Godzilla vs. Hedorah (Gojira tai Hedorâ) (1971)
|Year Of Production||1971|
|Running Time||81:48 (Case: 90)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Yoshimitsu Banno|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Godzilla vs. Hedorah (sometimes known as Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster) starts with an anti-pollution pop song (Kaese! Taiyo wo (Return! The Sun)) sung over the opening credits, probably the highlight of the film. In polluted Suruga Bay a huge tadpole like creature is destroying shipping. Feeding on the slime and pollution it grows bigger and mutates into a sludgy looking amphibian, inhaling dirty smoke from factory smoke stacks before mutating again into a grey flying saucer type mass that flies over the land spewing poisonous sulphuric clouds, reducing people to skeletons. It seems only Godzilla can save the day.
The plot of Godzilla vs. Hedorah is almost incoherent. Marine Professor Yano (Akira Yamauchi) discovers the link between pollution and Hedorah (and deduces that Hedorah is from another planet) and tries to invent a “energy transmitter” to defeat Hedorah, while his annoying small son Ken (Hiroyuki Kawase) spends his time with his Godzilla action toy figure and frequently calls out “Papa”. Disco singer Miki (Keiko Mari) and her boyfriend Yukio (Toshio Shiba) seem to wander around doing nothing much. As Hedorah mutates, Godzilla appears more or less at random to fight the creature. Then when Hedorah becomes really threatening, what do they do? Throw a rock and roll party on the slopes of Mt. Fuji.
Godzilla vs. Hedorah is directed by first time Godzilla director Yoshimitsu Banno; he was also co-writer and it was indeed his only Godzilla film, which probably explains the tone. It really is a mess. The plot is all over the place; there are jarring music cues and disco songs (the theme song Kaese! Taiyo wo recurs in a few weird places), scenes make little sense, occasional animation sequences are inserted to explain various plot points and the human characters stand around for large amounts of time providing further exposition. The monster fight scenes, when they come, are indifferent, and although Director of Special Effects Teruyoshi Nakano had worked on pervious Godzilla films, including the excellent Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters from 1968, it is difficult to make an exciting fight scene with a standing slug as one of the combatants. There is also a flying Godzilla, propelled by his fiery breath, something just foreign to the Godzilla canon. There are however moments of humour (a Godzilla back flip being a highlight) and the anti-pollution message, given the current events in the Gulf of Mexico, is as relevant today as in 1971 when the film was made.
Yet, this anti-pollution message is delivered in an extremely heavy handed way. Humans are the polluters clearly enough - there are numerous shots of human waste spreading across the water in a thick film of sludge, waste on the bay floor and industrial complexes spewing black smoke. At one point Miki gleefully thinks Hedorah is a good thing, as it will devour all the polluting industrial smoke, only to be admonished by the Professor. Godzilla, born of nuclear testing in the original 1954 film (an even more potent human pollutant) and previously threatening humankind, in this film has become the human race’s saviour as the weapon to fight Hedorah; why he would want to is a mystery never explained. Perhaps because Ken has his action toy!
Monster films are not supposed to have much logic or sense. Godzilla vs. Hedorah has less than most. Godzilla vs. Hedorah had a director and composer new to the Godzilla series, and they display no feeling for, or understanding of, the genre. A poor addition to the Godzilla canon.
Godzilla vs. Hedorah is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced. In general this is an acceptable print although it does lack sharpness. Blacks are OK but sometimes shadow detail is indistinct, especially in the night monster scenes. The back projection shots look particular indistinct. Colours are quite muted and dull, except for the disco scenes but even these are hardly vibrant. There is mild grain but I did not notice any film or video artefacts.
The English subtitles are in a yellow font in American English. Thus, for example, we get “sulfur” and sulfuric” a number of times. Otherwise I didn’t notice any errors.
Audio is a choice between Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps, Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps and English Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps. In truth, the 5.1 is a waste; it sounds flat with little separation. In contrast, the Japanese 2.0 is quite robust and sounds very good, with satisfying creature roars. Dialogue was clear, the surrounds are used for music and effects. There is no sub woofer use. The English dub sounds very tame and flat and is there if one just cannot read subtitles.
Lip synchronisation is fine.
The music by Riichiro Manabe is sometimes quite obtrusive and jarring music cues, including songs, occur with regularity. Manabe only composed one other Godzilla score, that for Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973).
|Surround Channel Use|
3 colourful Japanese film posters.
Trailers for other films from Madman. Included is Godzilla – Destroy All Monsters (2:30), Son of Godzilla (2:35) and Godzilla vs. Ebirah – Horror of the Deep (2:18).
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 US is NTSC, with Japanese and English 2.0 audio, trailers and a video game. The Region 2 Japanese version is 16x9 enhanced, has Japanese 5.1 and 2.0 audio and includes as extras an audio commentary by Director of Special Effects Teruyoshi Nakano, a “making of”, stills gallery, trailers and a karaoke of the film’s theme song Kaese! Taiyo wo. However, neither the feature nor commentary has English subtitles. Region 4 is therefore the best choice for English speakers.
Godzilla vs. Hedorah is a mess. The plot is all over the place, there are jarring disco songs and scenes, occasional animation sequences, the human characters seem to stand around for large amounts of time doing nothing and the monster fight scenes are indifferent. The film is presented on a DVD with acceptable video, good audio and minimal extras.
Godzilla vs. Hedorah is included in the Madman 6 disc box set Godzilla Showa Classics Volume 2 along with Godzilla: All Monsters Attack (1969), Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972), Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973), Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) and Terror of Mechagodzilla: (1975). While Godzilla vs. Hedorah is not very good, for a RPI of $49.95 the box set is still a fabulous way to stay in touch with “the original monster of mass destruction”.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S350, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|