Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster 1964
Technically, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster is the 5th film in the Godzilla franchise. It was filmed on the heels of previous movie, Mothra vs Godzilla, making Ghidorah the second Godzilla film produced that year, 1964. Veteran Godzilla director Ishirō Honda returned for this film and the special effects were done by Eiji Tsuburaya, and the film starred Yosuke Natsuki, Hiroshi Koizumi, and Akiko Wakabayashi. I say this movie is technically a Godzilla feature, although he is not mentioned in the title and he is also not the creature featured in the story. In other word,s he is not the star of the show. Personally, I view this as a movie that introduces Ghidorah but has other Toho monsters in a guest starring role. Along with Ghidorah and Godzilla, Mothra and Rodan are also in this movie. This movie also sees the beginning of changes to the series. This was the first film where Godzilla turns from villain to the hero, albeit rather unwillingly at first. Another first is the reference to aliens which would become a staple to many Godzilla movies.
This is a strange film but still enjoyable. The complex plot revolves around a detective, Shindo, who is assigned to guard Princess Selina Salno of Selgina (a mythical kingdom) while she is in Japan trying to escape an assassination plot in her homeland. Shindo is smitten with the princess from the photos he has seen of her. However, she never makes it to Japan as we see her plane explode but not before she is hypnotized and possessed by a light from Mars (Venus in the Japanese version) and heads out the door in midair! Also at this time a strange meteorite has struck the earth and scientists begin studying it.
Soon Selina Salno appears in Japan dressed in drab clothes and saying she is from Mars and begins making prophecies about monsters that are soon to appear. Her predictions come true and soon Godzilla and Rodan make an appearance and begin fighting one another. The twin fairies (Shobijin) from Infant Island are touring Japan it and soon their help is asked for by the Government to enlist Mothra in stopping Godzilla and Rodan. The last prediction by Selina Salno is of the appearance of Ghidorah where she tells people that Ghidorah once raised havoc and destruction on Mars. Shindo, fearing that Selina is freakin’ nuts has her committed to a psychiatric hospital for tests. Meanwhile amongst all this monster mayhem there is a subplot afoot which involves some bad guys still trying to assassinate Selina.
Some of the most comical monster fighting to date takes place between Godzilla and Rodan. The facial expressions and the eye rolls are a genuine hoot. At this point Mothra tries to convince Godzilla and Rodan to help mankind in defeating Ghidorah. At first they refuse, subtitles would have been good hear, I don’t speak monster. Mothra decides to attack Ghidorah herself and her courage sparks and impresses Godzilla and Rodan into aiding Mothra. Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra commence their attack on Ghidorah in some pretty good and fun monster battles. Meanwhile as the monsters are fighting the plot to assassinate Selina is thwarted. Mothra, riding on the back of Rodan, covers Ghidorah in her silk (man that stuff is better than duct tape!) while Godzilla throws Ghidorah off a cliff. Defeated Ghidorah flies off into outer space. At this point Selina has regained her senses and returns to her Kingdom and the Shobijin and Mothra return to Infant Island.
There was a difference between the American and Japanese version mainly in the scenes were reordered. Also, in the English dubbing Ghidorah is called “Ghidrah” which is the name I always knew this monster by. It wasn’t until a few years ago and watching the newer Godzilla movies did I learn the real name. I guess the dubbed English versions of the later Godzilla movies called him buy his proper name.
I do enjoy this movie and it contains many of the elements that the Godzilla franchise is known for such as aliens and comical monster fights. The special effects are pretty good for the time and the Godzilla suit is basically the same one from the previous movie although they extended his tongue for this movie, although I do not know why. This movie does get lost in the jumble of 28 Godzilla movies. It is neither great nor embarrassingly bad. There are more numerable Godzilla movies and there are plot elements they used to tell a better story in other Godzilla movies. The acting is good and played straight and not for laughs so this movie doesn’t have the camp element to it which I think is good.
I rate this movie a C+