Rodan (1956)

Rodan (1956) movie poster

director Ishirō Honda
viewed: 10/19/2013

After kind of freaking out the kids with the eerie ghost story film, The Others (2001), I thought it behooved me to alight upon a different type of horror film for this week’s installment.

Some while ago, we began our march through the Godzilla oeuvre, so lIong ago that the kids probably don’t remember all of the films, but I have had several other classic kaiju films queued over time and thought we’d go for a little Rodan in our movie diet.

As a kid, I always liked Rodan, but it had been many years since I’d seen the film and I couldn’t have told you much about it.  In fact, I barely recalled much accurately.  Like the film is in color, for instance, the first of the kaiju films to have been shot that way, apparently.

Felix ended up with a migraine so it was just Clara and I for Rodan.

I’ll be honest, we watch these films in their original dubbed format.  The irony implied here is clearly that any dubbed version is not the original, but at the same time, it’s certainly the way I would have originally encountered the film and these dubs go back to the time of the films almost.  Bad/hackneyed dubbing has long been a bane of many an Asian genre film from the olden days.  As with anything, some are better than others.  And in this case, Rodan is probably the worst that we’ve seen since I’ve been keeping this diary.

I don’t have any particular “gems” here, but it’s the overall pacing, cutting, things people say in response to action, events.  It’s actually quite highly hilarious.  And perhaps a bit unfair to the movie itself.

The American version starts with an inserted segment about nuclear testing and the wake of the nuclear era.  It then goes into a narrated version of the story, no doubt pared down greatly from whatever original there was.

The story has some interesting beginnings, with mine workers disappearing or being killed by what turn out to be giant prehistoric insects.  And the story builds as that it turns out that the newly hatched pterodactyls (the Rodans) like to snack on these killer creeps.  And, yes, there are two Rodans, not just one, making him/her a little more generic, but potentially a little more interesting being possibly a mating pair.  Who knows?

Ultimately, Rodan’s biggest weapon is flapping its wings and creating wind power that destroys buildings.  Not quite up to Godzilla’s snuff.

Clara even asked me, “Why do the monsters always attack all the human cities?”  to which I could only reply, “They’re monsters, that’s what they do.”

I was tempted to at least give the original version a few minutes of time to feel out the tonality of the difference between the versions, but perhaps another time.


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