The Scoop: 1955 (American release 1959), directed by Motoyoshi Oda, starring Hiroshi Koizumi, Minoru Chiaki, Setsuko Wakayama
Tagline: Roasting anything in its path!
Summary Capsule: To the horror of the people in Osaka, Japan, not one but two monsters rise from the ocean and leave a path of destruction in their wake.
Joel’s Rating: 2 out of 5 horrors in the world of science
Joel’s Review: Tsukioka and Kobayashi are pilots who fly seaplanes used to spot large schools of fish and then guide a fishing fleet to the area. Kobayashi’s plane malfunctions and he makes it to Iwato Island safely, and Tsukioka flies to the rescue. On the island, they see two gigantic monsters fighting each other. The monsters fall into the sea allowing the men to escape. Science soon identifies the two monsters and prepares for them as best it can. When the two beasts arrive in Osaka, Japan and fight, they destroy much of the town and the military forces trying to drive them away. One monster wins and disappears back in the ocean, but it is only a matter of time before the surviving beast reappears. Both former fighter pilots, Tsukioka and Kobayashi lead the way as mankind makes a final, fateful assault on the giant monster.
As I stated in my review of Godzilla, King of the Monsters, I am a huge Kaiju movie fan with Godzilla as my favorite film series. I can be very excited when I find some deleted footage or hear about a new video release and Godzilla movies are some of the only videos I have ‘double-dipped’ (bought more than one version) depending on quality, special features, etc. I have to admit, though, that Godzilla Raids Again is not one of my favorites in the series. I certainly do not watch it often, and will usually pick a different title when I need a ‘Godzilla fix’.
The movie does have some historic significance. It is the first of the many, many Godzilla sequels and it includes the very first fight between the big lizard and another monster. The second monster, Anguirus, went on to appear in multiple other Toho monster movies and is considered one of the more popular beasts in the series. The Godzilla series quickly focused on the big G fighting some other monster or monsters in nearly every other film.
Godzilla Raids Again tries to be a serious film but doesn’t have the resonance of the first movie. It eliminates some of the somber tone of the original Godzilla. Some fault must be laid at the feet of the American dub as well. Whereas in Godzilla, King of the Monsters, they used translators more often than dubbing to tell the audience what the Japanese actors were saying, Godzilla Raids Again uses American dubbing and narrating the entire picture. They tried very hard to match the words to the lips of the actors, but some of the results are just very goofy and make little sense even in a science fiction film (see Groovy Quotes below). They also decided to change one character around and delete an entire subplot from the American version. The character, Kobayashi, has a larger role and is actually the main character of the Japanese version, but the American dub gives him a cartoonish voice and dialogue that makes him sound like a buffoon, and switches some important dialogue over to Tsukioka. There is a part at the end of the movie that loses most of its significance with the changes to Kobayashi’s character, but I guess having a slightly chubby character as the main man wouldn’t work for US audiences. The American dub also changes the classic Godzilla monster roar with the Anguirus roar, so often we see both monsters making the same sounds during their fight.
Even the Japanese version, though, isn’t as deep and meaningful as the original Godzilla film. While Godzilla, King of the Monsters centered around a human love triangle and what leads a scientist to make a final sacrifice, Godzilla Raids Again centers on a couple pilots who just happen to keep being near the monsters even when they aren’t trying to. There are a couple entire scenes that really seem out of place in the context of the movie, especially after Osaka is attacked.
Now I am not saying that the movie isn’t worth watching. If you like old ‘B’ movies or monster movies, this definitely isn’t a horrible film at all. The city models used in the destruction sequences are top notch and most of the acting is done well. Even though the American version does not mention Godzilla by name, they do show a Japan that was previously attacked (including footage from the original film) and a country that tried to be prepared for another such attack. The humans try and nearly succeed in luring the monsters away from the city before they use their weaponry to fight them, showing a certain amount of cleverness. And, maybe this is just me, but I find all kinds of fun picking up George Takei’s voice in the American dub soundtrack.
So in the end, Godzilla Raids Again isn’t the great film that it could have been but it isn’t the goofy kids movie that many of the later films became. Overall it isn’t bad, it just does not stack up compared to the movie that spawned it. You don’t have to be a completest to watch this movie, but you do need to have a love for older monster movies. Without that, I don’t think you will get much from watching. For the real fan, the Classic Media DVD include both the Japanese and American dub!
- The original Japanese title translates to ‘Godzilla’s Counterattack’. The American dub released to theaters was named ‘Gigantis, the Fire Monster’. ‘Godzilla Raids Again’ is the official English language title as recognized by Toho Productions, the company that filmed the movie.
- ‘Gigantis, the Fire Monster’, when dubbed for American audiences, was not written as a direct sequel to ‘Godzilla’ as the American company was not sure if the name ‘Godzilla’ was useable, so in the American dub the primary monster is Gigantis. This is part of the reason that this movie was not recognized in America as a Godzilla film, why it was not aired on television as often as many other Godzilla movies, and why many people, including fans of the monster itself, didn’t realize this movie even existed.
- George Takei (Sulu from Star Trek) provides voice over talent in the American dub of Godzilla Raids Again as well as for another famous Toho monster movie ‘Rodan’. These are amongst Takei’s first roles in Hollywood.
- Having experience from the first film, the monster suits used were not nearly as stiff or as heavy as the original Godzilla suit. They were still very heavy and difficult to work in.
- Before becoming Gigantis, another American film company planned to use the monster effects footage and write an entirely different story around them called The Volcano Monsters. The movie would have contained all new American made footage with American actors and then the monster footage added. There is a legend that the actual Godzilla and Anguirus monster suits were shipped from Japan to Hollywood, but then lost after the studio went out of business. Those suits have never been recovered.
Scientist: This is bad. [pause] This is bad. Every lesson we’ve ever learned has told us that horrors in the world of science are part of nature’s plan.
Scientist: Anguillosaurus, a monster commonly known as the Anguilas, a specimen of the giant reptiles that roamed the Earth millions of years ago. Murderers, original plundering murderers who killed everything in their wake. These creatures ruled the Earth at one time but disappeared suddenly. I’ll read you what it says. ‘Enormous in its size, tremendous in its strength. Somewhere although it is not known when, these creatures may come alive after years of hibernation due to radioactive fallout.
Scientist: It is a member of the Anguirus family of fire monsters and can wipe out the human race.
Hidemi (to Tsukioka): I’m glad you’re here. You are so brave, Tsukioka.
Tsukioka: Ah, banana oil!
Kobayashi: I’m going right out. Keep a steady course.
Hidemi: One last thing… you’ll think of her?
Kobayashi: I will!
Hidemi: Yes. I knew you would.
Kobayashi: And you be good. Heh heh heh!
Tsukioka: “Kobayashi, to you with our gratitude.
If you liked this movie, try these:
- Godzilla, King of the Monsters
- King Kong