Destroy All Monsters! 1968
This was the movie that started it all for me as a kid. I saw this in the theaters when I was 5 ½ years old. I still remember the trailers for this movie and the scene of Manda, the giant snake like monster wrapping himself around a bridge. Sadly, this movie has not aged well for me like the other earlier Showa series movies. The human story is rather dull and lifeless and I wish there was more monster action. I still like it and the movie still has its charm but there are better movies from this era. As a Godzilla movie this movie doesn’t have enough Godzilla!
In this movie we see Godzilla back from his vacation (the last two movies being set on a tropical isle) and Toho returns him to his usual surroundings and familiar story. The last time we saw Godzilla in Japan he was stomping on Tokyo and defending the Earth against an alien invasion and attacking King Ghidorha. That theme is repeated here, although this time out he has more help from his friends.
This movie has a strange place in the continuity of the Godzilla franchise. The majority of the Showa era films take place in the year they were released. Destroy All Monsters is different it is set in the year 1999. It does give me a chuckle to see that the depiction of the future isn’t any different than 1968 Japan. Now for the plot.
The UN has gathered all of Earth’s monsters and placed them on an island known as Monster Island. Although in the dubbed English version it is called Monster Land which just sounds silly to me. There is a base deep within the island so that the scientists can monitor and study the monsters. Suddenly the island’s safety protocols are not working and the monsters escape and start attacking cities around the world. Godzilla sets New York City ablaze, Rodan trashes Moscow, Mothra in her larval form pummels Beijing, Gorosaurus lays waste of Paris, and Manda destroys London. While the monsters are away from Japan the aliens, called the Kilaaks (pronounced Key-locks), establish an underground base near Mt. Fuji in Japan. The Kilaaks of course demands that the humans surrender or face annihilation.
After attacking Tokyo it is discovered that the Kilaaks also have a base under the surface of the moon and Captain Yamabe and the crew of his spaceship, Moonlight SY-3, go to the moon to face the aliens. At this time the Kilaaks release King Ghidorah to defend their base near Mt. Fuji. At the base of Mt. Fuji King Ghidora faces a squadron of all the monsters; Godzilla, Minilla, Mothra, Rodan, Gorosaurus, Anguirus, Kumonga, Manda, Baragon, and Varan. King Ghidorah is defeated and killed by the monsters. The Kilaaks then release the fire dragon which turns out to be nothing more than one of their space ships. It is destroyed by Captain Yamabe and the SY-3 and the Kilaaks leave earth and the monsters peacefully return to Monster Island.
I recently read that this movie was going to be the end of the Godzilla series so they wanted to make a big movie. Toho would do the same thing in 2004 with the movie Godzilla: Final Wars which was to end the Godzilla series (for now anyway). Final Wars is basically an updated version or remake of Destroy all Monsters. I do like this movie I just found it to be rather slow and plodding and the monsters are not featured enough. The Godzilla suit was redesigned for this movie and since he is now no longer a villain but a defender of the earth Godzilla’s features were modified to be more child friendly. In fact this suit has become a classic design and unfortunately is the look that most casual fans will think of when Godzilla comes to mind. I say that this is unfortunate because Godzilla looks like a giant cousin of either Kermit the frog or the Cookie Monster! It was good to see Ishirō Honda back in the directors seat for this one and his style is all over the picture. The music was once again provided by the brilliant Akira Ifukube.
Toho did not retire Godzilla after this movie and continued to make more. However, in my opinion, this ends the classic period of the Showa era and as we will see in the coming weeks that the quality of the films would begin to trend downward after this picture.
I rate this movie: C
Posted on July 20, 2012, in Godzilla Movie Review and tagged 1968, Akira Ifukube, Alien Invasion, Destroy All Monsters (1968), Godzilla, Ishirō Honda, Kilaaks, Toho Studios. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.