Film

Don’t Open That Door! #24: 'Gojira no Gyakushu' aka 'Godzilla Raids Again' (1955)

Welcome to our weekly field guide to 1950s horror and sci-fi movies and the creatures that inhabit them. This week: Osaka takes it on the chin in Gojira no Gyakushu aka Godzilla Raids Again


Godzilla Raids Again

Director: Motoyoshi Oda
Cast: Takashi Shamura, Minoru Chiaki, Hiroshi Koizumi
US release date: 1959-05-21
Japan release date: 1955-04-24

Alternative titles: Sushi and the Banshees; The REALLY Giant Gila Monster

POSITIVES:

Hey, Godzilla's back!

Plenty of monster action, starting about 10 minutes in.

Epic scenes of battle and carnage.

There's no little kid.

NEGATIVES:

Big G's Snaggletooth overbite is distracting, and inadvertently comical.

Monumentally dull interlude wedged between two satisfyingly devastating and visually appealing monster appearances.

SYNOPSIS: Small plane pilot Kobayashi (he's not really that small, har har) crash-lands on a remote island and is soon rescued by fellow pilot Tsukioka. It's a good thing too, because the two flyboys aren't there very long before they spot Godzilla duking it out with a super hedgehog-looking thing with tusks. The men manage to escape to safety—for now. meanwhile, back in Osaka, perpetually-distraught looking Dr Yamane and his colleagues identify the hedgehog beastie as a reincarnated ankylosaurus—which, as any ten-year-old dinosaur buff could tell you, is patently not the case. Dr Yamane looks, if possible, even more worried at this new development—maybe he's wondering what his academic colleagues will do when they see his misidentification of the creature—and appears to be fixating on what the heck could go wrong next.


What the heck goes wrong next takes up the bulk of the movie and is easily summarized in list form. 1. Romantic subplot. 2. Musical interlude. 3. Godzilla sighting. 4. Gang of criminals escaping in transport truck and engaging in the slowest high-speed chase ever recorded on film, culminating in an inexplicable crash and huge explosion that—here's the bad part—results in an enormous fireball that attracts Godzilla to the city. 5. Mayhem ensues. 6. Anguirus—the alleged ankylosaurus—appears. 7. Godzilla and Anguirus face off. 8. Brotherhood goes out the window. 9. Osaka gets crushed. 10. Subway station gets flooded, drowning more criminals. 11. Anguirus dies in Godzilla's snaggletoothed jaws.

Well now! Things can't get much worse than that, can they? I mean, anything short of a meandering 15-minute interlude of "character development" would be pretty much acceptable. And what's the chance of 15 pointless minutes of character development cluttering up a movie called Godzilla Raids Again? Oh… dear. It's enough to make you wish the monster would show up, again, just for a few more rounds of raiding, again. Which, as it turns out, is more or less what happens.

Best line of subtitling in the movie: "Damn it!" (Repeat as needed during moments of high drama throughout the film.)

What gets raided, again: A lighthouse; a gaggle of crooks; a couple cops; an oil truck; an Air Force jet; countless warehouses and electrical pylons; a petroleum tank; more buildings, some of them impressively large (we're talking landmarks here); a trio of criminals; a temple or several; many planes and pilots; a romance or two.

Moral of the story: Violence never solved anything. Except for those times when it did.

Party game: Host a "Monster's Ball" in which everyone arrives dressed as either a.) their favorite Toho monster (Godzilla, Rodan, etc), or b.) their favorite classic horror icon (Dracula, the werewolf, the mummy, etc), or c.) their favorite dinosaur. Stand around trying trying to communicate only in "monster language." Award prizes for Best Costume, Most Creative Costume, Sexiest Costume, and Person Who Took This Assignment the Most Seriously.

Did you notice? During the epic battles between Godzilla and Anguirus, the camera often focuses close-up on one or the other—while stuff in the background just bursts into flames for no apparent reason. I first noticed this around 38:05, while Gojira is breathing on Anguirus and a church (?) collapses in the background. Moments later (38:10), the camera fixes on Anguirus as everything far behind him more or less explodes.

Also known as: This movie enjoyed many many alternative titles when released throughout the English-speaking world, including: Counterattack of the Monsters, Fire Monster, Gigantis, Gigantis the Fire Monster, Godzilla's Counter Attack, Gojira Strikes Again, Gojira's Counterattack, The Return of Godzilla, and The Volcano Monster.

Somehow their careers survived: Hiroshi Koizumi (Tsukioka) debuted in 1952's Rakki-san, known in English as Mr. Lucky; he would reappear in 1984's awful version of Godzilla. Minoru Chiaki (Kobayashi) had appeared in Kurosawa’s masterpieces Roshamon (1950) and Seven Samurai (1954), alongside Takashi Shimura (Dr Yamane), whose long career included the original Gojira (1954), Mosura aka Mothra (1961), Ghidora, the Three-Headed Monster (1964), and much else besides.


BOTTOM LINE: A worthy enough sequel—slow in spots, but gripping overall.

NEXT WEEK: The Tingler (1959)

6

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image