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Movies Eddie McMullen Jr. Review by
E.C. McMullen Jr.
Gojira
KEEP THE SITE ON!
TIP JAR
GOJIRA
MOVIE REVIEW
GODZILLA
REVIEW PAGE
GOJIRA - GODZILLA
SCIENCE MOMENT
GOJIRA TRAILERS
GOJIRA 1984 aka The Return of Gojira - 1984
Japan Release: Dec. 15, 1984
USA Release: Sept.13, 2016
Toho
Rated: NR

SCIENCE FICTION DOUBLE FEATURE

We open with a fishing trawler on the ocean. The weather is rough but the crew can handle it. The only person who can't handle it is the young guy with the nice haircut and clothes. He looks a little seasick. The ocean is so rough that the sailors have increasing trouble steering their vessel and find themselves heading toward the rockbound mass of a small and unknown island in the distance. They radio May Day and send SOS, but the storm is pushing them toward the rocks. Then, as they're close enough to make out the island features they realize to their horror that its no island.

Merry Mishaps occur.

Which you would expect of a GODZILLA movie as ships and boats at sea are the usual the harbinger of GODZILLA's appearance whenever he's not cooling his heels on the isle of Monsterland.

This time, instead of leaping back to Japan and the government getting the MayDay and having the media reporting still another GODZILLA sighting, as we saw throughout the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, a lid is put on the story.

The next day a guy named Goro Maki (Ken Tanaka: 20TH CENTURY BOYS, HOWLING VILLAGE), and his gal are on a sailboat, enjoying life, when they come across the seemingly abandoned fishing trawler. Goro climbs aboard and calls out to anyone who may be there, but gets only silence in return.

It's at this moment that this movie, GODZILLA 1984 aka THE RETURN OF GOJIRA returns to its Horror movie roots.

Goro's exploration of the ship moves from spooky to creepy and his discoveries are full fledged Horror. GODZILLA 1984 is not the kiddie matinee it became in the 1960s and 70s.

Goro is also a reporter (how fucking fortunate is that?) and has the "Story of the Century!" Too bad for him that his paper won't report it because the government won't allow it. There's no Freedom of the Press in Japan (that's unfortunate).

Still, Goro feels personally involved in this story as he saved the only survivor of the ship, who in the heat of a deadly moment, saved him right back.

When Goro discovers that the survivor has a pretty, innocent, shy and quiet young sister (which is coveted Man Bait in 1980s Japan!), Naoko Okumura (Yasuko Sawaguchi: GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE), who doesn't know that her brother is alive, Goro suddenly feels it's his duty to bring them together - in a sleezy reporter kinda way.

Meanwhile the slow and drowsy Professor Makoto Hayashida (Yôsuke Natsuki: THE H-MAN, DOGORA, GHIDORAH: THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER, GIRARA NO GYAKUSHU: TOYA-KO SAMITTO KIKIIPPATSU) also has a connection to the sole survivor of the fishing vessel, Hiroshi Okumura (Shin Takuma: GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA, SENGOKU JIETAI 1549), as well as Hiroshi's young sister, Naoko, and so privately takes it upon himself to figure out how to contain Gojira for study.

Then Gojira attacks a nuclear power plant and sucks all of the radiation out of the reactor, killing some folks. At the same time, thanks to Gojira's sucking skills, it inadvertantly saves others who should have been killed by proximity to the broken containment, like Goro and Professor Hayashida, who got preposterously too close both Gojira and the reactor that Gojira just busted.

Then Gojira gets distracted by a flock of birds and just wanders off after them.

That's all mighty damn curious to Professor Professor Hayashida, but it drives home the fact that Gojira is overwhelmingly powerful and unpredictable - too much to contain - and he reluctantly agrees to figure out a way to destroy Gojira.

Gojira isn't done yet.

Thanks to a ill-fated meeting between Gojira and the unfortunate sailors of a Soviet nuclear submarine, the Japanese government is forced to admit that they have a Gojira in their territorial waters. A hastily arranged meeting of the earth's powers: Japan, USSR, and USA, is called. There earth's two military mights, with much fist to table pounding, adamantly request - with the thinnest veneer of respect - they be allowed to use nuclear bombs in Japan's soveriegn waters to destroy Godzilla.

The dialogue and acting of the Soviet and American representatives is rank amatuer hour and the scene would be hokey if not for the grim silence of the Prime Minister Seiki Mitamura (Keiju Kobayashi) as the superpowers attempt to bully him into compliance: That and an audience's cursory knowledge of Japan being the only nation in history to suffer a nuclear war.

Earth's most powerful military countries are asking permission to use nuclear force - again - on Japan. Russia particularly suggests that if they don't get nuclear permission they will do it anyway before they allow Gojira to move on to Yakutsk.

But why Nuke Gojira? It lives by feeding off of radiation and plenty of it. So what harm could an atomic bomb do? The USSR and USA are confident that they can feed the monster more radiation than even it can take, thus annihilating it.

You like radioactive gravy, Gojira?
Well DROWN in it!

True some Japanese will die, but no where near as many should Gojira enter the Japanese mainland. For the sake of the USSR, the USA, and the rest of the world, Japan should take one for the team!

Starting in the mid to late 1970s, Hollywood was jumping on the Horror movie bandwagon that late 1960 Indie features recreated with movies like THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, IT'S ALIVE, and the college indie favorite, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. For the studios, Winter was the time for religious Horror, but the big Summer blockbusters were all SciFi and Horror and this became entrenched in the 1980s. I'm not talking Direct to Video and the stray sequel outlier, and this isn't mere trivia, as many of those prolific franchises had enough audience cache to enter the new millennium (FRIDAY THE 13th, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE) and still exist in 2021 (ALIEN, HALLOWEEN, MAD MAX, WESTWORLD)

Eyeing the world wide wild success of Star Wars, Star Trek and ALIEN, The suits at Toho Pictures wanted to get back to GODZILLA's fantastic, but far less nonsensical roots to grab a piece of that.

Which means GODZILLA 1984, the first movie of the Heisei era, plays out as sober science fiction horror adult fare. Moreover, it retcons all the way back to the original GOJIRA. The characters only speak of the last time GODZILLA was seen and that was 30 years ago (1954). Anguirus? Rodan? Mothra? Ghidorah? Speak not to 1980s Toho of such nonsense. The Showa era is dead, now let's get to business.

Ahem...

Gojira 1984
It took only 32 years for the original GODZILLA 1984 to reach the U.S.,
unlike the 50 years it took the original GOJIRA of 1954 to reach the U.S.
So that's... progress I guess? I only wish Kraken Releasing had
decent extras on its single disc. Still, the picture and sound quality is great,
we get to see the original movie, and so as long as you aren't paying more than
$13 bucks I think it's worth it.

Just because they wanted a grim Horror movie and aimed for that serious adult target doesn't mean they struck it. As with the SHOWA era GODZILLAs of the 1960s and 70s, modern Japan rests in some kind of alternate universe where future technology exists, but only for the Japanese military. No futuristic tech is allowed into the hands of common folk.

Which is jarring when military trucks start shooting energy beams and a huge multi-story sized tank flies into the air to do battle with Gojira.

Echoes of SHOWA-era are found in many moments of on the nose dialog, an awkward romance, and forced gravitas.

Working off a combination of stories and characters by Akira Murao (GOJIRA NO FUKKATSU), Ryûzô Nakanishi (SUPAGOJIRA: Kaminoikari no messeji)
Shin'ichi Sekizawa (GOJIRA DENSETSU ASKA NO YOSAI) and Hiroyasu Yamaura (TOKYO S.O.S.: GOJIRA NO JISATSU SENRYAKU), with a screenplay by Hideichi Nagahara (THE WAR IN SPACE), Director Koji Hashimoto (SAYONARA JUPITER) recreated Gojira as a witless dope. While the beast of 1954's GOJIRA showed some sense of intellect behind its giant eyeballs, 1984 GOJIRA is mere single cell stimulus response as it reacts to the presence of pain - as when its being attacked - a food source, or the presence of magnetism. When it isn't aware of those, it just stands there statue still, waiting like a target too distracted to think.

And while we're thinking, time for a...

!!!SCIENCE MOMENT!!!:
Through the many Big Horror or Titan Monster movies, we've copiously covered the wide range of improbabilities to impossibilities of monsters the size of GODZILLA (or even overgrown ants). Feel free to seek those out. The science I'll reference today is Behaviorial.

While some really massive animals, like whales, constantly need to feed, because they birn calories by needing to constantly move, other animals who grow into "Massive for their size" creatures, like Anacondas, eat on rare occassions. The Anaconda is powerfully muscled to capture and swallow a prey many times the size of its mouth as well as width, but once it swallows its meal whole, it goes off somewhere to spend the next month or three sleeping and slowly digesting its food.

In GODZILLA 1984, once the Kaiju feeds, it doesn't sleep so much as go into a still and silent fugue state. In one scene, Gojira is seemingly comatose, only to rouse when it sees a flock of birds fly past. Then it groggily turns and peacefully follows them, eventually submerging back underwater.

This would make a kind of sense that Gojira feeds then goes off into hibernation until hunger alerts it to feed again. This staggeringly huge creature isn't built to filter plankton and krill through his dagger sharp, city bus-sized chompers. So the idea that Gojira can sleep for extended periods of time (however long that is), conserving the massive amounts of energy that feeds it, is one of the few UN-farfetched things about it.

THE RETURN OF GODZILLA suffers more than a few misteps. The biggest is how Japan is portrayed as a country where women are a minority in extremis. There are only two, Goro's unnamed gal on his sailboat, who immediately disappears without explanation once Goro meets Hiroshi's sister, Naoko.

Also there are the poorly written and thought out scenes of what must have been considered "Comedy Relief", where an inebriated bum (Tetsuya Takeda) routinely chastises an uninterested Godzilla.

Still better than how the Americanized version a year later heavily edited and reshot the movie to make it a slapstick comedy.

For all of these reasons and plenty more that are worth exploring for yourself, GODZILLA 1984 is still far superior to Americanized bastardization and I give it

3 Shriek Girls

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2021 E.C.McMullen Jr.

How does Toho Pictures GOJIRA (1984) stack up against New World Pictures Reshot, ReCut version, GODZILLA 1985? Well, McMullen is obviously biased, so read what Bram Stoker winning Horror writer Mike Oliveri thinks.

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The Return of Godzilla (1984) on IMDb
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