Friday, May 17, 2013

Movie Review: Godzilla vs. Gigan, a.k.a. Godzilla on Monster Island (1972)

Japanese movie poster
 Great poster there on the left, ain't it? Next to Destroy All Monsters, I think it's the best of the series. Too bad that poster is for the movie that is the nadir of the Godzilla series: Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972).

The film was released briefly to US screens as  Godzilla on Monster Island, though the Big G doesn't spend a lot of time there.

The basic story is that an alien race of cockroaches have come to take over Earth since the humans on their own planet destroyed that world through pollution and waste. They hire a cartoonist to do some unspecified design work at an amusement park they're building to be their base of operations, complete with a giant Godzilla Tower. The cartoonist and his black-belt girlfriend get involved with a couple of folks who know about the cockroaches' plan. Gigan and King Ghidorah are called in to attack Tokyo and lure Godzilla (and Anguirus) from Monster Island, so the aliens can kill him and complete their plans of conquest. Naturally, things don't go as planned.

The ecology message doesn't smash you in the teeth like it did in the previous entry Godzilla vs. Hedorah. But the film will be giving you dentures for numerous other reasons. The plot, story and script of this movie makes Godzilla vs. Megalon, considered by many to be the worst G-Film, seem like Citizen Kane. Very little sense of logic was applied to it. I understand it is a kid's movie, but I saw it on TV when I was a kid and pretty much gave it a "WTF?" even then.

This movie is a stock footage parade. The rampage of Gigan and King Ghidorah through Tokyo is accomplish with mostly stock footage. Almost all of King Ghidorah's footage is from previous movies, notably Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster and Monster Zero. I think maybe, at the most,  three minutes of Gigan footage was filmed, and most of that was of the creature kicking in storefront windows. Apparently, he does not like seventies' era window dressing.

Use mannequins at your own risk
when this guy's window-shopping.
This movie has some of the most laughable special effects I've ever seen. For at least the first ten minutes of their appearances, King Ghidorah and Gigan are simple plastic models - possibly off-the-shelf toys - with no movement at all.  The Ghidorah suit is pretty laughable, with the hair-like tufts behind his heads making them look remarkably like Keith Richards. Apparently, this outfit was on its last legs, since the heads don't really move separately like they did in earlier movies. When they do move, that is.

Gigan's certainly an interesting looking monster, though never quite detailed as being a cyborg. The buzzsaw in his belly doesn't make a lick of logical sense, and the hook hands must mean he's really easy to beat at Super Mario Kart. Of course, it's not until Godzilla Final Wars that Gigan actually lives up to the promise of that appearance.

It isn't nearly as bad as the movie's heroes, Godzilla and Anguirus. Anguirus (also known as Angillas) shows up as different colors all the time. There's a scene in the ocean where he's lobster-red, and when he approaches land, and the Self-Defense Force shines searchlights on him, he's a multitude of colors, all looking as if it was painted in sickly splotches. All through the big battle scenes, at least in the parts that aren't taken from earlier movies, Godzilla is losing bits and pieces of himself, the rubber of the suit appearing to be on its last legs.

This is also the first, and thankfully only, movie in which Godzilla talks. He's kinda bossy, and sounds a little bit to me like Chester A. Riley with a head cold. (Go ahead and Google, you young whippersnappers; the rest of us will wait.) The whole concept is ludicrous and does little to help the lack of a plot.

Most folks know I love bad movies. Give me something by Ed Wood or Bill Rebane and I'm a happy camper. Godzilla vs. Gigan is NOT that kind of endearing bad. It's just a crappy movie. You'll, of course, have to watch it if you're a kaiju and Godzilla fan, but I can't see even kids wanting to sit through this thing. If there's a Godzilla movie to completely forget about, this is the one.


By Rich Meyer

Here we go folks with another bout of family-friendly and fun-filled quizzing! 500 questions for all ages and all skill-levels from trivia neophyte to omniscient master. This time around, the questions fall into ten categories: Capital cities, famous quotes, Green Lantern and Green Arrow, Doc Savage, song lyrics, Jack Benny's radio show, The Andy Griffith Show, comedy albums, the comic strip Peanuts and Presidents of the United States.

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