Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) is Best of the 70s Films

After a long absence, it’s time to get back to our loveable monster legend Godzilla with Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974). After some pretty rough films in the early 70s, the franchise was showing signs of fatigue. It needed a shot in the arm and it got just that with the introduction of a mechanical Godzilla and a new creature called King Caesar.

Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla 1The plot is typical of Godzilla films from this area. You have essentially two storylines that meet somewhere in the middle with the ultimate Godzilla battle taking center stage by the last 30 minutes of the movie. Here, we have an ancient statue in Okinawa being unearthed and tied into prophecies of a great monster rising to destroy the world. The statue is that of King Caesar, guardian of Okinawa. As various signs of impending doom begin to appear, we’re following two groups of individuals that include Professor Miyajima (Akihiko Hirata) and his daughter, various government agents and a mysterious group of aliens with plans of conquest. Their plan revolves around Mechagodzilla, a giant robotic version of Godzilla that resembles the real Godzilla at first thanks to a fake skin. Mechagodzilla plans to kill the revived King Caesar until the real Godzilla shows up. The usual three-way battle follows including a surprisingly bloody sequence between Godzilla and King Caesar where Godzilla attempts to rip off Caesar’s jaw. In the end, Godzilla and King Caesar join forces to defeat Mechagodzilla and stop the aliens from conquering Earth.

This was a lot of fun as it was a change of pace from some of the bad films of the early 70s. Not surprisingly, many consider it the best of the 70s Godzilla movies. It has a fairly cohesive plot, good action sequences and a great soundtrack during the battles. The original script went through many rewrites and included, at various times, Mothra and King Barugan, amongst others. In the end, we were dealt the new King Caesar and a minor appearance of Anguirus. King Caesar’s design is definitely a product of the mid-70s but accurate when considering it’s supposed to be from Japanese mythology. However, it’s not my favorite kaiju design though.

The movie was only a moderate success in Japan but an improvement over previous films. It wasn’t released in the United States until three years later. By that time, The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman were big hits on American television. So, Cinema Shares International, who had the distribution rights, retitled the movie Godzilla vs. the Bionic Monster, in an obvious attempt to capitalize on the Bionic mania. However, one week into release, Universal Studios filed a lawsuit against Cinema Shares International, claiming copyright infringement on their two television shows. The movie was retitled Godzilla vs. The Cosmic Monster.  Whatever the title, I really enjoyed this entry. It had been many years since I watched it and I was pleasantly surprised how fresh it seems when compared to some of the other entries of the 70s.Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla 2

The movie was released on DVD but is now out-of-print. Copies on Amazon are running about $55, so you might want to check around on eBay or local used DVD shops for something cheaper. Also, be careful you are getting the 1974 version as this was redone twice, in 1993 and again in 2002. Meanwhile, check out a trailer as you hunt for a copy.

Next time, Godzilla is back in the final entry of the original series, Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975).

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6 thoughts on “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) is Best of the 70s Films

  1. Makes me want to watch this film again.

    Since the B-MovieCast was on vacation, I started listening to other stuff that wasn’t on my regular list, and the KaijuCast has quickly risen atop my queue of “newbies.” So, with you returning to the G-series, giant monsters have suddenly become very prevalent in my life. (I’ve even started writing a serialized Kaiju story, that I should begin posting with a couple of weeks.) All the G-films after Monster Zero (Astro Monster) were pretty hit and miss with me, and its kindof sad to think that the “Golden Era” of Godzilla was just a couple of films in the early 60s. (Plus the original, of course.)

    Mecha-Godzilla has never been a great favorite of mine, mostly because of that old adage “when you get to the evil twin, you’ve run out of ideas.” Still, this and Terror are pretty good flicks, and a step up from most anything with Minilla (save Destroy…). I’m not sure if you’re moving onto the Heisei series after this, but they’re a mixed bunch as well with more than their share of mecha-G.

    And, hey, did you ever post reviews of the earlier G-films somewhere? If so, you should reprint them here. (If not, you should re-do them and work toward a complete set.)

    Back to Kaiju for me. Watching Gappa right now (not the PD version, though) and contemplating the next chapter of the Kaiju serial. Keep reviewing, I’ll keep reading. Happy rubber monster suits!

  2. Oh Minila aka Minya aka Tadzilla aka…ugh! Glad I’m over that part of Godzilla history. Yes, I’m moving on and actually hope to finish the series this fall. I’ve seen most of the 80s and 90s movies except for Godzilla vs. Biollante. However, other than Godzilla 2000, I haven’t seen any of the 2000s flicks. So, I’m really looking forward to it. And no, I didn’t review the earlier entries because I had watched those prior to launching the site. That said, I should go back and review them. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. Going back through the list of what I’ve written about since the launch of the site in October, looks like the first seven flicks need reviewed. So, I will work those in after “Terror of Mechagodzilla” and before “Return of Godzilla/Godzilla 1985”. Thank you for the suggestion Steve!

    • Awesome. Looking forward to those reviews — which may cause me to re-watch some (or all) of them, too, which will be more inspiration for my upcoming Kaiju serial. 🙂 Mothra vs. Godzlla (a.k.a. Godzilla vs. the Thing) is my favorite G-flick of all, aside from the original.

      Drop up to Wisconsin, and we’ll watch the whole series, in order, over a weekend. 🙂

  4. I wish I was closer, that would be awesome! I’m looking forward to “King Kong vs. Godzilla:, as the last time I watched it, I only had the dubbed version. I have since acquired the original Japanese version.

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