Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)

A note before we begin. Life comes at you fast. I previously was on a tight schedule to get these reviews out, because I wanted to get them done before Godzilla: King of the Monsters came out, but I was unable to do that. The movie came and went, and I grew too busy to continue writing. This does, however, mean that the pressure is off, so I can now write these reviews at my own pace. Which further means that they are going to go back to their previous long form. So that's fun.

King Ghidorah makes his debut in this movie. He is a large, golden, hydra-dragon, so what's not to love? I am really excited to see this movie. Directed by our boy Ishiro Honda, and featuring another appearance by our boy Akihiko Hirata, Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster came out the same year that Mothra vs. Godzilla. I guess the iron was particularly hot that year for the big G. The same dude who played King Kong in King Kong vs Godzilla returns to play Ghidorah in this movie, so I guess that guy just hates Godzilla. It's the only rational explanation. So without further ado, let's get right into it.

Also, to set the mood, Dawn (Go Away) was released that year, so go check that out as you read.

The Recap

So, the movie starts with a group of UFO hunters. They are joined by Naoko, a journalist for a local paper, who asks them if they expect to find anything up there. Apparently, as these guys point out to Naoko, things are getting weird here on Earth. For example, there's a heat wave going on, but it's January. How strange. Outside, a meteor shower begin. This is seen by everyone, including this movie's main character, a detective named Shindo. His boss the Chief of Police, played by my dude Hirata, tells Shindo what the human plot of this movie will boy, and holy shit, it's insane. Apparently, there's this fictional nation of Selgina, and their king was recently killed. The king's daughter, the princess Salno, is due to inherit the throne, but if she is killed, the country will "go the other way". And she's on a plane, to come to Japan, because there's also a plot to assassinate her. And Shindo is assigned to watch over her. It's a whole lot all at once, but it leads to some pretty bonkers stuff later on, so I'm fine with it. Anyway, the Chief gives Shindo a picture and tells her she's on a plane to Japan at this very moment. We get to see Selgina itself when a dude in an Important Chair tells a Scary Assassin Dude With Sunglasses that Salno must be killed. Scary Assassin Dude With Sunglasses tells Important Chair that the plane she is one has a bomb on it, so she's doomed. We then cut to that plane, where the princess is fascinated by the meteors. Suddenly, she sees a brilliant flash of light, and voice warns her to leave the plane immediately. As a robot would, she stands and walks calmly to the door and jumps out, seconds before the plane explodes, presumably killing this dude:

Honestly, the loss of this costume is the real tragedy.

Honestly, the loss of this costume is the real tragedy.

The next day, a team of scientists (led by Professor Murai, aka Hiroshi Koizumi, aka sexy Dr. Chujo from Mothra), goes to the side of a mountain to investigate the largest and brightest of last night's meteors, which landed in said mountains. What a long sentence that was. Anyway, this meteor (which looks more like an egg), has some kind of magnetic properties to it, throwing off their compasses, which, I'm told, is archaic form of navigation. Why they didn't just use Google Maps is beyond me. Back in the city (unless I missed something, the city they're in is never said), the Chief informs Shindo that the princess's plane blew up, so, mission failed, I guess. This is a bit like learning that school's closed due to snow, but with more murder. So better? Anyway, on the streets of the city, a "prophet" appears: a strange woman wearing fisherman's clothes who tells a gathering crows that Earth is going to be destroyed. This prophet is one of the wildest elements of the movie, because the actor, Akiko Wakabayashi, displays exactly 0 emotion in every frame of this movie. It's fine most of the time, but during action scene's it's probably the funniest thing I've ever seen. Also, Akiko Wakabayashi was last scene in King Kong vs. Godzilla as Tamie (whom I don't remember), but would also go on to be in You Only Live Twice, the fifth James Bond movie, not 3 years later. She would play Aki, one of the main characters in that movie. So that's cool!

Anyway, Naoko asks her what her deal is, and she tells us that she's a Martian! A quick zoom in on her face tells us that this is some serious shit. When asked how the destruction of Earth will begin, the Prophet warns that there will be a tragic accident in the mountains. This causes a crowd to form on said mountain (a bad idea). This is not the same mountain as the one that Murai and co. are occupying. They have reached the egg/meteor, and note that its magnetic properties are fluctuating. And it keeps getting bigger and hotter at random. The movie keeps cutting back to this same information being revealed, but I'm gonna skip it unless necessary. That night, Shindo gets home, where he finds Naoko, because they are brother and sister. Also, Naoko is friends with Murai, and Shindo teases her that they are dating, which, like, no they're not! Oh, my God, shut up! I do not like him! God, you're so stupid!

Naoko puts on a TV show called "What Are They Doing Now?" which really sounds like a Rick and Morty inter-dimensional TV joke. This show confuses me, because they bring in a volunteer from the audience to ask which celebrity they want to check in on, and the kids answer Mothra! Unfortunately, they couldn't get Mothra, but they do have the next best thing: those two fairy twins! So, how does this show work? Do they know what celebrities are going to be asked? Were the kids they brought up plants? Did they just happen to have these fairies through random chance? It's unclear, but what's even more unclear is that the twins say that Mothra is dead, but the larva is back on Infant Island, serving as its protector. But the last we knew of it, from Mothra vs. Godzilla, there were two larvae, and they both went back. Now, they're saying there's only one? I don't understand any of it. The twins sing their Mothra song, though, so we get that. Shindo, for his part, is markedly uninterested in this whole thing, so he turns to the paper, where he sees his sister's report on the prophet, and is shocked to see that she is the same woman as his dead princess! As this subtle image informs us:

This just fades in over the shot of the paper.

This just fades in over the shot of the paper.

He informs the Chief, claiming that they're the same person, but the Chief says that the real princess always wore royal bracelet on her arm. Nevertheless, Shindo wants to pick her up and keep her safe, which, for some reason, the Chief allows him to do, off-duty, and unofficially. What?! That's not legal. News of the Princess's life also reaches Selgina, where Important Chair commands Scary Assassin Dude With Sunglasses, hereby known as SADWS, to go to Japan and finish this. So he does. Shindo finds the bracelet, from an old fisherman, who tells him that he traded his clothes for the bracelet from a woman he rescued from the water. An apparently told no one about. Cool. Shindo claims that this proves the Prophet and the Princess are one, which I find dubious. Then there's a weird scene of a scientist telling us that "the curvature of space around a spherical body is composed of different dimensions. and that the princess fell into a gap between the dimensions caused by the force of the explosion." Okay, whatever you say, movie.

Murai and the two Shindo's meet for drinks and exchange their myriad information. Up in the mountains, Princess Prophet Salno warns the crowd Rodan lies sleeping in the rocks below. The movie decides to have some dude's hat blow in, and another guy offers to get it for 200 yen. I calculate that that translates to 8.44 USD in today's money, so, I guess that's worth it? Anyway, the dude jumps in, of course Rodan wakes up and instantly starts flying around, destroying buildings with his wings.

Despite learning of Rodan's being awake, the fairies decide to peace out back to Infant Island, and they're on a boat, when Salno shows up again, warning the boat not to take off. Naoko, who was there to interview the fairies, interferes before she's arrested. She takes her to a hotel, where SADWS happens to be, with some thugs. They make eye contact, but Salno doesn't seem to recognize him. Up in the room, the fairies are revealed to have stowed away in Naoko's bag, because they believed Salno's warning not to get on the ship. And why is that, you ask? Because, we finally get ourselves a Godzilla attack, muthafuckas! It's 36 minutes into the movie, but our large boy finally makes his appearance, atomic breathing the boat.

No matter how silly the movie, I love seeing this boy!

No matter how silly the movie, I love seeing this boy!

Salno gets a makeover, and Naoko is called to the lobby by her brother, who wants to know where Salno is. Naoko is hesitant, but agrees to let him in on the whole thing. Meanwhile, the assassins have taken this opportunity to break into the room, and try to kill Salno, with "the same knife SADWS used to kill her father". So that's one mystery revealed, I guess. Salno maintains throughout that she doesn't know him, insisting she's a Martian. Right before he kills her, the fairies turn off the lights, and warn an incoming Shindo and Naoko that the assassins are their. There's a brief shootout, before the assassins jump out the window or something? They're gone anyway. Shindo finally meets the princess, and takes her to be examined by a doctor.

Godzilla makes it to the mainland, calling out for Rodan, who shows up. I guess sensing the commotion, the egg breaks open, and there's a crazy scene of a blast of fire emerging, and exploding a million times, and eventually forming the shape of Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster! He also has wings and two tails! Fuck. Yes. But enough of that. Shindo has taken Salno to a doctor, played by Yamane himself, Takashi Shimura. He claims that Salno is Salnormal, and has nothing wrong with her brain. She awakens and tells them that, centuries ago, Ghidorah came to Mars, and within a month, her entire civilazation was destroyed. And now that's going to happen to Earth, oh no! We hear that Godzilla and Rodan are headed for the area, which is being evacuated. The two beasts meet, and Rodan flies into Godzilla, knocking him down. There are a few more shots of these two fighting, but, again, I'll skip them unless it's important, because nothing happens here.

There's an emergency meeting held to decide what to do. The Ministry of Defense doesn't want to use atomic weapons against Ghidorah, and they ask for help from any nation who is willing. This gives Murai the idea to bring out the fairy twins. This prompts a series of unlikely statements, eventually leading Naoko to reveal, on live broadcast television, that Salno is being held at the clinic with Dr. Yamane (not his real name). This is real stupid, you guys. She knows that there are assassins after Salno, and that she's being televised, but she said it anyway, which gives the assassins a location. They head out. Meanwhile, the fairies call for Mothra's help, though they say that Mothra won't be able to beat Ghidorah without the help of Godzilla and Rodan. Dr. Yamane puts Salno under hypnosis, where she (still a martian) reveals that as her home was being destroyed, a small number of them fled to Earth, where they slowly began to devolve into humans. They lost their abilities, except for their ability to see the future. That's some pretty bizarre world-building there, movie. You sure about that? The assassins arrive at the clinic, and overhear that Godzilla and Rodan are almost there. They decide to continue their mission in spite of this. They also overhear that Dr. Yamane is going to try electroshock therapy on Salno for some reason, and the only assistant he has is Shindo for some reason, and the switch to control the electricity is on the outside of the room for some reason. The assassins do the obvious thing, and crank that shit way up. Outside, Rodan and the Big G are fighting. The most notable thing here is that Rodan PICKS GODZILLA UP AND FLIES AWAY WITH HIM!!! Holy Balls! He drops our boy on an electrical tower, knocking out the power just in time to save Salno from getting zapped. What a relief.

Pictured: A character I care very deeply about.

Pictured: A character I care very deeply about.

There's another shootout with the assassins, Murai and Naoko show up, no one is killed, the assassins get away, blah blah blah. the main characters get in a car to evacuate finally, but stop when the fairies announce that Mothra has arrived. They all head over a cliff side to witness the most bizarre scene I've ever laid eyes on. Mothra crawls over to Godzilla and Rodan, fighting like kindergartners. She (I'm calling Mothra "she") gets their attention by web shooting Godzilla, which causes Rodan to actually laugh like he's seeing something funny happen. This earns him some web shooting as well, which goddamn causes Godzilla to laugh, like actually laugh, like grabbing his belly because it hurts, laughing. I truly don't understand what this movie is doing. What, the actual and literal, hell is going on? Luckily, the fairies translate the (apparently intelligent) conversation the monsters (who, I'll remind you, are ancient and unknowable beasts from before humans). Mothra tries to convince them to work together, but they feel (and I can't stress enough how weird it is that Godzilla has thoughts, and communicates those thoughts to his monster friends) that humans are not worth saving. Humans hate Godzilla, so why should Godzilla risk his life to save them. Whatever, movie. What, the hell, ever. Mothra also decides that this scene is stupid, so she peaces out to deal with Ghidorah on her own.

Speaking of Ghidorah, we haven't talked about him in a while. He's been flying around, wrecking shit this whole movie. He, like Rodan, has the power to destroy cities with the flap of his wings, and he also has his own version of atomic breath. His is more like yellow electricity. Anyway, he shows up and destroys the assassin's car, killing the thugs, but SADWS escapes. Dude's suuuuper committed to his job, that's admirable. Mothra and Ghidorah meet, and immediately, the dragon thing blasts the worm with lightning breath, sending her flying. That's pretty funny. Godzilla changes his mind, and he and Rodan join the fight. Godzilla starts throwing rocks at Ghidorah, an idea he probably got from King Kong.

Meanwhile, Salno begins praying to the gods to save this planet, and SADWS arrives to snipe at her. She falls/jumps/is shot down onto some rocks below, as Shindo appears and shoots back. Another blast from Ghidorah sends some rocks tumbling onto him, just after Salno wakes up and recognize him. So her memory's back, yay! And the assassin is dead, yay! I guess that's all resolved.

The monsters look down at the timeline of this movie, and see that it's only a couple minutes from the end, so they decide to wrap things up. Mothra (who, by the way, has spent this whole movie as a larva, not a moth), climbs onto Rodan, who flies up. This allows the worm to wrap Ghidorah's heads in webbing. Godzilla grabs him by the tail and throws him, then hits him with some rocks, until Ghidorah, just, gives up and flies away. AND THAT'S THE GODDAMN END OF THAT! No one asks where he's going. No one worries if he'll come back. It's just, like, that's it, huh? Okay, movie... okay. You've beaten me.

There's a wrap up scene where Salno, now in full princess form, announces she's going home. She thanks Shindo for saving him all those times, and says goodbye to him, promising to never forget him. She also thanks Naoko, and then bounces. The movie ends with Mothra returning to Infant Island, Twin Fairies in tow, as Godzilla and Rodan look on for some reason.

The Review

So, I really don't know how to feel about this movie. I think back to the original, and it seems like a masterpiece, compared the bizarre elements these newer ones have. Sure, maybe the effects are getting better, and they're in color now, but Godzilla laughing at Rodan getting covered in webs, is just... What's going on here, you know?

I've decided I liked the movie. It wasn't boring (the worst thing a movie can be), and it gave me enough of the monster fights to keep me happy. I actually did love all the battles. I couldn't detail them all, because this thing is long enough, but they were pretty fun. I CAN'T BELIEVE RODAN LIFTED GODZILLA AND FLEW OFF WITH HIM! That was the most insane shit! I absolutely loved it. Apart from the bizarre humanity of the monsters, I liked them in this movie. Rodan wasn't much of a threat, but Ghidorah seemed pretty scary! He didn't do a whole hell of a lot in his first outing, but when he was there, he was wrecking shop. I'm excited to see how he changes going forward. I continue to be confused as to the nature of Mothra as the series goes on. I get that it's realistic that she would be a larva for a long time, but this series has continually demonstrated an aversion to realism. That's not a criticism, by the way, I think that makes it more fun. But if they are going to be unrealistic, at least give us the moth. It was probably a budgetary thing, so I guess it's fine. But I super don't care about larva form Mothra. Which, I want to point out, he was this entire movie. There was no actual MOTHra. Not once. But whatever. And, I also didn't get why they ended the way they did. Ghidorah (never referred to as "King"), just flies off? Not even into space, unless I missed something. Like, he's still around, and still a problem, right? It's confusing. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Where are you, you beautiful bastard?

Where are you, you beautiful bastard?

As for the humans in this movie... I don't know, man. They tend to be the weakest part of these things, and that was true in this movie. BUT, we did get that bizarre princess story-line. I guess she just happens to be a Martian? And Ghidorah returning sparked her ancient memories? It's unclear, and I'm pretty sure it's never gonna be talked about again. We'll see. All the stuff with the assassins was at least crazy enough to keep me interested, because it was so weird! And I liked Naoko, she seemed really nice. I liked that she was looking out for Salno for a while. I think a lot of movies (American movies, anyway), would have made them rivals, or Naoko was jealous of Salno, maybe for grabbing her brother's attention, or something stupid. But they seemed liked friends toward the end, and I liked that. ALTHOUGH, I have to say, the whole thing at the clinic was soooo dumb. It was so forced, the lines that got Naoko to say, on TV, where Salno was. And why she said it out loud, despite knowing that the assassins were after her, and that she was on TV. Honestly, I thought there was going to be a twist where they revealed that they were setting a trap for the assassins, but it didn't happen. And it kept going! The set up for the assassins electrocuting her was dumb, too. The power switch was outside the room? Why? Just to allow the assassins to try it. So dumb.

Overall, I think this is one that I might go back to in the future. I'm staunchly becoming a fan of these older movies, and I can't tell if it's in spite of, or because of, how stupid they can get at times. Maybe it's better not to know.

I want to try to get back on a regular schedule with these. I want to try to post them on Thursdays, because I think the name "Godzilla Thursdays" just sounds cool. So, here's this one, and next week, we'll be talking about Invasion of Astro-Monster! That sounds fun. I have no idea what an Astro-Monster is, but I'm assuming it's another space creature, so, look forward to that. See you then, everybody.