The 1960’s are often considered as the Golden Era of Godzilla Movies! It is an interesting period of Godzilla films, as the series had not really been kicked off yet. Sure, there were two films released in the 1950’s, but that was still only two films. There would be a time period of about 7+/- years between the last release in the 50’s and the first release in the 60’s. But as soon as Godzilla returned to the big screen, the series pretty much exploded!
The series kicked off with a giant battle between two icons, as Godzilla faced up to King Kong in King Kong vs. Godzilla. An interesting production which combined Japanese production values, with that American 1960’s movie making style. From that point on, Godzilla (and sort of briefly King Kong) was off to the races. This was followed up by an additional seven Godzilla movies, making the 1960’s, the most prolific decade for the King of the Monsters.
And it wasn’t just the case that Toho simply produced eight films in one decade starring the same Monster; No. The 1960’s produced some of the best/standout films in the entire series. OK, it did start to go a bit sour as the decade went on, with one film often being regarded as the worst film in the series (All Monsters Attack); but that doesn’t degrade the quality of some of the earlier standout favourites. So, much like I have previously done with the 70’s, 90’s and 80’s (it was a weird choice of order, but anyway), I thought I would share with you my Top 5 Favourite Godzilla films from the Golden Years of the 1960’s; Enjoy!
Invasion of Astro Monster is a film I was only able to watch relatively recent; just a little over a year ago: and I rather liked it. It was an interesting science fiction film, with a cool plot. Yes it had some cliched moments which ruined surprises, but I still rather enjoyed it. The only real issue it has, is that Godzilla is in it. I know, but it’s sort of weird that a Godzilla film is sort of degraded in value due to the appearance of the main star. But on the whole, I just thought he was in it for the sake of being in it; he wasn’t really needed, and was sort of inserted just so that he could be there. If it had been some other monsters perhaps, then it may have been more concise. It felt like he, Rodan, and King Ghidorah were in it, solely for marketing reasons. But, other than that, it was a very enjoyable film!
4. Ghidorah. the Three Headed Monster – An asteroid falls to Earth, whilst a princess is taken over by an alien spirit. Whilst these two events may seem worlds apart, they do in fact herald the imminent arrival, of a terrifying new monster!
One of the most consistently enjoyable films in the series. Ghidorah, The Three Headed Monster is something of a direct sequel to Mothra vs. Godzilla in that it features returning characters from the previous film. Not just people, but Monsters too. Both Mothra and Godzilla return from the previous film, with the addition of Rodan, and new monster King Ghidorah. Its something of a weird plot, as it takes time for the monsters to appear, but when they do show up; they easily command the screen. Rodan is the first one to appear, as in not via a brief shot in a TV show. Then we see Godzilla blast an ocean liner. King Ghidorah appears later on in the film, and absolutely trashes city after city, before Mothra is called in to make Godzilla, and Rodan see sense. Ghidorah, The Three Headed Monster is also the film that made Godzilla turn his back on his long sought revenge on the human race; and instead act as it’s guardian!
3. Mothra vs. Godzilla – After a destructive typhoon rocks the country, a Giant Egg is suddenly found off the coast of a fishing village. Soon after the egg is bought by a businessman; two tiny fairies plead with him, for him to return the egg to their island home!
Released in the USA as Godzilla vs. The Thing; Godzilla vs. Mothra was the first film in the series to feature Mothra, after Mothra’s first featured outing (also called Mothra) in 1961. The film has a very interesting plot outline, as Godzilla acts like something of an afterthought as the twin Shobijin fairies give up pleading with humanity for help. Godzilla then shows up to give the humans reason to beg for Mothra’s help. Godzilla in this film returns to his city wrecking best; featuring a large amount of destruction to notable landmarks. His design is one of the best versions to date, and whilst his eyelids look like they were made from sellotape, I still think they look pretty cool. Both fights between the Monster’s are splendidly put together, plus the tank attacks on Godzilla are really enjoyable too. Plus they are helped out by a truly unique soundtrack, releasing some of the most distinctive sounds from the series to date, with particular mention to the egg hatching scene, and the tank attacks on Godzilla!
2. Ebirah, Horror of the Deep – A man whose brother is lost at sea, takes a boat that is already stolen in search of him. But when the boat he and his crewmates are sailing on is destroyed by a giant claw; they wash-up on a mysterious island!
On the outset, this one seems like a weird film for Godzilla to star in. Perhaps that is because the film was originally meant to feature King Kong, but after production issues, and as time went by, the ape was replaced by the lizard. Unlike many of the films released to this point, this one was set on an island, with the only man made structure for Godzilla to smash, being a terrorist base. But even though this may seem like unfamiliar territory for the Big G; the film is all the richer for it. It’s like the director; Jun Fukuda, saw this as his first, and perhaps only chance at making a Godzilla film; and so made it the best possible one he could. The camera is cleaner and fresher, the story’s set-up is an interesting one, as things go from bad to worse for our human heroes, and the monsters are at the top of their game. Both fights between Ebirah and Godzilla look really good, and really do come down to two limb removals, in order for a victory to be secured. But on top of that, Mothra is included, and the soundtrack sounds like a mix between John Barry era James Bond, and wailing Hawaiian electric guitar streaks!
1. Destroy All Monsters – The year is 1999, and all of the world’s giant monsters have been placed on an island dubbed; Monsterland. The monsters are all nicely contained through specially devised containment techniques. But then; Rodan is spotted in Moscow, Gorosaurus buries under Paris, and Godzilla lands in New York!
For over 10 years, this was my favourite film. Many films have come by which I now consider higher above this film, but it does still safely sit in the Top 10. It’s a really enjoyable film, as on the one hand it’s a film, about an astronaut crew, who are attempting to stop an alien race, from taking over the earth. In the other hand it features a lot of monster action, and monster presence. It features a real cavalcade of monsters, from across all the film’s to this point, and unites them all together in one major battle at the end; against King Ghidorah. The film tries to paint a picture of the future, and uses the idea of a more modern world, to create a vision as to what Tokyo may look lie in 31 years time (from 1968), and uses this as a giant playground for Monsters to fight in, all backed up by a stellar soundtrack, and a pretty decent human plot too!