Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster
June 29, 2007
What more could any Godzilla fan ask for from a movie that features a prophetess from the planet Venus, supernatural intrigue, James Bond-esque thrills, and three monsters teaming up to battle a three-headed space dragon? Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster (1964) has them all as the filmmakers of this particular entry in the Godzilla canon clearly felt the need to up the ante on this one by ambitiously packing in a lot of action, a lot of characters and a helluva lot of monsters into the film’s 93 minute running time.
The Japanese authorities uncover a plot to assassinate Princess Salno, the successor to the throne during a time of great turmoil. After he plane explodes, a prophetess from Venus appears and warns of the Earth’s imminent destruction. To make matters worse, Rodan and the big guy himself, Godzilla, awaken and resurface in a grumpy, ornery state. They proceed to battle it out, trashing parts of Japan in the process.
However, a large meteor smashes into the nearby mountains and from the remains emerges a three-headed space dragon named Ghidorah, intent on destroying Japan all on its own. He stomped the guts out of the planet Venus and now Earth is next. Add to the mayhem, the Japanese government ask two miniature ladies to summon Mothra (in song no less). After all, they’ve got nothing to lose as King Ghidorah lays waste to everything in its path. Can Mothra, Rodan and Godzilla suspend their beefs with each other long enough to deal with this new threat? The result is a classic monster battle even by the venerable franchise’s standards.
The front end of this movie is loaded with political intrigue so that Godzilla doesn’t make his first appearance until exactly the halfway point. At this point in time you would think that the people of Japan would have some kind of plan in place for when Godzilla and his buddies show up. Some underground shelters or bunkers to hole up in until the attacks are over? But no, we see people standing around, gaping in awe and pointing, or crowds of people running in panic. Oh well.
There is an audio commentary on the truncated U.S. version by author David Kalat. He is certainly enthusiastic about the film and talks about when he started as a Godzilla historian (?!) there wasn’t much serious analysis. He says that this was the last Godzilla film to be seriously edited by U.S. distributors and points out that it is actually a very funny film. He actually prefers the American cut and attempts to explain why. Kalat speaks animatedly about the cast and what they did prior to and after this film on this very energetic track.
“Eiji Tsuburaya Biography” is a retrospective documentary of the proclaimed father of Godzilla and proceeds to examine his life and career. We see how he became a special effects artist for Toho studio and this led to his involvement on the first Godzilla film. This featurette also examines the technical innovations he pioneered for Japanese cinema.
Also included is a “Poster Slide Show” that features various posters for the movie with liner notes explaining their significance.
Finally, there is an “Image Gallery” with stills with liner notes telling us which stuntmen were in which rubber-suited monsters.