It may have Ishiro Honda as director, but All Monsters Attack (1969) remains my least favorite Godzilla film. For years, I had only seen the American dubbed version, known as Godzilla’s Revenge. Upon purchasing the Japanese language version in the Toho Master collection, I had a small glimmer of hope that somehow hearing it in Japanese would make this movie better. Unfortunately, any improvements were small and insignificant.
Ichiro is a latchkey kid growing up in the grim and polluted Tokyo of 1969. His parents both work and he’s constantly pursued by bullies. So, he escapes into his own fantasy world of living on Monster Island. He’s nicknamed the head bully as Gabara, so no surprise that Godzilla’s son Minilla has his own troubles with a monster named Gabara. As Ichiro’s dreams play out, we see Godzilla battle it out with Kamacuras (those praying mantis-like creatures from Son of Godzilla), Kumonga and Ebirah (Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster). Minilla has his hands full with Gabara. Minilla is constantly running away in fear while Godzilla tries to help him learn how to fight on his own. Meanwhile, in the real world, Ichiro is captured by two bungling bank robbers in a storyline that just seemed annoying. Ichiro learns from his dreams how to fight in the real world, eventually out smarting the robbers and the bullies.
From the first few seconds of the Japanese language version, I thought maybe my hopes of this being better were going to come true. One of the biggest differences is that a vocal song is used for the opening credit sequence. Yes, it’s annoying but it signaled that there might be some cool changes ahead. Sadly, what followed was just as bad as I remembered it. The movie is childish all the way through, which is exactly what Toho wanted at the time. Their goal was to aim the movie towards children just in time for the Christmas toy buying season. Since special effects legend Eiji Tsuburaya was busy, Honda was left doing the special effects himself. So, no surprise that he chose to tap into the stock footage. The dream sequences are particularly annoying in that Minilla (or “Minya” as he was called in the dubbed version) has the ability to talk and grow/shrink at will. Since all of the monster sequences occur in Ichiro’s dreams, it’s safe to say that none of it really happened in the Godzilla universe. However, there are some cool battles that at least make this one watchable.
This was just painful from start to finish. However, it is also one of the easiest Godzilla films to find as it’s always been in print in one form or another. If you have a strong desire to check this one out, or if you are a Godzilla completest like me, then the Toho Master Collection is the way to go at less than $10 dollars. For me, this is the bottom of the barrel in the series but, although we would take a step or two up in the next few years, the 70s were upon us and dark days for Godzilla were still ahead.