Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)

DVD Cover (Kraken Releasing)
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Overall Rating 56%
Overall Rating
Ranked #4,620
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Connections: Ghidorah Godzilla

Aliens from space plan to conquer the world using space monsters Gigan and King Ghidrah, which they control from their secret headquarters inside the head of the Godzilla-replica building at a theme park. The only thing that can stop them is the combined efforts of Godzilla and Anguirus. --IMDb
Review by Crispy
Added: May 19, 2014
After Banno was unceremoniously banished by Toho, director Jun Fukuda was brought back to helm his third movie in the franchise. Originally planning on a huge three on three kaiju battle, major budget slashing forced him to cut his vision down to the bare bones. It didn't stop him from kicking out one of the most popular films in the series though.

Genko is an aspiring comic artist trying to sell some of his ideas for monsters. Unfortunately, they all suck, and do he goes from rejection to rejection, until miraculously getting picked up by World Children's Land, a kaiju themed amusement park. The director strikes Genko as a bit off, going on about "Absolute Peace," but it's a pay check, so he bottles his misgivings and goes on about his business. That is, until he was walking in to work one day and a woman rushes out in a panic, dropping a tape in the process. Genko picks it up, and when the director storms out in pursuit, he hides the tape and sends him in the wrong direction. Later that night, the woman and a friend of hers ambush him on the street and demand the tape back, and being the man of action he is, he promptly faints. When he comes too, they reveal that just as he suspected, the WCL has got some sinister things planned. Trying to get some answers they play the tape, revealing nothing more than a squealing sound. It's meaningless to them, but far away on Monster Island, Godzilla and Anguirus hear the sound and head to the mainland to investigate. Meanwhile, this company's true intentions become clear when they summon two kaiju from space, the fearsome Ghidorah and the deadly Gigan, to the planet to wreak havoc.

After two movies, they finally learned to balance the ratio of "for kids" and "enjoyable for adults." While the alien-kaiju-attack-for-world-domination plot is really starting to wear thin by this point in the series, it's enough to move things along, and obviously aimed at kids. Likewise, the characters are all wooden stereotypes. Hell, Genko himself is almost a walking cartoon. He's clumsy, lazy, and played for laughs more than anything else. Plus he rocked that emo one-eye-covered hairdo well before his time. There is no way any of his plans would have been suggested in a movie aimed at a more adult audience. With all that said, Fukunda spared us from another ten-year-old protagonist, and while it does have a more childish tone, it's not enough to completely get on an adult's nerves. It's why even though they showed an actual conversation between Godzilla and Anguirus, you don't completely roll your eyes about how cheesy it is.

When most look back on this movie, the first thing they're likely to think about is the climatic two-on-two battle. Looking back, I remembered that fight being a pretty damned good one myself, but after watching it again, it was actually pretty weak. The original plan was to make a movie called The Return of Ghidorah where Ghidorah, Gigan, and a second original monster was to square off against Godzilla, Rodan and Varan. Frankly, the budget wasn't there for three new suits (they would've needed a new Varan suit, which is why the character was basically a static model in Destroy All Monsters), so they scaled it down, and they still needed to cut a shitload of corners. The biggest offense by far is, just like All Monsters Attack, all the stock footage they threw in there. Pretty much anytime Godzilla was going up against Ghidorah, they used footage from his last three attacks, except it was done incredibly sloppily. First of all, those three attacks took place during the day and this one was at night, and they just switch back and forth without a second thought. Plus, a few scenes even catch Mothra and Rodan in the background. As you can imagine, this throws the pacing completely off, and the action often boils down to various one on one confrontations with the other two just watching.

With all that said, there's a reason this fight is so fondly remembered. And by and large, that reason is Gigan himself. Don't let that chicken head fool you, this cyborg kaiju is a walking abattoir. He's got giant hooks for hands, bayonets for feet, and a buzz saw built into its stomach. And to really sell it home, he reduces both monsters to a bloody mess. Godzilla has never bled before, so seeing the bloody geysers at Gigan's "hands" is a jaw dropping moment. Plus, they did wonders with the score. Again, money was tight so they lifted it off a plethora of previous movies, but they chose some damned good ones. As our two defenders climb ashore and stare down the aliens, that music had me pumped beyond belief. Not to mention it gets a special nod as the final movie Haruo Nakajima played Big G; he's been the man behind the 'Zilla since the very beginning.

You know, as the kaiju fan that I am I'd never thought I'd be saying this, but I honestly feel like this movie would have been a lot better had Ghidorah been axed. I know, I know. Sacrilege right? Yes, I know he's by far Godzilla's most famous villain, and I know he's a bad ass. Hell, there was a few times after I had this thought that I'd be watching him and think "he's so fucking awesome! You can't cut him!" However, it's true what they say about too much of a good thing. I mean, the last three times he attacked, Godzilla needed help to take him out. Now he's actually got a friend with him and he's beaten down fairly easily. You're watering him down; his reputation was already fully cemented and he didn't need this on his resume. On the other hand, in his big introduction, Gigan going solo against both Godzilla and Anguirus would not only cut out the annoying stock footage and improved the pace of the battle, but would make him look like that much more of a threat. Don't get me wrong, Gigan is considered one of the great, classic kaiju regardless, but this would have elevated him even further. Not to mention without the new scenes of Ghirdorah's lightning blast, maybe they could have afforded to give Gigan his laser beam from the movie posters. I know the budget probably wasn't there for that, but hey, I could dream.

Just like Godzilla vs. Hedorah, the potential for greatness is practically screaming, yet remains just out of reach of what the movie offers. Can't blame them for a crap budget though, so don't let that dissuade you. This movie practically defines 'making a lot with a little' and between introducing the legendary Gigan and continuing Anguirus' momentum from Destroy All Monsters into the upper pantheon of kaiju legacy, Godzilla vs. Gigan is a necessary staple in any fan's collection. 6/10.
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