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Cinema Retro Magazine

LAMP's LEGEND Series
presents

Godzilla

Godzilla was first released to the big screen in 1954 in Japan as Gojira. This first Godzilla film was directed by Ishiro Honda, who had been working under Akira Kurosawa as second-unit director, and produced by Toho Studios. Many think that it was inspired by the success of King Kong and the US release of Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.

From the start, Godzilla had a very Japanese slant incorporating the nuclear paranoia that had become part of Japan's national psyche after Hiroshima as shown in numerous scenes of Tokyo devastated by the nuclear monster's fiery breath and its population crushed and burnt by radiation.

Pleased with the acceptance, Toho made it's first sequel in 1955 called Gojira no Gyakushu (later released in the US as Gigantis the Fire Monster). Gojira was acquired by Embassy Pictures - Trans World, who completely re-edited it, adding scenes featuring a US reporter, played by Raymond Burr. It was re-named Godzilla, King of the Monsters, and the legend was born.

Toho releases

Toho produced 28 Godzilla films that can be looked at from several different directions. Godzilla, King of the Monsters is not considered a Toho production even though most of the film was produced by them. Another film that was not produced by Toho was the 1998 release Godzilla produced by Columbia Pictures, which is refered to by many of Godzilla fans as GINO (Godzilla In Name Only).

There has been a lot of confusion with the different releases and akas involved with the Godzilla series. If you don't think so, look at the German poster for King Kong vs Godzilla OR the German poster for Godzilla vs Megalon OR the German poster for Godzilla vs the Sea Monster.

To help untangle the confusion, we have put together a chart that lists the films and their aka's, called Untangling Godzilla. BE SURE to pay attention (both in our database and on the chart), to the aka's, directors AND the monsters. Several aka's have the same titles so quite often you have to notice the details.

Lets look at a breakdown of the films produced by Toho:

By Directors

Ishiro Hondo - made the original Gojira in 1954. He also directed King Kong vs Godzilla ('62), Mothra vs Godzilla ('64), Ghidorah, the 3 Headed Monster ('64), Invasion of Astro Monster ('65), Destroy All Monsters ('68), All Monsters Attack ('69) and Terror of MechaGodzilla ('75).

Motoyoshi Oda - made Gigantis the Fire Monster in 1955 which was also called Godzilla Raids Again.

Jun Fukuda - made Ebirah, Terror of the Deep in 1966 (known in the US as Godzilla vs the Sea Monster), Son of Godzilla ('67), Godzilla vs. Gigan ('72), Godzilla vs. Megalon ('73), and Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla ('74).

Yoshimitsu Banno - made Godzilla vs Hedorah in 1971.

Koji Hashimoto - made Return of Godzilla in 1984

Kazuki Omori - made Godzilla vs Biollante in 1989 and Godzilla vs King Ghidorah in 1991.

Takao Okawara - made Godzilla vs. Mothra in 1992, Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla II ('94), Godzilla vs Destoroyah ('95) and Godzilla 2000 ('99)

Kensho Yamashita - made Godzilla vs Space Godzilla

Masaaki Tezuka - made Godzilla vs Megaguirus in 2000, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) and Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)

Shusuke Kaneko - Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack in 2001

Ryuhei Kitamura - Godzilla Final Wars in 2004.

By Monsters

In our chart called Untangling Godzilla, we have listed the additional monsters that were used in each film. They are bolded and in italics in the description box of each film

By Era

Collectors of Japanese posters know that original theater posters are marked with an Eirin Mark which is a Code of Ethics stamp. So many collectors divide the eras of Godzilla by the Eirin marks. We explain these in our Japan Section.

The eras covered by the Godzilla movies are:

Showa - all films before 1989

Hensei - all films from 1989

Millinium - instead of continuing the Hensei... films after 2000 until present are also divided off.

Analysing Godzilla

Many have compared the Godzilla films with the relations of the US with Japan, starting with the US as an enemy then slowly becoming a friend and then defender. There has also been many that analyse the Godzilla films trying to categorize them by serious, versus and then some by sequels of the originals.

Other Godzillas

In 1978, Hanna-Barbera Productions produced an animated Godzilla Saturday morning cartoon and shown as Godzilla Power Hour. The series featured a team of scientists, who could call upon the monster using a special communicator in order to assist them in various adventures. Also included in the series was a smaller version of Godzilla called Godzooky.

The Godzilla cartoon was aired in reruns through the early 1980s, and is periodically broadcast on Cartoon Network's Boomerang network.

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The 1998 film Godzilla, produced by Columbia is not considered by many Godzilla fans as being Godzilla. Columbia tried to explain him as a by product of a Komodo Dragon by a French atomic test on a French Polynesian island that attacked New York.

The New York attack was referred to in the movie Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. The monster that appeared in New York was not Godzilla, but a similar monster. This monster made a return appearance in Godzilla's 50th anniversary film, Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004. It was renamed Zilla and also attacked Sydney, Australia and was eventually killed by the real Godzilla.

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Another cartoon, Godzilla: The Series, debuted in 1998 as a result of the Columbia release of Godzilla. Although it featured the creature design and characters from that film, the concept was much more in line with the traditional depiction of Godzilla.

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Trivia: On his 50th birthday, on 29 November 2004, Godzilla got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Here's the search on Godzilla from our database

we have a special thanks to Sean Linkenback (the hobbys resident Godzilla expert) for his help and research and to Armin Junge for his great selection of Japanese Godzilla images.

Back to Legends page


This section is for reference use. Images found on this site are property of L.A.M.P. and are for reference purposes only with NO rights implied or given. See LAMP Disclaimer
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