After the enjoyable and successful Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla in 1974, the 15th entry in the Godzilla series followed one year later with Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975). In Japan, it was known as Counterattack of Mechagodzilla and, upon its’ brief release in the United States in 1978, it was known as The Terror of Godzilla. Despite the fact that director Ishiro Honda returned to the series after a six-year absence, it would be the least successful entry in the original series of films.
Terror of Mechagodzilla is a direct sequel to the previous year’s Mechagodzilla flick. Interpol is in search of the remains of the original Mechagodzilla. A submarine, the Akatsuki, wants information on the aliens from the black hole. However, they are soon attacked by a giant underwater dinosaur named Titanosaurus. Marine biologist Akira Ichinose (Katsuhiko Sasaki) traces Titanosaurus back to a mad scientist named Dr. Mafune (Akihiko Hirata) and his daughter Katsura (Tomoko Ai). The aliens are searching for Dr. Mifune to have him help them improve on the new Mechagodzilla. Unbeknownst to Akira, Katsura is actually a cyborg and the aliens intend on blackmailing Dr. Mafune using her safety as leverage. To ensure their plan works this time, the aliens put the controls for Mechagodzilla into Katsura. As Titanosaurus and Mechagodzilla attack the cities, Godzilla arrives to protect the humans.
Up to this point, the plot really seemed to drag. Godzilla is virtually unseen for the first hour until the final battle begins. Mechagodzilla still looks as cool as he did in the first film and Titanosaurus has a cool effect on his tail that helps him generate hurricane winds. However, beyond that, Titanosaurus doesn’t have much else going for it. Essentially, it takes advantage of whenever Godzilla is down for the count in the 2-on-1 showdown. At one point, Godzilla is buried but, we all know he’s alive and well. The humans build a device to block Mifune’s control of Titanosaurus, allowing Godzilla to burst out of his grave and go at Mechagodzilla for the final battle. Godzilla tears off Mechagodzilla’s head as did the last time only to reveal the brain tissue that Mifune wanted to make this Mechagodzilla better. Meanwhile, Interpol finds the aliens (who oddly don’t turn into simians upon death like they did last time), Dr. Mifune is killed in a fire fight and Katsura, after revealing herself as a cyborg to Akira, kills herself to ensure Mechagodzilla self-destructs. The alien leader escapes in one of three flying saucers, of which Godzilla quickly dispatches. In the end, Godzilla reigns supreme, with his final act kicking Titanosaurus into the ocean. Godzilla goes off into the proverbial sunset for what would turn into a 9-year slumber.
Ultimately, Terror of Mechagodzilla was a little disappointing. The storyline didn’t keep me engaged and Godzilla’s arrival seemed awful late. However, once he got on the scene, the last 20 minutes or so turns out to be a lot of fun and a good sendoff to the original series. But the movie was a box office failure in Japan. As usual, there were various titles and some editing for the US audience. The most noticeable change was a five-minute intro featuring the mini-history of Godzilla and quite a few flashbacks. Even though it served no real purpose, it at least gave viewers five minutes of Godzilla footage before they’d have to wait almost an hour for him to get back on screen. The movie is readily available on DVD, generally for less than $10. And yes, the original US poster of The Terror of Godzilla, pictured here, incorrectly showed King Caesar back in the this film.
After diminishing returns, Toho decided to end the series of films and give it a much needed rest. They never intended to end it altogether though and in 1984, production would begin on Godzilla’s return for his 30th anniversary with The Return of Godzilla or, as it was known in the United States, Godzilla 1985. But, before we leap forward to the 1980s, courtesy of a request from faithful reader Stephen D. Sullivan, I’ll be going back to review the first seven Godzilla movies, starting with Gojira aka Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1954).