Son of Godzilla (1967)

Class: User
Author: Spinzilla
Score: (3.5/5)
September 13th, 2005 [Review May Contain Spoilers]

The eighth entry in the Showa Godzilla series has the Big G portrayed in a different way: a father figure. This is one of the most underrated films of the entire series, but despite all the heat it receives, it is still better than most of the latter half of the Showa series. Though most fans regard this movie as one of the more childish kaiju films, it's actually appropriate for all ages. Though underrated and overlooked, in the end, the film's merits tend to overrun its flaws.

As a plane travels over the Pacific Ocean, its controls are suddenly scrambled. As one of the crewmembers shouts into the cockpit about some kind of wave interruption, a huge gray mass appears in the distance: Godzilla! The crewmember quickly explains that the disruption is actually a ray of brain waves and concludes that Godzilla is heading toward the source. He maps the direction of the brain waves and discovers that Godzilla is heading for the small Sollgel Island.

A few hundred miles in the distance on the strange isle, the members of a research facility, run by Doctor Kusumi, hurry to finish their daily tasks as a familiar sound is heard.

Suddenly, out of the blue, a plane flies overhead and someone is dropped via parachute. Both Dr. Kusumi and one of the crewmembers, Fujisaki, go out to confront the intruder. As they bring him back to the lab's main camp, he reveals that he is a news reporter named Goro Maki, and explains that he has arrived to cover the unfolding story of their work. Dr. Kusumi quickly disagrees with his plans and orders him to go home. Goro quickly refuses and declares that he will not move until he gets what he has come for. After tempting him with food and water for some time, Dr. Kusumi final breaks down and decides to let him stay, but only as a cook. During that moment, a hissing noise is suddenly heard throughout the camp. Everyone rushes from his quarters to see what is going on. One of the personnel, Furukawa, dashes out with gun in hand. The source of the hissing is discovered: a human sized mantis. Goro photographs the giant insect, while Furukawa fires off four rounds at the aggressor. The giant mantis quickly retreats into the brush.

On a search to find edible vegetables for dinner, Goro searches the island collecting Sollgel parsley. During this gathering, he comes upon something that he cannot believe: an exotic woman swimming in the island's waters. He starts to photograph the girl, but accidentally knocks over a rock, alerting her to his presence. She quickly dives under the water's surface, and though Goro calls out for the girl, he receives no response...

Later that night, the crew starts to discuss the main experiment, which will be conducted the following day. Upon hearing that the crew of the facility plans to freeze the island, Goro, fearing for the mysterious woman's life, explains to them that there is, in fact, someone else on the island. Her life, he explains, is in grave danger if the experiment is to go on as planned. The crew explains to him that there are no other people on this island beside themselves, yet Goro insists what he saw was real. Suddenly Furukawa goes into a rage, declaring that he should not interfere with their affairs and proceeds to stomp off into his quarters. After the quarrel, Goro further questions Dr. Kusumi about the experiment, and he reveals that the purpose of the experiment is to help solve world hunger. If lands such as African Deserts and Siberian Tundras could have their climates synthetically altered for the sufficient growth of crops, then mass starvation would cease to exist.

The following day, everyone prepares the instruments, making sure that everything is in tip-top working condition. Five minutes before they begin the experiment, Goro takes off, hoping to save the native girl. The team warns him using the island's intercom, but he merely ignores the instructions and continues his search. He rushes into the area where he witnessed her swimming, but his mission is a failure. As he hurried back to camp, an apocalyptic storm had arisen from the detonating balloons.

Four days later, the storm finally subsides, and Dr. Kusumi and Goro begin to survey the land and machinery. They come to discover not only that the giant mantis has mutated, but also that this strange creature has multiplied. The two men retreated, and looked on in awe as they witnessed the creatures uncovering a giant egg.

After watching the monsters hack away at the egg, Dr. Kusumi gathers the crew and speaks to them about the continuing days of labor. Furukawa objects, declaring they cannot continue with the experiment. Goro quickly retaliates by saying they must keep working. The argument ends with Furukawa stomping off once again. Suddenly they hear a disturbance outside, and everyone rushes out of the building. Various articles of clothing have been stolen! They quickly spot the native girl who runs off into the brush.

The next day, Goro and one of the crewmembers, Morio go off to investigate what the Kamacuras are digging at. Goro dubbed the insects "Kamacuras". They come to find out that the giant insects have come to uncover a giant egg and are vigorously trying to break the shell. Finally, after several minutes of labor, they crack the shell to reveal a baby Godzilla!

Meanwhile, back at the beach, Furukawa enters another fit of rage and procures a gun. He threatens to kill anyone who dares to come near him and starts to sprint off toward the water, in hopes of getting away from the treacherous island. As he makes his way to the shore, Fujisaki catches up to him and brings him to his knees. As Fujisaki tries to calm Furukawa down, they notice a disturbance in the ocean's waters. From the depths rises the King of the Monsters: Godzilla! Both men quickly retreat to the research facility, but Godzilla follows closely behind. The men realize the futility of taking shelter in the facility, and dash to a cliff instead. Godzilla makes short work of the laboratory and continues into the distance.

Godzilla finally tracks down his soon-to-be-adopted son, Minilla, and attempts to save him. The Kamacuras stand in his way, however, and it became clear that he would have to take these sadistic beasts down. He easily dispenses with two of the terrors, retaliating against their advance with his deadly thermonuclear ray. The third Kamacuras retreats in the opposite direction. Seeing no more danger, Godzilla takes Minilla under his wing.

During the intense mêlée, Goro tries to escape danger. While in mid-run, he falls and lands in a mysterious cave. Goro awakens to find the native girl, Riko Matsumiya, and convinces her to accompany him back to camp. He quickly introduces her to the rest of the crew, but during this light moment, the final Kamacuras attacks. The crew quickly retaliates with gunfire, but all it does is anger the horrible insect. It finally ends its assault, after hearing a familiar cry in the distance...

Some time after, a sudden sickness strikes most of the crew, who now reside inside Riko's cave following their lab's destruction. Riko reveals that there is a type of "red water" that will cure their sickness rather quickly. While she and Goro travel to procure some "red water", they travel past a section of the island known Kumonga's valley, which is the realm of a giant, slumbering spider. Shortly thereafter, Goro and Riko watch Godzilla teach his newly adopted son how to use his atomic ray. After gazing upon the kaiju for a few minutes, she quickly gathers water and brings it back to the cave.

After the water takes effect, Riko leaves in search of herbs. In the process, she runs into Kamacuras, who follows her. She is knocked cold by the insidious insect, but Minilla, who just so happens to be walking by, comes to her aid. Their skirmish not only summons Godzilla, but also awakens the giant spider: Kumonga!

After Godzilla and Minilla leave, Kumonga rises from the ground and chases the first prey lays eyes upon: Goro and Riko. The narrowly escape the spider's clutches, but Kumonga quickly follows them to the cave. The repugnant appendage of the awful arachnid reaches into Riko's home as panic grips those inside the cave. Shots are fired, and Kumonga retracts its leg. The spider realizes the futility of pursuing the humans, so it wanders off in search of other prey.

The next day, Minilla harmlessly wanders about the island. Everything seems tranquil, until he runs into the beast, Kumonga. The two monsters engage in combat above Riko's cave. In fear that the structure will collapse, the crew quickly decides to launch the weather balloons and send out a distress signal. Dr. Kusumi and Fujisaki work the controls from within the cave. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew works at the ruined research facility, releasing and detonating the balloons, in hopes of sending out a strong signal and changing the island's climate. They swiftly make their way to the sea and wait for someone to respond to their signal.

Meanwhile, Minilla has become entangled in Kumonga's webbing, and just as the giant spider is about give the final blow, the last Kamacuras rushes out of the brush, interrupting the meal. Kumonga makes short work of the giant mantis, webbing and devouring its foe. Kumonga, after done finishing the mantis, turns its sights to Minilla. Out in the distance, a roar thunders through the land and heralds the return of Godzilla. In an attempt to save his son, Godzilla does battle with the massive spider, and in the process, becomes blinded in one eye. As the war waged on, the effects of the weather balloon begin to become noticeable. Snow begins to fall, and as the powder descends upon the ferocious fight, both Godzilla and Minilla strike the spider, killing their enemy once and for all.

With Kumonga's terrible wrath finally extinguished, the crew watches on in awe as Godzilla and Minilla begin to huddle together for warmth. Their eyes begin to close, for they are about to enter hibernation. Behind the personnel of the research facility, the water begins to rumble and a submarine rises out of the water, waiting to rescue them. They can all finally go home.

The plot, while a little odd (well what kind of plot can you expect from a kaiju film), is still heartwarming. All of the entertaining scenes with the Godzilla and his son seem to make you want to smile and laugh. Ignoring the main plot surrounding the monsters specifically, the human plot seems to have an underlying subtext. Jun Fukuda seems to have retroactively pulled a "Banno", hinting at the ever-growing population problem.

The acting is some of the best seen within the Showa Era. While it may not be as great as the acting in the previous entry, Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966), it tramples over most of that displayed in the latter years of this timeline. All of the actors portray their respective character with dignity. Akira Kubo seems to stand out, playing the news reporter Goro Maki. His antics during the film are what really build his character up, from his reluctance in leaving the island, to the immediate danger he put himself in trying to warn Riko. Bibari Maeda, playing the Riko Matsumiya, was also one of the better performances within the film. She fits excellently into her roll, despite the fact that her role demands that her character be pulled away from civilization. That, coupled with the added dimension of how she tends to watch after Minilla, really make her character interesting.

The score of this film fits perfectly, as Masaru Sato presents us with a mainly island themed score. One of the most memorable pieces is opening them, as its dark tone really sets the mood for the whole scene. The score as a whole however, is one of the lighter compilations through out the entire Showa Era, and this only makes it even more unique and enjoyable.

The kaiju are handled superbly in this film both in character and in physical design. Minilla is a cute character, not because of his looks, but because his actions. He acts just like a baby would, wandering about, playing around the island with his father. Godzilla, oddly enough, takes a completely different role in this film; he goes from rampaging beast to watchful father. It really grabs one's interest to watch the two Godzillas, father and son, interact with one another. How Godzilla teaches Minilla to use his heat ray is one of the most memorable scenes of the entire film. Now, we come to the antagonistic kaiju. On one hand, we have the pest-like, giant praying mantises, the Kamacuras. These creatures are handled remarkably, and the puppetry for the Kamacuras is virtually flawless. It is nearly as great as Mothra's puppetry in "Mothra vs. Godzilla". As antagonists, they are portrayed as more of a pest to Godzilla than as a viable threat. On the other hand, there is the giant spider, Kumonga, whose one subject in life is to feast on anything that is unfortunate to come across it. Kumonga is, yet again, another great use of puppetry. The only true flaw is the "hovering crawl", where the creature's legs don't seem to touch the ground as it moves. One prop that does look rather bad is the life size Kumonga arm, where the claw appears out of proportion with rest of the arm. The life-sized Kamacuras claw however, is the quite opposite of the Kumonga arm, and it looks good and well proportioned.

The special effects are a mixed bag here. A few are grand, while others are rather lacking. The miniatures are nicely done, and especially the ones used for the research facility. The filmmakers even went to great lengths to make the miniatures look rusted after the storm. Miniatures aside, the minimal rotoscoping in this film is great, but still falls short from time to time. Godzilla's ray looks extremely well in some scenes, with a fiery look to it. In other shots, it seems grainy, with barely any form to it. Kumonga's webbing, even though unrealistic due to the incorrect anatomical portrayal of a spider, looks fairly good as a sprayed mist. The transparent sheets, used to render the webbing, also work to create a believable illusion. One final effect that is worthy of mention is the use of backdrops in this film, even though the usage may be minimal; the scenes in which the techniques are used are very tight.

Despite all of the advantages, this is still one of the most underrated Godzilla films, ever. It is a shame to see a lot of fans shunning this very fun and enjoyable film. When one watches the film, one can pretty much piece together why it's hated so much, with the ugly Godzilla suits and slightly childish plot. I, for one, love the film. In the end, Mr. Fukuda shows us what a fun film really is.