Godzilla vs Hedora
Reviewed by Jeff DeLuzio
Rating: 7.5 Beans
riginally titled Gojira Tai Hedorah
aka Godzilla vs the Smog Monster.
Animals, God's animals,
Don't go away, don't go!
Flowers, my flowers,
Don't go away, don't go!
The sea has cobalt, it's full of mercury
Too many fumes in our oxygen
All the smog now is choking you and me!
Good Lord, where is it gonna end?
--from "Save the Earth."
After the success of "Destroy All Monsters," Toho Studios decided they needed to make more Godzilla movies, and the two which follow Kaijû sôshingeki are perhaps the most rushed and ridiculous in the series. "Godzilla vs Hedorah" (1971) follows "Godzilla's Revenge," and while they obviously spent little time on this one and it's not very good, it stands unique among Japanese films: kaiju cinema meets psychedelic head film.
Seriously, "Godzilla vs Hedorah" features teenage hippies, scenes cut in without meaningful transitions or even logical connections, a frequently replayed "message" song entitled "Save the Earth," repeated shots of pollution in Taganoura Bay, and battle royals between the two monsters, without the usual mass evacuations scenes. Either much of Tokyo was on vacation, or they've grown blasé to city-destroying fights.
Depending on which edit you see, Hedorah begins its life as either an extraterrestrial creature which feeds off industrial effluvium or as a living heap of industrial waste which somehow comes to life. In any case, it lives off pollution, and this particular diet causes it to grow to, well, Godzillan proportions over the course of the film. Hedorah can take various forms. When it flies, it resembles a larger version of the flying pizza vomit creatures in Star Trek's "Operation - Annihilate! (TOS)." It's most impressive in its walking form, however, a google-eyed blob which snorts smog from industrial chimneys. A trippy image, indeed, but Hedorah has edge, evident in scenes where the creature spews napalm-like acid on people.
The movie ends with Godzilla taking two globules out of Hedorah and then using his radioactive breath to fly. That's right; Godzilla can fly. If you missed that, it's because he never uses that power again. It's sort of like how R2-D2 flies in "Attack of the Clones," but we never see him do that in the original trilogy, even when it would have been really helpful.
"Godzilla vs Hedorah" may or may not be the worst of the kaiju films, but it's definitely the oddest-- no small achievement. It also reintroduces a theme of the original film-- concern with what human irresponsibility will unleash-- and puts it in the context of environmentalism.
(a variation of this review, by this author, appears at www.everything2.com)
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