This isn’t at all surprising. With a new Godzilla coming this May, we can probably expect to see quite a few of the King of the Monsters’ classic conflicts finally get the Blu-ray treatment.
You may not be familiar with new distribution company Kraken Releasing right now, but if you’re a Godzilla fan, you will be come this summer.
Section23 Films’ new sub-label Kraken Releasing (a sister label to Switchblade Pictures) touts itself as a new international video distribution label specializing in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror genre entertainment for mainstream audiences. “Summer of Godzilla” is what they’re calling their plans to release three vintage Godzilla flicks for the first-time ever on U.S. Blu-ray.
First up, and the one I am most personally excited for, is the 1971 psychedelic anti-pollution daikaiju epic Godzilla vs. Hedorah, better known to American audiences by its Westernized title Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster.
From its opening “Save the Earth” theme song to the WTF finale where Godzilla flies by rocketing himself through the air in the fetal position via his atomic breath, Godzilla’s ecological smackdown with a shape-shifting sludge monster dubbed Hedorah remains one of the most memorable outings in the annals of Godzilladom. But don’t tell that to Toho; the head of the company was hospitalized during the time of filming, and when he saw the finished product, he was so appalled he had director Yoshimitsu Banno all but blackballed. You might recognize Banno’s name as stories of him trying to get a Smog Monster sequel made have frequently popped up for over a decade now.
The hi-def treatment is also in the works for an outing that sees Big G going native on an island in the South Pacific where he contends with the colossal crustacean Ebirah, Horror of the Deep. That’s the international title for this 1966 sequel we in the U.S. better know as Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster.
This is something of an oddball Godzilla film in that it wasn’t originally intended to be a Godzilla flick at all. Toho wanted to make a follow-up to their wacky King Kong Escapes, but rights issues led to the King of the Monsters replacing Kong at the last minute. If you’ve ever seen this one, you may have noticed that a lot of Godzilla’s behavior is very non-Zill-ish. I mean, since when does Godzilla sit around letting pretty native girls toss fresh fruit in his mouth? Since when does Godzilla eat fruit, period?
So prepare to see Godzilla sleeping inside a mountain until getting awoken Frankenstein-style, sitting on his butt as a beautiful island maiden lulls him into slumber with a series of fruity 3-point shots, and doing battle with a giant vulture, a terrorist organization named Red Bamboo, and a monstrous mutant lobster. Mothra and her twin fairies even factor into the proceedings for good measure.
And then there’s 1972’s Godzilla vs. Gigan. Considering Kraken’s penchant for alternative titles, I’m rather amazed they aren’t releasing this one by its alternate Godzilla on Monster Island moniker. Come to think of it, Godzilla vs. Gigan is really more of the alternate title of this one, domestically.
One of the loopier entries in the franchise (and that’s saying something following on the heels of Smog Monster), the nonsensical plot of this sequel has hippies and a manga artist uncovering an insidious plot by extraterrestrial cockroaches disguised as businessmen building an amusement park as a cover for their world domination scheme, the centerpiece of which is a giant tower built to look like Godzilla that can fire death rays from its teeth. The actual Godzilla and his spiky quadruped sidekick Anguirus tag team wrestle on behalf of mankind against the alien invader’s hench-monsters Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, and a new foe named Gigan that looks like a cyclopean cyborg-chicken-thingamajig with giant hooks for hands and a buzzsaw built into its belly.
In perhaps the dumbest scene in Godzilla movie history, the alien roaches use a device that allows them to translate Godzilla’s and Anguirus’ roars into human language. That alone makes this worth the price of admission.
Godzilla vs. Hedorah, Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, and Godzilla vs. Gigan will include both the English dubbed and original Japanese versions with English subtitles. Kraken Releasing will also provide the films on DVD for those that have yet to upgrade to the magic of Blu-ray. Full specs and release dates are yet to come.
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