From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Rodan

Heavy mining is going on inside the mountain of Aso in Kyushu, Japan. One of the miners is found murdered in the mine shafts and the death is pinned on a missing co-worker who was seen previously feuding with the murdered man. More men search deep into the caves of the mountain to locate the assumed perpitrator, but they find themselves attacked an unseen, monstrous attacker. Nearby in the mining village, our main characters, Shigeru Kawamura (Kenji Sahara) and his girlfriend, Kiyo (Yumi Shirakawa) are in the middle of consoling each other since Kiyo's brother is presumed to be the suspect. But they're suddenly interrupted by the murderer, an invading giant insect!!! After a scuffle with the beastly bug, the insect returns back into it's home deep inside the mountain. A plan is made to exterminate the bug with heavily-armed warfare, but this causes a cave-in and Shigeru is lost underneath the rubble. Scientists and researches are now aware of existing pre-historic life living inside the mountain, but they're in for a (literally) bigger surprise. The next day, an earthquake shakes the countryside (unknown to all the inhabitants, what actually just happened was the birth of a giant monster) emerging from the crater is a rescued, but amnesia-prone, Shigeru. It's inevitable that once Shigeru will regain his memory, he'll recall of the horrors that has just been unleashed on earth. Soon enough, eyewitness accounts of a giant, flying destructive force are being reported all across South East Asia. Biology professor Kashiwagi (Akihiko Hirata) reveals to all that there's not just one, but two, of these monsters and in true Kaiju fashion, expect to see plenty of town destruction ensue and a last stand for humanity down the stretch.

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One of the things that I really like about this movie is it's structure. The first 15-minutes plays out almost identical to a standard horror film (the musical score by genre composer, Akira Ifukube, certainly helps, creating one of the more eerie themes heard in Kaiju films) even after the half-hour mark, the suspense is still handled nicely by never clearly revealing Rodan's appearance untill late in the film. This was something that the filmmakers learned from on the original Godzilla (Gojira) and built on from that. Speaking of Godzilla, since Rodan was "awakened" the same way "Big G" was, it was interesting to know that the American version of this movie focuses quite heavily on the anti-bomb theme that the U.S. distributors shyed away from doing when it came time to re-edit that particular version of the first Godzilla movie. But here, there's no attempts of hiding the H-Bomb controversy as the U.S. version features several stock scenes of H-Bomb testing.

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Though the look of Rodan tends to a bit generic compared to all the other giant monsters found in this franchise, there's still a few things that I really like about this character. Even though the sounds of Rodan flying is nothing more than the sound effect you can hear from a fighter jet in flight, I still find it a cool effect. But one thing that I wasn't a fan of was the fact that Rodan left a smoke path in the sky the way normal aircraft does. Gosh. What were they thinking? But, thankfully, this was eliminated soon after when Rodan made more future appearances in team-up flicks. I was also glad that Rodan was just reduced to being one character in further entries knowing that in this film there were two of them. Anybody who has watched this movie could agree that having only one Rodan was simple enough. One of the more notable facts about Rodan is that it goes down in the history books for being the first of the Japanese "Giant Monster" movies to be filmed in color. But it would be shame to find out if that's what most fans/historians would best remember the film for as it's a pretty good film that still stands up well...Just as long as you're not one to criticize miniature sets.

Reviewed by Laydback

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