Reviewed by Jeff DeLuzio
Rating: 5.5 Beans
riginally titled Oru Kaiju Dai Shingeki)
After the success of "Destroy All Monsters," Toho Studios decided they needed to make more Godzilla movies, and the two which follow Kaijű s˘shingeki are perhaps the most rushed and ridiculous in the series. The first, "Godzilla's Revenge" (1969), is an obvious attempt to make some money from the kiddie audience which had by this point become the biggest market for the studio's once-frightening monsters.
The film concerns young Ichiro (Tomonori Yazaki), a short-pants-wearing Japanese latchkey kid, and Toho's answer to the little kid in "Gamera," Daiei Studios' Godzilla rival who had made his debut in 1965. Ichiro has childhood problems; his parents are rarely around, and he faces bullying by an inadequate twit named Gabera and his cronies. So, Ichiro (being too young for booze, hard drugs, or fetish sex) does what many little kids do to escape the harsh realisties of life; he fantasizes. In his case, he fantasizes about monsters. Hopping an imaginary, empty plane, Ichiro goes to Monster Island, where he witnesses Godzilla fighting various other kaiju, and meets Minya (also called Mahilla and Minilla), the Son of Godzilla. In this dream-reality, the junior monster has the ability to shrink to kid-size, and speak fluently. He also has a problem; a bully of a monster named, coincidentally, Gabera. This Gabera is an oddity, even for kaiju, a sort of tailless bipedal dinosaur with bad skin, a squashed face, and a tuft of red hair. Like Godzilla's Son, Gabera recalls more than a little a muppet.
Back in the real world, Ichiro also becomes involved with some incredibly stupid bank robbers who kidnap him. Fortunately, Ichiro easily escapes and, has another fantasy in which Minya, with Godzilla's encouragement, beats up Gabera.
Inspired, Ichiro faces down his own bully, and in a sloppy fight scene, kicks the crap out of the real-life Gabera, who frankly deserves it. What is interesting is that our protagonist's deeper problems do not get solved. Yes, he has learned to stand up for himself. However, his relationship with his parents remains as strained and distant as ever.
The scenes featuring Gabera are original. Much of the monster footage, however, comes from "Godzilla vs the Sea Monster," "Son of Godzilla," and "Destroy All Monsters." Yes, Toho actually put together a clip episode of their Godzilla series, and called it, for no good reason, "Godzilla's Revenge." The big guy doesn't really get revenge against anything in this film.
As a final note, the movie provides problematic evidence in the ongoing debate over Godzilla's gender. Mahilla/Minya specifically refers to Gojira as "my dad" in this film, and I have been assured the translation is accurate. However, the entire film takes place in a schoolboy's dream, so we can hardly consider this reference canonically binding.
In real life, radioactive dinosaurs don't talk.
(a variation of this review, by this author, appears at www.everything2.com)