Wednesday 6 August 2008

Son of Godzilla (1967)

You know, there's a part of my brain that finds a delicious irony in the fact that I can watch a film like Son of Godzilla on Turner Classic Movies. In and amongst Citizen Kane, Casablanca and The Seven Samurai is a film starring Japanese actors dubbed into English and a few guys in large rubber suits. Then again there are various meanings to the word 'classic', and this fits at least one: the quality that makes it watchable and rewatchable. I've seen this film a lot of times over a lot of years and it's still as fun as it ever was. No, it isn't great, but it's great fun.

On Sollgel Island is a scientific party working under Prof Kusumi to perform a very cool weather experiment, literally. They're going to freeze the island as part of a concept so massively important that it could transform any environment into fertile land able to grow crops. Naturally it's pretty secret and only the directors of the UN Agricultural Commission know that they're there. Yet people are starting to notice. A plane travelling nearby notices interference coming from the island and see Godzilla on his way there too. Then a reporter parachutes down because his stomach tells him there's a story down there and we should always listen to Japanese stomachs in Godzilla movies.

Of course the scientists tell him that there's nothing interesting about the island in the slightest, but it promptly turns into about the most interesting island anywhere. To start with, there are giant praying mantises wandering around the perimeter of the scientific camp and a mysterious young lady swimming in a lagoon on this supposedly uninhabited island. Then the experiment goes wrong and instead of freezing the island, Kusumi and his men set off a radioactive storm and a heatwave, making the mantises grow even larger and dig out Godzilla's baby son, previously buried safely in the rock.

Soon Godzilla shows up, just in time to kick serious mantis ass to save his clumsy baby, who doesn't have a name in the American version but is Minilla back east. Luckily by the time the cunningly named Gimantis (Camacuras in the Japanese version) takes on Riko (originally Seiko) Matsumiya, the young island lady, she's made friends with Minilla so he comes to save her. Unfortunately the clumsy creature also wakes up Spiga (Kumonga), a giant spider that's been happily sleeping under the ground all this time. This isn't Monster Island but it comes a close second. Soon the experimental team have to find a solution to their various problem while confined to a cave collapsing under the weight of battling monsters. Oh, the tension!

This is the really cute Godzilla movie. Anyone watching can see thousands of Japanese girls crying 'kawaii!' at the screen every time little baby Godzilla does something babyish, like skipping over his dad's tail or learning how to spit radioactive fire. Meanwhile the guys can all enjoy every time he falls on his ass or gets hit in the head by a rock. There really is something for everyone here, not least the touching ending, though there is a rather extreme lack of sex given that all the men have spent three months on a supposedly deserted island without a woman in sight and then they find a cute woman who's been there for seven whole years without a man, and before that an entire life with only her father for company. There really ought to be a porn version of this movie. Maybe there's an easter egg on the Japanese DVD or something. We can hope...


Anonymous said...

Funniest final paragraph in a Godzilla movie review, evar.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

It must be 40 years since i`ve seen this (on television circa 1970) but i always remember it as being one of the most charming films i`ve ever seen.