October 9, 2006
Rated: NR Runtime: 98 min Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
When I was a teenager, I discovered late one night a tv show called Dr. Who on the local public broadcasting station. Being a sci-fi nut, I eagerly tuned in…for about 15 minutes. I was amazed that a modern show (modern to the year 1983, that is) could have such appallingly BAD special effects! I was stunned to think that ANYONE could think that people might be able to watch something that cheezy and actually ENJOY it without laughing out loud and pointing to the TV in a most deriding manner.
But then a month later I saw the original Gojira (that’s Godzilla for those of you not in the know) and realized where the WHOites got their idea from. I had seen many of the later Godzilla movies and kinda liked them but this was the first time I’d seen the first one…the one that started it all…the Grandaddy of all Godzilla movies! And it sucked.
I realize that it was only 1954 when the movie was made and that Japan’s film industry was very young and that Japan had only 9 years earlier been devasted by our military and two well placed A-Bombs, but c’mon! My Uncle Steve’s retarded, hair-lipped kid could create better special effects with only a Lite Brite(tm), some Playdough(tm), a handful of paper clips, a medium sized possum, and some flash powder.
Thankfully, however, the effects and productions values DID get better with the subsequent sequels that rose from the depths every few years. Godzilla was still a man in a rubber suit, and everything he smashed was a toy or a model, but some efforts were made to improve the look and make things flow more smoothly.
Fast-forward now to 2006. Sony now wishes to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the release of the US version of the movie, titled: “Gozilla, King of the Monsters!”, (which was a complete hack-job of the original) by releasing a two-disc special edition containing the 1954 original and the above-referenced 1956 hack job.
What? You didn’t know that there were two different versions of the movie? Yes, indeed, there were two. There was the original version (very rarely seen here in the US) which was a purely Japanese film intended to be an allegory about the dangers and horrors of the nuclear age. And then there was the US version. This one came about when B-movie studios were clamoring for all the monster movies they could find. The 1950s was a HUGE decade for anything involving vampires, aliens, giant insects, and other deadly creatures. The original Gojira, however, while desireable for its monster, was seen as a movie that wouldn’t be able to make it here in the US due to it’s heavy handed story and depressing ending.
So some enterprising folks shot some of THEIR OWN scenes (starring Raymond Burr), cut out a lot of the preachy scenes from the original, and released it here to some measure of success.
And now, if you’re willing to shell out a few bucks, you can have BOTH versions! But you probably shouldn’t bother unless a) you are a SERIOUS monster movie freak or b) you are a movie historian. For either type of person, this would be a must have for the ol’ video library. However, for the rest of us, this is, at best, a classic cheezefest that would be best viewed w/ the guys from MST3K.
Popularity: 19% [?]
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