Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)

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Image godzilla.wikia.com

After the disappointment of the last few movies, Jun Fukuda was given a larger budget to work with for the next Godzilla picture.  He was very interested in setting the next movie in Okinawa, which is the southernmost part of Japan and is very culturally different from the rest of Japan due to being a separate country for much of its history.  One of the most prominent aspects of Okinawan culture is the Shisa, a lion-dog like creature that was believed to ward off evil spirits and bring goodness to the home.  They often decorated buildings in a manner similar to gargoyles.  After a few drafts, Fukuda and the other writers produced a story that had Okinawa at the center of the plot, and also had a monster based on the Shisa.

While performing a traditional dance, an Okinawan priestess collapses and delivers a vision of a monster destroying the world.  Meanwhile, the adventurer Masahiko discovers a rare metal called “space titanium” in a cave, and his brother Keisuke uncovers a cave full of previously unknown artifacts.  One of the artifacts is an idol of the ancient god King Caesar, and a wall inscription tells of an ominous prophecy: A monster will appear to destroy the world when a mountain rises above the clouds, but two more will oppose him when the red moon sets and the sun rises in the west.  Soon, a large black cloud that resembles a mountain appears, and Godzilla appears from a volcano.  He attacks Japan, but Anguirus appears and fights him, to the confusion of Keisuke.  During the battle, part of Godzilla’s arm is injured, revealing metal underneath.  The archaeologist Saeko takes the idol of King Caesar back to her lab for study.  Along the way she is followed by a man in a black trenchcoat who claims to be a reporter, and at her lab she is attacked by a man trying to steal the idol.  Godzilla continues his rampage, until another Godzilla appears and a fight breaks out.  After some sparring, the first Godzilla is revealed to be an imposter.  It is Mechagodzilla, a creation of a group of ape-like aliens from the Third Planet of the Black Hole System.  Mechagodzilla repels and apparently kills Godzilla with its impressive array of weapons, but is damaged in the fight and must be repaired.

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Image writeups.org

The human crew decide to return to the cave on Okinawa, but along the way the thief who attempted to steal the statue from before tries again.  He is one of the aliens and is shot by a mystery gunmen, and the crew have another run-in with the black-trenchcoated stranger.  While investigating the cave, some of the humans are kidnapped and forced to work on repairing Mechagodzilla.  The aliens reveal their planet is slowly being sucked into the black hole it orbits, and they wish to invade Earth to use it as a new home.  They are attempting to steal the King Caesar statue to prevent the monster from waking up to oppose them.  Keisuke heads to the cave to try to help his friends, but he meets the black-trenchcoated man again, who reveals he is an Interpol agent sent to protect him.  The pair rescue their friends and take the statue to the shrine in Okinawa as the dust in the air turns the moon red and a mirage makes the sun appear to rise in the west.  King Caesar is awakened by a ritual dance from the priestess from before.  King Caesar battles the repaired Mechagodzilla, but does not have much luck until Godzilla reappears.  Godzilla has been powered up by a lightning storm, and now has magnetic powers to use against his robot double.  The battle rages on, until Godzilla beheads Mechagodzilla and destroys the robot.  The aliens base is destroyed, and King Caesar returns to his shrine to sleep again.

“Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla” is easily the best Godzilla movie directed by Jun Fukuda.  There is a notable lack of stock footage, which is a breather considering how much was present in the last movie.  The Okinawan setting is interesting and shows off a bit of the culture of this unique part of Japan.  The human plot is interesting, and the prophecy and appearances of the mysterious stranger in the trenchcoat give it a bit of a mystery feel as well.  The clash of the Okinawan mysticism with futuristic space technology presents an interesting dichotomy, similar to the “magic vs. technology” debate found so often in works of science fiction.  Mechagodzilla is also an impressive foe.  It is armed to the teeth and the suit is well designed, and the robot is so popular it has gone on to appear in all three Godzilla series (only Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah can also make that claim).  Unfortunately, King Caesar is a bit of a dud as far as Godzilla monsters are concerned.  For all the build up to his appearance, most of his time fighting is spent hiding behind Godzilla.  After having such a competent sidekick in Jet Jaguar in the previous film, King Caesar is a bit of a disappointment.  “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla” succeeded in increasing ticket sales, and Toho decided to capitalize on that success with a direct sequel.

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Image unleashthefanboy.com

Trivia

When the movie premiered in America, it was titled “Godzilla vs. the Bionic Monster” in an attempt to cash in on the popularity of “The Bionic Man”.  The creators of the show were not pleased, so the title was changed to “Godzilla vs. the Cosmic Monster”.

This was the first Toho movie to credit the suit actors in the credits.

The cavern where the aliens have their base is a tourist attraction today.

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Image moviedevil.com

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~ by Chris on May 1, 2014.

One Response to “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)”

  1. […] By Chris […]

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