INCREDIBLE, UNSTOPPABLE TITANS OF TERROR!
From 2005 to 2007, I frequently reviewed DVDs of daikaiju movie releases for About Horror.com—which has changed formats so that the reviews no longer exist online. I've posted a number of those reviews (as well as a few from G-Fan magazine) at The Blog Where Horror Dwells and set up this page with handy links to them. Since many of the movies have been released under different titles at different times, they are catalogued here by the titles of their respective DVD releases. On each blog page, you may click on the DVD cover art to visit the Amazon.com site for that film. New reviews will be added periodically.

 


ALL MONSTERS ATTACK (1969)

All Monsters Go Home
Welcome to my least favorite Godzilla movie. Ostensibly made for kids, Godzilla's Revenge is unique in that all the monster action occurs within the context of a young boy's dreams. One could go so far as to say that it's a "real world" movie, with Godzilla and the other monsters appearing only as the fantasy characters they actually are..... (Read more.)

   

ATRAGON (1963)

Atlantis Dragon
Seldom seen in the West, Atragon was one of Toho’s most elaborate productions of the early 1960s. Based on Shunro Oshikawa’s 1902 novel of the same name, Shinichi Sekizawa’s screenplay offers a deeply patriotic theme, well-drawn characters, a flying super-submarine, and the inevitable daikaiju (Manda, the sea serpent). Despite some occasionally weak visuals, the film’s top-tier cast, fine direction by Ishiro Honda, and rousing score by Akira Ifukube make for an entertaining hour and a half.... (Read more.)

   

BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE (1959)

Space Wages War on Earth!

This release of Battle in Outer Space is part of Columbia Pictures' Toho Collection three-pack that also features The H-Man and Mothra, all of which were originally released domestically by Columbia in the late 50s/early 60s. The DVD includes both the U.S. and Japanese versions of the film, along with commentary by Ed Godziszewski and Steve Ryfle. The prints for both U.S. and Japanese versions are fairly good, if not excellent. The packaging, unfortunately, is severely lacking.... (Read more.)

   

DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (1968)

The Monsters Are in Revolt...
Destroy All Monsters is probably my second favorite Godzilla movie after the original (though it's certainly neck-and-neck with 1964's Mothra vs. Godzilla). It's the last entry in the Showa era Godzilla films made in the inimitable style of Ishiro Honda's most classic daikaiju outings, and is, in fact, Honda's penultimate directorial job of the Godzilla series. The film is literally a gathering of most of Toho's monsters, and they are given plenty of quality screen time. Similarly, the human cast includes many familiar, noteworthy faces,  (Read more.)

   

DOGORA, THE SPACE MONSTER (1964)

No, Not Dog. Jellyfish. From Outer Space.

With their first-class DVD releases of Varan, The Unbelievable; Matango; and The Mysterians, Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock showed folks on the wrong side of the water just how it ought to be done. Essentially repackaged versions of the Toho Region 2 DVDs, the aforementioned releases have included all the original extra features as well as a choice of English subtitles or dubbing (except for Varan, which offers subtitles only).... (Read more.)

   

GAMERA 1: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE (1995)

No More Mr. Nice Gyaos

Not that the Showa-era Gyaos was particularly nice, but the Heisei version, which makes its first appearance in this film, is quite the nasty critter indeed. And there's more than one of them. For the Heisei Gamera series, the big turtle's origin has been completely reworked; no longer merely a prehistoric giant resurrected by a nuclear bomb, Gamera is the genetically engineered product of an advanced but extinct race that lived 10,000 years ago.... (Read more.)

   

GAMERA 2: THE ADVENT OF LEGION (1996)

Attack of Legion
The second of the Heisei Gamera series advances another step in bringing a semblance of stark reality to daikaiju films, despite its vivid element of fantasy and more complex—and distinctly alien—countenance of Gamera's newest threat. Some comparisons between The Advent of Legion and Godzilla vs. Destroyer, made the previous year, seem inevitable, since both movies feature relatively small insect-like creatures, which swarm the respective title monsters in both films, as well as huge counterparts that engage the title beasts in battle
.... (Read more.)

   

GAMERA 3: THE REVENGE OF IRIS (1999)

Gamera, Absolute Guardian of the Incomplete Struggle for the Awakening of the Revenge of Iris
Yes, Gamera 3 has a crapload of aliases; The Awakening of Iris; The Incomplete Struggle; The Absolute Guardian of the Universe. Revenge of Iris is the official U.S. release title, so for our purposes, we'll go with that. This film seems to be the fan favorite of the Heisei series, and not without good reason (although I marginally prefer both of the other films in the series, as noted in their respective reviews).... (Read more.)

   

GAMERA: THE GIANT MONSTER (1966)

Gam(m)era, the Invincible!

Well, I reckon it's time to take on Gamera, Japan's most famous flame-spewing flying giant turtle. Till now, the original Japanese version has never been available domestically on DVD (though in 2001 Neptune Media released superb editions of both the original Japanese and U.S. versions on VHS; the U.S. version has had a few substandard DVD releases.... (Read more.)

   

GAMERA: THE SUPER MONSTER (1980)

Gamera Is Super Bad

A big old starship—which looks so like an Imperial Star Destroyer from Star Wars that you just know it can't be a friendly thing—comes round the earth and deposits a reasonably hot alien woman named Giruge (Keiko Kudo) in the middle of Japan. She is, in a fact, a minion of the evil space marauder Zanon and has come to eliminate three goody-goody space women named Kilara (Mach Fumiake), Marsha (Yaeko Kojima), and Mitan (Yoko Komatsu)—who, for whatever reason, have sent the bad folk into a tizzy.... (Read more.)

   

GAMERA VS. BARUGON (1966)

Barugon: A Rare Gem

The Shout! Factory releases of the Gamera series are easily among the best—if not the best—of any daikaiju films in the United States. They're reasonably priced, present beautiful, widescreen prints of the original Japanese versions of the movies, and offer several extras—including booklets in the package with additional info on the films, in this case a retrospective of his involvement with Gamera vs. Barugon by star Kojiro Hongo. Furthermore, the upcoming Gamera releases are double features.... (Read more.)

   
 

GAMERA VS. GUIRON (1969)

Attack of the Monsters!
The best thing about Gamera vs. Guiron is that it inspired Bill Gudmundson—illustrious Japanese Giants guy, long-time friend, and former roommate—sometime long or about the late 1970s, to devise a Guiron butter knife, using... yes... an honest-to-god butter knife, sculpting compound, and a spot of paint. Beyond that, I don't know that there's any real need to review this movie. But I will. Briefly. It's like this: Gamera hits the penultimate nadir of the series (yes, I realize what I just wrote, so pipe down).... (Read more.)

   

GAMERA VS. GYAOS (1967)

Return of the Giant Monsters

With the third Gamera film of the Showa era, one can clearly see that, for Daiei Studios, a period of declining budgets and a focus on younger viewers is in the offing. While Gamera vs. Gyaos has more in common with its marginally grimmer-toned predecessors than with the juvenile romps that were to come, budget constraints lend the special effects a cheesier quality than either of the first two films, and the storyline ventures farther than ever before into the domain of the ludicrous.... (Read more.)

   

GAMERA VS. JIGER (1970)

Monster X!
Gamera vs. Jiger is hardly a return to the superior style of earlier Gamera movies such as Gamera vs. Barugon, but something about it seems a little less messed up than the two preceding films in the series (Gamera vs. Viras and Gamera vs. Guiron). Or maybe it's just my imagination. The picture starts out with all of Japan preparing for Expo 70 in Osaka, a landmark event for the country, certainly for its ailing economy. Meantime, out in the remote Pacific, on Wester Island, a giant idol has been found.... (Read more.)

   

GAMERA VS. VIRAS (1968)

Destroy All Planets!

Unbeknownst to its people, the earth is about to come under attack! As a bizarre cluster of striped spheres hurtles toward the unsuspecting planet, Gamera suddenly comes round, pops the spaceship a good one, and down it goes. Before their demise, the aliens on board report back to their home world that they have an enemy on Earth—the big flying turtle. Cut to Japan, where we meet Jim (Carl Craig) and Masao (Tôru Takatsuka), a couple of precocious Boy Scouts.... (Read more.)

   

GAMERA VS. ZIGRA (1971)

Just Another Talking Space Shark

This double-feature package is the last of Shout! Factory's Gamera releases—well-produced, as is typical of these, though the movies themselves are anything but the cream of the crop. Gamera vs. Zigra, produced by Daiei in 1971, was the first of the Showa-era Gamera films to be released on our shores directly to video in the 1980s, with no prior theatrical or television release. Daiei ended up going bankrupt shortly after the film's completion, and it was released in Japan by Dainichi Eihai.... (Read more.)

   

GAPPA, THE TRIPHIBIAN MONSTER (1967)

If At First You Don't Succeed, Triphibian

In the mid 1960s, Nikkatsu Productions endeavored to capitalize on the giant monster craze, which at the time was at its height, with something of a satire. Gappa takes most of the clichéd elements of the standard giant monster film—an exotic South Pacific setting, a greedy exploiter who wants to capitalize on the discovery of the critter, major city destruction, and all-out efforts by the military to stop the monsters—and delivers a package that mostly succeeds, both as send-up and traditional daikaiju fare.... (Read more.)

   

GHIDRAH, THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER (1964)

Three Giant Monsters: The Greatest Battle on Earth

For better or for worse, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster made for the single biggest directional shift in the history of Godzilla films, as in this movie, the biggest, baddest, and meanest monster of them all began his unlikely transformation into a heroic, if not exactly all-around good dude.... (Read more.)

   

GODZILLA (1954)

Godzilla: The Original Japanese Masterpiece

The original, 1954 Japanese version of Godzilla is surely my favorite monster movie ever. Maybe even my favorite movie ever. While most westerners equate Godzilla movies with hokey monsters, model cities, and bad dubbing, the original Japanese film transcends the genre that birthed it, and in its day, transformed that genre into something altogether new and different. Countless words have been written about Godzilla being a metaphor for the nuclear horror Japan experienced at the close of World War II, so I'll not belabor that point.... (Read more.)

   

GODZILLA (1954)
The Criterion Collection

The Criterion Collection DVD release is a true masterpiece. The Japanese and U.S. versions come on two separate discs, and each film features a commentary track by noted author/film historian David Kalat. Extra features include interviews with actor Akira Takarada, Godzilla suit actor Haruo Nakajima, effects technicians Yoshio Irie and Eizo Kaimai, soundtrack composer Akira Ifukube, and film critic Tado Sato. The prints of both versions have been painstakingly restored to near-mint condition, and the soundtracks have never been more impressive.... (Read more.)

   

GODZILLA 2000 (1999)

Get Ready to Crumble!

After the universally panned Tristar Godzilla (1998), Toho decided to correct some of Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin’s mistakes. They only partially succeeded. Godzilla 2000 returns Godzilla to his rightful place as a rampaging, powerful, radiation-scarred daikaiju, rather than an oversized, cowardly iguana, but—unfortunately—it also features long stretches of uninspired people scenes and a monstrous opponent that fails to impress.... (Read more.)

   

GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE (1989)
Godzilla vs. Big-Ass Plant

The second of the Heisei-era Godzilla films, Godzilla vs. Biollante is among the last of the Godzilla films never to have had a legitimate DVD release in the United States until very recently. The Echo Bridge DVD is just what the doctor ordered — incredibly inexpensive (I got it for $4.99 via Amazon.com), decent quality, with a very a nice behind-the-scenes feature. The audio options include the standard English-language dub as well as the original Japanese soundtrack, with two subtitle options.... (Read more.)

   

GODZILLA VS. DESTROYAH (1995)

A Major Monster Meltdown!

"I've always gotten a chuckle out of the name "Destroyah," since it's simply a too-literal translation of the Japanese Katakana characters that represent the English word "Destroyer." Toho tends to trademark its monster names using whatever odd spellings its resident linguists come up with, so "Destroyah" actually is Toho's official name for Godzilla's ultimate foe of the Heisei series. But because I find it all a silly thing, you will never see me refer to the monster as anything but "Destroyer"—which is, after all, what the damn name means...." (Read more.)

   

GODZILLA VS. GIGAN (1972)

Godzilla on Monster Island

A cartoonist and his friends discover that a Godzilla-related theme park is actually a front for space aliens bent on world domination. When the cartoonist plays an audio tape stolen from the aliens, Godzilla and Angilas, on Monster Island, detect it and set out to discover the source. Meanwhile, the aliens summon King Ghidorah and a new monster, Gigan, from outer space to wreak havoc on Earth.... (Read more.)

   

GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH (1971)

Hedorah, the Smog Monster!

A gigantic, tadpole-like creature appears in polluted Japanese coastal waters, and Dr. Yano, a biologist, ventures underwater to investigate the horror. His encounter with the monster proves nearly fatal, for the creature burns him with an emission of concentrated sulfuric acid. Soon, Hedorah, as the thing is called, metamorphoses into a gigantic amphibian that consumes the very pollution emitted by Japanese factories.... (Read more.)

   

GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH (1991)

Drat! It's Ghidorah Again!
Back in 1991, Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah created something of a stir on this side of the water because there were rumblings that the film had distinct anti-American overtones. However, it would be several years before it received a domestic release (which was straight to video), and overall, the American audience found the whole fussy business quite anticlimactic. For fans, the far bigger deal about Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah was Ghidorah's new origin and the convoluted storyline, which took the theme of time travel to new heights of ridiculousness....
(Read more.)

   

GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA (1974)

Bionic or Cosmic?

The first of Godzilla's romps with his mechanized counterpart, the original Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla centers on—surprise!—space aliens bent on conquering the earth. These fellows look as if they stepped out of an amateur Planet of the Apes costume contest, but MechaGodzilla himself is one of Toho's most impressive beasties. The Sony DVD features a beautiful widescreen presentation, with a choice of English dubbing or the original Japanese soundtrack with subtitles.... (Read more.)

   

GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA II (1993)

A Kinder, Gentler MechaGodzilla

"MechaGodzilla II" is no relation of Godzilla's mechanical doppelganger from 1974's Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla and its 1975 sequel, Terror of MechaGodzilla. The original was a destructive tool designed by space aliens intent on conquering Earth, while this one is the brainchild of G-Force, the agency charged with protecting human civilization from Godzilla. The Sony DVD offers a good widescreen print, with a choice of English dubbing or original Japanese language with subtitles.... (Read more.)

   

GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA (2002)

GxMG: And Another One...?

Like the rest of the Millennium Godzilla series, Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla offers a new origin for the "current" Godzilla, ignoring everything in the series except the original 1954 film. Godzilla appears less impressive than in the previous, very enjoyable Masaaki Tezuka outing, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, the suit being overly bulky with a disproportionately small head. The new MechaGodzilla ("Kiryu"), however, appears both impressive and believable—at least in context.... (Read more.)

   

GODZILLA VS. MEGAGUIRUS (2002)

GxM: Big Bugs From the 8th Dimension

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus presents a true "alternate universe" Godzilla, in which Japan's social, economic, and technological development has been shaped by the threat of the monster. The capital of Japan is not Tokyo but Osaka, nuclear power has been outlawed, and the perfection of plasma energy is the new frontier of science. In hopes of destroying Godzilla, scientists create a weapon that produces a miniature black hole, but its use brings unforeseen consequences.... (Read more.)

   

GODZILLA VS. MEGALON (1973)

At Long Last, Megalon

For way too many years, Godzilla fans have eagerly awaited an officially sanctioned U.S. DVD release of Godzilla vs. Megalon — ironically, one of the most reviled entries in the Godzilla series. Till now, no licensed U.S. release has existed, so fans who have never availed themselves to the Japanese Region 2 DVD edition have made do with bootlegs; unauthorized pan-and-scan versions...." (Read more.)

   

GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA: BATTLE FOR THE EARTH (1992)

Godzilla Battles for the Earth

The Heisei-era Godzilla films (1984–1995) began on a promising note, with Return of Godzilla (a.k.a. Godzilla 1985), which—though flawed—unfolded as much like a contemporary disaster film as a monster story. The following film, Godzilla vs. Biollante, was equally flawed, but it ventured into some new territory for the series; featured a redesigned, fierce-looking Godzilla; and brought the suitmation technique for bringing monsters to life to a more sophisticated level. Then...Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah happened.... (Read more.)

   

GODZILLA MOTHRA KING GHIDORAH:
GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK
(2001)

GMK: Meanest Godzilla Ever

Nearly fifty years after the first Godzilla laid waste to Tokyo, a new one rises from the sea—not merely a rampaging, radioactive prehistoric horror, but a demon animated by the souls of those killed in the Pacific during World War II. Three guardian monsters from ancient legend—Baragon, Mothra, and King Ghidorah—appear and engage Godzilla in battle, intent on saving Japan from total devastation.... (Read more.)

   

GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN (1955)

Godzilla #2: Gigantis, the Fire Monster

The first of many sequels to the original Godzilla, this relatively obscure film suffers in comparison to its predecessor, yet still stands out as an innovative entry in the series. In 1955, Toho was just cutting its teeth in the daikaju genre, but managed to produce a film with some remarkable special effects work and atmospheric cinematography. Viewed in context, Godzilla Raids Again remains a treat for Godzilla fans.... (Read more.)

   

GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER (1966)

Ebirah, Horror From the Deep
"Since the late 1960s, when Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (Nankai no Daiketto) first aired on U.S. television—there was never a domestic theatrical release—the movie opened with footage from later in the film of the title’s sea monster (uber-lobster Ebirah) destroying a yacht, ostensibly owned by Yata, the brother of our young protagonist Ryôta. However, it’s clear that it’s the same yacht later commandeered by Ryôta because its name, Yahlen, is clearly visible on the hull...." (Read more.)

   

GODZILLA VS. SPACE GODZILLA (1994)

Godzilla Clone From Outer Space
"
Over the years, Toho has presented several "Godzilla vs. Godzilla" scenarios, ranging from the various MechaGodzillas to Biollante (a "one-third Godzilla" amalgamation) and even to the essence-stealing Orga in Godzilla 2000. Space Godzilla is the most overt of the Godzilla clones, having been created by G-cells carried into space either by Biollante or Mothra. The monster's design is impressive enough, with a distinctly malevolent countenance, clearly based on Godzilla's features. " (Read more.)

   

GODZILLA: TOKYO S.O.S. (2003)

SOS! More MechaGodzilla!

Godzilla: Tokyo SOS is a direct sequel to Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla (2002), as well as the original Mothra (1963), and features the return of “Kiryu”—the fourth incarnation of Godzilla’s mechanical counterpart. After a virtual stalemate between Godzilla and Kiryu in the previous film, Mothra appears to join in an epic battle between the monsters, and Tokyo is once again in a big heap of trouble.... (Read more.)

   

THE H-MAN (1958)

Molecular Man Terrorizes the World!

At long last, Toho's 1958 foray into the more horrific side of science-fiction, The H-Man, is now available on DVD, as part of the Columbia Toho Collection package that also features Battle in Outer Space and Mothra. The story is openly based on the 1954 Lucky Dragon incident—oftentimes referred to as the third nuking of Japan—when a Japanese fishing boat strayed into waters contaminated by nuclear fallout, resulting in the crew succumbing to radiation sickness.... (Read more.)

   

INVASION OF THE ASTRO MONSTER (1965)

Monster Zero!

When I was a youngster, I caught the double-feature release of War of the Gargantuas/Monster Zero at our local theater, and the pair made a more powerful impression on me than just about any other film experience to that time. Perhaps strangely, given my special fondness for Godzilla, I then preferred War of the Gargantuas—and still do, for that matter. Like all of Toho's fantasy-oriented daikaiju films of the 1960s, Monster Zero is quite silly, and ever since childhood, I've preferred my monsters played straight, as in the original 1954 Godzilla.... (Read more.)

   

KING KONG ESCAPES (1967)

King Kong vs. MechaniKong

A Toho/Rankin-Bass co-production, King Kong Escapes offers an imaginative, engaging story, with some surprisingly good special effects, and a first-rate musical score by Akira Ifukube. This is the first and only movie to feature MechaniKong, one of Toho's most popular creations. With a few nods to the original Kong as well as the Rankin-Bass cartoon that spawned it, King Kong Escapes makes for some of the best escapist fun anyone can have at the movies.... (Read more.)

   

KING KONG VS. GODZILLA (1962)

Godzilla vs. Raggedy Ape

One of the all-time classic monster duels comes to DVD—a beautiful print presented in anamorphic widescreen. Unlike the recent Sony and Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock releases of Toho classics, which include the original Japanese versions, this Universal release offers only the American version produced by John Beck in 1963 (Universal owns the rights, which frees them from having to wrangle with Toho for licensing).... (Read more.)

   

LATITUDE ZERO (1969)

Horrors From Bloodrock

Over the past few years, Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock has treated tokusatsuphiles to some mighty fine goodies, and its release of Latitude Zero has been among my most anticipated. I first saw this 1969 Toho film in August, 1978, during a memorable visit with Japanese Giants guys, Ed Godziszewski and Bill Gudmundson, and I was immediately taken with its action-packed storyline, colorful cinematography, and superb musical score.... (Read more.)

   

MATANGO (1962)

Attack of the Mushroom People

Based on the William Hope Hodgson short story "A Voice in the Night," this 1962 Toho horror classic could almost be titled "Gilligan's Island Goes to Hell." Seven shipwrecked survivors find themselves on an island haunted by the ghosts of previous wrecks—or so it seems. The castaways soon discover that the crew of one abandoned vessel was conducting experiments with a mutated fungus known as "Matango"—and may not actually be dead but weirdly transformed.... (Read more.)

   

MONSTER X STRIKES BACK (2008)

Attack the Summit of Bad Actors!

Back in the early days of my very odd personal development, I was introduced to Greg Shoemaker's Japanese Fantasy Film Journal by way of issue #4—late 1970, there or about. In its pages, I found mention of a creature named Guilala, which was unknown to me at the time. Fascinated, I wrote letters to Mr. Shoemaker and other fans of my acquaintance, trying to determine just who or what this Guilala actually was. "Oh, that's The X From Outer Space," came at least one reply.... (Read more.)

   

MOTHRA (1961)

Ravishing the Universe for Love!

Mothra has always been one of my least favorite of Toho's giant monsters. It's a bug; depending on its incarnation, either an unremarkable, big honking caterpillar or a terribly unreal-looking giant moth. Yet Mothra has also starred in some of Toho's best Showa-era epics, from the original Mothra to Mothra vs. Godzilla (1963). Later incarnations of the critter, such as those in Godzilla - Mothra - King Ghidorah: All-Out Monster Attack and Godzilla: Tokyo SOS have been outright impressive.... (Read more.)
   

MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA (1963)

The Egg Belongs to Mothra...the Mighty Thing!

Mothra vs. Godzilla features one of Godzilla's finest screen appearances, with human drama and spectacular monster action coming together to create a near-flawless daikaiju picture. Classic Media presents an excellent DVD release, with both the original Japanese version and the 1964 American International Pictures release (under the original A.I.P. title Godzilla vs. the Thing). This film is one of the few Toho monster fests whose American release version surpasses the original.... (Read more.)

   

THE MYSTERIANS (1957)

The Mysterians Want Our Women!

Almost fifty years after its original release, The Mysterians (Chikiyu Boeigun) has landed in America on DVD, courtesy of Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock, not only uncut, but in its original widescreen format (2.35:1). And unlike the Sony 50th anniversary releases of numerous Godzilla films, this package contains a number of special features (which are reportedly identical to the Toho [region 2] release).... (Read more.)

   

RETURN OF GODZILLA (1984)

Japan's Urban Renewal Program

So far, I've reviewed only daikaiju films that are available domestically on DVD; however, there are a couple in the Godzilla series that, due to complicated licensing situations, have never been released in the U.S. on DVD. Godzilla 1985 (a.k.a. Godzilla and Return of Godzilla) is the most significant of them, in that it launched the Heisei Godzilla series (the films from 1984 to 1995) and was a direct sequel to the original Godzilla (1954), ignoring all the prior films and creating an entirely new continuity..... (Read more.)

   

RODAN, THE FLYING MONSTER (1956)

Thundering Out of Unknown Skies!

Much like Godzilla Raids Again (Gigantis, the Fire Monster), the American version of Rodan, the Flying Monster, released by King Brothers in 1957, was substantially re-edited, with obligatory scenes of atomic tests inserted at the beginning and endless narration by Chinese actor Keye Luke added to the soundtrack. Numerous scenes were re-arranged or excised altogether, occasionally to good effect, though mostly to the film's detriment.... (Read more.)
 

   

SON OF GODZILLA (1967)

Tadzilla?!

A group of Japanese scientists set up a station on Solgel Island to conduct weather control experiments. However, an accident causes their experiment to go out of control, and several gigantic, mutated preying mantises are created. In turn, they unearth a gigantic egg, from which an odd reptilian creature emerges—Minira, a.k.a. Minya, the son of Godzilla (once dubbed "Tadzilla" by Forry Ackerman in the pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland, and the name stuck).... (Read more.)

   

SPACE AMOEBA (1970)

Yog, Monster From Space

Better known as Yog, Monster From Space, this Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock DVD release is another welcome addition to its expanding daikaiju library. With a healthy complement of extra features, it features a beautiful, widescreen print and a choice of the original Japanese soundtrack with subtitles or English dubbing—though not the Titra dub that accompanied the 1971 American International release of Yog; this is the inferior international dub created in Hong Kong.... (Read more.)

   

TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA (1975)

Those Black Hole Guys Are At It Again

After a string of juvenile, budget-strapped Godzilla movies in the early 1970s, the big G's 15th film was touted as a "return to greatness," with veteran director Ishiro Honda at the helm and maestro Akira Ifukube providing the score. Without question, the film has more going for it than several of Godzilla's previous outings, but as for a "return to greatness," well...it just kind of ain't. It is, overall, an entertaining if still highly juvenile monster romp.... (Read more.)

   

VARAN, THE UNBELIEVABLE (1958)

Daikaiju Baran...The Unbelievable

One of Toho's most obscure giant monster flicks, the original Japanese version of Varan, The Unbelievable has long been an object of desire for collectors. The Tokyo Shock DVD presents the original black-and-white film, uncut (sans Myron Healy, who starred in the 1962 American version), in anamorphic widescreen, with numerous extras, including an abridged, alternately scored version originally made for Japanese television release.... (Read more.)

   

WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966)

The Frankenstein Brothers

Over the years, the terms most often used by reviewers to describe War of the Gargantuas are "cheesy," "tedious," "insipid," "goofy," and so forth, though genre fans often rate the movie relatively high on the daikaiju scale. Me, I put it right at the top of the daikaiju scale, and I'll unabashedly state that it's one of my all-time favorite monster movies. I would be hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable way to spend an hour and a half or so.... (Read more.)

   

WAR IN SPACE (1977)

Mr. Pyrotechnics in Outer Space

Sitting down to watch The War in Space—a.k.a. "Star Wars in Japan"—was actually kind of cool because, even after all these years, I had never made it through the entire picture before. Way back when, I'd started it a time or two, but in my impatient youth, I couldn't get through the first 15 minutes without either yawning or rolling my eyes. The movie is more or less a rehash of every other Toho alien invasion movie ever made, and borrows very heavily from 1963's Atragon—with a dash of Toei's Space Cruiser Yamato for good measure.... (Read more.)

   

YONGARY, MONSTER FROM THE DEEP (1967)

Yongary's Got Seoul

Unlike 1999's Yonggary (a.k.a. Reptilian), which was so awful as to be unwatchable, the original 1967 Yongary definitely falls into the so-awful-it's-fun category. It's a low-budget South Korean daikaiju film wannabe featuring a goofy dancing monster (whose open mouth frequently reveals a metal flame-shooting nozzle); cheap but occasionally compelling special effects; and several nondescript characters, most of whom are never named.... (Read more.)

   
Stephen Mark Rainey is author of the novels Dark Shadows: Dreams of the Dark (with Elizabeth Massie), Balak, The Lebo Coven, Blue Devil Island, and The Nightmare Frontier; the short story collections Fugue Devil & Other Weird Horrors, The Last Trumpet, Legends of the Night, and the forthcoming Other Gods; and over 80 works of short fiction. He achieved questionable infamy and absolutely no fortune as editor of Deathrealm magazine, and has edited the anthologies Deathrealms, Song of Cthulhu, and Evermore (with James Robert Smith).

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