“One of the giant monster movie greats.”

Toho introduced another monster for the ages with Rodan, billed as Sora no Daikaijū Radon (空の大怪獣 ラドン?, roughly translated as Radon, Giant Monster of the Sky) in Japan.

     Rodan is a classic, no doubt about it. The title kaiju is a massive, bulky pterannodon – a similar villain to Toho’s original monster mogul, Godzilla. Audiences took to Rodan the world over, just as they did with Godzilla a few years prior. The film did exceptionally well upon its U.S. release – vintage American Rodan posters are immediately recognizable to any fan of science fiction for this very reason. The movie was marketed out the yin yang, and has endured as part of our pop culture as a result. Below, I’ve compiled a gallery of some of the most familiar and creative U.S. Rodan posters and lobby cards. What follows is a breakdown of the film by our very own Tohosaurus.

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After the success of Godzilla’s first film and the mediocre box office performance of its sequel, Toho had no idea they had a monster movie giant on their hands. Thus, they decided to keep pumping out new monsters. Rodan was the first one of these, a monster that would also go on to gross more money in America than the original Godzilla film. That fact is probably as much a surprise to you as it was to me when I found that out. Rodan‘s success propelled the Rodan monster to become one of the best known monsters at Toho.

As a very brief summary, a huge insect attack a mining village. Upon trying to dispose of the insect, one of the miners becomes trapped and discovers that there are numerous insects in a secret cave like area. More importantly, there’s a giant egg that hatches. Naturally, the Rodan infant is born, feeding off of the Meganulon insects. Not long thereafter, reports of a UFO in Japan and other countries emerges, so frequently that it is believed that there is more than one UFO. It turns out to be not one but two grown Rodans. Eventually one of the Rodans become trapped in a volcano. The other Rodan refuses to live without the other and thrusts itself into the lava with its mate, a most touching scene.

Rodan is a very serious monster movie. The bloodied pilot’s helmet, the young couple eaten by Rodan, the memorable death of the monsters, it all makes the movie emotional and extremely entertaining. I will say this, however. The character aspect of the plot is not very good. For a Toho monster movie, it’s perfectly acceptable, but you won’t walk away talking about the characters at all. This isn’t to say that it takes away from the film; it just doesn’t add to it. The special effects are good, and Rodan looks good. The Meganulon look pretty good, although their movements aren’t natural. The miniatures look convincing, especially for that era.

Rodan is a classic and fairly unique. For the rest of the Showa era, Rodan’s appearances would be distinctly campy, funny as how his own movie is anything but campy. That’s actually too bad, because they did such a fine job with this film. One question I left this movie with is where the second Rodan came from. The movie never touches on that subject. Overall, I rate this movie a 7.5/10.

7.5/10

– Tohosaurus

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