While I saw a lot of the Godzilla movies on VHS when I was a kid, I first saw this one on television. I don't remember what channel it was, although it possibly could have been Sci-Fi Channel, but it was when I was very, very young and during those days when my grandparents had to take care of me while my parents were at work. I remember the day itself very well. Whatever that channel was, it had been showing monster movies all day, notably The Land That Time Forgot, but I was watching the channel because they had a promo for some Godzilla movies that were going to be shown later that day. However, I was too young to understand that it wasn't going to be until that afternoon and got really frustrated with the television because I wanted to see Godzilla. I remember a part from The Land That Time Forgot where some sort of creature lies in wait in a river in order to attack a boat and I was sure that it was Godzilla. But, when it reared out, it turned out to just be a typical dinosaur, which infuriated me even more. Finally, I gave up and went outside to play for a little while but left the television on (amazingly, nobody changed the channel during that time). I was on the porch right outside of the living room and was playing when I heard Godzilla roar from inside. Needless to say, I did an impression of a rocket and shot back into that house! Indeed, the movie was Son of Godzilla, which I was excited about watching since it was one I hadn't seen yet, and I just sat there, absolutely glued to the television, for the entire two hours that it was on. One thing I really remember about that day was that Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, which I already had on VHS at that point, was on afterward and I wanted to stay until it was over because I thought there might be another Godzilla on after it. I don't know if there was, though, because that was the week when they were having Bible School at my church and I had to go there when Mom arrived to pick me up, which was before The Sea Monster was over. Oh, I was so angry at my mom for making me go to that.
Son of Godzilla tends to be a very polarizing entry in the series. Godzilla purists tend to absolutely despise it since it's the first one that was aimed squarely at kids and veered the series even further away from the dark, serious, allegorical tones that it had started out with. The introduction of Minya, Godzilla's son, as well as the even further humanization of Godzilla himself, are also cited as huge mistakes on the part of the filmmakers. Now, in case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm about as big of a Godzilla fan as you could possibly hope to meet. As you've read, I really enjoy the dark, serious entries in the series and the often well-executed allegories that come with them. I also think that the original Godzilla is, along with a later film, the best in the series and a true cinematic work of art. But, that said, I'm also not above a Godzilla film that's just meant to be entertaining and I think there's room for both the Godzilla that's a bringer of death and destruction and the campy, silly Godzilla who has a real tenacious attitude. I'll just come right out and say it already: I love this one. Yes, sue me, I really, really enjoy this film. It's silly and ridiculous (although, some of the later films make this one look like a very straightforward monster movie) and it's very obvious that Toho was really trying to appeal to kids with this one but, I don't care, I always have a lot of fun with it, which is the same way I felt about it when I finally got it on VHS when I was eleven.
During a storm in the middle of the ocean, a strange energy interferes with the navigational instruments of a plane and as a result, it almost slams into Godzilla, who emerges from the ocean in front of them. The pilots notice that Godzilla is heading for a small island, which seems to be where the strange energy is emitting from. Said island is Solgell, where a group of scientists led by the stern but brilliant Dr. Kusumi are secretly conducting weather control experiments in order to make inhospitable lands more fertile for growing food, which will help in quelling a worldwide food shortage. However, after having been on the torturously hot and humid island for over a month, tensions are on the rise and one team member in particular desperately wants to go home. While preparing for their experiment, a reporter by the name of Goro lands on the island and refuses to leave unless he gets a story. Since there's no way to send him back, the group have no choice but to allow him to stay, although they make him act as a cook. It's soon discovered that there are large praying mantises as tall as a human on the island and, while taking a walk one day, Goro sees a native girl swimming in the ocean, although no one believes him since the island was checked to make sure it was uninhabited before preparations for the experiments began. The experiment is soon attempted and while it seems successful at first, the unexplained energy that interfered with the plane's instruments begins to do the same to the remote control they use to control a balloon with a radioactive capsule attached to it. Unable to detonate it correctly, the radioactive capsule creates intense heat and a radioactive storm with boiling hot rain. After the storm passes, it's discovered that the mantises have now become absolutely huge as a result of the radiation. The giant insects are drawn to a rocky mound and dig out an enormous egg, which eventually hatches to reveal a baby Godzilla. After it hatches, Godzilla himself arrives on the island and destroys the scientists' base before heading off to defend the baby, whose cries are what creates the energy that interferes with mechanical equipment. Once he's vanquished the mantises, Godzilla adopts the baby as his own. Goro, meanwhile, meets the native girl, Saeko, and after he introduces her to the team, they move into her cave since their base is now wrecked. The biggest priority is to fix the radio and call for help but, with the island being inhabited by Godzilla and his son, the giant mantises, and an enormous spider called Kumonga, as well as a devastating, tropical disease taking hold of the men, escaping may be easier said than done.
As with Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, we have Jun Fukuda in the director's chair here. If you read my review of that film, then you would know that Fukuda was not at all enthusiastic about directing Godzilla movies, since he felt that no sequels to the original film should have been made, and that he was actually not happy with how The Sea Monster turned out due to studio interference that forced him to cut sequences to fit into an allotted running time for the movie. But, despite his misgivings, he was pressed into directing another Godzilla movie after finishing The Sea Monster, which must have irked him even more so since he was trying to get a television pilot off the ground. However, despite his disinterest in doing another Godzilla movie and his general dislike of the whole idea, it seems to me that Fukuda made the most of the situation and the silly script that he was given and tried to make the most entertaining film that he could. Maybe he was actually miserable while making this movie but, personally, I find it kind of hard to feel that it could have come off as entertaining and competently made as it is if Fukuda had truly been on autopilot during filming. As we'll see, a lot of the characters are pretty bland, which is probably more to do with the script than Fukuda but, regardless, he uses his skills at comedy and action very well here and manages to make a monster flick that's quite fast-paced and exciting but also out and out fun. Again, maybe he wasn't happy about doing it but I think he had to have had some heart in it to make the film even halfway watchable. Not being a filmmaker, though, it's possible that I just don't know what I'm talking about here. In any case, Toho would manage to get Ishiro Honda back for the next film, which must have made Fukuda feel that he was done with Godzilla. But, he would have been wrong, since Toho would rope him back into the series in the early 70's and force him to direct three of the five Godzilla films made in that decade, one after the other, I might also add.
For me, Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster and Son of Godzilla have always fit together, with one playing very well off the other, and I don't think that observation is entirely unwarranted. Indeed, there are many aspects that the two films share. One, of course, is that they're both directed by Jun Fukuda. Another is that they mark the point where the Godzilla franchise really started to change direction and move away from the predominantly serious tone that it had started off with and had more or less maintained or, at the very least, had kept a nice balance of, previously in favor of a very campy and silly approach that would appeal more to children. That's especially true in the case of this film, as we'll see. However, a huge correlation between the two films, and one that immediately comes to mind when I think of both movies, is that they take place on tropical islands. In fact, I'm surprised that these films were never released in a two-pack called, "Godzilla's South Seas Adventures," because it would have worked really well. Both of them have a nice, tropical feel to them that has always appealed to me personally and is a major reason why I like Son of Godzilla in particular so much since I think the setting is used better here than it was in Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster. I think it's because, for one, we're on the island for the entire film this time, except for the opening with the airplane, and for another, we get to explore the island more. The island in The Sea Monster was explored for a little bit but not in great detail because the characters were running from the Red Bamboo and trying to figure out what they were up to and how to stop them. Here, since it's a while before the characters discover just how many monsters are living on Solgell Island and how unsafe it is, we get more scenes of them walking around and exploring the jungles and the rocky areas near the shore. It just brings home that tropical, jungle feeling that I really like in films much more than the previous movie did. I'll go more in depth about the setting later on but, overall, that's a major link between Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster and Son of Godzilla and, as we'll see when we talk about the film's American distribution, it's not the last either.
An unfortunate correlation between the two films is that, like Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, a lot of the characters in Son of Godzilla, while likable, are pretty bland and don't have much depth to them. That goes a little bit for Akira Kubo as Goro Maki, the freelance reporter who ends up on the island because he smells a good story. He's certainly someone worth caring about and becomes a pretty fair heroic lead during the latter part of the film after Saeko joins the group but that's virtually all there is to him save for his determination to get a good story, which he knows is on this island. He spends a good chunk of the first half of the movie taking pictures of the operation, which the lead scientists allow even though they initially told him that they didn't want a story done on them, cooking and cleaning for everyone, and either running from or helping to fend off the monsters (although he doesn't do much of the latter). He's the one who first sees Saeko and the minute that happens, you wouldn't be wrong in guessing that he'll eventually befriend and become a romantic interest for her. I apologize if it looks like I'm struggling in talking about Goro but these type of bland, leading man characters are often really hard to talk about. In fact, I hesitate to really call him a main character because, except for introducing Saeko to the group, he doesn't do anything all that important and is a mostly just a bystander and a hired hand for the team. There are some humorous moments with Goro, however, like when he's preparing to make stewed vegetables for dinner that night and he's told that one of the team members used the bin he has them in to wash a pair of boxers earlier! The expression on Goro's face when he looks at the vegetables after finding that out is pretty funny and so is when that team member tells Morio, the very person who used the bin, I might add, that tonight's stewed vegetables have been, "Specially prepared." I also laugh near the end of the movie when the weather experiment has proved successful and Goro sneezes mid-sentence while talking to the doctor and his second in-command due to the rapidly falling temperature (it's the funniest in the Japanese version). Although, I must say that I'm not sure if Goro is that familiar with Godzilla given some observations he makes about Minya. When Minya first hatches, Goro immediately says, "It's a baby Godzilla!" even though the newborn looks like he could be of any species. Even more ridiculous is later on when he actually mistakes Minya for Godzilla himself! I think David Kalat is right when he comments that Goro needs glasses. In the end, Kubo manages to make Goro likable and worth caring about but it's not the juiciest character he ever played in his career; Tetsuo, whom he played in Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, had more depth to him.
Saeko (Beverley Maeda), or Reiko in both of the English dubs, is also a pretty bland character. Granted, she's beautiful as well as nice and compassionate, befriending and feeding Minya when he first hatches and feeds him again early on, and when she joins up with the team, she helps them out by telling them of a red lake that can cure the disease that takes hold of the men and showing them another way to get outside of her cave in order to put up a radio antenna to call for help when Kumonga traps them inside. And, of course, she becomes particularly close to Goro and becomes something of a romantic interest for him although, as always with these films, it's never built upon since the monster action is what counts. Despite her good qualities, not only is Saeko rather bland but she does some things that are rather odd. For one, no reason is given for why she hides from the scientists who are stationed on the island. You do find out that she's the daughter of an archeologist who remained on the island after World War II and as a result of her growing up in the jungles here, she's naïve about the civilized world, not even knowing what Tokyo is when Goro mentions it, but that still doesn't explain why she felt the need to keep herself hidden and why she ducked out of sight when Goro saw her that first time. Given how this was meant to be a family-friendly kaiju flick first and foremost, as well as Jun Fukuda's general lack of enthusiasm for it, it's unlikely that any thought was put into fleshing out a majority of these characters so it's not worth criticizing this lack of depth of Saeko but some sort of explanation (like saying that her father didn't trust the mainland due to the war and that distrust trickled down to his daughter), no matter how small, would have helped. But even that doesn't explain why Saeko, despite ultimately doing something helpful, seems to let things get pretty bad before she reveals a solution. For instance, she lets this tropical disease that takes hold of the men torture them for a while before revealing that there's some special water on the island that can cure them and she also lets everyone sit around in her cave, completely downtrodden by the fact that they're trapped in there by Kumonga, for a while before she tells them of an underwater tunnel that leads to the outside. Furthermore, when she tells them of the red water and that it can cure the disease, it's after Goro prepares to go get it that she tells him that Godzilla and his youngster are living beside the water and that you have to go through the valley that Kumonga lives in order to get there. That information would have been nice to know beforehand, lady! Like Goro, Saeko is a likable character but, also like him, she's rather bland and some of her actions in the movie don't make sense.
Five years after he played the character of Sakurai in King Kong vs. Godzilla, Tadao Takashima returns to the Godzilla series here. However, while Sakurai was a comedic role, Takashima's character of Dr. Kusumi in this movie is anything but. Kusumi is the very stern leader of this operation to perform weather control experiments on Solgell Island and his brilliance is matched only by how much of a taskmaster he is. In the month they've been on the island, Kusumi has really been pushing his men to have 100% focus all of the time and he isn't someone who suffers fools likely, as Morio finds out at the beginning of the movie when he attempts to shorthand his inspection by saying that the conditions at Capsule 2 are the same as at Capsule 1 and Kusumi chews him out for doing so. This has created a little bit of tension between Kusumi and the men, especially in the case of Furukawa, who is on the brink of madness at the beginning of the film and whose mental status only worsens as the film goes on. Kusumi isn't too fond of Goro when he first arrives on the island and is reluctant to allow him to stay but eventually relents on that opinion. That said, though, his patience with the reporter, no matter how friendly they do become with each other, can wear a little thin, which you can see plain as day in the scene where Goro is following him into the jungle and constantly taking pictures of him. Although the first attempt at the experiment goes horribly wrong and creates a powerful radioactive storm that douses the island in boiling hot rain, Kusumi still intends to continue with the experiment, with one guy saying that setbacks only encourage him. But, as things get progressively worse, with Godzilla having destroyed their base, the men weakened both physically and mentally by a bad disease that causes a very high fever, and other monsters like the Kamacuras and Kumonga lurking on the island, Kusumi at one point decides to give up on the experiment and concentrate on finding a way to escape the island. Ironically, not long after he makes this decision, he realizes that the experiment, which will freeze the monsters along with the island if it's successful, may be the only way they can escape. The second time the experiment is attempted, it does indeed work, and when everyone has gotten off the island and they see that it's now snowing, a look of pride and happiness appears on Kusumi's face as he sees that his experiment ended up being a success after all, despite the horrid circumstances. (If you think about it, though, it didn't really aid in them escaping. Godzilla and Minya were too busy battling Kumonga to worry about the humans, so they actually could have escaped without doing the experiment.)
Akihiko Hirata is here again as Fujisaki, the second-in-command to Dr. Kusumi, and it actually turns out to be the largest role he's had in a Godzilla movie since playing Dr. Serizawa in the original. Unfortunately, as tended to happen to him when he was cast in these films, Hirata is unable to bring much depth to his character due to the way it's written and is only able to come across as a less stern authority figure than Kusumi is. He has some significance in that he's the one who's the most devoted to helping Kusumi complete his experiment, never questioning him, and is quite shocked later on in the film when the doctor says that he must give up on his life's work in order to get everyone off the island safely. He's so willing to help the doctor that he goes as far as to say that the radio was damaged by the radioactive storm when in reality, he broke it on purpose. Fujisaki is also the one who suggests that, since there's no way they can send Goro back, that they put him to work cooking and cleaning so as to take that load off of them. After they move into Saeko's cave, Fujisaki spends the rest of the film trying to fix the radio, which was really put out of commission when Godzilla destroyed the base, as well as tending to the men when they come down with the horrible fever. Knowing what a great actor Hirata was, it's really a shame that they never gave him much to do in his science fiction work after the original Godzilla but that aside, it's still nice seeing him and he comes across as likable as everyone else.
The most interesting character to me Yoshio Tsuchiya as Furukawa, the guy who's on the brink of a complete mental breakdown and is closest the film comes to having a non-monster antagonist. Like I said up above, when we first see Furukawa at the beginning of the movie, he's already fed up with being stuck on this unbearably hot, humid island and is tired of Dr. Kusumi's taskmaster ways. The day after Goro arrives on the island, he asks them if anything interesting happened while they were looking for the large mantis they saw near the camp the previous night and Furukawa just snarls that there's nothing interesting on the island before pushing Goro out of his way. Later that night when Goro mentions the native girl that he saw and asks that they postpone the experiment until they've found her and got out of harm's way, Furukawa yells at him to not interfere and that he wants the test to be done with so he can go home before stomping away to his room. His mental status only deteriorates as the film goes on and things get worse and worse. After the first attempt at the experiment goes awry and the radioactive storm passes, you can see a very forlorn look on Furukawa's face when another team member mentions that this setback will only encourage Kusumi to continue with the experiment. That night, while Kusumi is assessing the damage from the storm and the necessary repairs, Furukawa tells him that he objects with going forward with the experiment and when Goro tells Kusumi that he should continue with his work, Furukawa almost attacks him and has to be restrained. The next day is when he finally snaps. He starts shooting at the other men and when Fujisaki asks him if he's lost his mind, Furukawa just looks at him and laughs with a crazed expression on his face before running off to the beach. He struggles with Fujisaki a little bit at the beach and only the arrival of Godzilla puts a temporary halt to Furukawa's breakdown, although you can tell that he's still not right in the head when you see him in the group during the scene where Goro introduces Saeko to them. When Furukawa catches the high fever later on, he momentarily becomes delirious from it and picks up his rifle before proceeding to shot at the ceiling of Saeko's cave. When the others try to wrestle the gun away from him, he accidentally grazes Kusumi's arm with a bullet and collapses from exhaustion, allowing Saeko to give him the red water that cures him and everyone else. After he's rid of the fever and comes to his senses, you hear that he feels really low about shooting Kusumi and so, when the doctor says that their experiment may be the only way to escape, Furukawa is determined to make up for his mistakes and help prepare the test, despite the fact that it might fail again. At the end of the movie, when everyone has gotten off of the island and the experiment has proved to be a success, I like the looks that Furukawa and Kusumi exchange, with Furukawa seeming genuinely happy for the doctor. Tsuchiya's performance as Furukawa is a perfect example of what you can get if you have a good actor playing a role, no matter how small or underdeveloped it may be in the script (then again, Furukawa may have actually been the most complex and solid character in the screenplay all along).
While there are several other members of the team, they're pretty much faceless and interchangeable. In fact, save for Kenji Sahara as Morio, I don't even know their names. I remember the face of one guy who, at the beginning, tells Fujisaki that working for Dr. Kusumi may be a great honor but he's a little too demanding and later tells Goro the effect that being stuck on the island for over a month has had on the men, but I'll be damned if I can remember his name (if I were to guess, though, it might be Ozawa, played by Ken'ichiro Maruyama). The other two guys are named Tashiro and Suzuki but I couldn't tell you which one is which. I know one is a much shorter guy who, once they're able to go outside after the radioactive storm, notes that they were almost roasted by the intense heat, but, again, I don't know his name. In fact, I'm not sure if the other one even has any dialogue in the entire film! Morio, however, is memorable mainly because he's played by Sahara but also because he does have some amusing moments, like at the beginning when he reports in and Dr. Kusumi chews him out for trying to skip the details of his inspection of the two capsules near the base. He also seems to be quite a cheery fellow despite the circumstances of his situation at the beginning of the film and, another note, he's the guy who used that bin that Goro was going to use to prepare dinner to wash his boxers. While there isn't much else to say about his small role, Sahara is always a welcome addition to any of these movies. And for those who like to play spot the actor in these movies, look for Chotaro Togin, who played Ichino in the previous film, as one of the people on the play in the movie's opening and Osman Yusaf, who played one of the submariners in King Kong vs. Godzilla, as the captain of the submarine at the end.
Have I talked enough yet about how much I love the island setting of this movie? No? Well, let me go on about it some more. Like the previous film, setting the movie on an island was mainly a cost-effective technique so they wouldn't have to build as many expensive miniatures but it was also because Shinichi Sekizawa loved writing stories that took place on islands due to his wartime experiences. I have to agree with him on that point because I think that a tropical island is a really good setting for this type of science fiction movie. You, or at least I, just naturally expect to see dinosaurs and monsters come out of the jungles on isolated pieces of land like Solgell Island, so it's only fitting that a couple of Godzilla movies would be set there. In fact, this movie's setting serves as the prototype for Monster Island, which would be developed fully in the following films as the home of Godzilla and the other monsters that have appeared in the series over the years. As a kid, I always liked that idea of Godzilla living on a tropical island with jungles similar to the ones the dinosaurs roamed millions of years ago and swimming off every now and then in order to deal with any monster that appears to threaten the Earth and I still do. This concept is not entirely unfounded, lest we forget about Odo Island in the original Godzilla as well as Skull Island from the original King Kong and Faro Island in King Kong vs. Godzilla. It just fits to me. Plus, like I said before, I just plain like this environment period and I also like that you really get to see the details of Solgell Island, be it in the montage during the opening credits where we see a shot of the entire island, the shore, a lake in the interior, and the rockier areas when we first see Morio and Furukawa, or throughout the film when Goro and the others are exploring it. This setting also works in getting across the idea that these men have been isolated here for a long time now and tempers are beginning to flare. I hate to say it but, as much as love tropical locations, I can really see myself acting like Furukawa if I was stuck in this type of environment for as long as he was. Having to work and constantly be in this hot and humid place, with few modern luxuries such as running water or possibly even air conditioning given the time period, would really get to you after a month or so and you'd probably be on the brink of losing it like Furukawa. If you want to do a story about isolation and extremes, you can either go the way of the Antarctic, like in either version of The Thing, or in hot and humid places like we have here and I think this film shows the effect the latter can have on someone quite well (if you think about, though, since the island freezes at the end of the movie, you kind of get both here!)
Those who are opposed to humanizing Godzilla are this film's major detractors because this is not only his most un-animalistic portrayal in the yet but also in the whole, entire series. I, however, enjoy the nicely-plotted character arc of Godzilla in this movie. When he first appears in the movie, he's the same tenacious, violent monster that he's been in the past and while he does come in to save Minya from the Kamacuras, he doesn't seem to think of him as anything other than a helpless creature that he's obligated to protect, seeing as how he's annoyed when the baby gets in the way of the fight and has to pull him back by the tail. In fact, after he vanquishes the giant mantises, he turns and whacks Minya on the back of the head with his tail (I don't think that was intentional) and then just walks off, leaving the helpless newborn behind. However, given that Godzilla comes back and allows Minya to get up on his tail for a ride, it seems less like he was thinking, "Okay, I saved you. See you later," and more like he just thought Minya was following him and eventually realized that he wasn't. Since Godzilla has never had to deal with infants of any kind before, he probably doesn't realize that a newborn creature like Minya can't just follow him but needs to be carried around. Days later, when Minya has grown much larger and is now half Godzilla's size, we see that Godzilla has accepted his newfound responsibility as a father, albeit a very stern and intimidating one. He's obviously irritated when Minya's fooling around with his tail while he's trying to sleep and he has to deal with the child throwing a tantrum when he won't do what he's told. The funny thing about the latter situation is that Godzilla picks Minya's tail up and drags him away while he's still screaming, at one point stopping and growling at him, as if he's telling him to shut up. When Goro and Saeko watch Godzilla trying to teach Minya stuff like how to roar and to fire an atomic blast, Goro comments that Godzilla is like a very strict father who won't allow his kid to play and is always trying to be a tutor to him instead. In fact, Godzilla gets so frustrated with Minya when he's trying to teach him how to do an atomic blast that he raises his hand, as if he's about to slap him! But, that cruel gesture is defused when, after Minya spits the atomic blast when Godzilla steps on his tail to create the necessary pressure, Godzilla pats him on the head and later allows the kid to sleep beside him. So at the very least, Godzilla does give Minya some affection when it's necessary and nowhere is that more evident than during the film's ending. Not only does Godzilla come to Minya's aid when he's about to be killed by Kumonga and the two of them work together to defeat the giant spider, with Godzilla appearing to be proud of his son when it's over, but when the island is freezing and Minya falls in the snow and is about to freeze, Godzilla comes over to him and puts his arms around him in order to share body warmth. The two of them then go into hibernation and will stay as such until the island unfreezes. It's one of the most touching moments involving Godzilla and shows that by this point, and despite his stern nature, he's grown to genuinely love his son.
I may like Godzilla as a character in this film but I absolutely despise his design and I know I'm not alone in that. Godzilla looks like absolute crap in this movie and the reason for that is because they designed Minya first and after he was done, they decided to make Godzilla look more like him, when they should have done it the other way around. Just look at him! Do I need to go into detail about why he looks like shit? As you can see, the head and the face are the worst. With his big bug eyes, wide mouth, short snout, and raised eyebrows that sit on top of his head, he really does look like a frog this time around and an ugly one at that. And in that close-up of his face, you can see that even his nose looks bad since it's kind like that of a pug. I won't deny that these features do make him look a lot like Minya but that's not a good thing. The rest of the body doesn't like that good to me either. The dorsal plates look misshapen, the hands are a bit awkward, and Godzilla is much chubbier this time than he has been in the last few films. Even the tail is a bit off since it looks crooked near the tip in some shots. What's even more jarring about Godzilla's look is that, when he briefly appears at the beginning of the movie and when he officially enters the story about thirty or so minutes in, they use the suit from the previous two movies, which, of course, looks nothing like the abomination we're stuck with for the duration. I know that suit was not in good shape by this point, which is why they used it for the water shots, but one wishes that they had repaired it as much as they could since it looks so much better than the suit they went with and also that they had used that as a jumping off point for Minya's design. And those water shots? Those are the only moments in this movie where Godzilla is played by Haruo Nakajima. The main suit, which was made to be much larger than normal so it would tower above Minya, was too big for Nakajima and so, his buddy Hiroshi Sekida took over the role of Godzilla for the rest of the movie. If you're familiar with Nakajima's body language, you can tell that it's not him in there since Godzilla doesn't quite have that energetic, brash attitude that Nakajima had developed for the character by this point. Godzilla's vocalizations have more variety to them in this film. For one, his main roar often goes back and forth from the harsh sound that it's had since Mothra vs. Godzilla to a sound that's a bit fuller and warmer, which would be how it would sound throughout the entirety of the film Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. I'm pretty sure that this is also the last time you hear that roar that has a very angry beginning sound to it (although, I guess it's not meant to be angry all the time since he makes it when he's holding his son at the end of the movie). Godzilla also makes a lot of grunts and groans here, such as a loud sound that's a combination of a roar and grunt, another one that, to me, sounds like groaning metal (I say that because I first noticed that one in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and initially thought it was Mechagodzilla's leg creaking loudly), and some annoyed sounding groans that he makes whenever Minya gets on his nerves or when he's getting frustrated with him while trying to teach him stuff. The sound and head movement that he makes when he has to pull Minya away during the fight with the Kamacuras, which has a ring of, "Oh, God," about it, is pretty funny and so is the groan he makes towards Minya after the child has jumped on and fallen off his tail. Those groans would be heard again in Godzilla vs. Megalon, which is where I first heard them.
Probably the most hated aspect of this film in general is the son of Godzilla himself, Minya (or Minilla in the Japanese version, but I'll continue to call him Minya since that's the name I'm the most familiar with). Actually, he's never given a name here but whatever. Like I said, a good majority of Godzilla fans hate Minya with a passion, be it for his looks, his extremely kid-like personality, or the mere fact that he's associated with the period in the series where many feel that Godzilla lost his balls and became too family friendly. You can think of him as the Godzilla series' equivalent of Scrappy-Doo. I, however, have never hated Minya... at least, not in this film. I can't stand him in Godzilla's Revenge but we'll talk about that soon enough. Actually, the preview for that film on that VHS of Godzilla vs. Monster Zero that I constantly rented was where I first saw Minya and so, like Ebirah, I instantly recognized him when I saw the film he actually debuted in (I was actually expecting him to start talking but, of course, he never did). In any case, I've never minded Minya in this film. Actually, I think he's kind of cute and I find myself feeling sympathy for him a lot of the time, like when the Kamacuras break his egg open and force him to hatch before poking him with their claws a little bit. The fact that he's a newborn during that scene and is making those cries are why I feel sympathy for him and am glad that Godzilla eventually comes in and beats on those giant mantises. I also feel bad for Minya when Godzilla seems to walk away and leave him while, as a newborn, he's unable to walk and can barely even crawl. But, fortunately, Godzilla does come back and take the baby with him so it's all good. Like I said, I think Minya is actually really cute and that's mostly due to how much he acts like a child. Some point out that he acts more like a human child than a baby monster and they'd be right but I think the way Minya acts works well for this type of movie. I like seeing him kick a rock around and then try to jump over Godzilla's tail as it moves back and forth on the ground while he's sleeping. I think it's fun stuff. And I do laugh when Godzilla makes Minya go back and he drops to the ground and throws a tantrum, forcing Godzilla to drag him away by his tail. I like how when Godzilla is trying to teach Minya to fire an atomic blast, he seems to think that Godzilla hurt himself when he demonstrates it and rushes to him and also when he manages to fire it on his own without the assistance of Godzilla stepping on his tail and he gets real excited. I could go on and describe other stuff I like about Minya, such as how excited he gets whenever he sees Saeko because he expects to be fed some fruit or how he's clearly concerned for his dad during their climactic fight with Kumonga when the spider's webbing seems to overwhelm him and Minya does what he can to help, but I think you get the idea that I actually rather like the kid here.
While I do think it was a mistake to design Minya first and then design Godzilla to look more like him, I don't hate the way Minya himself looks. Granted, even though I know they were really trying to go for kids, I do think he's a little more goofy-looking than he probably should be, with those big eyes, dopey-looking face, and a plump body that is very clearly made of rubber, and I get why so many people think he looks stupid, but I've never despised his design (I just don't like that they made Godzilla look like him). I like that they actually put enough forethought into it to actually show Minya grow from a brown, embryonic newborn that can't walk (although he can apparently stand, as seen in one shot) to a gray-colored, toddler that's already a little under half the size of his dad. But then, there's the question of whether he really is Godzilla's son or if he's just another of his species since the mother is never mentioned or ever seen, as is case with all of the incarnations of Godzilla's child throughout the series. Maybe it is possible that he's just another of Godzilla's species and Godzilla found out about him by being near the island when he was calling for his real parent and an instinct to protect him kicked in. Ultimately, there's no concrete answer to this question and it's not vital to enjoy the movie but, as I've said countless times, it's one of those things that's fun to think about. At first, Minya's only special ability is spitting radioactive smoke rings that do seem to hurt a Kamacuras when it hits in the right spot but otherwise, doesn't do much damage. However, after Godzilla steps on his tail while trying to teach him to do it correctly, Minya is able to sporadically fire an atomic blast. He does it all the way through the final battle with Kumonga, although it doesn't seem to damage the giant spider all that much, even though it can melt his webbing a little bit. Minya makes all sorts of childlike sounds as well. His most common vocalization is a distinctive cooing sound but he can also make a noise that actually sounds like he's saying, "Papa!", a high-pitched, whining shriek that he does whenever he's under duress (notably when he throws his temper tantrum), some low "shoo" sounds that he does when he's left alone after hatching and when he falls in the snow at the end, a harsh screech that he does when he's really freaked out or in trouble, like when he's being webbed up by Kumonga, and some irritated/anguished groans he lets out after Kumonga has completely webbed him up.
The other monsters in the film are, like Ebirah in the previous one, pretty basic in that they're just giant bugs, although, as we'll see, one of them is pretty bad-ass regardless. The first ones that actually appear on the island are the Kamacuras, large praying mantises that start out as tall as humans but grow to about the size of Godzilla as a result of the radioactive storm that engulfs the island when the weather experiment goes awry the first time. There are three Kamacuras in all but two of them are killed by Godzilla when they break Minya out of his egg, while the last one remains as a minor antagonist until it's killed by Kumonga near the end. As giant insects, they don't have personalities. They just roam around the island and attack anything that they see as a meal, particularly the humans, and are able to sense the presence of Minya's egg even though it's buried in a mound, probably due to the energy his cries for Godzilla emit. That last one seems to have something of a persona since it claps its claws together after whacking Minya when he attempts to keep it from hurting Saeko and seems to enjoy knocking the young monster around in general and the entire group works together during their fight with Godzilla to catch him off-guard but other than that, there's nothing else to say about these creatures' mindsets. They are well-designed, though, and have enough detail in the coloration and body parts to make them look like real insects (although their claws are much different from those of real mantises since one is a straight, narrow barb and the other is broader with serrations on the underside). They move like real insects too, with all six of their legs moving in tandem with each other whenever they walk and their bodies moving like they are separated into three segments, which is doubly impressive since they're large marionettes and, from what I've read, were a pain to maneuver. For vocalizations, they hiss (the monster Manda makes this noise in the next film, Destroy All Monsters), screech in a high-pitched manner, and have another screech that I think they borrow from Minya. Their bodies also make a distinct crunching sound when they move.
Far more deadly than the Kamacuras is Kumonga, an enormous spider that we first hear about when Dr. Kusumi reads the notes of Prof. Matsumiya, Saeko's father. Kumonga is a very lethal predator that stays underground in a valley and digs himself out whenever he senses prey nearby. He moves quite fast for something so big and his webbing is extremely strong, with heat being the only thing that can destroy it. While he can't see very well, as shown when it takes him a while to realize that Goro and Saeko climbed out of the large crevice he trapped them in during his first appearance, Kumonga makes up for it not only with his size, agility, and strong webbing but also being cunning enough to find out that the humans are staying inside Saeko's cave and spin a web outside the entrance before waiting for them to come out. Kumonga is so big and deadly that he's able to make a meal out of the last Kamacuras and almost kills Minya with a venomous barb that he can shoot forth out of his mouth. And while Godzilla does come to his son's rescue and frees him from the webbing, Kumonga proves to be a tough opponent even for him, overwhelming him with the web, stabbing him in the eye with that barb, and shrugging off his atomic blast and beatings with a very tough exoskeleton. It takes a good number of blasts and finally a combination of both Godzilla and Minya's rays to put Kumonga down for the count. While the marionettes used to bring the Kamacuras to life looked good, the one for Kumonga looks even more impressive due to its sheer size (you can see how big it is during the fight scene with Godzilla), design, and the way its legs move a lot like those a spider. It actually gives me shivers just thinking about it. He's a really cool-looking spider in regards to the specifics of his design, with the overall gray color and yellow stripes, purple, glowing eyes, a hook at the end of each leg, twitching mandibles, and a hairiness, especially on the legs, that brings to mind real spiders. Kumonga has a short, shallow vocalization that sounds like, "Chew, chew!", his legs make a low, constant warbling sound whenever he's moving, and the sound of his webbing shooting is the same as when a larval Mothra does so.
As with Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, Sadimasa Arikawa handled the special effects here while Eiji Tsuburaya acted as a supervisor. The situation was similar to that of the previous film in that, due to the island setting, Arikawa was limited when it came to the amount of models that he could have built to be crushed; in fact, it was even more so because the previous film at least had the intricately designed Red Bamboo base while here, the only miniatures Godzilla gets to crush are the small and sparsely-numbered buildings of the scientists' camp. As I've already described, the suit-design for Godzilla himself leaves a lot to be desired for and also, the optical effects aren't quite as good as they have been in the previous films; the matted in elements often look noticeably washed out and a bit fuzzy in comparison to the images they've been added into, and there are some obvious matte lines in some shots as well. Finally, there's a really bad puppet effect used for a wide shot of Saeko walking away from Minya after she feeds him for the first time. It doesn't look so bad when the film is viewed in widescreen, which is the norm on DVD, but it's pretty abysmal regardless. But, despite the reduced quality of these effects, there's still some good work present in Son of Godzilla. You have the aforementioned well-executed puppet effects for the Kamacuras and Kumonga, models that might not be very numerous but make up for it in being nicely designed and detailed, a small sequence of the radioactive storm devastating the island that involves rushing water, bending trees, and roaring winds, and monster battles that are well choreographed and entertaining. And honestly, even the flawed effects work in this film are better than some of the effects we're going to see in the later, cheaper movies.
Our first really big scene happens about thirty minutes in, after the Kamacuras have been blown up to enormous sizes as a result of the radioactive storm and when they find the egg containing Minya inside of a rock mound. The giant insects use their claws to crack the shell open and poor Minya ends up falling out and onto the ground, completely defenseless from the Kamacuras, who begin poking him and knocking him around. Around this same time, Godzilla hears Minya's cries for help and emerges from the ocean. He walks to the island's shore and heads inland, right for the scientists' camp. Everyone frantically takes cover as Godzilla marches in and deliberately smashes everything he sees, clearly not happy about finding humans here. Upon hearing Minya's cries, Godzilla heads off in their direction and comes upon the site where the mantises are still poking and prodding the newborn. Godzilla roars a challenge and one Kamacuras responds by putting its foot on top of Minya, preventing him from calling. Godzilla doesn't like seeing that and charges towards them. Another Kamacuras lunges straight for him and tries to stab him in the back of the head with its claw but Godzilla manages to make it let go with an elbow-jab to the back and then, he lifts the giant insect up in the air and slams it down hard. With that mantis momentarily unable to get up, Minya, who managed to crawl away, stops in front of Godzilla and looks up at him while making some baby noises. Godzilla does look at Minya momentarily but then looks back up and roars another challenge to the other Kamacuras. One of them tries to fly away but Godzilla fries it with an atomic blast, causing a burning leg to fly off and hit the ground right in front of Goro and Morio, who were watching the fight but decided to get away before they got caught up in it. Godzilla kicks a rock at one of the other Kamacuras, which catches it and knocks it back and forth on the ground with its claws and then, as Godzilla watches, it knocks the rock to its partner and they repeat this game of catch until one of them whacks the rock in a way that it hits Minya in the face. Godzilla looks down at Minya when he screams and one Kamacuras takes the opportunity to fly at him but it misses and lands near the jungle behind them. Minya then begins to crawl forward and Godzilla groans in apparent annoyance before grabbing his tail and pulling him back a bit. While he's distracted with that, one Kamacuras charges and manages to knock Godzilla onto the ground, prompting the other that fell behind him to fly at him as well. However, that proves to be a fatal mistake as Godzilla quickly gets to his feet, grabs the upper part of the Kamacuras, and brutally slams it up and down, knocking one limb off in the process, before torching its broken body. The last Kamacuras realizes that it's outmatched and flies away.
Godzilla roars in triumph and then proceeds to turn, knocking Minya in the back of the head with his tail, and walk away, leaving the newborn behind. However, Minya isn't alone. Saeko is standing off in the jungle and, after Godzilla is out of sight, she gets Minya's attention by calling to him with a loud wail she emits by putting her hands in front of her mouth and going, "Ooh!" Once Minya sees her, Saeko chops off a large jungle melon from a nearby tree and presents it to him. Minya's tail wags excitedly and Saeko motions for him to come closer so she can throw it to him. Sure enough, he does so and gets up on his knees, waiting for her to throw it to him. When she does, he's able to swallow it one gulp. But, the moment between them doesn't last long because Godzilla, upon realizing that Minya isn't following him, comes back and Saeko retreats into the jungle. Minya turns around to face Godzilla, who slams his tail in front of him. After standing up for a little bit (I don't know how Minya could do that if he's a newborn), Minya realizes what Godzilla wants him to do and gets up on his tail, riding on it as his father moves off.
After the human characters have a brief encounter with the remaining Kamacuras after meeting Saeko, which involves them having to lead it off into the jungle, we then get several scenes between Godzilla and Minya that I'm sure make many people cringe and roll their eyes but, again, I think they're charming. Minya's kicking around a rock while Godzilla's trying to sleep and, after he slips on the rock and falls on his butt, he kicks it a little more before becoming interested in Godzilla's tail, which sways back and forth while he's trying to sleep. Minya tries to jump over it but he ends up tripping and falling on it. Minya looks up with a face that clearly says, "Oh, no, I'm in trouble," and Godzilla does wake up for a bit and look at him but then he closes his eyes again. Minya gets to his feet and begins jumping over Godzilla's tail as it sways back and forth again but at one point, Minya ends up landing right on the tail. He manages to balance somewhat but he almost immediately loses it and falls backward. Godzilla wakes up again and groans at him, possibly telling him to go play somewhere else, before going back to sleep. Minya then gets up and does go off to find something else to do. He comes across Goro and Saeko and while Goro panics and tries to run off with Saeko because he thinks it's Godzilla (again, how in the hell could he think that?), Saeko tells him that it's just the young one and that she's friends with him. Minya rubs his stomach, wanting to be fed again, and when Saeko calls to him, Minya excitedly jumps off the hill he's standing on and squats down nearby, waiting to be tossed some fruit. Saeko does indeed throw him another melon, which Minya immediately munches on. However, the fun is spoiled when Godzilla shows up and Goro and Saeko have to flee (somehow, Saeko didn't hear him roar). Minya tries to follow but Godzilla gets in front of him and appears to scold him for interacting with humans. Minya attempts to go past Godzilla but his dad is having none of it and motions for him to go back, which prompts Minya to fall to the ground and throw a tantrum. Godzilla completely ignores his screams and drags him away by the tail, apparently telling him to shut up while doing so.
Later on, when Goro and Saeko head for the lake of red water in order to get some to cure the men of their high fever, they see Godzilla teaching Minya. Well, first Godzilla seems to chew him out a little more for what happened earlier but then the teaching commences, with Godzilla first trying to get Minya to roar. Minya manages to shriek well enough in order to imitate the demo roar Godzilla gave off and Godzilla nods his head in acknowledgement. Godzilla then demonstrates his atomic blast and Minya runs to him, either because he thinks Godzilla hurt himself by doing that or because he's trying to tell Godzilla that he can't do that. That's when Godzilla raises his hand in a threatening manner towards him and Minya reluctantly gives it a try. All that comes out is a radioactive smoke ring and Godzilla responds to that by firing his atomic blast again. Minya then tries harder to do the same and Godzilla gives him a little help by stepping on his tail, which does result in him firing an atomic blast of his own. When Minya whines about it, Godzilla shows him some affection by rubbing his head before walking off to go to sleep. While his dad sleeps, Minya attempts the atomic blast again and manages to do it, getting real excited about it as well. He then goes over and joins his dad, while Goro and Saeko sneak over to the lake and take some of the red water, although I don't know if it's healthy now that it's been hit with two atomic blasts!
The next day, Saeko is out in the jungle looking for some herbs to help heal the bullet wound Dr. Kusumi received from the delirious Furukawa, when she comes across the last remaining Kamacuras sleeping in the jungle. She tries to slip away but the giant mantis hears her and when it sees her, it immediately goes on the attack and chases her through the jungle. It chases her over to the rocky hillside past the jungle and when it nearly misses her with its claw at one point, Saeko calls for Minya to come and help her. She's unable to avoid getting knocked unconscious by Kamacuras but Minya shows up just in time. Upon seeing the unconscious Saeko, Minya screeches a challenge at Kamacuras but the insect decides he's not worth the effort and bends down to devour Saeko. But when Minya burns its face with a hot smoke ring, Kamacuras charges toward him. Minya blows another smoke ring but it dissipates in mid-air and Kamacuras takes the opportunity to knock him down to the ground. Minya gets back on his feet but when he walks forward, he accidentally pushes some rocks down the slopes and into Kumonga's valley, awakening the giant spider. As Kumonga digs himself out from beneath the dirt, Minya and Kamacuras continue fighting, with Kamacuras whacking Minya and spinning him around like a top in the process. His tail smacks a rock towards Kamacuras, who immediately hits it back at Minya, knocking him right in the face. However, Minya does manage to help save Saeko in that Kamacuras is now so fixated on fighting him that it's forgotten about her, giving Goro an opportunity to get her to safety. It continuously approaches Minya while swiping its claws at him. Minya blows another smoke ring but it also proves useless. Fortunately, Godzilla shows up and blasts Kamacuras right on the head, encouraging it to leave Minya alone. After another blast, the giant mantis does finally fly away.
Goro and Saeko run a short distance and after they see Kamacuras fly over them, they assume that they're safe now. They prove to be very wrong, though, because they look down the slope that they're standing on and see Kumonga extricating himself. The two of them make a run for it as the spider fully uncovers himself and starts up the slope after them. Kumonga shoots his webbing to keep them from getting far and traps them amongst some rocks. Goro tries in vain to cut the webbing with a knife but then remember that heat is the only thing that can cut it and pulls out his lighter (which is shaped like a little handgun, I might add). After burning themselves free, the two run for a narrow crevice in the side of the hill, becoming trapped in there by Kumonga. He stretches one of his very long legs inside the crevice to try to dig them out and when that doesn't work, he sprays them with more webbing to ensure that they can't escape. Burning themselves free again, they realize that their only escape is to climb up onto the rocks. Barely avoiding some more strands of webbing as they climb, Goro and Saeko make it to the top and quietly slip away, with Kumonga continuing to spray webbing inside the crevice, not realizing that his prey has eluded him. After a close call where Goro, Saeko, and Dr. Kusumi just barely manage to avoid being seen by Kumonga at one of the capsules, our next bit of monster action comes when everyone realizes that the giant spider is spinning a web outside of Saeko's cave, trapping them inside. When they go outside to investigate, Kumonga lunges at them, forcing them to retreat back into the cave. He sticks his leg inside the opening and manages to trap one guy underneath the hook at the end of it. Morio and Fujisaki fire at the leg while the others try to save the man and manage to pull him out from under the hook. After losing his would-be victim, Kumonga sticks his leg deeper into the cave, forcing everyone to get back up against the wall and fend him off with torches. After not getting anyone, Kumonga pulls his leg back outside and lies in wait for them to come back out.
The big climactic fight of the movie begins when Minya, feeling dejected after he was told to stay away by Goro and Saeko while they were trying to set up a radio antenna outside, wanders into the jungle and runs into Kumonga. The spider sees him as a potential meal like he does the humans and goes on the attack. Minya tries to run but Kumonga stops him in his tracks by spraying some webbing. Minya's frantic stomping while he's being sprayed causes the roof of Saeko's cave to begin falling in and once they figure out what's going on, they realize that they'll be buried alive for sure if Godzilla himself comes around. Dr. Kusumi decides that the experiment is their best bet to get off the island and reach a rescue ship that's already on its way there since they haven't reported in for a while. Preparations are then made for the experiment, with Kusumi and Fujisaki remaining in the cave to monitor its progress while everyone else heads out to the sections of the base that are still intact in order to initiate it. As Goro and Saeko prepare an inflatable raft for their escape down by the beach, Minya has been completely webbed up by Kumonga and even though he's now able to fire his own atomic blast almost every time, it doesn't do any good. Kumonga approaches the completely helpless baby but is distracted when Kamacuras stumbles across the scene. Seeing another meal, Kumonga sprays the mantis with his webbing as well. Kamacuras tries to fly away but the webbing gums up its wings and it causes it to fall to the ground. With a minute left before the experiment starts, Kumonga continues spraying the fallen mantis, which attempts to fly off again but is now definitely unable to as a result of the webbing. The experiment then begins and the freezing unit is sent up into the sky, while Kumonga continues webbing up Kamacuras. At 700 meters, the unit is detonated and the explosion appears to awaken Godzilla, who gets up and walks off to find Minya, while the two capsules on the island shoot the silver iodine up into the clouds. Back at the battle, Kumonga approaches the now completely helpless Kamacuras and stabs it with his venomous barb, killing it instantly. As the radioactive unit is released up into the sky, Kumonga turns around and begins crawling towards Minya, who begins calling for his dad. Like before, this causes interference with the equipment used to control the unit, although it goes away after a little bit. Kumonga is now almost on top of Minya and shoots his barb out back and forth in a threatening manner as he approaches. Godzilla then arrives and whacks Kumonga in the head with a large rock, sending him falling backwards. Godzilla walks over to Minya and begins pulling the webbing off of him but Kumonga manages to get off his back and starts spraying Godzilla, who fires his atomic blast in retaliation. Kumonga is hardly affected by this and, after pausing for a bit, resumes spraying while Minya manages to get up and take cover behind Godzilla, who fires at the spider again. While that also doesn't hurt Kumonga, it seems like he realizes that his webbing isn't doing much against Godzilla and an attempts to crawl away. Godzilla, naturally, isn't going to allow him to escape and starts after him, with Minya following close behind.
After chasing Kumonga into a field, Godzilla blasts him again, getting him right in the face. This does seem to irritate the spider but he retaliates by firing his webbing again. He's now close enough to where it has more of an effect on Godzilla, overwhelming and ultimately causing him to fall, while Minya looks on helplessly. The radioactive unit is then detonated, successfully this time, and while the temperature is rapidly falling, everyone prepares to leave. Godzilla, meanwhile, is still getting webbed up by Kumonga. Minya does what he can to help, first trying to get Godzilla to his feet and then shooting the webbing with his atomic blast, which does manage to stop it in mid-air. Feeling that Godzilla no longer poses a threat, Kumonga moves in for the kill, while Minya still tries to help. Kumonga, however, made the mistake of not webbing up Godzilla's head and so he's able to blast the spider back himself, forcing to crawl into a protective position with his legs placed underneath his body. With the temperature now below freezing, the humans head to the beach in order to escape. By now, Godzilla has managed to get to his feet and he stomps over to and kicks the apparently comatose Kumonga, causing him to fall flat on his back. Realizing that he might not be dead, however, Godzilla doesn't allow Minya to get too close as he inspects the spider's body. Godzilla watches his mandibles move back and forth but foolishly sticks his head too close, prompting Kumonga to stab him in the right eye with that barb. Temporarily blinded and dazed from that sneak attack, Godzilla stumbles backwards, his hand over his eye, as Kumonga flips himself right-side up. Snow begins to fall on the island as the fight begins again. Godzilla heads right for Kumonga, who stands straight up on his legs in order to be up to his level, and after a little bit of grappling, Godzilla, who still isn't able to see well, falls backwards with Kumonga on top of him. Godzilla struggles to get the spider off of him but is unsuccessful until Minya hits him with his atomic blast, prompting him to jump off. Kumonga shoots his webbing at Godzilla after he gets to his feet but Godzilla manages to stop it in mid-air with his ray. Godzilla's vision is still blurred but he's able to see Kumonga coming and hit him again, this time causing his body to smoke. Now that he's weakened and vulnerable, Godzilla and Minya are both able to finish Kumonga off with simultaneous atomic blasts, setting him on fire. Godzilla then regains complete vision in his right eye and roars in triumph, with Minya joining his dad in doing so.
The island continues freezing, with the snow coming down harder and the water near the shoreline icing over, as Godzilla and Minya head off after dispensing with Kumonga. Weakened by the cold, Minya is unable to keep up with Godzilla and falls down in the snow. He does get back up and attempt to follow but he falls again. Godzilla is oblivious to this at first and it even seems like he's going to walk off and leave Minya again. However, he soon realizes that Minya can't keep up or even get to his feet due to the cold and he walks over to him, helps him up, and then holds onto him in order to share body warmth. Godzilla seems to be getting weak from the cold as well and appears to need Minya's body heat just as much as Minya needs his. The two of them then sit in the snow and continue to hold each other, with Godzilla standing up at one point to roar for some reason, before they begin to hibernate, as the humans are picked up by the rescue ship, which turns out to be a submarine and nearly scares them to death when it gets right on top of them before deciding to surface. The film then ends with Goro and Saeko watching the island from the submarine, as Goro explains to Saeko that they'll live on that island in peace after it unfreezes and Saeko says a final, soft goodbye to them.
As he did with Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, Jun Fukuda brought in his pal Masaru Sato to do the music and, also like before, he provides a score that's as memorable as and, at the same time, very different from anything Akira Ifukube would compose. It keeps with the tone of the movie very well, often being light-hearted, exciting, and fun. No tune in the soundtrack exemplifies the movie's tone better than the silly, upbeat bit of music that plays over the opening credits. This music later becomes Minya's theme, as we hear it again for the first time since the credits when he hatches out of his egg and it often accompanies him with different variations, sometimes slowed down, like when he's playing with Godzilla's tail, or given a downtrodden sound for when he walks away dejected after Goro and Saeko tell him to go away the last time he sees them. Another upbeat and more adventurous tune is heard during the latter part of the opening credits and plays whenever something major is happening, like when they're preparing to attempt the experiment for the first time and during the climax when they prepare to do it again while Minya is fighting with Kumonga. Speaking of which, the Kamacuras and Kumonga also have themes that accompany them. The Kamacuras' theme starts with a beat that goes, "Duh, duh-duh-duh," and moves into some loud horns that, instead of sounding threatening, some exciting and thrilling. There's nothing fun about Kumonga's theme, however. It's an eerie, creeping, even otherworldly bit of music that fits really with Kumonga with how he slowly stalks his prey and comes across as nothing less than unstoppable while doing it. Weirdly enough, Godzilla himself doesn't have a distinctive theme here. The music that accompanies him, like when he first appears and whenever he appears to come after Minya, frightening off the humans in the process, is pretty generic and basic. It goes well with the feeling of his size and power, as it should, but it's just typical monster movie music and doesn't have the memorable quality that the music in these movies usually has. Despite the silly nature of the movie, Sato does create some music for the more serious moments, including a theme that has a rather eerie quality to it, which is what you hear when the movie first starts and when Godzilla helps Minya in fighting the last Kamacuras, and a suspenseful, creepy theme played on strings for when the radioactive unit is released into the sky during both experiments. The film ends on two very memorable themes. One is an usual-sounding but effectively rousing fight theme for the climactic battle between Godzilla and Kumonga (this bit of music would be reused for the battle between Mechagodzilla and King Caesar in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla) and the other is a theme that starts out rather sad and touching when Godzilla cuddles Minya in the snow and swells to a much more upbeat and happy sound after Goro tells Saeko that they're going to hibernate and ends the movie on a perfect note as the humans are picked up by the submarine and Godzilla and Minya begin to hibernate, waiting for the island to unfreeze so they can spend the rest of their days on it in peace.
Like I said earlier, another major correlation between Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster and Son of Godzilla is that it was picked up for American distribution by the Walter Reade Organization and sold directly to American television. This American version, which premiered in 1969, was also dubbed by Titra Studios, with Peter Fernandez writing and directing the dub script as well as voicing Goro (Jack Curtis, who voiced Pops Racer as well as acted as the narrator of Speed Racer, pops in at one point to narrate the effect that the radioactive storm had on the island). As with The Sea Monster, this dub was quite good, with voices that sounded very natural and fit their characters very well. I especially liked the voices given to Fujisaki and Dr. Kusumi. Also like The Sea Monster, there were some minor alterations made to the film but otherwise, it's virtually as is. The film's entire opening scene involving the airplane, save for the shot of Godzilla walking towards the camera, is completely edited out and it immediately starts up with a generic title card that says Son of Godzilla as well as the latter half of the original opening music. Until I saw the completely uncut version of DVD many years later, I didn't even know there was stuff missing from the beginning. The opening credits are also removed but the shots of the island that accompany them are still present, albeit shortened a little bit. Some names were also changed. Not only is Saeko renamed Reiko (pronounced "ree-ko") here but the Kamacuras are called Gimantises (giant mantises, which is really corny-sounding) and Kumonga is called Spiga (pronounced "spee-gah"), which really confused me when I saw this movie for the first time since I was a young kid because they referred to their original Japanese in the Godzilla Compendium, which I had read by that point. More so, because they referred to the latter as "a Spiga" a couple of times, I thought the name was, "Aspika," to be pronounced, "aah-spee-kah," so I was all mixed up. Like The Sea Monster, Son of Godzilla was brought to American DVD for the first time in 2005 and also like that film, unfortunately, the original American dub was replaced by Toho's international dub. While this movie's international dub isn't as bad as that of The Sea Monster, it's still nowhere near as good or natural as the original American dub, although the changed names in that version are here as well, just pronounced differently. The voices here are, at best, passable and at worst, either flat and emotionless or horridly over the top (the voice given to Morio is a really bad example of the latter). And what's worse is that there are points where Saeko sounds more like a guy trying to sound like a woman than an actual woman; in fact, she kind of sounds the way Nita did in The Sea Monster's international dub during those points, which is not good. What's also a shame is that the international dub now seems to be the only English version you can get over, as it now is with the previous film. While it is nice to be able to see this film completely intact and uncut, like all of them, I really wish that the original American version could be put on DVD along with the international version so we'd have a choice as to which English dub we could hear.
Son of Godzilla is definitely one of the silliest entries in the series, no question, but I also think it's one of the most fun. It moves a very good pace, I like the setting of a tropical island, the scenes between Godzilla and Minya I think are cute and charming, the monster fights are very entertaining, and the music score is upbeat, memorable, and fits well with the images that it accompanies. There are some major flaws, such as a lot of the human characters being very bland, Godzilla himself looking absolutely atrocious, and some of the special effects coming across as a little wonky, but for me, the good aspects of this film vastly outweigh the bad. To sum it up, it simply is what it is and if you don't like it because of its goofiness, then I can't help you. So, as far as recommending it or not goes, all I can say is that if you come at it with the mindset of a Godzilla purist who only enjoys the serious stuff, you'll absolutely despise it, but, if you're willing to turn your brain off and enjoy a silly, entertaining monster movie, then you'll have fun with it the way I do.