The Film: Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (1965 / 1970)

The Principals: Director: Ishiro Honda, Akira Takarada, Nick Adams, Kumi Mizuno, Jun Tazaki, Akira Kubo, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Haruo Nakajima as Godzilla

The Premise: Two astronauts, Fuji and Glenn (Akira Takarada and Nick Adams) are dispatched to the recently discovered Planet X to investigate it.  The aliens who live there, dubbed the Xians, make a request from the citizens of Earth to allow them to take Godzilla and Rodan to fight the menace of King Ghidorah, who has ravaged their planet for years.  In exchange, they offer a drug to cure all disease.  So they used their advanced technology to transport Godzilla and Rodan to their planet, where the duo succeed in defeating Ghidorah and driving him off.  But it’s not long before the Earth finds out that the entire scheme was a ruse by the Xians to take over the planet.  They soon launch an offensive with their flying saucers and mind-controlled Godzilla, Rodan and Ghidorah, who was always under their control, to conquer the planet.  The only hope lies in the device of an inventor, Tetsuo (Akira Kubo), who is the boyfriend of Fuji’s sister, Haruno (Keiko Sawai), to produce a noise to counteract the Xians’ technology, and Godzilla and Rodan to defeat King Ghidorah.

Is It Good: It’s much better than Ghidorah, The Three Headed Monster.  The villains are delineated much more clearly and the story as a whole is much more solid.  It also benefits from the presence of Nick Adams, who actually went to Japan to film the movie, rather than having his scenes added post-shooting like Raymond Burr in the original Godzilla.  The original was shot in 1965, but not released in the U.S. until 1970 (not sure why).  Unfortunately, by that time, Nick Adams had died of a prescription drug overdose in 1968.

The monster stuff on the whole is good, although the film doesn’t quite rate with the better Godzilla movies.  The first fight with Rodan and Godzilla against Ghidorah is over pretty quick, but will forever be remembered by fans for Godzilla’s goofy victory dance after Ghidorah is driven off.  I believe that was an ad lib by Haruo Nakajima that was kept in the film.  The monsters on a rampage material is pretty standard.  And the final fight between the three monsters was slightly better than the first.  Love the bit where Rodan flies Godzilla into Ghidorah.

This was a movie where the human subplots weren’t a distraction to the monster action.  Indeed, pretty good plot to have the Xians dupe the humans as a prelude to their invasion.  Not to overthink this thing, but I kind of wonder why the Xians needed to bother with the false overtures of friendship in order to take Rodan and Godzilla.  They had successfully infiltrated human society in order to get their one weakness (Tetsuo’s invention) nullified.  And it’s doubtful the humans could have stopped an outright snatching of the monsters.  And I’m assuming they needed to get them back to Planet X to brainwash them or whatever, since the whole thing with Ghidorah was also part of the con job.

On a side note, if there’s a society where all of the chicks look like Kumi Mizuno, I’d hop a rocket for that joint any day.  I also love the very ’60s special effects, particularly the flying to Planet X stuff.  And the Xian suits are simply classic.  Do people ever show up at Comic Con in those get ups?

Is It Worth A Look: Yeah, I’d say it’s solidly inthe midrange of Gojira flicks.

Random Anecdotes: As you can see from the trailer below, Nick Adams did all of his dialogue in English and was dubbed in Japan, while all of the natives did it in Japanese and were dubbed in America.  

Cinematic Soulmates: Ghidorah, The Three Hundred Monster