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DVD Title
 Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster
International Title
 Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster
Movie Length: 93/85 minutes Original Length: 93 minutes
Company: Classic Media Release: 2007
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic: Yes
Region: 1Discs: 1
  
Language/Sound:
Japanese (2.0 Mono), English (2.0 Mono)
Subtitles:
English
Extras
· Menus (English)
· Chapters (12/12)
· Trailers: Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster
· Commentary on the US version with David Kalat (English)
· Eiji Tsuburaya Biography (7 Minutes)
· Poster Slide Show
· Image Gallery
Captures
Review
Anthony Romero

Highly anticipated, as this would mark the first time the movie would be legitimately released on region 1, Classic Media has done a fairly nice job with this release of King Ghidorah's introductory picture. Boasting good video and audio quality, and a decent selection of extras, the overall package does well to overshadow some of its more minor problems in those three areas.


 Video:

Although not perfect, Classic Media has done a respectable job with the video tracks here, especially considering that they were both sandwiched on a single disc. Of the two, the track for the Japanese version is clearly the superior one. It has some minor problems, such as a constant small number of speckles and some "rough", in terms of print damage, transitions; however, the movie also looks fairly sharp, with a nice amount of detail and a very low amount of grain through out. The colors are also distinct, although there is a very slight brown and yellow tint to some of the scenes, which was a common mishap on many of Toho's early region 2 DVD releases, which is likely the source of this track. The overall brightness does appear to be set too high, though, as it does drown out the details in a few scenes, although its far from a major problem.

As for the US version, it again gets mixed results, although it's a clear step in the right direction compared to what was available on the company's releases of Godzilla Raids Again and Mothra vs. Godzilla for their respective US cuts. Once again, it appears that Classic Media didn't have a great source for this version, as can be seen from a very murky looking opening credit sequence. Rather than just settling for a clearly poor print, though, the company actually used the Japanese source already available on this release for the rest of the feature. Now I recently gave flack to another company for doing this same practice, which was Tokyo Shock for Frankenstein Conquers the World. However, that release contained additional footage, which made replacing the US version cumbersome, while Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster has no such "problem". As many know, though, Continental, who released the film in the US, did a lot of editing, moving sequences and generally tightening up the pacing. To Classic Media's credit, they have done a near flawless job in matching this editing with Toho's restored footage, ending up with a pretty satisfying final product. They also revert to their source for the US cut during any scenes that feature something different, such as the opening titles and "The End".

As for a direct comparison, they unfortunately highlight some problems introduced in the US version found on this release:

Japanese - US, Japanese - US

As is apparent, the US version looks very soft in contrast, losing a lot of the detail available in the Japanese cut. This is a sad byproduct of lots of compression being applied to the source, which was inevitable considering how much the company tried to place on a single DVD. What isn't so apparent is that the aspect ratio is ever so slightly smaller than the original 2.35:1 found in the Japanese cut. The discrepancy is so small, though, that it's more of just something to note than be upset about.


 Audio:

The DVD features two mono audio tracks with one in Japanese and the other dubbed into English, and both attached to their respective versions of the production. In terms of the quality, the Japanese audio track sounds good, as its devoid of any type of obvious flaws. There isn't anything particularly remarkable about it, but it maintains the movie's original audio presentation and all of the dialogue sounds clear.

The English track, though, is lacking in some regards. First off, there is a slight skip in the audio from the transition of the "Toho Scope logo" to the "Ghidrah" title screen. The audio in general has some faults too, as the quality dips in some parts, with even Godzilla's roar sounding a little muffled on occasion. It's generally serviceable though, and everything about the audio, including the additional stock music that was added in, is included. The soundtrack, though, does sound a little "warped" at times, in particular during the opening titles, and especially during the final sequence where it sounds simply wretched for a few moments.

The Japanese version can be accompanied with, removable, English subtitles.


 Extras:

This disc mimics the content found on the company's previous two Godzilla DVDs, while also making some slight improvements to the formula. Once again, this release does include a small documentary, this time on the life of special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya. This feature is once again done by Ed Godziszewski, who is still a little dry in his presentation, but provides a wealth of information while the feature also presents a number of excellent production stills and private photographs of Tsuburaya.

Following this is a "Poster Slide Show". This DVD improves on previous releases, though, in not tying this feature to a video track. Instead, the posters are now viewable as a selection of images that can be moved through with the remote. This allows for the viewer to take their time with the pictures, while background information is also provided on each screen. This general formula is repeated for a new feature as well that focuses on black and white production stills from the movie. The release also contains the movie's original trailer, preserved in its 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

Now the last feature on the disc is an audio commentary track for the US version done by author David Kalat. Unfortunately, to be brutally honest, I found myself mostly unsatisfied with Kalat's commentary. On the plus side, he knows his stuff, providing a lot of great information, with only a few minor slip ups. The slip ups are also fairly common mistakes, usually attached to "every" or "always" types of remarks that make for easy pitfalls. For example, stating that the birth scene of King Ghidorah would be recycled "pretty much every time" the three-headed monster reappears in future movies, while the scene in question would only ever be used again briefly in Destroy All Monsters (1968) on a monitor. Errors like these are small and easy to overlook. Sadly, the fault of this commentary mainly falls in the delivery. On one hand, Kalat clearly sounds enthusiastic, adding a sense of energy in his delivery. Unfortunately, he goes way overboard in this respect, rushing his overall speech while also placing emphasis on sometimes peculiar words. His biggest "sin", though, is simply his love of digression, which is best summed up in a word for word quote from the commentary:

"Now what of King Kong vs. Godzilla? Ya know, it's kind of too bad that film wasn't a part of this package from Classic Media because it really could used a commentary track to go through the tortuous, complex labyrinth that was its root from concept to screen. I'll digress to give some high points here, cause, ya know, I feel like it. "

Keep in mind that this digression also comes on the heels of a lengthy summary of the influence of the original 1933 King Kong, primarily focusing on its impact in the United States. To be fair, Kalat is a fountain of information, but his talent doesn't seem to lend itself well to the commentary track format, as too infrequently does he connect his information with what's happening on screen.


 Overview:

Bottom line, Classic Media is improving, and have certainly come a long way from their emergence on the scene with their 2002 releases. Suffice to say, this DVD, despite its minor faults, more than merits a purchase from fans of the King of the Monsters, especially at it's fairly easy to swallow price tag.

This disc is also featured in the DVD box set: The Godzilla Collection.