Published on May 1st, 2014 | by SgtKaiju0
The 10 Films To See Before Godzilla
“Kaiju” Japanese word that literally translates to “strange creature.” The word has been translated and defined in English as “monster” and is used to refer to a genre of tokusatsu entertainment.
In a break from the normal Craft Service, this week we’re going to look at the Kaiju films to see before this summers Godzilla film…
Those of us in the Kaiju fanbase are all a-quiver with the incoming Gareth Edwards Godzilla film. With his pedigree on Monsters and the blessing of Toho studios, this is certainly going to be a film to watch this year. But what of the newbie, what of the uninitiated? Where do they jump onboard?
We have been assured that no pre-knowledge is required to enjoy this film but we wouldn’t be nerds if we were mildly obsessed with trivia and completion. So, without futher ado, here is Sgt Kaiju’s Films To Watch Before Godzilla!
1. Godzilla (1954)
The original and still one of the best. After several attacks on fishing ships by an unknown assailant, the Tokyo authorities enlist an scientist to develop a way of killing Godzilla. This film is massively important in that is creates Godzilla and establishes many of his traits we see today; his atomic breath, his spine of spikes and his wake of destruction. This film made the mould from which all other Godzilla films are cast.
2. Wasei Kingu Kongu (1933)
In many ways the most intriguing and important film on this list, Wasei Kingu Kongu is a Japanese remake of King Kong and was the film that introduced the idea of kaiju into Japan. Unfortunately all copies of this film are now lost to time, only adding to the mythos of this film. But if you can find a copy, it is a must watch.
3. Rodan (1956)
Much has been made of in the latest trailers of there being more than one kaiju in the upcoming film and the lead contender for Godzilla’s opponent is Rodan. A giant mutated pterodactyl Rodan first appeared in the 1956 film of the same name, about a mining operation that disturbs their long-time hibernation and they head out on a destructive mission. Much like the original Godzilla, much is made of humanities hubris, that these kaiju are only a result of our messing with nature and our destructive tendencies, namely the nuclear bomb. As time progress, much like many other of his enemies, Rodan eventually became an ally of Godzilla against other invading monsters.
4. Mothra (1961)
The other contender for the second kaiju is Mothra. Introduced in a series of novels by Takehiko Fukunaga, Mothra hit the big time with his own film in 1961. In a variance from a lot of kaiju monsters, Mothra is essentially a peaceful creature, living on an island where it is revered as a living god. It is only invoked into battle to defend it’s own lands or people. Also it is only invoke by the Shobijin, twin girls who sing a prayer to summon Mothra. This screengrab from the trailer certainly seems to hint at their inclusion, which would lead to the inclusion of Mothra.
5: Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
The big boss smack-down to end all smack-downs. Think Royal Rumble with giant freaking monsters. Release 5 years after the Roland Emmerich debacle, this film was made as a 50th anniversary to the original film. Aliens invade by use of various classic kaiju and the humans are forced to release Godzilla from his Arctic prison the defend them. Essentially a loose framework for plenty of kaiju v kaiju fights, this is must for anyone wanting to see the genre at its most epic. Think Pacific Rim with physical effects rather than VFX shininess.
6. Godzilla vs Destroyah (1995)
The 21st Godzilla film and the closing film in the Heisei period of films. One of the best kaiju films with a great script, cast and effects. The plot follows Godzilla as his nuclear reactor heart started to overload and meltdown, sending him on a rampage and resulting in him fighting Destroyah, a crab creature mutated by the anti-godzilla bomb from the original 1954 film. This film does highlight one fact often forgotten from pop culture, that Godzilla is not a name of a creature, it is a type of creature. The Godzilla from this film is not the same Godzilla from the original and the Mini Godzilla from this film is also Godzilla. A very important fact to consider when looking at the new film, there is no guarantee we won’t see Godzilla v Godzilla….
7. The Return Of Godzilla (1984)
This film saw the reinvention of Godzilla as a nastier more violent creature than the preceding films had made him. This was not the cuddly and cute Godzilla that had been around for a while, rather the destructive beast of the early Toho films. The launch film of the Heisei period, this film ignored almost all films that came prior and served as a direct sequel to the 1954 film. 30 years after the destruction of the original Godzilla, a volcanic eruption frees a new Godzilla and much destruction is had. This film set the tone for a lot of the Godzilla films that followed and certainly has influenced the tone of the upcoming US release.
8. Pacific Rim (2013)
Needs no introduction or explanation. If you don’t like this, you probably have no soul. The success of Pacific Rim as blockbuster film has paved the way for Godzilla with modern audiences.
9. Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991)
King Ghidorah, Godzilla’s most fearsome enemy. Introduced in the 1964 classic Ghidorah, The Three Headed Monster, it took the combined effort of Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra to defeat him. And now he’s back. This film radically alters Godzilla’s origin story. Gone is the story of his link to atomic testing and being woken by our exploration, time travellers have come back to help us remove Godzilla entirely from history. They succeed in doing this but really it is a double cross and they create King Ghidorah to subdue modern day Japan. Their plan backfires and their removal of Godzilla inadvertently puts a Godzillasaurus in contact with a crashed Russian sub, this creating the new Godzilla. This Godzilla returns to Tokyo, destroys Ghidorah, destroys Tokyo before the time travellers appear AGAIN, but this time with Mecha-Ghidorah. They fight into the ocean, a trail of destruction in their wake.
King Ghidorah is key to the Godzilla mythos, is most feared enemy and one of the few not to be reformed into an ally. We’d all love to see him in the upcoming release, but a three-headed dragon from space is probably a bit far fetched for this production…
10. Godzilla (1998)
Because unless you know how bad it has been, you can’t know how good it is now.