Classic Godzilla Three-Pack

December 10, 1999:

Classic Godzilla Three-Pack

Godzilla Versus Mothra, Godzilla Versus Monster Zero, Godzilla's Revenge

(Simitar Entertainment, 1998, VHS: $15.99)

Now that Toho Studios has officially announced they're back in the game after Roland Emmerich's disastrous 1998 stab at everyone's favorite giant lizard, budget video group Simitar ("C? We don't need no stinkin' C!") has re-released three of the Big Green One's best-remembered kidhood faves. All three arrive with bonus trailers and in the correct 2:35:1 aspect ratio, and though there's no mention of audio remastering anywhere on the package, both sound and image are exceptionally clear. (Certainly more so than the scratchy, hissy prints most of us grew up watching on Monster Movie Matinee.) Inoshiro Honda, the best, and for my money, the only Godzilla director worth his saltpeter, helms all three, leading with 1964's Godzilla Versus Mothra, the heartwarming tale of a big green lizard, two tiny Pacific Islander gals, and earth mother Mothra and her larval offspring. It is the first (of several) resolutely protofeminist, environmentally aware monsterfests Toho released in the Sixties and Seventies, and still one of the best. 1966's Godzilla Versus Monster Zero follows in fine style. Remember that giant, flying, triple-headed golden dragon Ghidra? That's "Monster Zero." Classic Devo headgear adorns half the cast, while "American Actor Zero" Nick Adams pesters the rest. Godzilla, Rodan, and assorted hangers-on save the earth once again in a deliciously silly bit of prepubescent arcania. Generally despised by most 'Zilla fans, 1969's Godzilla's Revenge takes the cake as one of the series' weirdest offerings, but holds a personal place in my heart due to its alarmingly wacko opening credits sequence featuring the groovy "March of the Monsters" title theme. The action revolves around a young Tokyo kid who fantasizes himself on Monster Island as a way to escape (and eventually come to terms with) the real-life schoolyard bullies in his life. Ultimately not quite as ridiculous as it sounds, it features a veritable smorgasbord of Godzilla's kith and kin, including the Big Guy's smoke-circle-blowing offspring Minya (saddled here with a frighteningly Barney-esque voice) and carrot-topped baddie Gabborah. It's also a pretty nifty tale of playground empowerment through imagination, something we could use a lot more of these days in lieu of foul little Pikachu.

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