Ghidrah, The Three-Headed Monster

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Directed by
Ishiro Honda

Screenplay by
Shinichi Sekizawa

Special Effects by
Eiji Tsubaraya

Music by
Akira Ifukube

Yosuke Natsuki - Shindo, Detective
Yuriko Hoshi - Naoko Shindo
Princess Selina Salno - Akiko Wakabayashi
Hiroshi Koizumi - Professor Murai
Emi Ito - Shobijin
Yumi Ito - Shobijin
Takashi Shimura – Dr. Tsukamoto
Hisaya Ito - Malmess (Chief Assassin)
Akihiko Hirata - Chief Detective Okita
Minoru Takada - Chairman of Board Meeting
Kenji Sahara - Kanamaki, Editor
Somesho Matsumoto - UFO Expert
Ikio Sawamura - Fisherman

Max’s Review:

Though the Godzilla series began on a superb note with the dark and compelling Gojira, (1954) and continued with the less powerful but still decent Godzilla Raids Again, (1955) it quickly began to degenerate in quality with the inconsistent King Kong vs Godzilla, (1962) and the unremarkable Mothra vs Godzilla. (1964) With Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964) the series sinks to a new low, repeating the flaws of the last two films, such as the bland portrayal of Godzilla’s character, while losing the solid production values that partially redeemed those entries.

The plot is potentially interesting, but is let down by dull characters, sloppy acting, a jarring mixture of seriousness and cheesiness, and several cases of blatant contrivance, such as the villains being taken out by an avalanche not once, but twice during the climax.

Once again, Godzilla is handled quite poorly; his failure to effectively utilise his heat ray, newfound obsession with throwing boulders, and sloppy combat skills severely cheapen his fight scenes. Rodan and Mothra are fairly well portrayed, but never really shine. As indicated by the title, this is Ghidorah’s show, and he at least is well handled, giving a vicious, hyperactive performance which almost single-handed saves the film.

The special effects, once again directed by Eiji Tsubaraya, are a definite step down from his work on the previous film. Godzilla’s heat ray is rendered very poorly, the suits for both Godzilla and Rodan are goofy and unlifelike, and the lack of high-speed photography robs the monsters of a sense of size and power. The pyrotechnics and matte work, while polished, are still nothing special, and though the miniatures are mostly quite convincing, even they are not without fault; the bridge which topples over as Ghidorah devastates Tokyo is obviously a model.

Even Akira Ifukube’s music doesn’t measure up to his usual –excellent- standards. It’s still good; Ifukube seems incapable of writing a bad score, but it’s probably his least impressive work on the Godzilla series.

While its passable production values prevent it from descending to the level of films like Godzilla’s Revenge, (1969) Godzilla vs Gigan, (1972) and Godzilla vs Megalon, (1973) this is still a rather poor Godzilla film, and possibly the fourth worst yet made, after the three afore-mentioned titles. Thankfully, it’s sequel, Godzilla vs Monster Zero (1965) was a slight improvement, though the negative influence of Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster would continue the plague the series until the closure of the Showa era.

Max’s verdict: 4/10