Ok, I admit it. I am a Godzilla and “Kaiju” movie Fan. I first saw the Tokyo stomping monster in the movie “Ghidrah, The Three Headed Monster” in the 70’s. It was the first movie of this genre that I saw and I was hooked. Over the years many Godzilla movies were produced by Toho, but, alas they never seemed to appear on our screens. It was only when I went to the USA in 2000/2001 that I was able to indulge myself in more monster antics.

Bandai Godzilla bought in Hong Kong in 2008


Godzilla first appeared on the big screen in 1954 and proceeded to trash Tokyo. The westernised version of the movie featured Raymond Burr as an American reporter who tells the story of how Godzilla runs amock and how attempts to kill him with all manner of weapons fail dismally. The armour plated, behemoth with the radioactive breath was capable of frying everything in his path or flattening it with equal ease. The unAmericanised version is so much better.

Godzilla also had a certain screen “presence” which would endear him to loyal fans all over the world. Godzilla is supposedly killed by an “Oxygen Destroyer” in that first movie, but fortunately he crops up in a surprising number of follow up movies too. It appears as if the producers did try add some sort of thread and commonality as many of the subsequent monsters from the movies would do battle again and Godzilla would go from being the bad monster to being the good one. Alas I fear somewhere the plot was lost with the early stories, but that doesn’t stop them from being sheer escapist stuff,  Most of the early movies were “Americanised” and that just added an extra layer of cheesiness to them, but it also meant that hey became available on video and later on DVD. Most of my collection are zone 1 or zone 4.
The later movies (Heisei and Shinsei series) which were made, are more impressive (those tanks no longer look like plastic toys) and Godzilla is much more menacing. Destoroyah and Godzilla 2000 were full of high tech gadgets and gimmicks, yet in spite of their much improved effects and slickness they still retain a certain something that will always set them apart. Sadly Godzilla Final Wars seemed to be more of a rip off of “The Matrix” and Godzilla was no longer the main character. However Godzilla is still being played by a man in a rubber suit, and that is part of why we love him so much, he is so human.

The Showa Series 1954-1975

  • Gojira [aka “Godzilla: King of the Monsters (1954)”]
  • Gigantis, The Fire Monster / Godzilla Raids Again
  • King Kong vs. Godzilla
  • Godzilla vs. The Thing (1962) (a.k.a. “Godzilla vs. Mothra”)
  • Ghidrah, the Three Headed Monster (1965)
  • Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (aka Invasion of the Astro Monster)
  • Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster (1969) (aka Godzilla Vs. Ebirah)
  • Son of Godzilla
  • Destroy All Monsters
  • Godzilla’s Revenge
  • Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster (1971) (aka Godzilla Vs. Hedorah)
  • Godzilla vs. Gigan (a.k.a. “Godzilla on Monster Island”)
  • Godzilla vs. Megalon (1976)
  • Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (a.k.a. “Godzilla vs. The Bionic Monster”, “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla”, Cosmic Monster) Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)

The Heisei Series 1984-1995

  • (“Gojira 1984”) / Godzilla 1985
  • Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)
  • Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
  • Godzilla and Mothra. The Battle for Earth (1992)
  • Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1993)
  • Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (1994)
  • Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)

The Shinsei Series 1999-2004

Legendary’s MonsterVerse 

Polygon Pictures CGI movies

Everything else post 2004

In 2014 yet another Godzilla was released, and I watched it last night. Godzilla and the monsters (dubbed MUTO) hardly feature in it at all, and once again the movie is predominantly based in America. It is not a great movie, and frankly I do not understand why they even bothered making it. Purists will argue that it is an imitation, and not a proper Godzilla movie, and frankly I will agree with that sentiment. Along with that awful Roland Emmerich farce from 1998 it will be consigned to the dustbin of Godzilla history as yet another bad imitation. However, having said that, there are elements of it that I do like, but the lack of Godzilla was somewhat disappointing and the mania for always having battles in the middle of the night baffles me.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters. (2019). Another Hollywood attempt at understanding Godzilla. It featured Mothra, “Monster Zero” (Actually King Ghidorah) and Rodan, It was a poor movie, suffering from a weak story although some of the effects were brilliant.  Overall though it was a disappointment. 
Update: 13/02/2016 I have finally seen Godzilla vs Biollante and it was weak, however, the model making was excellent and the Godzilla figure was much more in keeping with what I saw in the later movies. The big G has put on weight and is much more menacing. It’s an interesting movie, and reminds me a lot of Godzilla vs Hedorah.
Shin Godzilla
In 2016 Toho once again picked up the reins and created an all new Godzilla movie entitled Shin Godzilla (シン・ゴジラShin Gojira) , It was released on 29 July 2016 and and is the 31st installment in the Godzilla franchise, and the 29th Godzilla film produced by Toho. Once again the prior history of Godzilla has been conveniently forgotten and a new Godzilla makes an appearance, albeit mutating from what looks like a dachshund with an extra long tail. It is not a great movie, exploring the politics around how to counter the appearance of a large thigh packing Kaiju. Long gone are those plastic Sherman tanks some of the counter attack scenes are really very good. Overall I was pleased to see the big G back in Japan, and that Toho has given the movie the feel of the originals. 
It seems that you cannot let a good Kaiju monster down, and the latest iteration is a CGI movie produced by Toho Animation and animated by Polygon Pictures, under the name Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters There are really 3 movies in this particular spinoff and the first was released on the Netflix platform in January 2018. I was fortunate enough to see a copy of it (thankfully in Japanese with English subs) and it is not great, or not as great as some other Godzllla movies. It does however have a very modern feel about it, considering it takes place on an earth 20 000 years after the “good guys” left Earth in search of a new home. Sadly they forgot to take Godzilla movies with them to study on the way! 
I will be honest, I am not keen on a CGI version, it takes away the “man in a rubber suit” feel that has always been a part of the franchise. The next movie was Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle and was released in May 2018, with the last movie Godzilla: The Planet Eater released in November 2018.  They were not really great, and lacked a certain “something”. 
The DVD’s
I own most of the DVD’s with the exception of Son of Godzilla, and some I prefer more than others. I do not have a favourite, but I do enjoy Tokyo SOS and the Mechagodzilla movie from 2002. Godzilla 2000 is also a great movie and Godzilla vs Megaguirus is great too. The worst? Son of Godzilla, Godzillas Revenge and probably Godzilla Raids Again.  I do prefer watching the movies in Japanese with English Subtitles, but I have seen them so often they are no longer enjoyable.
(Missing: Son of Godzilla, Godzilla Raids Again ) I also have a copy of the original Gojira movie that was made, and it is not a rehashed Americanised version.
There are a lot of collectibles out there, but unfortunately in South Africa they were rare. My best acquisition I found in the USA in 2004, he is made under licence by Toy Vault Inc. 
And of course Godzilla was also honoured by appearing in two MST3000 Episodes (212 Godzilla vs Megalon, 213 Godzilla vs The Sea Monster).
Godzilla has been around for over 50 years, and is still as popular as always, albeit amongst fans of rubber monster flicks. He has kicked so much monster butt he can be justly proud of himself. Unfortunately he never had it out with Gamera, and that was the one movie we all wanted to be made.
So next time you are contemplating doing something nefarious with your nuclear waste or genetic experiments, be aware, he is only sleeping, but is always vigilant.


DRW © 2016-2021 Created 01/02/2016. Updated 13/02/2016, 19/01/2018, some spacing and typos fixed 18/05/2016. Updated 13/12/2020
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