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Godzilla, The Collection - UNCUT (1954-1975)  

Number: 637

cover Godzilla, The Collection

IMDB Rating: star star star star star star star star star star

Country: Japan, 583 minutes

Spoken Languages: English, Japanese

Genre(s): Thriller, Horror, Drama, Sci-Fi

Director: Ishirô Honda

Cast: Takashi Shimura, Akihiko Hirata, Akira Takarada

Medium: Original DVD

Plot Outline:
Godzilla/Godzilla, King of the Monsters
Inspired by the huge success of Warner Bros' The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Toho set out to make its own monster movie - with a creature that manifested a deep concern among the Japanese. While it is easy to laugh at the tongue-in-cheek sequels of the 1960s and 1970s, the original Godzilla is actually a pretty somber film. Shot in stark black and white, Godzilla's first rampage is dark and brooding - a sincere attempt to deal with the serious issues of the period, mainly the nuclear arms race in the aftermath of World War II. Before he became a beloved icon, Godzilla was a collossal nightmare - a physical manifestation of a nuclear bomb. The solemn and thought- provoking Japanese original version is offered here in this set, along with the 1956 American version starring Raymond Burr. Also included are informative audio commentaries and featurettes.

Godzilla Raids Again/Gigantis, The Fire Monster
Once Toho Co., Ltd. realized that the big fire-spitting, charcoal-gray lizard was a major box office draw, audiences didn't have to wait long for the follow up. Godzilla Raids Again followed a year later in 1955 and features a new monster, Angurius, a porcupine-like beast and Godzilla's first foe. Godzilla Raids Again is the first of a neverending series of sequels and the only sequel to be filmed in glorious black and white.

As with most sequels, Godzilla Raids Again is not nearly as great a film as it's predecessor. Ishiro Hondo could not return to direct and composer Akira Ikufube was working on another film. With a different director and composer, Godzilla Raids Again has a less serious mood than the first film and has a more action/adventure tone. With few exceptions, this would be the template for all subsequent Godzilla films.

For some silly reason, when Godzilla Raids Again was released in the US in 1959, it was renamed Gigantis: The Fire Monster. Godzilla was redubbed Gigantis and his roar was even changed to sound like Angurius' roar! Numerous other changes were made, making the film, to put it kindly, a bit of a mess. The original Japanese version and the US Gigantis: The Fire Monster (retitled back to Godzilla Raids Again, but with no other corrections) are included in this set.

Mothra vs. Godzilla/Godzilla vs. The Thing
Widely considered by many fans as the best of all Godzilla sequels, Mothra vs. Godzilla is pure nostalgic popcorn entertainment. Made long before the days of CGI, Mothra vs. Godzilla harkens back to a time when stuntmen in rubber monster suits stomped on miniature buildings, wrecking havoc on the big screen while audiences watched in awe. More enjoyable than Godzilla Raids Again and King Kong vs. Godzilla, Mothra vs. Godzilla was a welcome return to form. It also shows for the first time since the 1954 original just how indestructable the charcoal grey beast is. The Japanese military (with help from the US navy in the American version) try everything from bombs, missles, tanks, and electricity to stop Godzilla. Of course, none of these methods work so its up to Mothra to save the day.

The American cut is actually pretty faithful to the Japanese original. Very little was edited out, but for marketing reasons the title was changed to Godzilla vs. The Thing. This was a silly marketing ploy to spark audience interest as to who the mysterious "thing" was. Both versions are presented on this collection.

Ghidrah, The Three-Headed Monster
Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster was a turning point in the Godzilla series. This is where the monster rumble was born. Godzilla, Mothra (in larvae form), and Rodan team up to battle a new monster named Ghidrah (or Ghidorah in the Japanese version). Ghidorah is an impressive beast - a colossal 3-headed dragon that spits yellow gravity beams. This is Rodan's first appearance since 1956. Unfortunately, the design of the suit was changed to look less menacing. This is when the series begins to gear towards children. Godzilla becomes a reluctant hero. In a rare instance of continuity in the series, Mothra vs. Godzilla is referenced. Invasion of the Astro-Monster (or Monster Zero) followed a year later and these 3 films really form a trilogy.

Both the Japanese and American versions of Ghidorah are included. The Japanese versions runs about 93 minutes and the English dubbed version runs about 85. This was the last Godzilla film to be extensively altered when brought to America. Both versions have their positives. Also included is an Image Gallery and Slide Show of movie posters, an Eiji Tsuburaya biography, and the original Japanese trailer.

Invasion of the Astro Monster
Invasion of the Astro Monster (a.k.a Monster Zero, a.k.a Godzilla vs. Monster Zero) is one of the most colorful and delightfully campy entries in the long-running Godzilla series. Aliens from planet X (located just behind Jupiter) borrow Godzilla and Rodan to combat Ghidorah, the three-headed dragon. Mothra is nowhere to be seen this time around. Unfortunately, Toho did not have the budget to throw Mothra into the mix.

Special Features include the english-subtitled Japanese version (runs 94:13) and the english-dubbed American cut (runs 92:57). Also includes an Image Gallery, Poster Slide Show, Tomoyuki Tanaka biography, and the original Japanese trailer. The best special feature is that the film is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen. This flick is a sci fi blast from the past and one of my favorites.

Here we get a gap between films. It's too bad that Classic Media does not own the DVD release rights to Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (1966) and Son of Godzilla (1967). 'Sea Monster' and 'Son' are available through Sony. Destroy All Monsters (1968) has finally gotten a great DVD release with a menu, chapter selection, and the superior AIP dub.

Godzilla's Revenge/All Monsters Attack
This one is the pits. Only Godzilla vs. Megalon may be worse.

Godzilla vs Hedorah and Godzilla vs. Gigan are available on Sony DVDs. Godzilla vs. Megalon has recently gotten an official DVD release.

Terror of Mechagodzilla
The sequel to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) and last film in the Showa era. Ishiro Honda returned to direct and Akira Ikufube returned to score. After this film, Godzilla took a nine year break.

Comments: Toho;UPC796019804561;;8-Disc Box Set;

Loaned: No

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