Godzilla’s Revenge / All Monsters Attack / Oru Kaiju Daishingeki (1969/1971) -*
I’d always had a hard time imagining a Godzilla movie less enjoyable than Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster/Ebirah, Horror of the Deep. Unfortunately, Ishiro Honda and Shinichi Sekizawa had no such difficulty. In 1969, those two men reached down into the Pit of Ultimate Darkness and pulled out Oru Kaiju Daishingeki (in case you were wondering, it means something like “Big Attack By All the Monsters”), which Maron Distribution released stateside two years later as Godzilla’s Revenge.
Probably the nicest thing I can think of to say about this movie is that it isn’t like any of the others. The kicker to that, of course, is that we should all get down on our knees and thank the kami that no one ever did anything like this again (well, no one at Toho, anyway-- some of Daiei’s Gamera flicks are every bit as awful in almost exactly the same way). What makes Godzilla’s Revenge so unique is the fact that half of the movie-- the half with all the monsters in it-- is merely the fantasy of one of the characters. And that right there should tell you what’s really wrong with this film. Tell me, who exactly is likely to spend half of a movie fantasizing about giant monsters? That’s right! An annoying little kid! The annoying little kid in question is a boy named Ichiro (Tomonori Yazaki), whose father drives a freight train, and whose mother works at what could either be a hotel, a restaurant, or a high-class brothel. (It’s probably a hotel.) Ichiro’s big problem in life is another annoying little bastard by the name of Gabera. In fact, the movie opens with Gabera trying to knock Ichiro down the stairs on his way home from school. Gabera and his cronies continue to harass Ichiro all the way home; they taunt him, try to goad him into honking the horn on a sign-painter’s motorcycle, steal his vacuum tube (Ichiro found it by the side of the road, prompting the following surreal line of dialogue: the little girl walking home with him asks [in what is, in the dubbed version, unmistakably the voice of an adult woman], “Why do you want to play with that? It’s dirty...”), and generally make a fool of him. When he finally escapes from Gabera’s crew, Ichiro drops in on his eccentric adult friend, who runs the local toyshop. The Toyshop Guy (Eisei Amamoto, of King Kong Escapes and Message from Space) shows him his new mini-computer, which he seems to have made himself, and which he intends to market to children like Ichiro. Now at this point, I should probably mention that both of Ichiro’s parents often work late, and that this is one of those nights when neither one is going to be around. This is also a good time to mention the fact that Ichiro is obsessed with monsters, particularly with Godzilla and his supporting cast. To pass the time until his parents come home, and inspired by the Toyshop Guy’s computer, Ichiro plays a little game in which he pretends that one of his toys is a computer, which he asks for information about Monster Island.
And wouldn’t you know it, that’s where Ichiro’s little game takes him-- straight to Monster Island, home to all monsters and to easily half the action footage from Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster and Son of Godzilla, with a few scenes spliced in from Destroy All Monsters just for good measure. We see brief establishing shots of Angiras, Manda, and Gorosaurus just kind of hanging around, and then cut to footage of Godzilla kicking the crap out of several Kamakiras (those big mantises from Son of Godzilla), Gai (the giant chicken from Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster), and Kumonga (the giant spider from Son of Godzilla). Ichiro understandably flees from all this chaos, and falls down a hole. After a moment, somebody lowers a rope into the hole, and Ichiro climbs out. His rescuer turns out to be Minya (the titular Son of Godzilla), to the boy’s inestimable delight. And now we come to the very worst thing about this movie, the thing that pushes it into territories of suck otherwise trod only by the very worst Gamera films: Minya talks. He doesn’t just talk, either-- he talks exactly like motherfucking Barney!!!! This is enough to make Minya, who was offensively cute to begin with, outright insufferable. Minya’s life predictably mirrors Ichiro’s-- he has his own bully to deal with, a startlingly dumb-looking monster named Gabera (gee, I didn’t see that coming). Taking on Gabera is the real reason Godzilla (who, thankfully, does not talk) spends so much time giving Minya lessons in the use of his atom-bomb breath. The story arc of the Monster Island scenes has Ichiro helping Minya overcome his trepidation (with a few rehashed fight scenes from earlier movies thrown in to liven up the pace), leading ultimately to a final showdown in which Minya and Godzilla team up to kick Gabera’s infinitely deserving ass.
Meanwhile, in the real world, a couple of bank robbers (Sachio Sakai, from Gorath and Night of the Vampire, and Kazuo Suzuki, from Destroy All Monsters and Toho’s The Invisible Man) have stolen 50 million yen (that’s-- what?-- about $150?), and their path soon intersects Ichiro’s when the boy finds the Stupid Robber’s driver’s license on the floor of the abandoned factory where the children play and the criminals hide. Obviously, the robbers need to kidnap Ichiro in order to get back the license, and with the kid’s parents away at work, it isn’t exactly difficult to do. Inevitably, the Monster Island scenes become a parable for Ichiro’s plight at the hands of the robbers, and just as inevitably, the boy takes inspiration from Minya’s victory over Gabera, and manages both to escape from their clutches and to lead them into the waiting arms of the police.
Finally, the next morning, Ichiro takes on his own Gabera, with results not unlike those achieved by Minya in his daydreams. Interestingly, this fight scene consists almost entirely of a series of still shots; I guess Honda thought jump-cutting through a series of stills was easier than trying to choreograph a fight between children. And just to make sure Gabera’s cronies know he’s a changed kid, Ichiro runs up and honks that sign-painter’s horn, just ‘cause he can.
Who knows, maybe if I were six years old, I’d look at this differently, but from the perspective of my mid-20’s, Godzilla’s Revenge looks pretty fucking awful. (And from what I can remember of my taste in monster movies during my early childhood, I think I’d have found it almost unbearably stupid even then.) Most of the monster footage I’d already seen in the older, better movies from which it was taken, and what little is original to this film is marred by the presence of the vexingly dopey Gabera. Moreover, talking kaiju are always a bad idea, and talking kaiju playing opposite bratty little kids with the voices of adult women are even worse. Godzilla’s Revenge is a movie with only two redeeming features. First, watch it and you’ll finally know the names of all those third-string monsters without having to suffer the pain of reading G-Fan. (The movie’s bad, but it isn’t that bad.) Secondly, you’ll get to hear Minya say, in the voice of Barney, “I’m just sittin’ here lonesome, ‘cause I’ve got no friends.” Just imagine that it really is the Big Purple Colostomy Bag saying that, and you’ll have the strength to survive the next 40 minutes.