This was one of the three Godzilla movies that I first became aware of due to the post-movie previews on the VHS of Godzilla vs. Monster Zero that I often rented, with the other two being Godzilla's Revenge and Godzilla vs. Mothra. Even though Monster Zero was like the second Godzilla movie I ever saw, I didn't stick around for those previews until maybe the second or even third time I rented the movie. I know this because, when I first saw them and it got to that last one for Terror of Mechagodzilla, I knew who Mechagodzilla was when my mother told me what the film's title said (I hadn't learned to read properly yet), meaning that I already rented Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla by that point. In fact, I actually didn't believe her when she read the title because the first clips of the preview only showed Titanosaurus and eventually went to Mechagodzilla. The first time I saw the movie itself on TNT back when they often played a lot of Godzilla movies. They never played the previous film there (in fact, I never saw that movie on TV at all until Sci-Fi Channel started playing it in the early 2000's) but they often played this one, along with Godzilla, King of the Monsters, Godzilla vs. Mothra, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, and Godzilla's Revenge. They probably had some deal for all of the ones Henry G. Saperstein was involved with. Regardless, when I first watched the movie on TNT as a young kid, I did something no one would have ever expected me to do with a Godzilla movie I'd never seen before: I walked out on it. I stayed until after Godzilla's first brief appearance and scuffle with Titanosaurus but even as a kid, I knew that this one wasn't interesting me all that much and was probably going to go on for a while (which it did due to commercials), so I went outside to play, absolutely flabbergasting my parents. Some time later, I caught the rest of the movie and the three-way climactic monster battle and while I thought it was pretty good, it was the first instance where a Godzilla movie didn't absolutely enthrall me. Many years later, when I got the movie on VHS when I was eleven years old, it was nice seeing it again after a few years and, since I wanted all of them, I was happy to have it in my collection but it never became one of my absolute favorites. It was one of those that was just kind of there because it needed to be.
While I certainly respect the film now much more than I did when I was a kid, especially when putting it into context, I'm still conflicted on it. On the one hand, I can appreciate it for going back to a darker tone and having a bit more complexity than some of the previous ones, as well as recognize its significance as the final film directed by Ishiro Honda and as the final film in the original series of movies. On the other hand, though, I don't think it's entirely successful in what it set out to do. There are moments in the film that suggest that Honda was perhaps past his prime as a director and, despite his best efforts, couldn't match what he had done in the past. The film's grim, dark tone clashes with the more light-hearted, pulpy one of its predecessor, which is a problem given that this is meant to be a direct sequel to that film, and also, the film gets pretty slow at points, with Godzilla not making his first appearance until almost 50 minutes in (did Gareth Edwards take inspiration from that?) But, worst of all, at this point, the whole thing feels a bit tired and outdated. I've never been one to criticize the Godzilla movies for their sticking to very old-fashioned techniques, even as the years passed and films in general became more and more sophisticated (that is, unless they just plain looked bad in a given film), but by 1975, after they'd been doing this for 21 years, even I have to admit that it feels very old-hat and "been there, done that," despite the fact that there is some great stuff in this film. In fact, the whole kaiju movie subgenre feels rather tired by this point and I think it was wise for them to take some time off after this film and, when they finally did come back, refine it. So, yes, Terror of Mechagodzilla is a rather bittersweet cap on the original series for me, both in context of the film's story and in the real-life history of the franchise.
Some time after Godzilla destroyed Mechagodzilla, a research submarine is dispatched to retrieve the robot monster's remains at the bottom of the sea. However, not only do they find no sign of the robot whatsoever, even with their special instruments that can detect the presence of space titanium, the sub is suddenly attacked and destroyed by an enormous, aquatic dinosaur. Interpol immediately starts an investigation, not only to find out what happened but also because a photographer snapped pictures of some saucer-shaped objects in the area where the sub was destroyed. A marine biologist, Ichinose, is brought to help with the investigation and is shocked when he listens to a distress recording from the sub and hears the leading scientist exclaiming that it's an enormous dinosaur that's attacking them. Meanwhile, the aliens from the third planet in the black hole, led by a new leader named Mugal, have returned and, with the day when their planet will be completely swallowed up by the black hole fast approaching, are more than ever intent on conquering Earth and building their own civilization. Not only have they recovered the remains of Mechagodzilla and are rebuilding him but they've also enlisted the serves of Shinzo Mafune, a brilliant but vengeful scientist who wishes to destroy mankind for having been disowned by the scientific community when his theories were seen as reckless and insane. Little do they know that Interpol has become aware of Mafune's work as well upon investigating the dinosaur that supposedly attacked the sub. Ichinose and his Interpol agent friend Murakoshi visit the institute where Mafune conducted his experiments years before and learn that the last straw for his colleagues was when he claimed that he discovered a dinosaur that he dubbed Titanosaurus living at the bottom of the ocean, as well as that he was able to control it with his devices. Ichinose and Murakoshi go to Mafune's old house at Manazuru, where they meet a mysterious young woman who reveals herself to be Mafune's daughter, Katsura, and tells them that her father is dead and that she destroyed all of his notes per his wishes. However, as we already know, Mafune is alive and well and is, unbeknownst to him at this time, working with the aliens, whom he simply thinks are financial backers. They soon reveal their true nature to Mafune and their plans to use Titanosaurus in conjunction with the rebuilt Mechagodzilla to destroy mankind. However, things start to become complicated when Ichinose, after meeting her a couple of more times, develops feelings for Katsura, who is revealed to have been killed in a lab accident years ago and was turned into a cyborg in order to be brought back from the dead. It gets even more complicated when Katsura, despite her nature, begins to replicate those feelings and has doubts about the aliens' ultimate plan, even though she still wants to help her father in any way she can. And while Titanosaurus is discovered to be vulnerable to supersonic waves, when the machine they create to combat the monster is sabotaged and Mechagodzilla's control unit is placed inside of Katsura, with the robot feeding off her vengeful emotions, it looks doubtful that Interpol or even Godzilla himself will be able to stop the aliens from conquering the world.
By 1975, the Godzilla franchise was at something of a crossroads. On the plus side, while it may not have been a blockbuster, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla had done much better business than the previous three or four films and since it had taken a small step away from trying to appeal solely to children, which had become the series' dominant mindset up to that point, it seemed only logical that the next film should move even further away from it. In fact, Tomoyuki Tanaka, emboldened by the incredible success of the unabashedly grim and humorless 1973 film The Submersion of Japan, felt that now was the time to go all the way back to the dark feel of the original film. However, on the negative side, Toho was now very seriously considering dumping Godzilla altogether, citing that, with the Japanese film industry in the toilet, Hollywood imports often doing better business than domestically made movies, and, most importantly, the genre in general having been taken over by television, kaiju films were no longer bankable. These respective attitudes of Tanaka and the brass at Toho were why it was decided that Ishiro Honda should be brought back as director. If anyone could return the series to the dark themes and tone of the original Godzilla, surely it was him. Plus, it was felt that this being the first Godzilla movie he'd directed in six years, and his first film period in five, would make it stand out amongst its competition, creating public interest. Unfortunately, they were both dead wrong. Not only does Terror of Mechagodzilla, despite a valiant effort that did result in the most grim tone the series had seen since Godzilla vs. Hedorah, fall short of returning the series to the overwhelming darkness of the original film but, when it was released in March of 1975, it ended up becoming the biggest bomb of the series so far, fairing even worse than Godzilla vs. Megalon. With that, Toho decided that the writing was on the wall and, while they had no intention of retiring Godzilla permanently, made the decision to put the Big G to rest for a while, leading to him being absent from the big screen for nearly a decade.
After he left Toho in 1970 upon completing the film Yog: Monster from Space, also known as Space Amoeba, Ishiro Honda had virtually retired from making movies, working mainly in television on shows like Ultraman Returns, which he directed the pilot for, Miraman, Emergency Call Ten-Four Ten-Four, and, most significantly, Zone Fighter, where he once again crossed paths with Godzilla. As for his attitude about returning to the film series, I don't think it was something Honda was all that enthused about. Besides his oft-mentioned contempt for the idea of monsters being portrayed comically (working on Zone Fighter must have been especially painful for him in that regard), like Haruo Nakajima, Honda lost his enthusiasm for doing these types of films after the death of Eiji Tsuburaya. At one point, he even stated that in his opinion, Godzilla died with Tsuburaya. And even though Terror of Mechagodzilla was conceived as an attempt to bring the series back to the dark, complex themes it started out with, and the final film would, indeed, have no humor or silliness to it whatsoever, I've read that it was hardly an enjoyable experience for Honda. Apparently, Tomoyuki Tanaka interfered a lot, often overruling whatever decisions Honda made, and the script, which Honda had a hand in sculpting, was rewritten constantly throughout filming. Moreover, as much as I hate to say this since I respect Mr. Honda immensely, I think being away from moviemaking for five years had made him a little bit rusty. While a lot of his directing choices in the film are solid, there are others that seem downright amateurish and make you go, "What was that?" Plus, as David Kalat notes, it sometimes seems like he's trying to emulate Jun Fukuda by employing some fast and unusual editing and camera shots, which is really disappointing behavior for someone who was a much more talented and artistic filmmaker (no disrespect meant towards Fukuda in that statement). So, what was touted as the triumphant return of the director who'd kicked the franchise off ended up hardly being the case (although it is cool to think that the original series bookends with films that are his work). After Terror of Mechagodzilla was completed, Honda retired from directing his own films, although not from filmmaking in general since he returned to his original position of assistant director for his friend, and now neighbor, Akira Kurosawa. When Toho revived Godzilla in the 1980's, they attempted to persuade Honda to return to the director's chair but he made it perfectly clear that he had absolutely washed his hands of it by then. His last pieces of actual directing were several segments of Kurosawa's 1990 anthology film, Dreams. Honda died in 1993 at the age of 81.
Our ostensible lead this time around, Ichinose, is played by Katsuhiko Sasaki, who played the inventor of Jet Jaguar, Goro, in Godzilla vs. Megalon. I say ostensible because ultimately Ichinose, who is a marine biologist brought in to help with Interpol's investigation of what happened to the submarine at the beginning of the film, doesn't have that big a role in the overall plot. He does have a major influence on it, mind you, but not a big actual role. For one, he suggests that the submarine being built to search for Titanosaurus be made faster with less heavy weaponry and that for the range of the sonar to be increased, which leads them to discovering that the dinosaur's Achilles' heel is supersonic waves. His biggest part in the story, though, is his relationship with Dr. Mafune's daughter, Katsura. The feelings that he develops for her influences her own thoughts, at one point prompting her to try to convince him to forget about Titanosaurus and her father's work in order to spare his life. This despite the fact that she's a cyborg and is constantly being told by her father and the aliens that they must destroy mankind, as well as that no one would ever love something that's half-human and half-machine. While her very conflicted personality and devotion to her father almost results in her killing Ichinose by the end of the movie, Ichinose's telling her that he loves her even though she's a cyborg and despite what she's done, stating that it's not her fault, ultimately makes Katsura decide to kill herself, destroying Mechagodzilla's control unit and allowing Godzilla to finish the robot off. It's a very significant part of the movie and in some ways, harkens all the way back to the relationship subplot in the original Godzilla. But that said, it's not as well handled here as it was in that film in my opinion. For one, I don't entirely buy Ichinose's love for Katsura. They only meet a few times before the third act and while I can understand that Ichinose feels for her a little bit when he first meets her and she comes across as rather sad and broken, which results in his telling her that he believes her father was indeed a brilliant man and asking her to come with him to look for Titanosaurus, but I don't exactly buy the strong connection that he suddenly develops for her, particularly in light of the fact that he shouldn't be trusting her as much as he does. And that's another thing: Ichinose is so blinded by his affection for Katsura that it makes him act rather stupid. He doesn't believe that she had anything to do with sabotaging the supersonic device built to combat Titanosaurus even though, one, he and Murakoshi suspected at the beginning that she was hiding something, two, he saw her hanging around some suspicious characters in a spot out in the country where he almost got killed, and, most importantly, she is the only person not involved with Interpol who knows about their project thanks to Ichinose's big mouth. He may come across as a likable guy and while it is great to see that he still loves Katsura even after he finds out that she's a cyborg and is indeed working with the aliens, the extent of his denial about how she couldn't have anything to do with what's going on is a bit frustrating. Overall, Ichinose is a likable guy and Sasaki plays him in a charming enough way but that aspect of him, as well as how he doesn't have much of an active role in the plot, are a couple of strikes against him.
So far, Terror of Mechagodzilla is the only Godzilla movie to have a woman as a key creative force behind it, with the screenplay having been written by Yukiko Takayama (albeit extensively revised by Ishiro Honda), which is why we have the most complex female character since Miss Namikawa in Godzilla vs. Monster Zero in the form of Katsura Mafune (Tomoko Ai). In fact, I'd say she's even more complex than Miss Namikawa because with that character, she spent most of the movie coming across as nothing more than agent for the aliens and only displayed conflicting emotions during her last scene; Katsura, on the other hand, comes across as very conflicted throughout the entire film. We know that she has something to do with what's going on since we see her sitting on a rock, watching the doomed submarine at the beginning of the film and because she comes across as suspiciously evasive when she first meets Ichinose and Murakoshi. We then learn that, despite what she told them, her father is very much alive and has joined with the aliens to conquer the Earth. Katsura is totally devoted to her father, even if she isn't exactly crazy about her beloved Titanosaurus being used as a destructive weapon, but when she meets Ichinose a second time and he tells her that he believes that her father's theory was right and that they're sending a submarine to look for the dinosaur, she becomes more conflicted. She tries to dissuade Ichinose from going on the expedition, knowing that he'll die if he does, and when that doesn't work, she tries to make her father understand that there's someone in the scientific community who thinks he's a genius and that he doesn't have to do this, but Mafune tells her that they've gone too far to turn back. With that, she then tells her father about the expedition to search for Titanosaurus and later makes a second attempt to warn Ichinose not to go, an action that forces the alien lieutenant Tsuda to remind her of what she is, that no one could love a cyborg, and that the only thing that guides her is vengeance and hatred toward mankind for shunning her father. She then does send Titanosaurus out to destroy the submarine but when he's injured in some way, she goes to Ichinose again, this time on the pretense of giving him some of her father's notebooks in order to get him to tell her what happened. Even though she does find out that Titanosaurus is vulnerable to supersonic waves, she still tries to dissuade her father from using the dinosaur as a weapon for the aliens, and she also now has second thoughts in helping them altogether, but she still goes along with him when he unleashes Titanosaurus upon a port city and even sabotages Interpol's supersonic weapon (that's the thing about her: she tries to make Mafune see things in a different light but when he makes it clear that his mind made up, she goes along with him and doesn't press the issue any further). However, when she's repaired after being shot by some agents and Mechagodzilla's control unit is placed inside her, she seems to completely lose her humanity and implicitly goes along with helping the aliens destroy Tokyo, using both the robot and Titanosaurus to do so. She even seems to have lost her feelings for Ichinose, who's been captured by the aliens, going so far as to threaten him with a gun when he manages to free himself. It's only when she's shot in the arm by Murakoshi and Ichinose holds her and tells her that he still loves her despite what she is and what she's done that her humanity returns, as shown when she begins shedding tears. Knowing what must be done, she begs Ichinose to kill her in order to destroy Mechagodzilla's control unit and when he refuses to do so, she does so herself, sacrificing herself in order to save the world, not unlike what Dr. Serizawa did (which is interesting considering Akihiko Hirata plays her father) and making for some other nice bookends to the original series.
Akihiko Hirata gives his final performance in the Godzilla series as Dr. Shinzo Mafune, the brilliant scientist who, embittered by being disowned by the scientific community due to his radical theories, has joined with the aliens to help them destroy the world. Many critics have said that it's a shame that this mad scientist role had to be Hirata's final bow in the series and while I do agree that he is pretty hammy at points, especially when he gives off this crazy, maniacal laugh when we first meet him, and that the way they made Hirata look is rather ridiculous (look at that picture), I don't think he's horrible. In fact, he makes Mafune a little more complex than just being a typical mad scientist. While he never falters in wanting to get back at the scientific community and all of humanity for how they ruined his life and forced him to resign from his position, telling both Katsura and Ichinose that they've gone too far by this point and can't return, he does have mixed feelings about joining up with the aliens in order to do so. He considers Mechagodzilla to be inferior to Titanosaurus since he's just a machine and goes as far as to let the dinosaur loose without the aliens' orders to prove his point. He also suggests that for Mechagodzilla to become the perfect monster robot, they must find a way to use living brain cells. By doing this, he inadvertently gives them the idea to place the robot's control unit inside of Katsura so that he will feed off her rage when they send him to attack Tokyo. This revelation is clearly quite horrifying for Mafune who, despite his bitter hatred for humanity, dearly loves his daughter, but since he has no other option by this point except to go along with the aliens, there's nothing he can do about. In a moment that highlights Hirata's talent as an actor, Mafune tearfully begs for Katsura to forgive him for allowing her to be turned into what she is and a noticeable look of horror comes over his face when he puts his hand on her abdomen and is able to feel, and possibly hear, the control unit within her. But, despite this, as well as Ichinose telling him that he thinks he's a brilliant man, Mafune manages to suck it up and join with the aliens and his daughter in directing the attack on Tokyo. So, no, I don't at all think that Mafune was an absolutely terrible character for Hirata to end his affiliation with Godzilla on. However, I do wish that Mafune had something along the lines of a redemption at the end of the movie. I guess the point is that he was too far gone to realize what he's doing isn't the best course of action and Katsura's redemption and sacrifice were more important but regardless, when he's fatally shot at the end of the movie, I would have personally liked him to stay alive long enough to realize the error of his ways and that it wasn't necessary for him to have done all this.
Up until Godzilla: Final Wars, which featured a new incarnation of the people from Planet X, the aliens from the third planet of the black hole were the only alien race to appear in more than one Godzilla movie and are still the only one to appear twice in a single continuity. However, even though these aliens are back and are once again planning to conquer the Earth by using the rebuilt Mechagodzilla, their portrayal as a race is rather different here than it was previously. Most importantly, this time we learn why they want to conquer Earth: their planet is about to be completely swallowed up by the black hole and they must find another one to colonize soon. This motivation was hinted at previously when we first heard that they were from a planet near a black hole but now, it's been made concrete. The alien lieutenant, Tsuda, also mentions that this would be a good place to "rebuild" their bodies, which leads into something of a curiosity concerning these particular aliens: even though they're of the same race as the ones from the previous film, their real forms don't appear to be apes. Instead, we learn near the end of the film, when Tsuda pulls his own face off during a struggle with Ichinose, that they're wearing masks over disfigured but still humanlike faces. I would say that maybe they're actually a different race that just happens to be from the same planet but that's immediately flushed down the toilet when you remember that they've rebuilt Mechagodzilla, know how he was destroyed and how he works, and also that their uniforms and hideout are very similar to those of the aliens from the previous film. You could also make the argument that it's a deformed ape-face that's a result of the effects of the black hole on their planet, which does explain Tsuda's comment as meaning that they can heal on Earth, but when you look at the face at the end, it's obvious that it's not ape-like in the slightest. I don't know why they decided to change the concept of the aliens but if I were willing to guess, I'd say it was probably Ishiro Honda's doing and that he did it because he thought the idea of them actually being apes was stupid (if you think about it, the alien races that appeared in the films he directed were not as ridiculous as those in Jun Fukuda's flicks). They also tweaked their outfits a little bit. They still wear silver suits, which now seem to be bulletproof, but without the golden, feather-like decorations or the belts with the ape faces on the buckle, and they now also wear these very silly, stereotypical alien helmets that I don't care for at all since they clash with the much more serious tone this film is going for.
Even though Goro Mutsumi's alien commander character from the previous film was killed at the end, they brought him back here to play virtually the same character, with the only major difference being that he's actually given a name: Mugal. However, while the character he played previously was just a typical conniving, and slimy bad guy for the most part, Mutsumi gets to give Mugal a little more of a personality and complexity. Even though Mugal does join forces with Dr. Mafune, he doesn't see the old man and his daughter, or even Titanosaurus for that matter, as indispensable allies and is actually suspicious of Katsura when it comes to her control of the dinosaur. You get the feeling that he would get rid of the old scientist and his daughter in an instant once it gets to any point where he feels they've outlived their usefulness. He obviously has no intention whatsoever to fulfill Tsuda's promise to Mafune that they would build a new home for the two of them in the advanced city they plan to construct in place of Tokyo. In fact, at one point in the film, he does take an opportunity to get them out of the way. When Mafune unleashes Titanosaurus without his permission and his doing so attracts the attention of Godzilla, Mugal sees this as a way to both get rid of Titanosaurus (and, by extension, Mafune and Katsura) and to weaken Godzilla to the point where he will be no match for Mechagodzilla, who will then be able to destroy Tokyo with no one to stop him. And when that doesn't work, he comes up with another idea to use Mafune and his daughter for his own purposes by having Mechagodzilla's control unit placed inside of Katsura when she needs to have surgery after falling to her death. At this point, it seems like he'd probably keep Katsura around since she's now the source of Mechagodzilla's control but, again, I'm pretty sure that once it's over, he would eliminate Mafune and Titanosaurus since they no longer have any use. He shows how much he thinks of Mafune when he betrays him and uses him as a human shield during a shootout with Murakoshi at the end of the film; moreover, if his suit is indeed bulletproof, that makes his actions even more evil since it means that he saw another opportunity even at this late stage to get rid of Mafune. Besides his attitude towards Mafune, you get a firsthand glimpse of how brutal Mugal is to his own men as well, whipping several guards when they're unable to kill Ichinose and Murakoshi at one point and then having them taken away to be executed. This makes him a little more threatening than the previous alien commander since we see that he means business.
As for Mugal's lieutenant, Tsuda (Toru Ibuki), there's isn't much to say except that he's as loyal to his commander as he is ruthless, in some ways even more so than his superior. He's the one who makes first contact with Mafune, gives him the money to complete his experiments, and gets him to join up with the aliens, although it becomes clear that, like Mugal, he doesn't see Mafune as anything more than an expendable asset. He's more than willing to go along with Mugal's plan to have Titanosaurus be killed and for Godzilla to be weakened and after that, when Mechagodzilla's control unit is placed inside Katsura, he tells Mafune that after the battle is over, they'll build a new home for the both of them in the new advanced city, no doubt saying this just to ensure Mafune's cooperation since he's quite conflicted about allowing them to do this to his daughter. He's also not afraid to get his hands dirty, joining a team of guards in hunting down and killing a prisoner who escaped from their base, and he's also capable of inflicting some psychological damage, telling Katsura that no one would ever love a cyborg and that the only thing that guides her and father is hatred as a means of getting her to make Titanosaurus attack the submarine sent to look for him. But, despite how cruel and ruthless he is, Tsuda ends up being no match for Ichinose, who manages to strangle him and unintentionally for him to reveal his false face, revealing the hideously scarred real one that lies beneath.
An old college buddy of Ichinose's, Murakoshi (Katsumasa Uchida), has a role in the story as one of Interpol's top agents and is assigned to the investigation of what happened to the submarine at the beginning of the film, with Ichinose assisting them. While they both have their suspicions when they first meet Katsura and feel that she's hiding something from them, Murakoshi's view on Katsura doesn't soften, especially after he chases her down when it's discovered that the supersonic oscillator meant to fight Titanosaurus has been sabotaged. When Ichinose is stating that he still doesn't believe that Katsura could have done the sabotage despite the evidence to the contrary, Murakoshi has to pound it into his head that since she's apparently dead from falling off a cliff (of course, she's not), he has to forget about her. However, he does understand his friend's grief and when Ichinose storms out of the room and a female colleague of theirs, Yuri (Tomoe Mari), tries to run after him, Murakoshi tells her that even though they know that they're right, they'd better leave Ichinose alone for the time being. Another thing about Murakoshi is that, while he's not as badass as Nanbara was in the previous film, he's still a pretty good agent. He's a crack-shot with his handgun and often arrives just in time to save someone, be it Ichinose on two occasions or some prisoners being held inside of the aliens' abandoned and rigged to explode base. He's also smart enough to recognize from the mounting evidence that the aliens from the previous film are back as well as realize where their base is. And when said base has been destroyed and Titanosaurus and Mechagodzilla are on the rampage, Murakoshi knows that the only other place the aliens could be is at Dr. Mafune's old house. Once again, he comes in just time to save Ichinose from being killed by Katsura and he also inadvertently kills Mafune when he's trying to shoot Mugal. Finally, I do like how, even though Murakoshi never stopped thinking of her as an enemy, he's a decent enough guy to sympathize with Ichinose's feelings towards Katsura and, when the latter has brought her body outside, takes his coat off and puts it over her.
There are some other notable characters in the film, one of which is the chief of Interpol, Tagawa (Tadao Nakamura). He doesn't have much of a role in the story except to give orders and assign agents their cases but one thing that really makes me like him is how, when Murakoshi describes the odd guns the people who tried to kill Ichinose at one point were wielding, he immediately realizes that they could very well be the spacemen that Interpol tangled with before. It creates a nice bit of continuity between this film and previous one, as well as the sense that the government, after so many similar scenarios in the past, is starting to take idea of alien threats much more seriously. Wakayama (Shin Roppongi) is a technician who was part of the team that designed the submarine seen at the beginning and is the one who discovers by accident that Titanosaurus is vulnerable to supersonic waves and thus, decides to create a supersonic oscillator to use against the dinosaur. There's not much to him but I do like how, even though it's virtually impossible, he does take it upon himself to repair said oscillator in just one day in order to be ready when the monster attacks again and takes an active part in making sure that it is effective. Masaaki Daimon, who played the lead in the previous film, is here again as Kusakari, the man leading the search for the wreckage of Mechagodzilla at the beginning of the film and who is taken prisoner, along with the rest of the crew, after Titanosaurus destroys the sub (although, I don't know how there could have been anyone left to take prisoner after Titanosaurus blew the sub up the way he did). Even though we later find out that he was tortured to the point where he couldn't speak, with a scar on his throat horrifically suggesting that his voice box had been removed, and is killed shortly after he manages to escape, he's able to give a repairman he comes across in the woods a piece of space titanium to take to Interpol, giving them their first indication that the aliens they've come across before are back. Ikio Sawamura, an elderly actor who'd made brief, usually one-scene appearances in previous Godzilla and Toho science fiction movies, has a small role here as a mute servant of Tsuda's who acts as something of a spy for both him and Mafune, keeping tabs on Katsura when she first goes to see Ichinose and reporting back to the doctor. The part with him that's most memorable to me is when Katsura is running for the door to go to Ichinose and stop him from heading out to find Titanosaurus. As she rounds the corner, the servant suddenly grabs her wrist and makes a weird face at her as he feebly tries to detain her, which works out about as well as you might expect. This was Sawamura's last film before his death at the age of 70 and if you compare his appearance here to the way he looked in the movies he popped up in, you will notice that he looks very frail and sickly. And try and guess who pops up as a Defense Force commander here. It's somebody whose name you should know by heart now: Kenji Sahara. His role is very small, as it has been for a while now, but regardless, there's another film for his IMDB profile.
I mentioned how Tagawa's realization that they could be dealing with the same aliens they encountered before is a nice little bit of continuity linking this film to the previous one, and the same also goes for how Murakoshi recognizes the piece of metal the repairman brings to Interpol as being a bit of space titanium. Surprisingly, that's one of the few instances of it in this film. Continuity was never a high priority to Toho when it came to their monster pictures and this film was not immune just because it was meant as a direct sequel to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and is one of the few instances in the series where one movie's storyline follows on the heels of a previous one. Besides the non-narrative elements, such as this film's being infinitely grimmer and darker than the previous one (even Mechagodzilla's own paint scheme, which has been changed from a bright silver to a darker gray, reflects this attitude) and the genre being pure science fiction as opposed to the last one's mixture of sci-fi and mysticism with the Azumi prophecy, there are a number of aspects of the story that don't stand up to scrutiny when you try to link the two films. For instance, we find out that the aliens have been involved with Dr. Mafune for quite a while and even brought Katsura back to life as a cyborg when she was killed in a lab accident some years. If that's the case, then why didn't they bring him in to repair the damaged Mechagodzilla in the previous film instead of going through the trouble of capturing and blackmailing Prof. Miyajima to do so? Speaking of which, it's only during the events of this film when Mafune learns that the people who have been financing his work for quite a while are actually the aliens from the third planet in the black hole. This makes no sense on several levels. One, if Mafune had gotten to the point that he hated all of humanity for the rejection of his scientific theories and how he and his family became ostracized as a result, then why was he allowing these people to finance his experiments? And furthermore, shouldn't the very fact that there were people willing to pour large amounts of money into his work have been enough to soften his anger and regain faith in the world just a little bit? Also, how exactly did he think they were able to bring Katsura back after she was clearly by the electric shock she suffered in his lab? Did he even know that she was a cyborg all this time? And what's more, during the flashback when Katsura is killed, we see Tsuda and several others barge into the room dressed in surgeon's outfits (were they just sitting around and waiting for someone to seriously hurt so they could put them to use?) and take Katsura's body away, Mafune is not only shocked by this but in the Japanese version, he actually says, "Who are you?" Wait, so he doesn't even know who these people are who are coming into his lab and taking his daughter's body away? So, was this before he started working with the aliens and if so, is this how they introduced themselves to him? If that's the case, then don't you think Mafune would have put up more of a fight against these people whom he had never seen before and who were taking away his beloved daughter?
Another glaring continuity error involves of Terror of Mechagodzilla's connection to not only the previous film but to the franchise as a whole. We're told that it's been fifteen years since Dr. Mafune was disowned by the scientific community for his radical theories, with the most damning of all having been his discovery of Titanosaurus. Let's once again assume for the sake of argument that this film and all the others, except for Destroy All Monsters, take place in the years they were released, which would mean that this is 1975 (if you go by the opening narration in Henry G. Saperstein's American version, this film begins only a few days after the events of the first one, which would mean it's still 1974 but let's not overcomplicate things for ourselves) and that Mafune was fired from his position in 1960. Now, by that point in this particular continuity, Japan had already been beset by two Godzillas, Anguirus, two Rodans, and Varan. So, in context of those events, doesn't it seem ridiculous for Mafune to have lost his job and position in the scientific community because he claimed to have discovered a dinosaur living at the bottom of the ocean? It's like back in King Kong vs. Godzilla when Sakurai laughed at the idea of there being an enormous creature living on Faro Island, despite the fact that, at least that point, we knew that Japan had already had two separate and hard to forget encounters with a couple of Godzillas and Anguirus: are people in this universe really this stuffy and skeptical about the possibility of new monsters even though it's long since become a cold, hard fact that monsters exist in the first place? And what's more, think about how, in the intervening years when many, many more monsters made their presence known, nobody ever apologized to Mafune for throwing him just because he claimed to have found a dinosaur! I think the guy has more than enough right to be pissed, don't you? Especially since, as we see in the photographic montage of Mafune's career at the institute, his colleagues freaking assaulted him over his Titanosaurus theory! As I've said before, as much as I love the Godzilla franchise, it's never been one for very strong continuity and it's only going to get more confusing as we head into the two other cycles of films.
Going back to the subject of Ishiro Honda's direction of the film, I stand by my opinion that, while he may have been a great filmmaker in his prime, by this point in his life he was rather rusty, possibly due to his having been away from it for five years as well as perhaps due to his age at the time of filming (he was 63). Nowhere is that more evident to me than in some poor editing choices that are made throughout the film. Random images are spliced in either in-between scenes or right in the middle of them, coming across as very random and distracting. I know there was a lot of similarly random stuff in Godzilla vs. Hedorah but the examples in that film fit with its bizarre, avant-garde aesthetic; here, it just comes across as the work of somebody who doesn't know what they're doing. For instance, after the first scene in the main office Interpol, we get a strange and surreal blinking and pushing-in image of an alien spaceship, accompanied by a weird bit of music, before we get to the scene where we meet both Mugal and Tsuda. There are similar moments involving Titanosaurus, such as a random, silent pan up of him in the middle of the scene where we're introduced to Dr. Mafune and Tsuda talks about how he's pleased with the results of the good doctor's experiments. We get a similar such shot when Mafune is scoffing at Titanosaurus' vulnerability to supersonic waves. At first, I always assumed that these shots were glimpses of the dinosaur from a monitor in Mafune's lab or, what's more, windows to the spot beneath the ocean near Mafune's lab where he was living. However, now I don't think either of those possibilities is plausible and, again, those glimpses of the dinosaur are possibly just random bits of editing. When Katsura goes to meet Ichinose for the first time, we get some shots of Ikio Sawamura's mute servant character as he sits outside of the building in a car, keeping tabs on her (in fact, they're the same shots as the picture of him I put in a few paragraphs above). It seems like a perfectly logical scenario but the thing is that the placement of the room where Katsura meets up with Ichinose makes it difficult to believe that servant is watching this from outside on the street and it's even more implausible that he's able to keep an eye on her as the two of them go up to a balcony on a higher floor. Again, it looks like we're just getting random shots of some guy spliced amongst the scene between Katsura and Ichinose. This one is a bit hard to explain but if you see the movie, you'll know what I'm talking about. And finally, when Murakoshi spots Katsura and the servant walking away after he finds out that their supersonic weapon has been sabotaged, we see them head behind a structure that still allows us to see their feet and, as they walk on, they suddenly disappear into thin air right before they would have walked out of sight. This is an obvious editing error that could have been easily corrected but I've heard that Honda actually liked the effect and left it in, which makes me question the man's judgment if that is true. I've noticed these clumsy bits of editing and scene composition ever since I was a kid and as I got older, I had hoped that they were just the results of some bad decisions made during the creation of the English version. Unfortunately, while one English version of the film was indeed a huge mess, these errors are in the Japanese version as well, which rather saddens me when I think about all of the great decisions Honda made in so many of his previous films.
In my synopsis of the film's plot, you may have found it odd that I didn't mention Godzilla himself until at the very end of it and also how even up to this point in the review, you haven't seen his name much. That's because Godzilla, surprisingly, is a very small part of this film. There have been many other films where Godzilla is not onscreen that much and, in fact, doesn't make his first appearance until quite a ways into them but here, not only does Godzilla not enter the story until almost 50 minutes in but when he shows up during the climactic battle (quite unexpectedly, I might add), he feels like an afterthought, like the filmmakers spent all this time on the characters of Katsura and Dr. Mafune, as well as the evil monsters, and suddenly remembered, "Oh, yeah, this is a Godzilla movie! We'd better stick him in here at some point." There's not even a reason given for why Godzilla comes into the picture. In the previous films, we either definitively knew why he's battling the antagonistic monsters or, in the case of the previous movie with Anguirus being seriously injured by Mechagodzilla, we at least had a hint of his motives. Here, he just unexpectedly shows up to blast Titanosaurus and have a little fight with him for no reason. Godzilla's not yet aware that this is a threat to the entire planet, a friend of his hasn't been injured, and he definitely hasn't been brought in by the humans themselves, as was the case in Godzilla vs. Megalon, so I don't know why he shows up there. The same goes for why he suddenly appears to battle Titanosaurus and Mechagodzilla during the climax. I guess he could sense that their attack on Tokyo was going to lead to a worldwide scenario but still, for all he'd know, it's just two monsters doing what he used to do on a regular basis. It's like he's saying, "No one can destroy Tokyo but me!" Maybe once he sees that Mechagodzilla is back (I wish there was a moment where he sees him and has an expression like, "Not you again!"), he decides that he'd better stop him as soon as possible as well as give him a little more payback for what he did to both Anguirus and himself the first time. In any case, despite his unclear motivations this time around, Godzilla is still very much bad-ass. Toru Kawai, the main actor who played him during his appearances on Zone Fighter, dons the suit this time and gives a much less goofy and exuberant performance than he did on television. Godzilla is all business here, with his only funny gestures being when he dusts himself off after exploding out of the pit he gets buried in at one point and when he reacts in surprise upon tearing Mechagodzilla's head off again only to find a much smaller head underneath. He's pure bold, take no crap tenacity in this flick, capable of being quite vicious and vengeful with how he absolutely brutalizes Mechagodzilla after he explodes out of the pit he and Titanosaurus temporarily buried him in and actually chases after the retreating Titanosaurus to give him some more punishment, which he does. Anything you do to him, he'll do far worse to you. The only thing I don't like is, like in Godzilla vs. Gigan, Godzilla comes across as a little too weak and helpless with how easily he gets beaten on during the climactic fight. He did get beaten up for most of the previous film but I bought that since he was up against a powerful enemy and defeated him just by the skin of his teeth. Here, it is one against two this time, granted, but, as it was in Gigan, it's odd to see Godzilla get his ass kicked for so much of the fight and then to just suddenly get his second wind and dominate them for most of the remainder of it, especially when he did some awesome stuff beforehand. Fortunately, Godzilla does manage to get his good licks in before he gets his second wind, so he doesn't come across as much of a wimp as he did in that film, but I still wish there was more of a balance to it.
As they did in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, while the suit here is virtually the same one that we saw in Godzilla vs. Megalon, they tweaked it a little bit and hardened it up to make Godzilla look tougher and less cuddly than he did there... and boy, did that succeed on that score. You see plenty close-ups of his face here and every time, Godzilla looks mean and always ready for a fight. He looks much tougher than he did in the previous film, with his permanently furrowed eyebrows and frowning mouth, and his eyes project a feeling of abject coldness, like he could rip another monster in half and it wouldn't mean a thing to him. The best proof of that is the thousand-yard stare he gives to Titanosaurus at the end when he's blasted him for the last time, resulting in the dinosaur toppling backwards over a cliff and into the ocean. Unfortunately, given how this ended up being the last film in the original series, they made a huge mistake with the last shot of Godzilla's face because they accidentally used the grinning, freaky-looking publicity suit used for the disguised Mechagodzilla in the last movie. It's not onscreen for more than a couple of seconds but it's impossible to miss since it looks so unlike the suit used for the rest of the film (I even caught that when I was a little kid). I also don't like the way Godzilla's roar sounds in this film. It sounds a little more high-pitched and squeaky than it should, like the recording of it got messed up before they added it into the film. It doesn't fit very well with the bad-ass image Godzilla has throughout the film, especially since you don't ever hear the variation of the roar with the harsher-sounding latter part of it. They also use his injured screech way too much. I understood why he was screeching so much in the last movie because of the horrific injuries Mechagodzilla was inflicting upon him but here, he screeches for almost every hit he takes, even when it looks like it didn't hurt that bad. Once again, like it was in Godzilla vs. Gigan, it can make you think, "Man, Godzilla, are you being a wimp here?"
In the span of just two movies, Mechagodzilla's (Ise Mori) portrayal went the same way that King Ghidorah's did over a span of four. Even though he's played by the same suit actor, Godzilla's robotic double acts very differently here from the way he did in the previous film. In his first appearance, Mechagodzilla was very powerful and deadly, able to inflict enough pain on Godzilla to make him bleed profusely. He was also quite agile and violent, not as stiff as many people have described him as. Here, it feels like the aliens took away a lot of Mechagodzilla's power when they rebuilt him. He moves really slow, both on the ground and when's flying, and is indeed much more stiff here than he was previously. While he causes more than his fair share of property damage to Tokyo, when he and Titanosaurus battle Godzilla for the remainder of the movie, the dinosaur is the one who does most of the fighting, while Mechagodzilla, like Ghidorah in Godzilla vs. Gigan, mainly watches from the sidelines and only fires something at Godzilla either as a cheap shot or as a means of putting him down for the count. He does indeed injure Godzilla pretty badly but he doesn't have that sadistic streak anymore and doesn't brutalize him to the point where he bleeds profusely. Moreover, when he fires all of his weapons at Godzilla like he did before, Godzilla is now able to run straight through all of this firepower (a really awesome moment for the Big G, mind you), stumbling only once in the process even though he's taking a lot of hits, and beat Mechagodzilla to death when he gets up to him, with the robot now barely able to defend himself. It's akin to how easily Godzilla beat on Gigan in Godzilla vs. Megalon even though he was barely able to touch the cyborg during their first fight. Granted, I've just now realized that, like Gigan, Mechagodzilla did most of his fighting from a long-range, except for when he was disguised as the real Godzilla and when he fought King Caesar one on one, the former example of which didn't suit him well during his first confrontation with Godzilla, so he is using the same tactics here but, still, his slow stiff movements and lack of participation in the battle result in him not coming across as the powerful, lethal villain as he was before. In fact, since his control unit is within Katsura and he's feeding off of the rage the aliens are planting in her head, he should be even more violent and unpredictable in this film but, sadly, that's not the case.
Weirdly enough, the aliens didn't give Mechagodzilla many new weapons. You'd think that this time, they would have outfitted him with enough firepower to blow Godzilla to kingdom come within an instant but I guess they felt that his being fueled by Katsura's anger would have been enough (which it wasn't). Like before, the weapons he uses the most are his laser eye-beams and finger missiles, the latter of which he seems to prefer, and he only uses his other weapons when unloads them all on Godzilla at the end of the movie. Said finger missiles, which are noticeably longer here, have been modified to the point where they can actually burrow and explode underground due to an increased velocity from Mechagodzilla rotating his hand, allowing him to cause a lot of property damage as well as to bury Godzilla under tons of dirt after Titanosaurus kicks him into a pit. The aliens also thought ahead enough to place a smaller backup head underneath the main one so Mechagodzilla could still function even if Godzilla managed to rip his head off again. This smaller head is equipped with a laser that's powerful enough to burn right through Godzilla's flesh and it's only then when you get the same feeling from before that Mechagodzilla could very well kill him. Mechagodzilla's look is also tweaked slightly from his previous one. Aside from the aforementioned duller gray paint scheme, his overall shape seems even more shape and pointed, with there being less round aspects of his design than before, especially in the case of his head when seen from straight on. And if you look closely, the insignia on his forearm, which said MG previously, now says MG2.
After all of the increasingly bizarre monsters that Godzilla has been facing in the four to five films, Titanosaurus (Katsumi Nimiamoto) is a return to the more plausible dinosaurs and oversized animals that appeared in the series throughout the 60's. His overall design, which, as James Rolfe once described it, is basically just a more aquatic version of Godzilla, is very well done with his overall red and yellow, bumpy skin, light-colored belly and torso, orange fins on his head, ears, and back, and his fish-like face and eyes. In fact, when he's lit in certain ways, Titanosaurus, like King Ghidorah, is actually kind of beautiful. Since he's just a dinosaur, Titanosaurus doesn't have any death rays or laser eye-beams like a lot of the monsters that popped up around this time had and, aside from being able to open up the end of his tail like a large fan and use it to create windstorms, his only weapons are his size and strength. However, that's more than enough to give Godzilla quite a beating. As I said, Titanosaurus is the one who does most of the fighting with Godzilla, while Mechagodzilla mainly just watches, and he manages to show off his strength and really pound on Godzilla, at one point flinging Godzilla up in the air while holding onto his upper lip with just his teeth! Like the ones that Rodan, Mothra, and Ghidorah can generate, the windstorm that Titanosaurus can create with his tail is powerful enough to make it difficult for Godzilla to keep his balance and at one point when he falls to the ground, the wind actually makes him roll across it. Overall, Titanosaurus is a pretty brutal and kind of sadistic fighter and he's even more deadly in the underwater scenes where he's in his element (it's very unlikely Godzilla would have had a chance in beating him if they ever fought in the ocean), so you might find it surprising to learn that there is some pathos to him. When Ichinose and his friend Yuki find some of Mafune's old notebooks, they learn that Titanosaurus actually has a very gentle nature and rarely attacks unless provoked. This revelation makes you feel bad for the dinosaur because you realize that the only reason he's doing all of this horrible stuff is because he's under the control of Mafune and is being forced to, a fact that Katsura doesn't like because she hates the idea of Titanosaurus joining the ranks of other destructive monsters. In fact, knowing that his true nature is a gentle one makes the last bit of the movie where Godzilla chases him down and savagely beats him after destroying Mechagodzilla rather disturbing. By this point, nobody is controlling him anymore and, in fact, the machine being used to do so got shorted out and messed up when Titanosaurus was being hit by the supersonic oscillator, so the dinosaur should be back to his old self and rather confused as to where he is and what's going on. Godzilla, however, has no way of knowing this and, since he's understandably furious for the abuse he took from Titanosaurus, decides to give the dinosaur some payback, not realizing that he's beating on a frightened and confused creature that doesn't understand why this is happening to him. Therefore, as much as I like seeing Godzilla being the badass that he is at the end of the film, I also feel a lot of sympathy for poor Titanosaurus at that point too. If I have on major complaint about Titanosaurus, though, it's that his loud, duck-like cackling gets really old and grating, and the same especially goes for his injured scream (although, I do kind of like his growling and curious cackle). Other than that, though, I rather like Titanosaurus.
Some major hiccups aside, the effects work in Terror of Mechagodzilla is just as impressive, and explosive, as that of the previous film. Teruyoshi Nakano and his team once again get to blow a lot of stuff up and create some truly spectacular pyrotechnics, the best of which occur when Mechagodzilla blows apart entire blocks of buildings and when he unleashes all of his firepower at Godzilla while the latter is running straight at him. The miniature buildings and vehicles, which have been sorely missed in the last couple of films since they were almost entirely stock footage in Godzilla vs. Megalon and only present in a couple of scenes in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, are well designed and look great when they get blown up and crumble, the monster suits all look great, there are some good prosthetics used for the shots of Katsura's opened up torso when she's being operated on after falling off of a cliff, and the rotoscoping effects for Godzilla's atomic blast and Mechagodzilla's eye-lasers look just as convincing here as they were before. But, as I said, the special effects aren't entirely flawless. Besides the aforementioned blunder they make of using a publicity suit for the last shots of Godzilla, the perspective is off in some compositing shots used to create the feeling of the monsters looming over hills and skylines. The best example is a brief, ground-level shot during Mechagodzilla and Titanosaurus' attack on Tokyo where you can see their torsos as they walk directly behind a skyline that's not that big in comparison to them. It looks wonky, like they're walking around in some deep holes behind those buildings. And again, this same error pops up a few times during the film. Some matte shots used for when you see Mugal walking out of an elevator and across a walkway to Mechagodzilla's head look pretty suspect as well, although the shot where Dr. Mafune and Katsura see Mechagodzilla for the first time through a large window is truly excellent, as you can see up above. The model of Titanosaurus used during some of the underwater scenes looks pretty bad at points too, especially when he goes back down while holding the sub during his first appearance (it's also painfully obvious in some of those scenes that the action isn't really taking place underwater) and the alien spaceships that show up at the end look really, really fake and unimpressive. When Godzilla is getting flung around during the first part of the battle, it's a bit too obvious from how deflated he looks that they're knocking around an empty suit. And finally, while Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla only used stock footage for about three shots (for Nami's confusing vision of King Ghidorah and the car exploding from Godzilla vs. Gigan), it's very obvious that they used more here, albeit nowhere near as excessively as in Gigan or Godzilla vs. Megalon. A lot of it is actually footage from Mechagodzilla, notably the shots of Mechagodzilla firing all of his weapons at once and the shot where Godzilla temporarily loses his balance just a few feet away from him. The only difference here is that the shots are flipped around in the other direction. However, I also think the shots of the tanks moving in to face Titanosaurus when he first comes on land are from Mothra vs. Godzilla, albeit tinted darker than they were before, and I'm pretty sure that the shots of other military vehicles parking near the edge of a mountain road are from War of the Gargantuas. But, the stock footage and occasional clunky-looking effects aside, Terror of Mechagodzilla is overall just as much a feast for the eyes as the previous movie was.
The film begins with a quick, two to three minute recap of the major events of the previous movie (as well as a rather lengthy history lesson on Godzilla if you watch Henry G. Saperstein's American version), showing Godzilla's first encounter with the disguised Mechagodzilla at the oil refinery, highlights of the big climactic battle (note that King Caesar is virtually removed from this footage save for a couple of quick glimpses), and how Godzilla ultimately defeated his mechanical doppelganger by tearing his head off and his body exploded, scattering his remains into the ocean. Then we get into the film's opening, with Katsura watching the submarine that's been dispatched to search for the wreckage of Mechagodzilla. After submerging to the bottom where they commence their search, and being surprised when they can't find Mechagodzilla and their special analyzer designed to detect the presence of space titanium gets no reaction whatsoever, we get some quick, ominous flashes of Titanosaurus' fan-like tail. A strong cyclone of bubbles and water created by the dinosaur's tail then appears behind the submarine, which is immediately caught up in it and loses control. The people inside are thrown around like ragdolls and water begins spraying into the sub as it continues to flung around by the cyclone. The submarine soon comes to the surface, floating like a helpless bath-toy, as Titanosaurus explodes out of the water right next to it. We get a really nice-low angle shot of him as he cackles and as the sub bobs around the surface, he jumps at it, hitting the back with his snout, and drags it back underwater. He squeezes on the submarine and it explodes in his hands, after which he continues laughing.
There's not another action scene until a while after this first one and even this one isn't much, which is how it is for most of the movie until the third act. After we're introduced to Katsura and Dr. Mafune and they're taken to the aliens' base, where the aliens reveal who they are and we see the repaired Mechagodzilla for the first time, a voice comes over the intercom, announcing that one of the people they're holding prisoner there has escaped. We then see that it's Kusakari, the leader of the submarine expedition (again, how did he survive the sub's explosion?), and he's being chased through the woods by some guards. We get some rapidly edited shots of him and the pursuing guards, with him doing a rather impressive flip at one point, although it doesn't him at all and causes him to tumble down a hill. After he climbs over a manhole and the guards run past it, we see the repairmen peek his head out from within the hole (it's only later when we find out that Kusakari gave him a piece of space titanium to take to Interpol). Kusakari runs a little farther through the woods but he gets cornered in a small clearing and Tsuda, who joined in the pursuit, orders him to be shot. The guards open fire on Kusakari, causing him to flail around and hoarsely scream in agony before he collapses down to the ground dead and they head back to the base, leaving his body there. After the scene later on where the repairmen brings the piece of metal to Interpol, as well as another where Mugal and Mafune confer while the former is doing some work inside Mechagodzilla's head, and the flashback where we learn what happened to Katsura, we get the scene where Katsura sends Titanosaurus to attack the second submarine sent to look for him. Like the previous scene, there isn't much to say about it. The sub is ambushed by Titanosaurus and loses control from the force created when the dinosaur rapidly swims directly past it a couple of times. Their equipment also picks up a lot of interference as a result and although they do manage to get the sub back under control, they soon realize what they're faced with when Titanosaurus emerges from behind a rock and cackles at them. The sub immediately tries to retreat but Titanosaurus swims after them, aiming himself like a torpedo while doing so. Desperate, the crewmembers begin switching on everything in an attempt to contact headquarters and once Titanosaurus is almost on top of them, they switch on the sonar. The supersonic beam sent out as a result badly injures the dinosaur, causing him to scream in pain as well as short out the machine Katsura is using to control him. As Titanosaurus writhes in pain, the sub takes the opportunity to escape, while Katsura, meanwhile, is horrified by her beloved dinosaur's condition.
There's a small scene a little bit after that where Ichinose goes back to Dr. Mafune's house to see Katsura again but when a car suddenly peels out of the driveway, he's compelled to follow them. After following the car up a mountain road, Ichinose eventually parks his own car and, upon getting out, sees Katsura and a couple of other people walking at the bottom of a steep hill. However, Ichinose is suddenly whacked on the back of a head with the butt of a gun and falls to the ground. As he slowly gets to his feet, he's surrounded by three gun-wielding men, who prepare to shoot him in the same way they did Kusakari. However, before they can, the main guy's gun is shot out of his hand by Murakoshi, who has suddenly shown up nearby, and he does the same to the others. Ichinose manages to get away from his captors and hide in the bushes, where he's joined by his friend. The two of them then run off, just barely managing to avoid a series of laser-gun blasts in the process. When we cut to the next scene, we see Mugal enforcing some harsh punishment on those men for allowing the humans to escape, especially during this crucial time in their plans. First, he whips them several times and then orders them to be executed for their blunder.
Four minutes later, we get the moment where Mafune decides to unleash Titanosaurus without the permission of the aliens in order to prove his power. We get another low-angle shot of the dinosaur as he explodes out of the water and the military immediately becomes aware of his presence, taking up positions around the coast, while Wakayama puts the finishing touches on the supersonic oscillator and prepares to install it. As day turns into dusk, Titanosaurus moves in and we get some stock footage of the tanks from Mothra vs. Godzilla (as well as possibly from some other sources) and shots of the parked military vehicles from War of the Gargantuas. All units on the coastline then get into position as Titanosaurus approaches the harbor (this is one of those noticeably flawed compositing shots, with Titanosaurus looking lower than the ridge he's behind and with the matte lines being all too visible as well). Wakayama and his assistants then discover that the supersonic oscillator has been sabotaged and he orders it to be taken back to headquarters for repairs. With Titanosaurus looming over some buildings and people beginning to panic, Wakayama makes his way to Murakoshi, who's reporting on the monster's movements from a jeep, and tells him about the oscillator. They then turn around and see that the military has already begun shooting at Titanosaurus, which makes them realize it's now their only course of action. Murakoshi then tells Wakayama to contact the air force for help. Murakoshi then spots Katsura and the mute servant nearby and immediately starts after them, getting a group of people and soldiers to help him off-camera. While they search the train-yard for the suspected saboteurs, we cut to the alien headquarters to see that Mugal and Tsuda are aware of what Mafune has done, with the former watching the action on a monitor in the control room. Tsuda suggests that they make him recall the dinosaur immediately but Mugal, however, has something else in mind. Pointing him towards a Super Geiger Counter (yes, that's the name they give to it), Mugal shows Tsuda that Titanosaurus has caught Godzilla's attention and he's moving in to fight him. He says that it's best to let the fight happen and that afterward, with Titanosaurus having been killed and Godzilla weakened from the fight, nothing will be able to stop Mechagodzilla from leveling Tokyo. The two of them then laugh evilly as the scene transitions back to the action.
The port is now in complete chaos, with people running around frantically as they're evacuated, while Titanosaurus continues moving in, all the while under attack by the military. Like all other giant monsters, Titanosaurus is not phased by the onslaught of firepower and continues marching forward. A group of fighter jets moves in to help with the attack and after we get another shot of more people evacuating, we see Titanosaurus scan the area around him as he continues to be fired upon by both the planes, another group of which shows up, and the tanks. Titanosaurus turns back around and upon seeing two jets heading right for him, he crouches down and them jumps right into their path, causing them to crash into his chest. He utterly flattens a house when he comes back down and continues marching forward as people are evacuated to the docks. Still under attack from the military, Titanosaurus shoves the back of a large building (it actually looks more like it was an accident on his part), causing it to fall to pieces. We then get a slow pan across the city and, as we hear the panic continuing to go on in the background, we see a large, dark shape rise up from behind a building. Titanosaurus is then suddenly hit with an atomic blast right in the torso and after screaming in pain, falls backwards. As the dinosaur stirs up a bunch of dust around him as he flails his legs, we cut to what is undoubtedly one of Godzilla's coolest entrances. We see him silhouetted by some flashing going on from behind him, be it lightning or energy crackling within his dorsal plates, and the camera pushes in towards him. It then gets completely dark for a second, followed by the light slowly perking up, revealing his face. Once we can completely see his face, Godzilla then roars a challenge to Titanosaurus, prompting the dinosaur to get back on his feet. Godzilla then smacks his fists together as the two monsters square off. Unfortunately, they don't through on this awesome entrance for Godzilla. We just see the two monsters run at each other and exchange punches, with Godzilla socking Titanosaurus in the gut and the dinosaur hitting him in the chin. We then cut to Katsura, who's still being pursued by the soldiers. She confronts them in the woods at one point and uses some sort of power from her eyes to shoot their rifles out of their hands. However, as she tries to run away, she's shot in the neck by another soldier and falls over the edge of the cliff and into the ocean, as Murakoshi and the soldiers watch. Back at his lab, Dr. Mafune realizes what has happened and calls off the attack, ordering Titanosaurus to retreat. Godzilla is clearly puzzled when the dinosaur just stops fighting him and heads back to the ocean.
Now, we get into the climax of the film. Ichinose goes back to Dr. Mafune's house for one last time since he thinks that Katsura is dead but before he can leave, he's knocked out by the aliens and dragged down into the lab. He then not only sees that Katsura is alive but is also introduced to Mafune before he's tied up in the back of the room. As he watches, the villains commence the attack, with Katsura activating Mechagodzilla. The robot comes to life back at the alien base and, after doing a strange salute across his chest, takes off through an opening in the ceiling, just as Murakoshi and his team reach the base. They head inside the base, unaware that it's been primed to explode after Mechagodzilla has departed. After snooping around the abandoned facility for a bit, they find the crew from the submarine at the beginning of the film, who have been held prisoner this whole time, locked up in a cell. Murakoshi shoots the lock off of the cell door and the crew members, despite being panicked and unable to talk due to the injuries inflicted upon their throats, manage to make Murakoshi understand through hand gestures that the place is about to blow up and he quickly orders everyone out. Sure enough, as they head outside, the bomb inside the base begins to activate and it explodes and completely destroys the base right after everyone makes it outside and takes cover in a pit. Back at Mafune's lab, Katsura uses the control device to order Titanosaurus to join Mechagodzilla in attacking Tokyo. We then cut to the city, where the dinosaur is already being fired upon by the military when Mechagodzilla flies in and lands. Both monsters then come under attack from the military and then, Katsura has Mechagodzilla begin the attack. The robot then does so by using his eye-beams to blow up an entire line of buildings, creating a huge amount of fire and sending debris flying everywhere. Titanosaurus then joins the robot and uses his fan-like tail to create a powerful windstorm that blows away the remains of buildings and also rips some houses right off their foundations. After a little bit of that, Titanosaurus then closes his tail and the two monsters look over their handiwork before marching forward, while huge groups of citizens are being evacuated (this is when we get that awkward compositing shot I mentioned earlier). Mechagodzilla then blows up many more buildings with his laser eye-beams, completely demolishing entire blocks with his deadly weapon. Titanosaurus, once again, uses his tail to blow the remnants of those buildings away, while Mechagodzilla uses his modified finger missiles to knock a street and entire block of houses off their foundation, with the underground explosion causing a massive crater. Back at headquarters, the men are watching the attack and realize that even Godzilla may not be able to stop both of them. Upon hearing this, Wakayama then picks up the pace in trying to finish the supersonic oscillator.
While the monster attack goes on and the civilians continue to be evacuated, two dumb kids decide they want to get a closer look at the monsters. However, their curiosity gets them right in Titanosaurus' path and the two of them run straight down the street, with the dinosaur hot on their heels. Just as they're about to be crushed, Godzilla suddenly shows up and charges right at Titanosaurus (the kids' fate is never revealed but I like to think they got out of there in time... unless, of course, Godzilla accidentally squashed them himself). He tackles the dinosaur down to the ground onto some burning buildings and gets back up to face both of the monsters. After Titanosaurus gets back up, he and Godzilla square off, while Mechagodzilla stands back there and watches. Titanosaurus then unfurls his tail again and creates another windstorm, which is strong enough to cause Godzilla to stumble backwards and fall over in a hunched position. Godzilla manages to stand back up and stomps forward a little bit, managing to keep his balance while fighting against the wind. However, Mechagodzilla promptly blasts his left shoulder, causing him to fall to the ground, where the wind very easily blows him around. Titanosaurus then stops his wind and proceeds to run over to the disoriented Godzilla and kick him hard enough to send him flying through the air, past the city limits, and crash behind some mountains, with the ground there caving in as a result. Titanosaurus cackles happily and he and Mechagodzilla head in the direction where Godzilla crashed to finish him off.
After a brief moment where we see that Wakayama has just about finished his repairs on the oscillator, we cut back to the battle, where Titanosaurus jumps on Godzilla and crashes him through an apartment building. As Mechagodzilla continues watching, Titanosaurus gets back up and dusts himself off, while Godzilla gets back to his feet as well and again squares off with the dinosaur. He then runs at Titanosaurus and finally manages to give him some punishment, head-butting and punching him in the chest. Titanosaurus tries at one point to swing his own head around and whack Godzilla but he only succeeds in getting his head boxed. Godzilla gives him some more punches and head-butts before ultimately shoving the dinosaur into a nearby building that's either condemned or under construction. Godzilla then roars in triumph and stomps toward Titanosaurus, lifting his body up and over his head in apparent attempt to throw him. Unfortunately, Godzilla forgot all about Mechagodzilla, who blasts him in the neck and shoulder with his eye-lasers, causing Godzilla to lose his balance and fall, with Titanosaurus crashing down on top of him. Titanosaurus then rolls off of Godzilla and gets back up, while Mechagodzilla cocks his finger missiles at Godzilla, who's having a hard time getting his wits about him after that. However, Mechagodzilla aborts his intended attack and turns his attention to some fighter jets heading towards him and Titanosaurus. While both monsters are distracted by the missiles being fired at them by the jets, Godzilla quickly gets and rushes at Titanosaurus, shoving him to the ground. He then rushes over to Mechagodzilla to try to do the same to him but all he does is manage to smack the robot's chest before falling down, still messed up from Titanosaurus having fallen on him. He's unable to prevent Mechagodzilla from destroying the jets (in fact, since Mechagodzilla fires his eye-beams at them right when Godzilla hits him, it looks like he inadvertently helped him to do so). Having fallen to his knees, Godzilla is then kicked in the lower jaw by Titanosaurus, who then stands him up, holds his head down, and punches him in the cranium before whacking him twice in the chest, first with another punch and again with a head-butt. He then stands Godzilla back up, forces his mouth open, and after kicking him in the thigh, grabs his upper lip with his teeth and shows how strong he is by actually lifting Godzilla off the ground, then bringing him back down and punching him before flinging up again. Titanosaurus then brings Godzilla back down and gets out of the way, allowing Mechagodzilla to shoot him right in the gut with some finger missiles. His mouth actually starts smoking for some reason and then, Godzilla falls to the ground, landing with a pained screech. With their opponent now not moving, Titanosaurus stomps over to him and kicks him again, this time sending him crashing into a deep pit. Mechagodzilla then fires a volley of finger missiles around the pit, causing Godzilla to end up completely buried under the dirt. Titanosaurus walks over to the spot, bends over, and pats the ground, apparently trying to find exactly where Godzilla is buried underneath.
Meanwhile, Wakayama has finished repairing the oscillator and he and some other men take off in a helicopter after installing the device underneath it. At the same time, Murakoshi takes a jeep to Dr. Mafune's old house, knowing that's the only logical place where the bad guys can be. Speaking of which, Mafune, Katsura, and the aliens are watching Titanosaurus jump up and down on the spot where Godzilla is buried in an attempt to break every bone in his body. Ichinose, meanwhile, is trying to cut through his ropes by rubbing them against a sharp rock behind him. At that point, the helicopter with the oscillator flies into the area and while the sound of it does momentarily get Titanosaurus' attention, the dinosaur goes back to try to crush Godzilla when he can't find the source of the noise. Coming over the ridge to where both monsters are, the helicopter gets into position and Wakayama fires an miniature antenna into Titanosaurus' neck in order for the supersonic waves to have maximum effect. Despite feeling the impact and not looking up at the helicopter, Titanosaurus continues jumping up and down (why does he have his hands behind his back?) That's when they activate the oscillator, sending the supersonic waves right at the dinosaur's head, causing him to scream in pain. As it did before, the effects of the supersonic waves cause the equipment in Mafune's lab to short out, while Ichinose continues to gradually cut his ropes loose, although it's clearly painful for him since it's causing his wrist to bleed as well. As Titanosaurus continues screaming, Mechagodzilla realizes what's going on and cocks his finger missiles at the helicopter... and then, Godzilla explodes out of the ground and hits Mechagodzilla right in the chest with an atomic blast, sending the robot falling backwards with a shocked expression on his face. Godzilla then dusts himself off and climbs out of the pit, just as Mechagodzilla gets back up and unloads all of his weapons on him. Somehow, there's suddenly a great distance between the two of them as Godzilla runs across a clearing with everything exploding around him in order to get to Mechagodzilla. Like I said, the shots of Mechagodzilla firing his weapons are reversed angles of footage from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla but the stuff with Godzilla running amidst all of the explosions is new. In any case, this is a pretty spectacular scene as Godzilla is clearly taking a lot of hits from all of this ammo being fired at him, screeching in pain at one point, but doesn't stop in his determination to give Mechagodzilla what for. He even stumbles and almost loses his balance, as well as gets shot in the neck (more footage from Mechagodzilla) but he just keeps on going. We then get a glimpse of an onset accident where the dorsal plates of the Godzilla costume get set ablaze when an explosion gets too close to comfort, similar to what happened with the costume's head in Mothra vs. Godzilla, but even this doesn't make Godzilla stop, although he does scream in pain from it.
After wading through some more firepower and explosions, Godzilla finally reaches Mechagodzilla and unloads a plethora of punches on him. The robot grapples with him a little bit but Godzilla isn't phased by this and proceeds to grab Mechagodzilla's right arm and attempt to break it off at the elbow. When that doesn't work, he goes behind the robot, who is clearly malfunctioning from the way his hissing screeches now sound, and grabs his tail, causing him to turn around frantically in order to knock Godzilla off of him. He then proceeds to grab Mechagodzilla from behind and punch him on the side of the head numerous times, while the helicopter continues to drive Titanosaurus crazy with supersonic waves. Back at Mafune's lab, Ichinose finally manages to completely cut through his ropes and then waits for his opportunity, which doesn't take long when Mugal receives word that there are human soldiers outside. The commander then leaves the room to see what's going on, while everyone else tries to swing the battle back in their favor. As Titanosaurus continues freaking out from the onslaught of supersonic waves and Godzilla pounds on Mechagodzilla even more, at one point grabbing the front of the robot's snout and jerking his head around, Ichinose comes up behind Tsuda and throws his rope around the alien lieutenant's neck. The two of them struggle around the lab, with Tsuda desperately trying to throw and knock Ichinose off of him, but Ichinose keeps his stranglehold on him even after the two of them tumble to the floor. As he dies, Tsuda rips off his fake face, revealing the hideously deformed one underneath and causing Ichinose to rear back in shock and disgust. When Ichinose stands up, he's faced with Katsura, who has a laser pistol trained on him. Ichinose calls her bluff, saying that she couldn't shoot him, but she says that she isn't what he thinks she is. But, before she can prove that to Ichinose, she's shot in the arm by Murakoshi and drops her weapon before falling to the floor. Murakoshi then holds Mafune at gunpoint while Ichinose bends down and tries to rouse Katsura back to life. Back at the monster battle, Godzilla manages to tear Mechagodzilla's head off like he did before but he's shocked to find a small head underneath this time. Throwing the main head away, Godzilla runs at the still functioning robot but gets shot in the chest by a laser powerful enough to leave a small, smoking hole there. Godzilla falls back down in agony and Mechagodzilla cocks his finger missiles and walks toward him, while Titanosaurus looks around in a daze after having been released from Mafune's mind control. Back at the lab, Mugal betrays Mafune and uses him as a human shield while firing at Murakoshi. Murakoshi ends up fatally shooting the doctor while trying to hit Mugal and after the alien leader flings the doctor to the floor, chases after him. Mafune yells for Katsura before he expires, which brings her back into consciousness. Ichinose then cuddles Katsura, who begins to soften on him again, and tells her that he still loves her even if she's a cyborg. When she sheds tears upon hearing this, thereby reclaiming her humanity, Katsura begs for Ichinose to kill her in order to deactivate Mechagodzilla and when he refuses to do so, she does it herself, shooting herself in the stomach and taking away the robot's mobility while she dies in Ichinose's arms.
With Mechagodzilla no longer able to function, Godzilla grabs the robot's body and throws it over his shoulder into the same pit that he got buried in earlier, atomic blasting and completely destroying it afterward. Upon seeing this, Titanosaurus panics and runs for the ocean, with Godzilla right behind him. Mugal, meanwhile, is cornered on a cliff by Murakoshi and his men but he's not at all phased by this and actually baits them to shoot him. They open fire on him but Mugal is completely unaffected and jumps off the cliff into the ocean below. By this point, Godzilla has caught up with Titanosaurus and is beating on the dinosaur when suddenly, three alien spaceships rise out of the ocean and attempt to leave Earth. Godzilla, however, isn't having it and, while holding Titanosaurus from behind, he quickly hits the flying saucers with his atomic blast and blows them up. Continuing to restrain Titanosaurus, Godzilla motions for the helicopter to hit him with the oscillator again, which they do. After that, Godzilla finishes Titanosaurus off by throwing him to the ground and hitting him with two atomic blasts in the row. He first hits Titanosaurus on the ground, causing him to flop around helplessly, and then, when the dinosaur stands up on the edge of the cliff, Godzilla hits him in the chest. After doing so, Godzilla gives Titanosaurus a very angry glare as the dinosaur stands there for a second and then topples backwards over the cliff and into the water (it's never made clear whether Titanosaurus actually died or not). As everyone celebrates, except for Ichinose, who carries Katsura's lifeless body into a field and is joined there by his comrades, Godzilla heads for home, wading off into the sunset, an image that serves as a very fitting closure for the final film in the original series of movies, even though the filmmakers didn't know at the time that this would be the case.
Akira Ifukube comes back for his first original Godzilla score since Destroy All Monsters and for me, it's mainly his grim, dark music score that creates the extreme difference in tone between this film and its predecessor. In stark contrast to Masaru Sato's bouncy, mystical, and often upbeat score, Ifukube creates a symphony made up of very bombastic, powerful, and ultimately tragic themes. The new theme he creates for Mechagodzilla himself is a dark and sweeping piece of music that perfectly emphasizes the robot's extreme power and destructive capabilities, especially when it plays during his attack on Tokyo, and the theme for Titanosaurus is the same way and manages to emphasize not only the menace and primal strength of the dinosaur but also the tragedy that he's being controlled and forced to do terrible things against his will. Most notably, Ifukube doesn't use the iconic Godzilla theme that had long since become established as his music but instead, goes all the way back to the famous military march he composed for the original Godzilla and rescores it to now act as the theme for Godzilla himself. This is a significant turning point because it's the first time that music was directly attached to the Godzilla character and in the coming decades, it would officially become his theme when it was re-orchestrated to follow the tune that Ifukube had come up with for him during the 60's. As he first did with Godzilla, Rodan, and King Ghidorah's themes back in Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Ifukube organizes these themes to act as a symphony, with Mechagodzilla's theme following Titanosaurus', Godzilla's coming after that, and then the whole thing repeats. Moreover, except for the opening recap of the previous film, Ifukube only plays these themes whenever the particular monster is onscreen. For instance, when Titanosaurus first comes ashore, all we hear is his theme, and it's not until Godzilla makes his first appearance that we hear his. The same goes for when Mechagodzilla and Titanosaurus first attack Tokyo: at first, we only hear their themes but when Godzilla makes his first appearance, we start hearing his music as well.
However, while Ifukube's score is good, there's one big drawback to it: it's pretty repetitive. While those three different monster themes all play off each other well, the symphony involving them is the only thing you hear for a good chunk of the third act and it gets a little old after a while. What's more, the various themes sometimes play at inappropriate times, like when you hear Godzilla's theme while he's getting blown away by Titanosaurus' wind or Titanosaurus beating on his head, and when you hear Mechagodzilla's theme full on when the robot is getting brutalized by Godzilla. I wish I could say that the film's other music offers enough variety to break up the monotony but that's unfortunately not the case. The biggest non-monster theme you hear is Katsura's music, which is a much softer, delicate, and sadder version of the combination of Mechagodzilla and Titanosaurus' themes and while it does fit with her character, being as how she's both part machine and being forced to do things against her will, and it sounds really good when she sacrifices herself at the end, I kind of wish that Ifukube had come up with a different theme for her than just toning down something he had already written. As for the other bits of music, most of them are not much to write home about. There's a church organ-type of theme that plays during the black-and-white photo montage of Dr. Mafune early in the film and during the flashback about what happened to Katsura, and a soft theme that plays when Katsura is being operated on after she falls off the cliff at the end of Titanosaurus' first attack on land, but the only other noteworthy bit of music is the quaint theme that plays at the end when the battle has been won and Godzilla is swimming home. Like I said before, the combination of those images and music serves as a perfect farewell to the Big G for nearly a decade. Overall, Ifukube's music for the film, like the rest of the music he composed for the franchise, is good stuff but I just wish there was a bit more variety to it.
The American rights to Terror of Mechagodzilla were bought by Henry G. Saperstein's United Productions of America, resulting in this being the final Godzilla film to be distributed stateside by that company. However, Saperstein sold the theatrical rights to another outfit, Bob Conn Enterprises, while he handled the television distribution. Little did he know that this would result in two very different American versions of the film. First off, let me just say that both versions use the international dub, which is pretty good and actually has some voices that I like better than the actual ones in the Japanese version, especially those for Wakayama (whose natural voice is much deeper than the tenor voice that dubs him) and Murakoshi, although they made Dr. Mafune come across as a more over the top, stereotypical mad scientist than he originally was. Saperstein's television version, which retained the Terror of Mechagodzilla title, was six minutes longer due to an opening prologue on the supposed history of Godzilla that used clips from Godzilla vs. Monster Zero and the footage from Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster and Son of Godzilla used in Godzilla's Revenge, which UPA also owned. The history lesson the narrator gives on how Godzilla started out as a villain and became an ally to mankind completely flies in the face of how the stories of the films they're using clips from really went, although they do have something when they describe Godzilla's heel face-turn as being like an animal defending its territory, and the clips are very poorly edited, with music switching back and forth in a very sloppy manner and you can also hear the random sounds of other monsters like Rodan and King Ghidorah, even though this is meant to just be about Godzilla. Plus, they're badly cropped, obscuring a lot of what you could see in the original, widescreen prints of these films (as was the case for those actual movies for years on VHS). But despite these errors, the prologue is interesting to watch and I think the enormous affection that Saperstein had for Godzilla comes through during it. The prologue leads directly into the recap of the previous film, which is where you finally get the title, and the narrator pops in every now and then to describe the seriousness of Godzilla's first battle with Mechagodzilla and how he eventually destroyed him by using, "Hitherto unknown powers," in regards to the magnetism. After that, Saperstein's version is virtually unchanged from the original Japanese version, save for the removal of a couple of shots of Katsura's bare breasts when she's being operated on (which originally made this one of the few Godzilla movies to have some actual nudity).
The version that Bob Conn Enterprises released to theaters in March of 1978 (some months before Saperstein's television version was first aired) under the title erroneous title of The Terror of Godzilla, however, was much less faithful to the Japanese version. Like Cinema Shares before them, Conn's company had to drastically cut out a lot of violence and profanity, as well as the bare breasts shots, in order to get a G-rating, which ultimately whittled the film's running time down to 79 minutes. Like The Cosmic Monster version of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, this resulted in the film coming across as quite incomprehensible (though I don't think it fared as badly as that film). They removed the scenes of Kusakari getting shot to death, Mugal whipping the guards for allowing Ichinose and Murakoshi to escape, Katsura being shot off the edge of a cliff during Godzilla and Titanosaurus' first brief bout, and Tsuda being strangled to death and pulling his fake face off but those were inconsequential either because they were unimportant to the plot or because the implications of some of those deaths were retained strongly enough despite the edits. Unfortunately, the climax of the film was butchered to the point where it leaves you wondering exactly what happened. Katsura getting shot in the arm and Dr. Mafune being fatally wounded when Mugal uses him as a human shield were removed and while the implications were still there, it's so clumsily done, especially in the case of Mafune, that it almost negates them. But what's worse is that Katsura's sacrifice was completely removed. As Ichinose cradles her in his arms, telling her that what happened isn't her fault, it suddenly cuts back to the monster battle, leaving in the shot of Mechagodzilla being deactivated by Katsura killing herself, implying instead that the robot just shorted out for no reason. In fact, both Ichinose and Katsura completely disappear from the movie after this bit, deriving the film of the impact of both her sacrifice and the scene of Ichinose carrying her lifeless body out into the field at the end. They probably wanted the movie to end on a more happy note, with Godzilla simply swimming off into the sea after defeating the other monsters but they did it at the cost of the emotion Ishiro Honda meant for the film's ending. It also makes the viewer to wonder what happened to those two characters and exactly how Godzilla managed to defeat Mechagodzilla. Plus, like the editing of Saperstein's prologue, music and sound effects jump around very badly during these cuts. What's really interesting is that this was the only version of the film that I and many others of my generation could get ahold for a long time. Somehow, by the mid-80's, this version ended up with the Terror of Mechagodzilla title (as you can see in the title card up above) and replaced the Saperstein version on both television and video. The Saperstein version didn't resurface until Classic Media put out their DVD of the film in 2007, which was a big surprise for me when I bought that DVD since I had no idea of the storied history of the movie's American versions or that so much was missing from the one I was familiar with.
At the end of the day, Terror of Mechagodzilla is a mixed bag of a film for me. On the plus side, you have a nice attempt at a return to a much more serious, adult tone, some likable and quite complex characters, really good city destruction, some good effects, a nice monster battle to end the film on, a fitting, if a bit repetitive music score, and a selfless sacrifice that acts as a nice compliment to that of Dr. Serizawa at the end of the original film. Unfortunately, on the flip side you have a film that takes a while to get started, with Godzilla not appearing until almost 50 minutes in, some very amateurish directing and editing decisions on the part of Ishiro Honda, wonky-looking compositing, matting, and model effects, the relationship between the two leads not being as developed as it could have been, and a change in tone that clashes a bit with the more fun one of the previous film. But what's most disappointing about the film is that the formula and techniques of the kaiju genre feel very played out and tired by this point, a feeling that really saddens me. That's what this film ultimately represents to me: the end of the road and the exhausted nature of the franchise and its genre. It's why I'm glad that the movies took a hiatus after this because I think if they had continued on after this, they would have run it into the ground even more than it already was and gotten into a rut that I think the series would have found it hard to come back from. So, in conclusion, it's a very bittersweet film for me in many ways but I can appreciate why others find more things in it to praise than me. Check it out if you're a completest but don't expect the most flawless cap on the original series.