Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1974)

Lava LampLava LampLava Lamp
Our rating: three lava lamps.

Information about this film in the Internet Movie Database.

Look, up in the sky! A huge honking robot!
The Stomp Tokyo alternate title for this film is Godzilla A-Go-Go. Its fashions and cinematic technique are so firmly mired in the early 1970s that we could barely keep ourselves from dissolving into heaps of giggling protoplasm oozing off the couch. And that's only part of why Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla is so much fun to watch.

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.

"Don't hate me because I'm beautiful!"
Most of the human portion of this movie is structured like a spy movie, presumably because spy movies were wildly popular in Japan at the time. Unfortunately, Japanese spy movie conventions are silly. Spies invariably wear sunglasses and dark clothes, and the bad guys wear either facial hair or vinyl bodysuits. ("Hey Cletus, you think that guy's a spy?" "Yup, I reckon. See that black turtleneck he's got on?") It almost plays like a parody of the James Bond films, except for the fact that everything is presented so seriously.

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?

"You hold him, I'll hit him!"
Not only was the alien technology funny (did we mention the Light Fixture of Death?), but the aliens themselves were great too. We hope it was the English dub, but hearing aliens from "the Black Hole in Galaxy 9" (or something like that) utter lines like "Reach for the sky!" only made us laugh harder. As if being shapechanging aliens whose natural form looks like a cheap gorilla suit weren't challenge enough, their ridiculous dialogue made Christina snort her milk.

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.

Rent or Buy from Reel.

Review date: 2/27/98

This review is © copyright 1998 Chris Holland & Scott Hamilton. Blah blah blah. Please don't claim that it's yours blah blah, but feel free to e-mail it to friends, or better yet, send them the URL. To reproduce this review in another form, please contact us at guys@stomptokyo.com. Blah blah blah blah.