Godzilla Raids Again (1955)

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One of the best known rules in cinema is that a successful movie will often spawn a sequel.  This was true of “Godzilla”, and a sequel was quickly commissioned and released the following year.  As with most sequels, this second chapter in the Godzilla series aimed to be bigger than its predecessor, and what better way to up the stakes than by introducing another giant monster to do battle with Godzilla?  This movie marks the first appearance of long-time Godzilla ally Anguirus (also called Angillas, Angorous, and several other slightly different names), although their meeting here is less than amicable.

A pilot named Tsukioka details his happy life working in the fishing industry, hunting for tuna from the skies with his friend Kobayashi.  One day, Kobayashi’s plane malfunctions and he is forced to land on an uninhabited island.  Tsukioka lands to retrieve his friend, but they soon discover two giant monsters battling on the island, one of which looks like Godzilla!  A meeting of scientists determine the second monster is called Anguirus, and held a rivalry with Godzilla’s species.  Dr. Yamane, from the original film, recounts the destruction caused by the first Godzilla, and states there is no way to kill the monster.

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Flares are used to try to lure the monsters away from humanity, but instead they enrage them and Godzilla heads for Osaka.  Anguirus follows him, and the monsters battle in the city, destroying most of it.  Eventually, Godzilla subdues Anguirus, and uses his nuclear ray to burn him to death against the Osaka Castle.  Godzilla then disappears into the ocean, and Tsukioka and Kobayashi aid in the search for the monster.  Eventually, Godzilla is found resting on an icy island.  While the military decides what to do, he awakens and begins to head toward the sea again.  Not wanting to lose the monster, Kobayashi crashes his plane into the icy cliffs to divert his attention.  Tsukioka realizes that Godzilla could be buried in an avalanche, and the military bombards the cliffs with missiles.  Tskukioka gets to fire off the last missile that totally buries Godzilla, and he returns home help with the aftermath of the rampage.

“Godzilla Raids Again” is an obvious attempt to cash in on the success of the first movie.  The feel is much closer to a typical 1950’s B-movie than the previous dark film.  While atomic weapons are brought up as a cause for awakening the new monsters, the theme is not hit upon as hard as it was before.  It was with this movie that Godzilla became a series, and the addition of another monster kickstarted a trend that led to a giant monster movie boom in Japan.  Giant monsters, or daikaiju, became so popular that even science fiction movies that did not logically feature them would shoehorn one in somewhere.  As for Godzilla, it was very rare for him to appear in a movie alone after this.

Whatever problem the original may have, the American version has even more.  Several scenes were trimmed to cut down the run time, leading to almost an entire sub-plot about Kobayashi finally wooing the woman of his dreams being cut out.  Also, Godzilla’s name was changed to Gigantis (the original American title was “Gigantis, the Fire Monster”), and his roar was changed to Anguirus’ roar.  However, probably the most egregious addition is the voice actor playing Tsukioka providing a narration, and he W I L L. N O T. S H U T. U P.  His voice is heard throughout the entire movie, but unlike the original movie which featured scenes of the original actors speaking raw Japanese while Raymond Burr commented on the goings on, this movie was entirely dubbed into English.  Thus, the narrator is not needed, but we get to hear him anyway.  However, the dub does feature a pre-Star Trek George Takei providing voices for several minor characters in what was his first film project.  His voice is still unmistakable.

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The camera operator was supposed to overcrank the camera to present the fight scenes as slow and surreal.  However, he mistakenly undercranked it and the fight scenes appeared faster than normal.  The director liked the effect, so it was kept.

The American version was going to feature a completely new story wrapped around stock footage of the monsters fighting (think “Power Rangers”), but it was decided to keep the Japanese plot intact.  Many elements from the story written for this version were later used for the movie “Reptilicus” (1961).

Godzilla’s spines do not glow before he uses his nuclear breath weapon.  This is the only movie in which this happens.

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~ by Chris on April 19, 2014.

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