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Popcorn Fall

Popcorn Pictures

Reviewing the best (and worst) of horror, sci-fi and fantasy since 2000

  • Andrew Smith

Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966)


Plot

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

 

The seventh Godzilla film, Ebirah, Horror of the Deep originally started off life as a King Kong story. Toho had secured the rights to use Kong, giving us the 'titanic' tussle between the two biggest giant movie monsters in King Kong Vs Godzilla, and wanted to film further entries with him. However, the weak screenplay for this was rejected by Rankin/Bass Productions, who had provided Toho with the licence to use Kong as an attempt to tie in with their 1966 cartoon series King Kong, and so Toho simply decided to replace Kong with Godzilla - the switching is evident with a sub-plot where Godzilla takes a very un-Godzilla like romantic shine to one of the native girls just as King Kong would have done. Ebirah, Horror of the Deep was made at a time of change for the Godzilla series, as he had been switched away from his role as the avenging atomic monster, determined to destroy humanity for meddling with nuclear power, and become something of a cartoon character and all-round good guy who now protected innocents from evil, be they aliens intent on conquering Earth, terrorist organisations as the case was here or just monsters which were assuming his old role of smashing up Tokyo for the craic. Director Jun Fukuda made his series' debut here and is largely responsible for the juvenile tone that the Godzilla franchise took after this point, though it's obvious a lot of creative decisions had to be taken with the lower and lower budgets he was given.



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 in scope with the budget it's been given. With a lower budget, it's always the special effects that suffer and in this case, the special effects are Godzilla himself. 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 a far cry from destroying the Tokyo Tower for the hundredth time.


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. However, Godzilla isn't even the main threat to the Red Bamboo, it's the islanders and the idiotic characters who are shipwrecked on the island when Ebirah destroys their boat. Watching their attempts to hijack the Bamboo's plans with all manner of crazy schemes is tiresome.



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 fantastic job has been done given that Ebirah is a water-based monster and it looks different to the usual monster costumes which just look like men in costumes (Gigan, Megalon, Mechagodzilla, etc). The number of claws and mandibles that move at the same time are excellent. 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. Ebirah does get an awesome entrance scene set during a storm at sea but the eventual monster was never going to live up to the initial premise.


Godzilla even tangles with a giant condor at one point and makes mince meat out of it (a re-purposed Rodan model apparently). 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 and pack out the film's poster. 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. King Kong would have been a much more suitable fit for the script and had a much more even encounter with Ebirah but alas, that wasn't the case.

 

Final Verdict

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 one of the low points for the series but I guess you have to watch Ebirah, Horror of the Deep through the eyes of this being a King Kong vehicle, rather than a Godzilla one. It's not totally without merit and has some daft moments of fun but they're too sparse to make an impact.



 

Ebirah, Horror of the Deep


Also Known As: Godzilla Vs The Sea Monster


Director(s): Jun Fukuda


Writer(s): Shin'ichi Sekizawa


Actor(s): Akira Takarada, Kumi Mizuno, Chôtarô Tôgin, Hideo Sunazuka, Tôru Ibuki, Akihiko Hirata, Jun Tazaki


Duration: 87 mins




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