Weekly Update: This week I watched a host of monster movies starring big rubber suits. Godzilla being the primary focus.
Curious what else I’ve seen on my quest to watch 365 new-to-me movies in 2016? -Click here to read the full list of movies viewed year to date-
396. The Return of Godzilla (1984)
Godzilla returns in the first major reboot of the series in this film which eschews all previous entries save for the first one. 30 years after Godzilla was allegedly destroyed, he appears again, awakened by a volcanic eruption. Like the 1954 film, The Return of Godzilla steeps itself heavily in subtext about Nuclear Armament, this time with a cold war metaphor that is even more direct. While it retains some of the campiness of the Godzilla franchise, the stakes are treated more seriously than usual, and this enhances Godzilla’s threat greatly. This film would be heavily re-edited for American audiences and released under the title Godzilla 1985.
397. Godzilla Vs King Ghidorah (1991)
Time travelers from the future return to Earth to suggest a plan to destroy Godzilla before the nuclear bomb test that created him in this epic Kaiju film. Yet another reboot to the Godzilla story, Godzilla Vs King Ghidorah features big battle setpieces and lots of special effects, some for the better, some not so much. The Sci-Fi story is a lot of fun to follow, with plenty of twists and turns. And the sequence in which the WWII-era Godzilla pre-nuclear transformation kills a bunch of American Soldiers and appears to save the Japanese Army is full of ludicrous subtext that might have been offensive if it wasn’t so corny.
398. Godzilla 2000 (2000)
Put this Godzilla film near the end of your priority list; it feels like a cheap cash-in by Toho following on the heels of the late-90s American Godzilla film. The story isn’t compelling, the effects are unimpressive at best and miserable at worst, and the plodding pace will have you wishing for it to end 40 minutes in. A truly disappointing film, considering it was so hyped at the time. I’m glad I waited so long to see it, and wish I’d waited longer.
399. The Giant Claw (1957)
This B-movie is best remembered for the unusual and horribly misguided decision to make the bird-monster a marionette puppet. The cast was reportedly oblivious to what kind of creature their performances would be set against and clearly were under the impression they were in a more serious-minded film. How anyone thought this ridiculous travesty of a monster would be frightening to audiences, even in the naïve 1950s, is simply befuddling. Drinking Game: every time someone refers to the creature as a battleship, take a shot.
400. 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)
20 Million Miles to Earth opens with an American spaceship crashing into the sea off the coast of Sicily. The astronauts brought back a creature that they hope to study. Because of the Earth’s unique climate, the creature grows quickly and is soon impossible to control, as it wreaks havoc on the Italian countryside. Ray Harryhausen manages a great deal of emotion in its monster, which he depicts tragically as an animal lost in an unfamiliar world, not knowing what to do, and all the while pursued by humans who want to destroy it. A take on the classic King Kong formula, this film is well worth your time.