to reach through and grab them. Conveniently, one of the guards has the key in his hand (!!!) which Glenn grabs and uses to open the door. Tossing the two guards in the cell, they make their escape.
Apparently the security at this alien compound is as lax as it comes, as Glenn and Tetsuo are able to make it all the way to the boat dock only having to punch out two more guards. They take the boat there and head for the shore. Quick to react, the Colonial Commander calls in the Controller's spaceship. The ship swoops in and blasts the boat to smithereens. Satisfied that they are toast, the aliens go back to plotting death and destruction. But, alas for us, Glenn and Tetsuo tricked them and were not on the boat. Very crafty of them. They swim for the shore.
Glenn and Tetsuo swim for the shore.
OK, stop here. So Devo knew that Tetsuo's Shrieker was harmful to them, right? So they bought out his invention and then burned the blueprints. Just how would this keep Tetsuo from making another, or what if he had a case of them at home? Wouldn't it have been much easier to just slip Tetsuo an icepick and have the secret of his invention die with him? Am I wrong on this?
Glenn and Tetsuo now make it back to where Fuji and The Doctor are working. BTW, where is this? Is it at the WSA building? Anyway, they talk about the Shrieker and agree to work on it as well as the A-Cycle Gun. Glenn and Tetsuo go off to try and find a way to broadcast and amplify their noise maker.
It should be noted that when Tetsuo first arrives, Fuji snaps at him to go away. Tetsuo looks genuinely hurt and Glenn has to vouch for his worth. Even in the face of global disaster, Fuji still can't accept Tetsuo.
So the clock is still ticking. Work on the A-Cycle Gun is progressing so rapidly that we have to assume that the vast majority of research has already been done. As well, with the little time allowed, certainly 95% of the experimental hardware must have already been manufactured and calibrated. There's simply not enough time to create all this from scratch. Any attempt by the filmmakers to make us think that the A-Cycle project was just some theoretical brain-storming written up by some bored undergraduate engineer, and relegated to the back recesses of some file cabinet, is simply preposterous.
Arg. Indeed, we now see that the A-Cycle Guns are fully operational weapon systems!!! In just a few hours!!! Over the coming battle, we will see that they have at least six, perhaps more, Guns ready for action. We're led to believe that the development and production of these big cannons took just a few hours. Without a doubt, these cannons were already constructed long before the problems with Planet X.
The A-Cycle Gun!
These are massive weapons, mounted on flatbed trailers towed by prime movers. The flatbeds appear to be re-uses of the Maser cannon trailers from previous movies. The A-Cycle Gun is mounted in a rotating turret with a long, multi-pronged barrel. On top are radar and light batteries. It's strange that what certainly appears to be a rack of simple floodlights on the top of the trailer receives so much airtime. At least a half a dozen times we see loving close-ups of the floodlights turning and rotating. I guess to the uninitiated they look like some sort of cool tracking or sensor device.
Back aboard the Controller's spaceship, we see that the computers have decreed that now is the time to attack, despite the fact that there are still a few hours left on the ultimatum. The Controller orders the monsters set loose.
Sent to stomp and rend by their masters, Rodan and Godzilla begin kicking houses and burning trees. Despite being clearly told that Ghidrah was in America, we suddenly see that he's back in Japan. In fact, he will be rather close to the other two monsters. Why did he give up on America? Why even write it in that Ghidrah was in America, only to then have him magically appear in Japan? Were the filmmakers trying to insinuate that Ghidrah was a manifestation of America? Perhaps in the first Ghidrah movie from 1964 this might have worked as a subliminal message, but not in the context of this movie.
A complete description of the monsters' attack on Japan is pointless as most of it's stock footage. Basically, the three beasts start rampaging together on some rural/semi-urban area at the foot of Mount Fuji. There are no large city sets, and the few urban built-up areas seen are clearly stock footage from other movies. The Army fights back with stock footage tanks and rocket trucks. Of course, nothing works and the monsters rampage unimpeded.
King Ghidrah on the attack!
All the Rodan-attacking-the-planet footage, along with most of the humans-fighting-back footage, is lifted directly from 1956's Rodan. No attempt to disguise it is made, which is egregious. They also lift the best sequence, that of the soldier trying to hold onto the tree during the windstorm of Rodan's wings. Priceless. The footage is cut so that you have to look hard to notice that the Rodan suit from 1956 looks totally different from the suit in use in 1965. The quality of the film is also vastly different, leading to many shots where the old, grainy footage follows or precedes newer, clearer footage. This is the danger when using stock footage, though.
Godzilla on the attack!
Large parts of the attacks by Ghidrah and Godzilla are also stock footage, mostly from 1961's Mothra and 1964's Ghidrah. The quality of the cutting is pretty good and you have to be quick, or have watched a lot of monster movies, to see the stolen footage. However, for original audiences who just watched Ghidrah the year before, it must have been a bummer to see the same old shots reused here, in much the same context.
It seems to drag at bit through these scenes. Even without knowing they are stock, there just seems to be way too many monsters and tanks. It takes away from a lot of the dramatic tension that we have been developing. We all really want to get back to the humans racing to find the weapon and the aliens planning to invade and destroy. It's not often in a Godzilla movie that the people story is more interesting than the monsters.
Tanks on the move (along a track).
A column of trucks carrying A-Cycle Guns is sent out, down a road. A spaceship strafes the column with its laser guns, blowing up several of the trucks. The Controller makes the call that Earth will be a "No Drive Zone" and all moving vehicles will be targeted by the spaceships.
Back at WSA, we see Fuji come to check on Glenn and Tetsuo's progress. Apparently, it has taken them several hours at least to amplify the Shrieker's noise. Hmm...how difficult can it be? Also note that in the blink of an eye, Fuji is okay with Tetsuo, even tossing him a smile and a shoulder clap in this scene. Oh, I see, all it takes is the threat of extinction and all is forgiven, eh?
They go into a radio booth and an announcer reads a message on the air. He tells anyone listening to crank up the volume on their radios when the shrieking starts. Luckily the aliens didn't start by hitting command and control centers, because this station seems to be working fine. All across Japan people turn up their radios. Hmmm...I hope they got on the phone and told the rest of the planet about the noise. Certainly the aliens aren't just attacking in Japan? Sure seems like it.
Ok, Fuji's team has apparently prepared a second unit of A-Cycle Gun trucks (please...), and has hidden them in a tunnel to avoid the UFOs. As the Shrieker starts transmitting, they order the guns out into the field. In a curious bit, Fuji gives the orders to a general, who then repeats them to a lackey with a radio standing right next to them, who then relays it into the radio. It looks really funny each time you see it done.
Aboard the Controller's ship we see the effects of the Shrieker. While the noise attacked the Devos personally before, now it seems to affect the computer control system of the UFOs. The ship goes into full Enterprise-under-attack-by-Klingons mode, shaking and swaying around as the crew lunges and rolls around. Captain Kir...I mean, the Controller hangs onto his command chair and barks orders. It's no use, however, they can't stop the sound.
"Scotty! I need more power!"
While the battle in the air is going splendidly, the Army surrounds the house on the island where the alien Colonial Commander is based. There are a few Type 61 tanks lined up along the shore, and they start shelling the house. Numerous direct hits later, the house is in ruins. Inside, the Colonial Commander is near death, but still manages to beg the Controller to retreat.
The A-Cycle Guns fire on the monsters. The plan works as the monsters are brought to their knees. Apparently the effects of the A-Cycle Guns cause them to go into some sort of epileptic seizures. They roll around on the ground, tongues hanging out and drooling.
The A-Cycle Guns blaze away at the UFOs.
The Controller, despite his forces in disarray and his own ship crippled, refuses to give up the game. He plans to pull back and regroup, but suddenly his ship begins to burn furiously.
In desperation, the Controller starts flipping switches, declaring that they will "Escape in the future, into that dimension that we've never seen!" What? We are left with the impression that they "went away somewheres" right before the ship explodes. Perhaps Toho wanted to bring the Devos back again for another movie and this was their out. Thankfully, we never see the Devos again.
All the other UFOs also explode in bursting fireballs. Why did they all explode? Some sort of self-destruct? I'd think some of them would just crash into the ground. Anyway, the Planet X menace is now done, Devo has been sent packing. Yeah!
Suddenly freed from the disabling effects of the rays, the three monsters instantly come to their senses. Immediately, Godzilla and Rodan make a move on Ghidrah, picking up where they left off out in space.
The battle is quick and dirty, with the combatants all in close quarters. Ghidrah's electric beams take a serious toll on Godzilla and Rodan, scoring numerous hits. There is some comedy in this fight, as Godzilla closes to punch Ghidrah's heads he dances like Ali in the ring. Then Ghidrah zaps his feet, making him dance, just like When Yosemite Sam shot the ground around Bugs making him do a jig.
Ghidrah seems to be winning, until Rodan picks up Godzilla (!!!) and tosses him (!!!) into Ghidrah. They lock together and all three fall into the sea. What the hell? The sea? Where did the sea just come from? Where they were fighting just a second before sure didn't seem like it was near the ocean. When last seen, they were stomping the edges of Tokyo, perhaps they fell into Tokyo Bay.
Anyway, a few moments pass, with the spot where they fell in rolling and foaming. Suddenly, Ghidrah emerges! He flies off out to sea, gaining altitude. No other monsters emerge. So at the end of this movie, Ghidrah flies off into space while Godzilla and Rodan are "lost at sea". Ah, a sequel set-up if I ever saw one.
King Ghidrah flying off, one of the better monster matte shots in the movie.
Glenn and Fuji laugh and say they need a vacation. But The Doctor tells Glenn that he's going back to Planet X to be their Ambassador!!! Ok, what the hell? That was the lamest ending ever. Why would Planet X need a diplomatic mission? They just tried to conqueror the Earth, why would you want to play nice? And why would you pick the hot-headed American astronaut to be your ambassador? Arg. Thankfully the movie ends right here, saving me further pain.
No relation to our movie, but it just looked cool.
Bonus! Some handy statistics for you...
9: Number of costume changes by the Little Sister.
9: Number of Devo alien costumes made for the film.
3: Number of cigarettes smoked by our cast.
3: Number of gallons of Bryll Cream in Glenn's hair.
2: Number of obvious Star Trek references.
1: Number of Top Ten hits by Devo ("Whip It" from 1980).
Written in June 2004 by Nathan Decker and edited by Pam Burda.
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that's between you and the vengeful wrath of your personal god...
Hi everyone! This post is part of my Mt. Whitney chronicles, which is comprised of journal entries from when I climbed Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, ten years ago. If you missed any earlier posts in the series, they are all archived here.
Friday, July 25, 2003. 2:43 p.m.
Mom and I left our nice, warm home in Ventura at 10 a.m. to depart on the four-hour drive to the quaint little town of Lone Pine, made famous in the hiking world because of its close proximity to Mt. Whitney. Surprisingly, it seems most Lone-Piners take for granted the tallest mountain in the continental United States that watches over their little town. They take more pride in the fact that John Wayne used to film some of his famous Westerns here. There are pictures of The Duke adorning the walls of just about every restaurant and hotel lobby we see.
When I told my friends I was going away for the weekend to climb Mt. Whitney, they laughed incredulously and said I’m insane. “Uh, Dallas, you do know that’s a huge mountain, right?” one asked. I replied that yes, I do know, and I promised to bring back pictures from the top. My friends just don’t understand that I am a real hiker now; I have been preparing for months. I am ready for this challenge. Game on, Whitney!
Mom, however, is not as confident. Even though she has run a handful of marathons, she confides to me: “I have doubts I’ll be able to make it to the top. If I have to stop, you go on without me.”
“We’ll make it together,” I say, and I mean it.
We checked into our hotel room and drove up to the Whitney Portal, otherwise known as the trailhead, or start, of the Mt. Whitney trail. Since it will still be dark in the wee hours tomorrow morning when we make the drive up to the Portal, Mom wants to do it in the daylight today so we will have an idea of where we are going and hopefully won’t get lost. With a one-day hike, we can’t afford to have our start delayed. A few members of our group are camping at the Portal and we’re planning to take a short hike with them this afternoon, to see the trail and get our legs moving after the long car ride.
As we started driving along the road towards the Portal, we noticed dark, ominous clouds brewing ahead. Mt. Whitney is notorious for its sudden thunderstorms, especially in summer. On the hike tomorrow we want to reach the top of the mountain by noon, because that will hopefully give us enough time to get back down below the timberline before the storms roll in up at the top, typically around two or three o’clock.
The rain came quickly, going from a light drizzle to a heavy downpour in a matter of minutes. We kept driving cautiously, the windshield wipers working overtime, when suddenly lightning cracked in the distance and thunder boomed. Looking up at the grim, threatening mountains looming ahead of us, the lightning flashing around their peaks like menacing signs from the heavens, I wondered if my friends are right. Maybe I am insane. What person in their right mind would hike up that mountain, to the very place where the storm was thrashing its hardest? This is nothing like our training hikes. I felt like a toddler forced to go straight from a tricycle to a twelve-gear mountain bike with no steps in between.
I looked at Mom, and she looked at me. Without a word, she turned the car around and we drove to a nearby restaurant billed as “John Wayne’s Favorite Lone Pine Diner!” for a late lunch.
We stepped outside the restaurant to find the storm had stopped and the sun was out again. The regular inhabitants of Lone Pine were going about their business as if storms like that come up without warning all the time, and I guess here they probably do. Calmer in both mind and spirit, Mom and I got into the car and began the fifteen-minute drive up to Whitney Portal again. It seemed like a totally different road and a totally different mountain range looming ahead than it had an hour ago. The mountains were still intimidating (to say the least), but now they didn’t look so evil and threatening without the dark skies and lightning crackling around them.
We met the rest of the group up at the trailhead and hiked the first half-mile or so of the trail. It is a nice trail, at least the part we did, well-marked and treaded by the feet of countless other hikers. It is amazing to think about the thousands and thousands of hikers that have walked on this very trail in the century that people have been climbing Mt. Whitney.
It was so neat to see the hikers coming down the trail who had made it to the top of Whitney today. They all looked so weary, yet also so happy. I hope that will be us tomorrow!
Mom and I had a carbo-loaded dinner and are getting ready for bed. Our backpacks are all packed except for our water bottles frozen in the cooler. Our hiking clothes are laid out and ready. My friends would laugh if they knew I was going to bed at 8 p.m., but we have to wake up very early in the morning and need to get some sleep. But somehow I don’t think it really matters what time I go to bed – I don’t know how I’ll be able to sleep tonight! I am so nervous for the big day tomorrow.