The first of the Godzilla movies, and the most somber and serious in tone, Godzilla, King of the Monsters
was originally a 98-minute Japanese horror film, until a U.S. company bought the rights and reissued the film at its current 79 minutes, replacing sequences involving a Japanese reporter with new inserts of a dour, pipe-smoking Raymond Burr. True to the fashion of cautionary monster movies, Godzilla has arisen due to nuclear radiation--a 400-foot, fire-breathing dinosaur resurrected in Tokyo Bay--and proceeds to devastate Tokyo. Hardly a bogus building is left unbusted, nary a toy tank unmelted, by the reptilian rogue, until scientists discover another weapon of awesome destruction that just might stop him. The special effects are impressive, with the filming done so as to mask the fact that the monster is just a guy in a rubber suit, working better here than in the sequels, where they seem to have given up any pretense to that fact, in favor of flamboyant effects and battle sequences that more often than not are delightfully, unabashedly juvenile. The DVD includes a wonderful 25-minute documentary on movie monsters, pieced together from old trailers. This DVD offers your choice of Dolby 5.1 Surround or Mono, cropped-screen or letterboxed, and a plethora of other features. It is also available in a boxed set with four more of the best Godzilla flicks by director Inoshiro Honda. --Jim Gay
Ishiro Honda’s Godzilla is the roaring granddaddy of all monster movies. It’s also a remarkably humane and melancholy drama made in Japan at a time when the country was still reeling from nuclear attack and H-bomb testing. Its rampaging radioactive beast, the poignant embodiment of an entire population’s fears, became a beloved international icon of destruction, spawning more than twenty sequels and spinoffs. This first thrilling, tactile spectacle continues to be a cult phenomenon; here, we present the original, 1954 Japanese version, along with Godzilla: King of the Monsters!, the 1956 American reworking starring Raymond Burr (Rear Window).
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • New high-definition digital restoration • Audio commentary by David Kalat (A Critical History and Filmography of Toho’s Godzilla Series) • New high-definition digital restoration of Godzilla: King of the Monsters!, Terry Morse’s 1956 reworking of the original, starring Raymond Burr • Audio commentary for Godzilla: King of the Monsters! by Kalat • New interviews with actor Akira Takarada (Hideto Ogata), Godzilla performer Haruo Nakajima, and effects technicians Yoshio Irie and Eizo Kaimai • Interview with legendary Godzilla score composer Akira Ifukube • Featurette detailing Godzilla’s photographic effects • New interview with Japanese-film critic Tadao Sato • The Unluckiest Dragon, an illustrated audio essay featuring historian Greg Pflugfelder describing the tragic fate of the fishing vessel Daigo fukuryu maru, a real-life event that inspired Godzilla • Theatrical trailers • New and improved English subtitle translation • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic J. Hoberman