The underground civilization Seatopia has been heavily affected by nuclear testing conducted by the surface nations of the world. Naturally upset by this, they unleash their civilization's protector, Megalon, to the surface to destroy those who would — unknowingly or not — destroy them. The ground opens to reveal Megalon, who goes on a rampage outside of Tokyo. Meanwhile, Two Seatopian Agents attempt to steal the newly constructed super-robot Jet Jaguar, which can be used to guide and direct Megalon. They also capture the robot's inventor, Goro Ibuki, his kid brother Rokuro and their friend Hiroshi Jinkawa. One of the Agents stays with Jinkawa and directs Jet Jaguar towards Megalon. The other agent takes Rokuro and Goro into a cargo container and bribes a pair of truckers to dump the container in the lake. Things get out of hand, though, and the seatopian agent is thrown from the truck after threatining the two truckers with a pistol. Soon afterward, Jinkawa, Goro and Rokuro are reunited and try and convince the Military into using Jet Jaguar to re-direct Megalon, who is attacking Tokyo. Goro manages to regain control using his hand-held voice-command devise, and sends Jet Jaguar to Monster Island to bring Godzilla back to fight Megalon. An extended fight scene then takes place, with Godzilla and Jet Jaguar, the latter newly giant-sized and self-directed, fighting Megalon in a generic small field. The Seatopians, however, summon Gigan to aid Megalon. The film ends with Megalon and Gigan (who for the second time abandons an ally) defeated, Godzilla returning to Monster Island, and Jet Jaguar returning to his previous, human-sized state, reuniting with Goro, Rokuro and Jinkawa.
- Goro Ibuki- Katsuhiko Sasaki
- Rokuro Ibuki- Hiroyuki Kawase
- Hiroshi Jinkawa- Yutaka Hayashi
- Robert Dunham- Emperor of Seatopia
- Lead seatopian Agent- Kotaro Tomita
- Wolf Otsuki- Assistant Seatopian Agent
- Dump Truck Driver- Gentaro Nakajima
- Dump truck Assistant- Sakyo Mikami
- Commander of Unit One- Fumiyo Ikeda
- SDF Chief- Kanta Mori
- Godzilla- Shinji Takagi
- Megalon- Hideto Odachi
- Jet Jaguar- Tsugutoshi Komada
- Gigan- Kenpachiro Satsuma
Godzilla Vs. Megalon was originally planned as a non-Godzilla film, a solo vehicle for Jet Jaguar, which was the result of a contest Toho had for children in mid-to-late 1972. The winner of the contest was an elementary school student, who submitted the drawing of a robot called Red Arone, which superficially resembled both Ultraman and Mazinger Z. The robot was renamed Jet Jaguar and was set to star in Jet Jaguar vs. Megalon, which pitted him against Megalon. However, after doing some screen tests and storyboards, Toho figured Jet Jaguar would not be able to carry the film on his own, either in screen appearance or marketing value, so they shut the project down during pre-production. Nearly a month later, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka called in screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa to revise the script to add Godzilla and Gigan. To make up for lost production time, the film was shot in a hasty three weeks. The production time totaled at nearly six months, from planning to finish.
According to Teruyoshi Nakano, the Godzilla suit made for this film (named Megaro-Goji) was made in a week, the fastest featured Godzilla suit ever made to date.
There are three notable deleted scenes. A scene towards the end of the film in which Antonio ponders aloud if sending Megalon to destroy the world above is really any different from what the people above are doing with atomic testing. Another is a roughly minute-long "conversation" between Gigan and Megalon that consists of quirky gestures and bodily movements. One that can be seen in the japanese trailer has Jet Jaguar blinding Megalon with his flashlight eyes right before Megalon starts to kick at him while Gigan holds him down.
There are, interestingly, no major female characters in the movie, making this the only Godzilla film without a female lead.
U.S ReleaseIn 1976, CinemaShares released a dubbed version of Godzilla vs. Megalon theatrically. Riding the coattails of Dino De Laurentiis' big-budget King Kong remake, poster art showed Godzilla and Megalon battling on top of the World Trade Center, despite the fact that no scenes were set in New York City.
To obtain a G-rating from the MPAA, CinemaShares cut three minutes of footage, including:
- The opening credits
- Rokuro being abducted by Seatopian agents, who pull him into their car.
- Scenes in the container truck that showed pornographic material on the back wall (There was more dialogue in the scenes that added to the story, thus making these cut scenes somewhat confusing).
- A fight scene between Hiroshi and the lead Seatopian agent.
- A scene of the bearded Caucasian Seatopian agent being thrown down a cliff by the truck drivers.
- Some scenes of bloody violence, when the toy jet (which Rokuro borrowed from the hobby shop) flies into the lead Seatopian agent's face, there was a brief shot of blood dripping from his face and when Hiroshi says "Get him!!!", Rokuro swings on the chained picture boxes in Goro's lab, and strikes the agent above the chest.
- The Seatopian agent (pursuing our heroes) being crushed by a boulder hurled by Megalon.
- Dialogue: "What the hell was that?" and "Damn you!"
With this being the second of the three CinemaShares Godzilla releases, the publicity factor was high. Along with the poster, buttons with one of the four kaiju's faces on them were released. A couple of weeks before the release of Godzilla vs. Megalon, CinemaShares had a comic book released to promote the film, but in the comic there are numerous errors like monster's names and locations and events, but staying at least loose to the film. The theatrical trailer for the film also contain these errors, such as Jet Jaguar being called Robotman.
Critical reactionGodzilla vs. Megalon was released theatrically in America in April of 1976, though the San Francisco Chronicle indicates that it opened there in June, and The New York Times indicates that it opened in New York City on July 11. Oddly, New York Times film critic, Vincent Canby, who a decade before had given a negative review to Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster-- one of the more respected entries in the Godzilla series-- gave Godzilla vs. Megalon a generally positive review.
In his review of July 12, 1976, Canby says "m' completes the canonization of Godzilla... It's been a remarkable transformation of character-- the dragon has become St. George... It's wildly preposterous, imaginative and funny (often intentionally). It demonstrates the rewards of friendship, between humans as well as monsters, and it is gentle."
Canby was one of the few critics who enjoyed the film however, as it currently holds a "rotten" 38% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 16 reviews.
Godzilla vs. Megalon was given a high-profile prime-time network premiere the next year, with an introduction and bumper segments by John Belushi in a Godzilla suit.
Godzilla vs. Megalon has attracted the ire of many Godzilla and kaiju fans in the decades since its original release. The film is largely responsible for the reputation of Godzilla films in the United States as cheap children's entertainment that should not be taken seriously. It's been described as "incredibly, undeniably, mind-numbingly bad" and one of the "poorer moments" in the history of kaiju films.
In particular, the special effects of the film have been heavily criticized. One review described the Godzilla costume as appearing to be "crossed with Kermit the Frog" and another stated that sneeringly compared it to Godzilla vs. Gigan, stating that it did "everything wrong that Gigan did, and then some". However, most of the criticism is of the lack of actual special effects work, as most of it consists of stock footage from previous films, including Godzilla vs. Gigan and Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, and at least one piece of effects work has garnered praise, specifically a scene where Megalon breaks through a dam.
The other aspects of the film have been similarly skewered. The acting is usually described as flat and generally poor, and as not improving, or sometimes, worsening, the already weak script. One part of the film, on the other hand, has garnered almost universal praise: Godzilla's final attack on Megalon, a flying kick. It has been called the saving grace of the film, and was made famous by the mock exclamations of shock and awe displayed on Godzilla vs. Megalon's appearance on Mystery Science Theater 3000. The episode is available on volume ten of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD series, which has become rare because the DVD was discontinued due to rights issues with the Godzilla franchise, and the collection was released shortly afterward with The Giant Gila Monster instead of Godzilla vs. Megalon. Despite all this, the film is also one of the most widely seen Godzilla films in the United States—it was popular in its initial theatrical release, largely due to an aggressive marketing campaign, including elaborate posters of the two title monsters battling atop New York City's World Trade Center towers. These posters in particular have been greeted with some embarrassment by fans. Also, several unauthorized VHS tapes have been released in the early 90's, making it the Godzilla movie with the boots to some fans.
Robert Dunham's voice was dubbed over in Japanese for releases in Japan. It's unknown where his voice in the movie is heard from.
In Japan, Godzilla vs. Megalon sold approximately 980,000 tickets. It was the first Godzilla film to sell less than one million admissions.
- The movie took only three weeks to film.
- There are no female characters in this film, except for the Seatopian dancers.
- Some reviewers for Godzilla vs. Megalon have detected what they believe to be homosexual undertones within the film. (The lack of female characters, as well as the apparently very close relationship between the two main (male) characters, Goro and Hiroshi, are considered evidence for this theory.)
- The Godzilla suit predominantly used in this film has been nicknamed MegaroGoji, and it replaced the rather worn and tattered SoshingekiGoji suit that had been used since 1968.