Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby Zarm » Sun May 19, 2019 7:10 am

I would concur, LSD Jellyfish. I saved this one as the finale of my watch through this time, and... It was generally just kind of a letdown. All the flaws you described were there.
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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby UltramanGoji » Sun May 19, 2019 7:15 am

DAM was a victim of being relatively inaccessible throughout much of the 80s and 90s when home media truly took off so it's garnered this unfitting "holy grail/ultimate movie" reputation that still persists to this day.

It's a shame it doesn't live up to it. There's a lot to like but not a lot it does right.
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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby eabaker » Sun May 19, 2019 9:16 am

LSD Jellyfish wrote:In regards to characters, I forget the main leads name, but he’s the most generic do good hero type, and he actually barely does anything heroic.


While I certainly won't try to argue that Katsuso is an especially well-developed or interesting character, I don't think I'd agree that his type is "do good hero." He's far too cold and brutal for that - in keeping with the cold and brutal tone of the whole movie.

It is a poorly structured movie, and the characterizations are two-dimensional at best, often really only one-dimensional. But the tone is distinctive and, in a sense, unsettling or even upsetting enough to give the movie a strange allure for me, personally.

Also, moving away from story, both the human drama and - as Teresawa pointed out - the monster scenes are really dynamically photographed. The at times very colorful production design is pretty appealing as well, and an interesting contrast to the joyless, even dour tone of so much of the action.
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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby Terasawa » Sun May 19, 2019 10:40 am

eabaker wrote:Also, moving away from story, both the human drama and - as Teresawa pointed out - the monster scenes are really dynamically photographed.


Thanks for making that bolded point, too. This was the first SFX film Honda had directed with someone besides Hajime Koizumi behind the camera since 1956. Koizumi was a good cinematographer but I think the new pairing with Taiichi Kankura inspired Honda to experiment (or allow Kankura to) with the photography. There are some really unique shots here that were missing from the Honda/Koizumi films of the mid-'60s:

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(One of the best SFX shots in the entire Toho canon, IMO.

The editing is really interesting at times, too. I love the vertical wipe down as the SY-3 crew (with the ship landed vertically) leaves the ship and the cut/dissolve from Tazaki in front a photograph of the moon to the moonbase with the Earth occupying the same space in the frame that the moon just had. (These are kinda hard to explain without visuals but hopefully everyone else here is familiar enough with the movie.)

The at times very colorful production design is pretty appealing as well, and an interesting contrast to the joyless, even dour tone of so much of the action.


Yes! The set design and color palette is wonderful. It's a very visually appealing movie: the props (alien and future U.N.), the costumes, the scenery... It's a shame that Toho's DVD and 2008 HD masters are so bad.

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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby UltramanGoji » Thu May 23, 2019 11:39 am

Just watched this today while I’m recovering from my wisdom teeth surgery and I actually retract my previous statement about it not doing a lot right. Well, partially retract.

The best thing I can liken it to is a Fast and Furious-type film where the characterization and overall quality of the film isn’t necessarily good but it’s full of a lot of fun action and special effects sequences so the viewing is still enjoyable in a way. Films like MVG, GTTHM, and GVTSM have way better characters but Akira Kubo isn’t too bad here.

I think this film and a few others I’ve watched in the past few days solidified Jun Tazaki as one of my favorite Showa series ensemble actors. He’s kind of like Akira Nakao in a way, a little typecast as a military commander/scientist but he always gives an enjoyable performance.

Like others have mentioned, there really is a lot of great shots in the film (I really think the one of Akira Kubo and Jun Tazaki being framed by the decoration is my favorite in the film) and this along with GVTSM have really fantastic color palettes, especially when viewed on Blu-Ray.

So yeah, I’m actually a much bigger fan of DAM than I was before. It pretty much went from a 2/5 to a 3.5/10 for me.
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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby Crazy Jim Films » Fri Aug 09, 2019 3:46 pm

UltramanGoji wrote:DAM was a victim of being relatively inaccessible throughout much of the 80s and 90s when home media truly took off so it's garnered this unfitting "holy grail/ultimate movie" reputation that still persists to this day.

It's a shame it doesn't live up to it. There's a lot to like but not a lot it does right.

Interestingly enough, I caught it right in the early to mid-80's before it disappeared from TV. If I recall, it was about the third or fourth Godzilla movie I had seen and an introduction to many of the monsters (first Mothra film for me) and the concept of Monster Island. I may or may not have had access to the Ian Thorne book yet but if I had to guess, this came first. In being something of a movie weirdo at a pretty young age, who ended up being a fan of those Video Movie Guides that were all the rage in the video store era, I picked up that it was never officially released to VHS in the States. A fact that seems odder now than it did then. I had it taped off the TV so it nver much bothered me.

There were things that never really registered for me such as that this was taking place, thirty years in the future. I never viewed the later films as prequels or viewed the defeat of King Ghidorah as its definitive death. It actually made films like "Godzilla's Revenge" and "Godzilla on Monster Island" more interesting because it seemed like a continuation of this very awesome concept of an island full of Toho monsters. Though the stock footage overkill in "Revenge" really took the wind out of my adolescent sails. "Destroy All Monsters" mostly worked like gangbusters for me as a kid. The music was quite great. The monster attack scenes were well done and the introduction of the monsters for the final battle was something out of the best TV wrestling match. Though even then, that fireball finale did NOTHING for me. The space story was never my cup of tea.

I kind of avoided it for years when it came to video because I hated the other dub. Renting that movie in 1998 and realizing they used a different audio track was such a bummer but around 2005 or so, I tracked down a copy of the original AIP version and the Japanese letterbox on EBay and all was forgiven. The original Media Blasters release was such a perfect way to present it. Shame they had to pull them.

In revisiting through said MB release through the years, its strengths still hold up pretty well and there are even some incredible shots I had forgotten about. The shot of the worried crowd running that pulls into a medium of Kyoko grinning looks great as does a low angle one of a building crumbling as Rodan soars over it. I feel what it does well, it does great. I never found the human story particularly compelling, when compared to some of the previous films. It probably has the least interesting human story of all of Honda’s kaiju films but I didn’t mind the Killiaks as villains.

Terasawa wrote:DAM is unusually graphic for a Honda film: shootout at the Monsterland control center (in which one person gets shot in the head), Dr. Otani’s defenestration, and especially the surgical incision during Otani’s autopsy. Generally this kind of content was avoided in the Godzillas.

While I noticed some of the violence you mention, it never struck me as out of place, when contrasted again Rodan where the miners are ripped bloody by the Meganulon or the scene in Mothra vs. Godzilla where the greedy businessman is beaten bloody by his angry partner before shooting him.

LSD Jellyfish wrote:Watching this after watching TOMG last night, I can’t help but feel that TOMG is a better send off then this one.

I think this film is way more complex then it wants to be, and feels like a conglomeration of a bunch of different ideas. It doesn’t know if it wants to be a spy movie, a hard sci-fi film, a Godzilla film, and has way too many elements spinning out of control, leaving nothing in the way of interesting characters. And unfortunately, the film is full of pointless moments.

I would concur with a lot of that. For TOMG not necessarily being planned as the final installment, it hits a surprisingly strong goodbye note with Godzilla walking out into the water with an appropriately touching piece of music. I enjoy the ending of DAM perfectly as it feels like a return to normalcy for the monsters on the island but I never read it as a last goodbye.

Your complaints about the herky jerky balancing of the script are certainly not without merit. Even as a kid, I could kind of sense the unevenness of it.

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It’s not the worst Godzilla film, but for what it’s supposed to be it’s dreadful. I don’t want to hear excuses for this one, because IMO films like Godzilla vs Gigan do way more with way less.

I will disagree that it’s dreadful but the monster action and human story feel a little more in tune with each other in Gigan and it is wise enough to insert small moments involving the monsters from time to time to keep the kids happy on that one. DAM is better shot and directed but Gigan may be better paced.
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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby Orichalcum » Tue Sep 10, 2019 7:50 pm

If you look at the far left of the screen during the sequence of Manda using his back legs to prop himself up when he coils around the bridge, you can spot out a mistake where this tiny red prop falls over when a wire hits it accidentally
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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby Living Corpse » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:30 pm

You know, everyone talks about how the lady getting the earrings pulled off freaks them out, to me it's the guy opening the window and jumping to his death. It just comes out of nowhere!
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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby eabaker » Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:35 am

Living Corpse wrote:You know, everyone talks about how the lady getting the earrings pulled off freaks them out, to me it's the guy opening the window and jumping to his death. It just comes out of nowhere!


Both moments are pretty shocking on first viewing. I think what stands out about the earring thing for a lot of viewers is that it's the "hero" of the movie doing something so brutal.
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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby TitanoGoji16 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 10:21 pm

Living Corpse wrote:You know, everyone talks about how the lady getting the earrings pulled off freaks them out, to me it's the guy opening the window and jumping to his death. It just comes out of nowhere!


As awful as it is, it's just a guy falling. A guy under alien control, being disposed of for knowing too much. So it makes sense, story-wise. Also, the shockingness of it is kinda deflated by the hilarious "An unsuccessful encyclopedia salesmen" effect (the motionless dummy plummeting out the window).

The earring thing is the hero forcibly shredding his girlfriend's flesh as she screams in agony and then proudly declaring "Look what I did!" as blood gushes from her wounds, instead of simply restraining or sedating her or something and then removing the earrings normally like a non-crazy person.
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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby LockBite » Sat Mar 14, 2020 5:47 pm

UltramanGoji wrote:
ArchdukeCaligula wrote:Most of the complaints is that there isn't enough focus on the monsters.


Erm...no, the characters are pathetically unmemorable (Akira Kubo is not a good lead) and the pacing is extremely sloggish. It's pretty much saved by the fantastic effects sequences. It's not the worst of the Showa era but it certainly has no business being anywhere near the top.

This. The characters are so painfully vanilla. The camera work and special effects are amazing, and to be honest, there is in fact enough focus on the monsters. It’s just that the humans and their exploits are boring.

One thing I should note is that this is the film where it’s most apparent that Godzilla is only 50 meters tall. The buildings and roads around him work well for scale.
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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby HedorahIsBestGirl » Sat Mar 14, 2020 7:59 pm

As I said recently in another thread, it's unfortunate that the human cast of this film is so mediocre, because if this movie actually had interesting characters coupled with its great action scenes, effects work and music, I think it would truly be one of the best Godzilla films. It's still one of my favorites but critically speaking, in the realm of the Showa series, it falls toward the lower middle of the pack.
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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby LamangoKaijura » Wed Apr 01, 2020 6:02 pm

It's one of the crisper films. The monsters look amazing, but I would have preferred the original script where everyone from 1954 to 1968. If they had the budget, pf course. And the human acting in godzilla films is fine, people need to grow up.
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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby szmigiel » Thu Apr 02, 2020 5:34 am

The movie has a grand scope and was the biggest cross over since "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein". It was also probably the Godzilla film I most looked forward to seeing on TV when I was a kid. It was a great end to the golden era Godzilla films of the 60s. I think I was lucky that I saw it before many of the Champion Festival films made their way to American TV. Because all I was expecting to see was city destruction, fights with the military, and then a final fight. It wasn't till later Champion Festival films that the longer pro wrestling style took over the 3rd act.

But the movie is far from being a true classic. The plot is almost too by the numbers, with one scene leading to the next. It makes for a quicker pace but there is little time for character drama. The only time we see the captain worry about is girlfriend is when they are on screen together, otherwise he never seems concerned about her. In fact I have watched the movie plenty of times, I can name a character by what role they played in the plot, but not what the characters name actually was. So I think it is more the quick pace of the plot and no character drama that leads to the feeling that the cast is mediocre.

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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby Terasawa » Thu Apr 02, 2020 6:32 am

LamangoKaijura wrote: And the human acting in godzilla films is fine, people need to grow up.


I don’t know what warrants being so aggressive... :roll:

But anyway, no one (on this page) has criticized the acting.

DAM’s flaws are mostly a result of its screenplay: it’s not the actors’ faults that their characters are one-dimensional.
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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby MaxRebo320 » Thu Apr 02, 2020 12:21 pm

Terasawa wrote:
LamangoKaijura wrote: And the human acting in godzilla films is fine, people need to grow up.


I don’t know what warrants being so aggressive... :roll:

But anyway, no one (on this page) has criticized the acting.

DAM’s flaws are mostly a result of its screenplay: it’s not the actors’ faults that their characters are one-dimensional.

Yeah, everyone in it (Sans maybe Yukiko Kobayashi) are fine actors that do a serviceable job with what they're given. The problem is they're given next to nothing to work with. It's especially disappointing seeing Akira Kubo, who was so lively in Monster Zero and Son of Godzilla give a nothing burger of a performance. His chemistry with his on-screen girlfriend is so weak, I actually though they were meant to be siblings for the longest time.
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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby LamangoKaijura » Thu Apr 02, 2020 1:31 pm

Well when's the last time in Showa that a relationship was portrayed with convincing?
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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby Terasawa » Thu Apr 02, 2020 4:25 pm

LamangoKaijura wrote:Well when's the last time in Showa that a relationship was portrayed with convincing?


Off the top of my head, these films all have convincing romantic relationships (of some sort) involving two of the main characters:

  • Godzilla (1954)
  • Rodan
  • The Human Vapor
  • King Kong vs. Godzilla
  • Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster
  • Frankenstein Conquers the World
  • Monster Zero
  • Son of Godzilla
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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby Ivo-goji » Thu Apr 02, 2020 5:09 pm

I don't know about "convincing" but Katsura and Ichinose had a lot of emotional weight behind them.

Romance is a sadly overlooked element in the kaiju genre, given how many of the most important kaiju movies have a romantic relationship as a major driving force of the plot.
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Re: Talkback Thread #9: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Postby Terasawa » Thu Apr 02, 2020 6:35 pm

Ivo-goji wrote:I don't know about "convincing" but Katsura and Ichinose had a lot of emotional weight behind them.


Oh yeah, that was a huge omission from my list. D'oh.
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