Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1964)

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Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1964)

Postby Arrow » Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:21 pm

Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster

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The first film to feature the three-headed arch-nemesis of Godzilla! Also, the first time Godzilla meets Rodan, and one of the first major tussles of the Showa series.

Discuss people!

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Re: Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1

Postby Hedorah » Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:24 pm

Such an epic movie, it really gave the monsters personality. I loved the whole conversation between the 3 while the Shobojin (spelling?) narrated "Oh Godzilla what bad language!" it makes me lol every time.
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Re: Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1

Postby HayesAJones » Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:26 pm

This is one of my favorite films. Not only is it tons of fun, but it introduces my favorite villain of the series. It has some spectacular fight scenes and gives us a unique look at the thoughts of Godzilla and Rodan concerning Man. It really personifies the two of them. Plus, it has all of Toho's Big Five, sans Mechagodzilla.
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Re: Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1

Postby Ethan » Wed Jul 28, 2010 7:51 pm

It's a flawed movie, but I love it. My all time favorite. Here's why:

Quality and entertainment aren’t 2 factors that always go hand in hand. Take for instance a film like Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster. It’s certainly not on par with the some of the greater installments in the Godzilla series, and it does present a noticeable number of flaws. With that said, it is my favorite movie from the franchise. Be it because of its nostalgic values, or its status as the first “monster mash” in the series; it simply doesn’t fail to put a smile on my face upon every (frequent) viewing.

It is a strange time for our world. A heat wave in the midst of winter, numerous meteorite showers, strange epidemics; all foreshadow a significant event is about to take place on the surface of our planet. A woman who claims to come from Venus appears in Japan and warns its people that incredible catastrophes are soon to occur. Within little time, both Godzilla and Rodan emerge from their forced slumbers to wreck havoc on the nearby cities. But they’re the least of the problems to come, as a gigantic three-headed monster known as King Ghidorah lands on Earth and proceeds to annihilate everything in its path. Only the combined forces of Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra can put an end to this menace, before it’s too late…

As mentioned before, Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster is a goldmine for entertainment. An often criticized factor among fans is the progressing humanization of the monsters that was done to appeal a much younger audience, as opposed to films like Godzilla (1954) and Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964). It remains a fact that the monsters’ attitudes in the film lean towards the slapstick territory, but that is indeed one of the things I like so much about it. This change was a necessity to keep these movies alive, and in that respect it doesn’t detract the viewer from wanting to join the action. Comedy in this movie is featured a plenty, both intentionally and otherwise. Godzilla’s battle with Rodan is genuinely funny, with the flying reptile constantly pecking at the monster king’s head. The sight of Malness catching a boulder and then falling down makes one chuckle instantly as well.

The heroic monsters are characters the audience can identify with, punctuated in the notorious monster conversation, a scene that depicts Mothra’s attempts to reason with Godzilla and Rodan (translation courtesy of the Shobijin). It’s a good thing to know the creatures aren’t mindless freaks that destroy at random, but instead are beings with emotions.

But then the human characters are on the level too. Our female lead Naoko (Yuriko Hoshi) is noteworthy, in spite (or because) of her naïvety, though not as likeable as her character in Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964). Princess Salno (Akiko Wakabayashi, best known for her role in You Only Live Twice (1967)) is another captivating addition to the series. The lead assassin Malness (Hisaya Ito), while certainly not menacing and particularly competent, is a visual feast for those seeking camp values. It is a shame that the male lead, Shindo (Yosuke Natsuki) can’t hold a candle to the remainder of the cast, with his role in the movie being too limited at times. Also, Akihiko Hirata is given a fairly lackluster role, at points only present to provide exposition.

In terms of acting, Hoshi and Wakabayashi are the strong glass here, with their aforementioned roles proving both credible enough. Yosuke Natsuki appears rather bored at points; it is indeed a role that should have been handled by a more experienced actor. And don’t let me get started on Hiroshi Koizumi, who despite providing us with a likeable character (very similar to that in the previous movie) still can’t be taken seriously as the allegedly respected scientist he plays.

Special effects quite frankly fall in a gap. Something that always has caught my attention is Godzilla’s breath weapon. Most of the time, this power is depicted through rotoscoping; however, such technique is only used once in this film, with vapor replacing it most of the time. While this is surely due to budgetary constraints, as a kid I used to believe Godzilla had 2 different breath weapons! It also becomes evident that the puppets used for the close-ups of the monsters fail to resemble their suit counterparts. But for all its shortcomings, the special effects department does shine in certain areas. The compositing is flawless, with the Shojibin being realistically merged with the actors. King Ghidorah’s raid on Tokyo is not short of awe, with a great combination of suit acting, visual effects and pyrotechnics.

King Ghidorah itself is a fantastic addition to the franchise. Unlike later incarnations of the character which would depict him as either an alien-controlled creature or a pawn in the plans of terrorists; Ghidorah here is no less than pure evil, a relentless force of destruction that wipes out the life of entire planets just for the sake of it. King Ghidorah is not only one the best characters in the series, but one the best movie villains as well.

But of course, it would be unwise to overlook Akira Ifukube’s excellent score. While it’s not quite abundant on new themes, it still provides a great deal of satisfaction to my ears, and certainly does justice to the movie. The memorable main theme (which consists on a combination of both Godzilla’s and Rodan’s themes) is used with great success in the battle scenes and has Ifukube’s distinct sense of chaos. Ghidorah’s theme is a worthy cue for the character (despite the fact it was originally composed for Battle in Outer Space (1959)). Kurobe Valley ’s theme is one of the Ifukube’s typical “gorgeous scenery” music (much like his theme for Infant Island ) and conveys both majesty and mystery. And then of course there is the song “Let’s Summon Happiness”, a catchy tune sung by The Peanuts, that hasn’t managed to leave my head since I first heard it over a decade ago.

The American version of Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster differs from its Japanese counterpart as much as it resembles the original. Continental deemed it a requirement to move mostly untouched scenes in great quantities resulting in a differently-structured film. While some of these alterations helped to improve the pacing, many of them also harmed the movie’s narrative and at points generated unforgivable continuity errors. I don’t hate this particular version of the film however, as it still holds nostalgic values for me. I still feel it’s necessary to point out its problems.

No significant plot points have been affected during the re-editing process (aside from the Princess’ origin being Mars in this version). It should be noted that many events occur sooner than in the Japanese version, like most of the scenes that take place between the respective appearances of Godzilla and Rodan. Being dispensed of the more monotonous material first makes the later scenes with the monster action all the more gratifying.

However, there are still a lot contrived decisions on the editing room. The scene where the Princess warns the characters about Ghidorah’s incoming arrival is moved after the monster has appeared, and makes for a rather abrupt scenario when the military starts referring the monster by his official name immediately after Salno tells the people in the clinic about the creature. It could be argued that these changes were done to keep all the night scenes together as opposed to the constant shifting in the Japanese version, but the resulting contrivances don’t justify it.

Also during some scenes, shots have been reordered in an apparently random manner, causing Mr. Continuity to vanish occasionally. When Rodan first appears, the scene is reorganized to the point where he unearths himself, is then seen completely buried, and finally appears in the air in the last shot. Godzilla’s landing in Yokohama is even more bewildering, as the creature is first seen on land, only to appear in the sea in the next shot!

One of the innovations the original film had was the inclusion of a parallel plot line (the assassination plot) which was in close contact with the monster action. The deletion of certain footage severs this connection, making it seem as though both storylines are unrelated. They did manage to improve this aspect during the climax, as bits of the final battle were incorporated between the scene where Malness attacks Shindo and the Princess.

The dubbing job is fairly cartoonish, though I’m very fond of it regardless. A common source of contempt for fans is the voice that dubs the Princess makes her sound like a robot. I will jump in defense of this, since 1) It was like that in the Japanese version, and 2) Giving her a normal tone would negate the idea of her being possessed. The best choice in the dub goes to the actor who does Malness, as he reflects the character’s personality seamlessly.

It’s a well documented fact that much of Ifukube’s music was replaced in this version with stock music. While the changes adds a different level of variety to the score, in some cases the association of particular themes to characters is lost; like during Rodan’s appearance, as it has the monster’s theme replaced by some rather generic cue. Still, I would be lying if I said the US score hasn’t grown in me over the years. Indeed some tracks, like those during the hospital shootout, or the more suspenseful tunes for Kurobe work well enough. In any case, a majority of Ifukube’s themes are present, retaining the impact they cause in the Japanese version. Overall, the American adaptation is a mess of a film, but an enjoyable mess nevertheless.

So there it is, Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster might not be a perfect film from a technical perspective, but as an escapist spectacle it’s irrefutably a great experience.
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Re: Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1

Postby Legionmaster » Wed Jul 28, 2010 9:38 pm

SuperSaiyan4Godzilla wrote:I found this film to better and more entertaining than Mothra vs Godzilla for some odd reason.

Because of your dragon fetish.

Eh. I think my main issue with it isn't that it's a bad movie, but that Astro Monster is better.
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Re: Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1

Postby OptimusPrimevs.g » Thu Jul 29, 2010 4:26 am

This movie brought rise to one of Godzilla's greatest opponents. The acting was good and the special effects were also good, if you're talking about Ghidorah's Gravity Beams. They must have blown the special effects budget on Ghidorah's beams, making Godzilla look like he's shooting out a mist in some scenes. I liked the group talk part with Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra: "Oh Godzilla what terrible language!"
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Re: Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1

Postby Terrier » Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:09 am

Hedorah wrote:Such an epic movie, it really gave the monsters personality. I loved the whole conversation between the 3 while the Shobojin (spelling?) narrated "Oh Godzilla what bad language!" it makes me lol every time.


Isn't that line only in the american dub? Because I saw a japanese version and they didn't seem to say that (Maybe the subtitles just said another thing).

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Re: Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1

Postby TokyoVigilante » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:32 am

Probably the best Godzilla film, based on the standards of the rest of the franchise. Grand brawl, one of the best looking Godzilla suits ever made, and furthered the development of the kaiju as characters.
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Re: Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1

Postby DaikaijuSokogeki! » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:42 am

This is one of the few Godzilla films I actually prefer to watch in English. There's just something off about the Japanese version. Perhaps it's too long, perhaps the continuity of events is too jumbled (although the US version doesn't really help matters). Either way, I just prefer the US version. Although we do lose a lot of Ifukube's great soundtrack, a few of the crummier effects were cut out and nice little touches like "Oh Godzilla, what bad language" and the kaiju roars during the face-off between the thug and the detective were added. That said, it's still a good film in either language. King Ghidorah's a memorable foe (although the movie takes forever and a day to get to his big reveal) and the suits look great. The human drama is okay for the most part, but the movie is definitely more interesting when the monsters are on screen.

I wonder if this film would be that different if it were released in 1965. May have had a little more time to edit out some of the fluff, but aside from that it'd probably be the same film. So overall, not a great film but not bad by any means. It's just one I don't watch too often.

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Re: Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1

Postby ZigraDude » Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:11 pm

Although Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster isn't one of my all-time favorites, I do enjoy the film a lot and it is certainly a Toho classic. There are scenes that show how rushed the film is, but it doesn't hurt the film that much. King Ghidorah's rampage through Yokohama is awesome and is one of my favorite scenes in the entire Godzilla series. I also like how Godzilla was given more human-like qualities but doesn't do anything really silly. It's also nice how this picked up where Mothra vs. Godzilla left off but it's somewhat sad that one Mothra larva died. Overall, it's a fun monster romp and I watch it from time to time.

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Re: Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1

Postby The Dark Uniter » Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:09 pm

I love Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster. Its like my 2nd favorite Godzilla film. It has a pretty good James Bond type plot to it, as well as a great score, introduces King Ghidorah, and has a great final battle.

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Re: Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1

Postby NebulaMSpacehunter » Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:52 pm

I'm not a big fan of this movie, The Godzilla suit looks pretty old and saggy after all the beating it took in Mothra vs. Godzilla. The action is really clumsy with Rodan's head flinging around and King Ghidorah blasting Godzilla in the nuts. I dunno just a boring movie for me. I prefer Invasion of the Astro Monster

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Re: Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1

Postby g2kmaster » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:19 pm

Almost as good as Mvs.G, except that the spy plot here doesn't interest me as much as the "Evils of buisness" plot. And this film would have better SFX than Mvs.G IMO if the deleted clip of Godzilla walking across the city wasn't cut out. It was a great wide shot.

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Re: Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1

Postby Hellblaze » Sat Jul 31, 2010 5:45 am

One thing I like in this movie is the Mothra fairies say 'Godzilla! Such terrible language!' XD I think Godzilla said a curse word whatever he said was funny :lol: Plus it's the only film with 3 monsters that team up to take on Ghidorah and win for Ghidorah's first film. :)
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Re: Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1

Postby Gamera216 » Sat Jul 31, 2010 10:16 am

This is probably one of my favorites out of the showa series. I Love all the destruction that Ghidorah causes but i don't like how they say his name wrong by calling him Ghidrah
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Re: Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1

Postby HedorahLives » Sat Jul 31, 2010 6:36 pm

The pace is a bit slow and this is probably the first truly illogical, somewhat lazily written human story that we get (that Shindo is a pretty crappy cop), but otherwise this movie is pretty boss and a wonderful sequel to Mothra vs Godzilla. Love how the Twin Fairies are reintroduced into the story (they like television fame too), dig the Godzilla vs Rodan battle, the monster summit, and the great story of Larva Mothra being forced to go it alone. Also, of course, this just may be the definitive Ghidorah, though I'm plenty fond of Heisei Ghidorah and Grand King Ghidorah. Even the human story that I just criticized is eccentric enough to be entertaining.

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Re: Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1

Postby Drunken Kong » Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:11 pm

Definitely one of the best Godzilla movies and I feel is just as good as Mothra vs. Godzilla, if not better. Same for Astro-Monster. It is the turning point for Godzilla to become more kid-friendly, but it's not overdone yet. This is the best Ghidorah suit that was ever used in my opinion as well. I like my Ghidorahs furry, it makes them seem more real and unique. And I would love to see more movies like this, where multiple monsters team up to take on a single opponent. Mothra frickin' rides Rodan! I think it works really well and changes up the usual monster vs. monster scenario. It works especially well if the monster is a goliath. Could you image a classic Showa team-up against some beast like Biollante?

Oh, and Akiko Wakabayashi is hot.
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Re: Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1

Postby Arrow » Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:47 pm

Before a fight breaks out...

How about we get back to talking about the movie?

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Re: Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1

Postby Shadowplay » Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:49 pm

Ah, my first Godzilla film. For obvious reasons, I'm very fond of GTTHM, but even as I re-watched it recently I came to appreciate it as one of the better Godzilla films. Its human plot is worlds better than certain other kaiju movies (I'm looking at you, entire Hesei series), and the monster action is great. To be fair, there is more camp than I prefer.
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Re: Talkback Thread #5: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1

Postby Arrow » Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:51 pm

Shadowplay wrote:To be fair, there is more camp than I prefer.

I like the camp, personally. It fits with the more lighthearted tone of the movie.


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