Saturday Afternoon Kaiju: Godzilla vs Hedorah (1971)
This week, we’re taking a look at one of the strangest, yet most awesome Godzilla movies ever made. It’s full of groovy, psychedelic images and it’s got a message straight out of the 1970s. That’s right, Godzilla wants you to give a hoot, don’t pollute! Let’s look at Godzilla vs. Hedorah, otherwise known as Godzilla vs The Smog Monster.
Dr. Toru Yano (Akira Yamauch) and his kiddo Ken (Hiroyuki Kawas) discover this nasty oily goo in the ocean. Dr. Yano actually gets his face burned by this substance while scuba diving one afternoon. They don’t know what it is but they believe it’s caused by all the pollution in the water. The doctor discovers that the substance can combine itself to another bit of substance thus growing larger. Eventually, what was the size of a tadpole becomes hundreds of feet high. It can move around on land or sea now. And, for some weird reason, it can fly, too.
Ken just starts calling this monster Hedorah and, well, the press picks it up and that’s now the name of the monster. Hedorah oozes his way around town, leaving a brown sticky mess wherever he goes. His ooze is like acid so he burns and kills a lot of people. Ken thinks that Godzilla would be the perfect thing to get rid of Hedorah. Go figure.
Speaking of Godzilla, he’s just minding his own fucking business, like always. He doesn’t want to get involved in this shit. Being the cool monster he is, he reluctantly decides to help the humans. Again. What he finds is a shape-shifting gooey mass with red glowing eyes who is about to fuck him up 20 ways to Sunday. At first, Godzilla is able to take him but after retreating to the ocean to “heal” (like Godzilla and Gamera do), Hedorah comes back even stronger.
Hedorah flies around Japan eating up the smog/pollution wherever he finds it. As he feeds on the trash, he becomes even more powerful. He’s killing people by the thousands here. Everyone is resigned to their fates and decide to throw a gigantic party on Mt. Fuji to say goodbye to themselves and the planet. Not wanting to feel left out, both Hedorah and Godzilla decide to crash the party, and each other, in this last battle for the planet.
The good doctor thinks that if they can dry out Hedorah they can kill him, so he devises a plan to electrocute the smog monster. Godzilla and Hedorah battle it out, hard. And, yes, Godzilla does get his ass handed to him several times. At one point, he’s dragged, thrown into a deep trench, and has Hedorah’s ooze hold him in that quagmire. Hedorah just kind of throws himself at Godzilla. It’s simple, but it works. Has Godzilla met his match? Will Hedorah continue to spread his filth wherever he goes, killing all of humanity? Let’s just say, Godzilla is pissed at the humans for polluting the Earth and is ready to kill every last person right along with Hedorah.
This isn’t your typical Godzilla movie. It’s trippy, fun, and full of psychedelic imagery. Honestly, I can’t believe people hate this one. Yes, of course it’s silly, but so what? It’s fun to watch Godzilla battle this big gray blob. Hedorah is not his typical opponent and that’s what makes it great. It’s amazing to see Godzilla on the ground wrastlin’ him. The smog monster can’t do much but throw himself over Godzilla like a wet blanket so there is a lot of rolling around. Godzilla does a lot of gesticulating in this one. The music in the movie is also cool (with two songs, to boot!) although Godzilla’s entrance music sounds like it calls for him to walk around all drunk.
I like both of the suits in this one. As I’ve said before, this is my favorite Godzilla suit. Something about that face just kills me. As for Hedorah, well, he looks like what I’d imagine a big ass glob of sentient ooze would look like. As always, Toho is tops for the miniatures, although this movie does seem a little low budget to me. The sets in this one are awesome, though. Haven’t you always wanted to see some acid trippin’ club going in your Godzilla movies? I know I have. Ask and ye shall receive.
Godzilla vs Hedorah is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Sony.