Godzilla Vs Megalon (1973)

Godzilla Vs Megalon (1973)

Underground horrors attack!

The ancient underground civilisation of Seatopia decides that it is time to take back what was once theirs, Earth. So they use their own monster, Megalon, and enlist the help of Gigan to do it. A scientist has just created a robot called Jet Jaguar who is sent to Monster Island to inform Godzilla of the duel threat. As always it is up to Godzilla to save the Earth.

 

To many Godzilla fans, Godzilla Vs Megalon represents the ultimate low in the franchise. It fact it’s more than the ultimate low – it’s a hate icon amongst fans. Made a shoe-string budget, featuring a hokey script, some appalling special effects and full of juvenile antics from the humans and from the monsters, it gets an unfair rap. Godzilla had fallen a long way from the rampaging monster out for revenge for Earth’s use of atomic weaponry and had now been reduced to appearing in cornball flicks which pitted him against a series of more ridiculous opponents. Taken as a live action cartoon, Godzilla Vs Megalon works amazingly well and if you embrace the camp and silliness of what greets your eyes, then you’re in for a riot.

Be prepared for the usual crazy set-up. This time they’re not aliens from another planet, the threat lies from within Earth as a bunch of guys dressed up in togas have plans to take over the world and want to use their giant beetle to help them do it. The film wastes little time in explaining anything – don’t even try to think about what is going on or why things are happening. Why does a little Japanese boy live with two grown men without the faintest hint of a female living with them? A lot has been made about the rumoured homosexual undertones to their relationship but this is 1970s Japan, a completely conservative society – there’s no way they’d ever have done anything like that! Why does the little boy have a high-pitched girly voice? Why do the human characters all dress like they do with open-necked shirts and tight-fitting disco pants? Why do they live in a weird house? Just forget about everything and take it all in, that’s your best bet. With the budgets getting ever smaller for these films, showing giant monsters would have been too costly so Godzilla gets less screen time here than I can recall in the majority of his films. It’s also a rather talky affair for the first half of the film but with some hilarious dialogue and some truly woeful dubbing, there’s probably more fun to be had in this part of the film.

Stock footage from previous films is used during the generic ‘monsters attack Tokyo’ montages and those of the army fighting back. It’s obvious to anyone who has seen any of the colourised Godzilla films that recycled footage is being used. Despite the fact that some footage is from during the day and other shots are from the night and despite the fact that the quality of the picture and sound varies between clips, it’s all re-used and without any care for continuity. Megalon’s beam weapons consist of whatever footage they could re-use from monsters in the previous films but he only uses them in these scenes and fails to fire anything deadly during the inevitable monster showdown. I guess they only included Gigan in here so that they could re-use almost all of his scenes from the previous film and pad out the running time as much as they could.

The special effects constitute a new low for the series. At least the monster suits look as good as they have only right to look. Megalon is one of Godzilla’s worst opponents to date. He’s a giant beetle with drill hands who seems to have a low IQ and acts more like a playground bully rather than a dangerous threat to Earth. This was his only appearance in the series for obvious reasons. Gigan is back and he’s more of a comedic side kick for Megalon instead of the bad ass monster he was in the previous film. He took it to Godzilla in Godzilla Vs Gigan and gave him a beating like he’s never had before. So why is he such a dufus in this one? I love seeing the two monsters standing together, rubbing their hands with glee at the heinous acts they are committing. I’m guessing the film had some copyright issues over using Jet Jaguar as he’s a dead ringer for TV’s Ultraman.

Finally we get to Godzilla and this suit isn’t his best. He looks too cute and cuddly and has a permanent grin. His new friendly persona probably needed something a little more likeable but still, he’s a big monster and deserves to look at least somewhat intimidating. The final fight between Godzilla and Jet Jaguar squaring off against Megalon and Gigan is one of the highlights of the series. It’s ludicrously entertaining with the monsters taking up tag-team wrestling and letting rip with all manner of slams and drop kicks. This is not high art – this is ridiculously fun.

 

If you like watching men in rubber suits stomping on mini-cities, smashing Matchbox cars and beating each other up then this is for you. Godzilla Vs Megalon may be the worst of the lot for some people as far as quality is concerned but for me, it’s just a ridiculously good time with a huge explosion of camp thrown in.

 

 ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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