Today’s Random Tokusatsu: Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971)

Today’s selection: Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971, dir. Yoshimitsu Banno)

Subgenre: Kaiju

Available from: Sony

There are few directors to only direct a single Godzilla movie (seven of twenty-nine pictures), and they align well with the films that tend to be the most controversial. One of the most oft maligned is Godzilla vs. Hedorah, for the very reason that I adore the movie: it’s completely insane. This is not flash-in-the-pan crazy, like the comic book bubbles of Godzilla vs. Gigan or the flying kick of Godzilla vs. Megalon; this movie is pervasively dropping acid in every sense of the word. The plot synopsis is simple: Godzilla fights a blob monster from space that feeds on pollution. That alone seems to vindicate that it’s a movie for hippies with a pro-environment message for the kids, but to stop there would be to ignore the animated inserts, the psychedelic dance party complete with bad trip, the introduction of the token child to the Godzilla franchise (we get the term “Kenny” from this movie), the people getting eaten alive by pollution, and the fact that Godzilla can fly. If you haven’t seen the movie, that might sound strange. It will continue to after viewing it as well.

The legacy of this giant WTF of a film is wide, from giving us an iconic monster (seen later in Godzilla Island and of course Final Wars), to the intro song “Save the Earth” being used for the second Atari/Pipeworks Godzilla game’s title, to the weird nightclub sequence being reproduced in Ghastly Prince Enma Burning Up, to countless hours of fans debating what the deal was with the orbs that Godzilla tore out of Hedorah’s body (they were eyeballs, btw). Yoshimitsu Banno certainly hasn’t been allowed back near the franchise since, though he did propose a 3D Imax feature a few years back, and is currently set as a producer for the upcoming Legendary movie. Far out, man…

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