Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster ~ 1964, Ishiro Honda -Japan
Hell yeah! After the somewhat less than thrilling Mothra VS Godzilla, we are again back on the right track with the excellent Ghidorah; The Three Headed Monster, one of the best Godzilla films released up to that point. This movie is relevant for a couple reasons, but also it’s really, really cool. End of review?
THE PLOT- Strange, global anomalies are on the rise. Both Godzilla, and Rodan have returned from wherever the hell they were and for however the hell long they were gone, UFO sightings are becoming more frequent, and a strange meteorite falls to Earth and lands in the mountains, eventually cracking open to reveal Ghidorah, a three headed douchebag from space. Initially, Godzilla and Rodan are disinterested in Ghidorah, or the threat he poses to humanity, as they are much more interested in kicking each others asses simply because the other chose to exist, but Mothra, understanding Ghidorah to be a death sentence to Planet Earth, makes a desperate appeal to them to unite with her against the onslaught of Ghidorahs crazy lightning breath and loud dragon shrieks. The forces of Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra (only a larva this whole movie) combine, and beat the hell out of Ghidorah until he flies away.
Ghidorah; The Three Headed Monster has a pretty involved plot, with multiple characters who are connected to one another in various ways, but all the film’s events center around one character – a Princess with amnesia who believes herself to be from Venus, and who also seems to have some psychic abilities. Is she crazy? Maybe? Probably not? Anyway, hot on her trail are some menacing would-be assassins, and she’s really the anchor that holds the narrative together. Everybody wants to either kill her, save her, or exploit her in some way.
This complex plot is welcome, though the film still makes use of scientists and journalists as it’s main stable of characters, it manages to avoid the recycled vibe that had started creeping into the series in prior instalments, and that’s really important. The human characters are all likable, and we don’t feel like we’re wasting our time with them, plus the tiny singing ladies from Infant Island show up, as well, and they’re always good.
Even more crucial; Ghidorah; The Three Headed Monster delivers on the kaiju front. List time;
- Four monsters! – That’s two more than two! At this point, this was the closest to a wall to wall monster fest a kid could hope for, and these are quality kaiju we’re talking about here, none of that Jet Jaguar shit. Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra and the newly introduced King Ghidorah is a pretty A-List line up.
- The fights– The monster fights in this movie are all great. The big, four-monster brawl at the end starts off strong and kinda ends on an off note, but it’s still very enjoyable.
Something to mention, though… Although the Rodan VS Godzilla fight is still pretty cool, there are a lot of points during that one that start to look less like a fight, and more like a sex scene. Kind of a lot. And the Ghidorah fight at the end does look slightly gang bang-ish at times, too. Am I suggesting that Toho was having some fun with us? That Ishiro Honda was really into monster porn? No. I don’t know what I’m saying; but turn this movie on and tell me it doesn’t look a little bit like Godzilla and Rodan are doing it.
- Monster personality!!! – This is, for sure, the first time in the series we actually get an insight into these monsters individual personalities, and it is surprisingly fun and rewarding (also a little silly, but who in the hell cares, this is a movie where two radioactive dinosaurs and a caterpillar battle a three headed asshole dragon from beyond the stars. I would hope that you could pardon a little silliness). Mothra literally speaks to Rodan and Godzilla. Apparently, these skreeonks and assorted beast screams are actually a universal monster language, and the Tiny Women from Infant Island translate the conversation for us. Mothra comes across compassionate and magnanimous, and both Godzilla and Rodan are grumpy, stuborn dicks. Awesome. They both refuse to help, until Mothra says “Okay, looks like I’m gonna have to go it alone,” and wiggles off to her certain doom, at which point Rodan and Big Papa G quickly decide “F that, no way!” And rush to Mothra’s rescue. The whole sequence is a really fun insight into a side of these characters we haven’t seen before, and in fact, it makes them enjoyable characters in a new way. It is at this point that Godzilla really begins his transformation from the terror of Japan to the likable, ornery, anti-hero he would be for most of the remaining Showa era films. It’s a major turning point in the series, and it helps to boost Ghidorah; The Three Headed Monster up, making it one of the better films in the entire cannon.
Plus, Rodan isn’t in enough movies.