Monday, April 21, 2014

MOTHRA vs. GODZILLA (1964): 30 Days of Godzilla


aka. Godzilla vs. The Thing

It's time to bug-out as we take a look at one of the best, if not THE BEST, Godzilla movies of the Show Era series. We've seen Godzilla tangle with Anguirus, an original creation for Godzilla Raids Again. He's even battled the big ape on loan from RKO in King Kong vs. Godzilla. But for the first time ever in film history, Godzilla fights the winged mother of destruction herself: MOTHRA!

Mothra originally unfurled her wings in 1961 to Japanese audiences who were already eating up a steady diet of Toho's giant monster movies that included Gojira, Godzilla Raids Again, Rodan, and Varan the Unbelievable. In Mothra, a rescue party discovers an irradiated island called Infant Island where the native people worship an egg they claim is an ancient deity named Mothra. They also venerate a pair of 12 inch tall telepathic twin girls who can communicate directly with Mothra. When word of their existence gets out, a greedy capitalist kidnaps the twins and forces them to perform as singers in a live stage show. Sensing the twins are being held against their will, Mothra hatches in the form of a giant caterpillar and comes to their rescue. Mothra charts a path of destruction to Tokyo where she cocoons herself and transforms into her final flying form. Although Mothra was a standalone movie with no ties to the Godzilla universe, Mothra vs. Godzilla serves as a direct sequel to both Mothra and King Kong vs. Godzilla. If Destoy All Monsters in 1968 can be considered the Avengers of kaiju monster movies, then Mothra vs. Godzilla is like that moment when Tony Stark popped up at the end of The Incredible Hulk.

Not sure egg-actly what they're looking at here.
In Mothra vs. Godzilla, a typhoon washes up a giant egg and some giant reptilian scales in Japan. I wonder who those belong to? News reporter Ichiro Sakai and photographer Junko (Akira Takarada and  Yuriko Hoshi) are on the scene to document the find, but local developer Kumayama (Yoshifumi Tajima) claims the egg for himself and intends to make it the center piece of a brand new tourist attraction. Too bad that Godzilla is lurking in the muddy beneath the construction site. When Godzilla suddenly emerges from the muck, he makes it his business to destroy Mothra's egg (and any puny human civilization in his way). Predictably, Mothra comes to defend her egg, and an epic battle ensues that sees Mothra die and then reborn to take on the King of the Monster with twice the power as before.

Get over here!
If you're looking for classic Godzilla, look no further than Mothra vs. Godzilla. With a production that was firing on all engines, Mothra vs. Godzilla features some of the best monster suits, special effects, kaiju battles, performances, and action sequences in the Showa era. Godzilla is once again an unstoppable force with sinister intentions, and Mothra is fleshed out as a powerful yet ultimately altruistic hero monster.It is, whithout a doubt, some of the finest Godzilla entertainment of the 1960s.

The Daikaiju of Destruction
Although Mothra is now considered inseparable from the Godzilla universe and is undeniably one of the most popular monsters in Toho's kaiju stable (having appeared in more films than any monster aside from Godzilla: 13 films in total), she was a completely unknown quantity in the US. Therefore, Mothra vs. Godzilla got quite the unique marketing campaign for its US release. Retitled Godzilla vs. The Thing, the film kept Mothra's identity a secret and hyped the battle between Godzilla and a mysterious, nameless, shapeless foe. Depicted as a large question mark or censored blob with tentacles, Mothra must have been considered by American advertisers a tricky proposition: would a giant colourful moth be enough to get people in theatres? Whether they underestimated the the visual appeal of Mothra, American advertisers for Godzilla vs. The Thing left behind a legacy of unique poster art that is almost as interesting and exciting as Mothra vs. Godzilla itself.

Looks more like Godzilla vs. H.P. Lovecraft


If three heads are indeed better than one, then tomorrow we're in for a treat. The monster team-ups keep on coming on 30 Days of Godzilla as we turn our attention to Godzilla's next film: GHIDORAH, THE THREE HEADED MONSTER

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