Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Godzilla Week - Kaiju Cuts: Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)

In Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972), aliens that resemble large cockroaches cloak themselves in human bodies and infiltrate a Godzilla-themed amusement park.  Using a Godzilla Tower (with staircase) as their home base, the aliens use strange taped signals to brainwash two space monsters: King Ghidorah and Gigan.

The end game: the total destruction of the human race so that the aliens can colonize the Earth.

An artist working for the park named Gengo inadvertently learns of the alien plan to destroy civilization and plays one of the tapes, an act which spurs the interest of Godzilla and Anguirus.  Anguirus attempts to investigate, but is repelled by Japanese tanks.

Soon, Godzilla and Anguirus make another land-fall, and face off against Gigan, Ghidorah, and the Godzilla Tower, which is equipped with deadly lasers.

I still carry vivid memories of watching Godzilla vs. Gigan (or Godzilla on Monster Island) on the Saturday Morning Movie (on either WPIX or WWOR-TV in New York  in the late 1970s or early 1980s. 

In particular, I recall the aliens reverting to their true form at the end of the adventure…and becoming cockroaches.  As an adult the image is hardly disturbing, but as a kid, I was terrified when the (injured) aliens became cockroaches lying on their backs. 

That icky transformation isn’t the only memorable image from this 12th Godzilla movie, either.  The massive Godzilla Tower in the Amusement Park is a sight that has also stayed with me all these years too.  Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wished that someone near my house would actually build one of those.

In terms of the Showa Era, we have definitively arrived at the “bloody” or gory age of Godzilla film.  In his films of the 1970s, jetty blood fountains out of the combatants in copious amounts, and it’s a disturbing sight.  Here, Gigan strikes Godzilla in the head with his steel hooks/claws and draws a lot of the red stuff. I actually had to turn away at one point, because Godzilla kept taking the brunt of those sharp impacts.

Gigan is armed with another vicious weapon as well: a buzz-saw built into his chest.  Anguirus gets his face into the wrong end of that saw, and a nasty cut across his eyes/nose.

In terms of genre history, Godzilla vs. Gigan is also memorable because Godzilla’s roars and grunts -- a Kaiju language -- are translated into English for the audience.  Thus, we hear Godzilla talking to Anguirus as he and the four-legged dinosaur navigate the ocean en route to Japan.

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