Sunday, March 29, 2009

Strength In Numbers: Destroy All Monsters(1968)

Lately I've been reminiscing about the earliest memories of my childhood. While memories from this time become a little more fragmented with each passing year there's one memory I can still recall with a little more clarity. It was in 1969, on a hot, sunny day. I went with a family member(my adoptive father at the time) to the Rialto Theater in downtown Atlanta(GA) to see a double feature. The theater was mostly empty and I remember the smell of stale peanuts. The first installment of the double bill was The Green Slime. The second film was the one I eagerly awaited to see...and it was the first Godzilla movie I ever watched: Destroy All Monsters, a Toho kaiju film originally released in 1968 to theaters in Japan.

This movie has had a lasting effect on me. Obviously compared to modern day special effects the effects in this film seem, and are dated. I've seen Destroy All Monsters(1968) widely criticized for it's "boring" talking scenes. Admittedly, this movie does not hold my attention nearly as much as it once did. That said here are some observations:

Thumbs up:

-the Soshingeki Godzilla suit, a leaner suit, weighing just over a hundred lbs, which afforded the suit actor more ease of movement. This suit had a nice four movie "run". I liked this suit but obviously there are those who don't.

-Anguirus and Gorosaurus, both monsters availing themselves well in this film, especially the final, climactic battle vs King Ghidorah

-Akira Kubo's character "Yamabe", a serious no-nonsense type and a nice change from his character in Invasion Of The Astro Monsters, who was a milquetoast, quasi-goofball inventor

-the score. It didn't blow me away but I thought it was solid overall.

-the AIP trailer for this film is very cool. I also liked the AIP English dub of this film, the opening narration by Norman Rose very easy on the ears.

-the final monster battle: not the best I've ever seen but it still entertains to some degree.

Thumbs down:

-some of the effects shots in this film left a lot to be desired. The curve in Godzilla's oral beam as he attacks NYC is one example of this.

-the continued portrayal of the JSDF as bored, detached, ineffective simpletons. As Tokyo is assaulted by multiple monsters we see several drab gray uniformed military personnel sitting at a table hardly looking the least bit traumatized and actually appearing, to me, as if preparing for a game of poker

-the rendering of King Ghidrah in this film. The monster's movements, especially its wings, look more limited. It's descent into the middle of the group of monsters near the end of the movie looked stiff.

-the obvious dummy that was thrown out a window after Yoshio Tsuchiya's character "Otani" was shown stepping out the window and falling to his death on the beach rocks below. Of course a dummy was going to be used but I thought it could have looked at least a little more realistic.

I could go on with a few more gripes but I won't. I watch Destroy All Monsters(1968) about once a year now. ADV Films has released a Region 1 DVD of this movie(with its international dub) and while the release is welcomed it has absolutely no extras of any kind. ADV Films also released "DAM" a second time and with an accompanying audio CD of the score but the primary disc has no extras. The movie is also available on Region 2 DVD(from Yesasia but in Japanese language only) and also on Region 4 DVD(Madman Entertainment and with English subtitles) and Region 3 DVD(

Here's the ADV Films R1 single disc DVD release for sale at DVD Empire:
(or click the title of this blod to see this item for sale)

The AIP trailer for Destroy All Monsters:

The original Toho trailer:

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