Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964) – Ishiro Honda

UFOs, political assassinations, alien possession, the Shobijin (Emi and Yumi Ito) and alien monsters see the known kaiju on Earth, all located around Japan, unite for the first time to combat King Ghidorah, a three-headed space beast which destroyed an alien civilization on Venus centuries ago, and has now arrived on Earth via meteor.

This is the first film that sees the beginning of the shift of Godzilla from threat to protector. And apparently, he, and the other Kaiju in the film, Mothra (still in larval form) and Rodan (freed from his volcanic prison) can communicate with one another, they just choose not to, because fighting looks cooler.

Naoko (Yuriko Hoshi) is a news reporter, working on a program about mysteries of the 20th century, and while interviewing a UFO group witnesses a meteor shower, which may be more than it seems, when a giant (and growing meteor with a strange electromagnetic field) comes down in the mountains.

Her brother, a police detective, Shindo (Yosuke Natsuki) has been assigned to protect a visiting Princess (Akiko Wakabayashi), but when her plane blows up en route, he finds himself pulled into another assignment (as is his sister) the investigation of a strange prophet claiming to be from Venus – but she also appears to be the Princess, having survived the explosion!!

The Princess warns of a danger brewing in the mountains, even as Rodan rouses from his captivity, and Godzilla rises from the ocean in response, and stampedes through the newly restored Tokyo, making for Mount Fuji.

When Ghidorah (another great man in a suit costume – I love this one, so complex) arises from the meteor and wreaks havoc, the Shobijin are convinced to reach out to Mothra on Infant Island to ask for help. Mothra believes the only way that Ghidorah can be defeated is if the three kaiju work together!

And after some monstrous discussion, the forces unite, and bring the fight to Ghidorah!! For all the set up, it’s not really much of a knock down drag out fight, but it does have Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra all working on the same side.

As mentioned, I love the look of Ghidorah, Godzilla looks a bit better than he did in previous films, and there’s some fun reactions when the puppet is used. I don’t care for the larval form of Mothra, but understand it, while Rodan seems the least cool of the costumes, no matter how cool he seems to think he is.

There’s a lot of humor in this one, and I love the sense of continuity that has become a part of the series. It’s amazing that in a few short films, the series has transformed itself from a horrific take on the threat of nuclear weapons, and their impact on the world, to a monster mash (bash?), but it’s a lot of damned fun watching it progress.

Next time, it’s Invasion of the Astro-Monster!!

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