Toho wasn’t going to let a little thing like the title character dying get in their way of making money. Five months after the original “Godzilla” first hit screens, a sequel was quickly made and released out onto an unsuspecting populace. While it is a fairly decent Godzilla film, the sequel nevertheless feels hurried and is nowhere near as good as its predecessor.
The film opens with another Godzilla, locked in mortal combat with the spike-backed creature Anguirus, being discovered by two pilots forced to make an emergency landing on the remote Iwato Island. The pilots are rescued, and immediately relate their tale to Japanese authorities. Just in time, too, as the monsters show up in Osaka and begin demolishing the city. The Japanese government now has a bigger problem than the one they were faced with in the original film. How are they going to deal with two gigantic creatures bent on destroying each other, and what exactly are they going to do with the winner?
While the second “Godzilla” film is nowhere near the standard of the original, it’s nevertheless pretty entertaining as a prototype for the Godzilla films to come. The formula that Toho will use over and over again is seen here for the first time: Godzilla battles another monster, the military is called out to make them stop acting anti-social, cities are laid to waste — all played out against a backdrop of human characters and their dull personal stories. This trope would get refined over decades of use, but it’s interesting to see it being used for the first time here.
The new Godzilla suit, sculpted by Teizo Toshimisu, is a slight improvement over the original monster suit. The face looks much more menacing, with more fangs prominently jutting out over its lip. Anguirus is also a fearsome looking work, with dagger-like teeth and spikes covering its back, making Godzilla’s first opponent a frightening sight to behold. The special effects and set pieces are also very well done, and are the highlight of the movie.
But the problem with “Godzilla Raids Again” is that it looks and feels like it was made quickly to capitalize on the success of the first film. The direction by Motoyoshi Oda is lethargic and the film is frequently as inspiring as listening to a dial tone for several hours. The script by returning scribe Takeo Murata isn’t very inventive either. We’re forced to sit through more melodramatic personal ordeals of the human players, and soon the movie starts to lose focus and seems like two very different films playing simultaneously: one a giant monster film with nice special effects, and the other a rather downbeat soap opera.
Another strange thing about the film is the way the monsters move. In every other Godzilla film, the creatures move with slow deliberation. But in this film, they act like they’re all wired up on Mountain Dew, darting about with predatory fury. Far from looking good, it seems someone carelessly filmed the scenes and stuck them in the movie without watching them first.
Fans of Godzilla and the giant monster genre will no doubt want to check this one out. The casual viewer would probably be better off watching one of Godzilla’s later, and much better, films.
Motoyoshi Oda (director) / Shigeaki Hidaka, Takeo Murata (screenplay)
CAST: Hiroshi Koizumi …. Shoichi Tsukioka
Setsuko Wakayama …. Hidemi Yamaji
Minoru Chiaki …. Koji Kobayashi