Back in the 1970s, the local theater where I lived used to run these special summer matinée series where you got into some older, kid-oriented movie for about a buck. Some weeks, I’d scan the newspaper and be disappointed that it was wussy garbage like Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion or Zebra in the Kitchen (though I do kind of wonder what that zebra was doing in that kitchen). Other weeks were marked by the arrival of films that promised to be well worth an eight year old’s dollar. Obviously, I’m referring to movies like Godzilla vs. Gigan and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.
I always thought I struck it rich when one of those bad boys rolled into town for a Saturday afternoon. The best part was that they showed these same two Godzilla movies over and over under a variety of different titles. I think I went to these movies something like five times a piece over the course of three summers.
It’s against that backdrop of having already seen Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla several times that I confess I still didn’t really understand what was happening (something about a cave, a temple, an ancient prophecy, and a statue of a dog with big floppy ears) in this flick that admittedly goes down much easier than the aforementioned Godzilla vs. Gigan.
Initially we get to see an epic confrontation between Godzilla and his little pal Anguirus. I was a little disturbed to see that there had apparently been some type of falling out between the two since they last battled Gigan and Ghidorah together. I mean, they made a really great team, what with Godzilla single-handedly carrying the load and Anguirus getting his spiny tail kicked all over Monster Island.
This is a pretty brutal bout with Godzilla slamming that poor little loser to the ground again and again with his tail and eventually he breaks Anguirus’ jaw, blood spewing all over, leaving Anguirus to limp away all confused, his ripped up jaw dragging in the dirt.
Now you and I both know that the Big G has a temper, but it just seemed out of character when he punked his little buddy like that for no reason. I was therefore relieved when in the course of their battle, some of Godzilla’s skin got ripped off and gleaming metal was revealed underneath.
While this fake Godzilla (Mechagodzilla) is out and about busting up minor league monsters and oil refineries, there are some odd explosions coming from behind a building nearby. You fans will recognize this as Godzilla’s entrance music.
The two Godzillas face off and in a moment that I’ll remember for far longer than it deserves, the real Godzilla kind of cocks his head to one side as if he’s doing a double take and saying, “What the fudge? If that metal creature is Godzilla, than who am I?” They then proceed to rumble for awhile and eventually Mechagodzilla strips down to his Space Titanium long johns and starts shooting rockets out of his fingers.
They brawl for awhile and Godzilla gets pounded pretty good, but gives about as good as gets, before Mechagodzilla flies away. During the battle, Mechagodzilla gets a flat tire or the alternator goes out and his masters order him back to their secret mountain base.
That’s a nice plot twist since we haven’t seen that particular gimmick (monster controlled by space aliens) since 1972’s Godzilla vs. Gigan when the monsters were under the control of alien cockroaches disguised as humans.
And to be entirely fair, this is different because Mechagodzilla is under the control of alien apes disguised as humans, not alien cockroaches disguised as humans. In this movie, whenever these aliens suffer some type of injury, that part of the body reveals its real form which is a cut-rate ape suit. At least in the last movie they tried to explain why the cockroaches were raising a ruckus on Earth. This time out, they don’t even bother to explain why apes from outer space have built a giant robot in the shape of Godzilla, shipped it here to wreak havoc, and at the same time disguised themselves as human beings.
The highly anticipated final battle between Godzilla and Mechagodzilla also features an appearance by that floppy-eared dog named King Caesar. Somehow the statue has come to life and he and Godzilla work together and manage to defeat Mechagodzilla with an assist from a magic pipe! (Magic pipe? I still don’t understand what’s happening! Calgon take me away!)
The battles in this movie are about the only thing that make it more tolerable than the equally dim-witted Godzilla vs. Gigan. At least in this movie, the music isn’t a monotonous dirge and the battles themselves are filmed at normal speed as opposed to the lumbering slow motion we endured for 45 minutes in the Gigan film.
King Caesar is pathetic though. It looks like Toho just sewed together parts of whatever was left over from all their previous monsters. Conversely, Mechagodzilla looks like a pretty cherry ride and gives off the vibe of a cold, calculating, death machine since he’s made out of shiny metal (I’d hate to be the one that has to wax that thing) and we all know robots are evil. It’s plain to see why Mechagodzilla has enjoyed a pretty successful career and why King Caesar was sent to the pound for the next 30 years after this movie.
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