Mothra had been released to great success in 1961, one of the key reasons the Godzilla franchise was revived. Since the concept of Godzilla battling another big monster was so well-liked, it was decided that the overall theme would remain intact for Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964). The movie takes elements from the original Mothra and, essentially, uses them again here, inserting in a battle with Godzilla. A giant egg surfaces on an island shore after a typhoon. A group of scientists go to research the egg while an entrepreneur named Kumayama (Yoshifumi Tajima) sees dollar signs and wants to build a tourist attraction. Enter the two tiny twin girls, known as the Shobjin (Japanese vocal group The Peanuts, twin sisters Emi and Yumi Ito, reprising their roles from Mothra). They are from Infant Island and explain that the egg belongs to Mothra, which resembles a colorful, giant moth. If the egg hatches, mass destruction will follow as the larvae will search for food. Their pleas are ignored just as Godzilla washes up on a beach due to the recent typhoon. The islanders convince their god Mothra to fight Godzilla, which leads to the first battle of the movie. However, Mothra is defeated but saves the unhatched egg. As the Shobjin sing (one of the most well-known Godzilla musical themes), the egg hatches and two Mothra larvae emerge to engage Godzilla in another epic battle. Godzilla is ultimately defeated and sent back to the ocean, leaving the Mothra larvae free to return to their island home.
Unlike the first three Godzilla flicks, American audiences were given essentially the same version that Japan saw with the key difference being the title. The movie was first released in the US under the title Godzilla vs. The Thing and Mothra’s name was dubbed as “the thing.” Finally, in the 1980s, the title was changed to Godzilla vs. Mothra despite the dubbing not being changed and still referencing Mothra as “the thing.” With the most recent DVD release from Classic Media, the film’s original title has finally been restored to the correct Mothra vs. Godzilla.
Mothra vs. Godzilla is regard by most fans as the best Godzilla movie aside from the original. Mothra remains one of the most popular Toho creations, being featured in a total of 7 Godzilla movies and a standalone trilogy in the 1990s. The original 1961 movie is currently available as part of the Icons of Sci-Fi: Toho Collection while Mothra vs. Godzilla is easily found on DVD for less than $10. This one stands as one of my personal favorites in the series and is highly recommended.
We have three more Godzilla films to look back at before I dive into Godzilla (1984). But first, I’m taking a break from the destruction to check out a few other films. I’ll be back on Independence Day for The Norseman (1978) with Lee Majors!