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Monday, May 5, 2014

Countdown To Godzilla 2014: Son Of Godzilla

Son of Godzilla, (released in Japan as Monster Island's Decisive Battle: Godzilla's Son (怪獣島の決戦 ゴジラの息子 Kaijū-tō no Kessen Gojira no Musuko)), is a 1967 Japanese science fiction kaiju film produced by Toho. Directed by Jun Fukuda with special effects by Sadamasa Arikawa (supervised by Eiji Tsuburaya), the film starred Tadao Takashima, Akira Kubo, and Akihiko Hirata. The 8th film in the Godzilla series, it was also the second of two island themed Godzilla adventures that Toho produced with slightly smaller budgets than most of the Godzilla films from this time period. Continuing the trend of shifting the series towards younger audiences, the film introduced an infant Godzilla named Minilla.

The film was released straight to television in the United States in 1969 by the Walter Reade organization.

A team of scientists are trying to perfect a weather-controlling system. Their efforts are hampered by the arrival of a nosy reporter and by the sudden presence of 2-meter tall giant praying mantises. The first test of the weather control system goes awry when the remote control for a radioactive balloon is jammed by an unexplained signal coming from the center of the island. The balloon detonates prematurely, creating a radioactive storm that causes the giant mantises to grow to enormous sizes. Investigating the mantises, which are named Kamacuras (Gimantis in the English-dubbed version), the scientists find the monstrous insects digging an egg out from under a pile of earth. The egg hatches, revealing a baby Godzilla. The scientists realize that the baby's telepathic cries for help were the cause of the interference that ruined their experiment. Shortly afterwards, Godzilla himself arrives on the island, demolishing the scientist's base as he rushes to defend the baby. Godzilla kills two of the Kamacuras during the battle while one manages to fly away to safety, Godzilla then adopts the baby.

The baby Godzilla, named Minilla, quickly grows to about half the size of his father, and Godzilla instructs him on the important monster skills of roaring and using his atomic ray. At first, Minilla has difficulty producing anything more than atomic smoke rings, but Godzilla discovers that stressful conditions (i.e. stomping on his tail,) or motivation produces a true radioactive blast. Minilla comes to the aid of Reiko when she is attacked by a Kamacuras, but inadvertently awakens Kumonga (Spiga in the English-dubbed version), a giant spider that was sleeping in a valley. Kumonga attacks the caves where the scientists are hiding, and Minilla stumbles into the fray.

Kumonga traps Minilla and the final Kamacuras with his webbing, but as Kumonga begins to feed on the deceased Kamacuras, Godzilla arrives to save the day. Godzilla saves his son and they work together to defeat Kumonga by using their atomic rays on the giant spider. The scientists finally use their perfected weather altering device on the island and the once tropical island becomes buried in snow and ice. As the scientists are saved by an American submarine, Godzilla and Minilla begin to hibernate as they wait for the island to become tropical again.

Akira Kubo as Goro Maki
Tadao Takashima as Dr. Tsunezo Kusumi
Akihiko Hirata as Dr. Hujisaki
Bibari "Beverly" Maeda as Saeko (Reiko) Matsumiya
Yoshio Tsuchiya as Hurukawa
Kenji Sahara as Morio
Ken'ichiro Maruyama as Ozawa
Seishiro Kuno Tashiro
Yasuhiko Saijo as Suzuki
Susumu Kurobe as Weather observation airplane captain
Kazuo Suzuki as Weather observation aeronaut
Wataru Oomae as Weather observation airplane radio operator
Tyoutarou Tougin as Weather observation airplane crewman
Ousmane Yusef as Submarine captain
Haruo Nakajima as Godzilla (Water scenes only)
Yū Sekida and Seiji Onaka as Godzilla, The King of the Monsters who, while battling Kumonga and Kamacuras, trains his son to become the monster prince.
Little Man Machan as Minilla, the Son of Godzilla who aids his father in fighting Kumonga and Kamacuras
Kumonga, a giant spider and the main antagonist of the film.
Kamacuras, a giant praying mantis.

Box Office
In Japan, the film sold approximately 2,480,000 tickets.

Son of Godzilla has received generally positive reviews. The film currently holds a 63% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

English Version
Shortly after the film's Japanese release, Toho had Son of Godzilla dubbed into English by Frontier Enterprises in Tokyo. As with nearly all Toho international versions, the dubbed version corresponds directly to uncut Japanese film. Frontier Enterprises owner William Ross dubs Dr. Kusumi (Tadao Takashima), while the part of Goro Maki (Akira Kubo) is dubbed by Burr Middleton, son of Charles B. Middleton. This version of the film was released on video in 1992 by PolyGram Video, Ltd. in the United Kingdom.

In the United States, Son of Godzilla was distributed directly to television by the Walter Reade Organization in 1969. The movie was re-dubbed by Titan Productions, Inc in New York. Peter Fernandez wrote and directed the dubbing script and voiced Goro Maki. Walter Reade Organization deleted almost all of the pre-credit sequence. All that remains in this version is a brief shot of Godzilla roaring and approaching the camera. The opening credits are also deleted, although the underlying footage is still present. In both English dubs, the monsters Kamacuras and Kumonga are called "Gimantis" and "Spiega", respectively. The character, "Saeko", is also called "Reiko" in both dubbed versions.

The original US version of the film was the one seen on American television and home video for over thirty years. In 2004, Tri-Star Home Video released the international version (and optional Japanese audio track) on DVD. The international version was later broadcast on Turner Classic Movies in 2008.

Son of Godzilla is very similar to the previous year's Ebirah, Horror of the Deep. Both take place largely on a south pacific island populated by monsters, and both include a "native girl" among the cast. Also, both end in a similar way, with the heroes waving goodbye to the monsters as the island is destroyed/frozen. The similarities are due to the faces behind the scenes that worked on both films, including director Jun Fukuda and music composer Masaru Sato.
The suit in this film, MusukoGoji, was used again in Godzilla vs. Gigan for the water scenes.
Son of Godzilla is the last Showa era film that takes place within a set continuity, as the next year's Destroy All Monsters took place 32 years after the events of this film. 1969's All Monsters Attack hardly picks up where Son of Godzilla left off, and the next five films (1971's Godzilla vs. Hedorah through 1975's Terror of MechaGodzilla) fare no better in terms of tying the 1960's and 1970's films together in one, flawless timeline. What happens to Godzilla, his son, and the other monsters between 1967 and 1971 (between the films Son of Godzilla and Godzilla vs. Hedorah) is up to the viewer to decide.

DVD Release
Sony Pictures
Released: December 14, 2004
Aspect ratio: Anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1)
Sound: Japanese (2.0), English (2.0)
Supplements: Trailers for Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S., Steamboy, and Kaena: The Prophecy
Region 1
Note: English dub track is Toho's international version
Rated PG for some sci-fi monster violence

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