Let's Talk: Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964 & 1965)
Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster. This fifth installment in the Godzilla franchise came out only eight months after Mothra vs. Godzilla. It’s not the five months between Godzilla, King of the Monsters and Godzilla Raids Again, but still…Toho noticed they had something special with Godzilla and didn’t want their fans to wait for any sequels. As The Official Godzilla Compendium said, “As film number five, Ghidorah affirmed to fans that a long-running and profitable Godzilla series was taking shape.”
Now, as much as it pains me to say this, this movie was not one of my favorites. The story, the acting, even the fight scenes between the monsters were, to me…horrible! I’m sorry! I know there are people, like fellow Godzilla fanatic, Mark Bailey, who love this movie, but I could do without it. However, there were a couple of things that I did like about this movie.
Reasons Why I Liked Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster
First, I loved how they tied Mothra vs. Godzilla into the movie. One way they did so was by bringing back Professor Murai, who was played by a legend in the monster movie industry, Hiroshi Koizumi. Toward the end of the movie, he does say, “As you know, Mothra once defeated Godzilla,” obviously referring to the ending of Mothra vs. Godzilla. They also brought back the twins, the fairies, the Cosmos, the Shobijin…whatever name you know them as, the two lovely ladies who accompany Mothra appeared on a TV show. When asked about the two larvae, the ladies explained that one passed, but the other was alive and well.
I have to say that since Godzilla Raids Again, I have loved how each film has tied into its predecessor in some shape or form. Well, in the Japanese versions anyway. Yeah, I know there’s no real connections between Mothra vs. Godzilla and King Kong vs. Godzilla, but a lot of my fellow fanatics link them together by saying Godzilla was resting in the ocean after his fight and fall into the sea with Kong. Then, the hurricane in the beginning of Mothra vs. Godzilla “threw” him onto land and he woke up…not exactly in a good mood. I’m cool with that!
The Turning Point
Second, I do love that this was a turning point for Godzilla to go from heel to babyface. (Sorry for the wrestling terms.) As The Official Godzilla Compendium said, “With Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, the Godzilla films began to target younger audiences, and Godzilla himself would gradually shed his evil, hostile image.” Yes, in the beginning of the film he destroys a ship and then destroys an entire village as he fights Rodan, but in the end both him and Rodan rally up with Mothra to take on a new enemy in King Ghidorah.
Reasons Why I Didn't Like Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster
However, as I stated earlier, there are a couple of reasons why I did not like this movie. One was the story. This is the first film where we encounter aliens, but not the ones that try to take over the world. Our new monster, Ghidorah hatches out of a meteorite and Princess Maas Doulina Salno of Selgina is rescued from her plane before it blows up – an assassination attempt – by a voice in the sky. She then reappears as a “prophetess” stating she’s from…well it depends on which version you’re watching. If it’s the American version, she’s from Mars. If it’s the Japanese version, she’s from Venus. Lastly, an astronomer explains that the reason Princess Salno survived the crash was because “…the continuum surrounding any spherical body such as our world is composed of different dimensions. The force of the explosion created a gap between these dimensions and fortunately for her she fell into it.”
I’m sorry, but that’s one plot I cannot get behind.
Second, there were a couple of characters that really bothered me and Princess Salno was definitely one of them. I didn’t like the actress who played her, and I didn’t find her believable, especially at the end of the movie. That’s when she asks the doctor who was helping her (who was played by Takashi Shimura…that’s right, Dr. Yamane makes a return) if she was really saying she was from another planet. She couldn’t believe she was saying that.
But then she turns to Detective Shindo (another character I wasn’t too fond of) and thanks him for saving her life not once, not twice, but three times. He was shocked that she knew about them. I was too and I’m sure a bunch of other people were too. She then revealed that was the only thing she did remember. She said, “I don’t remember anything else. Only that you saved me. I don’t know why.” What?! What?! Oh my gosh, moving on!
Its Fight Sequences
Moving on to the fight sequences between the monsters, especially between Godzilla and Rodan. I mean you could tell they were using puppets and action figures and not the guys in the rubber suits. It was blatant and it made those sequences more comical than frightening. Also, at one point, Godzilla is attacking Rodan with his tail and it looks so weird. It honestly looks like he was twerking. Wait a minute…does that mean Godzilla was the one who originally invented twerking?
Couple of Other Things to Point Out
However, I will admit there were two scenes that were actually well done, and that impressed me. They made the monsters look like these larger than life beings. One of them was when Rodan flew over Godzilla’s head as he came ashore, flipping him over. It was fantastic. Also, when Rodan picked up Godzilla and then released him over some electrical towers, I thought that was great too. They did it in slow motion and primarily with the guys in the rubber suits, which – to me – made it more believable.
By the way, did anybody notice throughout the movie that Rodan’s roar was actually Godzilla’s? They didn’t switch it over until like the last half hour of the movie. I have no clue why they did that, but if you do, please tell me. I would love to know!
Godzilla IS a Juvenile!
Lastly, who remembers my discussion in Godzilla Raids Again about Godzilla being a juvenile? After watching Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, I’m sticking with that theory and here’s why. Toward the end of the movie, when Mothra is trying to get Godzilla and Rodan’s attention, she sprays them with her web to get them to stop fighting. She first hits Godzilla, which makes Rodan laugh. Then she hits Rodan, which makes Godzilla laugh. Then as she’s “talking” to them, trying to convince them to help her fight against Ghidorah, all they want to do is fight each other. Godzilla actually fires his ray at Rodan during the conversation. They both want apologies from each other, but neither will give it. They were acting like teenagers because they are teenagers! As we progress through the movies, we’ll see Godzilla grow and become more of an adult. I’ll show you along the way.
What Do You Think?
I think that’s about it, so what do you think? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree with me? Did you like Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster? Is it one of your favorites or one of your least favorites? Let’s talk!
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Please remember I am not getting paid to talk about this amazing franchise or promote any movies or books. I am just a fanatic, like yourself, wanting to start a conversation about Godzilla and other monster movies. To learn more, please check out my Policy page. Also, I would love to hear from you, my fellow Godzilla fanatics. You can either comment below (please read my “Comments Policy” on the Policy page before doing so) or contact me.
The photos featured in this post are my photos. The first is my copy of Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster. The second is my “signature photo”, me with my copy of this okay movie.
**This post was originally published on March 15, 2020**