Son of Godzilla (1967)
In the unique world of giant monster movies, Son of Godzilla would be a 'tweener, not quite sophisticated enough for adults, but a bit too mature for children. It also exists in the gray period between the rampaging killer Godzilla of the 1960s and the goofy-ass protector of kids Godzilla of the 1970s. Son of Godzilla has a lot going for it, but it just came around at the wrong time to not be the eventual target of mockery and scorn.
Son of Godzilla was released in Japan on December 16, 1967, and has shown up on various media since then in America and abroad. For this review I will be using a spectacular 2004 Columbia Tri-Star DVD, certainly one of the best presentations for a pre-1985 Godzilla movie I have yet seen. It's formatted in widescreen with rich vibrant color, truly impressive. I chose to watch it with the Japanese audio track and subtitles. As we Americans often changed the dialogue to suit our tastes, I always recommend watching these movies in the original language. It's 86 minutes long, but goes by fast.
This was the second Godzilla movie directed by Jun Fukuda, and it's very similar to his Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster from 1966. The island setting, the secret base, the strange giant animals, even the sultry island babe, are all in both movies. This is not really a problem, but if you watch these two movies back-to-back, you might be annoyed at the similarities.
And now on to our show...
We open in a raging Pacific squall...what's with Toho and opening in storms? It seems like half of these movies open this way, Godzilla vs. Mothra I and Godzilla 1985 just to name two. Here we see that a Japanese plane is flying through the edges of the storm. It's hard to see, but it looks like a commercial airliner or cargo plane. We go inside and hear the crew discussing the bad weather. Suddenly, they pick up some severe radio interference, strong enough to white out their instruments.
What can brown do for you?
The radio operator works his console and determines that the interference is coming from "seven o'clock". The navigator plots this on a map and comes up with...nothing. Well, there's an uninhabited island along that bearing, Sollgel Island, but surely that can't be it? I laughed when I heard the oh-so-not-proper seven o'clock line, which should have been more along the lines of "200 degrees".
They must be flying at wave-top level (which makes absolutely no sense in this situation as that would be courting death in a storm at night) because through the front windows they see the head and shoulders of Godzilla rearing up out of the rain. They pull up and escape any possible collision.
Oh, that's fucking horrible.
The crew watch as Godzilla plows through the waves, headed, they determine, for Sollgel Island. Strangely, Godzilla seems to be wading through knee-deep water, not swimming in the Pacific Ocean. Almost as if he were in a shallow pool in a studio backlot with a wind machine going...
Godzilla is apparently much more bouyant than I would have imagined.
From here we cut out to our fictional South Pacific island of Sollgel, where the entire rest of the movie will be set. Toho went to Guam to film this movie, and the thick lush jungles and open plains of that island make for some wonderful backgrounds. The scenes along the beaches and the rocky inlets are especially striking, making you want to sell your car and buy a one-way ticket to Guam. Despite what the pilots think, there are people on the island, a group of Japanese scientists.
I'm going to cheat a bit here and tell you about our scientific team and what they're up to. This information is gradually released over the first third of the movie, but I think it would serve you better to know in advance. They're a United Nations scientific team, though composed entirely of Japanese scientists which makes the UN tag suspicious. They're here preparing to conduct a radical experiment to lower the temperature of this steaming jungle island to a level where it can be cultivated for corn and potatoes. The overall goal is as lofty as it is unattainable: to eliminate world hunger by devising a way to make inhospitable areas into farmland by changing the weather. I know, I know, you're saying, "That's tampering with Mother Nature! These dudes are going to get squashed by the end of the movie!" And I would agree if this were an American movie, but here these men will be our heroes and their seemingly-insane plan will in the end prove to be successful and save them all.
A part of the camp.
The team is led by Doctor Kusumi, played by 37-year old Tadao Takashima. A popular actor in the Toho system, Takashima might be best known for playing the reporter Susumu in 1963's Atragon and Doctor Kawaji in 1965's Frankenstein Conquerors the World. After Son of Godzilla, he would only appear in five more movies, perhaps a sign that this one sucked the joy of acting right out of his body and left him a hollow, lifeless shell. In our movie he plays the Respected and Focused Scientist With Noble Intentions. Despite being only 37, he looks 57, with graying hair and a regal bearing. He's always smoking a pipe and never looses either his cool or his control of the team, despite any situation.
There are seven men here all together, though there are really just three of the team members who play more than background roles in the movie. They are Fujisaki, Morio and Furukawa.
Fujisaki is played by Akihiko Hirata. Along with Kenji Sahara, Hirata is one of the most recognizable faces in Toho's stable of actors. In our movie he plays an upright honorable scientist with an endearing human side.
Morio is played by consummate bit part actor Kenji Sahara. In our movie he's a slightly irreverent scientist who gets more loose and likeable as the movie goes on.
Furukawa is played by Yoshio Tsuchiya. Tusuchiya was one of Toho Studio's bright stars for a while, appearing in 82 movies over a 35-year span. Before Son of Godzilla, he was probably best known to genre fans for playing the helmeted leader of 1957's Earth Defense Force and the Devo alien leader in 1965's Godzilla vs. Monster Zero. Here he plays the requisite Dude On The Edge, who just wants to get off this hellhole island and go home. He's all nervous and twitchy, constantly complaining and snapping at everyone and at times posing a real danger to himself and others.
The team's camp is impressive, with numerous small buildings built in a cleared area of the jungle. Many are probably newly-built by the film company, but they filmed a lot in existing buildings on Guam. I say this because in most of the interior shots, virtually all of signs and labels on machines are in English, which seems terribly out-of-place on an all-Japanese set. The buildings all carry identifying signs in Japanese and in English, "Head Quarters", "Generator Room", and curiously, "Sonde-Equipping Room". What's a Sonde? [Editor Pam: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary says a "sonde" is a device for testing physical conditions, for instance at high altitudes, below the earth's surface, or inside the body. I guess they might need "sondes" for the work they're doing, but I'm not sure why they'd need an entire building for them, unless of course they have a lot of "sondes."]
Seriously, who edited this movie?
We see that they too, like the plane, have been suffering from occasional radio interference. They think it's coming from somewhere on the island, but they're not sure. Then their radar screen picks up an incoming airplane. They all go outside to see who it is. Hmmm...hopefully someone is also trying to call them on the radio, wouldn't that make sense? They say that it has to be a UN plane as no one else knows they're here.
"No sir, the Dominos guy hasn't arrived yet."
But it's not a UN plane. At first I thought it was the same plane we saw at the beginning of the movie, but it's a different shape, much smaller. Whoever it is, the plane comes in. Flying over the island we see a single parachutist leap from the plane. The jumper floats down into a shallow low-tide beach. Two of the scientists run out to meet the man. This will prove to be Goro Maki, Intrepid Freelance Reporter and All-Around Hero Guy.
Rushing out to meet the visitor.
Goro Maki is played by 31-year old Akira Kubo. Kubo was one of those actors in the Toho system who always remained at a B level, despite an occasional good turn. By 1967 he had scored some minor successes in 1962's Gorath and 1963's Matango, and was the geeky inventor Teri in 1965's Godzilla vs. Monster Zero. Following our movie, he would be the dashing Captain Yamabe in 1968's Destroy All Monsters! before fading into bit part obscurity. In our movie he plays the Action Hero role, though in a curious and commendable twist, he usually defers to the girl Saeko (more later). Goro is a slightly goofy looking man, who also provides frequent comedy relief as well as being the romantic male lead.
Damn, he' ugly.
Goro is here because he "smells a story". I assume he somehow tracked down the scientists and all the equipment that was shipped to this island. I guess it would be kind of hard to keep this big of an operation totally secret. Doctor Kusumi refuses to give him any details and wants him to go home. The problem is that they have no way of getting him off the island, no boat, no plane, nothing. So they eventually let him stay if he helps with the cooking and cleaning. Goro agrees and rather quickly becomes one of the team, much like Bulldog the reporter from 1961's Mothra, who did the exact same thing with the expedition to Beiru Island.
Hey, you can take that off now.
We see that the jungles of Sollgel Island contain more than just mosquitoes and slugs. In several previous scenes, the team hears strange whooshing noises from the jungle, which they have been hearing for the entire time they have been here. We see what the noise is, a giant praying mantis now wanders by the camp that night. By giant, I mean about the size of a bus (they won't grow bigger until later in the movie). Now a bus-sized mantis is enough to make the men edgy, and you can tell that they have had occasional encounters with these beasts since they arrived.
Lousy pic, but it's back there, I promise.
Hmm...something as amazing as a huge mantis, clearly a new and incredible species, surely would have these scientists enthralled. They would be doing tests, trying to capture one, trying to figure out the morphology and the ecosystem that created such abnormally large animals. But instead, these scientists treat the manti (is that the plural?) like any other dangerous jungle nuisance like snakes or poisonous frogs.
No kidding, Goro, you can take off the vest now. Please.
And what about these bus-sized manti anyway? What would make them grow so big? Normally animals grow larger in response to their environment. What in the ecosystem of this island would cause that much abnormal growth? What do they eat? With that body size they would have to eat tons of food every month just to survive. You wouldn't think that an island would be able to support the feeding habits of such large creatures. And could someone explain why they have glowing eyes! I know it looks cool, especially at night, but those internally-illuminated eyes are the only problem I have with the mantis props.
Anyway, the next day, Goro is out looking for herbs for his cooking (wandering around really) when he reaches the coast. There in a tidal inlet, he sees a woman swimming in the water! She doesn't notice him until he accidentally kicks a rock while fumbling for his camera. Surprised, she ducks under the water and disappears. Goro curses his luck and stands there waiting and watching, but the girl never resurfaces. Perplexed, he heads back for the camp.
Watch out for sharks! I hate sharks.
He tries to tell the men about the girl, but they don't believe him. They claim that they "thoroughly searched" the island before setting up shop. Goro himself seems unsure in the end, maybe he did hallucinate her.
This shot makes me hungry. There's this really great Chinese place down on Market Street that has these awesome spring rolls. I'll be right back.
The next morning is the time for the first full-scale test of the weather changing experiment. In the morning, all the men go to their posts and turn on all the gear. After running checks and rechecks, Doctor Kusumi gives the word and the test begins. First an explosive charge rigged to a small balloon is released, up it goes into the sky and explodes with a boom. As particles of "refrigeration gas" rain down, from on top of two towers emitters begin spewing out silver iodide to react with the gas and lower the temperature. It works as planned and the temperatures start falling. Calling the test as success, they have to now reverse the cooling and return the temperature to normal. This is accomplished by sending up a smaller balloon with a radioactive explosive charge attached. Once this reaches 1,000 meters, it will be set off and hopefully the radiation will cause the temperature to rise back to normal levels. [Editor Pam: I don't see them using any sondes...]
The balloon, inside.
The balloon, outside.
So everything is running smoothly, the last balloon goes up and up. Suddenly, that damned radio interference shows up again! It whites out the radio controls for the balloon, causing it to explode at a much lower altitude than intended. Hmmm...why did it explode? Did the interference somehow affect the explosive charge itself? And why no backups on this critical piece of the test? Couldn't they have put an altimeter on the balloon that would automatically set off the explosive when it reached 1,000 meters? They knew about the occasional interference, you'd think that they would have a contingency plan for this.
"Make it so, Mister Crusher."
The towers spewing the stuff.
The effects of the mistake are drastic and incredibly negative. The temperature increases rapidly to 70 degrees Celsius and hot boiling rain pounds down on the island, swamping a lot of the camp and forcing the men to hunker down inside to survive. For four long days the rains and the heat are near constant, but on the fourth day the weather breaks and returns to normal.
Hope they had flood insurance.
The men all stumble out and check on the devastation. A layer of mud covers the ground from wash outs, and many of the buildings are damaged in various ways. Most of the damage is repairable, however, and they set to work fixing what they can. There were no injuries thankfully, but Furukawa is even more twitchy and neurotic than ever after being cooped up for all that time in the storm.
There are numerous shots of half-dressed sweaty Japanese men in this movie...
Strangely, we hear that the sole radio has been broken by the storm. Doctor Kusumi takes Fujisaki aside and jokes that he broke the radio on purpose. Fujisaki agrees and laughs back. What? I get the impression that they concocted this story to keep Furukawa from freaking out and demanding that they radio for help immediately. The Doctor wants to continue his experiments no matter what.
"I need a shower."
As the team sets about cleaning up the camp, Goro and Doctor Kusumi take a little walk out into the jungle to check on the rest of the island. Now we see that all that radioactive rain has had an unexpected affect on the already-too-large manti. They're now truly monstrous, Godzilla-sized beasts!
Kasumi just knew this would end up on youtube at some point.
Hmmm...I would assume then that the rest of the island's flora and fauna also received high doses of radiation, right? Why are only the manti affected like this? And how is it possible for them to grow this large in such a short period of time? I don't know the breeding cycles of manti, but you would think that more likely it would be the next generation born after the storm to carry a mutated gene for giantism. This is how the ants got big in 1954's Them!, after all. Existing animals wouldn't balloon up to giant size, right? And we will only see at most four or five of them total, on an island that must have had many hundreds of bus-sized manti before the storm. What happened to all the rest? Did only a few of them survive and somehow grow larger? Can you imagine if every mantis on the island grew this big? They would rule the island! Or, at least until they ran out of food, which would probably be pretty quick. In fact, even these five huge manti will probably starve before too long as there just isn't enough for them to eat anymore.
Nice three-layer matte.
And wouldn't the men of the team also receive a dose of radiation, despite being indoors? After it's over they go right back outside and run around in shorts and t-shirts, drinking and eating everything like normal. You just got to know that in a few more days these guys are going to start to suffer from radiation poisoning, their hair falling out, their teeth bleeding, all that good stuff. They should all be dead in a week or so.
A bit of time passes and one night the men are alerted to a noise outside in the camp. They run out to find...nothing. Then Goro notices that one of his garish red and white Hawaiian shirts is missing from the clothes line. They shine a flashlight in a tree and low and behold there is the mysterious woman that Goro said he saw before! She quickly ducks off as one of the nervous men almost shoots her. Goro is vindicated now and shows it.
Back now to the giant manti. We see that Goro and Morio have gone out to look for them, and have found them busy. Here we get our first unobstructed views of the giant manti as they lumber through the jungle in a small group of three. The marionette work on the manti is rather good, certainly an order of magnitude better than the last giant mantis movie I saw, 1957's dreadful The Deadly Mantis. The legs and claws move realistically, if the steps seem too light for a creature of that size, and they are suitably scary opponents. The only problem is an occasional visible wire, but that is more the result of Tri-Star's stunning digital transfer for the DVD than anything else.
The three manti all converge on a small hillock of loose rock and gravel. They begin to chip away at the hill with their claws, clearly trying to dig something out. Soon, they have exposed a largish egg! They turn their claws on the egg now, hacking and pecking at the shell. It breaks most unconvincingly and out pops BABY GODZILLA!
Going for the hill.
Out comes the egg.
Baby Godzilla's, called Minya in later movies, first appearance is by way of a tragically comical puppet flopping around on the ground, strings visible in the light. No placenta, mind you, nor any other embryonic fluids or anything inside the shell, just Baby G all clean and dry. It's pudgy, ugly, and doughy, with big goofy eyes and Gary Coleman cheeks. Right away you will beg the manti to hack this cute little hellspawn to death.
There's a better one later.
And that's what they're trying to do, though not very effectively. Minya (and I'm going to call it that from now on) starts to cry. His cries reach Godzilla, who has been swimming towards the island this whole time remember? You probably figured it out by now, Minya's cries from inside the egg were causing the mysterious interference everybody was experiencing before. How this is possible is beyond me, I didn't think animals could produce radio waves. There was a line about them being "brain waves", but that's just silly.
We go out to the beach where we see Godzilla coming ashore in a classic Toho trademark monster entrance. Godzilla here looks miserable, certainly the goofiest in the entire series. The suit, specially designed for just this movie, is the most human-like, with a flat face and high-set bug eyes. The mouth is floppy and the teeth are so big that it doesn't look like he can even close his mouth. His body is different, too, with ultra-wide hips and thicker legs, and the dorsal spines are reduced in size. Ugh, how embarrassing. Thankfully, this suit was only used again for a short swimming scene in Godzilla vs. Gigan before being tossed into the flaming pit of hell from whence it came... [Editor Pam: Now that I think of it, maybe there are actually a lot of Godzillas in existence. This would explain why their appearance varies from movie to movie. Is it possible this Godzilla is actually female, based on the wider-than-usual hips?]
He look a bit lopsided.
As he comes ashore, Godzilla wades through the camp, stepping on a few buildings and whatnot. Clearly the camp was just in his way, but this does give us this movie's sole Godzilla-stomping-buildings shot, as quick and cheap-looking as it is. The reason they set this movie on an island, of course, was to save money by not having to build expensive city sets.
Looks a little better here, but still embarrassing.
So Godzilla arrives, just as Minya is about to become mantis-chow. The three manti array themselves to meet Godzilla, determined to fight to keep their snack. The coming fight will be somewhat quick and dirty. The manti have few weaponry save claws and brute size. Godzilla has the singularly overwhelming advantage of ranged fire with his Atomic Fire Blasts. This he uses to his advantage, blasting two of the manti into flaming corpses. The third flies away and the battle is over.
Godzilla's hug therapy session goes terribly wrong.
In one of the neater bits in the movie, Goro and Morio run through the jungle away from the fight. A claw, flaming and smoking from Godzilla's breath, flies through the air to land in front of them.
Ha! Barbeque wings, anyone?
We see the girl again, also watching the monsters fight. As Godzilla wanders away a bit, she approaches Minya. Here we get a little Beauty and the Beast moment as the lovely island babe "befriends" the little monster. She talks to him, waves and smiles, even tosses a big fruit into his mouth! Why must all baby monsters have an affinity for island girls? Just then Godzilla comes back, and the girl leaves. Godzilla has Minya climb on his tail and off they go to another part of the island.
Hmm...she likes yellow balls.
She shoots like Bill Cartwright (if you get that then you need a life, seriously).
The girl runs back to the cave where she lives, to avoid detection. She's surprised to see a dazed Goro lying on the floor of the cave! Apparently he somehow stumbled here after running from the monsters, maybe he slipped and fell down the stone stairs and bumped his head.
Dude, I've lost count of the number of times I've lived this scene...
He conveniently awakes as she arrives and they have a little confrontation. She accuses him of being a thief because he picks up his Hawaiian shirt that was lying on a table. He accuses her of being the thief, and we have a cute little bit where she doesn't believe that a "real man" would wear such a girly shirt. In the end, Goro lets her have the shirt. Smart, she's hot.
Now we will get to know our mystery woman. Her name will prove to be Saeko, though for some reason the American version changed that to Reiko. Saeko is played by 29-year old Bibari Maeda. The Australian-born Maeda also went by the name of Beverly during her short two-year movie career. In that time she made just five appearances, the only other notable role being that of Ruby in 1968's Booted Babe, Busted Boss. Saeko is one of the strongest female leads in any Godzilla movie I have seen. Throughout the entire movie it is Saeko that does the dangerous work, goes on all the rescue and recon missions, and she at no point defers to or backs down to any of the men. By the end of the film, the men do what she says without questioning, and she's solely responsible for saving their hairy butts on at least three occasions. Saeko is also a beautiful woman, quite tall and well-muscled, with very long black hair and a deep tan. She's not the best actress, but seems to have been coached to take a breezy good-natured approach to her role. Saeko is always smiling, and shows a wide range of quirky and cute facial expressions that make her a joy to watch.
Her backstory is interesting, and she tells it to Goro and hands him what I assume is her journal, or her father's journal maybe. It seems that Saeko's father was a famed archaeologist named Tadashi Matsumiya. Following the end of WWII, he decided to stay in the South Pacific and continue his studies. Either he brought along his infant daughter from Japan, or he had her with an island girl, or he adopted this little girl while he was there, but however it happened, he and Saeko ended up alone on Sollgel Island. Seven years ago, the man died, leaving Saeko here all alone. She has done quite well for herself, and seems genuinely happy.
So Goro takes Saeko back to the camp and shows her off. They're all very polite and curious about her surviving the storm. We also learn that Godzilla walking through the camp damaged the radio for real this time. A giant mantis in the area convinces them that they have to find a safer place to hide out.
I love that smouldering look.
Goro then turns to Doctor Kusumi and suggests that they move all their equipment and gear to Saeko's cave and hide out from the monsters. Hmmm...hey, thanks for asking Saeko if it was ok! Maybe she doesn't want a bunch of sweaty stinky men who haven't seen a woman in a month moving into her cave. But she goes along with it. In fact, I was surprised at how quickly Saeko adapted to having other people around, even though she has been alone for seven years. There's little or no adjustment period and she integrates into the team without effort. As we shall see, Saeko's knowledge of the island and the fauna will make her a valuable asset, and the men will tend to respect her opinions. So they all go to Saeko's cave, lugging a portion of their gear, including the busted radio set.
"I will own you one day. Now go lift something heavy so I can do my nails."
Intercut in the following few scenes are some odious interludes where we see Godzilla and Minya interacting. Each sequence is designed to entertain children, but even my four-year old First Born was not amused. Godzilla teaches Minya how to breathe fire. Minya can't make a decent fire blast, it always comes out as Cheerio-shaped rings of smoke. We also learn that Minya won't let Godzilla take a nap and throws temper tantrums. Hmm...much like my First Born.
Back at the cave, more disaster befalls the hapless team when the men start to suffer from a nasty fever that leaves them delusional and limp. Not all are affected, with Doctor Kusumi, Fujisaki, Goro and Saeko strangely staying healthy. Why didn't they get the virus? They were breathing the same air, eating the same food, living in close quarters, why didn't everyone catch the bug? That is never explained or expanded on.
Christ, I know, I can't believe they screwed up Speed Racer so bad either. That's my childhood they messed with, man.
I should note here that starting in this scene, and for the rest of the movie, Saeko has changed into a different outfit. She's wearing Goro's Hawaiian shirt (awww...) tucked into a pair of tight white jeans. Where she got the jeans is also unclear. Perhaps she had them all along, which is doubtful, perhaps she borrowed them from one of the men, she looks to be the same size as several of them. They fit her VERY NICELY, forcing me to use slo-mo on my DVD player more than once for research purposes...
Some time passes, the men get worse and the others begin to fear for their lives. It's then that Saeko announces that she knows the cure! Hey, she sure waited long enough. Maybe she was secretly hoping that they would all die off except for her dreamy Goro and they could live in happiness, but then changed her mind. She says that a drink of a special "red water" will cure them up good. The only problem is that the red water is only found in a place close to where Godzilla is now encamped. Hmmm...how does she know that Godzilla is there?
She also says that the way to the red water is through a dangerous ravine that is home to the monster Kumonga. Kumonga is a huge mutant tarantula about half the size of Godzilla. This is the first we have seen of this beast and we wonder where it came from and if it's the only one of its species on the island. This is not a radiation-increased monster like the manti, but was always this big (according to Saeko's father's notes). What does something this big eat? The only things on the island that would work were the bus-sized manti, and indeed we later see the spider about to eat one of them.
Once again it's up to Saeko to save the men, as she heads off with a canteen to get the red water. Goro goes with her, of course. As they cross the ravine of the spider, Goro stumbles and knocks some rocks down the slope. They both hold their breath, but the monster remains hidden under the surface. This is like the third time that Goro has shown us he's a clumsy oaf, I cannot believe that Saeko is going to fall in love with this dork.
So Saeko and Goro sneak up to the water's edge and fill their canteens. The red water looks just like that, red-colored water. They watch Godzilla and Minya bonding for a bit and then return to the cave.
Would anyone get a Jim Jones joke?
Back in the cave, they give the red water to the sickly men. Their recovery is amazingly quick, and soon they're all back to full strength. Hmmm...you'd think these scientists would be all gaga over this miracle cure, but it's never mentioned again. Much like the amazing anti-radiation juice from Mothra and Godzilla vs. Mothra I. That juice, combined with this red water would be a goldmine for medical research.
But before they all recover, the neurotic Furukawa grabs a gun in his delusional state and has to be restrained. He gets off a few shots into the air, one of which grazes Doctor Kusumi's left arm. Later, Furukawa is humbled by his actions and from here on works to help as much as he can.
So the next morning Saeko goes out alone to look for herbs for Kusumi's wound. She's still wearing the red Hawaiian shirt and white pants, which are still quite white despite all the crawling around she has done in them. Maybe she has a Maytag in the cave. She also is carrying a girly pink carryall, which I hope she has had for years and is not one of the guys'. Out in the jungle she stumbles upon a giant mantis!
Maybe the best matte in the movie.
As Saeko runs for her life, the mantis gives chase. In a couple of nifty matte shots, we see Saeko running across a barren clearing as the mantis stabs a claw towards her. Things look bad for Saeko as the beast closes in! She calls out to Minya to help her.
Suddenly, who should wander by but Minya! He sees the girl in danger and moves to confront the mantis. The two monsters square off against each other. This is a one-sided fight, poor little Minya still just a baby and lacking any real defensive or offensive weaponry. He tries a few Atomic Fire Blasts, but they just come out as week Cheerio-O rings again. He's clearly stressing and that makes it impossible for him to concentrate enough to produce a real blast.
This from a country where you can buy used schoolgirl panties from a vending machine on street corners.
As the mantis closes in for the kill, Godzilla lumbers over the ridge. The mantis, now outnumbered, backs off a bit. Godzilla smacks the beast with two Atomic Fire Blasts, forcing it to fly away. Hmm...these are seriously tough manti to take those hits and still live.
Laws of physics be damned!
The battle has awoken the mutant spider Kumonga, who clambers up out of the ground. This is another marionette puppet, and an exceptionally well-done one at that. This is the best looking giant spider I have seen with the exception of Sheelob in The Return of the King. Kumonga spits web spray out of her mouth, much like the Mothra larvae, and has a voracious appetite.
Kumonga! I just like saying that. Kumonga.
Meanwhile, Goro has come looking for the overdue Saeko. He finds her in the midst of the battle and pulls her to safety. As they run away, they're surprised by Kumonga, who gives chase. They're soon trapped in a blind crevasse, with the spider reaching a claw in to get at them. This is a dramatic scene, and the two actors really sell the danger well. Eventually, they manage to climb out of the crevasse and escape the spider.
Back at the cave, Saeko treats the Doctor's wound while the men discuss what to do now. Apparently, and don't ask me how, they have managed to fix much of the damage that the storm and Godzilla caused to the electronic gear. This means that, if they want to, they could conduct another trial of the experiment. Keep this in mind.
The morning after was really awkward for both of them, even if the night before held so much passion.
Suddenly, they discover that Kumonga is outside their cave! The spider knows they're in there, somehow, and is now spinning a massive web around the entrance, effectively trapping the men inside. She even reaches in the claw again, fishing around for some food. This is the same prop as before, but here it looks much more goofy than in the narrow crevasse. Eventually, Kumonga gives up and is content to just wait outside for them to come out to her.
Ha, this is amusing.
Then they get a bit of good news, Fujisaki has finally fixed the radio, which is now just lacking an antenna. The antenna has to be placed somewhere high to get the best reception, so clearly someone is going to have to go out there with the bad bad monsters and set it up. It's Saeko, of course, who instantly volunteers. Goro, smitten as he is, stands up to go with her. Notice that none of the other men jump up to take her place or even go with her. Wimpy scientists.
To get out of the cave unseen, Saeko shows them a secret passageway that connects to the sea. This is how she managed to escape from Goro way back when he first saw her in the tidal pool, remember? So Goro strips down to some way-too-tight swim trunks and Saeko puts on a red one-piece "swimming dress" of sorts which looks stunning on her and shows off a lot of leg. Hmm...where did that come from? She had it on before, and I wondered then where she got it. I assume that she has had it since she was little, before her father died, suggesting that she's the same size now as then. I know this is a PG movie, but she seems awfully modest for someone who has been alone for years. Her swimming in the nude would definitely get them an R rating...
The two of them, pulling the antenna behind them on a line, swim out of the cave and out into the surf. Up on the shore, they work their way to a rocky point where they set up the antenna. Hmm...there are no lines back to the transmitter, so I assume that this is just a "signal relay booster" of some sort.
Mike, is this seriously the best Saeko-in-her-suit pic you could get me? Have you not figured out yet that the Million Monkey Theater is all about hot Asian girls in skimpy outfits? You're dead to me.
Meanwhile, we see that poor Minya has wandered into the area. You'd think that with all the trouble he has gotten into already, Godzilla wouldn't let Minya go off like that. Bad parent! Minya stumbles upon Kumonga, still guarding the cave entrance. The spider likes the taste of baby monsters better than stringy humans and moves to attack.
Back in the cave, the radio is now fully functioning and with the new antenna, Fujisaki is able to call for help. A rescue ship is being sent for them. After this, the radio is never mentioned again. We never see them report Godzilla or the rest of the monsters, or about the experiment or anything. That seems strange.
They all seem so clean-shaven all the time.
The tension is palpable in the cave as the ceiling begins to crumble and fall in (the monsters are fighting over them). It's clear that if they do nothing, then soon they will be trapped forever. Doctor Kusumi suggests that they try the experiment again, hoping to freeze the monsters above them. The men are all gung-ho for it, even Furukawa, who now realizes that he has to participate to survive.
He looks like a backup singer for Timberlake.
Doctor Kusumi and Fujisaki stay behind in the cave while the rest of them run out to return to the camp to activate the machinery. Hmmm...so I guess that four days of radioactive rain, a walk-through by Godzilla and all that didn't affect the camp that bad. And how did the men get out of the cave? I thought the spider web was too thick to burn through. Did they all swim out through the passage to the sea? It doesn't look like it. How did they escape?
Back to the monster fight. Kumonga spins his web over Minya, who is powerless to resist. Just then another giant mantis shows up! Kumonga turns her web on the mantis, ensnaring that as well. Kumonga now has two tasty snacks for later.
Back to the men at the camp. In an amazingly short period of time (way too short) the experiment is set in motion again. There is real tension as time ticks down, everyone sweats and prays that it will work. The balloons are launched again, the emitters start spinning and the radioactive bomb goes off at the proper altitude. In short order, the skies darken, the temperature falls drastically and snow begins to fall!
The balloon in the air.
The explosion of the first balloon awakes Godzilla, who was taking a nap. He looks around for Minya and then starts to search for him. He reaches the scene just before the spider is going to kill Minya. Godzilla starts to battle the spider, fighting for his own life as well as Minya's. Kumonga's web spitter is an effective weapon, and the fight is give and take for some time. On several occasions, it looks like the spider might win, proving to be one of the more capable fighters that Godzilla has faced.
Godzilla is down!
In the end, of course, Godzilla prevails. With Minya at his side, Godzilla roasts Kumonga with a few Atomic Fire Blasts.
Godzilla teaches his son how to ruthlessly kill.
Ah, how cute, he found his inner-flamethrower. In a few decades he will be trashing Japanese coastal cities just like his old man.
As the snow falls, the team all run down and jump in a big inflatable life raft and paddle out to sea. I guess they hope to wait out the rescue ship in the raft. I sure hope it gets here quick, they don't seem to be prepared to spend days at sea.
Back on the island, the snow is now falling very heavily. We see Godzilla and Minya struggling to walk through the drifts. Finally, they give up and huddle together as the flakes pile up around them. This ending is effective and touching, giving a tug at the heartstrings uncommon in monster movies. Don't worry, though, they will be fine, they're just hibernating until the thaw. Godzilla and Minya both return in 1968's Destroy All Monsters!.
Marching through the snow.
Settling down to wait for their agents to work out the royalty rights before they sign on to a sequel.
A submarine emerges from the depths, surfacing close enough to jostle the life raft. Why did they send a submarine? Maybe it was the closest allied unit to the island when the distress call was radioed out? That would make sense. The sub is clearly a scratch-built model. The "547" on the sail and the shape of the boat are no help in identifying it, there was no sub with that hull number. The two white dudes we see on the weather deck suggest that it's an American sub but that's all I have to go on.
On deck, Goro and Saeko watch the two monsters huddle in the snow. Goro says, "They will live peacefully after the snow thaws." And then turns to Saeko, as if to say without words that they, too, will now go off to Japan together and live peacefully and make babies and swim nude and stuff. Ah, happy endings...
Mike, as much as the MMT is about barely-legal Asian girls, it's also about cool military hardware, so where's my submarine pic? I don't even know who you are anymore.
And so ends Son of Godzilla, not as bad as I expected, but not as good as it could have been. Death to Minya!
The end, thanks for reading.
Hmm...I just realized that not one single person was killed in this movie. How refreshing. I also just realized that this movie contains not one single stock footage shot! That is amazing for Toho, but not surprising with three new classes of monsters introduced in this film. Sadly, much of this movie's fight scenes will turn up in large chunks of 1969's abominable Godzilla's Revenge.
Bonus! Some handy statistics for you:
2,454,721,548: Number of times I wanted to kill Minya.
66: Number of rifle bullets fired by our cast, from their "guns of unlimited ammo".
13: Number of times Goro wipes his face, a major habitual nervous tick, or scripted, I don't know which.
4: Number of times someone says, "Damn it!".
3: Number of times Saeko insults Goro's manhood, which is great.
2: Number of cigarettes smoked by our cast, both by Fujisaki.
0: Number of annoying kids in pedophile micro-shorts shouting to Godzilla with squeaky voices.
Written in May 2005 by Nathan Decker and edited by Pam Burda and Darci Sharver.
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that's between you and the vengeful wrath of your personal god...