Godzilla Raids Again/ Mothra Vs. Godzilla (DVD-2007)
Reviewed by Dennis Kwiatkowski
recent release on DVD of Gojira, the masterful original Japanese
version of Godzilla, has now led to the release of special editions of two more
films in the Godzilla series: The 1955 Godzilla Raids Again and the 1964 film,
Mothra vs. Godzilla.
Godzilla Raids Again
is the rarely seen first sequel to the original Godzilla film. It is the only
Godzilla sequel to have been shot in black and white. Godzilla Raids Again was rushed into production to capitalize on Godzilla’s
success (in the same way that the 1933 Son of Kong was rushed through production
to capitalize on the success King Kong which had been released earlier that year). Godzilla’s Raids was released in
Japan in 1955, just a year after the first Godzilla.
The film didn’t arrive in the United States until 1959—and then, in a decidedly confusing re-edited English-dubbed version
entitled Gigantis: The Fire Monster.
The DVD of
Godzilla Raids Again contains both the Japanese version of the film and the American
release. The eminently sensible Japanese version finds two young pilots stranded
on an island where they encounter a battle between two giant monsters: Angurus, a spiny sort of giant porcupine/opossum and
Godzilla. But Godzilla died on the ocean floor—decimated by the Oxygen
Destroyer, in the original Godzilla film.
So the experts conclude this must be another surviving member of his species—and they refer to the giant beast
as Godzilla throughout the film. He looks slightly different—his teeth
point outward and his dorsal fins fail to glow when he emits his fire ray. But
it is clearly Godzilla (and his appearance tends to change somewhat from film to film anyway).
this because, for some reason, the American version insists on calling him Gigantis—and that film version keeps changing
the name of Angurus, as well. No matter, the audience gets to see the two immense
monsters wreak lots of havoc and damage on Japanese cities before their battle is finally resolved. Godzilla’s director, Ishiro Honda, and Godzilla’s composer, Akira Ifukube, did not return for
Godzilla Raids Again, and the film is lesser because of that fact. Godzilla’s movements are a bit two fast—not lumbering like in the original film. And Angurus looks like something out of the UltraMan TV series. Still,
the film has a decent number of striking moments and it is such a rarity that it is worth checking out. A wonderful featurette The Art of Suit Acting, which chronicles
the actors who donned the Godzilla suit for the various films, is a terrific extra feature as is the superlative commentary
track by Godzilla authorities Steve Ryfle and friends.
is the release on DVD of Mothra vs. Godzilla, which many consider to be the best
of the Godzilla sequels. The story concerns a gigantic egg which washes ashore. It turns out it belongs to the giant caterpillar/butterfly Mothra, who wants it back. Greedy promoters, in the meantime have turned the egg into an amusement park attraction. To make matters worse, a reawakened Godzilla tramples across Japan and is headed straight for the egg.
The Mothra vs. Godzilla DVD contains, again, both the Japanese and American release versions. The Japanese version is in its original Toho-Scope (a widescreen Cinemasope process) while the American
version (called, for some reason, Godzilla vs. The Thing, is in the standard flat
print ratio of the 1960s. Mothra vs. Godzilla
also features those two tiny mystical twin fairies who appear in several Godzilla films and in the original Mothra film, and who are always singing songs to Mothra. For her
part, Mothra, as a giant moth or butterfly, is quite a formidable foe and a worthy adversary for Godzilla. The film was directed by Ishiro Honda, who directed both the original Godzilla
and Mothra films. Music is by the
great Godzilla composer, Akira Ifukube, and the contributions of the two men raise the status of this film. There is real poignancy to Mothra’s presence in the film and film’s theme of the misuse of
nuclear energy could not be clearer. An outstanding film commentary by Godzilla
experts Ed Godziszewski and Steve Ryfle and a informative featurette tribute to composer Akira Ifukube add even greater value
to the set.
Both of these
new handsomely packaged DVD sets are from Classic Media with prints of the films directly from the Toho vaults. For quality, the edge goes to Mothra vs. Godzilla, but either
set is bound to please and add to the enduring legend of Godzilla.