Godzilla vs. Megalon (ゴジラ対メガロ?, Gojira tai Megaro, lit. Godzilla Against Megalon) is a 1973 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho Company Ltd., and the thirteenth installment in the Godzilla series as well as the Showa series. The film was released to Japanese theaters on March 17, 1973.
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.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
Godzilla vs. Megalon was originally planned as a non-Godzilla film, but instead a film 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 Alone," 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.
In 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.
To obtain a G-rating from the MPAA, CinemaShares cut three minutes of footage, including:
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."
When Godzilla vs. Megalon was released on March 17, 1973 in Japan, it only sold 980,000 rickets, making it the first Godzilla film to sell less than a million tickets.
Godzilla 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 held 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.
Alpha Video (2001)
Passion Products (2002)
Age Video (2003)
Tokyo Shock (2012)
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