Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster

Title: Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster (1967)
Rating: 2/5
Genre: Sci-fi, adventure, family
Starring: Akira Takarada, Kumi Mizuno, Tôru Watanabe
Director: Jun Fukuda
Language: Japanese (English dubbed)
Duration: 87 mins

After learning from a spirit guide that his brother, Yata, survived a shipwreck in the south Pacific, young man Ryota is determined to find him. He meets up with two dancer dudes, Rita and Ichino, and try to find a boat to sail the ocean. They stumble upon a burglar squatting in a yacht and decide to spend the night. But by morning, Ryota has sailed the ship to sea. They become shipwrecked themselves during a storm, and catch a glimpse of a giant claw from the ocean, and end up on Devil's Island where a terrorist group (called the Red Bamboo) is producing nuclear weapons and enslaving the natives of Infant Island (monster Mothra's home) to make yellow liquid that deters Ebirah (the giant lobster) from attacking their vessels. In order to get the Red Bamboo off their backs, they awaken Godzilla (who happens to be sleeping in a cave) to keep them busy, with the help of foxy native girl, Daiyo. Ryoko finds his brother. Godzilla battles Ebirah and the Red Bamboo. And it's only a matter of time for Mothra to save his worshippers and our five heroes before the island explodes in a nuclear holocaust.

Now the technical aspects of the film are quite poor by today's standards. Most of the special effects are like those of old Star Trek episodes, especially the Red Bamboo's nuclear base and headquarters. The art department and the direction do manage to make Ebirah an effectively monstrous sea creature, however Godzilla still looks like a man in a lizard suit. These two different perspectives of scale make the battle scenes between the monsters awkward. Not that these scenes needed extra help. This film features the famous game of catch between the Big G and Ebirah the filmmakers pass off as a fight. Mothra looks the same as he does in other films: a flying puppet. Godzilla Vs. The Sea Monster does, however, boast some good matte paintings and locations.

The film's acting also leaves much to be desired. With the exception of Toho veterans Akira Takarada and foxy Kumi Mizuno, who do only fair jobs, the actors are pretty amateurish. To emphasize this even more is the exaggerated, cartoony voice acting, which has to be some of the worst I've ever heard. My guess for this would be to attract American youngsters to the theatres, because otherwise hiring these voice actors was the worst decision on the part of American distributors. But at least the characters are fun enough on their own to motivate you to look past this. The film has a twangy surf rock soundtrack (that brings to mind the themes for The Munsters and I Dream of Jeannie) and an opening theme reminiscent of Ennio Morricone.

I have seen most Godzilla movies, and I have to say that Godzilla's matchup with this giant crustacean is by no means among the elite (although Ebirah is one of my favorite monster in the series). It is with this movie that Toho really changes the series to attract younger/wider audiences (or perhaps it's the absence of G-director Ishirô Honda). Other examples include Godzilla's Revenge (a totally kid movie) and Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster (aimed at the hippie/mod/Austin Powers scene of the early 70's). The series begins to get back on track with Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla, and fully restores itself with The Return of Godzilla (aka Godzilla 1985). Nevertheless, GvTSM provides some light fun and goofy goings-on for people of all ages. And did I mention that Kumi Mizuno is foxy?



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