Direction: Jun Fukuda
Screenplay: Hiroyasu Yamamura (a.k.a. Yamaura) and Jun Fukuda
Music: Masaru Sato
Special Effects: Teruyoshi Nakano
Producer: Tomoyuki Tanaka
Some have described the 1970’s as Godzilla’s dog days. Others sharply
disagree. For example, Tim Burton has been rumored to favor Godzilla’s seventies entries
over the Big G’s fifties and sixties epics.
Whatever side you fall on, there’s no question that during the seventies, the budgets
for Godzilla movies dwindled at a rate rivaling that of The Incredible Shrinking Man.
The effects were also more rushed, the stories less satisfactory. Add to that the final
triumph of “monster humor” as not just an occasional aside, but as the dominant
mode for many of the monster battles, and you have a set of movies that send
purists fleeing for a DVD of Godzilla vs. The Thing.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (a.k.a. Godzilla vs. The Cosmic Monster) is
the second best of Godzy’s seventies entries – and much better than the three
movies that preceded it. In this one, Godzilla battles Mechagodzilla, a
mechanical double created by evil aliens who transform into seedy-looking apes
when they die. The lead alien is outrageously sinister and snide, the heroes
sufficiently stalwart, the heroines pretty but little more than window
dressing. (What’s new?)
At first, Mechagodzilla is disguised as the real Godzilla, and under this false
identity, it attacks Angilas. Bogus G pries Angilas’s jaws apart, leaving the
spiny-backed monster’s mouth a bloody mess. Later, during a spectacular
display of fiery destruction at a shoreline refinery, the real Godzilla
appears, and Bogus G reveals itself to be a robotic doppelganger. After a
fierce clash of opposing ray beams, the resulting explosion throws Godzilla
into the sea; the King of the Monster’s blood bubbles up ominously from
Meanwhile, King Seesar, the protector of Okinawa, is awakened by an irritating song that seems to go
on and on (apparently Seesar is hard of hearing – or maybe he’s just a music
critic). The growling monster (voice courtesy of Toho Kong) plows into
MechaG. The real Godzilla soon arrives, and a two against one battle commences
with MechaG blasting The Big G and Seezy with a blinding barrage of ray beams
and finger missiles. I don’t suppose I need to tell you who wins in the end.
King Seesar was a nice idea – the monster’s statue is clearly leonine and Asiatic.
But the suitmation incarnation is found wanting; it appears as though
brown fur has been somewhat hap-hazardly glued to the scrappy kaiju. The ears
are distinctly dog-like -- somewhat reminiscent of Baragon’s -- and when they
stick straight up, they look as though Fido has just heard his master calling.
Unfortunately, Godzilla’s costume is the same abomination used in the previous Godzilla vs.
Megalon. With its simplistic features, goggle eyes, and muppet-like face,
this Godzilla invokes all the primal terror of an Elmo doll.
That’s too bad, because this movie sports some nice visual ideas which, despite Godzilla’s
low-grade appearance, mostly work. One fine scene features lighting bolts energizing
a weakened Godzilla on a storm-swept night, Godzilla’s body glowing electric
blue as he literally recharges. Also, his fight with MechaG at the seaside
refinery reaps fair results, and Teruyoshi Nakano’s pyrotechnics are
wonderfully effective as a series of awesome explosions rocks the refinery.
Fans of urban destruction will be disappointed, however. Pretty much all we see in
this vein is Bogus G (alias MechaG) trashing a lone high-rise, although it’s an
As for the direction, well, it’s several degrees short of the original Gojira –
or even Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster. Still, director Jun Fukuda (who
is said to have never liked his Godzilla films) turns in a satisfactory enough
To its credit, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla dispenses with stock footage,
special effects director Teruyoshi Nakano providing only originally shot
visuals. Many of them fare well. The monster battles are entertaining, and
the sprinkling of monster humor is so light that “serious” Godzilla fans will
find little to complain about. Minor details are nice, such as the mist
surrounding the hibernating King Seesar’s mountain lair.
As usual, Masaru Sato’s film score provides both agreeable and inappropriate music
cues. I admit Sato has never been one of my favorite kaiju eiga
composers, but here his music sometimes sounds as though it were composed for a
1940’s movie. Especially unsuitable are some of his monster battle
concoctions. For example, at the dockside refinery, Godzilla and MechaG spar to
what sounds like the theme for a 1950’s Grade-B crime melodrama.
On the other hand, Sato’s King Seesar theme pleases with its simple but catchy run
of delicately-played notes.
As for the ape-like black hole aliens, their attack plan seems questionable, at
best. First, they send MechaG out as Bogus G to cause havoc in the Japanese
countryside. Why they don’t just send MechaG forth in his true robotic guise is
unexplained. Later, the leader alien laments that they will have to postpone
their plans of having MechaG attack Tokyo. That’s it? That’s their plan for taking over the
world? Something tells me they need a few pointers on battle strategy from
Karl von Clausewitz.
Still, Mechagodzilla (apparently patterned after King Kong Escapes’
Mechani-Kong) was an inspired and even natural foe for the Big G in 1974.
Sure, by now the concept has long since lost its luster, but at the time, it
gleamed as brightly as Godzilla’s atomic ray. In fact, many of this movie’s
story ideas held great promise. With a bigger budget, sharper script, better
monster costumes, and cleaner special effects, this film probably could have held
its own with some of Godzilla’s best Showa series entries.
The film’s current widescreen DVD from Columbia TriStar treats the movie well. The
images are sharp, the color vibrant, and as always, it’s nice to hear the
original Japanese voices (for which English subtitles are provided).
As is, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is a fairly entertaining example of disco
era Big G. At least Godzilla was “Stayin’ Alive.”