Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)

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Ever since “Godzilla’s Revenge” sold less than 2 million tickets, the sales for Godzilla movies had been in a sort of freefall.  One of the culprits for this was the emerging TV market.  Original Godzilla effects creator Eiji Tsuburaya had gone on to create an effects studio called Tsuburaya Productions.  This studio created the TV series “Ultra Q”, and its more popular sequel series “Ultraman”.  “Ultraman” featured a man who bonded with an alien who would grow giant to fight giant monsters every week.  The viewing public seemed to question why they would go to a theater to watch a monster movie when they could just stay at home and watch a TV show that was just as good, and because of this, many studios were slashing their movie budgets.  Toho decided to try to piggyback on the success of “Ultraman” by creating their own take on the theme.  “Godzilla vs. Megalon” featured a robotic sidekick (though he does a great deal of the fighting, at times Godzilla feels like the sidekick!) named Jet Jaguar who could grow giant to fight monsters.

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Several nuclear tests near the Aleutian Islands sends shockwaves as far as Monster Island.  They are also felt by inventor Goro, his friend Hiroshi, and Goro’s nephew Rokuro as they are relaxing near a lake, which disappears into a fissure.  The trio return home and are ambushed by unknown agents who appear to be trying to steal the robot Jet Jaguar,  Goro’s latest invention.  It turns out the men were agents of the underwater kingdom of Seatopia.  The Seatopians want to use Jet Jaguar to act as a control to direct their monster god, Megalon, to get revenge on the surface dwellers for their recent nuclear tests.  They eventually succeed in stealing Jet Jaguar and Megalon is unleashed.  The military is helpless to stop him, but the trio manage to get control of Jet Jaguar and send him to Monster Island to recruit Godzilla.  Jet Jaguar does this, but after he returns to Goro, the robot seems to take control of himself and ignores Goro’s orders.  Jet Jaguar makes himself grow giant and battles Megalon.  Jet Jaguar seems to have the upper hand, but the Seatopians call the Space Hunter Nebula M aliens for assistance, and they send Gigan to back Megalon up.  Jet Jaguar has difficulty battling the two monsters until Godzilla shows up to even the odds.  The four monsters battle, and Gigan eventually retreats back to space as Megalon returns to Seatopia in defeat.  Godzilla heads back to Monster Island while Jet Jaguar returns to normal size, and appears to return to being a regular robot, once again obeying Goro’s commands.

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“Godzilla vs. Megalon” came about during the waning period of giant monster movies in Japanese cinema, and it shows.  There is an overabundance of stock footage, and Jet Jaguar is an obvious attempt to cash-in on the popularity of Ultraman.  This is also one of the most kid-oriented movies in the Godzilla series, with a child in a starring role and the Godzilla suit redesigned to look “friendlier” (some people accuse the suit of looking like Cookie Monster!)  Jun Fukuda is once again at the helm, and his lighter, comedic touch is apparent in scenes of Megalon hopping across the countryside and especially in the infamous “drop kick” scene.  The return of the popular Gigan is welcome, however.  That particular monster remains as interesting as ever, coming across as a cowardly bully as he flees to leave his companion alone when the tide turns against him.  Sadly, this was the first Godzilla movie to sell less than 1 million tickets, although it performed well in America.  Toho would try to cut into Ultraman’s popularity on TV with a show called “Zone Fighter”, which featured Godzilla as an occasional guest star, and also featured appearances by King Ghidorah and Gigan.  Godzilla would return to the movies the next year, with a bit more success, in “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla”.

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Jet Jaguar was designed by a child, who submitted a design for a robot named “Red Arone” as part of a contest.  The anime series “Neon Genesis Evangelion” would later pay homage to this by having a guest robot named “Jet Alone”.

There was much fanfare for the movie when it was released in America, strengthened by the recent “King Kong” remake.  The film premiered on NBC in 1977, with bumper segments featuring John Belushi in a Godzilla suit.  It has also played extensively on American TV for several decades, due to the perception (recently proven to be false) that the movie was in the public domain.  Despite all this media saturation, this was one of the last Godzilla movies to be released on DVD, beating only by “Godzilla 1985”, which has yet to have a DVD release.

This was one of two Godzilla movies featured on “Mystery Science Theater 3000”.  The other was “Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster”.

The American poster shows Godzilla and Megalon fighting on the World Trade Center towers, even though the monsters never even go to New York.  The poster may have been influenced by the 1976 “King Kong” poster, which featured Kong standing with one foot on each of the Twin Towers (he is nowhere near that large in the film).megalon2
Image posterwire.com


~ by Chris on April 30, 2014.

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