Let's Talk: Destroy All Monsters (1968 & 1969)
Attack of the Marching Monsters. Destroy All Monsters. Whatever title you know this epic monster movie under, it is the ninth installment in this incredible franchise with an all-star cast. No, literally, every single monster from past Godzilla movies (except for Kong, Ebirah, and I think Kamacuras) and more were featured in this film. Also, some well-known actors in the Godzilla franchise starred in this movie. It was like The Expendables trilogy, except the storyline featured aliens coming to take over the world. You all already know how I feel about the alien storyline in Godzilla movies thanks to Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, but this particular film I like. I actually enjoy watching it for a couple of reasons, one of them being the monumental battle at the end between Ghidorah and all of the monsters. However, there’s one thing that really bothered me about this movie and that was the special effects.
Let me explain.
Special Effects for Destroy All Monsters = Amateur Hour
For the past eight films, there have been times where you can tell they were using miniatures, but for the most part you’re sucked into believing these monstrous creatures are real. This is the first film, for me anyway, where you can really tell they are using miniatures, guys in rubber suits, and computer graphics throughout and it was irritating. Even though The Official Godzilla Compendium states, “The ninth Godzilla film – and Toho’s twentieth monster movie – was such an epic story that the film was allotted a bigger budget than usual,” it makes me question how that budget was used.
When I watched this movie as a child, I know I didn’t see nor realize how bad the special effects were, but now as a grown adult, it makes me twitch. It takes so much away from the movie when you’re able to tell they’re blatantly using miniatures, guys in rubber suits, and/or computer graphics. There’s only a handful of times I can say I suspended disbelief and thought there were true giants roaming the earth and that, to me, is sad; especially when compared to previous films like the 1954 original. I mean for a movie made in the 1950s, when special effects weren’t exactly the best, there were a plethora of times throughout most of that film where I thought Godzilla was real. Meanwhile, with Destroy All Monsters, which came out over a decade later, it looks like an amateur made it. I even wrote a note while watching the Japanese-version saying, “The destruction scene in this movie compared to the original Godzilla movie is so fake. You can tell and it’s a little upsetting.
I’m sorry and it truly breaks my heart to say that, but, unfortunately, that’s how I feel.
The Ending Battle = EPIC!
However, the ending sequence – the fight scene between all of the monsters attacking King Ghidorah – is the movie’s saving grace. I think every Godzilla fan can agree that that was one of the most epic battles in Godzilla’s history. I mean when you have several monsters attacking one giant monster all at once, it better be pretty freaking awesome! And the special effects were pretty good. This they got right!
As stated in The Official Godzilla Compendium, “The climax, which features a contest between seven of Earth’s monsters and the space-spanning King Ghidorah, is a special-effects tour de force… The result is the most memorable and enjoyable monster battle ever filmed.
“The final battle in Destroy All Monsters was an unprecedented feat in the history of monster cinema. Featuring eight different giant creatures, the sequence required the coordination of explosions to match animated rays, manipulation of wires for monster tails, wings, and necks, and the choreography of six costumed actors and two marionettes. King Ghidorah alone required twenty-two cables, operated by three to five behind-the-scenes technicians!”
You can tell they worked really hard on this sequence, that I will not take away from them. I guess you can say that’s where the bulk of the budget went.
Sorry for the rant! Moving on!
Introduction of Godzilla's New Home
As I stated earlier, the storyline is not my favorite either because it involves aliens taking control over the monsters again, but there’s one thing I did like and that was the introduction of Monster Island, called Monsterland in this film. I think it was super smart of Toho to put the monsters in one place and make it their “home”. The only thing that confuses me is, was Mothra taken from Infant Island and placed in Monsterland (Monster Island)? If so, what did the islanders do or say? Did they have a say? These are questions I would really like answered. Do you have them? I would love to hear your thoughts!
But here’s an interesting fact I learned thanks to The Official Godzilla Compendium, “Twenty-five years later, the concept would be echoed in Jurassic Park, but unlike its imitator, Monsterland runs smoothly until it is attacked by the Kilaaks.”
How fascinating is that?
Godzilla is Growing
The last thing I want to discuss is Godzilla’s age. In the past, starting with Godzilla Raids Again, I’ve been talking about my theory of Godzilla’s age. I think in that movie, Godzilla is a juvenile (read the post to learn why I think this) and we’ve been watching him grow since then. In Destroy All Monsters, we’re starting to see a more adult Godzilla and a leader; a true king of the monsters, if you will. I think this because during the final battle with King Ghidorah, he’s the one who is leading the monsters into this battle, he tells them what to do, and he’s the one who destroys the Kilaaks’ base.
What Do You Think?
Again, this is my theory, but what do you think? Do you agree with my discussion on Destroy All Monsters and my theory or do you disagree? Is it one of your favorites or do you dislike it? Let’s talk!
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The photos featured in this post are my photos. The first is my VHS copy of Destroy All Monsters while the second is my “signature photo”, me with my copy of this pretty epic film.