Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Franchises: Godzilla. Destroy All Monsters (1968)

File:Destroy All Monsters 1968.jpgLike the other Godzilla movies that I hadn't yet seen at the time (which weren't that many, actually), I first read about Destroy All Monsters in the Crestwood House Monster Series book on Godzilla at my school's library. Plenty of pictures from it, most notably of the big all-out battle at the end of the movie, were shown throughout the book (a big group shot of all the monsters here was on the inside cover) and the section on it gave a general description of the plot, although the latter didn't register much with me at the same time since I was much more enthralled with those photos. Not only was my mouth watering at the sight of all these monsters but I wanted to see the individual movies where Godzilla originally fought all of them. At that time, I just assumed that there were entire movies where Godzilla took on each of the monsters featured here, like Gorosaurus, Baragon, Manda, and, since I hadn't yet seen Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster, Rodan. It wasn't until I got older and read more insightful books like the Godzilla Compendium that I learned that some of the monsters featured in this film had either previously been in their own films that didn't involve Godzilla and that this was the first time they interacted with the King of the Monsters or had fought Godzilla in a minor scene in one of the movies that came before instead of having an entire film based around their battle. Regardless, this one eluded me until I was eleven years old, when it came on VHS for the first time to coincide with the release of the 1998 Godzilla; in fact, I first realized that it was now available due to an advertisement in a movie magazine based around that film. By this point, I knew that it was a big monster free for all and that it all culminated in a battle between the Earth monsters and King Ghidorah, which sounded really cool, so when I stumbled across the VHS while I was out spending my birthday money that year, I snatched it. When I watched it, my thoughts were, "It was good, but there are other Godzilla movies that I like more." To this day, my feelings on it are still quite mixed. I do enjoy it overall because it is a fast-paced, entertaining flick with a lot of monster action and I also feel that it's the last one to have a percentage of the feeling prevalent in the very best Godzilla movies of the 60's, like Mothra vs. Godzilla and Godzilla vs. Monster Zero. But, that said, this film doesn't seem to have the heart of the best of its predecessors. The story has already been done before, albeit not on this scale, and the characters are pretty generic and bland, even more so than a majority of the casts in the two previous Jun Fukuda films. That's ultimately what it is about Destroy All Monsters: there are a lot of entertaining and impressive effects sequences but it's missing the emotion and feel that made a lot of the previous films special. In short, it's all spectacle and no heart.

The year is 1999 and a special base has been built on the moon while on Earth, all of the Earth's monsters have been rounded up and are living on the Ogasawara Islands in an area dubbed Monsterland. The monsters are kept on the island by a special security system, while a team of scientists in a research center there plans to study them. All is well until one day, communications with Monsterland are inexplicably cut off and the physical condition of the island has suddenly been horribly deteriorated. Even worse, the monsters begin attacking major cities across the globe: Rodan attacks Moscow, Mothra attacks Peking, Godzilla attacks New York City, and so on. Unable to come up with an explanation as to what's going on, Dr. Yoshido of the United Nations Science Committee has the crew of the Moonlight SY-3, a special spacecraft stationed at the moon base, head back to Earth to investigate the island. Upon doing so, they learn that the scientists at the research facility, including Kyoko Manabe, a woman whom the SY-3 captain is close to, are controlling the monsters with a special machine and that they themselves seem to be under the influence of a race of female aliens known as the Kilaaks. The leader of the aliens says that they intend to construct a new, advanced civilization on Earth and are using the monsters to make way for this. Captain Katsuo Yamabe and his men manage to escape with Dr. Otani, the brainwashed head scientist. After refusing to cooperate and tell them where the Kilaaks' new base is, since they've discovered that the research center at Monsterland is completely abandoned, Otani suddenly commits suicide by jumping out a window but his body is recovered before Kyoko and the other human followers of the Kilaaks are able to carry it off. When an autopsy is performed, a tiny metal orb is discovered beneath the skin near Otani's ear and it's discovered that it's a transmitter that was being used to control his mind and actions. Soon, larger versions of the transmitter are found strewn across the world and are deduced to be the means by which the monsters are being controlled. But, just when a nationwide search is began in Japan for the other mind control slaves, Godzilla, Rodan, Manda, and Mothra all converge on Tokyo and reduce it to rubble. While it's soon discovered that the Kilaaks' main base is somewhere in the vicinity of Mt. Fuji, it becomes obvious that the only way to stop the aliens is to find and destroy the main source of the signals being used to control the monsters so the UNSC can take control of them and use them to tip the battle in the Earth's favor.

Son of Godzilla had been the lowest grossing entry in the series so far, continuing the gradual downward spiral that the franchise had been on since the enormous success of King Kong vs. Godzilla. As a result, both Toho and Tomoyuki Tanaka decided that the series had run its course and originally intended for Destroy All Monsters to be the last one. (Of course, it was anything but the last one but let's not get ahead of ourselves.) Far from the low budgeted, relatively low key couple of entries that had proceeded it, this film was envisioned as not only a grand finale to the Godzilla franchise but also as a celebration of its being Toho's 20th kaiju film. To that end, it was given a much bigger budget than the two previous films, allowing for a return of the city destruction scenes that had been missing for a while as well as the inclusion of so many monsters from Toho's past, and Ishiro Honda was brought back as director in an attempt to revive the more sophisticated, adult-oriented feel that had been jettisoned in favor of a more campy and cheesy (but fun!) approach in Jun Fukuda's films. Sure enough, that's something that Destroy All Monsters has going for it. Just watching the film, you can see the money up there on the screen with all of the models being destroyed, all of the monsters that are on the loose, and the intricately designed spaceships such as the Moonlight SY-3 and the Kilaaks' flying saucers. And like I said, it does feel more in line with a lot of the past Honda-directed Godzilla films than those done by Fukuda. But, unfortunately, all of the spectacle replaced the heart of those films, mainly due to the fact that this one was not written by Shinichi Sekizawa but instead by Takeshi Kimura, who had worked with Honda on his much darker films like The H-Man and Matango. Since Kimura, by all accounts, was a very dark, brooding man, in stark contrast to the bigger than life and joyful Sekizawa, it's no surprise that the screenplay for Destroy All Monsters, which Honda also had a hand in writing, is devoid of any of the humor and light-heartedness that, more often than not, had worked well with Honda's more serious style of directing and had made a lot of the previous films so special. Kimura's dark writing and Honda's serious directing may have created such great flicks as the original Rodan, the aforementioned H-Man, Frankenstein Conquers the World, and War of the Gargantuas, but by this point, the Godzilla series, for better or worse, had come to be identified with an overall light-hearted and fun feeling, which is why Destroy All Monsters feels rather empty and shallow on an emotional level.

While he may have been away from the Godzilla series for the past two films, Ishiro Honda had still been a fairly active director from 1966 to 1968. After having directed his last Godzilla film, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Honda had directed the fan favorite and semi-sequel to Frankenstein Conquers the World, War of the Gargantuas and after that, he'd done King Kong Escapes, Toho's second crack at the Eighth Wonder of the World and probably the most juvenile film Honda ever made (I couldn't believe it when I read that Takeshi Kimura had written that film instead of Shinichi Sekizawa). Before Destroy All Monsters, he'd directed what would turn out to be his last non-science fiction film, a movie that has never been released on DVD over here, whose plot I couldn't possibly begin to tell you, and whose title I only know in Japanese: Oyome ni oide. If anyone knows what this movie is about or what it's title translates to, feel free to let me know because I have no freaking clue. I'm sure that Honda was hoping that Destroy All Monsters would indeed be the last Godzilla film because by this point, he had grown tired of the increasingly ridiculous nature of not only this franchise but of kaiju films in general (given how out and out goofy it is, I'm sure that King Kong Escapes wasn't a film he had much fondness for) and more than likely wanted to do more non-genre stuff. While it's nice to have him back in the director's chair and while I also do think that Destroy All Monsters is his last really good Godzilla movie, I wish that he hadn't come back just to do a larger-scope retread of Godzilla vs. Monster Zero. That is what this film's plot is when you get right down it: it's about aliens controlling monsters in order to use them to take over Earth (although, to be fair, it wouldn't be the last time this plot would be used in a Godzilla film), the human characters, powerless to fight them, must uncover the aliens' weakness, said weakness is eventually discovered, the monsters are released from the mind control, and the aliens are defeated. Like I said, it's on a much, much bigger scale than Monster Zero but, nevertheless, if Honda was going to come back to the series, it makes me wish that it hadn't been just to virtually remake one of his best Godzilla films, only without the personality.

You know how the past couple of films have each had several memorable characters in a cast that's otherwise pretty bland? Well, as far as I'm concerned, nobody in the cast of Destroy All Monsters is particularly memorable or distinct. There are some great actors to be found but they're given so little do in their roles other than just what you typically expect from these respective types of characters that it doesn't make much difference. Akira Kubo is the lead once again, this time playing the captain of the Moonlight SY-3, Katsuo Yamabe. As with his character in Son of Godzilla, Kubo is likable in the role and you want to see both him and his crew succeed but there's not much to his character. He's once again playing the typical heroic character and he does come across as a good leader, courageous and determined to do what he must to defeat the Kilaaks and save the Earth. However, that's all he has going for him and there isn't much else to his personality otherwise. He does show how his determination can cause him to disobey his superiors' orders at one point when he briefly follows a UFO on the moon instead of returning to base like he's been told to and he does come up with some ideas that work, like when, after cutting fails, he decides to burn off the device that is sending the signals that are controlling the monsters on Earth as well as the way he releases Kyoko from the aliens' control and how he and his crew ultimately defeat the "Fire Dragon" at the end of the movie but, again, that's pretty much it. Speaking of Kyoko, I still don't know what exactly his relationship with her is. For a long time, I thought they were brother and sister but, now that I know they have different names, it seems like they're just old-fashioned friends (I hesitate to call them boyfriend and girlfriend because they don't seem to have any romantic interest in each other at all, save for joshing he gives her at the beginning of the film). That's basically all I can say about Katsuo and his crew, although I would like to point out that his second-in-command is played by Chotaro Togin in his third consecutive Godzilla movie and that his character is named Ogata (where have we heard that name before?)

Maj. Tada on the left.
The men whom the SY-3 crew answer to are played by some good actors but, like I said, they're not given much to do except for the basics of what their roles require. Jun Tazaki makes his last appearance in a Godzilla movie as Dr. Yoshido, the head scientist of the United Nations Science Committee. I would say that he's playing his character of Dr. Sakurai from Godzilla vs. Monster Zero again but that character was much more memorable to me than Yoshido. While he is good in the role, he doesn't much except give orders to the SY-3 crew and offer scientific advice whenever it's needed, although at one point before the cause of the situation is revealed, he must confess that he doesn't know what's going. He does have an important role in the story in that he's the one who first instructs the SY-3 to investigate Monsterland to find out what's going on, suggest that jamming the control waves is the best way to save the Earth, and is the main person behind the construction of a monster control device for the Earth, which he puts into use as soon as the one of the Kilaaks' is destroyed but you can't say much more about him or his personality, for that matter. I can say even less about American actor Andrew Hughes' role as Dr. Stevenson (whose name is never actually mentioned in the film) other than he's the secondary scientist of the UNSC and that he often concurs with Yoshido. His most notable scene is when he explains that the Kilaaks can only survive in intense heat and volcanic conditions and have managed to make themselves immortal. Yoshifumi Tajima has a small role as an unnamed general who is the one in charge of the attack forces that battle Godzilla and the other monsters on Earth and he also informs Katsuo that the Kilaaks' base is very possibly located somewhere near Izu since the hot springs there have dried up, which is what happened when the aliens took over Monsterland, leading to the military advancement on the area and the eventual discovery of the base. Hisaya Ito, who played the assassin Malness in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster and had a brief role as a scientist in Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, has a supporting role as Major Tada, who leads the troops in the advancement on Izu and is later threatened with death by the Kilaak queen for any further interference. And you can't have a Godzilla or Toho kaiju flick from this time period without Kenji Sahara, who plays Commander Nishikawa on the moon base. It's probably the most humorless role he's had in a Godzilla film up to this point. He doesn't smile once in this entire movie and is mainly just giving orders, often in a very stern, and sometimes downright angry, voice. Listen to how he yells at the SY-3 crew when they chase that UFO early in the film instead of returning to base and how he snarls at that one guy to hang the phone up after answering it later on. I can understand his actions under the circumstances but still, don't expect a calm, smiling performance from Mr. Sahara this time around.

Interestingly enough, while the character of Kyoko Manabe (Yukiko Kobayashi) is nothing all that special and doesn't do much of anything for a good chunk of the movie except worry about Katsuo and his crew, when she's under the control of the Kilaaks, she's quite memorable. As a mind control slave, she comes across as strong and assertive, going toe to toe with Katsuo and acidly putting him in his place during their interactions while she's in this state, telling him to keep his mouth shut when he asks what they're going to do with Dr. Otani's body after he commits suicide and telling him later on that everyone else may want to hear her ultimatum whereas he'd might as well be quiet. She's also quite deceptive, with her mind-control orbs being placed in her earrings rather than under the skin of her neck as it was with Otani, allowing her to slip by agents who begin searching people for these orbs. She has none of these qualities whatsoever when she's just herself and so, when Katsuo rips her earrings off in the scene after the major attack on Tokyo, she goes back to being the unremarkable person she was before (although, granted, we didn't see much of her before then) and remains as such for the rest of the film. As for Dr. Otani, who is played Yoshio Tsuchiya in his last appearance in the series until Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah in 1991, he's not nearly as compelling when he's under the control of the Kilaaks as Kyoko is. Like her, we don't get to know much about him before the aliens take control of him and everyone else at Monsterland, but when he's a mind control slave, his personality is more calm and smug than anything else. When Katsuo and his crew arrive on the island and angrily question him as to what's going on, he just calmly tells him that he doesn't have to yell, proceeds to show him the machine that controls the monsters, and introduces him and the crew to the Kilaak queen, saying that she's a real genius. He also does coerce Kyoko into escaping during the gunfight that breaks out between Katsuo's crew and the other mind control slaves but he ends up getting captured and taken back to Japan by the crew. But once he's there, he refuses to say anything and is eventually ordered via his control unit to commit suicide to ensure that the scientists don't discover the aliens' means of control, although that plan ends up not working. While it is interesting to see someone under mind control develop a distinct personality, like Kyoko, and act smug and confident, and Tsuchiya, as always, is great, I've always found that Otani isn't as compelling as he probably should be. Of course, his autopsy is how everyone learns the Kilaaks' ways of controlling the people and I must say that scene, at least up to this point in the series, is pretty gruesome with the close up of the surgeon using a scalpel to cut open the side of his neck beneath his ear and discover the control orb. And by the way, they guy asks if Otani was hard of hearing, meaning if it's a hearing aid. What kind of hearing aid do you know that would be underneath someone's skin?

Not only is the film's basic plot a reworking of Godzilla vs. Monster Zero but the Kilaaks themselves have a lot in common with the people from Planet X. Besides using monsters to do their dirty work, the Kilaaks have one individual in particular who is the leader, like the Controller, their means of transportation are flying saucers that are very similar to those in Monster Zero, and like the people of Planet X, they have an Achilles heel that is exploited in order to defeat them: in this case, it's the fact that they can't live outside of very high temperatures. In fact, you can think of the Kilaaks as a total in-verse of the people from Planet X since, instead of a predominantly male society, they're a female society, with the only men around being their mind control slaves (Kyoko is the only woman they temporarily put under their control). That makes them even more bland and superficial a race, especially when you consider that the queen (Kyoko Ai) is the only who speaks (as you can see, her clothing is also a bit different from her subordinates, making her the only one of her race with any modicum of individuality); the others, including the humans under their control, save for Kyoko and Dr. Otani, either stand around and do nothing or act as faceless soldiers in the battles against the heroes, which is probably what would become of the entirety of the human race if they managed to take over the Earth. For that matter, you could view the Kilaaks' human slaves as a small representation what would have happened if Planet X took over the Earth. And like the Controller of Planet X, the Kilaak queen's arrogance is what ultimately does her in. Like the Controller, she's far too confident in her own abilities in controlling the monsters and how powerless the Earth's defense forces are against them and very stupidly sends Kyoko to Tokyo in order to deliver an ultimatum as well as out and out tell them that their base is indeed somewhere in Izu. Also, when Katsuo, Ogata, and Maj. Tada stumble across a small cave near Mt. Fuji that acts as a portion of said base, the queen not only reveals herself and her subordinates to them but also shows them the interior of the base, confirming that they're on the right track in finding it. She's even brazen enough after this to threaten them, saying that they'll die if they continue to interfere with their operations, and her arrogance doesn't diminish even the slightest after their base on the moon is destroyed and the monsters are released from their control since she's confident that King Ghidorah can defeat them and then that the "Fire Dragon" can finish them off. It's only when Godzilla finds the outside of the base and begins breaking in that the queen realizes that she and the rest of her people are screwed.

The Kilaaks' true form.
I've never found the Kilaaks to be nearly as cool or memorable as the people of Planet X. They are much more otherworldly than the Controller and his people, I will say, especially the queen, with how she seems to be able float around at certain points, the other abilities that she has like creating an energy shield that can deflect bullets and the ability to create windows to faraway places, as happens when Katsuo, Ogata, and Tada run into them in that small cave, and her voice having an eerie, echoing quality to it (the Controller's voice sounded kind of like that in the Japanese version of Monster Zero). But, that said, I've never thought their look, wearing sparkling robes with hoods, was very striking and they're overall just very bland villains of the, "Let's take over Earth," variety. Yes, the people of Planet X had that same mindset but at least they were more covert about it and earned the Earth's trust first, which made them come across as more methodical and interesting to me, whereas the Kilaaks just come out swinging and give no pretense of any peaceful intentions, despite the queen's initial insistence that they just want to build an advanced civilization on Earth. They also give no real reason as to why they want to take over our planet. Planet X had a possible reason, which was that the planet was running out of water and they needed to move somewhere with lots of it, but the Kilaaks are just like, "We want your planet." In other words, they're nothing more than typical marauding aliens that you see in a lot of 50's and 60's sci-fi flicks, and not very memorable as a result. One aspect of them that I do find interesting is how, when they're exposed to temperatures that are much lower than the volcanic ones that they can survive in, they reveal that their human forms are just a façade and that they're really slug-like creatures of living metal. We also learn that they go into a type of hibernation when the temperature drops and that only very high temperatures will bring them out again. As a result, they've also perfected immortality and so, when they're defeated by the monsters at the end of the movie, they're not dead but just waiting for the temperature to go up to where they can awaken again (which, of course, probably won't happen for thousands of years). This is very implausible and ridiculous but it's one thing that I've always thought was distinctive about the Kilaaks, so I'll give it that.

You would think that since the alien invasion plot of this movie involves monsters attacking cities across the globe that you would get a major sense of the urgency and scale of this situation but, in actuality, that's not quite the case. While the scenes of the monsters attacking cities, especially the ultimate attack on Tokyo in the middle of the film, are well done and are exciting, it doesn't have the kind of impact that it should, meaning that it doesn't make you believe that this is actually happening on a global scale. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that, despite the attacks on cities in other countries, the action is still set in Japan except for the sequences on the moon and even then, the people who engage the enemy there are Japanese. While you do get some feeling of global unity with the American Dr. Stevenson working with the Japanese, I think it would have worked even more so if Americans or people of other nationalities were part of the Moonlight SY-3 crew and if we saw them fighting alongside the Japanese military on Earth as well. Going back to the idea of the action being set predominantly in Japan, while we do indeed see the monsters attacking other cities across the world, it's all on video monitors being watched by the characters, save for when Godzilla attacks New York City, so we're technically still in Japan during those moments rather than having a first-person view of the monsters going around the Earth, attacking cities and everything else that they come across. I get that they were probably already stretching their budget as it was with what is in the film so I'm not going to complain too much but it does hurt it a little bit for me personally. And even in the case of Godzilla attacking New York, while it is refreshing to see him blowing up a non-Japanese city, the fact that they didn't replicate any famous landmarks like the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building (maybe they thought they'd get criticism for it) makes it a bit hard to believe that this actually is the Big Apple. The only moment in the film where I personally get a sense of the epic scale of this invasion is the moment when Kyoko, after coming out of the subway in Tokyo, calmly walks down the street when a siren goes off and people begin panicking before we finally see that Rodan has appeared above it, leading into the major attack on the city. I like that there's no hint that it's coming, that those sirens just start blaring out of nowhere, as would happen during an actual disaster like this, and the low-angle shots looking up at the buildings as Kyoko walks down the street before it begins (I don't know if those were location shots or if they were on a back-lot) give it a sense of scale and reality too. Otherwise, though, while it is an entertaining film, Destroy All Monsters doesn't make me believe that panic has completely gripped the world in the wake of this invasion plot. I think Ishiro Honda created that sense much more effectively in Godzilla vs. Monster Zero with the montage of black and white photographs meant to be of worldwide riots after the ultimatum from Planet X is played and he did it there without involving the monsters, save for when we hear that King Ghidorah appeared in the United States.

Like the human characters, the monsters don't have many defining personalities in this film. I think it's because, one, there are so many of them here that you couldn't spend too much time on giving each one a distinctive personality and characteristics, especially since some of them are nothing more than cameos, as we'll see, and two, for 80% of the movie, they're either under the control of the Kilaaks or the humans so they're not even themselves. When they battle King Ghidorah while under the control of the humans near the end of the film, they seem to have more individuality to them then, like when Godzilla and Gorosaurus look at each other and seem to verbally ponder what to do at one point and when Anguirus rushes forward to be the first to attack Ghidorah, among other examples, but it's still a shame that, save for the beginning and the last fifth of the movie, the monsters are nothing more than weapons being used by either the aliens or the humans, while the humans themselves are the ones putting the plot forward and having the biggest impact on the story. The monsters do have an important impact in that they manage to kill Ghidorah and Godzilla himself kills the remaining Kilaaks but otherwise, the movie is predominantly human-driven, which some might find disappointing (it's another reminder that Shinichi Sekizawa is not the one putting pen to paper this time around).

I'm afraid that even Godzilla doesn't have much character development in this film since, like the other monsters, he spends most of the movie in the role of a weapon being used by either the Kilaaks or the people. The bad-ass, tenacious personality that we've come to expect from him by this point is still very much in play (Haruo Nakajima is back in the suit this time, in case you're curious), though, even when he and the other monsters are under the control of the humans and even before King Ghidorah arrives, he seems like he's ready for some action, which is great. It seems like the humans' control of the monsters is much less intrusive than that of the Kilaaks and that they still retain a lot of their typical personalities, while simply being focused on or aimed at something at the same time. In any case, it's also fun to see Godzilla destroying stuff again, during the battle with Ghidorah, he manages to get a lot of good licks in, and the moment when he attacks the Kilaaks' base at Izu even after the humans' control device is destroyed by the Fire Dragon is one that makes you cheer. But, in the end, there's nothing that special about Godzilla's characterization here because he's ultimately just one part of what's a very big story. In fact, it's always seemed to me that in this particular movie, Godzilla is kind of... small. That sounds like a weird thought to have but, still, with all of these other monsters around him, Godzilla doesn't stand out as much as he should and seems to get lost in the shuffle, even though it's clear during the climax of the movie that he's leading them. I think one reason is because we see that he's basically the same size as Gorosaurus, who's just a regular dinosaur while Godzilla is meant to be a mutant. It doesn't feel right and instead feels like Godzilla should be taller than him, like he is towards all the other monsters save for Ghidorah. Also, during the sequence where Godzilla chases Maj. Tada and his men when they're trying to find the Kilaak base around Mt. Fuji, there's a shot of Tada, Katsuo, and Ogata hiding behind a fallen tree while we see Godzilla's feet and legs in front of them as he looks for them and then ultimately walks by and in that shot, it's always seemed to me that Godzilla comes across as much smaller than he should in relation where they're hiding. His knees are just below the top of the screen, whereas I've always felt that his feet, or at least his feet up to his ankles, should be taking up the shot. And no, he's not a fair distance away because this shot is when he's virtually on top of them before he turns and walks away. I'm probably just nitpicking again but Godzilla has always seemed to be not as big here as he should be.

The suit created for this film would be reused for the next three movies, making it the most used main suit in the original series of movies. I like this suit quite a bit myself. I think it has a very distinct look, it seems like you can read Godzilla's emotions a bit more from it than you could some of the previous suits, and it's infinitely better than that abomination used in Son of Godzilla. While his body is slimmed down from that previous suit, there's still a hint of muscle mass in it, the neck is longer, the head is much more round than it has been before, the eyes are smaller and fit on his face better than the big, bulbous ones on the previous suit, and the mouth is pretty wide this time around, although I don't find it to be as frog-like as that of the suit used in Godzilla vs. Monster Zero and Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster. The dorsal plates are also smaller and rounder than they have been before and the tail is shorter. And speaking of the suit used in those two aforementioned movies, they use it again here during the water scenes although, unlike the last movie, they shorten the shots of its face and during the scene where Godzilla attacks New York, they edit in some close-ups of the main suit to further enhance the effect.

Destroy All Monsters is the first film that Anguirus (Hiroshi Sekida) appeared in since his debut way back in Godzilla Raids Again, although I don't know if he is the same one we saw back in that film since Godzilla unquestionably killed him at the end of their fight (although, to be fair, there are many other monsters here that shouldn't still be alive but are somehow, so it's not something to harp on). Instead of being the hyper-violent, aggressive creature that he was during his debut, Anguirus is portrayed here as being very loyal to his fellow monsters, even when they're under the control of either the Kilaaks or the humans, although he still has that determined, never back down from a fight attitude that he showed previously. He's the one who immediately charges at King Ghidorah when the big battle starts and although that effort doesn't end well for him, he keeps trying and ends up badly damaging and eventually killing Ghidorah's right head. In fact, he's so determined to win during the fight that at one point, he latches onto that right head's neck and stays on even when Ghidorah takes off up into the sky, leading to Anguirus getting dropped on his back from quite a height and even after that, he gets back up and keeps going! Like I said before, that's one thing I do like about Anguirus: his determination to never give up no matter what. As for his relationship with Godzilla, we do get a hint of Anguirus' eventual status as the Big G's true buddy here when he joins Godzilla in defending the Kilaak base at Izu from the armed forces. Of course, since they're under the control of the aliens then, it could be that the Kilaaks simply ordered him to help Godzilla but it's also possible that, even under that control, the instinct to help his friend kicked in, which is another reason why I wonder whether this is the monster we saw previously or not. Maybe they met again and mended fences at some point. In any case, Anguirus' role as Godzilla's best friend would continue to be developed in the following films.

Rodan (Teruo Nigaki) is here again and he doesn't have any more of a personality here than he did in his last appearance in Godzilla vs. Monster Zero. The good thing is that here, he doesn't appear to be nothing more than a lackey to Godzilla as he was before and he has some good moments, like when he catches a dolphin in his mouth during his first appearance at Monsterland and the destruction and action that he takes part in while under the control of the Kilaaks, attacking Moscow, destroying a plane, being a part of the big attack on Tokyo, and chasing the Moonlight SY-3 when they get too close to finding the Kilaak base at Mt. Fuji. Unfortunately, he doesn't do much in the battle against King Ghidorah except blow his wind at it a little bit before flying away and getting tagged by the Fire Dragon while continuing to fly around after that fight is over. It's like, "Get down here and help, you freaking coward!" because you know from past films that he could contribute more. And, once again, he looks terrible. His body is okay but his face is the worst it's ever looked, with its ultra dopey expression and eyes and a beak that's bent downward, making him look even more stupid (this time, they don't have an excuse for his being characterized in a comical fashion). It's a shame too because this is his last official appearance in the original series and he goes out looking as stupid as he does (stock footage of him appears in some of the following films but its inclusion means nothing in the contexts of those movies). Mothra is also here, although I don't know why she was rounded up with the rest of the monsters at Ogasawara Island since Japan and Infant Island had developed a more peaceful relationship over the years. Why did they bring a creature that's a peaceful monster goddess here? Was it just to fill out a quota and make things complete? If that's the case, where's King Kong? And since this is a larval Mothra, I can only assume that the adult one we saw in Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, which was one of the two that originally hatched back in Mothra vs. Godzilla, died and that this is her baby. Regardless, this is the movie where Mothra feels the least like a deity and just another monster since, like the others, she's prevented from leaving the island by a control system that's based on her own personal instincts and with how the Kilaaks are also able to take control of her and make her do things like attack Peking, destroy a train, and enter the attack on Tokyo late in the game. And her involvement in the final battle against King Ghidorah contributes nothing since all she can do is spit her silk. She could have had Rodan give her a boost up to cocoon Ghidorah more effectively like they did in their first battle against the dragon but that's not possible since Rodan left the fight like a coward!

I've always liked the creature Gorosaurus, who first appeared battling King Kong in King Kong Escapes the previous year. He looks like nothing more than just a regular dinosaur, even though he's as big as Godzilla, and has no special powers but I've always that he was kind of a cool monster and I wish he appeared in more movies after this (well, technically he appears briefly in Godzilla's Revenge but that's just a shot taken from King Kong Escapes). He doesn't have a lot of screentime but he, Godzilla, and Anguirus are the ones that deal the most punishment to Ghidorah during the big fight, with Gorosaurus virtually breaking the dragon's back by giving it a powerful kangaroo kick and then repeatedly chomping on the tails afterward. And while the creature Baragon from Frankenstein Conquers the World is credited with attacking Paris in the dialogue of the film's various versions, it's actually Gorosaurus who appears coming up through the ground in that scene, which is Baragon's MO and something Gorosaurus never did beforehand (they even put Baragon's distinctive roar in place of Gorosaurus' hissing screech there, causing further confusion). Manda, a serpent-like creature that first appeared in the movie Atragon, has a brief appearance here, most notably joining in the attack on Tokyo by wrapping around and destroying a section of monorail track before making his way into the main streets during the military's attack on the monsters. He, like the other monsters in this film, appears at the site of the climactic battle but he doesn't do anything. It's too bad he doesn't do much in this film because, like Gorosaurus, I think he's a cool-looking monster. He makes the same hissing sound that the Kamacuras did in Son of Godzilla and his other vocalization is actually the groan that Godzilla gave off after Mothra sprayed him with her silk in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster. Kumonga, the giant spider who appeared in the previous film, joins in the fight with Ghidorah but, like Mothra's silk, his webbing doesn't affect the dragon at all and, for some reason, after Ghidorah is killed, he and Mothra continue spraying up into the air, actually raining it down on some of the other monsters like Godzilla and Minya. And yeah, Minya, again played by dwarf wrestler Little Man Machan, is here too, although he mainly acts as nothing more than support during the fight with Ghidorah. I don't even know why he's there, to be honest, although he does fire a smoke ring around Ghidorah's middle neck, which apparently asphyxiates it! I just now thought of something about Minya, too. If this movie is taking many years in the future, then why is he still a child? Hmm? The two monsters in the film who do nothing at all are Baragon and Varan. By this point, the suits for those two were in pretty bad shape and they had no time to repair them and even less time to build new ones, which is why their appearances here are nothing more than cameos when the monsters are gathering for the final battle and at the very end. That's too bad because Baragon (who's also played by Haruo Nakajima since he and Godzilla have no scenes together) is another monster that I think is pretty cool and I like his roar, which is a variation on a roar that Godzilla often bellowed in Godzilla Raids Again. He was supposed to be the one to attack Paris but, because of the suit's poor condition, they put Gorosaurus in his place but forgot to change the script's dialogue. And poor Varan is the Toho monster that gets the shaft the most out of all of them. You barely see him here and he was supposed to be in some of the following films but always ended up getting replaced by someone else, which means he hasn't had a major role since his debut film, Varan the Unbelievable, way back in 1957! Maybe some day he'll finally have a chance at greatness but I wouldn't hold my breath.

While it's nice to see King Ghidorah again, it's never felt quite like itself this time around to me. Remember how back in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster and Godzilla vs. Monster Zero Ghidorah was a hyper, chaotic monster that was constantly firing its lightning bolts and whipping its three heads around like mad, sending lightning in every direction? Well, only a tenth of that energy and chaos is to be found in the monster here. Maybe it's because it's played by a different suit actor (Susumu Utsumi) this time around or because the suit couldn't be put through much since it too was in fragile shape (although that doesn't make sense because the other monsters do give it quite a beating and actually kill it) but whatever the reason, Ghidorah seems rather lethargic here. It doesn't move nearly as quickly or as unpredictably as it has before and it fires its lightning bolts only three times, which is unspeakable given what we've seen it do in the past. The only time where it feels like the cruel dragon it once was is when it takes off when Anguirus is attached to its right neck and proceeds to bite his neck, drop him on the ground, and then land on his back and press him down into the ground before getting back on the ground and continuing with the fight. It also has a rather haggard look this time around, particularly when you see close-ups of its heads, which look worn and moldy compared to the snarling, ferocious feel they had before. Because of this less than stellar look and the slightly fatigued way it moves, I actually kind of feel bad for it when it basically gets gang-raped by the other monsters. If it acted as crazily and violently as it did before or if it had a partner (although I can't think of who its partner could have been at this point), then it would have seemed more like a fair fight and might have been even better than it already is but, as it is, it feels like a very unfair fight. Why didn't the Kilaaks send the Fire Dragon in to help Ghidorah instead of waiting until after it was killed to deploy it? While Ghidorah does get killed here, since the movie takes place in the future, we will see Ghidorah one more time in the original series in Godzilla vs. Gigan later on, although its performance there isn't much better due to a lack of new footage, but it's a shame that in its final battle, it couldn't have given the Earth monsters more of a challenge than it did.

The Fire Dragon
As he did on Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, Eiji Tsuburaya is credited here as the director of the special effects but, once again, it's actually Sadamasa Arikawa who's in charge, with Tsuburaya acting as supervisor. Tsuburaya's advancing age (he was 66 when this film went into production) and declining health are what prevented him from taking a more active role in this film and that's too bad because he would have had more money to play with than on the previous two films. Figuring that this was going to be the last of the Godzilla series, Toho gave the film quite a hefty budget, allowing for plenty of models, both of buildings and of vehicles, to be built and then crushed and better looking optical and matting effects than the previous film had. While some of those matting effects are still obvious (but, again, much improved upon what was seen in the previous films) and, despite the budget, they didn't have enough time to fix up the suits for some of the other monsters to make them more active in the story, Destroy All Monsters is a visual tour de force nevertheless. You've got so many models being destroyed by a plethora of rampaging monsters, lots of impressive pyrotechnics, well-designed miniature sets like the rocket base seen at the beginning of the film, the landscape of the moon, and the city skylines of New York and Tokyo, as well as the enormous Mt. Fuji set where the climax takes place, and some good optical effects done for Godzilla's atomic blast (it's obvious that the effects guys had really mastered that by this point), the lasers fired by the SY-3 crew, and the fiery animation used to simulate the "Fire Dragon" at the end of the movie, among other effects. And like with Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, there are two stand-out model spaceships here. One is the Moonlight SY-3, which is basically a more advanced version of the P-1 from Monster Zero. While I like the P-1 more, the SY-3 is a really cool-looking ship nevertheless, with its overall silver color, wings and fins with red markings, the blue exhaust flames, and its overall pointed shape. It's an awesome ship (although I don't know how that one cop in the middle of the movie could mistake it for Rodan) and the small vehicle that deploys from it, which has twin laser guns attached to it, is cool as well. The other noteworthy type of spacecrafts here are the flying saucers that the Kilaaks use. Again, while I think the spaceships from Planet X looked cooler, these saucers are interesting and well-designed as well. They have less detail to them and as a result of their red-orange color, yellow-colored dome up top, and overall shape, they really do fit the criteria of what comes to mind when you think of classic flying saucers, which makes them cool in my book (although, they don't have any weapons like the Planet X saucers, which is disappointing). In short, what the film lacks in characterization and original plot it makes up for in being a feast for the eyes.

Destroy All Monsters also has you covered if you want a lot of action and monster scenes because it quite possibly has the most of the entire original series. It's definitely the most we've seen thus far and a lot of the action involves the humans just as much as the monsters, perhaps even more so. And that leads me to another thing: you see a fair amount of blood in this movie. Being made in 1968, it's not a gore-fest but still, there's a shoot-out early on between the SY-3 crew and the Kilaaks' mind-control slaves where you see some bleeding bullet wounds in people's stomachs and foreheads and I've already mentioned the autopsy scene on Dr. Otani where you see the doctor slit open the side of his neck to remove the control orb, which really made me squirm when I was a kid. This is not the first time we've seen blood or graphic human death in a Godzilla movie, mind you. Remember back in Godzilla Raids Again when Godzilla sank his teeth into Anguirus' neck at the end of their fight and you saw blood, as well as that guy who got caught beneath a collapsing ceiling in Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster and had quite a bit of blood on him afterward? For that matter, it's not like Toho had shied away from human death in their other sci-fi and monster movies but the fact that this flick, which was made when Toho was still trying to cater towards the kids and family market, has a fair amount of human violence in it is surprising. The Godzilla series would show much more graphic violence and human death in the coming years, especially in Godzilla vs. Hedorah, Godzilla vs. Gigan, and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, so this could be seen as the first step towards that less restrained approach but it's still kind of shocking to see that in a film made around this period.

After the film's opening credits, we're introduced to Monsterland on the Ogasawara Islands and some of the monsters that are living there, including Godzilla, Rodan, Anguirus, Mothra, and Gorosaurus. We also get a demonstration of how the place's security system of keeping the monsters on the island works when Mothra and Godzilla attempt to leave the island. Mothra crawls to the beach but before she can get into the water, some sprinkler-like devices set up there begin spraying some yellow smoke that makes her stop for a second and ultimately repels her, sending her back into the island interior. At the same time, Godzilla makes his way into the shallows near his part of the island and some similar devices out there spray the same type of smoke. Apparently, Godzilla doesn't like that and roars before heading back onto the island. When Rodan takes off into the air, we're shown that he's kept on the island via a magnetic screen that activates around the island whenever he does so. But, we then see that he began flying in order to find something to eat and he in fact does: a dolphin. He dives down into the water like a seagull going after some fish and comes back up with a dolphin in his beak, which is both impressive and kind of disturbing at the same time. After we're introduced to the command center within the island, the Kilaaks make their presence known for the first time by breaking all contact the island has with the outside world, creating a temporary blackout within the command center, and then filling the place up with gas. The humans are unable to escape (in fact, Dr. Otani ensures that by stupidly opening up a door that he can see has gas leaking through the bottom) and they all fall unconscious from the gas. The same thing is happening up top as the monsters are overwhelmed by it as well. Like the humans, they try to escape (Anguirus even tries to fan it away from him with his right front foot) but quickly succumb to it and pass out one by one. Godzilla falls first and then so does Rodan, who actually lands on top of Anguirus before they both pass out. After that, the UNSC tries to re-establish contact with Monsterland and they do manage to get a few fleeting glimpses that allows them to see the destruction that's occurred there before their signal is jammed again. That's when they begin hearing reports of monsters attacking various cities around the world. They see a clip of Rodan flying above Moscow and causing destruction with his sonic booms and then they see another of Gorosaurus doing his best Baragon impression by coming up through the ground in Paris and destroying the Triumphal Arch. We then hear news reports of other cities being attacked before we see Godzilla appear in New York harbor and blow up some of the buildings in front of him, one of them apparently being the United Nations!

Amidst all of this mayhem, the Moonlight SY-3 is ordered to return to Earth in order to investigate Monsterland and fight out what exactly is going on. After briefly pursuing a UFO across the moon before finally returning to the base, the SY-3 eventually does head back to Earth and land on Ogasawara Island. Upon entering the research station there, the crew meets up with the mind-controlled Kyoko and Dr. Otani, who give them a demonstration of the Kilaaks' monster control machine. We see video images of Mothra destroying a train near Peking, Godzilla blowing up a boat, and Rodan slamming into an airliner. After the demonstration, the crew are introduced to the Kilaak queen and then, Katsuo decides to leave and take Kyoko and Otani back to the mainland. Just as they're about to depart, gas begins filling up the room and the other Monsterland technicians who are now under Kilaak control appear and approach them, ignoring Katsuo's orders to halt and the couple of warning shots he fires in the air with his small handgun. They're forced to shove them away as they get attacked while trying to make it back to the main control room. They just manage to get back there before a slowly closing shutter door blocks them off, with Ogata having to shoot someone before they can crawl underneath it after them. After they arrive back at the control room, two men whom Katsuo ordered to stay with the ship appear with gas masks. Just as the crew are putting them, Otani motions for Kyoko to make a run for it, which she does. When the others try to run after her, Otani pushes them back and attempts to escape himself but trips and falls, leading to him being taken back into custody. While Otani is being taken to the ship, Katsuo runs and tries to find Kyoko but is unable to. A group of people under mind-control then appear in the control room sporting guns and Katsuo joins one of his men in fighting them off. With Katsuo using his handgun and his subordinate using a futuristic machine gun, they manage to kill a couple of the men, with one getting hit in the stomach and the other right in the forehead (he makes a rather silly face before he falls over), before heading back to the ship, blowing up a nearby control panel to make it even harder for them to be followed. Katsuo fires a few more shots back at some pursuing slaves before getting back aboard the SY-3 with everyone else and taking off for Japan.

A very small action scene occurs back in the mainland. After Katsuo and Dr. Yoshido attempt to question Dr. Otani with no luck, Otani then throws himself out of the window of the beachside building they're in. When Katsuo and Yoshido head down to the beach themselves, they're ambushed by Kyoko and a group of mind-control slaves with guns. The two of them are about to be taken prisoner and the slaves are preparing to take Otani's body away but the police then arrive. While the guards are distracted upon seeing the police, Katsuo manages to knock a couple of them to the ground and Yoshido kicks the gun out of one's hand. A gunfight then breaks out between the slaves and the police, with both parties taking cover behind large rocks on the beach. The slaves are eventually driven away but one of them tries to cut open Otani's neck in order to remove the control device hidden within. Katsuo manages to stop him from doing so and the guy runs off to join his retreating comrades. Some more shots are exchanged between the police and the retreating slaves before the police chase off into the nearby forest. We then see the slaves escaping on a motorboat.

Just as everyone is beginning to figure out how the Kilaaks are controlling both the scientists and the monsters, the major attack on Tokyo occurs. As Kyoko walks down the streets after getting off the subway, managing to get by the security who are looking for the people under the Kilaaks' control, the sirens suddenly go off and after some confusion as to what's going on, the civilians begin running around like scared rabbits in an attempt to get to any nearby shelters. The cause for the emergency is Rodan, who's suddenly appeared in the skies above Tokyo and is circling the city. As the defense force try to figure out which district would be the best place to launch an attack against Rodan, they're told that Godzilla has appeared in another district. Sure enough, we cut to a shot of Godzilla coming ashore from the ocean on another side of the city, knocking some structures over in the process, before proceeding to walk down the street. Rodan then flies right above some buildings and his winds cause them to crumble in on themselves and while Godzilla watches him do so, we then learn that Manda has shown up as well. He proceeds to slowly wrap his long, snake-like body around a raised, monorail track, ultimately causing it to crumble, while Godzilla attacks a nearby industrial complex, causing one large explosion by stomping with his feet before turning to his left and blasting that section. He then turns to the right and heads forward, plowing through the factory and knocking down some smokestacks. As Rodan continues flying above the city, Godzilla enters the heart of it and smashes through a building, completely demolishing it, and then knocking over another section of monorail track. The defense force goes into action, activating some hidden missile turrets in the nearby countryside and aiming them at the monsters, as well as preparing some tank-like vehicles and other turrets within the city to attack. The attack then begins, with its full force being concentrated on Godzilla. Ironically, some of the missiles miss him and hit some nearby buildings that he hadn't yet touched and, as usual, those that do hit him don't hurt him at all. Godzilla heads down the street while being continuously fired upon, stomping an overpass in his wake, while the missiles continue to cause as much damage as he could. As Rodan continues flying above the city, we see that the attack is now being aimed at both him and Manda, whom we see slithering down another street, but the monsters aren't at all deterred by this, continuing to march through the city amidst the volley of firepower. Just when it looks like things couldn't get any worse for Tokyo, Mothra comes plowing through a subway station to join the attack. Kyoko watches from the stairs of a shelter as the attack continues, with Godzilla, Manda, and Rodan advancing further through the city amidst the projectiles being fired at them. The sequence ends as Godzilla plows through and absolutely decimates a very large building, with the missiles being fired at him only seeming to add to the destruction. After seeing one last explosion in the heart of the building, the picture dissolves to the ruined city at sunset and we get a slow pan through the destruction, similar to the one after the destruction of Tokyo in the original Godzilla, before moving on to the next scene.

Later on, knowing that the Kilaaks' base is somewhere in Izu, the military launches an attack force there, with dozens of combat vehicles and the SY-3 heading towards the forests in order to search for the base. Once the troops take their positions outside the forest and get their weapons ready, the SY-3 prepares to land on the outskirts as well in order. But, before they can land, Godzilla suddenly appears. Initially, they attempt to continue with the landing but when Godzilla hits them with his atomic blast, which doesn't seem to damage them, they decide they'd best head back up before he hits a weak-point. Godzilla then marches towards the troops through the forested valley and they react by beginning the attack. Godzilla wades through a volley of missile and gunfire in order to reach the vehicles in the clearing and the tanks make the mistake of approaching him while firing. Once they get right up to him, they run out of ammunition and their wheels lose traction in the soft soil when they try to turn around and retreat. Godzilla takes advantage of this and stomps a hapless, slow-moving tank, when Anguirus then arrives to help him and proceeds to crush another tank himself, while Godzilla finishes off the one that he caught. Knowing that there's no way they can win this fight, Maj. Tada calls off the attack. Everyone, including the Moonlight SY-3, reluctantly retreats, forlorn about having lost to the Kilaaks once again. But, as they're leaving, Katsuo spots a flying saucer heading towards Mt. Fuji. The SY-3 proceeds to follow it, knowing that it could lead them to the Kilaak base, but they're unable to do so for long because Rodan appears and gives chase. Katsuo puts the SY-3 through some fancy flying in order to try to outmaneuver Rodan but the giant bird manages to keep up and begins to close in. Knowing that they can't defeat him, Katsuo orders all of the engines to be put on full throttle in order to outrun Rodan. It proves successful and the ship leaves Rodan behind them. While they were unable to pinpoint the location of the base due to Rodan's interference, they now know that it's somewhere near Mt. Fuji and the next day, Katsuo and Ogata join Maj. Tada and his troops as they search the forests around the mountain on foot. But, their more covert and silent search doesn't go unnoticed by Godzilla, who comes upon them and begins chasing them, forcing them to retreat back the way they came and scatter through the forest. While doing so, Katsuo, Ogata, and Tada get separated from the rest of the troops and Godzilla then goes after them specifically. They have to run in another direction and take cover behind a fallen tree as Godzilla approaches. He stomps around in the section of the forest in front of them, looking for them, and when he doesn't find them, he gives up and walks off. After Godzilla walks away, the men then find the cave that turns out to be part of the Kilaak base.

Once they learn that the source of the signal controlling the monsters is coming from the moon, the Moonlight SY-3 is deployed to find and engage the enemy at the base there. Upon approaching the crater where the base is suspected to be, the crew spots a saucer nearby, indicating that the Kilaaks possibly know that they're coming, but they press on and land inside the crater. Once they do, they prepare to disembark and deploy the ground car but suddenly, flames begin shooting out of the sides of the crater, surrounding the SY-3. Realizing that they've fallen into a trap, Katsuo orders the ship's fuel to be cut off. They then engage the coolers but it has no effect at all and the temperature is now rising to the point where the fuel tanks will explode. It's too late to escape the crater by taking off, so Katsuo realizes that the only way to save the ship is to deploy the ground car and destroy the interior of the base. They drive the ground car up to the entrance to the base and begin firing their lasers at it. At first, the lasers don't seem to have any effect whatsoever but they keep at it and, after a few more seconds of continued blasting, they manage to blow their way through the entrance, crippling the machinery inside and deactivating the flames. After it's all said and done, Katsuo and several of his men investigate the wrecked base, which inexplicably loses its color and becomes gray when the energy drains away. They then proceed to damage any machinery that's still intact as well as discover the Kilaaks' true form, which they reverted to when the temperature dropped dramatically after the entrance was destroyed. That's when they discover the remote control unit and proceed to try to take it back with them to Earth. When cutting it doesn't work at all, they then take one of the lasers from the ground car and use an extension line to bring it inside the base in order to burn the device loose. In a nicely done, suspenseful sequence, Katsuo begins using the laser to gradually burn through the base of the remote control but the cable is unable to take the heat and begins flaming up. Despite this, Katsuo is determined to take the remote control back to Earth and orders the laser to be reactivated. He then continues firing it at the device, while the cable continues to burn very rapidly, and it's a tense waiting game to see if he will be able to burn the device free or if the cable will completely short out or explode, leaving them with no way to deactivate the remote control. After a couple of minutes doing this, they finally manage to burn completely through the device's stand, relinquishing the monsters on Earth from the Kilaaks' control as it falls over. As the scientists back on Earth attempt to gain control of the monsters, Katsuo and his crew head back for the SY-3 and quickly depart, leaving the crater as an apparent failsafe device destroys what's left of the base.

With the monsters now under the control of the Earth, they're directed to Mt. Fuji in order to find and destroy the Kilaaks once and for all. The monsters gather in the area in groups led by Godzilla, Rodan, and Anguirus, although the first one to arrive on the scene is actually Minya, who, as I've said before, doesn't really need to be there (one of those monsters that don't anything could have babysat him). Godzilla isn't far behind him and motions for him to head on into the middle of the field. Mothra follows closely behind Godzilla and once they're on the scene, Anguirus shows up, leading a group consisting of Manda, Baragon, Gorosaurus, and Kumonga. In a following wide-shot, you can see Varan land on the scene, even though he does absolutely nothing in the upcoming battle. Even though he's supposed to be leading a group himself, Rodan is the last one to arrive and lands behind Mothra and Godzilla, the latter of whom seems eager for a fight. As it turns out, a fight is exactly what they're going to get because, right before they can begin searching for the Kilaak base, Dr. Yoshido and the others at the Monsterland control base see something strange happening in the sky above the monsters. It turns out to be King Ghidorah entering the Earth's atmosphere (the footage they watch is the shot if its birth back in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster). Since the controls are not set for Ghidorah, which is under the complete control of the Kilaaks, the only course of action that Yoshido and the others can take is to tell the Earth monsters to battle it.

Ghidorah enters the airspace above the monsters near Mt. Fuji and after circling them a bit, with the monsters clearly waiting for it to come down and fight, it swoops down for its attack, landing amongst them. Anguirus, whom Ghidorah landed right in front of, wastes no time and charges right for it but Ghidorah manages to use its necks to flip him over and cause him to land right on his face. Gorosaurus, who was standing behind Anguirus, then makes his own charge but Ghidorah stops him dead in his tracks with a lightning bolt. Godzilla runs up behind Ghidorah and punches it in the back before grabbing onto it and holding it still, allowing for Kumonga and Mothra to come in and spray it with their webbing and silk. This, however, doesn't faze Ghidorah at all and neither do Rodan's pathetic winds, which he creates so half-heartedly with his wings that it looks as if he's not even trying. Godzilla continues holding onto Ghidorah from the back while Rodan creates more wind gusts but Ghidorah then fires two lightning bolts at both him and Mothra, sending the caterpillar flying off to the left while Rodan takes to the sky and actually leaves the fight like a coward! Anguirus then charges towards Ghidorah again and clamps onto its right neck with his vice-like jaws. Ghidorah manages to shrug Godzilla off from behind and takes off into the sky, with Anguirus still hanging onto its right neck. With the other monsters watching, Ghidorah's middle head bites Anguirus' neck, eventually forcing him to let go and fall from a very great height, landing on his back inside of a big pit. However, the impact from his landing causes the ground and hillside around him to cave in, revealing the outer shell of the Kilaak base. As Anguirus gets back on his feet and crawls out of the hole, Ghidorah swoops down and lands on top of his back, stomping on him and forcing him down flat on the ground before hovering off and landing in front of him. Godzilla and Gorosaurus exchange glances as Ghidorah walks back into the fray of the battle while Anguirus crawls away. Godzilla and Gorosaurus both attempt to charge Ghidorah but Godzilla ends up getting knocked back, while Gorosaurus actually manages to knock Ghidorah down on the ground, although he has to quickly scoot backwards in order to avoid getting hit by a lightning bolt from its left head. Ghidorah tries to take to the sky again but Godzilla grabs its right left before it can get too high up and attempts to pull it back down. Ghidorah's wings are so strong that it actually manages to lift Godzilla up a little bit and tries to make him let go by biting his neck, the same way it did Anguirus. After pounding on its chest and then blasting at the base of its necks, Godzilla finally manages to pull Ghidorah back down to the ground.

This is where the tables quickly turn on Ghidorah. As Godzilla holds onto and punches its left neck, Anguirus latches onto the right neck again while Gorosaurus gets behind it and delivers a powerful kick to the back, knocking it flat on the ground. They then proceed to absolutely brutalize the dragon, with Godzilla stomping on the left neck, causing it to make a clearly pained sound, while Anguirus continues to chomp on the right neck. The middle head appears to be knocked out at this point but the left neck stretches up to try to get at Godzilla, who grabs it, wrestles with it a bit, and then throws it back to the ground before stomping on it some more. Ghidorah's tails begin to writhe up and down as it continues to get brutalized. Gorosaurus then grabs ahold of one of the tails with his mouth and lifts it up, while Godzilla picks up the neck that he's been stomping and then shakes it a little bit before realizing that he's killed it and throwing it back down. Anguirus realizes that the right head is dead too but the middle neck lifts up and that's when Minya seems to, surprisingly, deliver the final blow when he shoots a smoke ring that loops around the neck, apparently asphyxiating it. With Ghidorah's body completely limp, Godzilla gives it one last kick and it does make one last feeble attempt to get back up, lifting a few inches off the ground, but it immediately drops back down, now deader than a doornail. Mothra and Kumonga then begin spraying the dragon's body and while some of Kumonga's webbing rains down on Godzilla and Minya, all of the monsters soon begin celebrating their victory by roaring in triumph, while Minya actually gets on top of the dead Ghidorah and begins gesturing and squealing in excitement.

With Ghidorah dead, Rodan decides to fly back from wherever he went and rejoin the others but, before he can land, he's intercepted by a glowing, fiery object that tags him on the back, leaving it smoking in the process. As the other monsters watch, the object chases Rodan for a little bit before swooping around and aiming itself down towards them, going for Godzilla specifically. It pulls up right before it touches him and swoops above his head, dodging a ray of his atomic blast while it does so. It then proceeds to get after Rodan again, as the reporter covering the action reports on its appearance. The object heads for a nearby city and blasts its way through the center of a building before changing its direction towards Monsterland. The scientists on the island quickly take cover as the object flies above its highest peak, causing a massive explosion in its wake that completely destroys the monster control machine and leaves a good chunk of the island in flames. The Kilaak queen then contacts UNSC headquarters and informs them that the destructive UFO is the Fire Dragon before arrogantly boasting that there's no way they can defeat it and that it'll burn Tokyo to the ground in just a few hours. However, her smugness vanishes when she hears Godzilla roar right outside the base. Having found the entrance, Godzilla proceeds to blast the base's outer shell a couple of times and when that doesn't work, he charges and kicks it, smashing his foot right through it, causing a lot of damage to the interior. Instinctively knowing who his enemies are without the control machine, Godzilla continues attacking the base, with the Kilaak queen helplessly watching her plans for domination go up in flames while her subordinates futilely run for cover. Godzilla's attack causes so much damage to the underground base that the roof caves in, taking Ghidorah's lifeless body with it and completely destroying the equipment and machinery within. With the sudden drop in temperature, the queen and her subordinates revert to their true, slug-like forms and take cover within some small rocks.

The Kilaaks may be defeated but there's still one last task left: destroy the Fire Dragon. Katsuo decides to take care of that himself with the Moonlight SY-3 and he and his crew depart. As night falls, the Fire Dragon heads back to Mt. Fuji, with the SY-3 on a course to intercept it. As the monsters watch, the SY-3 engages the dragon in battle but, just when they're about to hit it with missiles, they realize that the circuit for the missile deployment button doesn't work. Unable to turn back, they're completely helpless as the Fire Dragon makes a couple of passes above them. Katsuo then decides to use the rear missiles and slows the SY-3 to allow the dragon to get close enough for the missiles to be effective. When it does so, they fire some rear missiles and hit it straight on but it's not affected at all and proceeds to swoop above the SY-3 and land on top of it, attempting to destroy the ship with its fiery nature. Katsuo puts the SY-3 through a bunch of looping and climbing maneuvers in an attempt to shake the Fire Dragon (there are some interesting editing tricks used to simulate what this looks like from the perspective of the cockpit) and it eventually does let go and fly off to the right. As they watch, the "dragon" completely loses its fiery nature, revealing itself to actually be one last Kilaak flying saucer. Damaged and scrambled from the ride the SY-3 just took it on, the saucer begins to go down in a very wobbly manner. With the front missiles now working again, they finish it off with one last hit, destroying its controls and circuits completely and leading to it crashing on the ground, blowing apart in the process. The ensuing explosion further buries what's left of the underground base of the Kilaaks. The film then has one last sequence, as Katsuo, Kyoko, and Dr. Yoshido fly over the Ogasawara Islands, where the monsters have all been returned in order to live out the rest of their days. All of the monsters watch as the helicopter flies above them, finally ending on Godzilla and Minya as they watch from their end of the island, with Godzilla even appearing to try to return Kyoko's wave to them, as the film ends.

The return of Ishiro Honda also meant that Akira Ifukube was back as composer and he created what was to be his last original Godzilla score for almost a decade. While he would simply compose new versions of some of his established themes, like the connected motif of Godzilla and Rodan's themes and King Ghidorah's theme, for this score, he would also create some notable original themes as well, many of which would be reused in Godzilla vs. Gigan. The most noteworthy bit of original music here is a new military-style march that's reminiscent of the one heard back in Godzilla vs. Monster Zero but I actually like this one more. It sounds much more epic and has a better driving quality to it as well, in my opinion. You first hear it over the opening credits and it plays whenever the military, mainly the Moonlight SY-3, goes into the action. However, it also surprisingly works when it's played during the latter half of the monsters' enormous attack on Tokyo because, since it doesn't sound quite as upbeat as the one from Monster Zero, it gives you a feeling of desperation on the part of the armed forces as they try with all their might to stop the rampaging monsters but ultimately fail. The last bit of this theme works especially well when the attack sequence comes to an end, transitioning into a very somber one when we see the aftermath at sunset hours later. That theme is reworked a little bit when the SY-3 returns to Earth in order to investigate Monsterland. Ifukube also composed a theme for when the monsters gather at Mt. Fuji which we hear a little bit of at the start of the movie when the title comes up, along with an ominous piece of score to start the whole thing off. It fits well with the image of all of these monsters coming together to destroy the Kilaaks once and for all, starting with a very strong sound and growing ever more powerful and epic as more monsters show up. The Kilaaks have a very soft and eerie theme that accentuates their inherent otherworldly quality and makes them feel quite mysterious as well. There's a similarly eerie bit of music that plays in the scene where Katsuo and his crew first enter the control center at Monsterland and later when he, Ogata, and Maj. Tada find the small cave near the base at Mt. Fuji. One of my favorite themes is the one you first hear when Monsterland is enveloped in the gas that knocks both the people and the monsters out and you hear again when Katsuo and his crew attempt to escape from the island later on and when the SY-3 falls into the Kilaaks' trap on the moon. It has such an ominous, suspenseful, and powerful sound to it that it can make you wonder if there's any way that the good guys can escape the situation that they've got themselves caught up in. Another favorite mine is a very fast, pounding, and driving theme that plays when Katsuo is trying to deactivate the Kilaaks' remote control on the moon with the laser, all the while highlighting the suspense of the cable continuously burning from the pressure and threatening to short out the laser and end their mission in abject failure. Finally, Monsterland itself has a theme that is played twice in the movie, each time with a different variation. The first one that you hear when you're first introduced to the island is fairly calm in the way it sounds but it doesn't belie the fact that there are monsters living in the place. The second variation, played at the very end of the movie, is much more peaceful-sounding and concludes with a nice, happy horn melody that makes you realize that the monsters are going to live on the island for the rest of their lives in peace and it actually would have been a nice note to end the series on.

File:Godzilladam.jpgI can't comment on the version of Destroy All Monsters that American-International Pictures released in America in 1969 since I've never seen it. I never saw it on television when I was a kid and by the time it got released on video in 1998, it had been replaced by Toho's international version. From what I've read, like the original American versions of Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster and Son of Godzilla, not much was altered. For some reason, though, like those two films, they felt the need to tinker with the credits and, in this case, place them at the end of the movie in the form of white letters on a black background, accompanied by the march that played along with them in their original location as well. I don't know if that means they completely deleted the footage of the Moonlight SY-3 traveling through space that originally went along with the credits or if they just kept it in without them (the American version of the first Gamera movie did the latter and came across as quite awkward as a result). Apparently, they also removed a clip from the battle with Ghidorah where Minya hides his eyes when Anguirus gets dropped by the flying dragon. Don't know why they felt the need to change that. As usual with AIP, Titra Studios (now going by the name of Titan Productions) did the dubbing, with Hal Linden, who'd done the voice for Yoshimura in Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, looping Akira Kubo as Katsuo and I'm sure Peter Fernandez's voice is in there somewhere as well. I'm sure the dubbing in that version was much better than the uncut international version that has now become the main English dub that you can get over here. To be fair, the dubbing in this international version isn't as bad as what you typically hear in these cuts but a lot of it is still flat and emotionless (Akira Kubo is looped by the same guy who looped him in the international version of Son of Godzilla, which isn't good) for the most part. In addition, the voice of the guy who does the dubbing for the reporter commentating on the monster battle at Mt. Fuji can get rather grating because of how over the top and corny it is and Dr. Stevenson is given a stereotypical shaky old man voice that is very distracting and comical, making it hard to take him seriously. While both English dubs were made available on Media Blasters' 2011 DVD and Blu-Ray release of the film (the cover of which is the lower left image), that edition went out of print almost as quick as it became available due to some legal entanglements and now goes for a ridiculous amount of money, which is a shame. Even more so is that, while there's another Blu-Ray release of the film scheduled to be released in July of 2014, I don't think it has the same features as that first one did, including the choice of the two English versions. It's amazing how quickly Destroy All Monsters went from having a really good home video release to being pulled and then put back out there in a bare-bones one. Too bad, because I would have liked to have seen that original AIP version but I'm not going to pay over $200 or more for it!

On the whole, Destroy All Monsters is a very enjoyable film. It moves at a very good pace, has plenty of action, both on the human and monster side, it's never boring, the scope of the film is much bigger than the two previous ones, with the money being right up there on the screen, it's cool seeing all of these monsters together in one movie, and Akira Ifukube provides us with another great score. On the downside, though, the plot is nothing more than a larger-scale rehash of Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, the human characters are very bland and serve as nothing more than archetypes to put the plot in motion, the monsters are used as weapons by both the Kilaaks and the humans for a good percentage of the movie, which keeps many of them from having distinct personalities, and due to technical issues, not all of them that appear in the movie are able to take part in the action. But, despite its being one of the most emotionally shallow entries in the series to be directed by Ishiro Honda, as well as the other problems that I mentioned, it's a fun monster mash overall, with lots to grab your attention, and I don't see how you wouldn't have a good time watching it.

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