Godzilla Vs Mechagodzilla ~ 1974, Jun Fukuda – Japan
It’s 1974, and Godzilla Vs Megalon is now a year behind us. Toho, no doubt still coping with the grief of knowing they had birthed Jet Jaguar into the world, decides to get right back on the horse and gives us some of that same old same old; Godzilla Vs Mechagodzilla; yet another movie that would pit Godzilla against a monster controlled by invaders from space. Returning director Jun Fukuda, who had salvaged past alien invader Godzilla films with his Zazzy directing, piles on the Zazz like a damn Zazz-machine, but at this point we’ve seen this exact plot so many times that keeping it zazzy is now easier said than done. I mean, they pile on that zazz, but right now, what we need is a new story. Not zazz.
…It’s still pretty fun, though.
THE PLOT~ While exploring the Japanese Island of Okinawa, archeologists uncover a centuries old mural hidden in deep underground in an ancient cave system. This mural tells of a chilling prophecy, the exact wording escapes me, but essentially it boils down to this:
“A monster is gonna show up to kill everybody, but then more monsters are gonna show up, so it’ll all be cool.”
Everybody flips out when this is discovered, even though by my count that prophecy has already come true like, a million times. Whatever. They also find some Space Titanium in the cave, and some serious science shit goes down. How wild and advanced is the science in Godzilla Vs Mechagodzilla? Why, it’s so out there that the Subtitles can’t even keep up!
The subtitles didn’t even want to try on that word!
Soon, Godzilla pops in for his daily raid. It’s assumed immediately that Big G is the monster spoken of in the aforementioned prophecy, but something isn’t adding up. This new Godzilla sounds sorta funny, he doesn’t have the all too familiar Skreeonk style roar the Japanese have come to recognize… His spines are also shinier, and his dragon breath has a vague space-alien type quality to it… Plus, when Anguirus shows up to spend some quality dino time with his best buddy, Godzilla brutally kicks the shit out of him, which is totally out of character (Godzilla Raids Again). What the hell is going on?
Holy smokes! Another Godzilla shows up! The Japanese people’s collective mind is blown. After a short throw down between the two warring twin Godzillas, we discover the truth, the first Godzilla was a mechanized imposter, a robotic replica of Godzilla, who was coated in a false skin, not unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator, and also probably in real life. Of course, this robot Godzilla, forever known as Mechagodzilla, is part of an alien plot to conquer the Earth. The aliens involved are pretty lame. They’re shape shifting gorilla people.
So, As part of the prophecy, King Caesar, the shaggy, lethargic guardian monster of Okinawa, is awoken, and he and Godzilla team up against Mechagodzilla. King Caesar is kind of cool, he’s a bipedal, somewhat humanoid dog/lion type creature, and I’ve never been secretive about my longstanding bias towards monsters with floppy ears. King Caesar makes Jet Jaguar look like a serious mountain of shit, but we don’t actually spend too much time with him, so he isn’t given much of an opportunity to shine. Additionally, his “guardian monster” status is slightly reminiscent of an underdeveloped Mothra, so what little we do get from him isn’t really breaking new ground. King Caesar is a bit of a missed opportunity.
Anyway, Godzilla and King Caesar put the beat down on Mechagodzilla something fierce, and eventually Earth is saved yet again. The final battle is sorta bloody by Kaiju standards, which is pretty cool. On the profoundly lame and bizarre end of the spectrum, however, Godzilla’s premeditated scheme to take down Mechagodzilla involves him absorbing electricity during a lightning storm so that he can magnetize his body and temporarily(?) possess metal based super powers like Magneto. I don’t know if you were able to actually read that without hemorrhaging, but the same thing happens in Ernest Goes to Jail, so I want you to think about that long and hard before you go to sleep tonight.
Really, the biggest thing this movie has going for it is that it introduced Mechagodzilla, a character who would become a favorite among Godzilla movie buffs. Aside from that, it’s really sort of a lesser entry in the series. The recycled plot is, by this point a pretty major problem to contend with, and nothing else brought to the table feels fresh enough to compensate. What’s here is pretty good, but honestly, not having it be aliens would have made a world of difference at this point. Really, anything else would be better.
We have one more Showa era Godzilla film left, and then Big Green takes a long break.