Friday, August 12, 2011

Godzillapalooza #5: Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)

Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
Monster Profiles:


-HEIGHT: 164 feet (394 wingspan). Heisei updated version was 230 feet tall, same wingspan.
-MASS: 16,500 tons
-SPECIAL POWERS: Mach 1.5 flight speed and hurricane winds besides general physical attacks. Like so many monsters, he received an update in the Heisei series, gaining an oral Uranium Heat Beam that is pretty destructive.
-BACKGROUND: Like Anguirus, Rodan is an oversized prehistoric leftover, preserved deep within the earth, with questionable origins. Rodan actually starred in his own movie before being assimilated into the Godzilla franchise. Until the mid '90's, Rodan had very little in the way of powers, but (again, like Anguirus) makes up for it with fighting spirit and also advanced agility. Godzilla and Rodan don't get along at all at first, but it doesn't take long for them to come around and become great friends. Even though they fight again in MechGodzilla 2, Rodan ultimately gives up his power to revive Godzilla, but that's a ways down the road.


-HEIGHT: 328 feet (492 feet in Heisei and on), 492 foot wingspan (574 feet in Heisei)
-MASS: 33,000 tons (77,000 tons Heisei)
-SPECIAL POWERS: Flight at Mach 3 and hurricane force winds from wings. Ghidorah's most devastating weapon is the lightning (a.k.a. gravity beams) it shoots from it's three heads.
-BACKGROUND: Ghidorah's background receives a revision in the Heisei series, but I will touch on that when the time comes. As far as the Showa series is concerned, Ghidorah is an ancient, evil monster from space that has a history of destroying planets. It first arrives on earth encased in a magnetic meteor that acts like an egg until Ghidorah is ready to emerge. While Ghidorah has wrecked havoc on many planets throughout it's career, aliens bent on earth domination have frequently harnessed it's destructive power with great success, only to be stopped by Godzilla.


  • MOTHRA (see movie #4)

A strange magnetic, egg-like object is deposited in the Kurobe Gorge during a meteor shower and good ol' Professor Miura is on the case (the same character featured in Mothra vs. Godzilla). Meanwhile, Japanese intelligence learns of a plan to assassinate Princess Salno (from a made up Himalayan country with really goofy outfits) while she is on a state visit to Japan. Detective Shindo is assigned to protect her, but before they can rendezvous, Salno's plane explodes. Not to worry though, martians take control of the Princess' mind and order her to jump out of the plane just before it explodes. So the Princess ditches her royal digs and the martians use her to warn the people of earth of the impending doom they face from an onslaught of monsters. What ensues is kind of like "Roman Holiday", except the Princess is an alien controlled prophetess. So really, it's nothing like "Roman Holiday". Anyway... Shindo finally finds the Princess, who claims to be from Mars, when his sister, a reporter, is using her for a story. Also meanwhile, Mothra's Twin Fairies have apparently struck up a pretty great relationship with Japan since the last movie. Now they are making promotional appearances and are treated like celebrities. They've also forsaken their clothes that look like they came from Paris Fashion Week in favor of outfits that are much more tropical and appropriate looking for twin fairies from a primitive island. So back to the story, every time Salno warns of the appearance of a monster, it happens, so it isn't long before Godzilla and Rodan start roaming around Japan and attacking each other. During all of this, the assassins have also found the Princess and continue to try to kill her. Why the martians picked such an already endangered target, I don't know, but that's beside the point. It isn't long before Ghidorah "hatches" from the meteor and brings his mission of interstellar chaos on earth. With the help of the Twin Fairies, Shindo, his sister, Miura, and the powers that be in Japan hatch a plan to have Mothra convince Rodan and Godzilla to all team up to defeat the biggest threat: Ghidorah. It takes some serious convincing and Mothra almost getting beaten alone before all the monsters join together. After a Battle Royal, Ghidorah is defeated and retreats, while the Princesses assassins are also killed and her memory is restored thanks to some good ol' head trauma. 

This is a very important movie in the G-series and a movie of firsts for Godzilla films. First of all, it introduces Godzilla's most reprised and arguably most famous enemy: King Ghidorah. Rodan also merges into the G-series nicely and the standard is set for a true monster rumble in a 3-on-1 final battle. This is also the first movie were Godzilla begins to shift from an evil image to that of a savior of the Earth. This also meant that Godzilla movies started to be more geared towards kids. Continuity within the series also became an important them starting with this movie, as it references specifically "Mothra vs. Godzilla". 

This movie has lots of great monster action; definitely the most of any G-movie to date. The highlights are Godzilla's brawl with Rodan (including a shot where Rodan drops Godzilla on an electrical tower that slams him right in the crotch), and of course the final battle with Ghidorah featuring some solid tag-team action. Godzilla is definitely the good guy, which is great, and audiences have no problem pulling for him against the menace from space. This is a great movie, and while it just missed out on my top 10, it is most certainly worth a look. Check it out!

Best Part:  
There's some pretty funny parts as far as the humans are concerned early on in this movie, namely the two goofy variety show hosts and the weird dude (who actually plays the Faro Island translator in King Kong) who goes to get some guys hat out of a volcano where Rodan sleeps. My favorite part though, has got to be just before the big finale starts. Mothra goes to convince Rodan and Godzilla to team up rather than fighting each other. First they don't want to listen, so Mothra webs Godzilla (which cracks up Rodan) and then does the same to Rodan (which Godzilla thinks is pretty freaking funny). They start having a conversation, translated by the Twin Fairies. It's cool because it humanizes the monsters and really gives them a personality. I love it when the Twin Fairies say: "Oh Godzilla, what terrible language!" It's great. Then Mothra's finally like "Screw y'all," and goes to fight Ghidorah alone. But Godzilla and Rodan do what's right and come to the rescue. Godzilla takes a particular interest in Mothra's safety during the fight. It's awesome, and unlike any other Monster battle up to this point. 

My Ranking: #11

Up next, Ghidorah is back for more and this time the aliens aren't very helpful either... "Godzilla vs. Monster Zero"

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