Saturday, May 17, 2014

Franchises: Godzilla. Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster (Ebirah, Horror of the Deep) (1966)

File:Godzilla vs the Sea Monster 1966.jpgThis is one of the earliest Godzilla movies I ever owned on VHS and, therefore, was one of the first I ever saw period. I'm not exactly sure which number it was in terms of the order I saw them in but I do know that it was after I had that traumatizing experience of renting Godzilla vs. Mothra because when I saw Mothra for the first time in this movie, I was like, "Oh, God, no." Fortunately, nothing that traumatic happens to her here, so it was all good. This was one that my step-cousin always wanted to watch whenever he would spend the night with me. I would usually be in the mood for another Godzilla but, since he was my guest, I was relented and agreed to watch Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster again. As you can guess, as a result of my step-cousin, this was one that I saw quite often when I was a kid. It also played on TV a fair number of times back then, so I saw it there as well. As a kid, I certainly liked the film but there was always something, I don't know what, that kept me from loving it. That opinion has persisted over the years and nowadays, it's still the same; in fact, I think it may be magnified now that I'm an adult. This is one of those that I put in the "okay" category. It's not a horrible film at all. In fact, since the longest version of it, which is the original Japanese version, is a mere 87 minutes, and it moves at a very brisk pace as well, it's quite an easy sit. What's more, like Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Godzilla himself doesn't keep come into the film until quite a ways in but it's entertaining enough to keep your attention until then; actually, once Godzilla makes his first appearance, he's present until the end, which is something I can't say about Monster Zero. However, despite that, I like Monster Zero much more. I don't know why. It's definitely not due to nostalgia since I grew up with both films. It's a real oddity. For me, Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster is a fairly entertaining film but, regardless, it's not one I find myself going back to all that often.

Yata, a young fisherman, has been missing at sea for two months, presumed dead after his boat was caught up in a storm. Despite these assertions, his mother and brother, Ryota, are convinced that he's still alive and their feelings are strengthened when a psychic assures them that he is. After being turned down by the government and receiving some skepticism from some newspaper journalists, Ryota finds out about a dance competition where the prize is a sailboat. When he arrives at the competition, he learns that he found out about too late. Desperate to find a boat, he has two guys whom he meets at the competition, Ichino and Nita, take him to the harbor. They go aboard a nice-looking yacht dubbed the Yahlen, which is filled with food and fresh clothes, ready to sail. That's when the "owner," Yoshimura, turns up with a rifle but eventually consents to allow them to stay aboard for the night. After an argument between Yoshimura and the young men the next morning, the group discovers that the boat is at sea, with Ryota saying that he did it because he believes that the boat is a gift from the gods and, therefore, refuses to turn back, eventually revealing to them that they're going to look for his brother. After sailing for many, many miles, they run into a storm and, in the middle of it, their boat is attacked and destroyed by an enormous crab-like claw. The next morning, the group awakens to find themselves on a tropical island, which at first seems to be uninhabited but they soon learn is actually a base for a terrorist organization called the Red Bamboo, which is developing nuclear missiles there. The organization has also kidnapped natives from Infant Island to use as slaves and they're unable to escape because, even if they manage to get away from the Red Bamboo, an enormous crustacean called Ebirah is lurking in the waters near the island, waiting to kill anything that comes within range. The shipwrecked party meet up with a female native named Dayo, who managed to slip away from the Red Bamboo, and they hole up inside of a cave on the island's cliffside. Dayo confirms to Ryota that his brother is alive and well on Infant Island and that the natives are praying to the slumbering Mothra, hoping that she will soon awaken and rescue the enslaved natives. They also discover that Godzilla is asleep inside the cave and, after discovering what the Red Bamboo are up to and that they're eventually going to be found out, decide to wake him up so he'll deal with the terrorists and their monster while they try to figure out a way to free the slaves and escape the island.

I'm not sure why Ishiro Honda didn't direct this one. I originally assumed it was because he was busy with War of the Gargantuas around this time but I've discovered that can't be it since that was released in July of 1966 while Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster wasn't released until December. Maybe he just didn't like the idea or the script. Given his well-documented opinions on making the monsters more comedic in nature and the fact that the film's two main monsters, Godzilla and Ebirah, especially Godzilla, have their fair share of silly moments, that had to have been a reason for his absence; it definitely explains why he wasn't behind the next film, Son of Godzilla. Whatever the reason, replacing Honda for this film was Jun Fukuda, a much younger director whose specialties were action and comedy and who had actually been Honda's assistant director on Rodan back in 1956. By 1966, Fukuda had directed a series of teen-oriented comedies called the Young Guys movies, which had been very, very profitable for Toho, and the previous year, he'd directed 100 Shot, 100 Killed, which I hear is a very entertaining James Bond spoof that starred none other than Akira Takarada. Despite his preferred genre, though, Fukuda was no stranger to science fiction either. Besides assisting Honda on Rodan, he'd taken over for him as director of the 1960 sci-fi flick, The Secret of the Telegian. Because of his experience, Fukuda was an obvious choice to fill the director's chair on Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster. However, according to David Kalat, Fukuda wasn't happy with how the film turned out due to some studio interference and, although he would end up directing five Godzilla films altogether, it wasn't something that he enjoyed since he felt that the original Godzilla should have been a one-off.

Unlike Ishiro Honda, Jun Fukuda was not a director who strived for any type of deep expression through his films but rather just tried to make the most entertaining type of movie he could make. As a result, Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster is a film with a much more straightforward agenda than its predecessors. It mainly functions as just an action-packed adventure movie that's set in the South Seas. While there is a bit of deeper meaning when it comes to the human bad guys, the Red Bamboo, which I'll mention later, as well as a very brief and tacked on note about the responsibility of nuclear weapons at the very end of the Japanese version, the movie is primarily meant to be nothing more than a rollicking, James Bond-style adventure that just happens to have Godzilla and some other monsters along for the ride. I'm not at all saying that's a bad thing (especially given that I'm quite a big Bond fan myself), I'm just saying that it's a different style for the series. And I'm not kidding at all when I say that there are many Bond-like elements here, including action scenes involving lots of gunfire, a terrorist group secretly manufacturing atomic bombs on a remote island, breaking into and snooping around the group's headquarters and laboratory, and even a climax that involves a ticking time bomb that's going to completely destroy the island and failed attempts to disarm said bomb. Given that Jun Fukuda had been making send-ups of the Bond films, which, by now, were very popular in Japan as well as in England and the United States, for a while by this point, the presence of these elements here aren't all that surprising. Plus, I also like the fact that it's set on a tropical island since I personally really like that type of environment, whether it's an island or the tropics period, for any type of movie, be it action (Thunderball, which takes place in Nassau, is one of my favorite Bond films as a result), science fiction, or even horror. I'll go more in depth about this type of environment and how I feel about it's usage in this franchise in my review of the next film, Son of Godzilla, which is also set on an island, but for now, I'll just say that's one aspect of this film that I give major props to.

Back again for his fourth Godzilla movie, and his last up until 1992's Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth, is Akira Takarada, who here plays Yoshimura, a thief who's just pulled off a large heist was hiding aboard the Yahlen when Ryota and his two newfound buddies came aboard and ends up along for the ride when Ryota hijacks the boat to go find his brother. He starts out pretty threatening towards the younger men, pointing a rifle at them when they first meet him (you later find out that it was a harmless toy), angrily smacking them awake with pillows in the morning when he finds out said rifle has been taken, threatens Ryota to try to make him turn the boat around, and when the others begin inquiring as to whether he's the thief that they hear talked about on the radio and ask what he's keeping inside of his large brief case, Yoshimura tells them to keep their hands off of it. At one point, he tries to come with a plan to take control of the boat back from Ryota. He's obviously only thinking of himself and wants to get back to the mainland to do with the money whatever plans he has for it but, when they end up shipwrecked on the island and Yoshimura learns that all of the money got washed away, he decides to just concentrate on trying to find a way off of the island. This is when Yoshimura begins to show that, despite his being a criminal, he's actually a decent guy. He becomes the group's ostensible leader and begins helping them whenever they're in trouble, such as telling them where to run when they're being chased by the Red Bamboo soldiers and coming up with nice ideas to get them out of jams. He's the one who immediately decides to help the escaped native girl Dayo, explaining to her that they're not with the Red Bamboo when they first encounter her. While Yoshimura's decision to break into the Red Bamboo's main base ends up getting Nita captured, it turns out to have been important that they went there because that's when they find out what the Red Bamboo is up to and it inadvertently leads to Ryota being reunited with his brother! Yoshimura's expertise at breaking and entering, his specially-made skeleton key and safecracking skills, really come in handy there and his skeleton key is ultimately how he's able to rescue both Nita and the slaves. He's also sensible enough not to go rushing into hairy situations, like when he decides that it'd be better to try to rescue the slaves once it gets dark and when he says that they must very carefully sneak in and rescue Dayo when she's cornered by Godzilla at one point. Above everything else, though, Yoshimura is simply a very charismatic and cool guy thanks to Takarada's acting and, watching him in this role, it's obvious why he became known as the "Cary Grant of Japan" around this time. Best of all, once everybody escapes the island at the end, Yoshimura, after the experience he's been through, decides to give up being a thief.

From left to right: Ichino, Ryota, and Nita.
I think one of the biggest reasons why I prefer Godzilla vs. Monster Zero to this film is that the characters there, both the good guys and the bad guys, were more memorable, which is something I can't say about the people to be found here. With the exception of Yoshimura, everybody in this movie is pretty bland, a problem that you often find with Jun Fukuda's Godzilla movies. Since I've never seen any of Fukuda's non-Godzilla films, I don't know if that was due to any lack of ability of giving direction on his part or if the scripts that he was given simply didn't allow for it (which, given some of the ones he directed later, could be the case) but, either way, it's a problem with a lot of Fukuda's films. Take the three younger leads here, for instance. Ryota's (Toru Watanabe) sole motivation is to find his brother and he's fixated on it to the point where he hijacks a yacht under the idea that it was a gift from the gods and drags these other three guys along to help find his brother. He's so obsessed with it that the other two guys briefly consider going along with Yoshimura's plan to take control of the boat back from him. When they get to the island, he continues to talk about wanting to find his brother, especially when he learns from Dayo that Yata is on Infant Island, and, through happenstance, ends up there and reunites with his brother. From there, the two of them decide to head back to the Red Bamboo's island and rescue his friends as well as the slaves, which they eventually do. That's pretty much all there is to Ryota. He comes across like a more than  decent guy and it's very obvious that he and his brother are quite close but, like I said, he's a pretty bland character overall. The same goes for the other two guys he drags along with him: Ichino and Nita. On a side note, when I was a kid, I always thought that Ryota knew Ichino and Nita before they meet at the dance competition and that they entered it to help him win the boat but, after watching the original Japanese version, I've since learned that's not the case. In any case, I guess you could say that Ichino (Chotaro Togin) is something of the brains of the group since we learn that he studied science (although he admits that he was a terrible student) and he's the one who ultimately comes up with the plan to wake up Godzilla with lightning but, in reality, he's the blandest, most least memorable of the main cast. Other than that nice plan to wake up Godzilla so he'll take care of the Red Bamboo and stop them from causing mass war with their nuclear weapons, I don't remember him doing anything that important or having anything about him that's interesting. I was about to say that he's rather pacifistic since he's reluctant to fight the Red Bamboo initially and later wants to stop them from using the nuclear weapons that their building but I think I'm just grasping at straws. He really is somebody who's along for the ride and doesn't contribute much, aside from a few snarky comments that I can't even remember because they were so forgettable. Nita (Hideo Sunazuka) is probably the most memorable of these three since he's the cowardly comic relief (they say he's a mountain climber but I don't how he could be one since he's such a chicken) but that's basically his only function, aside from coming up with an admittedly pretty smart idea about how to defeat the Red Bamboo. He's either constantly quaking and cringing in fear, actually screaming in abject terror at one point, or grumbling about something. To be fair, he's not annoying (at least, in the original Japanese version or American dub), he is likable, and some of the things he does, like when he gets seasick when they first set sail, do make me chuckle but, like his friends, there's not much else to him.

Miss Namikawa herself, Kumi Mizuno, is here again, this time playing Dayo, the lovely native woman who manages to slip away from the Red Bamboo and joins up with the main cast of characters. While Dayo is nowhere near as complex as Miss Namikawa and whose only motivation, albeit a very good one, is to rescue her people who've been enslaved, she's still a memorable and likable character. Not only is she great to look at but Ms. Mizuno plays her as very sympathetic, as someone who wants her people's suffering to end and who often prays to Mothra in hopes that she'll awaken and come to rescue them. She's kind of sad in those moments, actually, and you do feel for her and her people. Dayo, however, isn't above being a girly-girl and when she and the others have broken into the Red Bamboo's main base, she picks up a large spool of wire that she comes across since she seems to think it'll make a good necklace. Said wire comes in handy later on since they use it in conjunction with a sword to awaken Godzilla with lightning. Speaking of which, this most memorable bit of the film involving Dayo is when she gets cornered by Godzilla, who seems to be interested in her, and is unable to get away since he sits down and starts watching her. I do like that, while she's initially terrified of him, she warns Godzilla when that big bird shows up by screaming, even though it's heading for him and not her, and, in a wide-shot of both her and Godzilla, you can see that she's pointing at it as well, trying to get his attention. And at the end of the movie, when Mothra has rescued everyone and is flying away from the island, which is about to be blown up by a bomb set by the Red Bamboo, Dayo says that she feels sorry for Godzilla, who's going to get blown up as well, and this prompts everyone to yell warnings to him. I really like that as well. In the end, Dayo may not be the most complex female character in a Godzilla movie but she's still a likable and memorable one thanks Ms. Mizuno.

Since Mothra is in this movie, you wouldn't be remised for expecting to see the Shobijin as well and you'd be correct. However, this time they're not played by Emi and Yumi Ito, the Peanuts, but by another singing duo called Pair Bambi, whose real names were Yuko and Yoko Okada. This was the only film those two ever appeared in and, while they're certainly not bad stand-ins for the Peanuts, although you can certainly tell that it's a couple of different women because of their looks and also because they're more serious in their demeanors (in the Japanese version, anyway), they're such a small part of the film that there's not much that can be said about them. Also, I really don't care for the song that they and the Native Islanders sing throughout the film, which is simply called Awake Mothra. I can tell you right now that Akira Ifukube didn't do the music here, so you're not going to get any of the nice songs that he and his collaborators came up with for past films and while I do like a lot of the music composed for this one, this particular song is not a tune that I care for. Infant Island is also where Ryota finds his brother Yata (Toru Ibuki), whom we learn has a major hero complex and is always eager to help people who are in trouble. He doesn't do this to get thanks or notoriety but because he genuinely wants to help people, which is why he and Ryota return to the island to try to free the slaves. However, Yata has such an impulsive, one-track mind when it comes to helping people that he tends to rush off into things without thinking, which often puts him at odds with the more cool-headed and strategic Yoshimura. One of my favorite lines from Yoshimura comes when they're observing the Red Bamboo's headquarters and, despite how heavily guarded it is, Yata actually tries to get in. Yoshimura immediately yanks him back and says, "Don't be an idiot! I've done a lot of crazy things in my life but I've never stuck my head into a hornets' nest." Later on, when Godzilla's destroying the base, the others suddenly realize that Yata has slipped away and is running to go help the slaves. Yoshimura growls, "That idiot!" and runs after him. The two of them find their way to where both the slaves and Nita are being held and all this time, you can see how impulsive Yata is with how he's constantly looking around and how he frantically tries to pull open the door to the slaves' containment center until Yoshimura tells him to hold on a second and pulls out his skeleton key. Of course, thanks to Yata, the slaves and Nita did up being freed and it's nice that the guy overall thinks about others much more than himself but still, the guy seriously needs to learn to not be so hasty and impulsive.

Coming off of the inhabitants of Planet X, the non-monster antagonists in this film, the Red Bamboo, are pretty lackluster and one-dimensional. While the unanswered question of what country they're from (their very name strongly suggests Red China to me) is an interesting one, with even the original American version briefly mentioning it at the end, and is the closest this film ever comes to being allegorical, they're ultimately very basic bad guys who are planning to use their nuclear weapons for what is probably some type of world domination scheme. The revelation that they're secretly building nuclear weapons on this deserted island spells dire consequences for the world if they're not stopped and you definitely do want to see them be defeated but, despite that, the one-note way in which they're portrayed doesn't make them at all intimidating or scary. Even when they're being rather cruel to the people they've enslaved, like when the captain fires his gun inside their confines to make them stop their praying, the Red Bamboo still don't come across as villains to be feared. That's a shame, too, because the high-ranking officers are played by some great and familiar actors. Captain Ryuui (Yamamoto in the original English version), whom I only remember being called "guard captain" in the Japanese version, is played Akihiko Hirata, who'd worked with Jun Fukuda the previous year on 100 Shot, 100 Killed, just like Akira Takarada (in fact, a lot of the actors here were also in that film), and who shows up here sporting another eye-patch. He doesn't have much depth to him due to the type of movie this is but, that said, he does get to take part in a lot of the action, leading groups of soldiers in chasing and shooting at the good guys as well as "disciplining" some of the slaves, which includes whacking Nita with a whip at one point because he's not working fast enough. His best moment in the film comes during his first appearance and right before we get our first good look at Ebirah. A couple of slaves manage to escape and make their way to some canoes. Ryuui's soldiers attempt to shoot at them but he orders them to stop and head back to the ship, giving an evil smile as he watches the slaves paddle off into the ocean, knowing that they're in for it. After Ebirah kills those two escapees and sinks back into the water, Ryuui tells the other slaves, "You saw that. Even if you manage to escape from us, you can't escape from Ebirah." It's a well-played, cruel moment on Hirata's part and shows that he was just as adept at playing bad guys as he was at intellectual types, which were his most common roles. Ryuui is by far the most memorable member of the Red Bamboo. While Jun Tazaki is also here as the commander, he has very few scenes and when he's onscreen, while it's nice to see him, he does nothing more than bark orders. You get the feeling that he is quite a stern and potentially intimidating commander but he doesn't have nearly enough to do in order to fully come across as such. He does, however, have a great moment when he first appears and asks Ryuui if he's gone blind, which is even more funny because the guy is wearing an eye-patch, since he hasn't noticed that Dayo managed to slip away. Overall, despite the presence of some great actors as their highest-ranking officials and the fact that they threaten the world with their nuclear weapons, the Red Bamboo just aren't the most intimidating human bad guys that have ever appeared in a Godzilla film.

When I was a kid, I was confused as to whether Godzilla was a good guy or a bad guy in this film. While the main human characters wake him up in order to keep the Red Bamboo occupied and he does fight the film's antagonistic monster, everyone is still afraid of him and, at the end of the film, he attacks Mothra for no reason. But, despite this, since he did help them escape in his own way, they feel compelled to try to warn him to head to the ocean before the island blows up and they're overjoyed when they see that he did indeed escape. Exactly what side he's on in this film is definitely a gray area. At this point, I've come to the conclusion that Godzilla isn't a marauding, malicious monster anymore but, at the same time, he's not exactly a friend to mankind and when he's around, it's best to stay out of his way. While he does provide a way for the main characters to escape, it was inadvertently on his part and just came as a consequence of his attacking the Red Bamboo's base in revenge for that plane attack. So, in the end, he's definitely an anti-hero here and would more or less remain that way for the remainder of the original series. That said, though, he's still got his tenacious, brash attitude that makes him such an awesome character. Never one to back down from a challenge, as per usual, Godzilla immediately starts a fight with Ebirah when he and the giant crustacean see each other and the latter makes it clear that he wants to fight. The same goes for the second fight that they have during the climax, where Godzilla approaches Ebirah with gestures that are obviously saying, "You want a fight? Well, you got it," as well as when Godzilla gets into scuffles with that random giant vulture and those squadron of planes, the latter of which, as I said, motivates him to attack the Red Bamboo's base. Godzilla also shows how he can be quite cruel when he defeats Ebirah in their second fight by ripping his pincers off and, as the sea monster retreats out to sea, taunts him by snapping the claw at him. And that's why you don't mess with Godzilla!

This film was originally meant to star King Kong but, when Toho was denied permission to use the character, they quickly put Godzilla in Kong's place. However, that was the only change that was made to the script and, as a result, Godzilla often feels really out of character in this movie. For instances, he's awakened and apparently energized by electric shocks from lightning, which was a notable aspect of Toho's version of Kong in King Kong vs. Godzilla. In addition, the very idea that they find Godzilla sleeping in this cave on the island feels very Kong-like to me, whereas Godzilla typically spends most of his time out in the ocean (how in the world did he get in that rather small cave in the first place?) He may have gone to islands before, you never know, but, since this was before the idea of Monster Island came about (although you could say that this movie planted the seed for that), it makes me think that his sleeping in a cave on an island was another holdover from the original Kong script. And doesn't his playing with Ebirah's claw after he rips it off of him remind you of when Kong played with the T-Rex's jaw after breaking it in the 1933 original? While Godzilla has certainly used rocks as weapons in the past, the fact that he uses them so frequently while destroying the Red Bamboo base, which he'd never done before, and never employs his atomic blast there is another hint that this was originally meant to star Kong. The most distinctively Kong-like thing that Godzilla does in this movie is when he corners Dayo on a rocky section of the island and actually sits down and continues to watch her, as if he's infatuated with her and wants to keep her from escaping. I always thought it was very weird for Godzilla to act this way when he never gave two craps about humans, let alone female humans, before but when I read the Godzilla Compendium years later and found about the original King Kong concept for this movie, it made a lot of sense. Some may not like seeing Godzilla act so out of this character in this film but it's never bothered me personally. I've thought it was a little strange, mind you, but I never disliked it. And before we move on, let's briefly touch on Godzilla's look here. I've read from many sources that this is the same suit that was used in Godzilla vs. Monster Zero and that nothing about it was changed when it came time for this film but I wonder if that's really true. I don't deny that it's the same form as the previous suit but I've always felt that Godzilla looks more than a little different here than he did in the last film. The color and texture of the skin looks different to me and the head especially looks like it's gone through some alterations, with the mouth seeming wider (some have said that Godzilla kind of looks like Cookie Monster here) and the structure of the face looking different when it's seen head-on. Maybe it's just me or maybe it's due to the different ways the suit was shot by the two directors, as well as possibly the effect of the abuse it took previously, but this Godzilla seems to have changed a bit in-between films, even though I can find no confirmation that it was tweaked. What do you think?

That VHS of Godzilla vs. Monster Zero that I often rented as a kid had previews for several other Godzilla movies, one of which was Godzilla's Revenge and they specifically showed a lot of the stock scenes from this movie that appeared there, which is how I first saw Ebirah. So, years later when I saw this movie for the first time, I instantly recognized Ebirah from that preview, saying to myself, "Oh, I know him!" (In case you're wondering, I didn't know beforehand because the cover of the VHS and the pictures on the back didn't really show Ebirah that clearly.) Played by Hiroshi Sekida, who was Haruo Nakajima's most constant sparring partner in films during this period, Ebirah is a pretty basic monster since he's nothing more than just an oversized animal rather than a uniquely designed dinosaur or an outrageous, fantasy creature like King Ghidorah. People often say that he's a big lobster but the first part of his name, "ebi," is the Japanese word for shrimp, so it would follow that he's actually a gigantic shrimp. He functions basically as the Red Bamboo's guard dog in that he kills anybody who tries to escape from the island but that said, he's not 100% loyal to the terrorists as a pet would be and would kill them given a chance, which he eventually does. The Red Bamboo have to use a special liquid made by their slaves that acts as a repellant in order to keep Ebirah at bay whenever they come and go from the island, a fact that is what ultimately leads to their undoing since Nita conspires with the slaves to make a phony batch that's ineffective against the monster. It's never explained how Ebirah came to be but we can guess that the nuclear reactor the Red Bamboo have on the island probably has something to do with it. At first, Ebirah just seems like a mindless monster that attacks and eats anything that he senses nearby but when, he has two fights with Godzilla, a personality does come through. He challenges Godzilla after he's been awakened and during both of their fights, Ebirah actually claps his claws, signifying that he's enjoying this. He employs some pretty dirty tactics during their battles, often splashing Godzilla in the face, springing out of the water to stab Godzilla in the face with his pincer, and, during both fights, drags Godzilla underwater, attempting to drown him by not letting head back to the surface during the majority of the second one (not that it would work, since Godzilla has no trouble breathing underwater). However, Ebirah's downfall is when he's dumb enough to challenge Godzilla to that second fight even when Godzilla gave him a fair amount of punishment during their first one. While Ebirah does have the upper hand on Godzilla for most of the second fight, Godzilla eventually manages to turn the tables and rip both of his pincers off, forcing him to retreat! While part of me feels bad for Ebirah since he's clearly in pain when Godzilla slowly rips the pincers off and screams in agony after he loses the second one, the other part of me feels he had it coming for the crap he had put Godzilla through.

While Ebirah isn't the most imaginative monster that Godzilla has ever faced, he is well-designed. He does look very much like a crustacean, just blown up to Godzilla's size. There's a lot of detail in his design, such as the whisker-like protrusions underneath his head, the bumpy and spiny texture of his skin, the upper beak on his face, the hints of his multiple other limbs that lie beneath the waves (you only get one full-body shot of him), the antennae on and around his head, and those eye-stalks that you can see moving back and forth if you pay close attention to them. When I was a kid, it always bothered me that his left claw is rather small and thin while his second one is absolutely huge, since I, like so many others, thought he was a lobster and lobsters' claws don't look like that. Now that I know he's actually meant to be a shrimp, it's not an issue anymore. He's also very well painted, with his skin being a very vibrant red. Unfortunately, his very shrill shrieking and squeaking can grate on your nerves, especially since he basically never shuts up, although his squealing when Godzilla is ripping his pincers off is one of the reasons why I feel kind of bad for him he gets his ass kicked as bad as he does. Ebirah may be a pretty generic monster in concept but I'll say this, he's much better than that ugly, overgrown vulture that appears out of nowhere and attacks Godzilla during the latter part of the film. It's one of the most unexpected things that has ever happened in any of these films. This oversized bird (I've heard it's officially called Ookondoru but I'm going to bother with that name) just randomly shows up and very stupidly makes a bee-line right for Godzilla's head. It annoys Godzilla for a little bit by pecking his head and biting his fingers and tail until Godzilla finally kills it by blasting it, sending it crashing into the ocean. And it's never explained either. Ebirah I can guess was created by a leak from the Red Bamboo's nuclear reactor but I don't know where this thing came from. For that matter, after he kills it, Godzilla looks as perplexed as the viewer probably is. That thing also looks like crap when you first see it, appearing downright rotted. It looks okay in other shots, although the sequence is edited so fast and is filmed in such close shots that you can't get a good look at it, but it's still nothing to write home about. And it makes this annoying, "Rawk, rawk!" sound as it's attacking Godzilla. Overall, while Godzilla's reaction after he kills it is kind of funny, this creature and the sequence surrounding it is really random and unnecessary, put in there just to have another Godzilla fight scene in the movie. Now, if the Giant Claw had appeared out of nowhere and attacked Godzilla, that would be something else...

Zzzzzz. Zzzzzz.
That big bird may look really bad but what's sad is that Mothra doesn't look much better during her brief appearance here. The marionette that they use for her here is not something they made specifically for this film but is actually a leftover from Mothra vs. Godzilla, which you can tell in some close-up shots, particularly in one shot of the side of the head during Mothra's brief scuffle with Godzilla, because it looks rather moldy and worn (although, the long shots of Mothra when she's flying look really good). The condition of the prop is probably why Mothra doesn't do much in this movie, since they didn't have the budget to make a new marionette and if they had been too rough with this old one, it might have broke. Indeed, like the Shobijin, Mothra's role in this film is very limited. She spends most of the movie sleeping for some reason, with her natives doing this song and dance to try to wake her up. I don't know why she is sleeping since when we've seen her before, she's wide awake and sitting on a rock while looking over her people. Dayo tells her friends that they must have faith in Mothra and so do the Shobijin in the original English version but I would be like, "I can't have much faith for something that sleeps while her people are being used as slaves!" Like Nita says, they need an alarm clock to wake her up whenever there's trouble. And by the way, why did the Red Bamboo kidnap natives from Infant Island in the first place? Do they not know about Mothra and that she doesn't take kindly to her people being screwed around with? If not, they're a bunch of idiots. Or hell, maybe they knew how lazy Mothra had gotten recently and decided they would have no trouble in enslaving her people. In any case, Mothra's sole role in this movie is to act as a deus ex machina and show up  at the end of the movie to get our heroes off of the island before it blows up. It's a deus ex machina that we knew was coming, especially after, in the Japanese version, the Shobijin tell Ryota and Yata to relay a message to the slaves that they must construct a large net when the time is right, but it's still a deus ex machina. And also, when Godzilla threatens Mothra for some reason after she shows up, she has to provide the movie with one last battle for Godzilla to take part in, even if it is a very brief one and one that he actually loses. Any way you look at it, this is Mothra's most underwhelming appearance in the original series by far.

While he's credited as such in the film's opening titles, Eiji Tsuburaya was not the director of the special effects this time around. Having started his own company, Tsuburaya was only able to act as supervisor on the effects for this and the next Godzilla film. The actual effects director for this film was Sadamasa Arikawa, who had to cut a few corners here since Toho was spending more money on other films. To that end, one of the more practical reasons why this and the next film were set on tropical islands was to cut down the cost of constructing a bunch of miniature buildings, which made sense seeing as how the films were going down in box-office receipts with each passing entry. While the Red Bamboo base is certainly quite intricate and well-designed, the sequence where Godzilla attacks and destroys it is the only thing similar to a city-destruction sequence here, with the next film, Son of Godzilla, diluting that aspect even more. But, while he didn't get to have a bunch of buildings being crushed, Arikawa and his team still managed to pull off some really good effects work with the small amount of money they had. There are some great sequences involving miniature ships being thrashed around in a large water tank by storms and ultimately being destroyed by Ebirah, said miniatures are as well executed as the buildings of the Red Bamboo base, they built some nice, full-sized models of Ebirah's claws for certain shots, the optical and matting shots continue to improve, and, most impressive of all, they were able to pull off some extensive scenes of monster-fighting underwater that involved both of the actual suit actors in their full monster costumes. The fact that those fights are as well choreographed as they are makes it all the more impressive. Some corners may have been cut on this one but nevertheless, the quality of the effects work is still as good as it ever was, which could make one think that Tsuburaya was actually in charge here and had a much bigger budget to work with.

Given that action was his specialty, it's no surprise that Jun Fukuda packed Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster with lots of exciting and enjoyable sequences, not all of which actually involve the monsters. We get out first one 15 minutes in, when the Yahlen runs into a bad storm. You've got a lot of great and believable shots of a miniature boat being tossed around by violent waves that are interspersed with shots of the actors on an actual boat getting blasted with water, lots of shots of waves crashing over the boat's deck, howling wind and lightning, and a moment where the mast breaks loose and smashes the helm. I always loved this scene when I was a kid and would try to replicate it whenever I was taking a bath, which resulted in me getting water all over the floor and making a mess, much to my parents' annoyance. Things get even better when Ebirah's claw suddenly emerges from the water. Those shots of the boat drifting back and forth with the claw in the background are some of the ones I always remembered when I was a kid because of how damn cool they look. Without a helm, they have no control over the boat at all and it drifts toward the claw, slamming into its bottom half at a point when the claw is wide open. They all get flung off of the boat as the claw grabs it, lifts it up, and tears it apart, with the continuously howling winds, flashing lightning, and the music making it even more dynamic and exciting.

The second big setpiece in the film also involves Ebirah. After a Red Bamboo freighter arrives on the island with a bunch of slaves from Infant Island, a group of the slaves attempt to escape while a transaction is being made between Captain Ryuui and the Naval Officer. Three of them are shot down by a nearby turret (or, at least of them are while the third just disappears between shots) but the remaining two manage to make it to a canoe and paddle off into the ocean. Ryuui and group of soldiers run down the beach in an attempt to kill those last two natives and this is the moment where Dayo manages to slip away. The soldiers attempt to shoot the escaping natives but they're too far out. Ryuui, however, knows that they won't escape and he orders his men to head back to the ship. Sure enough, just as the natives are paddling away, Ebirah begins to emerge from the water and this is the first time where we actually see his body rather than just his claws. Having turned their canoe around, the natives frantically try to paddle away but they're unable to get anywhere before Ebirah slams his large right claw into the water and picks the canoe up, dumping the two men into the water. He then uses his left claw to impale the two of them (it's very quick and you don't see any blood but if you pause it, you can see that they are impaled) and you actually see him beginning to stick them in his mouth before another quick cut! After having his meal, Ebirah descends back into the depths.

Immediately after that scene, our heroes meet up with Dayo but just as Yoshimura is explaining to her how they ended up on the island, Ryuui, who'd just been informed that she'd escaped, and his search party find them and give chase, firing at them as they run up the side of a steep, rocky hill, sending a bunch of rocks rolling down behind them as they go. When they get to the top and scramble, you can see that Yoshimura manages to just barely avoid getting shot! After reaching the top of the hill, they see that they don't have a lot of options and with the soldiers closing in, they make a rush across the cliff, only to discover that it ends in a steep drop-off. Yoshimura motions them over to the right side of the cliff and has them jump down on a ledge below. After making it down there, they carefully side-step their way across the ledge with their backs to the wall. There are a couple of suspenseful moments, like when Dayo nearly trips and sends a rock plummeting down the side of the cliff to the ocean and when Ryuui and his men appear on the top of the cliff above them. Seeing the steep drop-off, coupled with the fact that they can't find them, Ryuui concludes that they're done and orders everyone to return to the base. Once the soldiers have gone, our heroes discover the cave and, with a storm passing overhead, take shelter inside it.

Yoshimura decides that they must make the first move against the Red Bamboo and manages to coerce the others into sneaking into the base with him. Ichino and Nita are initially reluctant to go but when they discover that Godzilla's in the cave with them, they quickly change their minds. Using a bush as camouflage, they inch their way towards the base's main gate, but at one point, Nita trips and makes a fairly loud thud, which catches the attention of the guards in the tower, who start scanning the area with their searchlight. The characters stay very still as the light passes over their bush and, eventually, Dayo decides to get them out of the situation by having a bird fly out from behind the bush, making the guards think it was the source of the noise (I don't know why Dayo is carrying a bird around, but she is). When the searchlight is switched off, they move the bush closer to the gate until they finally get close enough to where Yoshimura can run up to it and open it with his skeleton key. After unlocking the latch and slowly easing the gate open, they all sneak inside the base. After a couple of heart-stopping moments where they sneak down some corridors and have to stop short when a light suddenly comes on or when a couple of scientists round a corner and enter an elevator, they make their way into what appears to be a storage room. They find batches of dark-green bottles that, as Nita describes, kind of look like bowling pins. Nita picks one up and presses the top, causing it to hiss very loudly and startle Nita to where he throws it on the floor. Thick white-yellow smoke begins spewing out of the bottle, making them realize that the objects are smoke-bombs. Yoshimura realizes that they could be useful and tells everyone to take some with them. As they leave the room after throwing a couple of more, Dayo finds a large spool of wire and decides to put it around her neck like a piece of jewelry before rejoining the others. After a short scene where the commander tells a couple of scientists that headquarters has given them orders to increase production, we cut back to our main characters, who have entered the main laboratory of the base. They sneak around the room, using the machinery as cover, until Yoshimura sees an enormous door that's shaped like that of a door and even has a lock like one. Yoshi then begins to apply his safecracking skills to get the door open, while the others are forced to take cover when a couple of scientists appear on a nearby walkway. After messing with the lock for a little bit, Yoshimura hears it click and opens the door. Everyone attempts to go inside, with Ichino going first, only for him to rush back out and tell them that it's a nuclear reactor. Yoshimura closes the door and all of them hide in the corner until the two scientists, who never saw or heard them, walk off. Now knowing that it's a heavy-water factory for developing nuclear weapons, they decide to sneak out by crawling on the floor and around the machinery. However, after doing so for a little bit, Yoshimura, who's in front, rounds a corner and finds himself looking at a couple of black boots. Looking up, he sees Captain Ryuui and some rifle-wielding guards standing over them. Ryuui orders Yoshimura to get up, which he slowly does, and prompts the others to do the same. Once everyone is on their feet, Yoshi and the others throw what smoke-bombs they have left right at the soldiers and use the cover of the thick smoke to escape the facility.

After that escape, Yoshimura and Nita put on some white lab-coats to come across as scientists and make their way to the gate, holding two large, silver panels that the others are in-between, walking while crouched down. As they head towards the gate, they lose their grip on the heavy panels and drop them, forcing them to quickly pick them back up. They get to the gate and Yoshimura has them continue to hold onto the panels as cover while he gets the gate open. Just as he's about to unlock the latch, the alarm sounds, forcing Yoshi to work more quickly. He manages to unlock and open the gate lightning fast and everybody runs out through the gate as a group of soldiers run after them. With gunshots firing everywhere, the group becomes separated from each other. Yoshimura, Dayo, and Ichino manage to make it safety but Ryota and Nita aren't so lucky. In his haste to escape, Ryota ends up getting his feet tangled up in the line of a large balloon that comes loose and drifts away. Nita grabs onto the line to try to come with him but Ryuui shoots the line himself, causing Nita to fall to the ground, where he's immediately captured by the guards. Ryota, meanwhile, manages to secure himself to the drifting balloon's line and then decides to just wait and see where it's going to take him.

It's not long after that fiasco, with the Red Bamboo searching the island to try to find them, Ichino comes up with the idea to wake up Godzilla. I haven't gone into detail about this yet so I think I will now: when I was a little kid, as much as I love Godzilla, I found the idea that they go into this cave and they soon discover that he in there with them to be kind of creepy. Can you imagine how you'd react if you were taking shelter in a cave and you discovered that the King of the Monsters himself was sharing it with you? The moment where they first see Godzilla in the cave is a great one. Nita throws a rock down the inside slope of the cave and, after staring down there for a little bit, sees Godzilla and he points this out to the others simply by saying he's changed his mind and that he'll accompany them to check out the Red Bamboo's base after all. As the others realize whom they're taking shelter with, we get some quick shots of Godzilla's hand and two of his dorsal plates before we're finally shown his whole body. Things get even more suspenseful when, after that disastrous break-in to the Red Bamboo base, Yoshimura, Dayo, and Ichino return to the cave. Ichino accidentally steps on a loose rock on the ledge and it ends up rolling down to where Godzilla is sleeping, coming very close to his hand. The noise, however, doesn't wake Godzilla. After talking a little bit about what to do next, Ichino then hears Godzilla's heart beating and the three of them become even more freaked out when they realize that he is indeed alive and could wake up at any time. Ichino later tells Yoshimura that waking Godzilla up will be a surefire way to stop the Red Bamboo, who are liable to destroy the world with their nuclear weapons. Yoshimura says that Godzilla himself would destroy the world but Ichino assures him that's not the case (I don't know why he's so confident about that, though). When they finally agree to wake Godzilla up, Ichino decides that lightning might be the best way in which to do so and they set this native sword that Nita had found on the island's highest point, sticking upward, and lead a trail of Dayo's wire from the sword down to Godzilla's body. Now, all they have to do is wait for a storm to hit the island.

It takes three days but a storm finally does reach the island. But, while it drives away the Red Bamboo soldiers and increases their chances of waking Godzilla, it makes things difficult for Ryota and Yata, who are attempting to paddle towards the island in a small rowboat. The violent waves cause Ryota to lose his oar and they also wash out the barrels full of the special liquid, meaning that they're now helpless if Ebirah appears. And sure enough, Ebirah soon emerges from the depths and begins approaching them. While that's going on, lightning begins to strike sword, carrying the electric current down to Godzilla. Seeing his dorsal plates beginning to glow with each strike, Yoshimura realizes that they'd better get to safety and they leave the cave. That proves to have been a good idea because the sword is then hit by the most powerful lightning bolt yet, which energizes Godzilla's body even more so, causing both his dorsal plates and his claws to glow with electrical energy. The next strike proves to be the last one needed and after that jolt, we get a close-up of Godzilla's eye opening as he awakens. As Ryota and Yata are forced to abandon their boat and attempt to swim for shore when Ebirah is almost on top of them, the sides of the island's cliff begins to rumble and gradually come loose until Godzilla plows his way through the rock with a roar. After fully emerging from the cliff and looking around curiously, Godzilla makes his way down the shoreline until he sees Ebirah in the water. The giant shrimp begins to gesture towards Godzilla in a challenging way, a challenge that Godzilla instantly accepts roaring at Ebirah before kicking a rock towards him. Ebirah smacks the rock back to Godzilla, who catches it and throws it back at him. Ebirah swipes the rock again and this time it flies past Godzilla and almost hits Ryota and Yata, who finally make it to shore and run for cover. Godzilla picks up another large rock and throws it at Ebirah and after a little more back and forth between the two of them, with Godzilla using his head to bounce the rock back, Ebirah catches it in his right claw and throws it right at Godzilla. Godzilla, however, smacks it out of thin air and causes it fly off and smash the top of one of the towers at the Red Bamboo base.

Deciding that he's had enough of this game of volleyball, Godzilla makes his way into water, towards Ebirah. Ebirah uses his right claw to splash some water in Godzilla's face but Godzilla isn't fazed by this and gives Ebirah a taste of his atomic blast, causing him to fly backwards in a cloud of steam. Ebirah appears to sink below the surface of the water, fried to a crisp by the atomic blast, but when Godzilla leans forward to take a closer look and make sure that his opponent is dead, Ebirah suddenly lunges out of the water and gets Godzilla right in the face with his pincer. The two of them engage in a little bit of hand-to-hand combat, with Godzilla punching Ebirah while the crustacean tries to whack him with his claws. Godzilla eventually grabs Ebirah and flips him over his back. While the shrimp floating helplessly on his back, Godzilla gives him some more punches to the underbelly. Ebirah manages to slip away beneath the waves and Godzilla again scans the surface in order to make sure that he's gone. After a little bit of looking, Godzilla suddenly lets out a pained screech (the first time we've ever heard him make his injured sound in the series) as Ebirah drags him beneath the water but despite this nasty little surprise, Godzilla manages to regain his composure. He shoves Ebirah away, picks up a rock, and bashes him on the head a couple of times with it, encouraging him to retreat. Godzilla then heads to the surface with a roar and, upon seeing Ebirah swimming away in defeat, he roars again in victory before turning and heading back to the island.

The next day, when Yoshimura, Dayo, and Ichino meet up with Ryota and Yata, they spy on the Red Bamboo base from a hill and try to come up with a plan to rescue the slaves. However, Yoshimura says that they should get away for now because he says he knows when he's being hunted and his instinct proves to be right when a shot hits one of the rocks they're hiding behind. They quickly get the hell out of dodge and run into the jungle with a group of soldiers on their trail. As they make their way through the heavy undergrowth, Dayo spots another group of soldiers up ahead and the group is forced to split up. Yoshimura and Ichino go one way, Ryota and Yata head off in another direction, and Dayo heads up into the rocky upper hills of the island, with the group being led by Ryuui after her. They immediately stop chasing Dayo, however, when they see Godzilla looming over the hillside at them. The soldiers retreat in a panic, futilely shooting Godzilla with their rifles, while Dayo also tries to escape but ends up being cornered by the monster and unable to get away. She cries for help and the men follow the sound to where she is but when they see Godzilla standing over Dayo, looking down at her, they realize that they can't do anything at the moment. Yoshimura suggests that they wait for an opening and, as Godzilla starts to become relaxed, they move in slowly. A little time passes and Godzilla sits down while continuing to keep an eye on Dayo whenever she moves (when Godzilla turns his head to watch her, notice that his left eye is a little messed up, which is a continuity error that appears several more times throughout the film). However, he appears to be getting sleepy for some reason and actually leans to his left on the side of the cliff, ready to take a nap. When Dayo looks back up at him, she sees that he has fallen asleep and attempts to slip away, while the men take the opportunity to run towards her to get her to safety.

However, just when the men are about to rescue Dayo, the giant vulture shows up out of nowhere and heads straight for the sleeping Godzilla. Dayo, upon seeing this, screams to wake Godzilla up and points at the giant bird. Godzilla's eyes snap open and he turns to face the monster vulture, which flies right at his head. The battle between Godzilla and the bird is very chaotically edited and filmed in a bunch of close-up shots but you can tell that the bird is pecking Godzilla on the head and then moves down and starts biting his fingers. Godzilla manages to grab the bird and throw it against the ground. It bounces up and then Godzilla proceeds to pummel it a little more. And then the editing gets really confusing because you see the bird bite the tip of Godzilla's tail but, as he struggles with it, it switches back and forth between those shots of it doing so and back to shots that had to have been from earlier when it was biting his fingers. Since this is a short fight, these flaws aren't that irritating, but its still not one of the most coherent battles Godzilla has ever took part in. Godzilla finally manages to get the bird off of him but when it stupidly comes back around to attack him again, he hits it with his atomic blast and its sizzling, smoking body flops against the ground and falls into the ocean while Godzilla roars in triumph. Godzilla then scratches the right side of his nose and sits back down but he doesn't get to relax for long since a squadron of planes from the Red Bamboo's main headquarters fly in to deal with him. Seeing them coming, Godzilla gets back to his feet and walks forward, waiting for them to attack. When they get above his head, the planes separate and circle around before coming back and firing at him. The pilots prove that they're lousy shots, though, since they just hit the ground around Godzilla and a couple of them actually fly right at his chest, allowing him to smash them. During this pandemonium, the men manage to get to Dayo and rescue her, while Godzilla deals with another round of planes that fire their missiles at him... and miss again! After a lot of missiles are fired and the planes buzz around him like annoying insects, Godzilla manages to catch one and throw the wreckage into the ocean, while two more fly right by his head and he hits them with a quick blast from his mouth, causing them to crash into the side of the mountain behind him. Godzilla smashes another with his tail and blows two more up with his atomic blast before the last one appears to just fly right by him and crash into the side of the mountain. The Red Bamboo pilots suck, plain and simple.

Enraged by that plane attack, Godzilla advances on the Red Bamboo base. Every turret and guard-tower in the complex begins firing on him after he enters the area and makes his way to the center of the base. Godzilla wades through all of that ammunition being fired at him and walks through some electrical wires that have been energized with 100,000 volts, which doesn't really do much to him except him pause for a few seconds. He moves onward and his knee hits one the high-tension towers, which does seem to hurt him a little bit since the commander ordered the current to be turned up. Like I said earlier, this is where you can see some hints of the original King Kong concept for this movie because, instead of just frying that troublesome tower with his atomic blast, Godzilla picks up a rock and uses it to smash the tower. After doing so, he kicks a little bit at the ground, which begins to weaken the ceiling of the area where they keep the slaves. Nita and the Infant Islanders have to take cover in the sides of that small cave as large rocks begin to rain down from above. Godzilla enters the heart of the base and throws another rock at an overloading energy breaker, which causes some equipment in the base main laboratory to short out and explode. He then smashes a gate with his feet and whacks a bunker with his tail before moving on to a flat building with a large dome on top of it. He steps up on the building's flat roof and stomps at the dome with his feet, before ultimately turning his foot and using his heel to smash through it and separate it from the roof. Realizing that there's no way that they can stop him, Captain Ryuui orders the base to be evacuated and for the nuclear time bomb to activated. A group of soldiers take the barrels of the yellow liquid from the slaves' area to use to repel Ebirah when they escape and they leave the slaves to be crushed by the falling rocks. Fortunately for Nita and the slaves, Yoshimura and Yata have made their way into the base and manage to get them out. They all make their way to the main laboratory where, a scientist has just set the time bomb and keeps them at bay by threatening to detonate it manually. At that exact moment, Godzilla passes over their location and when he stomps a small building up above, a big chunk of the laboratory's roof, destroying a lot of the equipment and fatally wounding the scientist, who manages to tell them that the island will be destroyed in two hours before he expires. While Yoshimura and the others can see the button, it's buried underneath some heavy pieces of roof and they're unable to reach it through what small opening there is. The button gradually descends as well, which compounds the situation even more. As the Red Bamboo use their freighter to escape the island, Godzilla finishes off the base, while Yoshimura, Yata, Nita, and the slaves make it back outside. Yata instructs the natives to begin building the large net the Shobijin mentioned, while Nita tells Ichino that the island is going to blow up, who tells him that the Red Bamboo escaped. Then, Nita remembers that he told the natives to make a phony batch of the yellow liquid, meaning that the Red Bamboo are defenseless against Ebirah.

As the Red Bamboo make their way out to sea, Ebirah emerges and they, in turn, begin spraying the liquid, which now has no effect on him at all. Ebirah immediately smashes the freighter with his right claw, picks it up, and slams it back down into the water, killing everyone aboard. Godzilla then appears near the shore and after he gets Ebirah's attention, the giant shrimp challenges him to another fight. Godzilla shows that he accepts the challenge by making his way into the water. The two of them square off against each other by splashing the water and flailing their limbs before finally starting their second fight, with Ebirah whacking Godzilla on the side of the head with his right claw. Yoshimura, Yata, and Ryota continue to try to deactivate the bomb but they're unable to reach the continuously dropping button and by this point, there's only half an hour left before the explosion. Back at the fight, Godzilla blasts Ebirah, sending him underneath the water but, once again, he pulls Godzilla under the surface with him and this time, he doesn't make it so easy for Godzilla to get back to the surface, struggling with him and holding his head in place with his claws. Back on the island, the natives have finished constructing the basis for the large net and on Infant Island itself, the remaining natives and the Shobijin are continuing to try to awaken Mothra but time is quickly running out since the button continues to drop. Back at the fight, Ebirah grabs ahold of both Godzilla's hand and foot and Godzilla bashes him on the head to try to get him to let go. After a lot of struggling, he manages to pry his limbs free and make it to the surface. But, Godzilla just barely gets his head out of the water when Ebirah smacks him back under (although, if they're trying to create suspense with him not allowing Godzilla to surface for air, they're kind of off-base because we've seen before that Godzilla is able to breathe just fine underwater). But, that proves to have been a mistake because Godzilla grabs hold of Ebirah's left claw with his mouth and refuses to let go. Meanwhile, Mothra finally awakens and flies off from Infant Island. Back at the fight, Godzilla and Ebirah surface, with Godzilla's mouth still clamped on Ebirah's left claw. Ebirah squeals in pain as Godzilla slowly rips the base of the claw away from the arm before finally giving one big yank to separate it completely. He then grabs the other claw with his hands and it doesn't take much effort for him to rip that one off too. As Ebirah squeals and retreats off into the sea, Godzilla spits the small claw out of his mouth and then cruelly taunts his defeated opponent by snapping the bigger claw at him. That's when Mothra arrives and Godzilla immediately catches sight of her as she comes in to land on the island.

Mothra lands in the barren field near everybody and the Shobijin, who are sitting on her head, tell everyone to get in the net. While everyone's doing so, Godzilla gets back on the island and approaches Mothra. He roars and gestures towards her in a threatening manner but Mothra initially refuses to fight him. However, he leaves her no choice when he atomic blasts the ground in front of her. Mothra takes to the air and flies towards Godzilla who, like before, is having trouble keeping his balance from her powerful winds. Once he's completely off-balance, Mothra flies right at Godzilla and hits him with her left wing, knocking him over on his back. She flies over him and towards the large net, picking it up with her front set of feet and carrying it and everyone off. Godzilla gets back to his feet and roars as he watches Mothra fly away from the island. As Mothra departs, everyone in the net realizes that Godzilla also helped them in some ways and they proceed to yell at him to get off the island before it explodes. It's not known whether or not Godzilla actually heard them or even understood them but, as he walks across a ridge on the island, it is clear that he senses that something isn't right and, as the bomb near its detonation, he jumps off into the water and swims away. He does so just in the nick of time because the bomb then explodes and completely wipes the island from the face of the Earth. The movie then ends with everyone seeing that Godzilla did manage to escape and, as what's left of the island is incinerated, Mothra heads back for Infant Island.

Instead of hiring Akira Ifukube to do the music, Jun Fukuda asked permission from Toho to bring in another composer that he'd worked with before and was much closer to. It turns out that composer was Masaru Sato, who'd stood in for Ifukube on Godzilla Raids Again eleven years earlier. However, the big difference here is that, while Sato himself even later admitted that he was an inexperienced novice when he scored that second Godzilla film, he'd become every bit as much of a master composer as Ifukube was by this point, having worked with Akira Kurosawa for a decade and, as stated up above, was close friends and a longtime collaborator with Fukuda, having recently worked with him on the score for 100 Shot, 100 Killed. Sato had developed his own music style over the years and, as a result, Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster sounds like no other Godzilla film that came before it. His sensibilities really work for this film. The score is often very energetic, lush, and jazzy, at some points almost sounding like a Bond-score, which is strangely appropriate given how Fukuda was still sort of sending up the 007-series even in this film. Some of the very memorable music heard here is the jazzy stuff that plays during the dance competition at the beginning of the film, the theme used for Ebirah during his first two appearances, which is what really has a Bond-style sound to it at the beginning and then moves into a series of blaring horns that play when he attacks, the very exciting and stirring music that plays during the chase scenes, and some truly ridiculous surf music that plays during the first part of Godzilla's battle with the planes (that music is actually a piece of the score that Sato did for Kurosawa's High and Low in 1963). None of the established Ifukube themes are reused here (or in any of the Godzilla films that Sato scored, for that matter), so Godzilla and Mothra have different pieces of music that accompany their appearances. Godzilla's theme here sounds a little similar to his classic one but its sound is in keeping with the overall jazzy nature of the film's score, with an ominous build-up in the first part and rolling finish to it. Mothra has a typical, beautiful-sounding theme that I don't mind, despite how generic I kind of think it is. And while I don't like the song that the natives are constantly singing to her throughout the film, I think the instrumental version of the Shobijin's section of it that you hear now and again sounds rather nice. This score has some other nice, peaceful tunes to it, like during the montage sequence when the Yahlen is sailing across the ocean, when we first see them shipwrecked on the island, and when Dayo silently prays to Mothra. There are also some nicely tense pieces of music here as well, like the theme that starts out fairly silent but then grows and becomes more threatening when they first see Godzilla in the cave, the forlorn and droning music that you hear when Godzilla first attacks the Red Bamboo base and is later used to signify the increasing tension as the bomb gets closer to exploding, and the frantic, suspenseful theme at the end when Godzilla senses that something is wrong and jumps off into the ocean before the island explodes. But, ultimately, my favorite thing about the score to this film is how well it fits with the tropical island motif. You listen to a lot of this music that accompany these images and it's unlikely that you won't think about the tropics, especially when they're first exploring the island. I do like the music the film ends on, beginning with a little bit of Godzilla's theme to more beautiful music as we see what's left of the island exploding before we end on an upbeat note as Mothra heads for home. It's a perfect way to signify that everybody's gotten off the island and to end a nice South Seas adventure.

This was the first Godzilla movie to not be given an American theatrical release. Instead, the rights were acquired by the Walter Reade Organization and it was released directly to television in 1967. While not drastically changed, this version, which was the one I and everyone else over here had on VHS for years, was altered a little bit from the original Japanese cut. This cut completely removes the opening titles, instead starting off with a black title card that says Godzilla Versus The Sea Monster and then cutting to 30 seconds of Ebirah's attack on the Yahlen from later on, which is meant to show how Yata ended up lost at sea (although, it doesn't work since you can clearly see the boat's name on its side in these shots). They also took out some other material, like when Ryota goes to the Maritime Safety office and then to the newspaper offices, which is where he learns of the dance competition, Ryota showing Yoshimura, Ichino, and Nita a newspaper article on his brother's disappearance while they're eating lunch on the boat, Yoshimura trying to convince Ichino and Nita to help him take back the Yahlen from Ryota, the surf music that plays during the first part of Godzilla's battle with the fighter jets, and some shots of the Infant Islanders singing and praying to Mothra during the climax which, in hindsight, I'm glad they removed. In addition, like I mentioned earlier, Captain Ryuui's name is changed to Yamamoto here and also, the Red Bamboo and Ebirah are never given names (I only knew Ebirah's name due to the back of the VHS box). The dubbing for this version was done by Titra Studios, which dubbed Godzilla vs. The Thing and would work on a few more Godzilla movies in the future. As with that film, the dubbing here, which featured Peter Fernandez providing the voice for Ryota, Corinne Orr, who provided the female voices for Speed Racer, voicing Dayo and the Shobijin, and Hal Linden voicing Yoshimura, was really quite good and sounded very natural, with the voices fitting their respective characters very well.

In 2005, TriStar gave Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, and several other Showa (original series) Godzilla films, its first ever DVD release. There were some major pros and cons to this release. On the plus side, the original, uncut version of the film could now be seen over here and, even better, the film was remastered incredibly well and looked and sounded awesome, which was the case for the other films that TriStar brought to DVD as well. For somebody who'd been stuck with some very bad-looking VHS's of these films his entire childhood, the incredible picture quality on these DVDs were really something to get excited about. The downside of this DVD release, though, was that it dispensed with the dub job that Titra Studios had done and, in its place, put in Toho's "international dub," which was a practice that Toho had been doing with their films since the mid-60's. Done by a studio in Hong Kong, these dubs were made available in a much shorter amount of time and were cheaper than the ones actually produced in America. They also made it easier for Toho to sell their films to other countries like France, Germany, and Spain since dubbing the films into those languages would quicker and simpler to do from an already existing English language print. Unfortunately, while these dubs may have been good for Toho economically, their actually quality was something else entirely. Later films in the series like Godzilla vs. Gigan, Godzilla vs. Megalon, and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla have always been available in America in the form of the international dubs but I'd never heard the international dub of Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster until that DVD release and now that I have heard it, I can understand why that was so: it sucks! The international dubs for those films I mentioned have always worked well enough for me but the voices in the one made for this movie are either flat and unimpressive or, in the case of how Nita sounds, absolutely irritating. The dubbed voice for Nita is so high-pitched and overly cowardly that it makes you hate the actor, even though it's not his voice! Think about how annoying the English dub voice of that kid in Lucio Fulci's The House By The Cemetery is and how much it makes you hate the kid himself and you'll get what I mean. What's even more of a shame is that the international version seems to have replaced the original English version that was available on VHS for years since, given the running time, I'm 99% sure that this is the dub on the DVD and Blu-Ray release from Kraken Releasing. That's really too bad because, even though I haven't heard it in years, I can safely say that dub was much better than this international one but, that's how it goes sometimes.

While Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, or Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (I have never seen that title used for any version of this film), for some reason I don't quite get, isn't one of my absolute favorite Godzilla films and not one I go back to that often, it's definitely worth watching. It's quite fast-paced, has another likable cast of characters, there are plenty of entertaining and exciting action scenes, the special effects are pulled off well once again, Godzilla, while he doesn't come into the film until almost an hour in, has more screentime and does more here than he did in Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Ebirah is well-designed and has some fun fights with Godzilla, and the music score is very lively and fits the picture well. But, on the other hand, a lot of the main characters, while still likeable, don't have much distinctive about them, the non-monster bad guys are pretty one-note, some may find Godzilla's actions that are a result of the original King Kong script for the film to be bizarre, the song the Infant Islanders sing to Mothra isn't the best, and Mothra herself serves as nothing more than a deus ex machina. In the end, though, the film's good points do outweigh the bad and for his first foray into Godzilla, Jun Fukuda, despite whatever misgivings he may have had about the finished film, I think did a more than capable directing job. I myself may not watch it again for a while but, for anyone who's getting into Godzilla and is unsure about this one, I do suggest giving it a look and I'd be surprised if you didn't end up being entertained for the most part.

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