GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN
Reviewed by: JimmyO
What's it about
Godzilla returns to destroy another city in Japan but this time he is not alone. It’s a battle of men in suits as Godzilla and another monster named Anguirus duke it out.
Is it good movie?
When I think of Godzilla, I think of bad dubbing, silly looking miniatures and men in suits. And with this, the first of many sequels, that is exactly what we get. But on this DVD you have the option to watch the original Godzilla Raids Again with or without subtitles, or you can watch the re-edited English dubbed version. And after watching both I can honestly say that the original film is not that bad of a film. Released in 1955, it revolves around three characters played by Hiroshi Koiumi as Tsukoika, Mindru Chiaki as Kobayashi who is his best friend and Tsukoika’s love interest, Hidemi (Setsuko Wakayama). There is a surprisingly large amount of character development for a monster movie here. Although not the most exciting characters, I felt that all three were likable enough to maintain interest. With this emphasis on character, Godzilla takes up a little less time.
When Kobayashi has to crash land on an island, his best buddy Tsukoika comes to his rescue. While there, they make the discovery that Godzilla is alive, and he is fighting another beast called Anguirus. Why are they fighting? I have no clue, maybe they weren’t fairly compensated. I think the message of this film is if you can’t learn to live together, there will be destruction and chaos everywhere you go… then again, maybe not. So at some point these two monsters fight each other and fall into the ocean. Somehow they end up making life really bad for Osaka, Tokyo was already destroyed so they couldn’t go there. So many questions and so few answers, but what do we care, it’s a monster movie.
While the original film is flawed, it is still an entertaining movie. For what it’s worth, this was 1955; the sets, monster costumes and dialogue were probably pretty cool back then. But if you do not want to read subtitles, you can check out the reason why these films became infamous in America and watch the dubbed version. This re-edited version, with the help of producer Paul Schreibman became a loud, poorly edited and badly scripted mess. Albeit still entertaining on a Ed Wood type level with some awful narration, this film never shuts up. Some of it even tells you exactly what is happening on the screen right before your eyes, my favorite being the “shed a tear” scene. There is inappropriate music and tons of stock footage which turn a good old monster movie into a schlock filled mess. Yet it is still fun to watch… especially if you are drunk and you have a need to hear George Takei from Star Trek speak awful dialogue.
Video / Audio
Video: This is a good transfer in 4x3 aspect ratio; although it seems somewhat grainy at times (mostly due to the misplaced stock footage), I can’t imagine a better transfer.
Audio: Seems to be in its original mono sound. This is still not bad considering the film.
There are a few exciting extras on this disc, most notably the Commentary with Steve Ryfle and Friends. Steve, a film historian (along with a few other smart film guys as guests) gives a very informative look at the American version while he discusses the changes from the Japanese to this version. The most interesting part is his discussion on why the dubbed version is just “loud”; with bad narration, stock music and footage and the monsters names keep changing throughout the film. One interesting fact is that the original US title was Giagantus: The Fire Monster because the producers did not want audiences to know it was a Godzilla movie. That would be like releasing a Friday the 13th as Another Holiday Horror Movie and thinking people wouldn’t know who Jason is.
Next up is a great look at the actors who played Godzilla entitled Godzilla: The Art of Suit Acting (14:18). This featurette discusses the many actors who have gotten into a heavy monster suit under some bad situations. I liked this feature quite a bit but the narrator is very dry and dull. This could have been much more interesting with a few interviews and maybe more footage from the films.
The last of the extras is a Slide Show of Original Movie Posters (1:36). A quick little feature with… you guessed it, movie posters with the score from the film playing; fun and harmless.
The original Japanese versions running time is 81:34 while the English dubbed version is 79:00. The American version, albeit shorter, seems to be loaded with mostly stock footage.
I liked Godzilla Raids Again in its original form. The actors were likable enough. The final battle between man and beast was a pretty good idea. And I also liked the many moments of silence in the film. I still question what the hell the monsters were fighting about and I question many other things too, but for what it is, this first sequel is a fun monster movie that isn’t cheapened by bad dubbing, awful dialogue with lousy narration and poor editing and music choices. No, that would be the “English Dubbing” on the same disc. It is amazing how much the editing (sound and visual) can completely change the same movie. This is a must have for Godzilla fans.