SciFi Japan


    ALL MONSTERS ATTACK and TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA are now available as part of Classic Media`s GODZILLA COLLECTION DVD box set. The two movies will be sold separately in 2008. © 2007 Classic Media, Inc./© 1969, 1975 Toho Co., Ltd.

    The Classic Media Godzilla Collection is Complete Author: John “Dutch” DeSentis Source: Classic Media, Inc. Official site: Godzilla on DVD So here we are, just over one year since the release of Classic Media’s GOJIRA/GODZILLA Special Edition. Since then we have seen the release of no less than four Showa Godzilla movies— all given deluxe treatment with dual versions of each film plus special features. Now with the Christmas holiday approaching, the release of Classic Media’s Godzilla Collection box-set has heralded the final two DVDs in the catalog. ALL MONSTERS ATTACK (Oru Kaijiu Daishingeki aka: Godzilla’s Revenge, 1969) and TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA (Mechagojira no Gyakushu, 1975) come with the same great attention to detail as the previous discs. Although the fact that they are only available for now in the Godzilla Collection box-set may be a turn off to people that bought all the other discs already, fear not as they are expected to hit the shelves separately shortly into the new year.


    As said before, both DVDs are presented in uniform with the last four releases and include commentaries from noted Godzilla experts as the main special features with the additional featurettes from Ed Godziszewski and Bill Gudmundson that have been standard. For ALL MONSTERS ATTACK, the job of handling the commentary went to the Richard Pusateri. Richard is an accomplished journalist who has written for many publications but his biggest claim to fame may well be the coining of the name “GINO” (Godzilla In Name Only) for the TriStar Godzilla nearly ten years ago. Pusatari sets up from the start that while ALL MONSTERS ATTACK is considered among the worst and most juvenile of the Godzilla series, the movie itself is worthy of reappraisal and should be judged on it’s own merits and not as part of the series as a whole. Indeed, one can find much to enjoy in the film itself and despite the decidedly mono-toned deliver of the commentary (a proverbial “yin” to David Kalat’s “yang” commentary for GHIDORAH THE THREE HEADED MONSTER if you will), Richard keeps the viewer in tune to the movie and makes sure to point out it’s strengths and faults…even if adding a bit of humor to it.

    ALL MONSTERS ATTACK photos courtesy of Classic Media. © 1969 Toho Co., Ltd.

    One of the most wonderfully unique things about ALL MONSTERS ATTACK is how it is meant to be a “real life” Godzilla movie. That is, the movie obviously takes place out of the Toho/Godzilla universe and is set in the real world industrial Kawasaki City. The character of Ichiro vividly represents what must have been the standard for young children raised in dual income families where it wasn’t uncommon to have both parents working long hours thus leaving children to entertain themselves. In this story, Ichiro’s father, played by veteran Toho actor Kenji Sahara, is employed with a railroad company while his mother appears to work at some kind of a restaurant or establishment of that kind. He is tormented on a seemingly daily basis by a group of his young peers led by a bully named Gabara. Ichiro escapes his daily bullying and loneliness via “situational narcolepsy”, as Richard Pusateri puts it, in which he is transported to Monster Island where he befriends Minya: The Son of Godzilla. By not-so-sheer coincidence, Minya is also the subject of a daily beating courtesy of his own Gabara, who on Monster Island happens to be a large, mutated, toad aberration (and if there is any doubt as to that fact, just take a look at early conceptual designs for the creature!). Through watching Godzilla vanquish foe after foe and Minya stand up to Gabara, Ichiro is able to defeat his own rivals in the form of the two knucklehead bank-robbers and the bully schoolchildren. Rounding out the biographies of the “Godzilla Fathers” is a featurette on Ishiro Honda. Aptly titled “The Soul of Godzilla”, it is actually quite fitting that his biography be included on this DVD considering what he was able to accomplish with the subject matter. Honda had taken the impossible concept of a giant, radioactive mutation burning Tokyo to the ground and made it believable with his documentary-like style of filmmaking no doubt inspired by his horrific experiences in the war. In this movie, he again makes the impossible believable, following up the spectacular DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (Kaiju Soshingeki, 1968) with a movie that, despite being full of stock footage monster battles, succeeds in it’s own right. Also included in the special features of both DVDs are the standard image and poster galleries. There is also a trailer for the entire collection of Classic Media Godzilla DVDs at the beginning of the discs which we have seen before. As for the prints, the American version of ALL MONSTERS ATTACK is a nice, bright transfer, but one noticeable gaffe with the print as a whole is the fact that the soundtrack (music, sound effects, dialog, etc) suffers from a noticeable hissing which seems to persist throughout the movie. While it is not unbearable, it is nonetheless a distraction from the decidedly enjoyable dubbing that we have all known and loved. However, if something such as that is enough to turn you off from buying the DVD, then maybe the Japanese print will cause you to reconsider. It is no secret that Toho has done an INCREDIBLE job of preserving just about every single one of their golden age movies (the print of KING KONG VS GODZILLA being the notable exception) on Region 2. ALL MONSTERS ATTACK looks simply incredible. It is quite fascinating how one’s opinion of what is considered the worst of the series can be altered by viewing the movies in vivid anamorphic widescreen and color. What is great (for better or worse!) is that the subtitled print translates the original song at the beginning of the movie, called “March of the Monsters”. For the sake of reference, the lyrics are translated as: GO! GO! 1, 2, 3! 3, 4, 5, 6! 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8! Gyaaa! Marching of Mr. Monsters with style. Destroy everything! Ghooo! Ghooo! Godzilla fires radioactivity… Mi, Mi, Minilla, poo poo poo… (Authors note: I have no clue what that is supposed to mean. One can only guess…) Bang Crash! Bang Crash! They destroy everything! Sorry, sorry, but living is hard for us also… (Final part un-translated) Also watch for the politically incorrect translation of Marchan the Dwarf as “Ma-Chan the Midget” in the credits. Another possible complaint might be with the placement of the subtitles. Some of lines tend to start a bit high up and bleed onto the actual picture screen. With so much space on the bottom of the screen in the widescreen bars, it would have been better to place them lower. Also something of an oddity is when one accesses either version of the film from the menu, there is a brief clip of Angilas roaring from GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN! It is unknown who was doing quality control that day. Other than that, it is hard to find things to complain about considering that Classic Media didn’t even have to go through the trouble of making available the Japanese prints of each film.


    TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA photos courtesy of Classic Media. © 1975 Toho Co., Ltd.

    The DVD release for TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA is also a knockout. What will appeal most to fans on this one is the fact that the American version is NOT the heavily edited Bob Conn version that has been seen on video over the years. That’s right, after many years of circulating on the bootleg market, fans can finally see an official release of the UPA version of TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA complete with the added prologue consisting of footage culled from movies such as ALL MONSTERS ATTACK and INVASION OF ASTRO MONSTER. The prologue itself is in a different aspect ratio and of considerably less quality picture-wise than the rest of the movie. The reason it seems is because Classic Media took the time to reconstruct the English print using the superior Japanese print but still retaining the familiar dub. They could have simply opted to go the route that they did with their release of MOTHRA VS GODZILLA and keep an inferior print with the same aspect ratio to be consistent, but decided to throw the fans a bone. Some might argue that it cheapens the charm. Some might be happy to see a crystal clear copy with the dub. That is all up to one’s personal preference. The soundtrack does not suffer from the same noticeable hiss as on ALL MONSTERS ATTACK. While there is some aging on the track, it doesn’t seem to be as prevalent. As for the Japanese print, there isn’t much more that can be said than what has been said about previous prints. It is every bit as gorgeous and vivid as the other 60s movies. Even the most jaded of viewers should have no problem finding enjoyment in the Japanese prints of any of these releases. The only real complaint here is the same as with ALL MONSTERS ATTACK regarding the placement of the English subtitles. Supplying the commentary on TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA went to Keith Aiken and Bob Johnson. As a whole, the commentary ranks up there among the best in the entire collection thus far. It is informative, straight to the point, and does a great job allowing the viewer to watch the movie with the perspective of the times. And just what were the times? Two of the four founding fathers of Godzilla had returned to the series: Ishiro Honda and Akira Ifukube. This was no doubt an attempt by producer Tomoyuki Tanaka to restore somewhat of a lost luster to the faltering series. Indeed, the movie feels like a grand, golden age Toho movie shoe-horned into the restrictive cage of the economically strangled 1970s. Going past that, TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA is a very enjoyable movie, and certainly one that will gain additional praise when viewed in such a way as this DVD presents. The special featurette on this disc is called “The Women of Godzilla”. To be completely honest, this is one of the better featurettes as it presents an interesting look into the heroines of Toho’s Showa era. It is actually a great compliment to the Ishiro Honda documentary on the ALL MONSTERS ATTACK disc seeing as Honda liked to represent women as powerful and strong members of society which was very much against the norm at a time when cinema women were mostly damsels in distress. Classic Media has now fulfilled it’s promise to not only improve upon their old discs but also to go above and beyond in an effort to satisfy the fans and present these movies in such a respectable and dignified manner when lesser companies would have chosen to simply go the barebones route. While the Godzilla DVD collection is now complete, next year will reportedly see the Toho Master Collection releases of both RODAN (Sora no Kaiju Radon, 1956) and WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (Frankenstein no Kaiju: Sanda tai Gaira, 1966) in a similar fashion. While fans can always dream that Classic Media would acquire the rights to do a release of DESTROY ALL MONSTERS to kill the bad taste of the ADV version, we can definitely look forward to the incredible releases of two of Toho’s best movies of the 1950s and 1960s outside the Godzilla series.


    The last year has brought fans much to be happy about with the release of these DVDs. You may notice when looking at the special features and thanks that many of the names are those of the SciFi Japan staff. Of course, this presents a possible conflict of interest when reviewing the DVDs for this very website. I can personally say that I believe these DVDs have been fairly reviewed by both Sean Kotz and myself. When there are mistakes and criticisms to be pointed out, we have done our best to point them out in a constructive and honest manner. We hope that you, the SciFi Japan reader, feel that we have given you a fair and honest review.

    © 2006 Classic Media/© 1954 Toho Co., Ltd.

    That said, I think it needs to be said how special the release of these DVDs has truly been for the fandom and for Godzilla. Years ago, we could only dream that these movies would EVER be released on DVD in any form. Of course we had the Simitar versions and while those were nice to have they were lacking a bit. A short time later, we got the Sony DVDs which had incredible picture quality but lacked any kind of special features and usually had hokey art. Nonetheless, we were happy to have releases of any kind. Then we had the first Classic Media DVDs which were the same movies that Simitar had released plus RODAN. These DVDs were universally panned and Classic Media was not a company that was held in high standard with fans because of it. When it was found out that they had the rights to the Japanese version of GODZILLA, it worried fans even more. Classic Media made a promise to fans to improve their releases and reissue the DVDs with special features and dual versions of each film. Indeed, not many fans were holding their breath. Well here we are down the road and Classic Media has fulfilled their promise in every way and then some. Sure, the DVDs are far from perfect and yeah maybe there could have been a bit more done with them, but those are only the words of one who can never be satisfied. In other words, in the scope of what other companies have put out, Classic Media stands far and above the rest. They have embraced the property and chose to present it in a way which is dignified and proud. Politics in the fandom have been cause for controversy and it is always shameful when those circumstances are such but make no mistake despite what anyone else may say, these DVDs are GOOD for Godzilla and that IS the bottom line. End of story. Thank you Classic Media for going the extra mile for us. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________ For more screen shots and information on these DVDs, please see the previous coverage here on SciFi Japan:

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