May 15th, 2014: Kaijû Sôshingeki aka Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Destroy All Monsters

Cast and Crew:  Ishiro Honda (Director, Writer); Takeshi Kimura (Writer); Tomoyuki Tanaka (Producer); Akira Ifukube (Music); Kenji Sahara

What It’s About:  In the year 1999 humanity finally has its kaiju problem under control.  All of the monsters are kept on a single island, a high-tech wildlife refugee where the monsters are safe but unable to leave.  When alien invaders, the Kilaaks, release the monsters to destroy the Earth, only the super spaceship X-2, lead by astronaut Katsu0 Yamabe (Akira Kubo), can find a way to break the Kilaaks control of the monsters and save the Earth.

Why Watch it Today?:  All week we are featuring Godzilla movies in honor of Friday’s premier of the latest Godzilla movie. Today’s movie so captured my imagination as a grade schooler that I actually included my personal drawing of all the monsters I could remember from it in my 2nd grade time capsule.  I managed to wait to open it until I was 18.  By that point I’d finally tracked this movie down-it took me years because it was unavailable in the U.S. for quite a long time-and discovered that many of the monsters I included, such as Hedora aka the Smog Monster were not even in this movie!  When I finally did see this-on a bootleg on a tiny monitor in my college library, from a tape a much-cooler-than-I-was senior friend borrowed from a kid she babysat for-I was very disappointed.  There is just no way it could live up to memories I made in my single digits, when this was mind-blowing (and I invented quite a few details, like Rodan shooting lightening from his wings).  As an adult I found this film *too* packed with monsters (most of whom do very little).  The human story is dull, and the final beat down, when a lone Ghidorah faces nearly every other monster Toho created up until that point, was more sad than thrilling or triumphant.  How could it be anything else when just two of the monsters involved chased Godzilla off our planet in Monster Zero?  Destroy All Monsters is still worth a look for a few nice set pieces and the fact that it includes more Kaiju than any other Toho movie except Final Wars, but neophytes will find the real classics-Gojira, Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster, or perhaps Godzilla Vs. Mothra-more engaging.

3 comments on “May 15th, 2014: Kaijû Sôshingeki aka Destroy All Monsters (1968)

  1. geelw says:

    Yep, this one was kind of a letdown for me as well because of the stuff you mentioned and it was the first Godzilla flick I saw in color (at a friend’s house, as we didn’t have a color set!). I once thought it SHOULD have been two movies, as too many monsters were wasted. But then again, I can’t imagine three or four hours of this being “better” in one sitting (yikes!)…

    • T.A. Gerolami says:

      I think as kids the idea of all the monsters in one movie appeals way more because you don’t realize that more doesn’t always mean better. I still think this one is worth watching if your’e a Godzilla fan, but it really is a titanic missed opportunity.

      • geelw says:

        yeah, it’s like getting that dream dessert and realizing as soon as that huge plate of whatever lands in front of you that it’s WAY too much. Good in small doses works better than overkill and underused at the same time.

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