Godzilla 1985/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Godzilla 1985
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Back in the good old days while Godzilla was treated in Japan as a great monster that represented the dangers of nuclear war, the US saw it as just a campy and hilarious B-movie. A really good example is the NBC showing of Godzilla vs. Megalon (a.k.a. Godzilla meets Jet Jaguar). Not only is it the campiest (and probably the stupidest) film in the franchise, but the host of the broadcast was John Belushi in a Godzilla costume! Don't get me wrong, John Belushi is one of my idols but this made Godzilla only look stupider in the eyes of Americans. In the 80's, the popularity of Godzilla came back again thanks to many UHF channels and some cable channels showing films in the franchise. When Roger Corman, president of New World Pictures, heard that a new Godzilla movie was coming out, he decided to release it in the US as "Godzilla 1985". Apparently, this US cut had a lot of edits and new footage added that you can find only in this version.

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The film itself changes the tone from the "family-friendly" style in previous films to a darker style. The plot is about Godzilla striking Japan again, but the Japanese government not only has to deal with the mega monster but stop the so-called Third World War because Godzilla attacks a Soviet submarine...and it leads to a misunderstanding that the US attacked the Soviets first. Later on the Soviets intentionally shoot a nuclear missile from a satellite to stop Godzilla and so the US must stop a nuclear holocaust from happening. Of course, it has an added subplot with a scientist who finds out that the sound frequency of birds can distract Godzilla (which is later used as final solution) and a "romantic" subplot between a reporter and the sister of a survivor from Godzilla's attack. Since these are elements that also appeared in the Japanese version of the film, I'd like to tell you about scenes that New World shot and inserted.

The new footage consists of Steve Martin, a US reporter who survived the attack of Godzilla (from the 1956 US version of the Japanese film called Godzilla, King of the Monsters), who gets a call from the US government to deal with the situation since he's the only guy who actually knows about the monster. Steve tries to warn everyone that Godzilla is indestructable and can't be defeated by most weapons. Of course, it's too late before anyone believes him. In the end he gives a speech about humanity in which he says: "Nature has a way sometimes of reminding man of just how small he is. She occasionally throws up the terrible offspring of our pride and carelessness to remind us of how puny we really are in the face of a tornado, an earthquake or a Godzilla. The reckless ambitions of man are often dwarfed by their dangerous consequences. For now, Godzilla, that strangely innocent and tragic monster, has gone into the earth. Whether he returns or not or is never again seen by human eyes, the things he has taught us remain." Also, the US version has re-written some of the dialogue and we'll talk about this issue later.

In my opinion, the whole plot of this movie is kinda outdated but it has a dark atmosphere and really good special effects. Another thing that I like about the film is the campy tone of the US version. Although New World wanted to release this as an all out comedy experience (like What's Up Tiger Lily?) they luckily they changed their minds. Still there are lots of unintentional comedy bits that can be found within. For instance, there's a scene that shows fighter planes shooting missiles at Godzilla. One of the pilots says: "Sayonara, sucker!" before he shoots the missile. I laughed so hard when I heard this line because it's so cheesy. Also, there are the infamous Dr. Pepper ads. Before the film was released, New World Pictures had a deal with Dr. Pepper in order to get money in exchange for some product placements. So, no matter how much money the film got, it already made a profit. Unfortunately, all of the Dr. Pepper product placements are hilariously bad. For example, there's a scene in which two US army guys talk in front of a HUGE Dr. Pepper vending machine. There's no way you can watch that scene without the Dr. Pepper logo right in your face. On the other hand, Dr. Pepper had a campaign to promote this movie by making two big-budget commercials starring Godzilla. The first one spoofs the original 1954 Godzilla movie and another is for Diet Dr. Pepper and has similar lighting to this 1984 film. Both commercials are really great and highly recommended.

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Overall, this film is strongly reccommended if you love Godzilla films and the vibe of offbeat B-Movies. FYI, this movie was panned by a lot of critics and was considered a bomb. Luckily, it was very successful on the 80s home video market. Sadly, legal reasons prevent the release of this film on DVD. So, you can find it only on VHS and Laserdisc today. In case you want to know, most of the home video releases have the famous "Bambi Meets Godzilla" short before the film starts. That's another reason why if you find this movie elsewhere, don't hesitate to check it out.

REVIEWER'S NOTE: The internet movie review show "Crasian Videos" has an episode in which the hosts analyse and compare both Japanese and US versions of this film. You can watch it on the Geek Juice Media Website

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Nuttawut Permpithak hails from Thailand. He spends his free time watching exploitation films (or any films from the past) writing articles, taking photos and reviewing films for GCDb.
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