Tonight on pay-per-view! Tag team terror!
Titanosaurus and MechaGodzilla 2!
You know you're watching a Godzilla movie made in the 1970's when characters show up wearing coats with lapels big enough to shelter entire families from the rain. Oh, and ugly sideburns were quite the rage in Japan, if movies like this are to be believed.
The seventies marked the final decline of the original series of Godzilla movies. And Terror of MechaGodzilla would be the last Godzilla movie until 1984. While it was struck from the same mold as of all the other later Godzilla films, with Godzilla repelling some sort of invasion by aliens who look down on humans ("They're so ignorant," moans the alien leader), Terror is actually a step up from what came before. The special effects are a little better, the story moves a little quicker than Godzilla vs Gigan or Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla, and the whole production just seems classier, probably thanks to Godzilla director Inshiro Honda's return to the series after a long absence.
Most of the movie has to do with a monster called Titanosaurus, a sort of sleeker, fishlike version of Godzilla. It seems that the big T has destroyed a undersea research sub, and the usual 1970's collection of sweater-wearing Japanese Interpol agents suspect aliens might be involved. These agents are supposed to be the film's heroes, but we found them so boring we really couldn't be bothered to tell them apart.
"Here is my plan... we will smother
Titanosaurus with my lapels."
Much more interesting is the mad scientist Mafune and his cyborg daughter, Katsura. It seems that Mafune was a respected researcher on the subject of undersea habitation, but at some point he became an outcast. We suspect it has something to do with the fact that he was researching how to control sea life, but used rats as his test subjects, as the still-photo flashbacks reveal. Mafune also became convinced that there might be a dinosaur living in the ocean. Ha! Who would believe that? Everybody knows that all the dinosaurs are extinct. Except for Godzilla, Manda, Baragon, and Gorosaurus, and a bunch of other Godzilla villains. But Mafune suggests there may be one more? That crazy guy.
Now for the story of how Katsura became a cyborg. One day she was assisting Mafune with an experiment of some sort (obviously, Mafune has crossed the threshold and is now a mad scientist, because he has stopped combing his hair), when the equipment blows up and Katsura falls down. Suddenly men wearing red velvet outfits enter the lab and take her away. Using alien technology they save Katsura's life, and make her stronger, faster, and better, to boot. And then they hand Mafune a bill for $6,000,000.
"...and it receives over
200 premium channels!"
Just kidding. The aliens actually equip her with the ability to control monsters, including Titanosaurus and the newly rebuilt MechaGodzilla 2. The fact that these major monsters are controlled by a pretty young lady means that the turtle-neck wearing Interpol agents will have something else to do in the film other than build a super-science invention that will help defeat the aliens. They also get to engage Katsura in a lot of deep conversations about the nature of humanity. But fear not: these mutton-chop-sporting Interpol agents will eventually get around to building that super-science invention.
The aliens this time around are predictably goofy. They all wear silver jumpsuits and earth-style sunglasses, sometimes complemented by the silliest helmets you've ever seen. At least one example of the alien tecnology we see came straight out of an Erector set box. And while these aliens are smart enough to build a cool robot like MechaGodzilla, they put the controls for the robot into a human, despite their contempt for humans in general.
Of course what makes or breaks a Godzilla movie is the monster footage. Terror of MechaGodzilla delivers some pretty neat stuff. MechaGodzilla's rampage through Tokyo is suitably explosive, even if we do see the same building blow up twice in a row at one point. The monster fights have a fair amount of energy, even if they are the kind of wrestling-heavy monster fights that predominated the end of Godzilla's first series. But a lot of sins can be forgiven when a Godzilla movie is scored by Akira Ifukabe. He was always the definitive Godzilla composer, and he is present to score Godzilla's swan song.
This would be the last Godzilla movie for a decade, and it also marks Godzilla's last appearence as a super-hero. We can't say we were all that sad to see super-hero Godzilla go away, but if all of the later Godzilla films had been as good as this one, we might have been.
Godzilla returns from an eventful day
of yard-sale scrounging.
Somebody left MechaGodzilla's head
in the dryer too long.