Godzilla Vs. Megalon
"For about six months, "Godzilla Vs. Megalon" was the only thing in my parent's VCR."
Godzilla Vs. Megalon (1973)
Director: Jun Fukuda
Producer: Tomoyuki Tanaka
Cast: Katsuhiko Sasaki, Hiroyuki Kawase, Yutaka Hayashi, Robert Denham
Running Time: 81 min.
Plot: An underwater-dwelling race of people send two monsters to the surface to teach Tokyo-ites a lesson about their rampant pollution. But not if Godzilla and his robot buddy Jet Jaguar can help it!
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
WOODY'S REVIEW: My fondest memories of Palmdale, California are of visiting my Grandma Mary, eating TV dinners, and sitting in the guest room to watch the weekly Japanese monster movie on channel 5. It was the high point of my week. Living in Palmdale in the early nineties was hell for me. Being white in a predominantly African-American and Latino area was somewhat of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it taught me a lot about other cultures and diversity and whatnot. On the other hand, this was around the time of the LA riots. All the black and latino kids took out their frustrations on those of us who happened to be white or asian. When I pressed my friends for why they were beating me up and throwing rocks at me, their only answer: "Rodney King." Being raised by liberal parents, I was never able to let these experiences build up into racism, but I still house a lot of resentment. My friends were attacking me for no discernible reason. Because of some dude on the TV screen. And my parents didn't do a damn thing. I went to school every day praying my friends would want to play "Ninja Turtles" instead of "Kill the Kracker." Living in cheap-ass apartments and going to a low-rent elementary school, I was often confronted with this racially motivated violence. My only escape was Grandma Mary's house. Grandpa Ralph, smoking a cigarette in the living room, watching Soul Train. Grandma Mary, smoking a cigarette in her room, listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival. Myself, unwinding in the guest room to tease the angry cat that lived under the bed and to watch a good old-fashioned Godzilla movie. I was awestruck by Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and the bunch. Ahh, if only I had friends like Godzilla and Rodan to get me out of sticky situations. No more pelting me with rocks while yelling "Rodney King." No more playing with me one day and urinating on me the next. If only I had Godzilla standing behind me. No one would cut in front of me in line. No one would dare call me a cracker or honky. No one would steal my brand new shoes, just to throw them up on a telephone line. Watching these giant monsters stomp those poor Tokyo city-goers was an escape for me. I didn't have to worry about issues like black or white. There weren't any blacks or whites. Just a bunch of Japanese people whose mouth movements didn't match the words they spoke and the giant monsters stompin' on 'em. Eventually we moved away from Palmdale. Not soon after, both my great-grandparents had died and their house had been sold. But one thing stuck with me through that whole horrid, confusing experience. My love of giant monsters destroying Tokyo real estate.
The first movie I ever bought, with my own money, was "Godzilla Vs. Megalon." I was seven years old. I worked my ass off for that movie. I picked up dog doo, I pulled weeds, I cleaned toilets. I even washed dishes. To this day, I NEVER wash dishes. After much laboring, I had enough to run over to the Cerritos Mall, go to the "One Dollar and Up" store, and buy "Godzilla Vs. Megalon." Popping it in, I was beyond jovial. "Godzilla Vs. Megalon", and it's mine. All mine! For about six months, "Godzilla Vs. Megalon" was the only thing in my parent's VCR.
Within time, I found new things to obsess over. First it was horror movies, which got me interested in punk with The Misfits, and then hip-hop with The Gravediggaz. The Gravediggaz turned me onto the Wu Tang Clan, which then in turn got me into John Woo movies and kung fu. My Woo/ Kung Fu obsession soon turned into an obsession with all things Hong Kong, and within time that spread to a love for Asian movies in general, and, when my DVD recently broke, I decided to dust off my old VHS collection, and lo and behold, what do I see? "Godzilla Vs. Megalon", among other kaiju eiga (Japanese monster movies). Ahh, the circular nature of things.
I threw "Godzilla Vs. Megalon" into my player and sat back. It was like visiting with an old friend.
"Godzilla Vs. Megalon" has some funnily costumed people living under the Pacific Ocean called Seatopians. Rampant pollution is working wonders on the environment, destroying their habitat. What are a bunch of underwater-dwelling weirdoes to do? Well, we could organize in front of the Diet and protest. We can request assistance from the EPA. Naw, screw that, let's just send up a giant cockroach and chicken to level some buildings and raise some hell. I like their reasoning.
On the surface, a couple of (I think) gay scientists and a little boy in short shorts (the horror! the horror....) are working on Jet Jaguar, a robot with just enough modifications so that the Ultraman producers couldn't sue. Anyways, Jet Jaguar is a pretty cool robot. He can fly, he can fight, and he can even grow to Godzilla-esque proportions. Or wander onto sets with miniature buildings. Anyways, bad guys hired by the Seatopians cause problems for our life-partner heroes, monsters reek havoc in the countryside, and any pedophiles that happen across the movie are finding themselves in bonerville as that little annoying kid's shorts get smaller and smaller. Oh, and Godzilla bounces on his tail.
And Jet Jaguar has his own theme song at the movie's end.
What I'm saying with all this is, it's hard to be objective when it comes to Godzilla movies. They were my escape from racial violence. This movie, in particular, was the first I ever bought. I LOVE these movies. Perhaps you are too adult and mature to enjoy them. I am not. I will never be too old or mature to enjoy monsters stompin' on Japanese cities. I'll never be too old for little boys in short-shorts. I'll take an early-70's Godzilla movie over a French art film any day. And if you don't like it...what's the opposite of growing up? Growing down? Yeah...grow down, man!
WOODY'S RATING: 10/10