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Godzilla vs.

the Sea Monster

a/k/a Gojira, Ebirah, Mosura:

Nankai No Dai Ketto

a/k/a Ebirah: Horror of the Deep

     "Look! A giant lobster!"

-- the always observant Nita      

 

     

Reviews:

Gonzoid Cinema

 

 

Buzzkillers!

Alas, Godzilla vs. Amoebic Disentariusaurous never got off the toilet -- er, ground!

 

Watch it!

AMAZON

DVD

 
Sights &
Sounds:
Godzilla versus
the Sea Monster
(1966)
 Director:
  Jun Fukuda
 Screenplay:
  Shinichi Sekizawa
 Producer:
  Tomoyuki Tanaka
 Toho Eiga

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Our film begins at sea, which is currently tossing around a large sailing yacht like the toy boat it probably is. Accompanied by a killer surf-thrash soundtrack that really gets you into the mood for some rubber-suited mayhem, through the torrential rain and tumultuous waves, we see a monstrous claw emerge from the chaotic black water. And as the crew screams in panic, desperately trying to change course, their cries are soon drowned out by the screeching roar of a giant monster as the claw reaches its zenith before falling and smashing the boat to bits.

Two months later, convinced that his brother, Yata -- one of the doomed sailors on the lost boat -- is still alive, Ryota (Toru Watanabe) wants to go searching for him. However, having no means of transport, Ryota and his two friends, Ichino and Nita, resort to entering a dance marathon, where the grand prize is a brand new sailboat. But as the monkeys do the Jerk [...or are the jerks doing the Monkey?], the three conspirators wash out rather quickly, and to help console their despondent friend, Ichino (Chotaro Togin) and Nita (Hideo Sunazuka) drive Ryota down to the docks to look at the sailing boats. Thinking it deserted, they board the Yahlen for a closer look but soon discover that it's occupied ... Pegging them as burglars, Yoshimura (Akira Takarada) trains a rifle on these intruders, but after a quick explanation on Ryota's situation with his missing brother, Yoshimura lowers the weapon, and even says they can spend the night if they like, but insists they must leave at the butt-crack of dawn. When dawn breaks, however, the others quickly discover that while they were sleeping, Ryota has shanghaied them all and set sail. Oddly, Yoshimura doesn't demand that they go back, and since Ryota is the only one who seems to know anything about boats, being completely stuck, they let him search for his brother ... Sometime later, Yoshimura's odd behavior grows more suspicious when he quickly shuts the radio off during a bulletin about a recent bank robbery, and for some reason, he wonít let anyone near his briefcase. He then drops even more, less then subtle hints that heís the bank robber as he works on his stash of lock picks. (At this time, I probably should point out that Ichino and Nita arenít all that bright.) More time passes, and as the provisions slowly run out, Ryota calls for all hands on deck because a bad storm is approaching. [Oh man, don't do it...]

As the weather started getting rough [...sorry about that, but you had to know it was coming], the tiny ship was tossed [Hardy-har-har ... Now go ahead and finish it, ya dork!], and if not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Yahlen would be lost. To repeat, the Yahlen would be lost ... Woooosshh....

And I solemnly swear, that will be the last Gilligan's Island reference in this ship-wreck of a review.

Suddenly, the same massive claw surfaces and smashes their boat. Luckily, our heroes saw it and bailed off before impact. Finding themselves washed ashore on some uncharted desert isle [...okay, last time, and this time I really mean it], Yoshimura isnít very happy when he finds whatís left of his briefcase. (We saw the briefcase spill open on the boat, stuffed with Yen, so itís official, he was the burglar.) Making their way inland, they find a discarded sword, and while Nita fears the island might be inhabited with cannibals, when the others spot another vessel heading toward shore, we also note the ship is spraying a large swathe of some strange yellow liquid as it putters along. Thinking theyíre rescued, the group follows along the shore until the boat leads them right to a sprawling, military-like complex hidden on the island's far side. Yoshimura doesnít like the look of it and orders everyone to hang back. Turns out to be a good call, too, as the boat docks and unloads its cargo: captured slave laborers, and judging by their garb, I'm guessing they're from Infant Island. When several captives try to escape, most are gunned downed; but two of them make it to a outrigger canoe and paddle out to the sea. Alas, they don't get very far before the claw surfaces again. Only this time, all of the creature surfaces and we get our first glimpse of Ebirah: a giant crawdad! Making quick work of the canoe, the beast gruesomely harpoons the natives on its claw and then gobbles them up. Satiated, the monster squeals his content and then slowly sinks back below the waves...

With the possible exception of Godzillaís Revenge, no vintage Godzilla film is pasted by critics and despised more by fans than Godzilla Vs the Sea Monster.

Feh. Heathens.

Gojira, Ebirah, Mosura: Nankai No Dai Ketto origins can be traced back to another Toho production, Kingukongu no gyakushu a/k/a King Kong Escapes, a joint effort with the American animation studio, Rankin&Bass. When Toho's first proposed script for the film was rejected, under the proposed title Operation Robinson Crusoe, the studio decided to go ahead and make it anyway as another film. And since they couldn't, or didn't bother, to get the rights to use Kong in the second film, they just switched out the monsters and put it on their production slate for 1967.

With normal director IshirŰ Honda unavailable, tied up with the other co-production, the film also marked the debut of Jun Fukuda, who also receives way too much grief for allegedly ruining the franchise by turning Godzilla into a giant super-hero. Again: Feh. Menace to society, force of nature, or kicker of Kilaak ass -- it doesnít matter. Itís Godzilla, and thatís that. And you have to admire Tohoís loyalty to their stable of actors, too. People will recognize regulars like Takarada, Hirata and Jun Takazi; Takazi was kind of the Japanese equivalent to Morris Ankrum as he always played the General. Also by this time, rubber-suited mayhem maestro Eiji Tsuburaya had founded his own special-effects company. And since he was more focused on the Ultraman series at the time, the F/X for the film fell to his assistant, Teisho Arikawa, who does an OK job, considering the terminal lack of budget, but you can really sense Tsuburayaís absence during the mayhem to come. And Godzillaís suit looks pretty beat up, and honestly, his head was starting to resemble the Cookie Monster at this stage. And even though Ebirah might be his goofiest opponent ever, the killer crustacean is one of the most technically sound and organic Kaiju suits ever built and is really quite beautiful. 

Now bring on the drawn butter and let's get back to the review as the bad guys watch Ebirah's feeding frenzy, allowing Daiyo (Kumi Mizuno), another captured native, to use this distraction and escape. Running right into our castaways (-- and that one doesnít count, dag-nabbit), amazingly enough, the girl speaks English. But her escape didn't go unnoticed and a detachment of soldiers has been sent after her. Taking refuge in a nearby cave, while Daiyo begins to pray to Mothra for deliverance, Ryota interrupts, asking if sheís seen his brother, and finds out Yata is alive and well and has been living on Infant Island these past few months. When Daiyo then relates how the Red Bamboo captured her and the others to work as slaves, we cut to Infant Island, where the remaining inhabitants pray and sing to the snoozing Mothra, but even the Fairy Twins canít wake her up -- but they keep on trying. Second verse, same as the first. 

Back in the cave, thinking they need to do something, Yoshimura suggests they sneak into the compound to see whatís up. But the others aren't really keen on the idea until Nita knocks some rocks down further into the cave, where they make a startling discovery: at the bottom of the cavern, half-buried, Godzilla lies comatose. (How did he get down there? No. I'm asking you!) Well, that convinces everyone to get out of the cave post haste, and after the group manages to sneak into the base, thanks to Yoshimuraís lock-picking skills, they break into a storeroom, where Daiyo mistakes a roll of thin copper wire for a necklace and puts it on while the others steal a few gas grenades. Moving deeper into the complex, the trespassers find something sinister: a nuclear reactor; theyíve stumbled upon a heavy-water factory, meaning these militants are making atomic bombs for the evil despots of the Red Bamboo! (Yeah, Iíve never heard of them either.) Elsewhere on the base, as the Big Cheese (Jun Tazaki) informs his scientists that they have to step up production, right about the same time, his eye-patched Second in Command (Akihiko Hirata) flushes out our heroes. Using the gas bombs, the interlopers escape back into the compound just as the general alarm is sounded. Yoshimura, Ichino and Daiyo make it over the fence but Nita is captured. Ryato, meanwhile, managed to get tangled up in the ropes of a weather balloon and sails away into the night. (Wow.) 

Thrown into the dungeon where the other native slaves are grinding an exotic fruit into a familiar yellow liquid, Nita is told by some older gent that the concoction acts as a repellent that keeps Ebirah away from the Red Bamboo boats. (That's why the boat was spraying the liquid around earlier.) When the other three fugitives make it back to the cave and regroup, they are startled by a loud thumping noise and soon realize itís Godzillaís heartbeat; the monster is still alive! Meantime, since Mothra still wonít wake up, the Infant Islanders keep on chanting and dancing (-- third verse, same as the first!) But this time, the ceremony is interrupted when Ryotaís balloon deflates and crashes right in the middle of them. Happily reunited with Yata (Toru Ibuki), Ryota fills them all in on what's been happening on the other island, where at this very moment, as the Red Bamboo search party circles ever closer to the cave, Ichino suggests they should wake Godzilla up and let him chase the soldiers away. Yoshimura thinks thatís crazy, but being there only real chance at surviving, agrees. [And if the trio start singing to him, I'm stopping this review right now!] Adopting the MacGuyver approach instead, they use the sword Nita found as a lightning rod, and with the copper wire Daiyo stole, hook Godzilla up and wait for a storm to recharge his batteries. (Man, let's hope it's the rainy season.) 

In the dungeon, as the work on the Ebirah repellent continues, Nita hits upon a plan to sabotage the Red Bamboo: instead of using the fruit, they'll just grind the leaves into a pulp and produce a phony and useless batch of repellent. Back on Infant Island, since you know who is still snoring away, Ryota and Yata are given a boat to go and rescue their friends and free the other natives. Before they embark, the Fairies remind them to keep the faith in Mothra. (She has to wake up some time, right?) With that last piece of advice, the brothers depart and reach the other island just as another storm whips up. And as several plot lines quickly converge, Ebirah surfaces and goes after the brothers just as several lightning strikes zap Godzilla back to life. After Ebirah smashes the boat, he is soon distracted when a good chunk of the island disintegrates and Godzilla emerges before he can eat the siblings. Spotting each other, the two monsters bellow out challenges. Unimpressed by his adversaries squealing, Godzilla chucks a rock at him, which Ebirah deftly deflects back at him. (And we'll skip the ensuing game of catch and move on to later in the action.) After Godzilla wades out into the water, Ebirah is clearly outmatched but holds his own until his adversary unleashes his atomic blast, scaring him off into deeper water. Satisfied, Godzilla stomps back on shore.

The next morning, Ryota and Yata fall into one of Yoshimura's traps meant for the soldiers but are quickly freed by their friends. Yata then rallies them to go and save the natives, but when one of the Red Bambooís listening posts picks up our gang, the soldiers get after them again with guns a-blazing. Separated from the others in the confusion, Daiyo runs right into Godzilla. On the bright side, the monster scares the soldiers off and he doesnít go after Daiyo. Instead, he just settles down and takes a nap, trapping the girl in a small alcove. And when the others try to sneak up and rescue her, the monsterís sleep is crudely interrupted by a bird -- a bird as big as a battleship that swoops in and starts pecking at his head (-- well, it might as well have been a cameo by The Giant Claw). This pisses the Big G off, who quickly fries the bird, but no sooner has the smell of burnt feathers petered out, when the Red Bamboo Air Corps attacks; but Godzilla makes quick work of them, too, and during this brief melee, the others manage to rescue Daiyo.

His radioactive blood up -- and in a very poopie mood since they ruined his nap, Godzilla decides to stomps on over and take it out on the Red Bamboo base. Shrugging off their bullets and rockets, the monster wades through the hastily erected electrified-fence (-- and I told them it wouldnít work --) and starts trashing the place. Watching from a safe distance, our heroes soon realize Yata has rushed off to the base to free the others trapped below. Yoshimura goes after him, and they'd better hurry. For with their base lost, the order is given to evacuate and overload the reactor; this, of course, will destroy the island, the monster, and all the other witnesses. Taking the fake batch of liquid, the soldiers then lock the natives in the dungeon. And as the cavern collapses around them, due to Godzillaís onslaught above, Yata and Yoshimura find and free them before it completely collapses. Making their way out through the lab, Yoshimura catches the head scientist rigging the self-destruct overload and tries to stop him. But the button had been pushed, and to make matters worse, Godzilla picks that time to stomp the building flat, burying the triggering device and crushing the scientist. With his dying words, he taunts the intruders that they have just two hours before the whole island explodes. Unable to reach the switch, our heroes retreat out of the compound and meet up with the others. Spotting the Red Bamboo boat, escaping in a spray of yellow liquid, Ichino is mad that they're getting away until Nita tells him to keep watching for a big surprise. Sure enough, Ebirah surfaces, ignores the worthless spray, and destroys the boat. 

In turn, Godzilla spots the giant sea monster and wades out into the water to kick his ass. Back on the island, Daiyo instructs everyone to build a giant basket, so when Mothra comes to rescue them, she'll have something to carry them in -- if she ever wakes up! Whoa, spoke to soon. Back on Infant Island, little Miss Sleepy Head has finally decided to wake up (-- Mothra, the Kaiju equivalent of the Pokemonís Snorlax), and after the Fairies mount up, Mothra flies to the rescue ... Meanwhile, the big duel in the North Sea does not go well for Ebirah. As they slug it out, Godzilla manages to chomp on his big claw -- and then rips it clean off! And Godzilla keeps him on the ropes by breaking his other claw off, thus ending the competitive phase of this bout. Now completely helpless, Ebirah turns tail and runs away squealing. And while he swims away, Godzilla reminds the overgrown crawdad who's the King of the Monsters. (And donít you forget.) Chucking the dismembered claws into the drink, Godzilla then spots Mothra heading toward the island and wades in to see whatís going on.

Daiyo's giant basket is almost completed by the time Mothra comes in for a landing. Telling everyone hurry, the Fairies announce sheíll carry them to safety, and while they all scramble to finish up and get aboard, Godzilla stomps into view. Taking flight, Mothra manages to hold him at bay, buying them the needed time, by bowling the giant lizard over. She then snatches up the basket and heads to safety. But as they fly away, our group canít help but feel sorry for Godzilla -- he did save them after all, right? Together, as the clock ominously ticks down to zero, they all yell at him to get off the island. Almost sensing something is wrong, Godzilla tromps to the cliff's edge and dives off into the water just as the island is vaporized in the explosion.

After a few anxious moments, everyone is glad to see Godzilla surface and swim away. And as Mothra wings her way back to Infant Island, Yoshimura pledges to give up his life of crime and start over, making Daiyo very happy.

The End

When the decision was made to swap out King Kong for Godzilla in Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, to the film's detriment, the only thing that appeared to be changed in Shinichi Sekisawa's script was an effort to crayon out the word King Kong and write Godzilla in over the top of it in the dialogue. And that's it. This would go a long way in explaining the tropical setting, which also served as a massive cost-cutting measure as no miniature cities needed to be built, and Godzilla's revival via that electrical enema, like his opponent got in King Kong vs. Godzilla, and his eventual fascination with Kumi Mizuno. But seriously, who could blame him on that last point?

And speaking honestly, this is one of my favorite Godzilla movies of all time. You may scoff, but I say, So what if the big guy doesn't show up until it's half over. And who cares that the plot resembles an old Scooby Doo episode, like that other time the gang of plucky teenagers stumbled upon an island of international terrorists. And yes, his opponent is a -- well, a giant crawdad with a nice backhand. (What is it with Tohoís fascination with playing catch with rocks anyway?) That's right. I donít care. What I do care about are the films merits, and there are few more than you'd think. First off, dig that bat-shit insane, Dick Dale fueled soundtrack. Whenever Ebirah surfaces, the surf-thrash reverb never fails to crack me up. Second, the fact that Hideo Sunazuka [Nita] has a more than passing resemblance to Ray Dennis Steckler.

Still not convinced? Okay, then how about the extended scenes where Godzillaís supposedly sleeping when it really appears that heís trying to drop a deuce but can't quite pinch off a loaf. Or how about Rodanís cameo appearance as the Giant Claw -- in drag no less? And then thereís the unending scenes of the tone-deaf chanting and precision dance numbers that fail to wake Mothra up -- Again! 

Also, being one of my favorite Godzilla movies, the film contains two of my favorite moments in the whole franchise: the first happens after Godzilla has torn Ebirahís second claw off, and as the critter swims away in terror, the big man rubs it in by snapping the pinchers together, mocking him, and seems to be saying "Thatís right. Whoís the biggest bad ass around here? Right. That would be me." Second is that ending, when they all urge Godzilla to get away. And after briefly throwing his arms in the air (-- that for some reason always makes me think of that scene from Platoon), Godzilla does that hilarious cannonball off the cliff into the water.

As I wrap this review up, it might be interesting to note that neither Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster or Son of Godzilla got a theatrical release in the States. Seems American International Pictures snatched them up as part of a package of films for their fledgling television division, and these films made their domestic debuts on the boob-tube. And though Ghidrah: the Three-Headed Monster will always be my all time favorite kaiju-flick, one cannot discount the enormous fun to be had with this film if given half the chance.

Originally Posted: 08/23/01 :: Rehashed: 05/24/09

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.

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