Friday, February 5, 2010

Rare Flix: Godzilla 1985

I want to give a shout-out to Amazon for letting me get my hands on this movie.  I'll give a bit of history to all of you who are Godzilla fanboys like me.  After Terror of Mechagodzilla, the series was given a bit of a break.  The problem was that the series was going a bit overboard creatively and cranking out stuff like Godzilla vs. Gigan, arguably the worst mainstream film in the series (precluding Godzilla's Revenge).  About ten years later, we were given Godzilla Returns, ushering in the Heisei Era.  Twenty-six years later, all of the Godzilla films are collected on DVD- except for this one and Godzilla vs. Biollante.  What the hell?!?  There are 29 films, but two of them aren't released.  This has something to do with New World Pictures buying up the rights to the film for a U.S. release and to drastically edit the thing.  I'm a bit annoyed that my version is the edited American cut, but I did not have much of an option, unless I was to get a Region 3 DVD that would not work.  I'll get past it though, since it is so hard to get your hands on a copy and share it with you.  This is...
The film begins with a ship being attacked at sea.  If this is not a sign of the series returning to its roots, nothing is!  In a surprise twist, we are not shown much of this attack, leaving a lot of it to our imagination.  One survivor is discovered and tells his story to a reporter.  Unfortunately for him, he is locked away by the Japanese government in order to keep the thing quiet.  They know that Godzilla is back after 30 (or 31 in America) years of hibernation and ready to smash.  This is a precursor to the Millenium Era, which was obsessed with rebooting the series to Gojira.  A young woman is our lead heroine and her brother happens to be the man locked up.  One government official feels bad and lets her see her brother.  After the story finally comes out, Japan relents and reveals the information to the world press.  We get a lot of old school action here, including military personnel talking about the monster and 'talking heads' discussing it in meetings.  You missed this, didn't you?  A mysterious man is summoned to the Pentagon to help out: Steve Martin.  No, not that guy.  I'm actually referring to Raymond Burr, reprising his role as the U.S. reporter who witnessed the original Godzilla attack in Gojira.  Of course, this is only in the U.S. cut, since he was not in the original Japanese version of either movie.  After all the build-up around him, he only manages to tell them vague and esoteric statements.  Thanks, Perry.
After longer than you might think, Godzilla makes his appearance and starts to smash things.  The pacing of the film is actually quite interesting as Godzilla shows up a bit late (about thirty minutes or so in), but never disappears after that.  Naturally, he starts to smash up Tokyo as the world tries to decide what to do.  Burr does tell them the conventional military weapons don't work.  Of course, Japan spends about ten minutes trying just that anyways.  The United States presses the use of nuclear weapons, despite Ironside's disapproval.  It takes a bit of talking and warning from other countries for them to relent.  Unfortunately, Russia does not get the memo.  In the meantime, Japan unleashes its new laser weapons and flying vehicle on Godzilla.  After a long battle, it manages to take him down.  Unfortunately, Russia launched a missile from space already.  In a rather silly twist, the sub that could halt the missile with their codes is disabled because it was docked in the Sea of Japan!  You know, maybe you could have picked a safer place to be, guys!  Anyhow, America launches a missile to stop it from blowing up Tokyo and succeeds.  Unfortunately, the bombs blow up in the atmosphere and causes nuclear lightning to strike Godzilla!  He is revived and smashes up more of the city.  Finally, he is stopped by another attack from the flying vehicle and sent into a volcano.  One weird monologue from Burr later and we have the credits.
This movie is good, but definitely not what many of you may be expecting.  The movie is solely about Godzilla smashing up a city and not fighting another monster.  This movie is supposed to be a spiritual successor to Gojira, making it one of only two films that features no second monster with Godzilla.  No, I'm not counting Roland Emmerich's film!  The movie is entertaining though and features some great city smashing.  Godzilla looks good, even if they still had not quite gotten the eyes to a realistic design just yet.  It is still miles beyond the 'cookie monster' Godzilla we had in the '70s.  The contrast between the Japanese footage and American footage is pretty notable too.  You can enjoy the film regardless of this, even if you aren't able to track down an obscure Region-Free DVD and pay extra money for a player that supports it.  Does it reinvent the wheel?  No.  Does it make the wheel look better than it did 30 years earlier?  Yes.
Next up, Blockbuster Trash brings you a monster film built around rapper DMX.  You know what, that's all I need to say.  Stay tuned...


  1. This film is pretty easy to find, Tim, in subbed format from the original Japanese release. It may not be legit, but it's easy to come by in case you wanted to lay your hands on it. I didn't know there was a R3 release of the film. To buy the R2 Japanese discs is incredibly expensive.

    There's a 20 minute difference between the two different cuts. Steve Ryfle's book, 'Japan's Favorite Mon-star' is a must have and exhaustively covers all the films up to that time in 1995. It also explains all the differences between GODZILLA (1984) and GODZILLA 1985. The US version makes some curious omissions including some rather intriguing effects scenes. The old practice of stock footage rears its head in both versions, too. The scene of the rows of cars exploding was taken from THE PROPHECIES OF NOSTRADAMUS (aka LAST DAYS OF PLANET EARTH).

    The US version had a newly shot scene wherein the Russians launch the missile while in the Japanese version, it's the Russian who valiantly tries to STOP IT from being unleashed! Being the Reagan era and all, I guess it was 'important' they do that. You should definitely seek out the original unabridged version.

  2. Yeah, I've been considering that ever since I read about all the differences between the two. I've always been wary of anything resembling bootlegs, but might reconsider that.

    Besides, it may be the only way to get 'Godzilla vs. Biollante' in good condition for less than $20.

    I read the whole thing about the Russian footage addition online. That's pretty sad.

  3. I grabbed a VHS copy of Anchor Bays release at the swap meet, but god damned if my fucking VCR stopped working the week i brought it home.. The wife is going to bring it to work and use her bosses VHS to DVD converter, hoping to check it out soon!