Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964)
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In the fifth movie of the first Godzilla series, returning director Ishiro Honda introduces us to King Ghidorah, who would go on to become one of the King of Monsters' most famous foes. He also introduces the camp that would define the rest of the series.
Review by Crispy
Added: May 06, 2009
In the midst of a heat wave like nothing ever recorded, Japan suddenly finds itself under a huge meteor shower. Reporter Naoko Shindo (Yuriko Hoshi) is getting the scoop on Professor Murai's (Hiroshi Koizumi) work on the largest of the meteorites, which has landed in the mountains. Unfortunately, neither of them are aware of the deadly monster it houses. Meanwhile, Naoko's brother (Yosuke Natsuki), a police detective, has been assigned to protect Princess Selina (Akiko Wakabayashi) from political assassination; she is flying to Japan looking for refuge. While everyone assumes she was killed when her plane explodes, she later shows up wearing a bum's clothes claiming to be from the planet Venus and prophesizing disaster at Mt. Aso, the mountain where Rodan was buried eight years ago. True to her word, the pterodactyl rises from the crater and begins terrorizing nearby cities. She next appears demanding that Mothra's twins' (Emi and Yűmi Ito) ship not set sail. Her warning isn't heeded by anyone but the fairies, who stow away in Naoko's purse. Again, her words are given weight when Godzilla rises from the sea and lays waste to the vessel; he then starts a fight with Rodan, which seems to be more of a pissing contest between the two than a hostile confrontation. Obviously, these repeated portrayals of her psychic ability earns her quite a bit of media attention, and her assassins back home catch wind of her survival and head to Japan to rectify their failure. As the Shindo siblings due whatever they can to keep her safe, she makes her most terrifying prophecy yet. King Ghidorah, the beast that laid waste to Venus eons ago, has set its sights on Earth and will destroy the planet if nothing stops it. The twins know that Mothra, still a larva, doesn't stand a chance against Ghidorah alone, but if she can convince Godzilla and Rodan to fight alongside her, Earth might have a chance.
As a kid, King Ghidorah was always one of my favorites, and who can argue? He's a winged golden dragon with three heads that breathes electric blasts. I dare you to tell me that's not badass. I mean we're talking about a monster that killed an entire planet and required Earth's resident badass to team up with Mothra AND Rodan before he could defeat him. Speaking of Rodan, I kind of like how they just made this a veritable sequel to Rodan instead of going through the trouble of introducing the creature into the series a la Mothra or King Kong. They saved a lot of time and pacing this way.
As I mentioned before, this film opened the door for many of the defining characteristics that spring to mind when most people think of Godzilla. For starters, Godzilla is not the villain this go around, switching to the antihero role he would play for the rest of the series. The twins translate a conversation between the monsters, and Godzilla claims he's just trying to do his own thing but humanity keeps on attacking him, further removing him from an 'evil' creature. Also, this is where Honda started pumping in the well-known cheese the series is known for. For example, part of the "battle" between Godzilla and Rodan consists of the two volleying a boulder back and forth, while Mothra's head is seen swinging back and forth following the rock. The whole thing is very reminiscent of a Looney Tunes cartoon. Then later, while the twins are conveying the monsters conversation, they're taken aback, "Oh Godzilla, what horrible language!" It's a long way away from the dark metaphor that was Gojira, but it fits in beautifully with the new theme.
I've always liked this movie as a kid, and now at the ripe old age of 22, it still doesn't fail to please. The only gripe I have is with the pacing, since it takes a while before the creatures we came to see come out and play; it would have been nice if some of this fluff had been trimmed down. Still, it wasn't bad enough to ruin the movie. If nothing else, fans of the genre needs to see this simply because King Ghidorah is one of the coolest monsters in the biz. Hands and claws down. 7/10.
- added 05/07/2009, 01:44 AM
I adore these films... and have one of the
largest Godzilla toy collections on the East
Coast... and as such, my opinions on all of the
Gojira Kaiju Eiga are somewhat stilted. Each
entry (barring a few 70's missteps and budgetary
shortcuts), has something to offer in either the
way it approaches and deals with touchy subject
matter for children or the veiled social
commentary it offers under the guise of simple
playful entertainment. The Gojira franchise is
much more than a film series to the Japanese as
well... it has truly become part of their national
identity and a visual icon that is deeply
ingrained into the country's basic
Even Gojira's basic physical,
triangular silhouette has been compared to the
very shape of Nippon's greatest natural monument,
But I digress...
This classic film marks the introduction
of one of monsterdom's greatest arch-villain...
What more do i have to say?
3 heads (each with a different keyed roar), two
giant gold wings, and two wildly thrashing
tails... crammed onto a giant, gold scaled
monstrosity a full head taller than the mighty
Gojira... and you have the most terrifying threat
to mankind ever born from the stars!
Sure... some of the heroic monster's actions are
comical and goofy.... but this was primarily a
children's film at heart, and as such it achieves
true greatness. Another solid entry into the
Not the absolute best
in the series... but head and shoulders above
most. An easy 8/10 in my impartial book;)