Today I’ll be talking about the second half of the Showa Series of Godzilla films. There are 15 total films, spanning from 1954-1975. The 1950s and 1960s are considered to be the series at its peak. Now Big G faces one of his greatest foes: the ‘70s. Yes, Godzilla’s films were in decline by this point, but you’ll want these DVDs/Blu-rays to complete your collection.
Read Part 1 here.
Time to dive in!
The Showa Series, Part 2 (1969-1975)
All Monsters Attack (aka Godzilla’s Revenge)
As I said about Simitar’s other releases in part one, they were worthy efforts at the time, but they don’t hold up. Godzilla’s Revenge is usually listed as the worst of the Japanese Godzilla films, but that’s largely due to the goofy dubbing. That’s the only version of the film on this DVD, though it is in widescreen. The special features are the same as the Simitar DVDs: trailers for other G-films made by Simitar in the style of American B-films in the 1950s, an image gallery, and a trivia game that plays clips from the film. Long out of print and not worth finding unless you’re a hardcore collector.
A barebones, full-screen DVD most likely produced to make a quick buck. No special features. Don’t bother unless you’re cheap.
As usual, Classic Media gives even the worst G-film the star treatment. Widescreen presentation. Both the Japanese and American versions of the films (although aren’t that dissimilar other than the dubbing and credits). Special features that include a commentary and a biography on director Ishiro Honda. This is the one to own.
Godzilla vs. Hedorah (aka Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster)
Easily the weirdest Godzilla movie for many reasons (Japanese hippies, cheesy environmental theme song, random animated sequences), not the least of which being this scene. Once available only as an out-of-print VHS from the defunct Orion Home Video, Sony released it on DVD in 2004. It has no special features beyond a few trailers for other Sony films, as usual. It has dual-language tracks, including a new English dub since this is the unedited Japanese version. Unfortunately, the film’s (in)famous theme song, “Save the Earth,” remains in Japanese unlike in the original dub. Still, it’s a solid release.
It you must have a Blu-ray, look no further. The Sony DVD is a little harder to find, but other than the inclusion of the film’s original trailer, this is essentially the same as the former (except the exclusion of the Sony trailers).
Godzilla vs. Gigan (aka Godzilla on Monster Island)
This is pretty much the same story here as with Sony’s other 2004 Godzilla DVDs, though with a few things worth noting. The subtitles are basically transcripts of the dubbed dialogue as opposed to direct translations of the Japanese dialogue. The other issue is since this is the international version of the film, it doesn’t include the comic book-style speech bubbles that appear over Godzilla’s head when he “talks” to another monster; there’s only garbled noises, making those scenes confusing. They were dubbed—yes, dubbed—in the English language version. (You can watch the scenes with speech bubbles on YouTube, though).
Essentially the same as the Sony DVD (minus the Sony trailers), although my research says the picture quality isn’t quite as good (I own the DVD and not this). Like the other Kraken Releasing Blu-rays, it includes the film’s original trailer. If you want a Blu-ray, buy this.
Godzilla vs. Megalon
The many bootlegs of these films is one of the main reasons I felt the need to write this guide. Most of them are hack jobs made for quick cash. Godzilla vs. Megalon has the most by far. My understanding is the dubbed version fell into public domain for a while, making it the Night of the Living Dead of the Godzilla franchise. It was released multiple times on VHS by different companies. The DVD era saw several unlicensed releases, all of which are awful. I know because I owned one of them: the Passion Productions DVD (pictured above). The video looks murky at best. The audio is terrible. Heck, I couldn’t select anything on the menus half the time, and I paid around $25 (maybe more) for it on eBay! I regret donating the DVD to a thrift store because that means I might’ve subjected someone else to that garbage. I want to spare you that misery. So, if you find any Megalon DVDs that look like those above, AVOID THEM!
This, GIGA readers, is the one you want. It took years and a lot of finagling, but Media Blasters finally gave this, arguably the most-watched Godzilla movie, an official release, albeit amid a soap opera. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in part one with Destroy All Monsters, Toho put the kibosh on that release and this one because they didn’t approve the special features. The release was delayed for nearly a year, and even then only a bare-bones DVD was put out. Ironically, some copies containing special features were accidentally printed and released. These go for a pretty penny on Amazon.
This week, the Blu-ray was finally released after months of negotiations with Toho, but it has none of the special features. (Destroy All Monsters is being re-released, too, but also without special features). I’m annoyed. I was looking forward to getting what I expected to be a deluxe Blu-ray. I’d buy one of the leaked “golden-ticket” DVDs, but I don’t have that much money to burn. What the heck, Toho? Why are you being jerks?
(Please wait while nerd rage subsides…)
Anyway, if you don’t own a copy yet, go for the Blu-ray.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (aka Godzilla vs. the Cosmic Monster, Godzilla vs. the Bionic Monster)
Remember what I said about Sony’s other 2004 DVDs? Same story here: widescreen presentation, dual language tracks, and a few mostly unrelated trailers. There’s a humorous omission in the subtitles, though. In a scene where a scientist talks about his special pipe, the crazy-sounding metal it’s made of is subtitled, “a???” Either the translator forgot to add it before the disc was released or he didn’t bother to figure out how to write it. Some people—like me—may find this humorous.
Terror of Mechagodzilla
The same as the company’s other G-film releases (see All Monsters Attack above), except it isn’t presented in widescreen. It’s long out of print, so forget about it.
The same unimpressive, bare-bones treatment as the other similar DVDs. Ignore it.
This is arguably Classic Media’s best release next to Gojira/Godzilla, King of the Monsters. It includes the original Japanese version, which is the biggest plus. However, unlike with the other DVDs, the American version in this one is the “extended” cut shown on television. It contains most of the original footage (except for some brief nudity during a medical operation) and a “history of Godzilla” sequence made by editing together footage from several 1960s Godzilla flicks. This was done to pad out the film to fit into a two-hour time slot. Both versions are in widescreen (except for the aforementioned “history of” sequence, but the aspect ratio switches when it’s done). It includes an entertaining commentary and an image gallery, but no other special features, which is the only downside. This is a must-have.
Next Time on the Godzilla DVD Guide:
Toho reboots Godzilla before the Americans do! (Those hipsters).