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Friday, February 28, 2014

Review: GAMERA (1965)

Here we go.  Our trek down the big list of kaiju/tokusatsu films has brought us to that other franchise, Gamera.  The first film is up now, Gamera (1965).

James goes first:
Well,I thought it was great movie! 
Gamera is about when a team of people go to Alaska and planes start bombing the place and they find a cave with Gamera in it.  And a kid thinks Gamera is his friend so throughout the movie, the kid literally tries to kill himself just to get to Gamera!  It's so stupid, it's funny!  
So, I will give Gamera 5.0 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!
My turn:
Ah, Gamera.  The very notion of the flying turtle makes me smile, if only because of its association with Mystery Science Theater 3000 (see below).  For the purposes of this review, I'll try to divorce the movie in my mind from the treatment of it at the hands of Joel and the 'bots. 
Daiei's attempt to jump on the monster bandwagon in the 1960s, Gamera starts off well enough.  It's in black-and-white, which gives it gravitas, unintentionally; not unlike 1954's Gojira.  And given the opening scenes, it's easy to think maybe this movie will have a message, too. 
Well, not so much. 
This monster is a prehistoric creature and not one created by mankind's hubris/errors.  It was awakened, however, by one of those mistakes.  A Soviet (we think) bomber was shot down by Americans in the Arctic.  Somehow, the plane's atomic payload became armed and detonated on impact with the ice.  Thus awakening and freeing Gamera. 
Here we come to one of the flaws of the film: the actors.  This is on full display in the scenes with the American radar installation and General Curly Joe De Rita.  (Sorry, I said I was going to leave MST3K behind.)  He's a horrible actor.  As are the others around him.  The script is partially to blame, too.  For whatever reason, one line in particular, spoken by a subordinate, cracks me up: "Looks like a huge turtle made its appearance." 
The Japanese actors aren't much better.  It's hard to be sure, since I can't speak the language and all.  But the reporter guy, in particular, seems bad.  Just a hunch.  And the scientist with the finger weave ... That's a distracting hairstyle. 
The effects are good enough for the era ... Gamera looks about as good as he ever will for these Shōwa films.  The attack on Tokyo looks good and Tokyo Tower goes down again (the second time in these movies).  I enjoy the late '60s films with the partying teens who reap death from their hullabaloo.   
Plotwise, there are a few failings.  First off, the obviously mentally disturbed Kenny (or Kenichi).  He's a focal point of the film and he just clearly needs help.  Seriously.  Take him to a doctor.  Once you get over your sympathy for him, he's just an annoying brat who manages to nearly die at every turn. 
Secondly, there's little attempt ... beyond Gamera's awakening ... to make this movie mean anything.  Gojira, of course, started that franchise off with menace that we could only blame ourselves for.  Not so here.  Gamera's a prehistoric monster who likes to eat fire.  Maybe just fire from petroleum products, but that's unclear.   
Third, the finale.  Holy crap.  Everything seems pretty grounded ...  well, I know.  A giant monster is attacking cities and I'm saying the movie seemed grounded in a reality for a while.  It's true, though.  But the solution goes beyond ridiculous.  Out of nowhere, we find out that Japan (with international help) has constructed a huge underground space program and launch facility along with a massive rocket.  What is the rocket for?  To encapsulate Gamera and launch him to Mars. 
Think about that.  Gamera is about 90 meters tall.  Using the blue whale (30 meters long) as a guide, Gamera would weigh about 600 tons.  Yes, I know Gamera's wider and all, so let's take it up to 700 tons and leave it there for the sake of argument.  NASA's cancelled Ares rocket program, which was designed to take payloads to Mars, could carry 28 tons.  That means Gamera would need 25 Ares rockets. 
I know that by calculating this I'm truly overthinking it, and therefore I've stepped into the realm of ridiculousness, too.  But c'mon.  I can only suspend disbelief so much.  
Gamera ... until Z Plan (or Plan Z), it was good.  3.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's a great compilation of MST3K moments:

Here's the trailer:

Up next, Ebirah, Monster of the Deep.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


We're still doing well, and today's film is the smooth '60s classic Invasion of Astro-Monster (aka Monster Zero; 1965).

I'll type my bit first:
After the monster rally fun of Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, I was expecting more of that this time.  Contrary to my memory, that's not really what we got. 
Ghidorah had tedious subplots that seemed to drag before the kaiju fights.  Astro-Monster also has lengthy subplots, but they don't seem as tedious to me.  I think that's likely due to the Xiliens themselves. 

Are we not men?  We are Devo! 
Alien influence on kaiju is a new element to these films and the slick coolness of these bad guys helps push the human side of things along. 
That's a good thing because there's barely fifteen minutes of monster fighting in this ninety minute film in about three or four sequences.  1. Ghidorah performs a quick solo strike on Planet X: looks good.  2. Godzilla and Rodan fight Ghidorah on Planet X: looks really good.  There's a scale to the mountain ranges that makes it seem like the set is huge.  3. Godzilla, Rodan and Ghidorah attack Earth.  Great effects, as usual, but with a few reused shots from earlier Toho films.  4. Godzilla and Rodan versus Ghidorah.  Brief but effective as the "good guys" perform a "Fastball Special" to knock KG into the ocean. 
To me, the fun of the Shōwa films is encapsulated by any scene wherein a model rocket truck launches fireworks against a man in a monster suit.  This movie has a few of those moments.  Very fun. 
The creeping goofiness that we all know is coming with these movies (I'm looking at you, Godzilla's Revenge) is on display here, somewhat.  Not as many puppet shots as there were in Ghidorah, but there are still a few wacky moments to play to the kids.  Most famously, of course, is Godzilla's "shie dance" (a mid-'60s Japanese fad): 
Also of note is the suit.  I looked it up.  This one is called "DaisensoGoji" and has friendlier features, including bigger eyes, smaller claws, etc.  A strong departure from one of my favorite suits, the KingGoji, which was used in King Kong vs. Godzilla. 
I'm sad to say this may be the last film with the Toho Triple Threat in effect.  Director Ishiro Honda, special effects producer Eiji Tsubaraya and composer Akira Ifukube begin to go their separate ways to other films and jobs beginning with the next Godzilla film. 
No "Spot Serizawa" this time ... but Jun Tazaki is back, as is Akira Takarada, who was in the first Godzilla film and will be in five more ahead ... including 2014's Godzilla
Invasion of Astro-Monster, little monster fun but cool aliens.  3.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Now for my ten-year-old son, James: was 1/3 cheesy, 1/3 awesomeness!!!!, 1/3 talkie talkie . 
At least Rodan, Godzilla, King Ghidorah is in it! There is a fight move where Rodan pick up Godzilla and slams him in Ghidorah's face! and Rodan and Godzilla stays down in the ocean for an ocean battle and when Ghidorah leaves, they stay down there. 
i'll give it ...... 3.2 Atomic Breaths of awesomeness!
Here's the trailer:

Next, ... hey!  We believe in Gamera!  Turtle meat!  Yay!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


If you're just joining us, my son and I have decided to watch about 70 films in the kaiju/tokusatsu genre in order to prepare for the release of the new Godzilla film.  You can see the list HERE.

Now.  Today's movie is Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965; released in Japan as Frankenstein versus Subterranean Monster Baragon).

My 10-year-old son, James, will review it first:
Well... I thought it was good, for a monster movie. It's related to "War of the Gargantuas" because, SPOILER ALERT, Frank's hand was supposedly "Dead", but 3 years later, the hand grew its own body (A.K.A The brown G).   
And Baragon is in the movie too, digging holes underground and stuff.  And there's two endings, 1. Frank kills B, but fights a giant octopus and falls into the sea!!  2.Frank kills B but one of B's tunnels has a cave-in, and they happen to be over the cave in, so they fell.  The octopus ending sucks.  The other one is realistic. 
So, i'll give it 3.1 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!!!
My turn:
The movie begins with the hint of something that always seemed so obvious and badass: fighting World War II with monsters.  Given that the war came at the height of the Universal monsters' popularity, I can't believe no one ever tried to do something with that.  Well, Bryan Johnson and Walt Flanagan made a comic series, War of the Undead, about it, and there's the recent movie Frankenstein's Army, but that's it. 
I say we get a "hint" of it because Germans break into Dr. Frankenstein's lab and steal his monster's heart.  Later, it's delivered to the Japanese with the promise of it being a great weapon, but the Hiroshima bombing stops those plans. 
After that, it's a long road before we get to some action of a kaiju nature.  A street orphan turns out to be the mutated heart of Frankenstein's monster and he grows and grows until he has to walk through models when he's in a scene. 
And the model work is great.  When he escapes and goes to visit his would-be girlfriend, you almost don't even realize he's standing among fake buildings, trees and signs in some shots.  I did love the scene when he's trying to get food and he throws a tree at a bird.  (The boar, though, wasn't so hot.) 
Rarely for one of these movies, the human element is at least close to being interesting.  The scientists chasing Frankenstein's monster down work in radiation and have been studying the long-term effects of the Hiroshima attack.  And their focus doesn't stray too far from that.  Too often, the human plots are so divergent with a plethora of unneeded characters ... here, it's just right.  Not great, but still OK. 
Later, Baragon shows up.  Now, he's treated as a villain in this movie, but later, he becomes Toho's cutesy kaiju.  Their fight is long in coming, set up by Baragon's attacks being confused for the rampage of the mutated Frankenstein monster.  Baragon's town-trashing near Mt. Fuji was a promising scene, but it got cut off too soon.  The big fight itself is good but features some unfortunately sped-up footage, reused Godzilla effects and Baragon's "awwww" exterior, which detracts from the menace.  The forest fire was well done, though. 
The version we watched had the absurd octopus battle inserted, solely because the film's American backers loved that scene in King Kong vs. Godzilla.  Given that the movie is supposed to end with both Baragon and the monster being sucked into the earth, that Frankenstein's monster survives to fight a stupid octopus from out of nowhere before falling into the ocean instead just underlines how bad an idea it was. 
The movie has the Toho Triple Threat in effect and stars Nick Adams and Kumi Mizuno ... who'll star in the next movie, too.  We also get repeat performances from "Dr. Yamane" (Takashi Shimura), Jun Tazaki and one of the goof-offs from King Kong vs. Godzilla (Tadao Takashima).  Damn Toho and their predilection for reusing actors ... 
Frankenstein Conquers the World ... not really.  3.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's the trailer:

Up next, King Ghidorah returns in Invasion of Astro-Monster.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964).

I'll go first:
You remember several films back when I sniffed out the beginning of the "goofy" phase when they started to pandering to kids?  Remember how I was wrong?  Well, I'm getting that scent again.  This film might be the real beginning of the kid pandering.  It's hard to say why ... maybe the kids screaming for the Twins on that TV show, the occasional double takes and "shaking it off" moves the monsters did, some of the fight scenes, the monster "conversation" ... maybe I'm imagining it. 
Four monsters (not three, as stated in the Japanese title for the film: Three Giant Monsters: Earth's Greatest Battle) wollop on each other in this one.  Godzilla, natch, King Ghidorah, of course, plus Rodan and Mothra.   
The model work for Ghidorah's attack is fantastic and the fight between it and Godzilla (and the bridge that gets destroyed) is also mighty good.  Puppets were used a few too many times for my taste and the footage was occasionally sped up ... Godzilla Raids Again should stand as an example of why you don't do that. 
I don't have much to say against the film except for the lame human element.  As usual, a weak character story can make a good film tedious.  This time, we get a princess, targeted for assassination, who becomes a space prophetess thanks to some selective alien amnesia.  There's the requisite reporter intrigue, criminals, scientists, etc.  There was just too much time spent on these people.  Get back to the monsters.  
I found it odd that the Fairy Twins were doing the Japanese talk show circuit like Steve and Edie, or George Gobel or something.  Strange.  Also a bit odd: the conversation between Mothra, Rodan and Godzilla.  Thankfully, it wasn't as downright goofy as the scene in Godzilla vs. Gigan when we actually hear them talk (or see speech balloons). 
Ghidorah's fantastic entrance is worth the watch.  His attacks are devastating and it's a fitting introduction to the franchise's most enduring villain (excepting GMK, of course).  And Ifukube's music, often a reworking of themes used in Varan, is phenomenal. 
(I won "Spot Serizawa" this time.) 
Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster ... 3.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Now my 10-year-old son, James, chimes in:
I thought it was awesome! First time seeing Ghidorah, you know. So, they're making Godzilla movies for kids for the the very first time, because in a scene, the monsters agreed to be friendly D: (WHAT?!) I KNOW, RIGHT!  The puppets they used were funny and Ghidorah's fight reminded me of a part of Pee Wee's Big Adventure. 
Anyways, I'll Give it 3.8 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness! 
Here's the trailer:

And here's the Pee-Wee's Big Adventure scene James referenced (no video, unfortunately):

Up next, kaiju of a different sort: Frankenstein Conquers the World.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: DOGORA (1964)

Next up from the big list is Dogora (1964).

My son, James, will tackle it first:
well the movie was...BORING!! You barely see Dogra in movie. The movie was about a huge octopus that eats coal & diamonds, and at the time, police were trying to find a global-diamond thief (i wonder who that was :) ) Oh, also one of the characters is James Bond  
So, i will give it... 1.5 Atomic breaths of awesomeness.
My turn:
With the Toho Triple Threat at work (Honda, Tsubaraya, Ifukube), you know the film is going to look good, sound good and have style.  Dogora does.  Unfortunately, that's about all it has. 
At this time, there was a flurry of gangster movies and spy movies were beginning to take off around the world.  Both genres are on full display.  In fact, I found out that this film was supposed to be a kickoff, of sorts, for a series of movies centered on spy/jewel thief Mark Jackson.  Didn't pan out. 
When it comes to kaiju, the space jellyfish appears a few times in the clouds and it all looks great ... it's just such a small, almost insignificant, part of the film.  Since Dogora craves carbon, a far scarier film could have been made if Dogora went after the carbon-based life on Earth instead of diamonds. 
Dogora ... meh.  2 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's the trailer:

Up next, awwww yeah:  Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Review: MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA (1964)

Our stomp down the big list continues.  Today's film is Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964).  The Toho Triple Threat is back, with Honda, Tsubaraya and Ifukube working their respective magic.

(Despite the poster for the American version above, no, Godzilla does not face Cthulhu.)

My review is first:
I gotta tell you ... watching the films on this list in order really brings perspective to them that I wasn't anticipating.  I figured and falsely remembered that we'd be in full goofball Shōwa swing by now.  Nope.  Not at all. 
In this film, Godzilla retains his menace.  Despite having choked on a tree by Kong's hand in his last outing, Gojira rampages across Nagoya and its outskirts.  From the moment he springs from the earth, through his havoc in the city, then through his strike on a hotel and Mothra's egg, all the way until Iwa Island where he was encased by two Mothra larvae, ... the monster is a monster.  It is truly good stuff.   
Flaws?  Yet another trip to an island full of natives.  I understand their connection to Mothra and the tiny twins, but it feels like we've been to this well too much.  (Especially since they make a thick red drink like they did in King Kong vs. Godzilla.)  Goofy characters, but they're not so bad.  Yet another subplot about businessmen crooks trying to make hay on the situation getting one upped by the monsters.  Apparently the original script was going to include the fictional nation of Rolisica again, as seen in Mothra.  Finally, there's a lot of reporters running around ... standard kaiju movie shenanigans that pads the film. 
Also, we get a taste of Toho's actor stable here.  No Serizawa, but we see King Kong's general, Jun Tazaki, yet again, plus we get Akira Takarada.  He starred in Gojira and will appear six more times before Final Wars
All of that aside, Mothra vs. Godzilla ... far better than I remembered.  4 out of five atomic blasts of awesomeness.
Now my son, James:
Wwweeelllll...I thought it was fine for a monster-movie, but the moth REJECT was back for more!!! But on the plus side, Godzilla wanted an omelet for breakfast, so he tried to destroy the huge egg that washed up on shore. And then Moth guy tried to keep Godzilla back away from the egg because it was her egg. 
I'll give it 3.5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!
He's always had something against Mothra.  Don't know why.  I think the singing twins annoy him.

Here's the trailer:

Next time, the gangster-filled flick, Dogora.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Review: ATRAGON (1963)

Next up on the Kaiju Movie Challenge list, Atragon (1963).

First, here's my eleven-year-old son, James:
Atragon is about an air-and-water drill submarine trying to stop a empire called "the MU empire" and their protector/god is Manda a half-snake-half-lizard!  
I thought it was a cheesy movie, and Manda was barely in it.  The "freeze" gun not a freeze gun, it's a "painting" gun. it turns people into paintings 
So, i'll give this movie 3.7 Atomic breaths of Awesomeness!!
Now here's my review:
Another model-tastic treat from Toho, Atragon shows off great effects and good music.  The insane flying battleship here reappears in Godzilla: Final Wars and in some video games. 
The story is interesting enough, though its execution is often flawed.  The ancient Mu Empire is back, baby, and only the brainchild of a jingoistic Japanese commander can save them. 
The nationalistic bent of the plot was possibly an edgy choice for the time, being less than twenty years after the end of World War II and the dissolution of the Empire. 
Flawed stuff ... Manda, unfortunately.  The marionette is hardly convincing and doesn't end up doing much.  Also, the melodrama surrounding the Japanese commander's daughter.  It felt forced.  And then there's the spy stuff.  Much of it seems pointless. 
(When playing "Spot Serizawa," my son won this time.  He shows up very early.) 
Atragon ... sometimes interesting and often pretty to look at.  3 out of five stars.
 Now here's the trailer:

Up next, the king returns with Mothra vs. Godzilla.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review: GORATH (1962)

We plow deeper into the list, and reach the third film in Toho's space trilogy, Gorath (1962).

I'll go first:
So a rogue star is heading toward Earth and will swallow it up.  Death is certain and yet everyone on Earth seems pretty blasé about it.  The big plan to save humanity?  Install hundreds of giant rockets in Antarctica to propel the Earth out of its path. 
Honestly, there's only three things to enjoy about this movie. 
One, models.  If you like watching Toho's movie models do stuff, you'll enjoy the huge swaths of time watching them go.  They're all very impressive and more engrossing than the human side of things. 
Two, playing the "That Guy" game.  Like every other Toho film of this era, they're using the same actors over and over.  "Hey, there's Dr. Serizawa."  "Hey, there's Dr. Yamane."  "Hey, there's the general in King Kong vs. Godzilla."  You get it.  Serizawa is the keystone.  First one to spot him wins.  I won this time. 
Three, perhaps the goofiest kaiju, pre-Gamera franchise.  Maguma is a giant walrus that emerges from the melting ice and attacks the rocket facilities.  It's a five-minute scene and feels shoehorned in. 
Other than that, it's boring as hell. 
Gorath ... ZZZzzzzZzZzZZZzz ... 1 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Now my son, James:
I thought it was boring, and the only kaiju was a walrus! It was about a huge star headed toward earth. I give it 0.004 Atomic Breaths of awesomeness 
P.S. it was sooooo boring i didn't want to write that much
Here's the trailer:

Next up, flying battleship and power tool, Atragon.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Back to the big list for the Kaiju Movie Challenge ...

Finally, another Godzilla film.  The third one in the franchise is King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962).

My son goes first:
I thought it was pretty funny,with the puppets and King Kong shoving a tree down Godzilla's mouth, then Godzilla spits it out w/ a little fire-power to make a torpedo. 
And in the movie, they had this type of cranberry sauce that made Kong sleepy, and it's like a medicine thing. Whenever Kong got struck by lightning he would turn into the Emperor and shock Godzilla. 
The fight scenes were funny, like when Kong tried to jump on Godzilla, he missed and his face went into a boulder, and when Godzilla kept on whipping Kong in the face with his tail, and the tree too.The first time we saw this movie, we had to keep on pausing because we were laughing too hard. 
The movie was great and i will give it 4.4 atomic breaths of awesomeness!! 

Now me:
I'm really of two minds when it comes to this movie.  So ... I feel the need to write two different reviews.   
The goofballing of kaiju films continues in earnest with King Kong vs. Godzilla.  Yes, there's the comic relief of a berry juice manufacturer hoping to snag a monster for PR purposes.  But of particular consternation is the excessive use of puppets, especially for Kong.  And Kong's suit ... oof.  It's just rough to look at.   
Before we even see the monsters, there's the native island.  Ah, Asians in blackface.  Oh, and giving cigarettes to kids.  And then the octopus attack.  Sometimes encased in Saran Wrap, sometimes not.  And the blue screen effect gets particularly bad when they're throwing torches and such at the octopus because you can see the objects' shadows on the screen. 
Unfortunately for us in the United States, we have only the English dubbed version to see.  The dubbing issues aside, there is a wealth of ultimately pointless scenes featuring a UN news anchor interviewing people from around the world as they talk about Godzilla and Kong interspersed with footage of the orbiting station from The Mysterians.  Waste of time.  And the music ... stock music used from several films, including the famed Creature from the Black Lagoon.  Except for the natives' songs, not a lick of the great Akira Ifukube's music is heard. 
Until the original version is made available over here, I'm forced to give King Kong vs. Godzilla 2.5 out of five atomic breath blasts. 
OK.  Now review number two: 
James and I watched the first two Godzilla films in a single weekend.  Gojira was dark and deep and surprised me; James was intrigued but, due to his age, not quite grasping it.  Raids Again was OK.  Then came Kong
This is the film that cemented our love of these movies for us.  Yes, Kong was far taller than he was in the RKO original.  Yes, his suit looked like it was sewn together from old fur coats (it was).  Yes, there were silly scenes that showed finger puppets as the monsters fighting.  Yes, the music was recognizably recycled.  Yes, many of the ancillary characters were either annoying or played by the same few actors yet again. 
It didn't matter. 
It was fun.  There was action and it was just fun.  We laughed hard at the big Mt. Fuji scene ... showed my wife the bit with the tree in the mouth ... watched it with my mother/James' grandmother when she came to visit ... It was just silly, infectious fun. 
Good times.  Good times. 
King Kong vs. Godzilla ... 4.5 out of five atomic breath blasts. 
Told you I was conflicted.
Before anyone asks, no.  There is no such thing as the alternate ending where Godzilla won and Kong lost.  That's a myth nearly as old as the film itself.

Here's the English trailer:

Up next, tokusatsu end-of-world epic Gorath.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Review: REPTILICUS (1961)

Reptilicus (1961).

I'll go first:
A Danish-American co-production, this movie is pretty standard for standalone monster movies of that era.  Someone accidentally finds monster, scientists get involved, monster goes nuts, military kills monster.  The end. 
In this case, drillers find a prehistoric animal tail deep underground and scientists take it to an aquarium to study it.   
Shortly thereafter, an inexplicably angry general is assigned to guard the aquarium and lead the detail.  His anger is briefly tempered thanks to a seven-minute-long tour of Copenhagen and song from some Danish woman. 
Also, the scientists hired a moron in overalls to be a night watchman.  Even after the general takes over the aquarium duties, the guy is still there.   
It ends up being a great piece of misdirection because we're sure that this dope is going to somehow free the monster, right?  No.  He doesn't. 
In the Danish version, he does have this musical number, though: 
The monster with the oddly vague name is a marionette.  It's reminiscent of Manda, but with wings.  And tiny, tiny, useless arms.  The presentation of the puppet varies wildly.  I would guess that it was filmed one way, but the footage was slowed down or somehow altered for many shots.  This makes some of the monster scenes feel really strange and cheap.  In other places, the marionette looks pretty cool.  I particularly like it when it's drooling all over the place. 
Not spitting.  No.  The spitting stuff was added later, obviously, and looks horrible.
In fact, other than about a third of the Reptilicus stuff, all of the special effects look bad. 
The characters are terribly forgettable, except for the angry general and moron watchman.  And the movie drags and drags for a long while before anything happens.  The titular beast doesn't show up until forty-one minutes in.  Ugh. 
Reptilicus ... it could've been cooler than it is.  2 out of five atomic breath blasts.
My son's turn:
Well, this one had Cheesy for lunch, Cheesy monster power effects, cheesy actors with cheesy jokes, so, cheesy everything!!! 
So, rating wise, i'll say 1.779 out of 5,000 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!!
Here's the trailer:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Review: KONGA (1961)

Konga (1961).  When I read the description, I thought, Sure, this belongs on the list. Having seen it … I’m not certain.

I’ll write my piece first:
Konga's premise is simple enough and promising enough, too. 
A British botanist crashes in Africa and lives there for a year, learning all their herbal secrets. He comes back to London with a few choice plants, some crazy ideas and a chimp named Konga. 
He plants the plants in his greenhouse and they quickly grow into large animated foam rubber Venus Fly Traps, tongue wagging Pitcher Plants and more. With his crazy ideas, he crafts a serum and begins injecting Konga, causing him to grow in a series of wavy dissolves. 
Soon, though, Konga becomes a gorilla. Apparently, causing a chimp to grow will make it change species. I had no idea. 
The scientist then forces Konga to go around killing his various enemies, before his fiancée catches wind of his wandering eye and gives Konga all the juice … 
Michael Gough (the actor who played Alfred in the four Burton-Schumacher Batman films) plays the crazed scientist to the hilt. He can’t save this film, though. 
It lurches from one scene of the enraged scientist to another, almost every one punctuated with a Konga kill. That sounds intriguing, sure, but it’s dull. Just when you’re waiting for something to happen, Konga gets a full syringe and starts growing like mad. 
We’re treated to some shoddy effects, for certain. At one point, Konga is tossing around dolls that we’re supposed to think are people. Poorly done bluescreen (and rear projection) … It’s just a mess. (See the trailer below for a taste.) 
Here’s the biggest sin, though. Konga walks the streets of London and then stops at Big Ben. And that’s it. He does nothing. He’s 200 feet tall and he smashes nothing. Not a damned thing. 
This is a monster movie. A guy is in a gorilla suit, walking around a room of model buildings and not a single one gets destroyed. 
Well, except the house from which he escapes and then the greenhouse where he grabs the scientist. But that’s it. He’s in London, standing next to Big Ben and he just kinda glances around. 
In the end, the army shoots him and he dies, inexplicably reverting nigh immediately to his cute chimp form. But, you know. Dead. 
On the plus side, the Konga suit looks better than Toho’s King Kong suit. That’s about it. 
Konga … If he doesn’t smash anything, does it belong on this list? 0.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here’s my son, James:
Since Konga didn’t annihilate Big Ben, I don’t care!!! I don’t think this counts as a kaiju movie.
Here’s the trailer:

Up next, Reptilicus.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review: GORGO (1961)

As many of you know, my son and I are watching 70+ kaiju/tokusatsu films in preparation for the new Godzilla film, due in May. We’ve made our way down the big list to the Brits’ attempt at a kaiju film, Gorgo (1961).

I’ll give my thoughts first:
We’re coming into a period of films where the mood begins to lighten. The kaiju, as we’ll see, are being made into the heroes of the movies and there’s a greater sense of fun. Since Gorgo isn’t a part of the Toho family, it’s unaware of this tonal shift and maintains a dreary and grim tone. 
TL;DR: Gorgo isn’t much fun. 
The attack on London is extended and fairly brutal. We see hundreds of people die in falling rubble, a flooded underground tube, and so on. One of the lead characters, feeling guilty over what’s happened, loses himself in alcohol. If you want to see Gorgo in a fun light, watch the ninth season episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that features it (see below). 
Grim isn’t a bad mood for a monster movie to have (see 1954’s Gojira) but it helps if there’s a point for it. In Gojira, there was a message about nuclear testing, proliferation, war, etc. In Gorgo, … um. Don’t put animals on display? The standard “hubris of man” thing? Leave nature alone? It’s hard to say. 
When Dr. Heywood Floyd isn’t drowning his troubles, there’s a lengthy bit near the middle when stock footage assaults the mother Gorgo. Oddly, most of the footage depicts American planes and ships despite the efforts supposedly being British. 
All that being said, the effects in Gorgo are among the best of this era. The myriad scenes of debris falling on people, bodies being flung from London Bridge, the destruction of Big Ben and Picadilly Circus … It all looks good. Unfortunately, the monster itself and the suit isn’t so hot. And the performer inside … there are a few times it seems as though he’s posing or moving in an odd way so that he can see his way out of the eyeholes. 
Gorgo … much of the death and destruction could have been avoided if they just let the stupid kid monster go. 3.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
And here’s James:
I thought it was good,and it reminded me of JAWS 3, with the baby at the beginning, and the parent picking up the kid at the end. 
But everyone was killing themselves trying to run away, people falling down stairs, people throwing people out of windows, everything was just chaos! 
And it all so reminded me of The Valley Of Gwangi because they, you know what, just watch the movie yourself!! So, i’ll give it 4.2 atomic breaths of awesomeness!!!
The trailer:

A selection of moments from the MST3K episode:

Up next, Konga.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Review: MOTHRA (1961)

We’re still watching movies from the big list in our Kaiju Movie Challenge.

Number seven is up: Mothra (1961).

My ten-year-old son, James, gives his thoughts now:
Well… i used to not like the song the little girls sang, and 1/3 of the movie they were dolls. 
And i couldn’t believe they were trying to save the girls even though they said that Mothra will destroy everything!! 
And now, the stages of strong! larva=2/3 moth=3/3. they both tied in travel. but in fighting skills, larva=1/3 moth =3/3, AND THE WINNER IS…..the larva…just kidding, it’s THE MOTH STAGE!!! 
and for movie ratings 2.7 atomic breaths of awesomeness!!!!
Now mine:
This is the first time we’ve watched these movies in true chronological order. Typically, we’d go through all the Godzilla films and then the Gamera and other kaiju movies. Seeing them in order, I can see the significance of Mothra
It’s a harbinger of the crap to come. 
I’m kidding.
First off, this film’s plot is reused a couple of times more in Toho’s catalogue. Natives on an island, bad guys want to capitalize on the natives/island/monster, monster attacks. 
Next up, kids. Yes, the kid in this movie is (comparatively) innocuous, but there’s more of them to come. Oh, brother. 
Lastly, the hero kaiju. The giant monster that does some destruction but ends up saving humanity one way or another. 
The first point is just because of an unimaginative screenwriter. The next two, though, are bad. By increasing the franchise’s visibility among children and making the titular kaiju into good guys, the beasts and the movies both are often defanged. That’s my memory of what comes later. We’ll see if it’s substantiated.  Regardless, I won't hold what's to come against this movie.
Beyond that, Mothra suffers a couple of other demerits. One is Frankie Sakai. Just a goofball. Difficult to endure. The second is the dubbing. If you’re watching the English version, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Nearly every single Asian actor in this movie is given a voice simply dripping with soy sauce and rice. The stereotyping is so bad, they even ‘R’ up some of the ‘L’s. Painful. 
All of that being said … it’s a good film. The story is decent, despite the odd Islamic America-Russia nation invented for the plot. Mothra looks good (both in larvae and moth mode). Tokyo Tower gets destroyed for the first time since this was the first kaiju film made after its completion. 
One funny note. If this had been featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 back in the day, I found the perfect ‘stinger’ (the funny clip from the film played at the end of most episodes). In a Rolisican diner near the end, a middle-aged woman tugs on the arm of her father, saying, “Come on, Dad.” The old man gets up with some effort and grunts hilariously. ”Unnngggghh!”
(Side bar: when they shoot weapons in this movie, the muzzle flash is red … what did they use to do that? I’ve seen it in a bunch of Japanese films.) 
Mothra … a solid film despite what will follow. 3.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here’s the trailer for the English version:

Up next, the British try to get in on the fun: Gorgo.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Continuing our way through the big list of kaiju and tokusatsu films

Today’s film is Battle in Outer Space (1959), a kaiju-less tokusatsu film brought to us by the Toho Triple Threat (Honda, Tsuburaya & Ifukube).

My bit first:
If you like watching models shooting things, blowing in the wind and exploding, then brother, this is the film for you. 
The story is wafer thin and involves aliens named the Natal scheming to take over the planet. The first half of the movie is padded out with some pseudo-United Nations intrigue and mind-controlled folks doing wacky things. And some lengthy talk about and testing of their atomic heat ray weapon. 
Alien-wise, there’s not much to report. The Natal saucers seem to be re-paints of ones used in The Mysterians, or at least differently lighted versions. Most damning, we never even really see the Natal. There’s one scene on the Moon wherein an astronaut is attacked by a mob of them, but they’re just short folks wearing oversized helmets (see the trailer below). Apparently, they were going to be tentacled aliens and then later insectoids, but the budget got the best of those plans. 
The only thing worthy of note regarding them is their anti-gravity weapon. In the final third of the film, when things pick up, the anti-gravity weapon picks up a lot of things. The miniature destruction is impressive and a fun sight to behold. There’s also spaceships firing weapons at each other, but the action on Earth is far better. 
The production design is superb, too, though I prefer the polished metal and neon tube stylings of the Mysterians to that of the Natal. 
Good work by Tsuburaya and Honda … not enough to really hold my interest, though. 2 out of five atomic breath blasts.
And now here’s my ten-year-old son, James:
It was ok, I guess. 
I didn’t like it because there were like 8 or 15 Mysterians (they all were yellow) and that was it!!! 
But, the aliens had good weapons like the tornado shooter or the structure sucker and a teleporter, and finally, the mind controller  
So, I will give it 3.4 atomic breaths of awesomeness!!
Here’s the trailer for Battle in Outer Space:

Next up, Mothra.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Review: VARAN (1958)

In case you’re just joining us, my son and I have been watching and reviewing a lengthy list of kaiju films before the new Godzilla film comes out next year. We’re only a few in.

Today’s movie is Varan the Unbelievable (1958). Toho Triple Threat in effect: directed by Ishiro Honda, special effects by Eiji Tsubaraya and music by Akira Ifukube.

There is an American version that features American actors and a new plotline. Only the kaiju scenes are untouched. Plus, Ifukube’s score has been replaced by Albert “Make It Louder” Glasser. Needless to say, we avoided this version.

James’ thoughts up first:
Well, the music in the middle (one ocean scene) sounded like JAWS music but with more than two notes. It FREAKED me out!!!! 
And Varan is … a….flying squirrel and he sounds like a jet. He saw a stupid kid wanting his dog back. At the end a truck bomb exploded in his balls (i felt so bad for the guy in the suit)! Varan also like to eat flares rigged w/ bombs and that made him run away. 
So now, i’m going to give it 3.9 Atomic breaths of awesomeness!!
Now here’s mine:
Having become a kaiju film fan over the last few years, I’ve seen people online rag on this movie, saying Varan didn’t deserve his own movie. Well, at that time, Toho was trying new things and introducing new characters and new monsters. They had no way of knowing what would or wouldn’t stick. Tangentially related, I’ve discovered that, originally, this was supposed to be an American television movie, but Toho’s partners over here departed the project. With so much work already done, they made it a film. 
All that being said, I really like this movie. The black-and-white is a bit disappointing after the Tohoscope quality of the last two films. And the monster himself, while visually interesting, doesn’t really have that je ne sais quoi that a good kaiju should. He can fly around like a draco lizard, but at Mach 1.5 … and that’s about it. His roar is essentially half of Godzilla’s roar. The “skree-” part of “skreeonk.” No flaming breath or laser beams from his crystal-looking spikes. Nothing. Shame. 
The story is basic enough: rural villagers are afraid of a lake and the god they believe lives there. Monster gets roused and tears stuff up. Seems almost pedestrian, but I’ll say it again: I really like this movie. 
Here’s why. The music and the effects. Effects-wise, this is Tsuburaya doing what he does best. There are great models to play with and loads of fun destroying. The airport set is great; the ships at sea; the flares; the rampage through the forest … loads of fun. 
If for no other reason, you should watch this for the music. You’ll likely recognize quite a bit of it because Ifukube used several of the themes he made here in later Godzilla films. You’ll recognize a prototype version of King Ghidorah’s theme easily. It’s just really good hearing his music played well and to hear the history of what we’ll love to hear later on. 
The Varan suit was, unfortunately, damaged, thus limiting his appearance in future films. He appeared again in Destroy All Monsters, but only as a background cameo. 
Varan … I liked it. 4 out of five atomic breath blasts.
And here’s the trailer for the Japanese version:

For comparison’s sake, here’s the American version:

Next up: Battle in Outer Space.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Review: THE MYSTERIANS (1957)

The Mysterians (1957) is the next movie and it features the Toho Triple Threat: Ishiro Honda (director), Eiji Tsubaraya (special effects) and Akira Ifukube (music).

My thoughts first:
This movie inspired Rudy Martinez to name his band ? and the Mysterians. That’s really all you need to take away from it. 
I’m kidding. 
The movie looks great (Tohoscope), sounds fantastic and has superb effects. It just suffers from a weak story. 
Aliens named Mysterians come to Earth and ask for a little piece of real estate to settle down and maybe, just maybe, hook up with some fine human ladies. 
I take that back. They’re not coy about it. They want our women. 
With a yawn-worthy plot, that leaves characters. Do we care about them? Well, three of the leads are played by actors we’ve already seen multiple times before on this list. One’s a jerk … there’s a scientist … we never really see the aliens except for their colorful helmets so there’s no face to attach to any sense of horror or dread. 
The only scenes worthy of note are the ending battle (full of great models slugging it out) and an early sequence featuring a kaiju robot. Named Moguera, the giant robot is a demonstration of the Mysterians’ power. It’s pretty impressive for a few minutes until it tries to walk across a bridge. The military detonates the bridge and Moguera falls. And that’s it. 
Of course, you may recognize Moguera thanks to its inclusion as an Earth military vehicle named M.O.G.U.E.R.A. in Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla. This Moguera was inserted at the last minute by a producer who felt the movie needed a kaiju scene. There’s a second, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance for Moguera in the end battle. It rises from the pit, ready to kick butt … and then a satellite dish bonks it on the head. Oh well. 
The Mysterians. Looks nice; a few cool scenes. That’s about it. 2.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
OK. Now here’s my son, James:
It was a cheesy movie, but the only two good parts like when they were asking for their women :) (the Mysterian boys must be ugly or something) You are right happy face!! So, they were asking for women :( (but i want to keep my wife!!) SHUT UP UNHAPPY FACE!!!  
Anyways … and another funny part was when Moguera wanted to come back … WHOMP!! MORGUERA GOT HIT BACK DOWN BY A SATELLITE DISH!! BWHAHAHAAA!! Comedy GOLD!! O_O(awkward.) SSHHUTT UUPPPPPPPPPPPP!! 
Anyways.. I give it a 3.7 atomic breaths of awesomeness!! O_o :( :) <:( >:) >:( ( EVERY FACE IN THE WORLD… GET HIM!!) (YAAAHHHHH)
And here’s the trailer:

Up next, Varan.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Review: RODAN (1956)

Working our way down the big list, today’s film is Rodan (1956).

James, my son, will type first:
When I saw it, I noticed that in the airport tower, a plane was landing, right? It rolled forward and went backwards and forwards again! I thought it was so weird! 
And plus, Rodan, when he flew, he sounded like a jet, and again, weird :(?? X2 
So, about the beginning with the bugs, the beginning wasn’t even a Rodan movie. But those bugs were everywhere!! They also know how to hunt!! 
:(! (so were all going to die?) Yes, unhappy face. 
For awesome effects and mutated bugs :0 (Ahh!!! ) Stop screaming screaming face!! Anyways, i give it 4.1 atomic breaths of awesomeness!!
So now the emoticons are talking. Can’t say I’ve seen that before.

My turn:
Tohoscope. Oooooh. Color! Ahhhhhhhh. 
Rodan certainly has a great look and sound. James is right, though. In the beginning, there’s nothing Rodan-like about the film at all for quite a while. Giant Meganula larvae are eating miners and that’s fun enough. Then comes the reveal: the larvae are just food for newly hatched giant pterosaurs. 
These first few kaiju films seem to want to ground the monsters in some sort of reality. Gojira is a dinosaur theropod; Anguirus is an ankylosaur; Rodan is a pterosaur; Varan, as we’ll see, is a giant “varanopode” (pre-Triassic lizard). It’s a nice thought, but I don’t think it’s a necessary one. 
Fun trivia: in Japan, Rodan is “Radon,” a name kind of derived from “Pteranodon.” It was changed in the US to avoid confusion with the deadly gaseous element. 
With two Rodans attacking Kyushu, there’s lots of good model fun. I particularly love one moment where we see people, inside model windows, “running” past as destruction levels the street and the building around them. (It’s in the trailer below.) And Ifukube’s doing the music, so you know it’s good. 
Here’s something new I’ve noticed, though. This “Kaiju Movie Challenge” will be our third time through all of these movies and I’m beginning to more easily recognize actors. Not really a big deal, except … Toho really seems to like certain actors. Akihiko Harata, who played Dr. Serizawa in Gojira, is back. He’s in fourteen Toho kaiju/tokusatsu films. Kenji Sahara, who plays the lead miner, Shigeru, in Rodan, is in a mind-bending twenty-one of the films on our list! Now, look. I’m glad you liked the guy, but c’mon.
Rodan. Introduces a great monster and steps up the film quality and effects work, too. 4 out of five atomic breath blasts.
And here’s the trailer for Rodan:

Up next, The Mysterians.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Here’s the first color movie on the big list (HERE).  It’s Warning from Space (1956), made by Daiei, the studio behind the Gamera series.

James, my eleven-year-old son, will go first:
My life is a lie!!!! I thought they ripped off Justice League with these aliens because they look like Starro but then I found out this came first! And the planet coming to crash into earth is like Gorath but that movie came later too!! And the sound effect of the space ship was copied from Gamera BUT THIS MOVIE CAME BEFORE THAT TOO!!!!!! 
Story wise I thought it was boring most of the time. The aliens looked cool even though the stars looked like pajamas but they shapeshifted into humans. Boring. 

So rating wise I give it 3.0000003 Atomic Blast Breaths of Awesomeness!
My turn:
TL;DR?  It’s not that great … just interesting. 
Rogue planet’s coming toward Earth, aliens show up to help (which is rather novel for scifi films of this era) and then it all goes to hell. Part of the movie is made up of the aliens trying to figure out how to get their message to Earth’s scientists without freaking out the population. Smart concept but it feels stretched too thin in the movie. 
The plot beings to really stretch credulity in the last half as the “World Congress” is hesitant to try to stop the planet. That’s dumb enough. But then the scientist with the world-saving formula is kidnapped and left for dead. Sure, I get that governments would want the weapon, but sacrificing the entire planet to do so? Also, at one point, a couple dozen schoolkids are hiding out during the apocalypse in a basement with some of the scientists … for some reason. I must have missed why. 
Warning from Space … some cool concepts even if it wasn’t executed so great. 2.75 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here’s the opening minute of the film (I couldn’t find the trailer):

Up next, Rodan.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


The second film on our list of kaiju/tokusatsu films to watch before the new Godzilla film opens in May, Godzilla Raids Again (1955).

My thoughts first; my ten-year-old son James’ thoughts after.
After watching a classic like Gojira, I guess it would be easy to end up disappointed. 

Godzilla Raids Again is not directed by Ishiro Honda and does not feature music by Akira Ifukube. That’s two strikes right there. 
Add to that the fact that the first time I saw the film it was as the bastardized American version, Gigantis the Fire Monster, and you might be able to understand why I’m down on the film.

Upsides? Well … it features the debut of Anguirus and the first monster-on-monster action we’ve seen. It also has Dr. Yamane back from the first film. 
Motoyoshi Oda directed this movie and, for whatever reason, decided to speed up the film for the scenes featuring the monsters fighting. This is the exact opposite of what most films featuring giant monsters do. The result is, as you might expect, silly. It is fun, though, to see Anguirus. A bit odd to see him killed so mercilessly, too. 
The famed battle scene at Osaka castle is poorly framed, I thought, and doesn’t fully show off the fantastic model being demolished by these guys in suits. That’s a shame. (On another special effects note, the “cute” puppet, as James puts it, is back and is employed when Godzilla uses his atomic breath. Apparently, the big suit wasn’t able to open its mouth sufficiently for the job.) 
Musically speaking … I’m drawing a blank. The score is just kind of there. That’s no good, especially when I’m trying to compare you to Ifukube. 
As I type, I realize I’m sounding harsh. That has to be because we watched the 1959 American re-edit Gigantis the Fire Monster the first time we watched this about five years ago. In case you don’t know, for whatever stupid reason, American distributors wanted to sell “Gigantis” as a new monster, so his name was changed in the marketing and in the dialogue. Plus, Godzilla/Gigantis was given Anguirus’ roars and Anguirus was given Godzilla’s. George Takei (Mr. Sulu) voiced one of the newly dubbed characters and Yogi Bear himself, Daws Butler, tried his best to do a non-offensive Japanese accent for another. It was very distracting. AND, the American edit made the hero of the Japanese version, Kobayashi, into a goof. Just bad choices all around. 
I’m willing to think that Gigantis has colored my perception of the film and that it may be better than I’m giving it credit for. But just having watched the Japanese version again, it’s not too much better. 
Thanks to Anguirus and the possibility that I’m being too hard on it, I’m going to go middle-of-the-road on this one: 2.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
OK. Now here’s James:
I thought it was pretty good, but my dad was right, it was sped it up a little.
And the american-version made me pissed >:(! Godzilla’s roar was wrong and so was Anguirus’s roar!!! 
And how did they beat Godzilla w/ ice?!! He survived a h-bomb for pete’s sake!!!!!!! 
I give (the Japan version) 3.7 atomic breaths of awesomeness!!
I’m going to have to talk to him about his language.

Up next: Warning From Space.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Review: GOJIRA (1954)

As outlined a while back, we’ve got 70+ daikaiju/tokusatsu movies to get through before Godzilla opens in theaters on May 16, 2014.

We started with Toho’s 1954 classic Gojira. We watched the Japanese version and not the one with Raymond Burr.

Here are James’ thoughts first:
I think the guy in the suit had a rough time with all the weight and firecrackers up in his face :(! But, it was worth it for a great movie. Toho should edit all Black-And-White movies they made and make them Color. I did not know that this was made right after a war <:( . 

I know that they are making a new Godzilla movie in 2014 and there are hints. Like in Pacific Rim in the beginning a kaiju roared like beginning of Godzilla’s roar. And used to have set of pics and letters and some of the letters were red and they either spelled: rise :0 (CRRREEEEPPYYY) or the beginning of Dr. Serizawa, so I guess he’s back. 
I give it 4 and a half out of five atomic breath blasts of awesomeness.
I asked why he was writing like a jerk and he said it was because I was haranguing him to stay on topic. Lesson learned.  And he wasn’t around for the Ted Turner colorization debacle of the late ’80s / early ’90s, so please forgive him for that.

OK, here’s mine:
Ever since I was a little boy, I had this one dream … Usually, I was at home but sometimes I was at the mall or at school or, later in life, at work. I could hear and feel the rumbling of giant footsteps. They began soft and distant but became louder and closer. I ran or drove or tried to ignore them, but they always seemed to be coming after me. 
Most of the time, I never actually saw what was making the noise. Sometimes I did. In the dreams set at my childhood home, I would run out to the front porch, where we had a view of trees, a lumber yard and a nearby thoroughfare. A huge swath of the sky was visible and, invariably, whatever was chasing me filled that view. Occasionally, it was a group of Imperial AT-ATs, far larger than their size in Empire. Sometimes it was a dinosaur, often a Tyrannosaurus. And then there were times when it was Godzilla himself. 
When James was just four, he came into the living room as I was watching Mystery Science Theater 3000, specifically the episode wherein they riffed upon Godzilla vs. Megalon. He was entranced. Not only by MST3K but also by the monsters. And so it began. 
We started by watching the Japanese version of Godzilla (Gojira, of course). I had only seen the American version before so I was truly surprised at how serious everything was treated. It was, for all intents and purposes, a war movie. Long scenes set in shelters and hospital triage centers, people with radiation contamination, the troubled Dr. Serizawa with a weapon so dire it led to his suicide … 

To top it all off, the movie began with footsteps. Well, drums as footsteps, but still. 
When it comes to Shōwa era Godzilla films, there are certain things I’m looking for, effects-wise. Naturally, this includes the models that shoot bottle rockets at the poor dude in the suit. Gojira does it first and with a level of restraint compared to later films. The bits with the train are particularly well done, I thought. And I liked the way the objects of his breath melted. This film employs a puppet for some of the scenes with the monster and, unfortunately, it suffers a bit in my eyes because of it. 

Still, it was the first and easily the most serious of the franchise until 1984. That only adds to my enjoyment. Akira Ifukube’s music is top notch and you can hear hints of where it will all be going in future films. 
So, like James, I’m giving it 4.5 out of 5 atomic breath blasts.
There you go. One down; five or six dozen more to go.

Up next: Godzilla Raids Again.