By Eli LaChance
I know, I know. This is a comic book blog, why on Earth are we discussing Godzilla? Rather than point you in the direction of the long tradition of Godzilla comics dating back to the monster’s 70s Marvel romp, through his 90s Darkhorse basketball game, up to his modern IDW tenure; I will just say, if I were a religious person, my God would be GODZILLA. I was likely born loving Godzilla as my earliest memories feature the radioactive lizard. I can name all 36 Godzilla movies from memory. I can’t name that many U.S. Presidents! (seriously, I tried I only got like…31; sorry Millard Filmore, you should have tangoed with Rodan if you wanted to be remembered). In anticipation of the upcoming film, we’re going to take a break from talking comics to talk Godzilla.
Bloody Disgusting published this excellent guide to all of Godzilla movies currently available on streaming services. Rather than plagiarize their great work, you can find it here. https://bloody-disgusting.com/home-video/3559706/heres-can-stream-every-available-godzilla-film-king-monsters/
Many of you may not have accepted Godzilla into your heart as your radioactive savior. That’s okay. You might have seen the trailer for that upcoming movie and wondered, where do I begin? I too would like to be delivered to nuclear enlightenment. Or, you might be a casual Godzilla fan but don’t have time to watch 35 films leading up to the 36th installment.
Well, folks, we’ve got you covered. Below is our short-list to prep you for what’s shaping up to be one of the biggest monster brawls of all-time; ten movies to watch in preparation for Godzilla: King of the Monsters. I’m assuming you’ve already seen 2014’s Godzilla and 2017’s Kong: Skull Island. I can’t do all the homework for you guys! (Short on time? Include only those marked ESSENTIAL VIEWING for a condensed list of five)
- 1. Gojira(1954)/Godzilla: King of The Monsters(1956): When I was a kid, we only had the American chop-job featuring Raymond Burr and while this is the inferior version, it’s still absolutely terrifying. Godzilla served as a metaphor for the dangers of atomic power. Much of the imagery in the film is taken directly from the Japanese experience during WWII and the following nuclear tests in the South Pacific. If you have a choice, see Gojira, but the Raymond Burr classic will do just as well. Don’t expect cheesy schlock, the special effects are obscured by fire, models, and poor lighting giving the film a sort of documentary feel. Most of it looks believable. This film went up against the Seven Samaraii for best picture at the Japan Movie Association Awards, it was a contender against a Kurosawa film; it’s THAT GOOD!
- 2. Rodan(1956): Honestly, I only included this one because it’s the only time Rodan has been really cool. This movie is surprisingly creepy, with giant bugs and a bizarro murder mystery leading up to the titular monster’s introduction. Choose the dub and keep an ear out for an early voice-performance from a young pre-Star Trek George Takei.
- 3. King Kong vs. Godzilla(1962): You’ve probably got a little time to get to this one, as Godzilla’s rematch with the giant ape isn’t officially slated until 2020. Still, I have a feeling we’ll at least see a nod to the simian terror. At the very least, you should have seen it by now. You can catch bits of inspiration for Kong: Skull Island here, like the ape’s battle with a giant octopus. Fun fact: this is the first Godzilla film featuring “Vs” in the title and the third in the series.
- 4. Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster/ Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster(1964): This is the first round of fisticuffs with the gilded three-headed space dragon. Note: like the 2019 outing, monster costars include Rodan and Mothra. This movie picks up where Godzilla Vs. Mothra left off. Mothra plays hero again, except this time the bug inspires Rodan and Godzilla to become allies and give up their evil ways. Sadly, after Godzilla vs. Mothra, we don’t see the adult form of the creature until the 90s! Still, most of what makes the Showa era Mothra great is in this film. As for Ghidorah, this is where it all begins. While mostly forgotten, old VHS copies of this film and cable listings referred to the villain monster as “Ghidrah.” ESSENTIAL VIEWING
- 5. Invasion of Astro Monster/Godzilla vs Monster Zero(1965): Many ideas from the future Destroy All Monsters show up here first. It has a little bit of everything. Aliens! Monsters in space! Mind-control! Aliens defeated with crippling sound-waves?! This is my favorite Ghidorah movie and you get to see Godzilla develop into his more relatable and heroic personality. You also get to see him dance. ESSENTIAL VIEWING
- 6. Destroy All Monsters(1968): It’s monster mayhem y’all. Having aired on television throughout most of the 70s and 80s this one is a Baby Boomer favorite. The 2019 outing is allegedly a loose remake of this film. Plot-wise, there isn’t much we haven’t seen before, but the sheer number of monsters is what grants this one its classic status. Set in the future of 1999, Aliens invade and plot to take over Earth by kidnapping monsters from Monster Island and siccing them on major cities all across the world. The box office returns were the real monster here. Future movies would be made exclusively for children; that is, until 1984. We kept the list short but if you like this one it was remade in 2004 as Godzilla Final Wars; which is also a fan favorite. ESSENTIAL VIEWING
- 7. Godzilla Vs. MechaGodzilla II(1993): I honestly only included this 90s gem for the addition of Fire Rodan which seems to be the basis for the CGI character in the 2019 film. This isn’t a sequel to the original Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla(for that see Terror of Mechagodzilla). Fans of anything cute will love the introduction of Godzilla Junior, the superior version of Godzilla’s son. Here’s hoping we get a Monsterverse version of MechaG.
- 8. Godzilla Vs. Destoroyah(1995): Bring tissues. This one made me cry as a kid and still does as a grown-ass man. Godzilla gets a crazy form of orange glowing nuclear cancer. If that weren’t all, he has to save the world and his son from a creature spawned from the device that killed the original Godzilla. Furthermore, he has to do this while humanity struggles to find a way to protect themselves from the impending nuclear melt-down that will kill Godzilla. This was the intended finale for Toho Godzilla movies and it feels FINAL. I’ve seen elements of this story show up in trailers and toys for King of the Monsters. ESSENTIAL VIEWING.
- 9. Godzilla(1998): Please don’t kill me, but I love this one. Aside from the fact that they chose a penis joke for the tag-line, this is a great monster movie. Much of what you’ve heard is wrong, this is Godzilla. It breathes fire(sort of), it’s a large radioactive lizard, and its design is more traditional than some of the more recent monsters to bear the name. After all, Toho signed off on the design. Yes, there was an in-universe retcon re-naming the creature Zilla. (again, see Final Wars) Still, this is a fun movie with an all-star cast of voices you’ll recognize from The Simpsons. It’s got a great a tear-jerker ending borrowed from the 70s King Kong. As the first American Godzilla flick, this is a must watch for your King of the Monsters prep, it’s also the only one available in 4K.
- 10. Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack(2001): Aside from the worst title in history, this is one of three movies recognized by mainstream critics; seriously, out of 33 films less than 5% of them have been recognized as “good.” Here we see a truly evil Godzilla, he’s almost like a zombie as he is resurrected by the ghosts of all those killed in World War II. He seeks revenge against the Japanese for trying to forget their war-time actions. Honestly, Godzilla looks like the freakin’ devil in this. It made the list because in this film Mothra’s origin gets a big change. From the 2019 trailers, it looks to be the basis for the Legendary’s version of the lepidopteran. For me, the original Mothra with the Shobijin(tiny human fairies, see Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster)would be preferable, but we Mothra fans are a rare breed in the USA. ESSENTIAL VIEWING