The Film: Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster (1964)
The Principals: Director: Ishiro Honda, Yosuke Natsuki, Yuriko Hoshi, Hiroshi Koizumi, Akiko Wakabayashi, Haruo Nakajima as Godzilla
The Premise: When a meteorite containing the deadly monster, King Ghidorah, a fearsome three-headed dragon, crashes on earth, the feuding Godzilla and Rodan must be convinced by Mothra – at the behest of the Twin Fairies – to join forces to combat the monster before he lays waste to the planet as he once did Mars. Meanwhile, a princess who was targeted for assassination by her uncle is possessed by a Martian life form right before her plane explodes. The Martian inhabits her in an attempt to warn the people of Earth of the forthcoming Ghidorah menace. As she does, she becomes an infamous prophetess and celebrity who gains notoriety for her accurate predictions of doom. But once her uncle sees that she’s still alive, he sends assassins to Japan to finish her off.
Is It Good: It’s sort of middle of the road in Godzilla films. I haven’t sat down to watch a Godzilla movie all the way through in years and years. But like many, I used to love the film series as a kid. But this one was never at the top of my list in the franchise, probably because I never liked the fact that Godzilla needed help to take any monster. There was a reason he was King of the Monsters after all. The human stuff was quite uneven and felt slapped together, nowhere near as good as stuff with the Saucer people like in Godzilla vs. Mecha-Godzilla and the like. I’ve only ever seen the Americanized version of the movie, which I know is some nine or ten minutes shorter, so I’m not sure how much has been cut out.
Future Bond Girl, Akiko Wakabayashi plays Selina, Princess of Sergina, who was on her way to Japan in the wake of an assassination plot against her. Her uncle has men plant a bomb on her plane, but a nebulous Martian life force coaxes her off the plane right before it explodes. From there, she becomes a blank-stared street prophetess, warning humans of future dangers, like the appearance of Godzilla in the sea, Rodan emerging from a volcano and the impending menace of Ghidorah, which destroyed her home planet, Mars centuries before as it threatens to do to Earth now. All of her predictions come true and reporter Naoko Shindo (Yuriko Hoshi) and her police detective brother, Shindo (Yosuke Natsuki) seek to protect her when her fame garners the attention of her uncle and his assassins. Something that occurred that I found humorous was that the Twin Fairies were guests on a Where Are They Now? kind of show in Japan. I like that even back in the ’60s, nymphs weren’t above cashing in on their celebrity like little Kardashians.
As for Godzilla and Rodan, they do appear as predicted and immediately commence to beating the shit out of each other. I found it annoying as a kid and also now, that Godzilla had that much trouble with Rodan. Rodan’s wind power was formidable sure, but Godzilla’s atomic breath really should have turned him into a giant barbecued chicken, especially when G’s giving it to him point blank. Total side note: no way Godzilla loses to Mothra in that previous movie. No freakin’ way. Mothra was and remains a pussy. G should have stepped on him as soon as he saw him crawling up and messing in his business with Rodan. G would have gotten around to Ghidorah eventually. I also didn’t like that the Toho guys didn’t give a flip about continuity in their series. What happened to the other young Mothra and other Rodan? I klnow we’re talking about kitschy ’60s maninsuit flicks here, but that’s a cheap omission.
I had to do a double take before I realized that Akiko W. was the princess. She looked a bit different here than she did in You Only Live Twice. She was fine as the Princess, but other than the Fairies (Emi & Yumi Ito, aka the Peanuts singing duo), nobody was grabbing me. The assassins were clowns save Hsaya Ito’s Malmess. For instance, not sure if it was due to bad American chopping of the original, but the assassins had her in the hotel room, and then they disappear when Shindo busts in, but Selina is safe and sound in an alcove like nothing happened. So why’d they let her go? And they’re four killers with guns. Why are they afraid of one flatfoot who couldn’t hit Godzilla’s leg with a bullet if he were standing right next to him? And Shindo was a douche at times to his sister. I think he called her a fool more times than Godzilla got knocked on his ass, which was a lot.
The three-on-one monster smackdown wasn’t one of the best fights I’ve seen in the series. The final team-up with Mothra riding Rodan and silking KG was pretty alright, though. But Ghidorah should have been throwing that lighting a lot more than he did when he’s facing those kinds of odds. Oh well, I’ve Got Godzilla Vs. Monster Zero for next week. Been a long time since I’ve seen that one, so we’ll see how it goes.
Is It Worth A Look: It’s decent Gojira, but not top five Gojira.
Random Anecdotes: In the original Japanese version, Selina was from Venus, not Mars. Also, I had never considered a salient point made by NY Times film critic Vincent Canby until I checked it out over at Wikipedia: “This fascination, on the part of contemporary Japanese filmmakers, with the destruction of their land by fantastic, prehistoric forces only 20 years after Hiroshima…”
Cinematic Soulmates: Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Godzilla vs. Mothra