Destroy All Monsters
Toho | 1968
By the time 1968 rolled around, Godzilla had appeared in seven films, starting in 1954. The genre was beginning to get a little bit tired, and was starting to turn in on itself, turning to camp, becoming children's fare. The Toho Company decided to launch one final hail-Mary play to win back the monster crowd by putting nearly all of their monsters into a single film - and Destroy All Monsters was it.
The sheer number of giant monsters (or daikaiju) in DAM was impressive: in addition to Godzilla, Toho heavyweights like Rodan, Mothra, Ghidrah, and Miniya (aka the smokering-blowing Baby Godzilla) appeared; but also lesser beasts like Gorosaurus, Manda (the giant undersea snake from Atragon), Angilas (first appeared in Gigantis the Fire Monster), Baragon (from Frankenstein Conquers the World), Spiga, and (briefly) Varan the Unbelievable (believe it!).
The plot: In the mind-blowingly future year of 1999, all of Earth's giant monsters are imprisoned by Earth's multinational defense forces on Monster Island (or Monsterland in the English dub, like a super-cool theme park or something), held in check by knockout gas, electromagnetic force fields, and such. One day the monsters disappear - and then, variously reappear at Earth's capitol cities, wreaking destruction. It of course is the work of a group of aliens, based at Mount Fuji, who want to take over our planet. A team of adventurers goes to knock out the alien stronghold and break their mental control over the monsters.
Destroy All Monsters remains a favorite of myself and many other giant-monster fans. Besides the sheer variety of monsters involved, it also has plenty of action, gunfights with aliens, intrigue, and suspense - the usual ingredients of a good sci-fi film. The special effects were as good as they could have been in the pre-computer era; they were supervised by Eiji Tsuburaya, who for many years was Japan's greatest special-effects man. (The miniature sets alone are unbelievable, especially the retro-futuristic spaceport at the beginning of the film. One reason perhaps that so many of us remember this film fondly is because it was one of the few Godzilla movies to get a wide release in the States; still, if one likes such movies in the first place, DAM holds up well even at this late date. Fans in the Western world, however, are still waiting for a subtitled release to supplant the two dubbed versions that already exist.
Destroy All Monsters - 1968
Direction: Ishiro Honda
Screenplay: Takeshi Kamura and Ishiro Honda
Special Effects: Eiji Tsuburaya (directed by Teisho Arikawa)
Art Direction: Takeo Kitae
Music: Akira Ifukube
Production: Tomoyuki Tanaka
Featuring: Akira Kubo - Jun Tazaki - Yoshio Tsuchiya - Kyoko Ai - Yukiko Kobayashi