Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966)

Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966)

This is one lobster you don’t want to order!

A terrorist organisation called the Red Bamboo has enslaved the residents of Infant Island in order to make nuclear weapons at their secret hideout in the Pacific. A group of shipwrecked friends decide to help by reviving Godzilla during a thunder storm after they find him in suspended animation. But in order to stop the Red Bamboo, Godzilla must do battle with Ebirah, a giant lobster who guards the waters off the island.

 

One of Godzilla’s worst cinematic efforts, Ebirah, Horror of the Deep is woeful. Nearly everything about it lacks budget, interest and above all, entertainment. Originally intended to be one of Toho’s King Kong stories (notably evident where Godzilla takes a romantic shine to one of the native girls ala Kong), the scope just isn’t what one would expect from a Godzilla film. Where is Tokyo? Where are the feeble Japanese attempts to stop him? Where is my giant monster battle giant monster action? Instead of the decent-but-flawed monster smashing efforts of the previous few films, we get a low budget camp fest where Godzilla began his downward spiral into being a goofy monster instead of real menace to Japan.

It smacks of cheekiness when a Godzilla flick hardly features the big guy but like many of his big screen outings, Ebirah, Horror of the Deep is unable to match what it wants to do with the budget it’s been given. With a lower budget, it’s the special effects that suffer and in this case, the special effects are Godzilla. Keeping him off screen as much as possible allows the limited use of miniature sets and costly suits. Smashing up Tokyo costs money and so it’s no surprise to see the island setting is sparsely populated and vegetated so when Godzilla is walking around, he’s not smashing anything apart from an odd coconut tree. It’s then down to the human story to try and interest the viewer because we get so little monster action. At least this time we haven’t got aliens trying to take over the planet. This time the human plot is grounded in relative reality with the addition of the terrorist group, The Red Bamboo. They’re like some James Bond villainous organisation complete with hideout, submarines and hordes of minions waiting to die horribly. They’re the main threat in this film. Screw Ebirah, the Red Bamboo are the ones who actually try to stop Godzilla.

There have been some weak opponents for Godzilla during his career (Gabarah from Godzilla’s Revenge springs to mind) but Ebirah is easily one of the worst. It’s not that the suit is daft. In fact I think a good job has been done given that Ebirah is a water-based monster. The problem stems from the fact that Godzilla kicks his ass comprehensively – twice! He poses no real menace or threat to the Big G and doesn’t do much during the fights except get his claws ripped off. There’s an amusing sequence in which the two monsters attempt to better each other by using rocks in some sort of volleyball match but it’s too juvenile when you consider the tone of the previous films. Godzilla even tangles with a giant condor at one point and makes mince meat out of it.

The Godzilla suit looks to be in pretty bad shape too so it’s probably a good thing that he’s not around much or else an arm or tooth might fall off. Mothra makes a small cameo appearance here but the puppet also looks very badly worn and her inclusions seemed to be a token effort to up the monster count. Compared to the monster fighting from the previous few films where Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah were all doing battle with each other, this is a surprisingly tame and lacklustre affair.

 

Godzilla is on total walkthrough mode here and breezes through the film without any hassle. You wonder why he bothered to get up this morning if Ebirah was all he had to sort out. Definitely a low point for the series.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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