(1969) dir. Ishirô Honda
The kids wanted to watch another Godzilla movie. Who was I to let them down? We started watching Godzilla movies, which I grew up on, about 3-4 years ago with a mixed to positive range of response. And, while it had been surprisingly an entire year since our last Godzilla movie (Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)), I was glad to resume our foray into Japanese cinema (such as it is).
We’ve not been watching them in any particular order, though we’ve been working our way through the catalog of the original Shōwa series. Actually, this film was my first consideration back when we first started watching these films. I had always remembered liking this one as a kid, but in my modicum of research had seen that it is derided by many fans of the series. It’s the most kid-friendly or kid-oriented of the Godzilla films, an anomaly for sure, but when you think about guys wrestling in big rubber monster suits, you have to think that they are all pretty kid-oriented.
Godzilla’s Revenge, or as it is also known, All Monsters Attack or Minya, Son of Godzilla tells the story of a little boy growing up on the rough industrial side of Tokyo, a latchkey child with a rich imagination and a series of bullies. He “dreams” himself into a trip to Monster Island, home of Godzilla, Minya, and many other monsters, where he meets up with Godzilla’s son who talks (!) (and who sounds quite a bit like Gumby’s sidekick Pokey). Minya has a tormentor, too, the hyena-laughing Gabera (who shares a name with the dreaming Ichiro’s bully). Like Ichiro, Minya is being taught the lesson of “fighting one’s own battles”.
And if this wasn’t enough oddball plotline, there are also two goofy bankrobbers who are hiding out among the rundown industrial buildings, who end up kidnapping Ichiro, too. The whole thing gets a little Home Alone (1990).
Despite the fact that the English dubbing is perhaps a series-worst and the silliness quotient is so high, the film is actually kind of enjoyable. The soundtrack is virtual surf rock, the effects are cheap but sort of trippy and surreal. And the general lack of drama, lack of a big battle scene, fact that seemingly several sequences are actually replicating sequences from other Godzilla movies, the whole thing works pretty well for the kids. It’s funny because they sort of recognize the silliness too, that none of the monster sequences are happening outside of Ichiro’s fantasies.
But the film is directed by Ishirô Honda, who directed the original Gojira (1954), as well as many of the other better films in the series. Actually, when I started off showing Godzilla movies to the kids, Clara was 3 and Felix was 5, so maybe this would have been a better choice at the time than
Son of Godzilla (1967), from which this film borrows footage. But you know, it’s kind of fun watching these films with them since they like them.