Monday, May 5, 2014

Franchises: Godzilla. Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster) (1964)

File:Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster 1965.jpgThe first Godzilla movie I ever saw that featured the monster Ghidorah was not this film but the following one, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (which may in fact have been the second Godzilla movie I ever saw in my life). Being very, very young at the time, I wasn't able to comprehend that in that film, the characters talk about how Ghidorah had appeared once before and was driven from Earth, so I just assumed that this was the first time Godzilla ever encountered this powerful foe. It wasn't until I read that Crestwood House book on Godzilla that I learned about this film and how it involved not only Godzilla and Rodan but Mothra (she's not mentioned at all in Monster Zero) battling Ghidorah as well. I eventually also saw the trailer for the American version of the movie and I'll give you a hundred bucks if you can guess where I saw it. Say it with me, now: Fantastic Dinosaurs of the Movies. That trailer starts by showing Godzilla blowing up a ship and Rodan appearing out of a crater and then the title was shown: Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster. At that point, I knew the character as either Monster Zero or Ghidorah, which is how its name was pronounced in the film Godzilla vs. Gigan, which I had seen and owned by that point, but the minute I saw Godzilla, which naturally piqued my interest anyway, and saw the portion of the title that said the Three-Headed Monster, I knew exactly what they were talking about. But, despite my interest in it, the fact that this was during a period when Godzilla films were very, very hard to find would prevent me from seeing it for quite a while. It wasn't one of the four that our local VHS rental shop had and I never saw it available in any video stores when I was trying to hunt down every single Godzilla movie so after a while, I kind of forgot about it and the other ones that I hadn't seen until I got back into Godzilla hardcore in late 1997. Fortunately for me, the upcoming release of the 1998 film prompted the re-release of many Godzilla movies on VHS and Ghidrah was one of many that I found and bought in the months leading up to the movie's release. When I finally got to see the movie at the age of ten, I thought it was good but I didn't absolutely love it, which is the opinion I still have today. A lot of fans really, really like this one and feel that it's one of the best of the original series and while I agree that it is entertaining, it's not one I find myself going back to that often. Because of nostalgia, I just prefer Monster Zero much more (which is weird because of how little monster action there is in that film) but I want to be clear that I do like Ghidorah and, in fact, respect it more now that the Japanese version is available for me to see; it's just not one that I'm absolutely crazy about, though.

It's January but, despite this, Japan is going through a heat-wave that's causing outbreaks of encephalitis and encouraging to go swimming around New Year's Eve. A club of UFO enthusiasts hopes to make contact with beings from other worlds in the hope that they can explain to them what's happening to their planet. One night, the group witnesses a meteor shower that is apparently visible all over the world, which ends with one particularly large meteorite crashing in a gorge behind a mountain. A team of scientists, led by the renowned Prof. Murai, hike their way through the wilderness in order to observe the fallen object, which they discover has sporadic periods of strong magnetism and also appears to be slowly growing. Meanwhile, Detective Shindo is assigned to act as a bodyguard for Princess Salno, a lovely young woman from a small Himalayan country who is under the threat of assassination due to her being the heir to the throne, while she's visiting Japan. While her plane is destroyed by a bomb before it can arrive, a mysterious force takes hold of the princess and gets her to jump out of the plane before it explodes. Despite the princess being presumed dead, she inexplicably appears in Japan, wearing normal clothes rather than her usual royal garb and claiming to be from the planet Venus (Mars in the English version). She acts as a prophet and attempts to warn very skeptical people that the Earth is in danger, starting with a warning about the volcano Mt. Aso, a prediction that ends up coming true when the flying monster Rodan breaks out of the volcano's crater and begins flying around the countryside. After that, she warns that a ship meant to take the visiting Shobijin, who, along with the natives of Infant Island and Mothra, are now on good terms with Japan, back home must not sail and, sure enough, when it does sail that night, Godzilla rises from the sea and destroys it. With two monsters now threatening Japan and Shindo doing his best to protect Salno from her assassins, who have traveled to the country to finish the job, the princess makes one last prediction, that King Ghidorah, a powerful space monster that completely destroyed the civilization on Venus, has arrived on Earth and will do the same to it. Like before, the prophecy comes true when the fallen meteorite cracks open and the evil, three-headed space dragon emerges from it and begins attacking the countryside as well. With Ghidorah being an even bigger threat than Godzilla and Rodan, the government turns to the Shobijin and Mothra, who suggest that if Mothra can persuade her fellow monsters to battle Ghidorah alongside her, they might have a chance to defeat the dragon. But, with Ghidorah laying waste to the country and Godzilla and Rodan caught up in their own battle, the question is whether Mothra can get the latter two to cooperate and join up to save the Earth before it's too late.

G06The early to mid-1960's were very busy years for director Ishiro Honda.With Toho's output of science fiction and monster flicks at its absolute peak, they had Honda at the helm of at least one movie a year, with 1964 being an especially active year that saw him in the director's chair for three. Once Honda finished with Mothra vs. Godzilla, he began work on a film called Dogora the Space Monster (a film I've never seen), which was released in August, just four months after the last Godzilla film, and four months after that in December, Ghidorah was released. The idea of three special effects-heavy monster movies being released within four months of each other is insane but, nevertheless, Toho and Honda pulled it off, mainly because the movie's productions overlapped, with some scenes being shot for one movie while another was being finished up. Even more unbelievable than that is that some of these movies are not only good but damn good, with Mothra vs. Godzilla being revered as a bona fide classic and Ghidorah remaining a beloved fan favorite to this day. It's a true testament to the abilities of not only Honda but also his associates, notably producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, writer Shinichi Sekizawa, and effects maestro Eiji Tsuburaya, that they were able to create some quality work out of the assembly line-like mentality that Toho had when it came to putting these films out and it would continue as such throughout the decade.

Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster is a noteworthy entry in the franchise for a couple reasons. For one, as many fans will tell you, this is when Godzilla begins to shrug off his original role as a villain and starts to become a good guy. He still causes some death and property damage here and only helps out after some convincing about why he should do so but, regardless, this is the start of Godzilla's popular persona as champion of the Earth. From here to the end of the original series, the only damage he would intentionally cause to mainland Japan would be when he's under the control of aliens, as would be the case in the next film, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (I've always found it interesting how, in the film after he starts to turn over a new leaf, you have Godzilla destroying stuff again, mind control or not), and later on in Destroy All Monsters. Personally, as I'll go into as we head deeper into the series, I don't think Godzilla ever became an out and out hero to Japan but instead was a creature who, while not actively harming mankind, was defending Earth because it's his home too and the monsters he's fighting are threatening its survival. Still, if you want to call Godzilla an out and out hero, I'm not going to stop you and regardless, I agree that this is the film where his characterization begins to really change. The other thing that this movie is noteworthy for is that it's when the series started to go absolutely insane, with everything but the kitchen sink being thrown into the stories. While some of the stuff that would come later, especially the entries in the 70's, would make this movie look downright reasonable, with even the next one being much more heavy on the sci-fi, Ghidorah is still a very out there film. Besides the typical plot of a monster threatening all life on Earth, you've got political intrigue involving this princess character and the policeman trying to protect her from assassins, an apparent case of possession with whatever this otherworldly force is that takes hold of the princess and makes her claim that she's from another planet and enables her to predict the future, mysterious phenomena such as a heat-wave in the middle of winter that's never explained, and, craziest of all, a literal debate between Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra about whether or not they should try to save the Earth from Ghidorah! 1964 must have been the year when Shinichi Sekizawa just said, "Fuck it," and came up with the craziest stuff he could because, although I've never seen the film, I've heard that the movie Dogora, which he also wrote, was about a jellyfish-like monster that ate diamonds and was defeated by bee venom and that the main plot was actually like a yakuza gangster movie. If your mind just exploded while reading that, you'd better reconstruct it fast because things are only going to get weirder as we move on through the series.

The characters of the film are a very mixed bag for me, with some being quite interesting while others are likable but not exactly deep. As the film's ostensible lead, Detective Shindo, Yosuke Natsuki falls into the latter. That said, though, he is a very likable lead and someone worth rooting for due to his determination to protect Princess Salno. There's no mistaking that he's a little bit enamored with her when he first looks at her picture and sees how lovely she is, plus it's obvious that he's just compassionate towards her but, regardless, throughout the film, his duty is what comes first. He goes out of his way not only to track her down and defend her from those who are out to kill her but also to get her some help and find out why she's going around saying that she's from outer space. Shindo also has a very childlike bickering relationship with his sister, Naoko, even though both of them are full-grown adults. The two of them have tiffs here and there and tend to make fun of each other, particularly when it comes to Naoko's obsession with her career as a reporter, whether or not Prof. Murai is her boyfriend, and Shindo's rather dour demeanor. The little scene at their home when Naoko puts her weight on top of Shindo while she's leaning over to change the TV channel for their mother (yeah, apparently they still live with their mother) and he tells her to get off is particularly reminiscent of something that a young brother and sister would get into an argument about. Their sibling rivalry comes to a real head when Shindo discovers that Naoko has found Princess Salno and is staying with her at a hotel room. When Naoko takes the room key away from Shindo because she doesn't want him to mess up her big story, Shindo makes it clear that, despite their relationship, he will arrest her if she continues to interfere with police business. Fortunately, Naoko comes to her senses and decides that helping the princess regain her senses and protecting her is more important and from then on, the two of them are on the same page about her. Shindo comes across as especially courageous during the film's climax when he has a firefight with and takes a bullet to the arm from the chief assassin, Malness, while trying to protect Salno, although an accidental rockslide caused by the nearby monster battle is what ultimately puts an end to the gunman. He may not be the film's deepest character but Shindo is still a very likable fellow regardless and someone you certainly want to see succeed.

Back from Mothra vs. Godzilla is Yuriko Hoshi, this time as Shindo's reporter sister, Naoko. While she plays another member of the press, the big difference is that in the previous film, she was a good-hearted but rather na├»ve and inexperienced rookie who wasn't that skilled in her job as a photographer; here, she's a very savvy go-getter of a television reporter who follows up on any lead to a big story that she can get, especially when it comes to the self-proclaimed Venusian prophet. She's so good at her job that she actually manages to track her down and find her long before he brother does, taking her to a hotel where she plans to interview her for her television show. When Shindo and their mother chide her for having a possible romantic interest in Prof. Murai, Naoko insists that she's talking to and spending time with him in order to get a story for the program and she really means it too. Her mother finds it a little discouraging that all Naoko can talk and think about is her job but Naoko is undeterred. Like I said, she's so determined to get a story that she risks forcing her own brother to arrest her for interfering with police business by initially refusing to allow him to see the princess, taking the hotel room key away from him at one point. But Shindo eventually makes her realize that protecting the princess and figuring out what's wrong with her is more important than her story and she goes along with him for the remainder of the movie, although she does get to record Princess Salno's final statements to everyone before she returns to her home country at the end of the movie, which will probably be used in that upcoming special. One can't help but admire what a strong female character Naoko is in a film that, as we'll see, is quite pro-women in and of itself, especially in comparison to some of the female characters we got before, including Junko in the previous film.

Apparently, 1964 was also the year of Hiroshi Koizumi playing scientists in these films because, after doing so in both Mothra vs. Godzilla and the previously mentioned Dogora, here he is again in such a role, this time as a geologist who leads to investigate the meteorite that is eventually revealed to be housing Ghidorah. If it wasn't for the change of name (from Miura to Murai), you'd swear that he was playing the exact same character as he was in the previous Godzilla film and possibly Dogora as well. As I've said before regarding Koizumi in these films, he's always likable and is believable when he's giving scientific advice but, unfortunately, he doesn't have much else to do except stand around while giving said advice. He does do a couple of important things here, such as suggest that the government turn to the Shobijin and Mothra for help when Ghidorah appears and begins ravaging Japan, which leads to the Shobijin suggesting that Mothra should join up with Godzilla and Rodan to battle the space monster, and he also helps a little bit during a shootout at a clinic, clocking one of Princess Salno's would-be assassins on the head with a wrench and shooting a little bit at them (he doesn't hit any of them, though), so he's not an absolute bystander. That's actually more than he did in the previous film, despite the fact that his and everybody else's acting there was great. Even though he was the one who suggested that they still go to Infant Island to ask for Mothra's help against Godzilla when Sakai wasn't feeling too good about it, he wasn't the one who made the strong appeal that changed the islanders' minds in helping them. So, at the very least, he's a bit more active in the actual story than he was before. Still, in the end, he doesn't do that much except act as a rather intelligent bystander but, even though I'm sure he could do more (look at his performance in the original Mothra for proof of that), he's one of those actors whose presence onscreen I always enjoy.

By far the most interesting character in the film is the beautiful Akiko Wakabayashi, who had a brief role as Fumiko's best friend in King Kong vs. Godzilla, as Princess Salno, the lovely young lady from a small country in the Himalayas who becomes possessed by some strange, otherworldly power and is the frequent target of assassination due to her being the heir to her country's throne. While we don't get to see much of the princess as herself, it is clear that she's a kind soul and would most likely be a great ruler to her country. And even though she doesn't remember much from when she was under the influence of whatever otherworldly force had hold of her, she does remember that Shindo was the one who saved her life three times and she is very grateful to him when she's restored to her senses at the end of the movie. For 98% of her screentime, though, Princess Salno is apparently possessed by a mysterious and unexplained presence that not only saves her from being killed when her plane explodes en-route to Japan but uses her body as a vessel with which to try to warn the people of Earth that the planet is in danger. The exact identity of this entity or whatever you want to call it is never explained and it goes away just as suddenly as it appeared but given Salno's constant claims to be from the planet Venus, the various prophecies that she makes that come to pass, and the fact that she's able to do stuff such as read in the dark, sense when somebody is hiding in a room with her, and resist the effects of a drug meant to cure her of any psychiatric delusions she may have, it is obvious that something otherworldly is going on with her. Maybe this alternate personality that takes hold of the princess is not an otherworldly entity at all but the emergence in her of that Venusian instinct for seeing into the future that she later describes as being a holdover from the Venusians who escaped to Earth when Ghidorah destroyed the planet's civilization. It's possibly that trait, which was buried deep in her subconscious, forced itself to the surface upon realizing the calamity that was about to befall the Earth in order to get everyone's ass in gear, so to speak. That would explain why being grazed by a bullet at the end of the movie caused her to return to normal, forcing that instinct back, if you will. But then again, if it's just the instinct, then why is Salno saying that she's a Venusian? And why does she not recognize her would-be assassins when she seems them? These unanswered questions help to make it one of the most intriguing aspects of any Godzilla film, not just this one. It's also interesting to note how, when this change takes hold of Salno, she dispenses with the royal garb that she was originally wearing, including the bracelet that identifies her as part of the royal lineage, because she sees them as frivolous and wears the old-fashioned clothes of the fisherman who found her floating on the ocean's surface after she jumped out of the plane. Even though she doesn't put up a fight when Naoko gets her some nicer, more womanly clothes to replace the old bags that she's currently wearing, she still doesn't care about them at all. Whatever your personal feelings are about this film, there's no doubt that this is a very intriguing subplot and there not being an explanation for it by the end of the movie (even the psychiatric expert who treated her isn't sure where that mindset came from or if it will ever return) makes it all the more fascinating.

The main human antagonist in the film is Malness (Hisaya Ito), is the leader of the assassins out to do in Princess Salno. He's a pretty straightforward villain: he's got a job to do and nothing is going to stand in his way, not even this ongoing situation involving the monsters. He'd already tried to kill the princess by planting a bomb aboard her plane and when she somehow survived the explosion and ended up safely in Japan, he's sent there to finish the job and is threatened with execution as punishment for failure. He's actually pretty intimidating with how cold and emotionless he is in the way he talks and acts and also because he's pretty much faceless since he's always wearing a pair of dark glasses. Despite his determination to off Salno, Malness is smart enough to make sure that the woman who looks like her and is claiming to be from Venus really is her since killing someone else would have dire consequences for him. He's especially suspicious when Salno doesn't recognize him at all upon seeing him at the hotel and he and his fellow assassins confront her in her hotel room, he tries to get her to admit that she's the princess by interrogating about what she did with the royal bracelet. After she confirms that she had a bracelet and gave it to the fisherman who found her, Malness prepares to kill her with the same knife that he murdered her father with (the way he admits that fact to her is a perfect example of how cold and unfeeling he is) but is interrupted when the Shobijin, who were also in the room, unbeknownst to the killers, turn off the lights. After that first attempt to kill the princess fails, Malness becomes all the more determined to finish his job. He goes as far as to track her down to a psychiatric clinic, despite the threat of being killed by Godzilla and Rodan, who are battling nearby, and tries to make Shindo and the doctor inadvertently kill Salno themselves by increasing the voltage of their electroshock therapy all the way to 3,000. And when that doesn't work and he and his men are forced to break off their assassination attempt due to Shindo and Prof. Murai's intervention, he still attempts to track the princess down to try again, despite their plot being caught in the middle of a huge monster battle. In fact, while driving along a mountainside road, the assassins' car is crushed by a rockslide that Ghidorah causes, killing everyone inside except for Malness who, despite being seriously injured, staggers out of the car and eventually finds Salno in a deep gorge further up in the mountains. You have to give Malness some credit for his determination and persistence. He's quite wounded by that incident and yet, is still trying to snipe Salno out. He manages to graze her head and snap her out of this alien personality that's taken hold of her and actually shoots Shindo in the arm, making him unable to protect Salno. He's just about to kill them both at that moment but he himself ends up being killed by a falling rock caused by the nearby monster battle.

Back once again are the Shobijin, played for the third and last time by Emi and Yumi Ito, and it's interesting to see how much their roles have been expanded since the original Mothra. First off, the relationship between Japan and Infant Island (and, by extension, Mothra), has completely changed. Now, instead of being a very tense one full of distrust to the nuclear tests that were conducted on the island, it's much friendlier and the Shobijin are something of a couple of tiny celebrities in Japan since they make their first appearance here on a variety show. In fact, the reveal of the Shobijin here is a bit of a take on how they were unveiled to the Japanese public in Mothra, with the major difference here being that they're appearing in this show by choice rather than being forced to by a cruel man who's claiming ownership of them (even the way they dress here is more akin to how they looked when they were first introduced in Mothra). While they do appear to enjoy appearing on this show for the Japanese public, it does seem that they would rather no attract attention seeing as how, when they're planning to depart for Infant Island, they ask not to be fussed over the next time they visit Japan. In any case, this is the film in the original series where they have the most active roles in the plot. Not only are they smart enough to listen to Princess Salno when she warns that the boat they're about to sail home on must not leave port and sneak off of it but they also save the princess from being killed by Malness at the hotel as well as warn Shindo and Naoko about the assassins being in the room, saving them from getting shot. Most importantly, when they're asked whether or not Mothra could help defend Japan against Ghidorah, they come up with the idea of getting her to talk Godzilla and Rodan into helping her fight the space monster, which is the plan that ends up saving the world. They even allow the characters, and us, to understand the conversation that the three monsters have about whether to save the Earth or not by translating, which also allows to relate to them more as full-fledged characters rather than as just monsters. And also note that, unlike in the original Mothra, they never need to be saved by their monster deity or anyone else for that matter. Like the other female characters here, they're quite strong and capable enough to take care of themselves and, like I said, they are the ones who rescue some of our other main characters! So, I like the Shobijin in this movie... for the most part. This, unfortunately, is where their singing starts to grate on my nerves. They sing a new song called Cry for Happiness not once but twice in this movie (and I mean the... entire... song) and, besides the fact that it goes on far too long for my tastes, I plain don't like the way it sounds either. As much as I like their characterization here, that song is a major strike against them regardless.

The supporting cast of the film is made up of a regular repertoire of familiar faces from past films. Shindo's superior who assigns him to be Princess Salno's bodyguard is Dr. Serizawa himself, Akihiko Hirata. While he doesn't have much more to do here than he did in his brief role in King Kong vs. Godzilla, it's nice to see him again and he does his best with what little material he's given here. Sensho Matsumoto, who had the brief role of the Prime Minister in King Kong vs. Godzilla, appears here as the head of the UFO enthusiasts club. Even though he only has a couple of scenes, he's rather memorable because of how much of a firm believer he is in stuff such as flying saucers, aliens, and multiple dimensions and also because he believes that making contact with other beings in the universe is vital to the survival of the Earth since they might be able to explain what's going on with the strange heat-wave and such. He's also not too fond of Naoko's presence at the UFO-watching session at the beginning of the film because he and another member feels that her skeptical brainwaves are keeping the aliens away. The ever reliable Kenji Sahara has a couple of scenes here as Naoko's editor in chief who informs her of the prophesizing Salno's appearance and later on, has a meeting with his top reporters about how best to approach the story concerning her. In the English version, this second scene with Sahara is cut out and so, until I saw the Japanese version, I thought that he only appeared in that one scene in this movie and I also thought that he was just another reporter and not her boss. Speaking of Sahara, his partner-in-crime from the previous film, Yoshifumi Tajima, is also here in one scene as the captain of the boat that ends up getting blown up by Godzilla. He makes the mistake of not listening to Salno's warning about not sailing and orders her to be removed from the boat. Fans of the original Mothra would be interested in knowing that the star of that film, Frankie Sakai, has a brief role here as the man who addresses the ministry of defense during the meeting at the Diet Building. He's wearing glasses and has a moustache, so he's a bit unrecognizable, though (even after I actually saw Mothra, I still didn't recognize him until I read that fact somewhere). It's equally interesting to note that Hiroshi Koizumi, who also starred in that film, is in this scene, so it's like we're having a little reunion. However, the most notable supporting character is Dr. Tsukamoto, the specialist who Shindo brings Princess Salno to for treatment. He's played by none other than Takashi Shimura, Dr. Yamane from the original Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again. This would be the last appearance he would make in the Godzilla series but not the last Toho monster flick, since he would appear briefly at the beginning of Frankenstein Conquers the World the following year. He brings the same feeling of gravitas to this film that he did to the original, coming across as very knowledgeable in his field and doing what he can to figure out why Salno is saying that she's from Venus. While he finds out that there's nothing physically or mentally wrong with her, he puts her through several tests to find out why she's calling herself a Venusian, although they don't produce any results. At the end of the movie, although he gets why she eventually returned to normal, he admits that he doesn't understand where that Venusian mindset came from or if it will ever return. He may only come into the movie for the last act but, when it's all said and done, Shimura is given a fair amount of screentime there (he shot all of his stuff in one day, though, since he was working with Akira Kurosawa on a movie at the time) and, as always, he's great with what he has to work with.

There's an interesting expansion in this movie of a theme that was found in the previous one. The idea of the brotherhood of man and the responsibility that we as humans have towards one another is here again but, this time, it's the brotherhood of monsters! The infamous monster conversation scene, where Mothra tries to convince Godzilla and Rodan to help her in the fight against Ghidorah, is a lot like the speech that Sakai gave to the natives of Infant Island in Mothra vs. Godzilla. Mothra tells them not to fight but instead that they must use their strength to defend the Earth from this new threat. Just like how the Infant Islanders responded to the initial plea for help from Japan, Godzilla and Rodan's attitudes are basically, "Why should we care if the Earth perishes?" with Godzilla himself even adding that, "Humans are always bullying me," which is like when the chief of Infant Island laid out what the outside world had done to their island. And just like the speech that Sakai that gave about everyone wants a world without distrust and that humans are responsible for each other, Mothra tells Godzilla and Rodan that the Earth belongs to everybody and therefore, it must be defended. However, Mothra's speech doesn't do much to change the other two monsters' minds and so, she's initially forced to fight Ghidorah by herself, which goes about as well you might expect, and it's only then that something that Mothra said sinks in to Godzilla and Rodan, as well as the fact that she's getting her ass kicked, and they come to help. This whole scenario is admittedly quite silly and many may find it hard to take seriously, with even myself being guilty of that at one point, but it's just another example of the interesting ways that Japanese filmmakers approach things. Not only is it such a unique way to approach the monsters and to get across some allegory in an entertaining way but, most significantly, it gives some important insights into and creates a shift in Godzilla's personality, making him more of an actual character. Most may feel think that this degrades the threatening power that Godzilla once had but, given the lighter tone that they were going for in order to appeal to wider audiences, it was necessary to do so and plus, this is what makes the series stand out from its peers. I'd actually be interested to know how Ishiro Honda felt about this. As we know, he didn't particularly care for the monsters being made out to be silly but, at the same time, this theme that the monsters themselves deal with here is one that he was quite passionate about so you have to wonder how he may have felt about applying it the way he and Shinichi Sekizawa did.

King Kong vs. Godzilla was the start of it but this film is where Godzilla truly becomes a character rather than just a mindless rampaging monster or, as he was portrayed in Godzilla Raids Again and Mothra vs. Godzilla, a purely animalistic one. Here, Haruo Nakajima manages to make him come across as a very tenacious, take no crap monster who never backs down from a fight and is also quite stubborn about certain things. He's clearly angry when he first rises from the ocean, blowing up a ship after doing so, and then heading inland where he causes some destruction. He's clearly curious about Rodan when he first sees him and when he gets blindsided by the flying monster out of nowhere, his refusal to run away from a challenge kicks in, with Godzilla's attitude being one of, "Oh, you want to fight? Well, bring it!" As a result, their fight lasts for quite a while until Mothra arrives and breaks it up to have a talk with them. On a side-note, how can you not love it when Godzilla and Rodan actually laugh at each other when each one gets sprayed with Mothra's silk? During the conversation, Godzilla makes his feelings very clear. He doesn't see any reason why he should help humans given how they're always causing him trouble and "bullying" him. Some may see that as Godzilla being a dickhead who refuses to take responsibility but you have to remember that this isn't the same monster that we saw in the original film who intentionally reduced Tokyo to rubble. When this Godzilla first appeared in Godzilla Raids Again, he was harassed by Anguirus, shot at when he simply came ashore at Osaka because he was attracted to the light of a fire, and harassed by the Air Force and buried in ice when he did nothing but come ashore on a frozen island. Granted, he was intentionally causing destruction in King Kong vs. Godzilla but that was probably because he was angry about what happened to him before and also why he took joy in beating on King Kong. And in the previous film, he was blown ashore by a hurricane and buried under a bunch of mud, stumbled around some cities without intentionally causing destruction, got bombed and shot at repeatedly, and the only times he caused death and destruction there when he was defending himself, be it from the military or from Mothra and her larvae. So in retrospect, Godzilla is within his rights by initially refusing to help humanity. And he also has a point when the Shobijin say that he insists that Rodan apologize first since, as John Rambo would say, he drew first blood. Godzilla did seem intent on following Rodan for whatever reason when he first saw him, granted, but he didn't actively try to harm Rodan there by shooting his atomic breath at him or anything. Rodan was the one who attacked first, so I think Godzilla is within his rights to demand an apology from the big bird (although I don't think blasting him with his atomic breath when he demands it is an effective way to get it). By the way, I love how in the English version, the Shobijin insinuate that Godzilla has quite a filthy mouth in his own dialect when they say, "Oh, Godzilla, what terrible language!" I always wondered what he said in that instance. In any case, Godzilla, along with Rodan, refuse to help Mothra but when she's gets brutalized when she attempts to fight Ghidorah by herself, Godzilla proves to be a decent guy and comes to her rescue, with him and Rodan not giving up the fight until Ghidorah is driven away. I don't know if Mothra's speech to them had any effect as well but, regardless, it's nice to see that there are some areas where even Godzilla will draw a line.

Because of how quickly Ghidorah went into production after Mothra vs. Godzilla, there wasn't enough time to create an all-new Godzilla so the staff at Toho decided to use the previous suit again here. Despite their attempts to keep it as intact as possible during filming of Mothra vs. Godzilla because they knew about the compressed production schedule ahead of time, it still took some damage, especially when it came to the head. As a result, the head is what changed the most in-between films. While it still has the distinctive eyebrows from before (although I don't think they're as striking here), it's flattened out much more, the eyes are more expressive, and the tongue is quite prominent in some shots where Godzilla opens his mouth. Other than that, though, the form of the body is basically the same: quite slim with a fairly long tail, although the skin appears to be a much darker shade of gray, which might actually be a result of the film stock used. It is obvious, though, that they made some modifications to the body since Haruo Nakajima is able to move around much more agilely and fluidly than he did in the previous film. This is the last instance where puppets would be used extensively for extreme close-ups of Godzilla's head and torso in action scenes and it's a good thing too because the time crunch the technicians were under for this film is very apparent in how fake-looking they are. When the puppets are being moved around very quickly during the fight between Godzilla and Rodan, they look pretty bad because of how spastic the movements are, but when the puppet Godzilla head stops moving and sits perfectly still and moves its eyes around a little bit after the Rodan puppet pecks it, it looks particularly fake. I found the latter distracting even when I was a little kid. I'm really glad that they decided to virtually abandon this technique after this movie because the only time it really worked was in the last movie and even then, the head didn't match that of the suit. There are also some obvious puppets used for long shots during this sequence but, fortunately, they're not used as extensively. This is also the last time we can call Godzilla's ultimate weapon "atomic breath" because from the next film onward, it pretty much becomes the concentrated blast of energy that we know it as today. Like it was in the last movie, it's a mix between the two here: it looks like a beam of atomic energy in some shots whereas in close-ups, like when Godzilla blasts Rodan with it, it's still a very hot, radioactive vapor.

Since pitting Godzilla against a monster from a previous Toho film had worked out so well last time, the studio decided to up the ante and not only bring back Mothra but also introduce Rodan into the series eight years after he first appeared in his own movie (or, I guess I should say a Rodan seeing as how there were two of them in that movie; they never explained what happened to the second one). After breaking out of the crater of Mt. Aso, where he was sealed at the end of his introductory movie, Rodan mainly just flies around in the skies above Japan until he inexplicably attacks Godzilla, starting a rather lengthy battle between the two. It seems like Rodan has a pretty bad attitude given how he attacked Godzilla for no reason and continuously pesters him afterward by pecking his head, flying into him, and using the hurricane force winds his wings can create to knock Godzilla off-balance. This unprovoked attack is why I agree when we're told that Godzilla is saying that Rodan should apologize first. However, it also seems like Rodan is a big spoiled baby and is saying the same thing about Godzilla, although he does agree with his foe that they don't have any reason to help humanity and that man bullies them. Rodan is also enough of a schmuck to laugh heartily at Godzilla when Mothra sprays him with his silk to get his attention but his laughing stops as soon as it began when he gets sprayed as well. In addition to Godzilla's laughing at him, I like how Rodan looks absolutely dazed after getting sprayed and is like, "What just happened?" In any case, like Godzilla, Rodan is initially not impressed with Mothra's speech about saving the Earth but when it becomes clear that Mothra is no match for Ghidorah, Rodan also proves to be decent enough to help out and even gets Ghidorah to follow him away from Mothra as well as gives Mothra a boost later on during the fight so she can use her silk against the dragon. In the end, Rodan is also given a personality and while he comes across as something of a jerk for attacking Godzilla unprovoked and then saying that he should be apologized to first, he's decent enough to help Mothra when it's clear that she's in over her head.

I've always hated how when Rodan became a part of the Godzilla series, they designed him to look downright stupid. I don't mean in his body or anything like that but rather his face. If you've seen the actual movie Rodan, then you know that he looked really cool in that film, like the gigantic Pteranodon that he's supposed to be. Here, though, he mostly has a dopey look to him with his longer and narrower beak and the somewhat googly eyes. That mainly goes for the head on the suit, though (there's one close-up of it when Rodan shakes his head after getting whacked where he looks especially silly). The puppets that are used to bring Rodan to life in many shots actually look better than both the suit and the Godzilla puppets. There seem to be several different puppets since Rodan's face and neck seem to be a bit wider in some shots than in others and his eyes aren't as prominent in some shots as well. I think he looks the best and more like an actual bird during the close-up shots of him when Mothra enters the scene and sprays both him and Godzilla with silk. I also like the way he looks in a shot where he moves straight for the camera as he flies at Godzilla as well as when you first see his head when he's breaking out of Mt. Aso. Unfortunately, these moments aside, Rodan mainly looks kind of lame and dumb in my opinion and he would only get worse so as the series went on. Like with King Kong, I understand that they couldn't make Rodan look too fearsome due to the lighter direction that the series was going in at this time but, as I also said when talking about Kong's lackluster design, did they have to make him look out and out crappy? The person playing Rodan in this film is Masaki Shinohara, would play him again in the next movie. He does what he can given the restraints of this particular suit and manages to give Rodan something of a personality but, like I said, the monster's best moments come when puppets are used to portray him. (You can sort of see Shinohara's head in the suit's neck, which has quite a bulge in it). Although he had a cyclone-like blast of air that he could expel from his mouth in his debut film, similar to Godzilla's ultimate weapon, in this movie and throughout the rest of his appearances in the original series, Rodan's main weapon are the strong winds that he can generate with his wings, which are actually quite effective in causing damage and making fighting him quite a challenge for Godzilla. His sharp beak proves to be a pretty useful weapon too and he also demonstrates incredible strength with how he's able to lift Godzilla up and carry him over a distance before dropping him. Apparently, Rodan is kind of like a parrot because in his first appearance and when he and Godzilla begin fighting, he actually mimics Godzilla's bark-like sound! Rodan's normal sound is his distinctive thundering, bird-like cry but I swear that there are a couple of times here when he imitates Godzilla. That threw me for such a loop when I first saw this movie as a kid, especially since he does it during his first appearance before Godzilla makes his entrance. And what's more, it's never explained. It just comes and goes and he never does it again in any of his other appearances in the series. That's why I said he acts kind of like a parrot because that's the only way I could think to explain this bit of randomness.

The most humanlike and wise monster in the film by far is Mothra, who truly comes across as a creature of divine origin with how she understands from the Shobijin's song that the world is in danger and that she must make Godzilla and Rodan understand that they have a responsibility to the Earth. It really is interesting to see how she becomes like Sakai in the previous film, using very well-said arguments about how the world belongs to everybody to try to persuade her fellow monsters to help her battle Ghidorah. I can safely that this is probably my favorite appearance by Mothra in the original series of films simply because I like the idea of one of these larger than life creatures having as much wisdom and heart as she displays here. When her attempt to turn Godzilla and Rodan to her cause apparently fail, Mothra decides to take Ghidorah on by herself, as much as she knows that she has no chance whatsoever of defeating the dragon. It's a very brave and selfless act on the part of the monster and the fact that she's getting a brutal beating from Ghidorah but doesn't back down inspires Godzilla and Rodan to help her drive off the space monster. I also like how, despite her good-hearted nature, Mothra can be pushed to her limits and sometimes has to do something drastic, like when Godzilla and Rodan are too busy fighting to hear her trying to get their attention and she's forced to spray both of them with her silk to do so. Some may not care for it but as you can tell, I for one really like how the monsters get very distinct personalities in this film. In case you're wondering, this is indeed one of the two larvae that hatched out of the egg in the previous film; we're told by the Shobijin that the other one ended up dying in-between films. We're not told what happened, we're just told that one of them passed away and that Infant Island once again has one Mothra to watch over it as a deity (budgetary constraints are why both larvae couldn't be in this film). That does suck, I must say, especially after the big battle they both went through against Godzilla, but it's never bothered me that much. The Mothra suit here is also one of the two used previously and inside it is Katsumi Tezuka, who also played one of the larvae in the last film and, like he was before, is still very good at making this thing move like a real, undulating caterpillar rather than like a man crawling around inside of a suit. I'm pretty sure that this was Tezuka's last bit of suit acting before he bowed out of it due to his own realization that was become far too old to continue doing it.

Now we get to the title monster which, over the years, became one of the most popular creatures that Toho ever created: King Ghidorah. Even though the movie itself is titled after it, Ghidorah doesn't appear until almost an hour into the movie but, that said, the build-up to its first appearance is very suspenseful and kind of creepy actually. When I first saw this movie as a kid, I thought it was eerie how after the meteorite containing Ghidorah lands in that gorge, it sits there for quite a while and the scientists who are there to observe it discover that it has sporadic instances of magnetism that is strong enough to drag their metal tools to it from a great distance. Its magnetic properties are hinted at when the scientists are making their way to the site and they discover that something is messing with their compasses. But what I find the most eerie about it is how the meteorite gradually becomes bigger than it already is and all the while, there's a glow coming from inside it that's accompanied by a constant thunder-like rumble, as if this meteorite is actually an egg and Ghidorah is gestating inside of it, waiting to hatch. This whole scenario creeped me out as a kid because it reminded me a lot of the Blob and how it crashed to Earth in an isolated area while being contained inside a meteorite. The Blob's meteorite may not have grown or anything but just the idea of something coming from outer space while being contained inside of a meteorite and landing in an unpopulated area, with nobody realizing that it did so, is a very freaky notion for me. And just as creepy as the Blob, throughout the original series of films, we never find out where Ghidorah came from. We learned that it, or at least ancestor, wiped out the advanced civilization on Venus thousands of years ago but we never learn from where in space Ghidorah itself hails from. And what's more, we never find out if the meteorite is actually an egg or if it's just something that Ghidorah creates around itself so it can enter the atmosphere of another planet and it takes time for it to gather its strength to the point where it can emerge and start causing havoc. In later films, Ghidorah would explode out of a similar type of object before heading for Earth so you could say that it's the latter but even then, it's obvious that Ghidorah is perfectly capable of leaving Earth by simply flying so I don't know why it just couldn't arrive on a planet in the same manner. Maybe what arrived in on Earth here was an egg and whatever it used those other times was something else? And then comes a more unsettling question: was that "egg" just floating around the universe until it crashed on Earth or was it deliberately sent? The next film does offer up some subtle hints towards the latter but it ultimately remains unanswered and I, for one, find the idea of something out there in space sending this monster out to destroy planets without any warning (which is possibly what happened to Venus) to be very creepy. In the end, though, this issue is just another one of these curiosities that is fun to debate and come up with theories about but isn't something that you should wrack your brain over.

Whatever its actual origin, once Ghidorah emerges from the meteorite, it's obvious that it only has one thing on its collective mind: chaos and destruction. As popular a monster as it became, Ghidorah never developed much of a personality. The only things that it seems to know how to do is destroy everything in its path and defend itself from any threats. In this film and especially in the next, Ghidorah's movements are extremely hyper and violent. It may not be able to walk very well due to its enormous girth but it makes up for it in how agile and quickly it can fly and how it constantly whips its three necks and heads around like mad, often while firing its lightning bolts and making it hard to predict where each bolt is going to hit next. These erratic and fast motions that it goes through make Ghidorah feel very much like a living, breathing embodiment of mindless chaos. Ghidorah has two main weapons with which to cause destruction and to battle other creatures: hurricane-force winds from its wings, like those of Rodan and Mothra in her adult stage, and its most notable weapon, the lightning bolts that each of its heads can spew forth. Many sources refer to those things as "gravity beams" but they look like lightning bolts and blow stuff up like lightning bolts so, as far as I'm concerned, that's what they are. Those bolts can very effectively reduce a city to rubble when Ghidorah fires them repeatedly while flying over one and they also make for great weapons with which to defend itself. While they don't seem to seriously hurt Godzilla, poor Mothra gets blasted around like nothing when she takes a hit from them and Rodan is intimidated by them enough to take cover when he's being shot at. In addition to its defenses, Ghidorah can also just plain take a lot of abuse due to its immense size and strength. By the end of the movie, when you see that it did take the combined forces of three monsters in order to defeat Ghidorah (and they don't even kill it, they just manage to drive it from the planet), you realize how fortunate the Earth was that Godzilla and Rodan decided in the end to join up with Mothra. Without them, Mothra would have been instantly barbecued by Ghidorah and Earth would have been no match for the powerful space dragon.

Ghidorah's very design is a sign of the more fantastical approach that the Godzilla movies were beginning to take at this point because it looks more like something you would see in a fantasy or mythological movie than a science fiction film. Because of the bright colors of its completely golden body, it actually has a kind of beauty to it. Its torso is very bulky and each of the three necks are very long and swan-like, with the heads having the typical dragon horns in back along with some tufts of hair. The fact that it has three heads is why I refrain from calling Ghidorah a "he" and prefer to refer to the monster as simply "it." I've never felt comfortable talking about Ghidorah while using specific singular terms like "he" and "him" because it doesn't feel appropriate. With the three heads, you don't know if each one has its own thoughts and personality or if they're all controlled by a single consciousness, like a hive-mind. Because of this, I prefer to refer to Ghidorah as "it" because that feels much broader and less specific. Therefore, I will continue to do so throughout these reviews. You may find it odd or nitpicky but it's simply the way I feel about it. Getting back on track, the most amazing aspect of Ghidorah's design to me are its enormous, leathery wings. They're the reason why Ghidorah has such a presence whenever it's on-camera. In fact, if you watch this or any of the other movies featuring Ghidorah in widescreen, you'll notice that, because of the wings, the monster takes up almost the entire frame in the wide-shots! About the only thing about Ghidorah that isn't small are its short, stubby legs. And I've always found it wear that Ghidorah has no arms. I guess it may have looked a little awkward if they tried to put arms on that thing (I've tried to imagine Ghidorah with arms but I have a hard time doing so) but it's still an oddity. What's more, it has no arms but it does have two tails, no doubt so it can more properly balance its enormous body, which is probably why, along with its powerful wings, it doesn't need arms. Inside the Ghidorah suit is Shoichi Hirose, the powerful man who played King Kong and because of the suit's huge size and girth, it's obvious why they picked him to play it. Unfortunately, it was a very thankless job for him because all he really did was support the suit's girth with his strength and just walk around in the shots where Ghidorah is on the ground, while off-camera technicians were the ones that actually imbued the monster with life by controlling the heads, wings, and tails with wires. Finally, the bell-like sounds that Ghidorah makes are rather unique for a giant monster and it's more interesting when you realize that each head creates a different variation of the sound. Its wings also seem to create a distinct, high-pitched ringing sound whenever Ghidorah is flying, signaling its presence long before you actually see it.

As fake as they are, I'd take these puppets over the really bad
ones from Godzilla Raids Again any day.
The short and grueling production schedule of this film, as well as the others produced in rapid succession at that time, was no doubt hardest on Eiji Tsuburaya and his effects crew. Not only did they have to create a number of special effects for these films in such a short amount of time but some of the effects also had to be quite challenging to pull off, requiring more of the ingenuity that Tsuburaya was known for. While the schedule did catch up with them in some aspects, most notably in those puppets used for the battle between Godzilla and Rodan and how you can see the strings in some shots, for the most part they were able to once again show far they had come since the original Godzilla and create a number of effects for this film that are very impressive for the short amount of time they had in which to do so. To prove it to yourself, go back and watch Godzilla Raids Again, which also had a very short schedule, and right afterward, watch Ghidorah. The effects work here is far superior to how it was there, with even the questionable hand-puppets looking much better than they did in that movie, and both films had about the same amount of filming time (in fact, I think Godzilla Raids Again had a little bit more). The monster costumes, especially Ghidorah, look really good, the miniatures look as convincing and detailed as ever, the exploding and smashing of the miniatures when Ghidorah attacks cities and villages are quite impressive, and the miniature landscape used as the setting for the final battle between the monsters is so realistic that you'd swear that this stuff was shot on location. The optical effects, which had already been improved in the previous film from how badly they looked in King Kong vs. Godzilla, look even better here. You can still the matte lines sometimes, yes, but the blending of two separate elements, such as when the full-size actors are in the same shot with the Shobijin, is very well done. The animation that's used for long shots of Godzilla firing his atomic breath looks quite good and the way Ghidorah's lightning bolts look like they're actually coming out of the monster's mouths is even more impressive. And as you can see for yourself from the image, the way Ghidorah materializes out of emerging from the meteorite is quite a spectacle too. While they may have been hampered a little bit by the tight schedule, on the whole, Tsuburaya and his team once again worked their magic and some truly wonderful images.

This film very gradually builds up the monsters, starting out with some very quick moments involving their first appearances and it stays so up until the third act, where things really heat up. Technically, Mothra is the first one that we see since the Shobijin appear on this TV show and these two five-year old boys on the show ask to see her. That's when you first hear the song Cry for Happiness and see images of Infant Island with the natives worshipping Mothra as the Shobijin continue to sing (far too long for my taste). At first, I thought the images of Mothra were what the kids were seeing since they're told by the Shobijin that they'll see her if they close their eyes during the song but apparently not since we see the image of her on the TV screen. I don't know how they got those images. Anyway, a little while after that, we get the scene where Rodan breaks out of the crater at Mt. Aso. Some poor guy climbs down into the crater to retrieve this other guy's new hat since he was promised some money if he did so and as soon as he gets down there and picks up the hat, he sees Rodan breaking free from a nearby rock wall. The guy naturally panics and tries to climb back up the side of the crater, as the onlookers up above see Rodan's head emerge from behind the rocks. When Rodan screeches at them, that's all they need to see to get them running like scared rabbits. As the crater is evacuated, Rodan manages to completely extricate himself from the rocks and flies up to the top of the crater, where he inexplicably imitates Godzilla for the first time. After hovering above the crater for a little bit, Rodan takes off and causes a little bit of damage with his hurricane-force winds in the process, as the tour buses down below attempt to get the people to safety. It's not too long after that when Princess Salno warns that the ship meant to take the Shobijin back to Infant Island is doomed and that night, her prediction comes true when Godzilla emerges from the ocean right in front of the ship. His appearance is preceded by some enormous, fishlike creatures that I think are supposed to be whales retreating in fear of him. After he emerges from the water, Godzilla immediately fries the ship with his atomic breath upon spotting it.

After a small shootout in Princess Salno's hotel-room between Shindo and the group of assassins, which ends with the assassins apparently using the outside balcony to escape in some manner, Shindo decides to take Salno to a specialist for treatment. As they're leaving, they hear a loud explosion outside and when Shindo looks out the window to see what happened, we see that a ship in the harbor is engulfed in flames. After seeing people panicking and running for their lives, we then figure out the cause of the explosion when Godzilla appears in the bay. He then makes his way up onto the docks and begins moving inland, as the nearby district of the city is evacuated. As Godzilla moves through the outskirts of the city (which is Yokohama in case you're curious), he stops when he hears a high-pitched screeching sound up in the sky. After scanning the clouds for a little bit, Godzilla then sees the source of the sound: Rodan. This is the first time that Godzilla has ever seen the flying monster and is obviously quite intrigued by him, as he keeps his eyes on him as he circles around the city. As he turns his body to keep looking at Rodan, Godzilla makes a gesture and roars at him, smashing a house with his tail in the process. As Rodan flies past a tower and then heads off into the night, Godzilla seems keen to follow him, marching forward through the city and knocking over a smaller tower as he heads onward into the countryside.

Now we get into the third act of the movie and here, the action begins switching from an ongoing battle between Godzilla and Rodan and other events, so I'll be jumping around here a lot. We first get the beginning of the aforementioned fight. As Godzilla begins wading in the shallows of a small, seaside village, heading for the shore and for Mt. Fuji, Rodan appears and flies straight at him. Godzilla turns just in time to see him and barks at him, with Rodan immediately answering by imitating him again. Before Godzilla knows what happened, Rodan slams right into him, hitting the left side of the face and sending him falling onto his back in the water. Rodan then circles around to the right, destroying some houses with his winds, while Godzilla gets to his feet and roars very angrily at him. Rodan then somehow manages to get behind Godzilla as he comes ashore and heads inland.

Here we have a large continuity error because the next scene, which is the emergence of Ghidorah, is taking place at night when the scene that we just saw between Godzilla and Rodan was taking place in broad daylight. This error is corrected in the American version via some re-editing, which we'll discuss when we get there. Prof. Murai and his part are sleeping in their tents when they awaken upon hearing a loud sound that's akin to a thunderclap. As they rush outside, they're nearly blinded by a flash of bright light and as they move closer to see what's going on, the meteorite pulls in a bunch of rocks via its magnetism (I don't know why that would work on rocks, though) and after some interior flashing that's accompanied by some more thunder, the meteorite cracks open, releasing a large amount of white vapor. The meteorite contains flashing and thundering from the inside as sparks begin billowing up on either side of it to the point where they're almost in the form of geysers. The force of all of this is so powerful that the tent they were previously sleeping in collapses. As the sparks become intense enough to form a wall, the meteorite is completely destroyed when a huge fireball is tossed up into the air by an explosion where it dissipates in a series of bright flashes, leaving behind a fiery silhouette that slowly begins to form into a solid object as Murai and his colleagues watch. Of course, the silhouette becomes the powerful space monster King Ghidorah, which hovers up there in the sky and cackles in an evil manner. Upon emerging from the meteorite, Ghidorah immediately heads for Matsumoto City. As the whirling sound accompanied by its flying grows steadily louder, the city is evacuated and the entire populace runs for cover, with storeowners actually boarding up and closing their shops like you would if a hurricane were approaching. Ghidorah doesn't seem to cause much damage since the only bit of destruction that we see is some shingles being blown off of a pagoda when Ghidorah flies over it but then again, who knows what else it did before it finally left the area.

While the officials discuss what to do with these three rampaging monsters over at the Diet Building in Tokyo, Godzilla and Rodan continue their battle at Mt. Fuji. Godzilla tries to keep his eyes on Rodan as the giant bird flies around him but in a long shot, we see that he managed to get behind Godzilla again. Rather than attacking, though, Rodan just hovers above Godzilla for a little bit as the two of them square off. When Rodan gets right in front of him, Godzilla gives him two shots of his atomic breath, both of which don't affect him at all. Shrugging it off, Rodan repeatedly pecks at Godzilla's head and the upper part of his snout. Godzilla shakes his head and his dart around for a little bit (this is where the inadequacies of the puppet head are very noticeable) as Rodan moves in to attack again. At the time this is going on, the Shobijin reveal to the officials their plan to have Mothra try to talk Godzilla and Rodan into helping her battle Ghidorah. Immediately after they reveal this plan, Ghidorah actually appears in Tokyo and begins laying waste to it. This is the first time that we see Ghidorah use its lightning and it's also the first time that we see just lethally efficient it is at causing destruction. Flying over the city and swinging its heads back and forth as it fires its lightning, causing it to easily spread all over the city, Ghidorah manages to absolutely decimate a good chunk of Tokyo in just a couple of minutes. Dozens of buildings are blown to bits by its lightning, the upper half of a large tower falls over after being hit right in the middle, and debris goes flying everywhere due to the powerful winds generated by Ghidorah's wings. This footage would be repeated a couple of times for later films, not only for Ghidorah but also for Megalon, which is able to shoot lightning similar to that which the dragon spews forth. After this demonstration of power by the space monster, the officials urge the Shobijin to call Mothra right away, which they do by singing Cry for Happiness again, prompting Mothra to crawl off of her sacred rock and head for the ocean.

With Mothra on the way, we now get an interesting sequence where the human action and the monster action intersect. Ignoring warnings that Godzilla and Rodan are getting closer, Malness and his group of assassins head to the Tsukamoto Clinic to kill Princess Salno once and for all. This is when Malness, seeing that Shindo and Dr. Tsukamoto are preparing to perform shock treatment on the princess, cranks the voltage all the way up to 3,000 volts. Back at the ongoing battle, Rodan tags Godzilla from behind and knocks him forward onto the ground. With his foe struggling to get up, Rodan lands on top of Godzilla's back, pecks at his head for a little bit, and then manages to fly up and take Godzilla with him, holding onto him by the dorsal plates. Rodan manages to carry Godzilla over a fair distance until he finally drops him right onto an electrical tower (on his crotch, no less), which causes a power outage throughout the area and stops Shindo and Tsukamoto from unknowingly performing the fatal shock therapy on Princess Salno. When the lights go off, Shindo attempts to see what happened and runs right into Malness and his men when he opens the door, starting another shootout. Tsukamoto takes cover with Salno while Shindo holds off the assassins. At the same time, Prof. Murai and Naoko arrive with the Shobijin and Murai, upon hearing the gunshots, tells Naoko to stay where she is while he heads inside to see what's going on. Passing by some panicking nurses, Murai grabs a wrench and when one of the assassins comes through the door, he whacks him right on the head with it (his reaction is a lot funnier in the American version), causing him to drop his gun. Picking the gun up, Murai helps Shindo with the shootout and this forces the assassins to retreat out a nearby window. With the coast clear, Tsukamoto brings Salno out from hiding and he, with the assistance of Murai and some other doctors, walk her out of the clinic. Shindo, however, pursues the retreating assassins, firing at them several times but he ultimately fails to hit any of them. He and Naoko then join the others in evacuating the clinic.

Getting back to his feet after being dropped, Godzilla sees Rodan sitting on a nearby rock, squawking at him. After a little bit of squaring off, Rodan flies at Godzilla who, at the same time proceeds to walk towards him. After getting pecking on the head again, Godzilla decides that he's had enough and turns around, bends over, raises his tail up, and whacks Rodan on the head with it, knocking him to the ground. With the giant bird dazed from that, Godzilla then grabs him, picks him up, and slams him on the ground before turning back around and whacking him with his tail. However, that proves to be a big mistake because Rodan manages to hover back up in the air and he bites the tip of Godzilla's tail. After struggling a little bit, Godzilla manages to yank his tail out of Rodan's beak and swings around to give him another taste of his atomic breath. Again, this doesn't seriously injure Rodan but it does daze him a little bit and he and Godzilla then proceed to struggle with each other a little bit while standing right in front of each other. Rodan eventually manages to jump back away from Godzilla and then use his hurricane winds to upset Godzilla's balance and blow him away. Not able to get near Rodan physically because of the wind, Godzilla then starts to use the rocks him around him as projectiles, kicking them and whacking them with his tail at Rodan. At this point, the Shobijin, who are with Shindo, Naoko, and the others as they're evacuating, sense that Mothra has arrived, prompting the humans to stop the car and head up to a vantage point where they can see what's going on. We then see that Mothra is approaching the site where Godzilla and Rodan are still in battle. Godzilla is still losing his balance due to Rodan's winds but continues to fight back against him by pelting him with large rocks, which seem to wearing the flying monster down. Mothra crawls up to them and tries to get their attention but they're too busy fighting to notice her and it gets to the point where Godzilla and Rodan begin whacking rocks back and forth between each other, with Rodan using his head to bounce them. Mothra continues squeaking to try to get their attention but when that still doesn't work, she's finally forced to spray Godzilla right in the face with her silk, which Rodan finds hilarious. After getting hit with the sticky stuff, Godzilla groans in disgust as he tries to pull it off of him, while Rodan continues laughing... that is, until Mothra sprays him as well. Now Godzilla's laughing at Rodan, who looks around rather confused once the spraying stops. Godzilla takes a seat while continuing to laugh at his foe's confusion, beginning the "monster talk" scene.

Mothra crawls up onto a ridge to where she can talk to Godzilla and Rodan. The Shobijin translate that Mothra tells them that they must save the Earth from Ghidorah but Godzilla and Rodan are less than willing to do so, saying that they don't care, with Godzilla adding that humans are always bullying him, a statement that Rodan agrees with. Meanwhile, Ghidorah enters the area, flying over the nearby village and randomly shooting its lightning bolts, one of which hits the mountainside and creates a large rockslide that ends up crushing the assassins' car. All of the assassins are killed save for Malness, who staggers out of the backseat, seriously injured but determined to complete his mission. Ghidorah then lands in the village, while Mothra continues to try to get Godzilla and Rodan to help her. Despite her assertion that they must forget the past, Godzilla and Rodan begin demanding that the other must apologize. Godzilla blasts Rodan again, causing the big bird to swing around and the two of them then scuffle a little bit. Mothra manages to stop the scuffle before it escalates and while the negotiations continue, the grounded Ghidorah begins wreaking havoc on the village, stomping through it while firing its lightning bolts at various sections of it. The humans and the Shobijin move to a safer position and the little girls then continue translating the conversation. Mothra's statement that the Earth belongs to everybody, not just mankind, seems to finally win Godzilla and Rodan over but then, the Shobijin say that it still didn't work. With the talk having ended in disagreement, Mothra is forced to fight Ghidorah by herself. Godzilla and Rodan watch her as she crawls away to the outskirts of the village, where she sees the powerful space dragon laying waste to it. Ghidorah is destroying everything with its lightning and is also stomping on some of the houses with its enormous feet, all the while seeming to gleefully enjoy causing the destruction. Even though she's clearly outmatched, Mothra approaches the village and Ghidorah wastes no time in acknowledging her presence, blasting its lightning around the caterpillar. As it continues blowing up houses, Ghidorah then targets Mothra again and hits her dead on, sending her flying up into the air. After landing, Mothra turns and looks at Ghidorah, who promptly blasts her up into the air once again.

Just when it seems like Mothra has bought the farm, Godzilla appears on a nearby ridge and upon seeing Mothra get blasted, heads down into the village to help, with Rodan appearing in the sky above. Godzilla heads straight for Ghidorah and gets blasted back by the lightning a little bit but is undeterred, charging towards the dragon again and grabbing its three legs. He ends up getting shoved backwards, falls onto a nearby bridge, and is almost half-buried when the side of the mountain crumbles as a result. Ghidorah fires its lightning again, hitting the surrounding forest and causing an enormous fire, blocking off an escape route for the evacuating villagers. Rodan flies into help and whacks the top of Ghidorah's heads with his feet. This gets Ghidorah's attention and Rodan proceeds to lead the dragon away from Godzilla and Mothra. With Ghidorah chasing Rodan, Godzilla helps Mothra get up the side of the ridge by letting her grab onto his tail with her mouth so he can drag her up it. Rodan leads Ghidorah father off into the countryside and then, when the dragon least expects it, swings around and rams right into it, causing Ghidorah fall right onto an enormous boulder on its stomach (ouch!) Rodan got knocked on his back by the impact as well and while he manages to get up, he has to take cover behind a rock in order to avoid Ghidorah's bolts. Godzilla and Mothra then arrive while Ghidorah has Rodan pinned down and while Ghidorah does seem to notice them, it continues trying to get Rodan rather than face its other opponents. That attitude, however, changes when Godzilla throws a rock on its back and when Ghidorah turns around to face him, it gets pelted with more rocks. Meanwhile, Princess Salno, who slipped away from the others, prays on a ledge in a nearby gorge for the Earth to be spared from destruction. Malness then finds her but so does Shindo and after Salno gets grazed by a bullet from Malness trying to snipe her out, Shindo fires some shots at Malness and then climbs down to get down to Salno, who fells when she was shot. Malness tries to shoot him as well but his clip is empty and he has to reload. Shindo gets down to the princess, who has regained her senses after having been grazed by the bullet, and he and Malness engage in another firefight. After a standoff, Malness manages to shoot Shindo in the right hand, causing him to drop his handgun. As Shindo attempts to shield Salno with his body, Malness shoots him in the left arm. It seems as though the assassin has them cornered but then, a stray bolt from Ghidorah causes a rockslide that sends him falling to his doom. Shindo and Salno are then rescued by the others.

Back at the battle, Godzilla continues pelting Ghidorah with rocks but then he and Mothra get blasted by the dragon, which sends Mothra flying off to the side. Ghidorah then decides to play dirty and blasts Godzilla in the neck and face before traveling the bolts down his body and ultimately targeting his crotch (Godzilla's privates are taking a lot of abuse here, aren't they?) Rodan flies up behind Ghidorah and lands on its back, pecking the backs of its heads while Godzilla attacks from the front. Mothra crawls around behind Ghidorah and bites the tip of one of its two tails but gets flung around like a ragdoll while Rodan gets thrown off the dragon's back and Godzilla gets shoved onto his back. Mothra manages to hold onto the tail while Rodan attempts to fly onto Ghidorah's back again but is unable to do so this time due to the dragon's movements. Mothra continues holding onto the tail as Godzilla attempts to get back onto his feet but just when he does, Ghidorah apparently shoves him with its heads and causes fall to forward flat on his face. As Rodan lands behind Ghidorah and Mothra continues to hold onto one of its tails for dear life, Ghidorah decides to be a dirty asshole again and zaps Godzilla right on the butt! That definitely gets him on his feet and he runs forward while Ghidorah fires its bolts around him. With Rodan watching, Mothra finally loses her grip on the tail and as Godzilla fights the dragon from the front again, the caterpillar attempts to use her silk against it. Realizing what she's trying to do but seeing that she can't get up high enough for it to be of any use, Rodan allows Mothra to crawl up his wing and onto her back. Rodan takes up into the air with Mothra on his back, while Godzilla grapples with Ghidorah's necks and eventually gets shoved on his back again. Mothra begins spraying Ghidorah's back and necks with her silk and when Ghidorah turns around to face her and Rodan, Godzilla comes up behind it and grabs its tails. Mothra continues spraying as Godzilla attempts to drag the space monster backwards. As the villagers continue to head for safety. Mothra is starting to make progress in cocooning Ghidorah's heads, as Godzilla continues dragging it backwards. Unfortunately for the villagers, a rockslide caused by the monsters' battle buries what's left of their ruined village but on the upside, Ghidorah's heads are now almost completely cocooned. With the dragon unable to see, Godzilla drags it up a hill and then swings it around and throws it down the other side. As the frazzled monster gets to its feet, Godzilla throws rocks at it again until Ghidorah realizes that it's beat and retreats, flying up into the sky. The battle then finally ends, with Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra watching Ghidorah as it leaves the planet.

Besides reusing the perfected Godzilla theme that he had created for Mothra vs. Godzilla, Akira Ifukube comes up with some more iconic music for his score to Ghidorah. The most notable one is Ghidorah's theme, which you first hear when the monster is emerging from the meteorite. The theme doesn't start right away but rather has a mysterious and eerie build-up as the meteorite's magnetism goes berserk and it cracks open. Near the end of the sequence, when the rock is finally destroyed and Ghidorah is forming out of the fireball, the theme hits full blast and the way it sounds makes Ghidorah feel really powerful and incredible before you actually see it for the first time. After its spectacular introduction, you pretty much can't get a look at Ghidorah without hearing that theme and the same goes for the theme composed for Rodan, which often begins playing after the main notes of Godzilla's theme, particularly during their battle and later on during the climactic fight with Ghidorah. This musical motif for the two monsters' themes would become a fixture throughout the series. If there's a problem with these themes, it's that they're played way too many times. As good as they sound, it can get old very quickly when you have to hear them over and over again. Rodan's theme plays so much during the film's third act that it really gets monotonous. You even hear that music during the shootout at the Tsukamoto clinic, which I think was a mistake. I'm sure Ifukube was under a serious time crunch but a different theme there would have worked better in my opinion. Some other good music includes the soft theme that you can hear when Prof. Murai and his colleagues are heading for the site of the meteorite crash (you'd hear a variation on that music again in the next film), the rather freaky female vocalizing accompanied by a pounding, threatening bit of music that you hear when they first see the meteorite, and a nice new variation of the theme that accompanied Mothra's egg in the previous film which, fittingly, is played whenever Mothra herself is around here. There aren't a lot of different themes to be heard here since Ifukube plays the same ones over and over again during the film's last quarter but, while it does get a bit repetitive, it's still good music nonetheless (the piece that ends the movie, though, is kind of bland to me). The only bit of music here that I can say I don't like is the song Cry for Happiness, that you have to endure not once but twice in the film. Since Ifukube didn't consider himself to be much of a lyricist (although, if you heard the song he composed for the Shobijin in the previous film called the Sacred Spring, you would know that he was far too hard on himself), he didn't write it. He left that up to the same person who wrote the songs for the original Mothra and, while I like what I hear there, I can't say the same for this song. I just plain don't like the way it sounds and I don't care for the lyrics either. Plus, the song itself goes on far too long, and the fact that, in the Japanese version anyway, you have to listen to it fully twice is pushing it even more. While it's not one of my absolute favorite films, I do like a lot of things about Ghidorah but that song is one aspect I can honestly say I despise.

File:Ghidrah.jpgWhile Mothra vs. Godzilla had more or less remained as is when it was brought to America as Godzilla vs. The Thing, Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster, which was released in the U.S. in September of 1965 as Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster, was altered quite a bit, though not as drastically as the first three Godzilla films in that there's no newly shot footage to be found here. The changes made here have to do with a lot of re-editing, some of which is unnecessary and some of which actually corrects some continuity errors in the Japanese version. There are also some minor tweaks made to the story but nothing so drastic that it completely changes what was being told originally. The most obvious change is the renaming of the title monster from "Ghidorah" to "Ghidrah." Just like how Gojira ended up being translated as Godzilla, this name change came about due to how the Japanese name's pronunciation was interpreted by Americans. The leap from Ghidorah to Ghidrah is not as improbable as you might think. All it took was the removal of a vowel to get there and if you listen to how the actors pronounce it in the original Japanese version, you will realize that they're saying, "gee-doe-rah," which can be easily interpreted as just "gee-drah" due to how quickly the Japanese language is spoken and how vowels are sometimes skipped over. This American transliteration persisted for quite a long time and because of the next film, where Ghidorah is often called Monster Zero (it is called Ghidrah there as well but I didn't catch that when I was a kid), and the later film Godzilla vs. Gigan, whose dub has the name pronounced as "gi-dor-ah," I didn't know what to call this monster when I was young and it made joke that the monster had as many names as it did heads! Eventually, Toho began making it clear that they prefer the monster's name be written as "Ghidorah" and while you could argue back and forth about which pronunciation to use, I've always just referred to it as "gi-dor-ah" in order to avoid confusion... that is, until I have to explain this transliteration aspect to others, in which case confusion reigns supreme. So, while I mentioned this back in my Godzilla introduction, I want to reiterate that when I write "Ghidorah" in later reviews, I'm pronouncing it in that way I said prefer to. You can pronounce however you wish to. (We're going to have more of these translation discussions for later films so be prepared for those.)

Some consider the dubbing for Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster to be amongst the best in the series, just as it is with Godzilla vs. The Thing. I, however, don't quite agree with that. I've heard worse dubs than this one but, at the same time, I've heard a lot better. The dubbing done for the male characters, such as Shindo, Malness, Shindo's superior, and Dr. Tsukamoto, are pretty good and fit with the characters. I especially like the dubbing for the two hosts of that television show that the Shobijin appear on. The dub actors manage to play off each other rather well and I like how, when one comments that the shorter one is almost the same height as the two five-year old boys who appear with them, his buddy says out of the corner of his mouth, "Cut it out, will you? We're on-camera!" That feels very natural to me, like two friends joshing each other, which would fit since those two Japanese actors were a popular comedy team in their home country. In addition, the dubbing done for Princess Salno is also quite good and the actor manages to change the tone of her voice to suit the character's state of mind. When we first see her on the plane, her voice is very prim and proper, appropriate for a princess, but when she becomes possessed by that mysterious otherworldly force, her voice becomes more monotone and emotionless, save for when she's trying to warn people about impending danger and near the end of the film when she's preparing for the Earth to be spared from destruction. It becomes emotional again after the force releases its hold on her. Unfortunately, Salno is the exception. And while we're on the subject, in this version, Salno claims to come from Mars instead of Venus, probably since Mars was, and still kind of is, the most popular planet to have aliens come from. A lot of the female voices hear are rather shrill and high-pitched, making them hard to listen to. Naoko is dubbed this way, which is unfortunate because I like the character. Not only is her voice rather shrill (it was especially bad on the old VHS I owned for years) but she also comes across as a bit ditzy due to the dub actor's performance. The Shobijin, despite their delivering the classic line, "Oh, Godzilla, what terrible language!" in this version, are also pretty annoying with how their voices sound and this is an instance where talking in unison only makes it more so. The most unusual instance of dubbing here is how they get around the song that the Shobijin sing. They keep the original singing in but they have a woman talk over it, translating it for you in the process. If you watch the Japanese version, you'd know that her translation is what's being sung in only the vaguest sense. Since you still have to listen to the whole song, which, again, is not one that I care for, I still dislike it but at least you only have to endure it once in this version. In conclusion, the dub job here isn't the absolute worst I've ever heard but I've also heard others that I find more tolerable.

The biggest changes done to the Japanese version in order to create the American version of this film have to do with quite a bit of editing. The sequences of events in various parts of the movie are reshuffled and some brief moments are deleted altogether. As I said, some of these changes actually work while others weren't necessary and actually kind of hurt the film in some instances. The best example of the former comes in how the editors had Ghidorah emerge from its meteorite after the scene where Godzilla comes ashore at Yokohama, which works much better since both sequences take place at night, whereas the Japanese version had it occur after the start of Godzilla and Rodan's lengthy fight, causing a major continuity error due to the time of day. Princess Salno's warning about Ghidorah comes after the monster has emerged in this version instead of before as it was originally, with some feeling that that change undermines the effectiveness of her otherworldly abilities but I never thought it was a big deal. In this version, the scene ends with her saying that Ghidorah is already on Earth, a statement that is very much correct since it's already hatched, so I don't think the change did as much damage as some think it did. And while we're on the subject of Ghidorah, in this version the meteorite carrying it lands after we see the start of the shower instead of happening after Princess Salno's plane blows up, as occurs in the Japanese version. I think either way works well, although I prefer the way it plays out in the Japanese version because I think the transition from seeing the meteorite crash into the gorge to Prof. Murai and his team arriving the next morning to search for it is a bit smoother. Plus, in this version, after the meteorite crashes in this version, we hear some sirens, which suggests an emergency response to the object's crash but nothing more is said about it afterward. Those sirens were meant as an emergency call for an outbreak of Japanese encephalitis but, since the scene from the Japanese version that explains this is removed here, you wouldn't know that. As it is with the perceived weakening of Salno's ability to predict the future, it's not a huge deal but it's just something I've thought about. I also agree with the removal of scenes like when Kenji Sahara's character instructs his reporters how to approach the story on the prophet and when Shindo and Naoko are actually taking Princess Salno to the Tsukamoto clinic because they're not necessary to the plot. And in this version, they completely remove Cry for Happiness during the moment later on when the Shobijin call Mothra and we just hear them sing Mothra's name a few times, which leads to a shot of Infant Island and Mothra simply heading for the sea instead. Due to the way it was translated when you hear it on the television, it's not surprising that they didn't play the whole thing a second time but either way, having to endure that song once was enough so I'm really glad they cut it here.

The number of changes and re-edits that I feel are either unnecessary or create more problems with the film are a little bit less than those I find beneficial, which is a good sign but they're still here regardless. One change that I kind of miss is that one I just talked about where the outbreak of Japanese encephalitis is mentioned. While I don't think the unclear nature that its excision gave those sirens is much of a big deal, I wish they had kept it in because I think the talk about the outbreak, which is attributed to the abnormal temperatures they're having during January, in conjunction with the newspaper article that Shindo reads about swimming at New Year's, effectively drives home the idea that something strange and alarming is going on. You get a hint of that when the director of the UFO club talks to Naoko at the beginning of the movie but I feel that scene made it feel more to the point. One part that always confused me was when Shindo comes home and says, "Oh, I see sis has a new boyfriend," and after that, both he and his mother tease Naoko about being romantically interested in Prof. Murai. In the Japanese version, there's a shot where we see Shindo walking home and he sees Naoko getting out of Murai's car, which explains where he got that idea; the bit is removed here and so, Shindo's comments come out of nowhere and make no sense. When I was younger, I wondered if I had missed something earlier on that would explain this but it turns out I didn't, so that left me scratching my head until I finally saw the Japanese version. And, as much as I appreciate them sparing me from hearing Cry for Happiness a second time here, I wish they had done something about the extended shot of Infant Island that we get after the Shobijin call for Mothra. In the Japanese version, they sing the first lyrics of the song over that shot but with the song completely removed here, the shot feels like it goes on a little too long and is a bit awkward as a result. One change that David Kalat praises in his chapter on the film in A Critical History and Filmography of Toho's Godzilla Series is how they make it so that Godzilla first catches sight of Rodan after emerging from the ocean in his first scene. They put in a shot of Rodan flying in the sky from later on in the movie and a shot of Godzilla reacting to it in this scene, which Kalat feels corresponds with the bit later on when Godzilla comes ashore at Yokohama and that it makes it seem as if the reason he does so and causes the damage that he does is because he's after Rodan. He feels that this softens Godzilla's character a bit and makes his transition into a good guy later on more acceptable. I could buy that if it weren't for the fact that, after he emerges from the ocean and sees Rodan for the first time here, Godzilla still fries that boat and kills everyone onboard for no reason other than he just wanted to out of rage. Be it in the Japanese version or in the American version when he's supposedly after Rodan, he's still causing death and destruction before he and Rodan are recruited by Mothra to help her fight Ghidorah so I don't see what impact that re-editing made. Others may agree with Kalat's assertions but I for one just don't see the significance.

While it wasn't completely excised as had been the case with King Kong vs. Godzilla, a good chunk of Akira Ifukube's score for Ghidorah did not survive translation and was replaced with stock music. As with the editing of the actual film, I feel that some of changes were beneficial while others were completely unnecessary. The biggest benefit that stems from this is that the monotony that happens during Godzilla and Rodan's battle due to the same themes being repeated over and over again is broken up by the inclusion of some other music. The music that replaces Ifukube's cues here is rather bland and the bit that plays when Rodan picks Godzilla up and carries him has some rather obnoxious sections to it but I think the music that plays during the following scene, which is the shootout involving Shindo and Malness' group of assassins, is much more appropriate than continuing to play that which we've been hearing during Godzilla and Rodan's fight and, again, it helps it feel less monotonous. During the section where Prof. Murai and his colleagues arrive and then proceed to go search for the fallen meteorite, the quiet and peaceful music that Ifukube composed is replaced in this version by music that is much eerier and more atmospheric. I'm sort of torn here because I do like the sound of the music they put in but, since nothing sinister is happening at this point, it feels a bit out of place. Plus, I don't like that they replaced the freakish female vocalizing that you hear when they finally see the meteorite. As I said earlier, I appreciate them sparing us from listening to the entire song of Cry for Happiness a second time and instead, put in some nice, rather peaceful music for the bit when Mothra heads for the ocean. They also put music into the scene where Malness attempts to kill Princess Salno in the gorge near the end, which was originally devoid of it. I think that works for the better and helps give the scene more dramatic impact than it did when it was just silence. I don't understand why they felt the need to put some music in place of Rodan's theme in the scene where he first appears, especially since that music would be played many more times later on. While the music they replaced it with sounds fine, if they had kept Rodan's theme here and then did the replacing of it that they did during his and Godzilla's fight, I think it would have worked just fine. One bit of musical replacement I don't agree with at all, though, is how, during the scene where Godzilla comes ashore at Yokohama, they took out his theme and replaced it with something else. There is no reason for them to have done that, especially since they kept his theme in during his first appearance not too long before and would continue to play it during the latter part of the movie. It seems as though they made some of these decisions in a very inexplicable and nonsensical manner, doesn't it?

Whichever version you watch, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster is definitely one of the finest films in the Godzilla franchise. It has some interesting aspects and concepts in its story, the characters, despite some of them not being very deep, are likable and worth rooting for, there's a lot of really good monster action during the film's third act, as well as some amusing moments involving the monsters, Ghidorah itself is a cool creature and it's not surprising that it became as popular as it did, the build-up to it is nicely suspenseful, and seeing Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra working together to defeat it makes for a very exciting and fun climax. With all of these compliments, you may be wondering why I said I'm not absolutely crazy for this movie at the beginning of the review. One reason is simply because I like Godzilla vs. Monster Zero much more due to nostalgia and the fact that I saw it long before Ghidorah. The other reasons are some legitimate problems I have with the film, despite how good it is overall: while I like the possession angle involving the princess, I didn't really care for the subplot involving the assassins trying to kill her (although, like I said, I do think Malness is a memorable villain), it takes a while for the monsters to enter the picture and, as a result, the movie drags a little bit for me, the puppet effects used here are really bad and fake-looking, I don't care for the Shobijin's song here, and in the Japanese version, the sequence of events during the latter third of the film is a little choppy, with some noticeable continuity errors, and the music score gets really repetitive at points. While the American version does fix some of the latter problems, it has some issues of its own due to some of the dubbing, the re-editing, and the replacement of some of the music. So, overall, I feel that the film, in either form, does have a number of problems but that doesn't keep it from being a pretty entertaining monster flick overall and so, despite those flaws, I do recommend it.  

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