Godzilla’s Revenge (1969) Movie Review

The Godzilla series was meant to end with “Destroy All Monsters”, a whiz-bang Armageddon of a finale. But there was a problem: “Destroy All Monsters” made a lot of money at the Japanese box office, so producer Tomoyuki Tanaka decided to follow the philosophy, “You can fool some of the people some of the time and that’s good enough for me,” and made this wretched excuse of a film.

“Godzilla’s Revenge” presents us with Ichiro, a lonely latchkey child who is bullied by a gang of neighborhood kids, overlooked by his parents, and his idea of entertainment is scavenging for electronic parts in abandon factories. Ichiro escapes from his dreary reality by imagining he’s on Monster Island, home of Godzilla and his son Minya. When he’s kidnapped by bank robbers, Ichiro slips back to Monster Island where the father and son lizard act teach him self-confidence and courage — exactly what he’ll need to escape from the band of thieves.

In order to properly describe what an atrocity of a Godzilla film this is, you’d have to exhaust the English language of negative adjectives and have to start inventing new ones. The most obvious problem is the film’s title. “Godzilla’s Revenge” doesn’t make any sense since Godzilla is reduced to a supporting player. He’s not out for revenge, or much else for that matter. It’s understandable that the filmmakers would want Godzilla’s name in the title, since after all, he’s a huge box office draw. But “Godzilla’s Revenge” is incredibly misleading, not to mention nonsensical.

The title gaffe could be forgiven if Shinichi Sekizawa’s script was a kaiju monster fest, which it isn’t. Instead we get a treatise on the break-up of the nuclear family aimed at the small fry crowd. The screenplay’s only saving grace is that the Godzilla scenes exist solely in Ichiro’s head, so it doesn’t occur in the continuity of the Godzilla series. Another gripe is the bully of Monster Island, Gabara. What exactly is he suppose to be? His physiology is just plain baffling. He’s an incredibly bad creation, looking like a product of a one-night stand between a troll and a bullfrog.

Gabara is almost as bad as the blatant use of stock footage from previous Godzilla films to pad the running time. What the filmmakers seem not to have taken into account was the fact that Godzilla’s appearance alters from film to film, resulting in Godzilla looking like he’s morphing from one look to another in “Godzilla’s Revenge”.

The musical score is nothing to cheer about either, Kunio Miyauchi’s compositions sounds like they belong on a bad cartoon instead of a Godzilla film. It does nothing to enhance the film, and in fact it’s just incredibly annoying at times. The acting is adequate save for the performance of Eisei Amamoto, playing a toy inventor who is a neighbor of Ichiro and becomes a father figure to the boy. Amamoto usually plays a villain, so he’s going against type here, although that’s a good thing because it allows the actor to show a compassionate and emphatic sided.

“Godzilla’s Revenge” marks the beginnings of dark days for the monster series. Godzilla stopped being a frightening destructive force of nature, and was neutered into entertainment for small children. At least they got the worst of it out of their system at the very start. “Godzilla’s Revenge” is probably best for very young children who’d benefit from the film’s positive message, but for adult fans of Godzilla and the genre, it’d be best to shun this movie like a leper.

Ishiro Honda (director) / Shinichi Sekizawa (screenplay)
CAST: Tomonori Yazaki …. Ichiro Miki
Eisei Amamoto …. Toy Consultant Shinpei Inami

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