Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Movie Review: Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster a.k.a. Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971)

Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster was the first Godzilla movie I ever watched.
Japanese movie poster
Again, this was back when TV channels actualy played watchable programming. WSAU Channel 7 in Wausau, Wisconsin, one of the few channels we could actually get  in the middle of Portage County, broadcast this one as part of the CBS Late Night Movie.

This was a message movie I found a little heavy-handed even back then. Pollution was the big message - hell, the monster's name, Hedorah, means "pollution" in Japanese supposedly. The moving rivers of gunk and junk made the Cuyahoga River look like the ol' swimming hole back home. And that song "Save the Earth" still annoys me to this day, even when listening to the Japanese version of it.

You've got your precocious kid, a kindly scientist, an acid trip, a slimy monster and Godzilla. Pretty formulaic for the genre. Even with the acid trip, which I didn't figure out exactly what it was until years later. Or allegedly found out. No, I found out the proper way wink-wink, nudge-nudge, say no more, squire.

Hedorah sucking up some car exhausts.
And some cars. 
Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster is definitely a kid's movie. Like most of the kaiju output of the seventies, the only adults that would really be going were parents or the die-hard genre fans. That said, there is a lot of random death and destruction. Destruction, yeah, you're gonna have that in any kaiju movie, but out-and-out death? Not too often. This one clearly shows parts of Hedorah flying off while Godzilla was spinning him around, crashing in and killing (by drowning) a bunch of mah-jongg players. The main young adult who worked with Dr. Yano and organizes the bonfire event at the base of Mount Fuji appears to be one of the casualties when Hedorah spits a blob of mud at him and some others who were tossing torches. It's not often that a main character on the side of the angels buys the farm in a Godzilla movie.

Hedorah would be a great kaiju in these days of advanced CGI. It would be easy to turn him into an much more amorphous blob that would probably engender a lot more terror from the audience. Unfortunately, he still has the same rotting-cabbage-head appearance in his brief scenes in Godzilla Final Wars, I guess since he was just a walk-on in that monster fest.

The only version of this movie available right now is the DVD, which uses the international dubbing. While it does make a lot more sense in some of the story points, it doesn't have the charm of the original American Pictures International dubbing. I think one of the last times I saw that version was on a mid-nineties episode of Chiller Theatre on WLUK out of Green Bay, Wisconsin, complete with horror host Ned the Dead. And that's the way you should be watching these goofy flicks, along with a tongue firmly in your cheek.

Trailer for Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (1971)


(Comic Book Quiz Book Volume 3)
By Rich Meyer

Here's truth in advertising: 1,001 trivia questions (and answers) about comic books! All genres, hundreds of popular characters, easy ones and stumpers ... hours of family fun!

Thor, the X-Men, Green Lantern, the Pink Panther, the Hulk, the Avengers, Batman - there are questions on nearly every comic book character you can think of in this quiz e-book.

US:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007YUL0CQ
UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007YUL0CQ

CA:  http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B007YUL0CQ
DE:  http://www.amazon.de/dp/B007YUL0CQ

No comments:

Post a Comment