Alternative Title: The One with the Big Dumb Godzilla Dropkick
Godzilla vs. Megalon. Here’s a particularly notable one. And I imagine a rather love it or hate it affair.
So the backstory of Godzilla vs. Megalon is that once upon a time, some kid won a design-us-a-monster! contest with Toho, drawing a giant robot suit with a lot of similarities to Ultraman and Mazinger Z for use in a future monster movie. Toho then made this design even more like Ultraman, to the point it didn’t really resemble the original contest design at all anymore. And then they tried to put a movie together around it. Hey, you know what’s really cool? Ultraman. That’s really cool. Maybe we should make a movie like Ultraman.
So you know what the problem is with making something that’s just like something else that’s really cool except your thing isn’t actually that cool? You end up making something that’s just not as good as the original. So this movie kind of kicked around for a while, with nobody really believing that the not-Ultraman was a strong enough character to carry the film, until producer Tomoyuki Tanaka came upon it and had the same thought I often think in the middle of bad movies, church services, and particularly average sessions of coitus: “This would be better with Godzilla in it.”
This wound up being the genius stroke that saved the project. And at least two of my relationships. But at this point, the producers just looked at each other, and decided that the film with all its troubled history had spent long enough in pre-production that it was time to move it right to shooting. So what if they don’t even have a script yet! They’ll figure something out. And Tanaka had already raided his couch cushions for the spare change used for All Monsters Attacks’ budget, then the back seat of his car for the change for Godzilla vs. Hedorah, and they probably weren’t going to be able to get away with making a film so cheap to make its production actually created stacks of yen from thin air again like they did with Godzilla vs. Gigan. So this time, they gave it a big massive budget, but it’s all in Imagibucks, the currency of Pretend Land. And the exchange rate for that with the real world is really low.
Once again, Jun Fukuda’s at the helm, who’s had kind of a spotty track record with Godzilla. We’ve got a film where all they had to go on were storyboards and Fukuda literally had to create the script while they were filming and two of the four monsters in it were stapled onto the plot after the fact. They’ve probably got more of a budget than they did for Godzilla vs. Gigan, but not by much. And they’re needing to get through production incredibly quickly. So, what do they do?
You know how when big actors get roped into projects they know are going to be bad, they start hamming it up all over the place? They figure if they have to make something that will be ill-remembered, they’re at least going to have a lot of goofy fun with it? That’s what we get here. A lot of Godzilla’s movie output has at least a bit of the dumb factor to it. That’s one of the things I love about it. And Godzilla vs. Megalon is the film that embraces that factor most whole-heartedly. You shall see. Oh, you shall see.
The film opens with some nation performing some underground nuclear tests, which creates earthquakes that can be felt on Monster Island. Supposedly far away from its epicenter. Some time later, we get a nice little family playing at a lake in Japan. Baby Rider, played by the same actor who was Ok Kid in Godzilla vs. Hedorah but is explicitly not the same character for that little bit of confusion, is playing on a little pedal boat thing in the lake while his older brother and older brother’s, uh, ‘friend’ enjoy a nice picnic. So, these guys. I don’t think it’s done deliberately, because this movie came out in the 1970s, which was not a time period where people were very open to these types of relationships, and is from Japan, which was not a place where people were very open to these types of relationships. So, even though these are two men that seem incredibly close to each other, seem to be out for a rather intimate personal experience at the start of the film, and both seem to take a father-like relationship to the young boy in their charge, I’m not going to call the relationship what it obviously seems to be, because it was probably not intended on the part of the creators. Let’s just say they’re very Happy.
So, they’re all doing their thing when an earthquake hits. The Happy Pair call Baby Rider back to shore, so earthquake lake stuff doesn’t end up doing whatever to him. But then a whirlpool appears in the lake! And it starts draining! And Baby Rider starts getting sucked in! But luckily, the Happy Pair brought their grappling hook to the picnic. You know, as is traditional. So they grapple hook Baby Rider in, and watch as the lake drains completely into a new crack underneath. Then they’re like ‘huh, that was weird.’ and then they go home, to the Happy Scientist’s lab.Continue reading