Godzilla Vs Gigan (1972)

Godzilla Vs Gigan (1972)

Space Monsters War With Godzilla For The Earth!

Aliens land on Earth and disguise themselves as businessmen who are building a tourist attraction based on all of the Earth’s monsters. Their idea is to build this theme park and then kill the real monsters so that the people of Earth can live in peace and not fear for their lives. One of their employees begins to suspect that things aren’t as straightforward as they seem and he soon uncovers their true plan: they want to kill the monsters of Earth so that they can conquer the planet with their own space monsters Gigan and King Ghidorah. Two of Earth’s most fearsome monsters, Godzilla and Anguirus head to the theme park for a deadly showdown.

 

The twelfth entry into Godzilla’s film legacy, Godzilla Vs Gigan reflects the economic strain that Toho Studios were experiencing at the time. Japan was suffering from a heavy recession in the 70s and Godzilla was not spared financial butchering: the monster suit is in a real sorry state and makes it look like he’s been living rough for a few years. There was also a clear creative drain on the series by this point – with Godzilla having to defend Earth from a bunch of aliens who were trying to take over yet again.

This is one of my favourites from the original Godzilla series and it’s because it delivers what the shallow fans of the series like me want – plenty of monsters smashing buildings up before smashing each other up. Although it takes them a while to appear, the monsters are given a lot of the screen time in the second half. Godzilla Vs Gigan features one of the better monster fights at the end, as Godzilla and Anguirus take on Ghidorah (my favourite monster from the Godzilla films) and Gigan, some weird cyborg-chicken monster that sports a buzzsaw in its chest. In this one, Gigan is played seriously (he’d be turned into a comedic buffoon in the next film) and he’s one of Godzilla’s toughest opponents in the entire series with a real nasty streak to boot. He makes Godzilla bleed for the first time here and the pounding that the Big G takes from the monsters in this one is one of his harshest in the entire series. There is plenty of new monster action with all four monsters getting down and dirty and they all get a fair chance in the limelight. It’s time to suspend your disbelief as you witness monsters tackling each other with wrestling moves, slams, double teams and all manner of backyard brawling antics.

This is what attracted me to the Godzilla series in the first place – giant monsters fighting it out. It’s just a pity that they probably only included Ghidorah and Anguirus to re-use some stock footage from Destroy All Monsters (the stock footage shown is from a day fight whereas here the monster fight takes place at night – but no one seemed to notice when editing). The traditional ‘monsters attack Tokyo’ sequence seems to go on for ages too as Gigan and Ghidorah lay waste to the city before Godzilla shows up. The miniature sets look as daft as ever but they really get smashed to pieces and Gigan doesn’t take any prisoners when it comes to taking down planes either. There’s a really cool shot of the two evil monsters standing amidst the ruins of an oil refinery with a cloud of flames and smoke engulfing them.

Let’s not forget that there is a human side to this monster action and it’s usually overlooked in Godzilla films. The story may be pretty weak but the characters in this one are some of the best in the series. They’re not secret agents. They’re not spaceman. They’re not scientists. The characters are simply a cartoonist, his spunky girlfriend and her fat hippy friend. Hardly a trio to strike fear into the hearts of aliens but they’re all likeable. The fat hippy is a loveable oaf, always eating something. You’d better get used to them even if you can’t stand them because there’s plenty of talking. In fact there’s nary a monster in sight for the opening half of the film until Anguirus finally shows up to see what the fuss is about and is promptly zapped by some traditionally-ineffective human weapons. Thankfully the carnage at the end more than makes up for this lull. The aliens are of the usual variety – they look Japanese, dress in funny clothes and love to predict Earth’s imminent doom. Even Godzilla gets to talk in this one which has angered many fans. I don’t see why, it’s a silly gimmick and it wasn’t re-used but we’ve all wondered what he’d say to his mate Anguirus so this film just shows us!

 

It’s not high art and it’s not going to appeal to everyone but if you like the Godzilla series for its city-stomping and monster-smashing action, then Godzilla Vs Gigan is one of the most entertaining in the series. Not the best but one of the most enjoyable.

 

 ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 

 

 

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