Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971) [AIP]

Class: Staff
Author: Miles Imhoff
Score: (3.5/5)
August 21, 2005 [Review May Contain Spoilers]

It's crazy! It's insane! It's absolutely one of the most awesome Godzilla movies of all time! Of course, the movie does lack in places, especially in the area of character development. The plot, monster battles, effects, and overall innovation make this film a real knockout, however, and the music, though wacky, is brilliant in its originality. People will often deride it for just how different it is, but there is one thing that everyone can agree on, and that is that this movie is creative!

As Ken Yano innocently played with his Godzilla toys outside his home in the Fuji area, a concerned fisherman named Gohei arrived on the premises. He carried something very strange, and revealed it to Dr. Toru Yano, a collector and researcher of oddities from the sea. Dr. Yano studied what appeared to be a huge, dark, and glimmering tadpole. Stories of a monstrous tadpole were being reported simultaneously on the news, and photographs revealed an enormous, amorphous creature with diagonal, blood red eyes. Dr. Yano and his son journeyed to the shore, where he strapped on his scuba gear and plunged into the murky, indigo waters. Ken, meanwhile, busied himself ashore scraping mussels from the jagged rocks. Below, he noticed several crabs floating in a shallow pool, all dead. Looking back to the sea, he watched in horror as the hateful eyes of a cold, unnatural monster approached. It soared overhead, as Ken sliced its underbelly with his knife. Returning to the sea, it swam deeper and deeper in the polluted waters, approaching Dr. Yano and maiming the right portion of his face with its awful, potent acids. Ken awaited his father's return ashore with tears in his eyes... for a stranger was lurking in the depths, and its motives and powers were still a virtual mystery.

Dr. Yano was finally rescued, and while resting in his home with bandages covering a good portion of his face, he was interviewed by television reporters. Meanwhile, Hedorah (Ken's name for the monster) attacked and sank a freighter out to sea. The mystery was becoming thicker and thicker by the minute. That night, as Ken was peacefully dreaming about his hero Godzilla, his father worked tirelessly to find answers. The dried remains of the tadpole that Gohei had brought earlier was found to be a mineral that, when coming in contact with polluted water, would thrive, grow, and combine with other Hedorahs.

The surf was restless in Taganura Bay, and the water lapped onto the docks. From the bay, an enormous, four-legged Hedorah crawled from the sea and atop a large smokestack. An unnerving, gurgling purr emanated from the sickening abomination as it absorbed the polluted gasses spewing from the towering smokestacks. As its crimson eyes slowly closed, an ear-piercing roar could be heard close by. A swirling beam of radiation illuminated the pitch-black night, and a roaring fire began to dance in the distance. Godzilla had arrived. Chirping and squealing in an intense loathing for this new challenger, Hedorah soared toward its victim and began to engulf Godzilla in its polluted mass. Two reptilian claws pierced through the unctuous torso of the repugnant invader as Godzilla prepared to pull the monster into a centrifugal throw. The intense forces of Godzilla's attack tore Hedorah in two, and the two segments flew to different parts of the city. In a nearby nightclub, Yukio Keuchi, an acquaintance to Dr. Yano, and Miki Fujiyama watched in horror as the drizzling, oozing slime of Hedorah began to flow through the entrance, and then slide away, leaving a mewing, slime-drenched cat in its wake. Yukio and Miki rushed to the car in the dead of night, as they watched Godzilla pursue the crawling Hedorah through the city streets. A clump of sludge was launched at Godzilla's shoulder, and the corrosive substance began to eat away at the once invulnerable monster. Hedorah attempted to soar to safety, but its wounds were becoming too severe. Godzilla's thermonuclear breath scorched Hedorah; scattering sparks across the bay area. The smog monster had endured too much, for it retreated into the waters from whence it came, followed by a determined and angry Godzilla.

With thirty-five deaths, eighty-one injuries, and millions of dollars in damage, the severity of the situation was becoming ever more terrifying as morning arrived in Taganura Bay. Retrieving the scattered sparks from the night's battle, Dr. Yano studied the segments of Hedorah and came to the conclusion that a key substance in the creature's body, which he dubbed "hedrium", had the ability to convert a variety of substances into sulfur. Putrid yellow veins of sulfur flowed through Hedorah, and as a result, the monster released a deadly, corrosive mist of sulfuric acid. It was determined that only an organism from space, perhaps attached to a meteor from some unknown star system, could be the source of the monster Hedorah.

The following day, Yukio Keuchi, Miki Fujiyama, and young Ken Yano were enjoying a day at the amusement park. Aboard the roller coaster, Ken looked out into the distance and quickly saw the silhouette of Godzilla contrasting the overcast sky. When the ride came to a stop, he ran to a payphone and called his father, informing him of the sighting. Dr. Yano began to instruct his son to locate his mother, but a powerful explosion interrupted the conversation. Ken rushed off, as his mother was instructing her exercise class outdoors. Hedorah, flying by means of gaseous propulsion, soared overhead, its potent mist descending upon the class. Everyone collapsed to the ground, choking violently as a siren screamed from the distance. Toshie Yano helped her class find shelter indoors as it was revealed on the news that the main storage tank of the Japan Oil Company had exploded. A second Hedorah, meanwhile, forced Yukio and Miki out of their vehicle. The city was under siege. Godzilla managed to intercept his flying foe and land a blow, but as it began to take off, Godzilla collapsed to the ground, unable to find fresh air. The flesh began to melt off the bones of those unfortunate enough to stand in Hedorah's path. The monster's mists were becoming more and more toxic. Ken ran away from this most hideous sight, as Hedorah continued its reign of terror in the Fuji area.

With 1,600 dead, and other casualties expecting to exceed 30,000, the terror that was Hedorah seemed unstoppable. Panic gripped the nation. As oxygen was being considered as a capable antidote, Dr. Yano's studies of the Hedorah remains brought about the conclusion that exposure to electricity would cause the moisture to evaporate and lead to its demise. As the experiments with electricity were being conducted, the government ordered a halt to all operations in industrial factories and a halt to the use of automobiles.

That evening, Yukio, Miki, Ken, and a group of about one hundred teenagers arrived in the countryside near Mt. Fuji, where they started fires and began to party in one last hurrah if the event were to occur that the invader from space would destroy humankind. Meanwhile, Hedorah began to fly north from Taganura, much larger than before, and moved north toward Mt. Fuji. In response, Dr. Yano notified the Japanese Self-Defense Force, and asked them about the progress of the giant electrodes...

Evening turned to night as the party continued near Mt. Fuji, but in the distance, Ken saw Godzilla firing his thermonuclear ray. His bellowing roar interrupted the music, and not too far away, the towering final form of Hedorah was facing off against his furious foe, Godzilla. It slung sludge into its challenger's left eye, and the eye shut in pain. In an intense glow of energy, Hedorah transformed into its flying form and began to fire its crimson eyebeam at Godzilla. Killing some of the partygoers as it flew overhead, it transformed back into its final form. Yukio Keuchi noted Hedorah's fear of fire, and led a charge against the monster with a barrage of torches. Yukio was shot in the eye by sludge and was brought to the ground. The remaining attackers were also killed, poisoned by the monster's deadly excretions. Hedorah began to approach the rest of the onlookers, and as Ken attempted to procure some fire from a large torch, a blob of slime toppled it over. Luckily, an atomic ray fired, and in response, Hedorah leapt over Godzilla, allowing its corrosive sludge to fall onto the increasingly helpless creature. Tossing a boulder aside with his tail, Godzilla created a distraction while he sank his right fist into the area near Hedorah's left eye. The acidic ooze scorched Godzilla's hand to the bone, as Hedorah's left eye closed due to the severity of its wound. The two monsters grappled with each other, spinning in circles, each trying to gain the advantage. Hedorah's crimson eye beam fired and the ground erupted in flames. Godzilla began to choke on the smoke, unable to catch his breath, and when he fell to the ground, Hedorah airlifted him and dropped the once proud monster into a deep ravine. With Godzilla writhing on the ground below, Hedorah morphed into his final form and began to unleash thousands and thousands of gallons of toxic fluid into the valley below. Struggling in a pool of revolting sludge, Godzilla fired his breath, to no avail. The king of the monsters was rendered completely helpless...

The Japanese Self-Defense Force finally began to implement one of their more unconventional plans. A container, filled with oxygen, was dropped from a helicopter above, but alas, Hedorah's scarlet beam destroyed the craft shortly after it released its payload. Another helicopter arrived in order to drop more oxygen, but before it could release its weapon, it was forced to dodge another eye beam. Meanwhile, Dr. Toru Yano and Toshie Yano arrived to view the progress of the JSDF's giant electrodes. The two enormous devices would send a scorching array of electrical rays through Hedorah's body, evaporating its moisture and drying the monstrosity to a crisp. In order to lure the monster to the area, headlights and supersonic waves would be utilized. In the distance, an exchange of thermonuclear rays and eye beams illuminated the night, and Godzilla and Hedorah struggled with each other as they tumbled down the side of a hill, destroying the high tension wires so desperately needed for the use of the electrodes. Repairs were ordered as the two monsters continued to struggle for dominance. Godzilla blocked an eye beam with his left hand, but the attack was far too painful. More eyebeams forced Godzilla to the ground, and Hedorah took his leave. The monster flew toward the electrodes, and though the high-tension wires were not yet prepared, three vehicles flashed their headlights in order to lure Hedorah closer. The second helicopter returned for another attempt at dropping the oxygen onto Hedorah, but was unfortunately destroyed in the process. The craft plummeted to the ground and erupted in flames, luring Hedorah ever closer. When the creature was finally located between the two gargantuan electrodes, the plasma of Godzilla's thermonuclear ray energized one of the massive structures and began to send an array of electrical bolts slicing through the smog monster's body. The ray fired again, and the electrodes illuminated with raw, surging energy. Hedorah's eye closed; for it appeared that only a corpse remained...

Godzilla, heavily injured from the battle, lumbered closer and closer to the body of his incapacitated foe. He sank his claws into his quarry and removed two orbs, which he promptly destroyed by setting the electrodes ablaze with energy once more. With Hedorah's eyes reduced to dust, it would appear as though the menace was defeated. This was not the case, however. Godzilla tossed a boulder into the corpse with his tail, and another Hedorah launched into the sky. Dr. Yano had earlier concluded that Hedorah flew by means of nuclear reaction, so it was not too surprising when Godzilla stretched out his arms, turned around, and began to propel himself into the sky with his thermonuclear breath! His spines collided with Hedorah, and on the ground, Godzilla lifted his enemy above the soil and began to smash the amorphous blob into the Earth below. Using his newfound ability, Godzilla flew toward the electrodes once more as the final repairs were made. The electricity was activated, to no avail. Godzilla's powerful breath ignited the electrodes and Hedorah's eye twitched as he dried to a crisp. Removing every last moist piece of alien flesh, Godzilla fired upon the electrodes one final time, and Hedorah was completely converted into its basic minerals. The smog monster, that horrific incarnation who was responsible for such death and destruction, was finally gone...

Godzilla glanced at the humans nearby and then turned toward the sea. Ken Yano waved to his hero as he trudged through the Fuji area, ready to return to the ocean and heal his wounds. His job was complete.

Though the story pulls away from tradition as far as a Godzilla movie is concerned, the plot is still very solid. Bringing Hedorah to the screen within the first few minutes of the movie proves early on that the pace is going to be much smoother than some earlier movies. The way the monster is shown in its entirety right away, instead of keeping it hidden for a while, also pulls away from the norm. This movie gets right on board and says: this is the antagonist! The mystery that accompanies Hedorah is instead the question: what will it become next? Also, the use of false assumptions throughout the movie, that Hedorah is only a water monster, first, and then that it will only come out at night, second, lends to create an air of dramatic irony and uncertainty. In regards to Godzilla, he also shows up relatively early on, in front of a vivid, vermilion sunset, with a heroic theme playing in the background. This film is the first to show Godzilla as a truly heroic figure, excluding All Monsters Attack (1969), in which all of the monster action takes place within a child's imagination. However, the character of Ken Yano, like Ichiro Miki in the previous movie, helps to characterize Godzilla as the "good guy" throughout the movie. All throughout, he reveals that Godzilla will try to stop Hedorah, and even near the beginning, recites a poem for school about the monster's valiant efforts to stop the world's rampant pollution problems. The portrayal of the severity of the danger is also increased in this movie to a disturbing level unseen since the original. The use of sirens, skeletons, death count figures, and other visual and aural aids paint a vivid atmosphere of terror and uncertainty. The matrix of television screens, which shows up in a couple different sections of the film, is an excellent way to portray panic, especially with the chaotic array of sights and sounds. To add creepy to unnerving, the use of cartoon shorts throughout the movie adds another disturbing dimension to the plot. The first animation shows Hedorah drinking fuel from a ship as smokestacks spew pollution in the background. The second and most disturbing animation shows a dark factory with greedy red eyes. The factory's mechanical hands continue to absorb every sprouting plant that they can grasp, until the facility becomes larger and larger to the point where it is grossly out of proportion. Then, Hedorah descends onto the factory, eats it, and flies away. The third animation shows Hedorah holding a sign above the city, and below, people walk casually with gas masks, until the corrosive gas suddenly strikes two people. Their faces crisscross, and the image shifts into a live-action scene showing a perimeter of damage that oddly resembles the two faces. The fourth and final animation is more comic relief than anything, but its usefulness to the plot comes later on when Godzilla engages in his famous flying scene. In this animation, nuclear fission is discussed with the use of atoms and subatomic particles, each with a face, in order to explain Hedorah's method of flight. The former three animations are highly effective in presenting an allegorical caricature of modern society. The first represents the monstrous determent to humankind that pollution creates (Hedorah feeding from the ship) while humans continue to pour pollution into the atmosphere (the smokestacks in the background). The second represents the insatiable desire of modern industry to destroy the environment in the pursuit of progress (the factory feeding off the plants), followed by the terrors that occur when this disregard for homeostasis is ignored (Hedorah eating the factory). The third animation represents just how nonchalant society is even when faced with destruction and disaster, and how unwilling we are to change our ways, but how willing we our to instead adapt to an increasingly uninhabitable world in order to continue with our desire for "progress". The whole movie is symbolic, in one way or another, about the terrors of pollution in all of its forms. Scenes of garbage floating on the tranquil ocean are spliced throughout the movie, and these scenes really bring home the notion that this is a movie with a message. The scene with the fish dying in the aquarium is eerily reminiscent of a similar scene in Godzilla (1954). The old men near the climax of the movie, who watch the party, seem to represent spirits of the old generation, witnessing what the world has become. There has not been a Godzilla movie that has emphasized a moral to this degree since, and it is probably the first to really do so after Godzilla (1954).

Of course, a movie without acting is just a story. The acting in this film is solid, and the individual actors give average to above average performances throughout. Akira Yamauchi as Dr. Yano gives a melodramatic performance, but still manages to keep his style natural. Toshie Kimura, who plays his wife Toshie, plays a similar role, but manages to add a level of sweetness to her character, especially earlier on. Keiko Mari has so few scenes that it is difficult to determine the quality of her acting. Her ability to portray emotion, such as the scream she released in the scene where Hedorah attacks her car, is effective. Mostly, however, her character is forced into a state of reserved fear, especially near the end of the movie. Toshio Shiba, who plays Yukio Keuchi gives the poorest performance among the main actors. His reactions to dangerous situations seem to be misplaced anger instead of fear, and his acting during his character's attempts to set up the "Go-Go of One Million" seems rather uneven, as though he's trying too hard. Still, his acting as a whole is solid. Toshio Shiba, who at first glance looks as though he'll be the stereotypical child actor, does quite well with what the script demands of him. His reaction to his father's disappearance is believable, as is his horror at the skeletal remains of Hedorah's victims. It also appears as though he isn't trying too hard, and luckily this works out to become a more natural performance.

Though there are only a handful of actors whose roles are focused upon, the amount of development given to each of the characters is unfortunately minimal. Little to nothing is known about anyone. One can guess that Dr. Yano is a scientist interested in natural anomalies, perhaps caused by pollution and other mutagens. We know only a little about his wife, Toshie Yano, too. It is clear, especially in scenes with Dr. Yano and Ken Yano, that she shows caring and sweetness. However, not much else is known. Yukio Keuchi is probably the most perplexing character in the plot. At first glance, he appears to be Ken's brother, but the surname difference seems to most definitely signify that this is not the case. Perhaps he represents an older brother figure, or perhaps a friend to Dr. Yano, either professionally or personally. This is not known. What we do know is that he does do drugs, as shown by the hallucinations of fish heads in the bar scene. Hopefully then, his appearance in the plot is not as a big brother figure to Ken Yano. It appears as though the fish head hallucinations are just another moral to the story, perhaps a way to scare young people away from drugs. Who knows, the fish heads are so freakish, it probably worked. Miki Fujiyama, who appears to be Yukio's love interest, is given the least amount of development in the plot. In the beginning, it appears as though she is just another singer, in a body suit that is either supposed to or not supposed to give the illusion of nudity (it's not too clear). As the story progresses, it is shown that she has connections to Yukio and Ken. What these connections are seems to be implied, though not very well. Of all the characters, Ken Yano appears to be the most developed. This is very surprising, as he appears to be the cliché child character in the plot. But, the audience at least knows his thoughts better than those of the other characters. We know of his admiration of Godzilla, his concern with the environment, and his overall innocence when, for example, he proudly shows his bandaged hand to the media. Above all, character development is the one major flaw of this movie.

The special effects, however, most definitely make up for the character development in this film. The suit actors do quite well here. Haruo Nakajima plays the hero Godzilla excellently, and makes the once antagonistic horror now a protagonist monster with an attitude. It's actually quite amazing to realize this is the same suit actor from the original Godzilla film. Some of his actions, however, lack reptilian qualities, such as the humanlike use of his hands or the infamous chin-rub taunt. Luckily, he finds a new way to portray the monster: as a personified, heroic Godzilla. The Hedorah suit actor, Kenpachiro Satsuma, also manages to add dimension to his respective character. He portrays his monster as cold and ruthless in his enjoyment over the agony of Godzilla. His motions, slow and swaying, also compliment a monster of sludge and slime nicely. This motion also presents the illusion of mass. As for the actual look of the suits, Hedorah is clearly the triumph here. The detailed, blood red eyes; the dark, unctuous body; and the glowing head create a truly disturbing look for Hedorah's final form. The flying form prop is also well made, and since it lacks wings, it is luckily not just another victim of the visually painful "hovering flap", a big problem with flying monsters of this era. The land form Hedorah is also an interesting suit, especially with its eerie, wiggly projections. The water form is extremely well done. The simple, dark prop with the bright red eyes, swimming through the surface of the water menacingly, is very effective. Godzilla, unfortunately, is not that great of a success when it comes to his costume. During the latter part of the movie, Godzilla's hand is stripped to the bone, and the effect looks realistic. Unfortunately, the rest of the costume looks a little old and ragged, and a little wobbly too. There seems to be no eyelid movement, and the stance and texture give it a rather fake-ish look. Luckily, Haruo Nakajima makes up flaws of the suit with his performance. There are also a few scenes where Godzilla flies, and the prop utilized here is relatively immobile, but the smoky breath effect (use to portray lift) is fairly effective. Of course, the scene with Godzilla flying is somewhat unrealistic compared to the rest of the movie, but it is also one of the many aspects that makes this movie unique. Although, it is interesting to ponder how many people caught the foreshadowing of this scene, which occurred during the fourth animation.

Besides the physical monsters, there are several other successes with special effects in this film. The rotoscoping of the thermonuclear ray, though rather simple, has somewhat of a 3d effect this time with its circular swirling motion. Hedorah's eyebeam resembles a very thin, crimson gravity beam (King Ghidorah's beam weapon). The effect is also minimal, but luckily, it works. The necessity to quickly transform from flying form to final form and back presents a difficult illusion. Luckily, the animated, pulsating red glow distracts from any visual flaws that derive from the necessary edits during this transformation effect. There is one major rotoscoping flaw in this film, and that is the electricity that fires between the giant electrodes. Although the pulsating reds due distract somewhat from the beams, it's hard not to notice how cartoonish and zig-zaggy the electricity looks. There is actually some rotoscoping aside from the beams in this movie, early on when an animated Hedorah tadpole makes an appearance. This is probably one of the more effective creatures rendered through traditional animation. Though it has the advantage of being dark, the smooth frame rate is also a plus here. Rotoscoping aside, the miniatures are also worth mentioning. Though their appearance is minimal and concentrated mostly early on during the initial battles, they are fairly detailed. The scene that shows a building under construction melting is a simple, yet realistic illusion. Vehicles, especially military vehicles like the helicopters, are also presented well. The explosions and pyrotechnics accompanying the helicopter crashes are vivid, and the billowing smoke and lapping flames give the illusion of size and power. Backdrops and matting are yet another feature of this film that present excellent illusions. During the final battle, the scenes of the partygoers combined with scenes of Hedorah and the scenes of the JSDF soldiers combined with scenes Hedorah are realistic, and the lack of detail that often accompanies these effects is relatively non-existent. Unfortunately, there are times when the monsters appear either larger or smaller than they should, and this is especially true when the partygoers appear to throw the torches to spots on Hedorah a lot higher than one would expect they could. The use of darker lighting in this film is also an intriguing effect. Not only does it cover some of the visual problems with the use of water on a smaller scale, but the darkness helps to make everything look larger, giving an impression of size unseen in quite some time. One cannot go through the list of special effects without mentioning the sludge. The mixture that is shown on screen is absolutely disgusting: pitch black, glimmering, high-viscosity, unctuous globs of pure grossness that truly enhance the horror of Hedorah's character. The illusion is positively excellent. Finally, the use of certain sound effects is an intriguing aspect of this film. Hedorah's roar, which sounds like a mix between tapes screeching, cats purring, and slime gurgling (although it is doubtful that they derive from these respective sources), makes the character very repugnant and detestable, just as the filmmakers desire. Godzilla's cough: a repetitive, heavy release of air, is a very uncomfortable effect. It makes the audience feel what Godzilla is supposed to be feeling. Hedorah's transformation sound is eerie and spacey, and compliments the strangeness of its character nicely. Silence, though perhaps not a sound effect per se, is also successfully utilized in some scenes such as the initial moments after the explosion that rocked the phone booth. It creates a deep sense of mystery and uncertainty. The special effects, as a whole, are brilliant in their simplicity.

One aspect of this film, which is a concept that is somewhat difficult to describe, is atmosphere. This movie combines a darkness unseen since Godzilla (1954), but also adds a carefree style like some of the later-60's Godzilla movies. The music also creates this eclectic atmosphere, representing the darkness during the Hedorah theme, for example, and representing the carefree style during the contemporary late-60's early-70's themes. It is this fact about the movie that makes it so enjoyable on a personal level. Without the use of lighter styles in order to counteract the darker qualities of this film, the movie would be too dark and difficult to watch. Without the use of darker styles, there would be no moral and no message to this story. Yoshimitsu Banno has succeeded in creating a very unique balancing act.

Music is often touted as one of the negative aspects of the film. Quite the contrary, Riichiro Manabe gives the audience a very unique score, and perhaps it requires an open-minded ear to truly enjoy it. Throughout the film, there are many tracks that deserve recognition. Godzilla's heroic theme is just one. It would be used again in Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973), but this is the movie where it got its start. It is far more grounded in the late-60's early-70's than an Akira Ifukube theme, but it has a certain charm all its own. Hedorah's theme is a very quiet, yet high pitched theme that is has a minimalist approach to the instruments. It creates a very creepy tone to whatever scene it accompanies. The Save the Earth song is very fun to listen to, and it is an enjoyable, upbeat way to start the film. A modified version, which shows up later on in the nightclub scene, is also a great addition. The flying-Godzilla theme, which sounds oddly like a standard, old school superhero theme, also makes an interesting appearance in the track. It is somewhat strange, but it does grow on the viewer, and the use of the track as the movie comes to a close seems appropos. The light percussion that plays when Hedorah attacks the boat early on creates a perfect level of suspense. One theme, which sounds like someone plucking banjo strings, accompanies one of the floating-islands-of-garbage-scenes. The theme is actually rather fitting in a strange way, as its rather unusual, mocking style seems to caricature human folly. The particular style of woodwind instruments and the use of guitars throughout the movie do ground the film in a late-60's early-70's era, but the style is still very enjoyable if one is open to something different. The guitar theme that plays near the end when the party is just starting is somewhat sullen and represents the darker nature of this film, especially due to the fact that the color is faded from the film. However, when Toshio Shiba's character strikes the guitar, and vivid color returns to the screen, it heralds the return of the more carefree qualities of the film, especially with the fun contemporary music that follows. Probably the worst theme of the movie is one that plays during a montage of space, where Akira Yamauchi's character explains that Hedorah arrived on a shooting star. It starts out well with what sounds like xylophones, and fades into a brief string piece. The string piece has a lullaby quality to it, and the overall sound, though not quite out of place, isn't very good. All in all, the film does excel in the music department, as long as the audience does have a more open-minded view about how a Godzilla film should be scored.

Since this review does concern the American International release, it would be wise to briefly discuss the dubbing. As far as dubbing goes, this film actually excels beyond many previous and many subsequent attempts. The tone of the voices fit each character within a certain margin of acceptability, and the voice actors are given dialogue that luckily moves well with the flow of the silenced Japanese dialogue. The only thing that is out of place, at least from a modern perspective, is the pronunciation of Hedorah. In this dub, the monster is pronounced "Hedrah", much like the way Ghidorah used to be pronounced "Ghidrah". It is actually a rather miniscule detail, and this movie, of all the 70's movies (and several 60's movies), has just about the best English audio track.

In the end, Godzilla vs. Hedorah is one of the greats in the series that doesn't get the recognition it should. Of course, the film does cater to a particular taste, and if one cannot find acceptance for a very contemporary early-70's style, then one won't enjoy this film. It is unfortunate that Yoshimitsu Banno's plans for a direct sequel never came to fruition. Fans of the movie will be pleased, however, with the upcoming IMAX project director Yoshimitsu Banno has proposed. Perhaps the style that Godzilla vs. Hedorah fans love so much won't fade with only one movie. Perhaps someday soon, Godzilla will fly again!