Film Review: Destroy All Monsters (dir by Ishirō Honda)


Long before Marvel Studios convinced everyone in Hollywood that shared cinematic universes were the way of the future, Toho gave the world Destroy All Monsters!

First released in 1968, Destroy All Monsters featured almost every monster that every destroyed Tokyo.  As you can see in the picture below, this was a collection like no other.  Long before the Avengers, it was all about … The Monsters!

Check out the cast of Destroy All Monsters:

Some of these monsters are more identifiable than others.  Everyone knows Godzilla and I imagine that the majority of our readers can identify both Rodan and Mothra (who spends most of Destroy All Monsters in her larval form).  And, of course, that’s everyone’s favorite three-headed dragon, King Ghidorah, hovering in the sky.

As for the rest of the cast, they may be lesser monsters but, just like Ant-Man and the Falcon, they all have a role to play.  Up at the front of the group is Minilla, who is Godzilla’s bastard son.  Walking next to Godzilla is Baragon, who was the antagonist in Frankenstein Conquers The World.  The big snake is Manda, who previously appeared in a non-Godzilla film called Atragon.  The spiky armadillo is Anguirus from Godzilla Rides Again and directly behind him is Gorosaurus, who previously appeared in King Kong Escapes.  The big spider is Kumonga, who previously appeared in Son of Godzilla and apparently no longer wants to eat Minilla.  Meanwhile, up in the air with Rodan and Ghidorah, you’ve got Varan the Unbelievable from the film of the same name.

When Destroy All Monsters opens, all of these monsters (with the exception of Ghidorah) have been trapped on Monster Island.  Somehow, despite the fact that they’ve all tried to kill each other in the past, they’re now getting along just fine.  There’s a research station located underneath the island, where scientists can both study the monsters and keep them from escaping.  It seems like a great situation for everyone!  The monsters get a home of their own and the humans don’t have to keep rebuilding their cities.

But then, one day, all communication with Monster Island is lost and the monsters themselves start to pop up all over the world.  Rodan destroys Moscow.  Mothra takes out Beijing.  Gorosaurus totally destroys Paris.  Why doesn’t America step up to save the rest of the world?  Well, they’ve got problems of their own.  Just check out who has surfaced in New York harbor…

After years of exclusively destroying Tokyo, Godzilla has finally decided to visit New York City!  Of course, Godzilla ends up wrecking the place.  He specifically takes out the United Nations and wins the hearts of libertarians everywhere.

It turns out that, once again, a bunch of aliens have invaded Earth and are using mind control signals to force the monsters to attack humanity.  (After you watch enough Godzilla movies, you come to understand that this happens pretty regularly.)  While a team of humans try to figure out how to disrupt the control signals, the monsters are busy destroying every major city that they come across.

However, as the lead human points out, the monsters instinctively know who they’re “real enemy” is and it’s only a matter of time until they turn on the aliens.  The aliens, however, have a Plan B.  And, like so many intergalactic schemes of the past, that Plan B involves summoning King Ghidorah.

The appeal of King Ghidorah is obvious.  He’s got those big wings and those three heads and he breathes fire and he just looks like the type of monster that you would want on your side.  But, at the same time, I really do have to question the wisdom of continually trying to use Ghidorah to defeat Godzilla.  Ghidorah and Godzilla fought a countless number of times and never once did Ghidorah actually win.  He often put up a fairly impressive fight and he usually managed to knock around Godzilla’s friends but, repeatedly, Ghidorah proved to be totally ineffective when it came to actually defeating or even slowing down Godzilla.

That said, Destroy All Monsters just wouldn’t be the same without King Ghidorah.  Reportedly, this was originally envisioned as being the final Godzilla film and it’s kind of nice to see Godzilla hanging out with all of the other monsters.  Ghidorah and Godzilla may not have been friends but Ghidorah is still as important a part of Godzilla’s life as Rodan and Mothra.

Like most of the Godzilla films of the late 60s and early 70s, Destroy All Monsters spends way too much time on its human characters but, even if there isn’t as much as you might want, the rubber monster mayhem is still enjoyably silly and fun to watch.  All the monsters get together and play their role in saving the world.  Call it Godzilla: Infinity Wars.

2 responses to “Film Review: Destroy All Monsters (dir by Ishirō Honda)

  1. Pingback: Lisa’s Week In Review: 4/23/18 — 4/29/18 | Through the Shattered Lens

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