Director: Ishiro Honda
Writer: Shinichi Sekizawa
Cast: Yosuki Natsuki, Yuriko Hoshi, Hiroshi Koizumi, Takashi Shimura, Emi and Yumi Ito, Eiko Wakabashi, Hisaya Ito, Susumu Kurobe, Akihiko Hirata, Kenji Sahara, Toru Ibuki, Kozo Nomura, Yoshifumi Tajima, Hideyo Amamoto, Yoshio Kosugi, Minoru Takada, Yuriko Hanabusa, Haruya Kato, Ikio Sawamura, Nakajiro Tomita, Shigeki Ishida, Shin Otomo, Yutaka Nakayama, Senkichi Omura, Senshou Matsumoto, Kazuo Suzuki, Senya Aozora, Ichiya Aozora, Shoichi Hirose, Henry Okawa, Junichiro Mukai, Toshihiko Furuta, Shoji Ikeda, Hideo Shibuya, Keiichiro Katsumoto, Katsumi Tezuka, Koji Uno, Daisuke Inoue, Toshio Miura, Tamami Urayama, Takuzo Kumagai, Mitsuo Tsuda, Yoshio Katsube, Kamayuki Tsubono, Kazuo Imai, Saburo Kadowaki, Kenzo Echigo, Toku Ihara, Bin Furuya, Jun Kiroki, Yutaka Oka, Haruo Nakajima, Koji Urugi, and Haruya Sakamoto
Composer: Akira Ifukube
Release Date: 12/20/1964
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Possessed by the spirit of a Venusian, the Princess of Sergina (Eiko Wakabashi) reveals that King Ghidorah—a three-headed dragon with the ability to fire gravity beams from its mouths—has arrived on Earth. After emerging from a meteorite, Ghidorah wreaks havoc upon Japan while Rodan and Godzilla—both recently awakened from hibernation—proceed to attack each other. Prompted by the Infant Island fairies, Mothra—the only remaining larva from Mothra vs. Godzilla—compels Godzilla and Rodan to set aside their differences and defeat Ghidorah together.
A thrilling and memorable introduction to the archenemy of Godzilla, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster should be requisite viewing for fans of the kaiju eiga genre. Exceptionally rousing is the climactic fight scene, which contains a daikaiju-based variation of the monster mash trope.
Actress Eiko Wakabashi should be commended for her performance, the solemnity of which serves to establish King Ghidorah (known as Ghidrah in the Americanized version) as a legitimate threat to the human race. Specifically, the dire warnings of Wakabashi’s character indicate that Ghidorah, having annihilated the Venusian people 5,000 years ago, could also eradicate every civilization on Earth if left unopposed—an effective use of exposition that, due to the serious delivery of Wakabashi, creates a terrible foreshadowing of the monster Ghidorah.
Also terrific is the ominous theme music composed by Akira Ifukube, whose arrangement (partially recycled from Daikaiju Baran) complements the destructive, if not downright evil, qualities of King Ghidorah.
Concerned for the safety of mankind, Mothra pleads with Godzilla and Rodan to cease their bickering and join forces with each other, thereby posing a worthy challenge to Ghidorah. Though an essential factor in Godzilla’s “face turn,” the concept of a pteranodon, a prehistoric reptile, and a giant caterpillar conversing with one another stretches the credibility of Shinichi Sekizawa’s (already somewhat far-fetched) narrative. Additionally problematic, Godzilla and Rodan literally flap their jaws while addressing Mothra—an embarrassing display, even by the standards of a 1960s creature feature.
The first kaiju film to portray Godzilla as an antihero, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster marks the initial usage of a now famous trend in Toho’s daikaiju series. Notably, instead of acting as a force of nature to be reckoned with, Godzilla willingly defends the people of Japan from a powerful, malevolent adversary originating in outer space—a formula employed many times throughout the Showa era and beyond, allowing the king of monsters to develop into the child-friendly icon that audiences know and love.
Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster is a classic, revolutionary installment in the Godzilla franchise. Monster movie buffs will therefore enjoy this film, dated production values notwithstanding.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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