Godzilla vs. Hedorah (aka Godzilla vs the Smog Monster) 1971
This was the 11th Godzilla movie of the franchise and was known as Godzilla vs The Smog Monster in the US. On current DVD releases it is known as Godzilla vs. Hedorah which was the original English translation of the Japanese title Gojira Tai Hedorah. I remember being a kid and seeing the trailer for this movie on TV. I wanted to see this movie so bad but my parents said no. It may have been due to our financial situation at the time and expendable cash for movies just wasn’t in the budget. So it was actually many years before I saw this movie. It is a strange one!! Before I get to my review I will give a brief synopsis. But first a little behind the scenes info: Ishiro Honda was not at the helm for this one and would not return to a Godzilla film for a few years. Godzilla vs Hedorah was directed by Yoshimitsu Banno and Riichiro Manabe replaced Akira Ifukube.
A marine biologists, Dr. Yano, discovers an new saltwater tadpole and soon a giant version of the same tadpole is seen sinking ships. The scientists takes his son to the sea to look for more examples of the tadpole to study where both are attacked by the giant tadpole. Soon Dr. Yano learns that the tadpole is made up of industrial waste and that there are other such tadpoles which each have a life of their own but are combining with others of its kind to form an even larger creature. Sure enough we see these creatures mutating into several forms that feeds off of the earth’s pollution in order to grow. The monster(s) spews toxic poisons that threaten the very existence of the earth. Eventually the various forms come together and create the giant monster called Hedorah.
Fearing that life is about to end a group of teenagers hold a big concert and party near the foot of Mount Fuji when Hedorah crashes the party. Not to worry Godzilla comes to the rescue and the two monsters fight to a draw. Soon the military discovers that if they run electric currents through Hedorah it will dry him out and kill him. However, the Military’s attempt to kill Hedorah is thwarted when Godzilla enters the fray. However, Godzilla also tries to dry Hedorah out with his atomic plasma breath. At one point Hedorah tries to escape Godzilla’s wrath only to have Godzilla chase after him by propelling himself like a rocket using his atomic plasma breath! The two giant behemoths clash with Godzilla triumphant and victorious. Even though Hedorah has been vanquished mankind wonders if the threat remains that Hedorah will return as long as man keeps polluting his environment.
This movie is a bit uneven. The tone of the movie seems to be all over the map. Does it want to be a serious examination of how humanity has treated the environment? Does it want to be a kid friendly and lighthearted movie? Does it want to be a horrific monster movie? I don’t think the movie ever settles on a specific tone. Now I don’t have a problem with a movie that wants to shift the tone as long as it is done well this movie doesn’t accomplish that. In between some scenes as the story movies along there are animated breaks which look bizarre and surreal. There are moments that are grim and foreboding yet comically strange such as Godzilla flying like a rocket. I do like the idea that Hedorah is a monster of our own making created to hasten out own self destruction. That was the image Godzilla had but as he had become the defender of the earth other monsters had to be created to replace that sentiment. With movies such as Son of Godzilla and Godzilla’s revenge more and more movies were being aimed at children. That is the problem with this movie it tries to appeals to too many demographics. It wants to please serious minded socially conscious teens and adults while appealing also to younger children. In the end it satisfies neither.
On of the problems was Godzilla’s suit. This was the same one used in the previous two movies, Destroy All Monsters and Godzilla’s Revenge. In order to give Godzilla a less threatening look he was made more like one of Jim Henson’s Muppets. The problem was that that look worked well in films that were funny and lighthearted but it was not a look to take seriously in a film that was supposed to be taken seriously. Being an uneven film I still like to view it whenever the mood strikes me because the environmental theme and the idea that the things we create can be used for our own destruction is a good theme within science-fiction. Hedorah is a monster designed well and the sight of him sucking the fumes from a couple of belching smoke stacks is a memorable scene.
I rate this movie C+
Posted on August 3, 2012, in Godzilla Movie Review and tagged Akira Ifukube, Destroy All Monsters (1968), Godzilla, Godzilla vs the Smog Monster, Godzilla vs. Hedorah, Godzilla's Revenger, Ishirō Honda, Toho Studios. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.