GODZILLA VS. MONSTER ZERO

(aka INVASION OF ASTRO-MONSTER,
or MONSTER ZERO, or lots of other titles too...)

(1964)
(Japanese Title: Kaijû daisenso)
With Nick Adams, Akira Takarada, Jun Tazaki, Akira Kubo, Kumi Mizuno, Keiko Sawai, Yoshio Tsuchiya (and Haruo Nakajima as Godzilla, Masaki Shinohara as Rodan and Shôichi Hirose as King Ghidorah!)
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Reviewed by JB

This review is of the dubbed American version of the film. 

Umm.. where's Rodan?      GODZILLA VS. MONSTER ZERO promises major battles with Godzilla, King Ghidorah and Rodan, yet the amount of screen time they get is really quite limited.  Yet GODZILLA VS. MONSTER ZERO is still as fun as a barrel of witless monkeys from beginning to end.  Maybe it's Nick Adams and his out of place American tough guy accent ("You stinkin' rats!"), the way that tough guy accent renders words  like Rodan and robots as "Rodon" and "robits" 1, and the way he tends to end sentences with an emphatic "baby!", like he's Fred MacMurray in DOUBLE INDEMNITY or something and not "Mister Astronaut Glenn" in a ridiculous but fun Godzilla movie.  

    Maybe it's that the entire film feels like a loving homage to 1950s American  flying saucer movies, as if EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS or PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE were remade with Giant Monsters. 

    But really, I think it's the plot. 

     Aliens from the Planet X, never discovered before because it was behind Jupiter and it's really dark... what?... it's really dark?  That's an excuse for not seeing discovering a planet?  Don't you guys use math and formulas to detect things you can't see?... I mean, honestly... Where was I?...

    (Ahem): Aliens from the Planet X request the loan of Godzilla and Rodan in order to vanquish the three-headed dragon thingie King Ghidorah, or Monster Zero, as they call it, because everything on Planet X is numbered, except that we get no other hint of this other than when the Aliens call Godzilla 'Monster Zero One' and Rodan 'Monster Zero Two' which only shows they really don't understand numbers at all.... If Ghidorah is Monster Zero, why is Godzilla not then Monster One?  And why start with Zero anyway?  Because it sounds cool?  Really, come on, people... And why... where was I?...

    Okay: Aliens from the Planet X request the loan of Godzilla and Rodan in order to vanquish King Ghidorah in exchange for a tape that will reveal the formula for the drug that will cure all diseases on Earth.  Naturally, Japan speaks for the entire world when they say "Sounds like a plan!" and allows the loan.  Once the Aliens are in possession of Godzilla and Rodan, they present the tape to the Earthlings... and it turns out to be a not the formula for a cure-all drug, but a "surrender or die!" ultimatum, with all three monsters as the backup musclemen!  Dang aliens!  Stupid humans!  With Godzilla, Rodan and King Ghidorah all under Alien Mind Control, what chance do the Earthlings have? Oh Noz!

    The three monsters have one battle on Planet X, with Godzilla doing a little victory dance after Ghidorah flies away after a major tail-kicking (this little dance was the cause of some intense discussion on the set, because it made Godzilla a little too lovable, but eventually, everybody must have realized how silly the movie was anyway and left it in).  Later, back on Earth and firmly under the mind control of The Aliens, they cause a wave of destruction across Japan that is really quite impressive, especially when, for economic reasons, the editors reuse shots from earlier Giant Monster movies and through terrific editing actually create more exciting sequences than the ones the shots originally came from. 

    You may wish there were more battles and destruction, but the film offers so much in the way of special effects, fun performances and downright stupid plot points, it is constantly entertaining even when the monsters are sitting on the sidelines, or, at one point, having seizures (I tell you, seeing Godzilla on his back having a seizure is a sad and disturbing sight).

    I hate to spoil things, but obviously the Earth doesn't get destroyed, or else we would have no more Godzilla movies.  In the end, after avoiding complete annihilation by a superior (eh) race through blind luck and random coincidence,  the head of the Japanese space program decides to send one of their top astronauts (Mister Astronaut Glenn) back to Planet X on a mission of peace as Earth's First Ambassador.

    Moral of story: Human Beings = Stupidest Bastards in The Universe! 4 - JB 

1. Upon further review, it seems Nick Adams was actually pronouncing Rodan's name in the way the Japanese spell it: "Radon" ("Ruh-DON").  And all the American dubbed Japanese characters call him by the American name Rodan ("Roe-DAN").  Oh, and he actually has an almost CASABLANCA-like scene with his love interest in which he actually says "hill of beans" just like Bogey said to Ingrid Bergman!


IN  SPACE, NO ONE CAN HEAR GOOD MOVIE QUOTES

"You have an extremely inquisitive mind, Mister Astronaut Glenn."


WHY EVEN SILLY MOVIES CAN BE INTERESTING

    A friend of both James Dean and Elvis Presley, Nick Adams carved himself out a decent two-decade career in both movies and television.  He appeared in such notable films as Mister Roberts, Rebel Without a Cause, Love Me Tender and No Time for Sergeants, while on TV he is probably best remembered for the role of Johnny Yuma in The Rebel, a series for which he wrote many episodes.  Godzilla Vs. Monster Zero was one of two Japanese monster movies he appeared in in 1965, the other being Frankenstein Conquers the World!  In 1968, Adams was found dead of a drug overdose in his Beverly Hills home.  He was only 36.

    Akira Takarada was and still is a popular star in Japan best known for his appearances in multiple Godzilla movies, including the original Gojira as well as 2004's Godzilla: Final Wars.  In the Japanese release of Disney's The Great Mouse Detective, he voices Ratigan, taking the place of the great Vincent Price.  Apart from Gojira, probably the most impressive film he ever appeared in was Hiroshi Inagaki's Chushingura, a classic All-Star retelling of the often-filmed legend of the 47 Samurai.   At the height of his popularity, Takarada had one of the best movie star nicknames ever: "Mr. Handsome".  As of 2010, he was still acting in Japan.

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