Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster (1966)

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“Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster” (also known as “Ebirah, Horror of the Deep”, or by its Japanese title, “Godzilla, Ebirah, and Mothra: Big Duel in the South Seas”) was important for two reasons.  For one, it was the first of two back to back island-themed Godzilla movies, along with “Son of Godzilla”.  For another, it was the first Godzilla movie directed by Jun Fukuda.  Fukuda started directing mystery movies at Toho the previous decade, but he became more known for comedies as his work progressed.  He eventually became the most prolific Godzilla director after Ishiro Honda, and became the go-to director after Honda began stepping back from kaiju movies.  Fukuda brought on a crew that he was familiar with, including replacing veteran composer Akira Ifukube with Masaru Sato, with whom he was more familiar.  As such, the soundtrack to this movie is a bit different than the previous Godzilla movies, and includes some distinct new sounds to reflect the island theme (Ebirah’s theme almost sounds like surf music!)

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Ryota’s brother Yata was lost at sea and presumed dead.  Ryota was confident he was still alive, however, and comes up with various schemes to set out to sea to find him.  After his latest endeavor fails, Ryota (along with unwitting friends Ichino and Nita) steals a yacht that, as it turns out, had already been stolen by the thief, Yoshimura.  While far out at sea, the four are attacked by a giant lobster, Ebirah.  They wash up on shore, where they witness a group of islanders being rounded up by the terrorist organization, Red Bamboo.  One of the islanders, Dayo, escapes and joins Ryota and the rest.  She explains that Red Bamboo have kidnapped her people from Infant Island and have brought them to do slave labor on this island.  Even if they escape their captors, Ebirah lurks in the sea near the island and will eat any who try to escape.  As the group hides from Red Bamboo, they find an unconscious Godzilla lying in a cave.  The group attempts to infiltrate the Red Bamboo base, but are repelled by soldiers while Ryota is unwittingly tangled up in a weather balloon and lifted away.

Ryota lands on Infant Island, where he is reunited with his brother.  The islanders pray to Mothra to revive and save their people.  Meanwhile, the remaining members of Ryota’s group devise a plan to use lightning to revive Godzilla so he can distract Red Bamboo.  Godzilla is revived and battles Ebirah and Red Bamboo’s forces.  He eventually makes his way to the Red Bamboo base and levels it, triggering an island self-destruct in the process.  Mothra finally arrives and collects the kidnapped villagers, as well as the members of Ryota’s group, while Godzilla has his final battle with Ebirah, ripping off his claws in the process.  Mothra and Godzilla escape the island before it explodes.

This movie has a different “feel” to it than the last few movies, which can be attributed to the new director.  While Godzilla had already started to head in a lighter direction, this movie heads even more into family movie territory than before.  The comedic portions are much more glaring this time around, especially with Ryota’s goofy friends Ichino and Nita.  Ebirah is also not as interesting a foe as King Ghidorah, and seems like a threat downgrade after the powerful dragon.  In the end, this particular movie isn’t as fondly remembered as some of the others in the series, but the island setting and lighter tone make it worth a watch, especially since this is the introduction to Fukuda’s style of Godzilla movie.

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This movie was originally written to star King Kong.  This explains a few inconsistencies, such as why Godzilla seems to be infatuated with the pretty woman Dayo, a trait normally associated with Kong.  He is also re-powered by lightning, which was shown to strengthen Kong back in “King Kong vs. Godzilla”.

Yoshimura was played by the veteran actor Akira Takarada.  This was the last movie of the Showa series that he appeared in.  He first played Ogata in the original “Godzilla”, then Sakai in “Mothra vs. Godzilla” and Fuji in “Godzilla vs. Monster Zero”.  He would not appear in a Godzilla movie again until “Godzilla vs. Mothra” in 1992, and again in “Godzilla: Final Wars” in 2004.  He is set to make an appearance in the new, American “Godzilla” this summer.

Akihiko Hirata plays one of the Red Bamboo leaders in this movie. He wears an eye patch as a reference to his most famous role as Dr. Serizawa in the original “Godzilla”.

Image go-gogodzilla.blogspot.com


~ by Chris on April 24, 2014.

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