Capsule Reviews – Showa Godzilla (1)

Here, for your consideration, are capsule reviews for the Godzilla movies in the Showa series, made between the years 1954 to 1965. Only minor spoilers are given, with only the barest of plots to preserve some of the joys of the films. Longer reviews will appear when warranted.

  • Part Two to this series is located here.
  • Part Three is located here

Gojira (1954)


aka  Godzilla
Director: Ishirô Honda

 

A giant dinosaur, disturbed by atomic testing, begins destroying fishing boats. When the military steps into end this threat, the beast leaves its hunting grounds to wreck havoc on Japan. Its downbeat nature really sets it apart from the other monster movies of the period.

A bit slow moving, this is nonetheless an excellent example of the giant movie genre in general and Kaijû (Japanese Giant Monsters) in general. The film comes in two varieties: regular version and Raymond Burr enhanced.


Gojira no gyakushû (1955)

aka Gigantis the Fire Monster
aka Godzilla Raids Again
Director: Motoyoshi Oda

A second Godzilla appears, battling a new monster (Anguirus). After defeating its opponent, the massive monster continues the destruction his predecessor started.

This is one of the lesser known Godzilla movies, and for good cause: it’s very dull. It’s notable for the introduction of Anguirus (who is notable for the wide variety of indignities put upon him), and being one of two Showa Godzilla movies directed by someone other than Ishirô Honda or Jun Fukuda.


Kingukongu tai Gojira (1962)

aka King Kong v. Godzilla
Director: Ishirô Honda

 

As Godzilla escapes his icy prison, an expedition to a distant island captures the Ape God Kong. As the expedition bringing Kong nears Japan, he detects the presence of Godzilla and frees himself in order to hunt down the monster.

A rather silly movie with a sad looking Kong, this is nonetheless one of the highlights of the Showa series. It is also the first Godzilla movie to follow the Godzilla Plot.


Mosura tai Gojira (1964)

aka Godzilla v. the Thing
aka Godzilla v. Mothra
Director: Ishirô Honda

A giant egg washes up on a Japanese beach and claimed by a land developer. As Godzilla wakes from his slumber to once more thunder across the countryside, a pair of reporters and a scientist struggle to convince the developer to return the egg to its rightful owner, the Moth Goddess Mothra.

A more serious sequel than Kingukongu tai Gojira, this is another entertaining installment in the series and a step up in quality. (Not a large step, mind you…)


San daikaijû: Chikyu saidai no kessen (1964)

aka Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster
Director: Ishirô Honda

A foreign princess, injured in an assassination attempt, reveals herself to be a Prophetess from Outer Space. She predicts the return of the monsters Godzilla and Rodan, but these monsters pale besides the coming world destroyer, Space Monster Ghidorah. Mothra is summoned to convince Godzilla and Rodan to fight against the newcomer, but neither monster is willing assist humanity

A bit of a dip after Mosura tai Gojira, this is Toho’s first monster mash, featuring all of its major monsters and introducing Godzilla’s greatest enemy. From this point on, Godzilla would be portrayed as less of a monster and more of a hero.

Note the hypocrisy going on as Mothra talks with Godzilla and Rodan. Both monsters object to saving the Earth based on Humanity always attacking them. The nerve! They started it!

(This marks Rodan’s second appearance. His first, in the movie Sora no daikaijû Radon/Rodan, is reviewed here)


Kaijû daisenso (1965)

Aka Godzilla v. Monster Zero
Director: Ishirô Honda

Ghidorah has left Earth and is now plaguing the hidden Planet X. The inhabitants there ask for the assistance of the monsters Godzilla and Rodan, but their motives are less than benevolent…

Another dip in the Godzilla series, though not out and out terrible. This movie stars Nick Adams and varies the standard formula by having the Guardian Monsters beat the Invader twice instead of just once.


This ends Part One of this look at the Showa Godzilla.

  • Part Two to this series is located here.
  • Part Three is located here
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3 Replies to “Capsule Reviews – Showa Godzilla (1)”

  1. I appreciate the capsule reviews. Although I enjoy the Godzilla flicks, I was never a fanatic about them. Items such as your capsule reviews are of interest because they bring me up to speed without me having to watch each and every Godzilla movie.

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