Hedorah and Hippies and Hallucinogenics, Oh My!

Godzilla vs. Hedorah (ゴジラ対ヘドラ Gojira tai Hedora)
Godzilla vs. Hedorah (ゴジラ対ヘドラ Gojira tai Hedora), released in 1971 in Japan, is the eleventh movie in the Toho Godzilla series. It has secured a place in world pop culture.

I love this film. Not necessarily for any reason, but I do. Its a nostalgic film that pretty much encapsulates everything pop culture would lead us to believe happened in the late sixties and early seventies. The movie is full of psychedelic dance scenes, trippy cartoon montages, and – oh yeah, a giant kaiju made from  alien sludge tadpoles!

Godzilla vs Hedorah is a rare case in that it’s U.S. counterpart, Godzilla vs The Smog Monster, underwent practically zero editorial changes when released in the states. The film was dubbed, and the infamous “Save The Earth” song was added in, and thats about all that was changed. Everything else, trippy cartoon montages included, stayed a’float.

In typical Showa fashion, GvsH achieves a higher level of cinematic fun without ever being a truly great film. The plot is rather unique to the series, however, and it does return Godzilla to his “I HAVE A MESSAGE OF DESTRUCTION” roots. Well, the film itself does, anyway. Godzilla is still the hero in this film, just like every other late Showa film in his series. But as far as the message goes, we are introduced to one of Godzilla’s most unique and deadly foes, Hedorah! The Smog Monster is a beast to behold – a giant, tarlike alien monstrosity made from primordial life, sludge, pollution, and a dash of “holy shit, this thing is evil”. The beast starts life as several small alien-tadpole like creatures that eventually bond together until they achieve the massive size we are all familiar with. The main protagonist of our story, Dr. Yano, discovers the small alien life forms and begins studying them in his home. As the mini-Hedorahs bond and become stronger, they attack Dr. Yano and his son, exposing the creature’s toxidity to the world. All hell breaks loose from here – literally thousands of people die and in very gruesome ways. The moral of the story, if you want to call it that, is a very simple one. Pollution, a terrible quality of humanity, manifests in the form of Hedorah. Humans are, in the end, destroyed by their own short comings… their own flaws and carelessness. This may all sound very familiar, as Hedorah is playing the role Godzilla himself played in his debut film – sans pollution, substitute nuclear bombs/energy.

And, yes… Godzilla flies. He literally says “F*** THIS” to the point of propulsion via atomic breath. This film cannot be summed up in a review – You’ve got to see it for yourself!

Flying Godzilla aside, it should be noted that this film has some pretty fantastic special effects as far as the Showa films are concerned, and the fight scenes between Godzilla and Hedorah are pure entertainment. The final struggle is truly that, a struggle – and Hedorah gives Godzilla a run for his money like no kaiju has since Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster. But enough of my blabbering – Lets see what the KFNExperts think. – Jon @ UnCanny

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The best film of the “Matsuri Era of Godzilla”, so to speak, with 1975’s Terror of Mechagodzilla coming in at a close second.
While the combination Banno’s screwball direction and composer Manebe’s bizarre, psychedelic soundtrack is often touted as a disgrace by some, these are the elements that make the flick’ so exciting and new. Everything here is new in a literal sense as well (Save for Godzilla’s slightly aging costume). The film does not try to be something it isn’t. No obvious budgetary stock-footage or lifted Ifukube here. -Space Hunter M

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A mediocre flick, armed with an intriguing antagonist, a beautifully powerful atmosphere, glorious visual effects and wonderful wackiness. Unfortunately, it is pulled down by boring, slow-paced battles, flat characters, a score that would make a mandragora envious, and in particular watching the final battle is akin to staring in the face of the most terrible of Lovecraftian entities with your eyes torn open akin to Danforth’s last stare in At the Mountains of Madness, only prolonged in manner not eevn the nightmares of Cthulhu could envision.

Overall, the positives outweigh the negatives somewhat, and unlike most Godzilla’s flicks it has ambition (many like to say that only the post-89 flicks lacked ambition, but honestly, the majority of the other Showa films probably took 15 minutes to cook up), style and great SFX. Not a great movie by any means, though. -Primevalgodzilla V2

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This movie is simply bizarre, and I love it! Imagine if Captain Planet and Godzilla had a joint hallucination, and you have a rough idea of what this flick is like. Besides featuring one of the most interesting and deadly villains of the franchise, I think this film is worth watching for the over-the-top sequences alone, whether silly or strange. Besides, Godzilla flies. That’s right, FLIES. That goofy, blaring music gets me every time!

However, be warned that the pro-environmental message is a bit heavy, and those with little tolerance for the nonsensical might want to shy away from this cinematic freakout. -HayesAJones

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Watching this movie is an experience that cannot really be described, but must be experienced. That’s how freaking weird it is. And that’s why it’s so awesome too. It’s definitely got the 70’s feel down, complete with a psychadellic enemy made of sewage. This film is a load of fun, but must be seen to believed. – Irys X

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Godzilla vs. Hedorah: style is wacky. The cartoons, the colorful cut scenes of illustrations, and the night-club scenes coupled with seventies-style music makes it different. Godzilla is entertaining to watch; his human-type movements are more illustrated than in previous films. Scratching his chin, cocking his head sideways in confusion, and challenging Hedorah to fight him. Hedorah is a very cool monster. It’s not every day you get pile of sludge that turns into a monster. It’s another movie that, provided you have an active imagination, you can get lost in and thoroughly enjoy. I’m not really sure how to rate this one critically, but for personal enjoyment I give it three and-a-half stars.

– The Real McCoy

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Jon D. B.

Creator/Head of The Kaiju Fan Network and Skreeonk.com! I love all things Sci-Fi, specifically Kaiju Eiga and the world of Toho! Check out the Kaiju Fan Marketplace - updated daily with listings from Kaiju fans! Buy, List, and Sell for free amongst other enthusiasts just like yourself!

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