Kaiju Battle Royale in Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Destroy All Monsters 1As the 1970s approached, the Godzilla film series went on a roller coaster ride of pros and cons. It’s no surprise that I’ve seen many of these movies numerous times but always dubbed, not in their original Japanese. So, upon recently revisiting Destroy All Monsters (1968) for the first time in years, it was also the first time watching it in Japanese. Without a doubt, this is my preference as dubbing often just takes me out of the moment. Growing up, Destroy All Monsters was only one of my favorites because of the sheer number of monsters in the film. Watching it again showed it still stands on one of the best of the original Godzilla series.

Officially the ninth Godzilla film, Destroy All Monsters was also intended to be the last of the series. Therefore, director Ishiro Honda and special effects wizard Eiji Tsuburaya were blessed with a bigger budget in order to bring out all of the monsters from eleven of Toho’s Kaiju films. The plot sets our story at the end of the 20th century. All of the Earth’s monsters have been captured and now live on Monster Island, where they are monitored by the United Nations Science Committee (UNSC). Scientists live underground, observing the monsters while making sure they don’t escape. Our monster cast includes Godzilla, Minilla, Mothra, Rodan, Gorosaurus (King Kong Escapes), Anguirus (Godzilla Raids Again), Kumonga (that creepy spider from Son of Godzilla), Manda (looking better here than in Atragon…but not much), Baragon (Frankenstein Conquers The World), and Varan (Varan The Unbelievable). An alien race known as the Kilaaks gain control of the monsters and make the scientists their unwilling slaves. Their plan is to force the human race into submission or be destroyed. Godzilla attacks New York City, Rodan hits Moscaw, Mothra heads to Beijing, Gorosaurus goes for the French cuisine in Paris and Manda visits the queen in London. The UNSC learns how the Kilaaks are using radio signals to control the monsters and force the aliens to bring King Ghidorah to Earth. A monster battle royale ensues with Godzilla and friends finding on our side for once.Destroy All Monsters 2

While the plot of Destroy All Monsters is, on the surface, one of the weaker efforts in the series, it stands out as one of the most fun. While there are very few plot twists or developments for that matter, you’ll get more than your fill of battle sequences. There’s no denying that there is a great deal of nostalgia present when I watch this one as it takes me back to those early days of cable television. Seeing all of these monsters in one place was a big treat because some of them never graced our local channels. I just recently discovered Manda in Atragon and Varan The Unbelievable is on my shelf waiting to be viewed for a first time. Needless to say, Destroy All Monsters has always been in print in one format or another. Sadly, the most recent 2011 Tokyo Shock version, which was in both DVD and Blu-Ray, is now out-of-print and demanding prices of close to $100 or more. Reportedly, Toho was unhappy with the print quality and dubbing sources, leaving fans to scramble to acquire a copy. Some due diligence and searching on sites like eBay may result in a cheaper copy. It’s worth tracking this one down. That said, it wasn’t the end of the series after all as the dark period of the 70s was waiting. Hang on folks, it’s going to get a little bumpy from here on out.

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3 thoughts on “Kaiju Battle Royale in Destroy All Monsters (1968)

  1. This is a fun G film, but not a great one, just a shadow of Astro Monster (monster zero) and Ghidorah for me — but it does have all of the monsters in relatively good repair and doing cool stuff.

    The blu ray is really nice to have. Being a big fan, I snatched it up out of the gate — before they took them all back and reissued it. Reportedly, they did it because Toho didn’t approve of the Titra/Titan US dub included in the soundtrack options. That’s right, the version I have includes 2 English dubs, plus the Japanese original. And, as usual, the Titra/Titan one (the Speed Racer folks) blows away the Toho-preferred International version.

    To bad Toho can’t seem to come to grips with this — and I’m not interested enough in studio politics to know (or care) why. All I care is that this “policy” results in us getting the inferior International dub and the Japanese track and that’s it.

    Very glad I got the one with the good English track, before they changed their minds.

  2. I’ve gotten to where I really want to watch this in Japanese with sub-titles. It enhances my viewing. My copy was the most recent DVD release and it was pretty impressive. Thanks for all of the comments Steve. More Kaiju madness is on the way!

    • By all means, watch the subtitles. They’re great. But if my eyes are tired (and my eyes often are), I like to watch the dubbed version — and when I do that, i want to see the best dubbed version, usually, the one from my childhood, as opposed to the “International” one Toho happens to like.

      I think today, I’ll check out my copy of Varan the Unbelievable (subtitled), which says it’s 87 minutes long — as opposed to the “uncut” 70 minute one offered on Amazon. Let me know how long the one you have is (and how good the quality is).

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