Cast & Crew
By 1999, all the monsters that have terrorized mankind have been corralled on the Japanese island of Ogasawara for scientific observation. One day, the sudden appearance of a strange gas destroys the island's electronic barriers and frees the creatures. Soon Godzilla attacks Paris, Mothra invades Peking, Manda (a giant lizard) devastates London, and Rodan threatens Moscow. After scientific experts determine that an extraterrestrial force controls the monsters, Captain Yamabe of Moon Rocket SY-3 is instructed to land his spaceship on Ogasawara and contact the scientists there. On the island, Yamabe is introduced to a zombie-like woman who claims to be from the planet Kilaak, whose people intend to conquer Earth by imbedding remote-controlled devices in the necks of the scientists and monsters. As the creatures attack Tokyo, the experts determine that this is only a diversionary tactic; the Kilaaks' real objective is to build a subterranean base beneath Japan. Yamabe and his crew find and demolish the Kilaaks' lunar control base, and the invaders, flushed from their simulated environment, turn to stone. To save themselves from the monsters, now controlled by earth scientists, the Kilaaks summon space dragon Ghidrah and a fiery flying saucer to crush the Earth monsters. Ghidrah is defeated, SY-3 stops the saucer, and Godzilla destroys the Kilaaks' base. The monsters then return to their peaceful retreat on Ogasawara.
Destroy All Monsters
Created almost a decade after the nuclear bombs laid waste to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the monster emerged in the wake of questions and concerns over man's newfound ability to harness mass destruction in a shell and served as a symbol of terror for children and social commentary for filmmakers and critics.
Like most aspiring filmmakers within the Japanese studio system, Ishiro Honda came up as an assistant director. He worked alongside a young Akira Kurosawa and eventually served as AD on the latter's searing-hot crime drama Stray Dog in 1949 before finally helming his own pictures. A workhorse who kept his head down, he was described by The Japan Times as "a quietly competent professional" with unwavering loyalty to Toho, the studio that made him and kept him employed until the end of his life.
Since 1954, Godzilla, Toho's most famous export (second only to Kurosawa), has served as a vessel for underlining drastic environmental changes, human stupidity and man's greed, among other things. What was prehistoric and should have remained on the bottom of the ocean for all time was stirred from deep slumber to violent agitation thanks to our tampering with powers far and beyond our understanding and ability to control them.
The monster itself was the work of a number of creatives, but three kept coming back again and again to bring this beast to the screen in all his rubbery, roaring glory.
Special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya--today regarded as a legend in the field--was most responsible for the look and feel of the monster and worked closely with Haruo Nakajima, the poor man in the thick rubber suit who had to endure miserable conditions (overwhelming smells and limited vision and ventilation) to make sure that the monster's movements were natural and calculated.
These three men worked on a number of Godzilla films together, which finally brings us to Destroy All Monsters, a preposterously awesome look at what happens when aliens take control of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and company, then use them to bring Earth to its feet. Yes--the plot is wild, but aliens using monsters in their attempts to control and/or annihilate Earth is not an uncommon set-up in the Godzilla series, and the scientists take it in stride.
There's an intensity to some of the scenes that deserves praise, and it feels as though Honda wants to stay in these moments longer, shooting the scientists fighting to escape a flaming ship, or boring through the alien's lair with a laser as their fuel line threatens to explode. When the finale arrives, he delivers the multi-monster showdown that had become fairly commonplace for these films, though this one is particularly notable for its showcase of beasties.
Filmmaking is a team effort, and perhaps it's delusional to spend the blood, sweat and tears on a project if it doesn't move your heart in some way. Godzilla was the work of people who made their mark--either continuously or intermittently--on the series and had a deep love for its leading monster. It's easy to smirk at the effects when held against today's efforts. Yet, there's something undeniably arresting about these practical effects, especially in those first shots of the monsters. It ignites an old, childlike wonder.
On the supplements accompanying Criterion's Godzilla ('54) restoration, the Japanese film critic Tadao Sato notes that the recent iterations of the beast lack something that those earlier films were able to capture. The monster--all physical, rubber suited-man trying to walk with the intention of a creature angered and confused--exhibited true emotion. "Children can understand how [Godzilla] feels," he explains.
And surely, with Godzilla's evolution through various films, as his relationship with humans morphed from attacker to eventual protector, we can find a tragedy between the lines. Here is the story of a creature disturbed from an eternal rest and forced to protect us from monsters, aliens and ultimately ourselves--because humans don't know any better and most likely never will.
By Thomas Davant
Destroy All Monsters
This movie features more monsters than any other in the Godzilla series, with eleven total: Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah, Angilas, Minya, Spiega (aka Kumonga), Baragon, Gorosaurus, Manda, and Varan!
This was the last Godzilla movie that was made with all 4 "Godzilla Fathers". TANAKA (producer), HONDA (director), IFUKUBE (music) and TSUBURAYA (speacil effects. Although he only worked as an advisor).
In both the Japanese and U.S versions Gorosaurus is accidentally called Baragon when he is attacking France. Baragon was supposed to do that scene. In fact Gorosaurus was given Baragon's roar and was burrowing underground which is an ability Baragon has, not Gorosaurus! As well in Japan, a painted children's record book based on the movie features Baragon destroying France. The reason for the mix up is that the Bragon costume was on loan to TSUBURAYA Productions to be redressed as various ULTRAMAN monsters and wasn't ready in time for filming so Gorosaurus was substituted for that scene.
The Japanese title of this film actually translates as The Monster Invasion
Haruo Nakajima, the man inside the Godzilla suit, has an out-of-suit cameo in this film.
Released in Japan in August 1968 as Kaiju soshingeki. Includes scenes from The War of the Gargantuas, q. v.