Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1974)
If you have fond memories of watching Godzilla movies on tv on Saturday afternoons, then Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla is probably one of the films you saw. Released in the States in 1977 with an awful English dub, this movie is the stuff of which surrealistic memories are made. With the ridiculous story, hokey props, bizarre special effects, and the surprise bonus monsters hidden inside, we almost reached Godzilla Heaven with this tape in our VCR.
All of this fawning should not imply that Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla is a good movie in general. It is, however, a good Godzilla movie, which makes all the difference in the world. That's why it was probably a good thing that Chris' wife, Christina, wandered in during the screening for her first real Godzilla experience. Imagine what she'd been missing up to this point!
Our story begins on Okinawa, portrayed here as a being somewhat backwards and rustic, which is apparently how the Japanese of the time viewed the outlying island. After some hokey posturing by the local royals, we learn that a strange metal has been found in a cave that also holds some prophetic cave drawings about monsters destroying the world. (Why are cave drawings always prophetic? What, cavemen didn't doodle?) Scarily enough, though, the prophecies start coming true and Godzilla appears out of Mt. Fuji, has a brief skirmish with Angorus, and then starts on a tear through Tokyo. This is fairly shocking, because Godzilla was portrayed in the 70's Godzilla films as a superhero defender of Earth. But fear not, it turns out that the Godzilla destroying the city is a disguised cyborg version of Godzilla created by the Black Hole aliens. The real Godzilla confronts his mechanical twin breifly, and then the human charcters are basically left to deal with the world's problems.
Our human heroes -- featuring Interpol Agent Namara, an intrepid reporter, the somber Professor Miyajima, and various female hangers-on -- go through various encounters with the aliens. In the end they are (inevitably) captured and watch from the control room as MechaGodzilla threatens to destroy Godzilla. This affords them the opportunity to eavesdrop on the aliens' plans and then foil them after Namara picks the lock on his handcuffs.
This brings us to one of the more ridiculous points of the movie: the alien technology runs a wide spectrum from incredibly advanced to jaw-droppingly primitive. In one scene, the humans force an alien captive to yell "the password" through a solid door so they can storm the headquarters. Somehow they can create MechaGodzilla, who can fly, magically regenerate missiles, and basically kick butt, but a simple peephole in a door is beyond them. When we first saw the alien weapons, we wondered what household object had been cannibalized to make these ray guns: garden hose nozzles? kazoos? salt shakers? tampon applicators?
Godzilla vs MedhaGodzilla introduces another monster beside the aforementioned MechaGodzilla, and that's King Seeser, the "legendary" protector of Okinawa. Unfortunately, when the universe was handing out legendary protectors, Okinawa slept late and got the left-overs: King Seeser looks like a big friendly doggie and he can't do anything useful in a kaiju (giant monster) battle. Somehow, we don't think slobbering MechaGodzilla to death will work.
You may be asking, "What does an alien invasion have to do with Godzilla and other giant monsters?" The answer is, "What difference does it make?" Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla is all about style, not substance. While that style may be twenty years out of date, it's still great fun -- maybe even more fun that it was back then.
Review date: 2/27/98
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