The Demon from Outer Space… The Destroyer of Worlds… Is born.

Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (San Daikaijū: Chikyū Saidai no Kessen (三大怪獣 地球最大の決戦, Three Giant Monsters: Earth’s Greatest Battle)is the fifth entry in Toho’s Godzilla series. This historic film pits Toho’s three greatest individual monsters against an entirely new threat, the space demon King Ghidorah. This classic also marks the first time Godzilla would act as a hero in the Earth’s defense.

Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster is a must see for all fans of Godzilla as well as fans of Kaiju/monster flicks in general. The reason being that it features ALOT of kaiju history “firsts”, such as…

1) The first appearance of Godzilla’s most famous & recurring arch nemesis, the dreaded King Ghidorah, who is also the first Space Monster to appear in the Godzilla franchise.

2) The first time Godzilla teamed up with other monsters to defeat an overwhelmingly powerful opponent, his tag team partners being his on and off allies Rodan and Mothra.

3) This is the first time in which Godzilla is portrayed as a protagonist rather than the antagonist, granted he spends most of the film wreaking havoc and trading blows with Rodan before the final showdown with Ghidorah, but you get the idea. This film marks the beginning of his evolution from a nuclear menace to a defender of the earth during the Showa series.

Even putting all of that aside, the film is generally just alot of fun to watch, it has everything from political intrigue to martian prophecies and the four most famous Japanese Giant Monsters of all time in one movie. You won’t be disappointed. – King Caesar

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Quite possibly my favorite Showa Godzilla film, the original Ghidorah is a stand-out film in the series. The human plotline has it’s own intrigue that makes it unique from Toho’s other classics of the era, and it gives birth to new characterizations for our trademark monsters. After the Sergian Princess (Akiko Wakabayashi) disappears and an identical woman appears claiming to be a Martian and warning of imminent doom, a meteor hits Earth releasing a new creature so powerful it will take the might of Godzilla, Rodan AND Mothra to defeat him.

The human plotline sets itself apart from Toho’s other recent monster classics at the time with some excellent satire of the treatment of women in the period, as well as some interesting action involving our villains, and a plotline that is reminescent of a spy thriller, that would have been quite fascinating even without the kaiju elements. Our prophetess and princess especially has some great, “robotic” acting and comes off quite convincing., yet the other characters tend to overact their performances.

Not to mention we have some great monster action – Rodan returns for his second appearance, albeit with a goofier look, but still manages to be rather terrifying in his own right, standing out as a force of destruction in a way we’ll never see again. Mothra returns and serves as a great way of keeping the human and monster plots together. Godzilla finally develops a sense of characterization as well, and King Ghidorah makes his debut with an amazing suit and terrific effects for the time. There are some moments, especially in water scenes where the SFX lags somewhat, but the effects remain masterful given the time period.

Despite being infamous among fans for beginning Godzilla and Rodan’s descent from villains into heroes, the monsters are as fearsome as ever for the majority of the film. The fight between the two monsters is, as usual, rendered fantastically with Eiji Tsubaraya’s trademark special effects, and is far more rewarding than their later conflicts. And the final battle is the original monster smash, giving Toho’s monster gallery some real characterization and serving as a show of what our monsters are capable of. Although the goofyness of the “monster summit” may seem a bad move in the long-run, in my opinion it does not detract from Ghidorah itself.

The film’s best points are Akiko Wakabayashi’s performance as the Sergian Princess, the special effects work by Eiji Tsubaraya, and a coherant and fun plotline that doesn’t require as much suspension of disbelief as later entries in the franchise would. Unfortunately, it does suffer from several problems as well – Rodan looks downright goofy, and while it’s intentional, it’s just a huge step down for one of Toho’s biggest creations.

Ghidorah may not be as highly acclaimed as it’s sister films, but it’s still an amazing film and definitely worth searching out! 4/5 Stars. – JVM

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The following is The Real McCoy’s review of Ghidorah: The Three Headed Monster.

This entry in the Godzilla series is yet another quite enjoyable flick. It is the first Godzilla film to feature a space invader: King Ghidorah, an awesome and powerful monster, and one of my personal favorites. While being the movie that started the trend of alien invasion, which would be the most recurring theme in the series, it doesn’t stray far from the previous movies, in that the movie features some favorites from the early- style monsters: giant dinosaurs and insects that use their teeth and claws to get the job done, my favorite type of monster film. The integration of these two styles of monsters makes for an enjoyable experience for the viewer. Rodan is the first to appear, but he doesn’t cause as much trouble as he did in his debut movie, Rodan. Godzilla, however, continues his mischief, Rodan and Godzilla eventually meet; sparking a rather comical spat between the two that lasts a good portion of the movie. Rock volleyball, tail-biting, pecking, scratching and the like made for an enjoying encounter. The appearance of Mothra brought about another round of laughs, as she sits the other two down and has a “chat” with them. She begins by getting their attention by spraying them with her silk; a hilarious scene in itself, in my opinion. As Godzilla is being sprayed, Rodan appears to be laughing; bobbing his head up and down and cackling, until he gets a dose of it himself.

Ghidorah’s appearance was a kind of spooky scene, with the meteorite exploding into flames, and the monster’s emergence from the flames accompanied by silence, with only his guttural cackling to be heard. The only thing Ghidorah suffers is lack of screen time, but it is made up for by the amazing destruction scenes, and his incredible theme, which in my opinion is the best theme any monster carries in the series. It gives a feeling of menace and unmatched power to Ghidorah, and is truly a masterpiece.

This entry marked a gradual shift in the series; as by the end of the movie, Godzilla and Rodan rushed to the aid of a severely overmatched Mothra to help against the evil Ghidorah. Godzilla and his pals from here on out would be considered good guys, with more emphasis place on this concept as the series progressed into the late sixties and into the seventies.

The human portions of the story are enjoyable; the Princess becoming a prophet from Venus, the expedition to the mountains to study the meteor, and the detective trying to protect the princess from her assassins. The main characters do a good job with their roles, and are some of my favorites in the series.

The special effects in this movie are a mixed bag. Ghidora’s destruction of Tokyo is spectacular, as were most of the destruction scenes, but Godzilla and Rodan’s fight was marred by the excessive use of hand puppets and models, and were not used very effectively. The rock slide that caught the assassin’s car made it obvious that the car was a model, but that wasn’t much of a blemish. The rock slide that killed the main villain was another questionable scene. Before being knocked over the side of the cliff, he catches a rock and falls, but it sticks out like a sore thumb. There are some nick-of-time convenient moments as well, such as the rock slide just mentioned. Just as the assassin was about to finish Shindo from his vantage point, Ghidorah blasts the hillside, and he falls to his death in the falling debris. As the assassins are about to kill the princess by raising the voltage on her shock treatment machine, Rodan conveniently drops Godzilla onto some power lines.

The American version of this movie is like most of the previous movies; noticeable changes were made. However the changes here are less noticeable than the other movies. The most apparent change for me was the replacement of bits of Akira Ifukube’s original score with stock music. This change isn’t too distracting, but one who has seen the original notices. Also, there are a few scenes that were cut, and others were moved around. But again, these changes do little to distract the viewer from enjoying the film.

I enjoyed this movie, and I still watch it frequently. Once again, I’m not clear as to what the film deserves critically, but for enjoyment purposes, I give this one three and a half out of five stars.

– The Real McCoy

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Ghidorah The Three-Headed Monster is awesome, to say the least. It starts the era of goofy Showa films that feature Godzilla and Rodan as our saviors, but it still manages to portray the giant brutes as destructive, epic, and titanic.

The human scenes are actually interesting and mix well with the monster scenes (I liked them even when I was a little kid! Surprising considering human scenes from most other kaiju movies were either boring or went over my head). The story of a martian (or venusian, if you watch the original japanese version) possesing a princess is something new to the series, and it’s fun seeing how this alien (or crazed lady) spreads word about Ghidorah, giving him plenty of buildup for his grand appearance. Admittedly, the other humans don’t have much personality (or anything new), but atleast their story is interesting to watch play out. It makes waiting for the monsters very enjoyable, for once.

Let’s not forget the music, which itself made many scenes quite powerful and expressive. Specifically Ghidorah’s scenes (from his entrance to his city destruction) and the final battle. Ghidorah is absolutely awesome as a villian with his own agenda. He had never been so badass in any other Godzilla film, mainly due to his tendency to be mind-controlled by random alien invaders. He practically became Team Rocket with a single body after that. Then, of course, we have Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra, perhaps the three greatest monsters of any japanese monster movie, all showing up together for this movie. And all of them pull off a great performance. Godzilla and Rodan’s characterization was shaped more like that of a human, which some people might hate. But I personally found it quite entertaining. It made their grumpy, crude personalities easier to understand. Mothra once again plays the little hero of the ending, and she does it with a great confidence and drive. It made me cheer her on after Goji and Rodan basically blew her off. All of these monsters, their personalities, and their interactions with one another, made me feel for them. And I loved it.

4/5

– DustPan

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6 Comments »

  1. Pingback: Rodan - Kaijumatic
  2. I bought Ghidorah on DVD a few years ago and it was a blast to watch again. I used to love watching Godzilla marathons on TNT as a kid. I’m glad El Rey decided to air those movies again. I can’t wait for the new Godzilla film to be released in NYC.

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