For many years, I always felt that All Monsters Attack was the worst of the Godzilla movies. I had always thought that I had watched Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) until I recently sat down to revisit it. I’ve discovered that I never have seen it, at least not all the way through. Now, I can officially say it is tied with All Monsters Attack for being at the bottom of the Kaiju barrel.
Most Godzilla fans will agree the early 70s was a rough time for our beloved monster. He was turned into a cartoonish pale imitation of his previous destructive self. Now we’ve been left with a killer creature who has become a father and, apparently, a tag team wrestler. Honestly, that’s how the fight scenes played out. But, before we go into the final battle, we need to discuss what brings us to that point. We have another underwater civilization, this time called Seatopia, and they’ve grown weary of the nuclear testing that is impacting their home. So they send their god, Megalon, to the surface to wipe out mankind. Enter inventor Goro Ibuki, his nephew and a friend. Seatopia has sent some bungling spies to capture Goro’s invention, Jet Jaguar. Jet is a robot that apparently stands in their way of world domination…or destruction. After a series of comical events (although really not funny at all), Goro and the gang regain control of Jet and send him to Monster Island to ask Godzilla for help. Meanwhile, the Seatopians reach out to the Nebula M aliens, who send them Gigan. Now, we have a good old fashioned handicap match. In one corner, the tag team of Megalon and Gigan. In the other corner, Jet Jaguar. Oh wait, did I mention Jet has apparently gained a measure of consciousness and the ability to grow? Meanwhile, Godzilla swims his heart out and is ready to tag in for the Godzillamania main event. Godzilla and Jet shake hands, the bell is rung and it’s time to…get it on! A long battle ensues which eventually sees the team of Godzilla and Jet victorious. Godzilla hits the ocean to go home to Monster Island and Jet shrinks down to rejoin his inventors.
It’s no surprise to discover this movie originally started off as a solo flick for Jet Jaguar. Jet was the result of contest, having been designed by a young elementary student. Jet immediately brings to mind Ultraman. I first discovered Ultraman in the late 70s when we first got cable television. Every Saturday morning, channel 17 WTCG out of Atlanta (soon to be Superstation TBS) played Ultraman before episodes of Lost in Space and the Saturday morning edition of Georgia Championship Wrestling. Unlike Ultraman, test audiences revealed Jet could not carry the movie on this own, so it was rewritten to include Godzilla. Godzilla clearly seems an afterthought in the movie, which adds to all of the generally negative comments and reaction Godzilla vs. Megalon has had over the years. A rushed production and one of the worst Godzilla suits to date really made this one a struggle.
While the movie performed poorly at the Japanese box office, it surprisingly did very well in the U.S. It was the first Godzilla movie to receive a primetime U.S. television premiere, hosted by actor John Belushi, who wore a Godzilla costume. However, it was severely cut down to fill a one-hour timeslot. An interesting marketing campaign had a poster that closely resembled the 1976 King Kong imagery, clearly trying to capitalize on the success of that film. Ultimately though, as time has passed, it is regarded as one of the worst, if the not very worst, of the Godzilla series. A poor script, inadequate acting, lousy effects, cheap Godzilla suit, Ultraman rip-off…there just isn’t much here to like. The movie was widely seen in the 70s and 80s and is available on DVD. It is a barebones release but let’s be honest, the less time we spend on this movie the better. We have two more movies left in the original series before Godzilla begins to go back to his roots and get a little more serious. The darkest days are behind us and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.