12. Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1974)
“Space aliens, just as I thought!”
This might as well be a catchphrase for the series at this point, with pretty much every instalment from the late 60s onwards involving some form of humanoid alien race mind-controlling a giant monster or two to fight Godzilla for convoluted reasons.
This film features two of the least convincing portrayals of extraterrestrials on a budget in film history – green monkey aliens that look like they’re wearing shop-bought Halloween costumes (they probably are) and alien leaders who simply appear as vaguely sinister guys in suits smoking cigars.
The aliens create the metallic doppelganger of the title to masquerade as Godzilla on a rampage until he loses his fleshy covering like The Terminator or Preston the Cyborg Dog in Wallace & Gromit: A Close Shave. Godzilla magnetically reeling in Mechagodzilla like a trout is an entertaining sight towards the end of the film, but their battle isn’t all that inventive aside from this, and a lot of the film just feels like a re-tread of earlier movies.
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11. Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966)
A lesser Godzilla sequel which nonetheless has one of the most likable groups of protagonists in the series – a grieving brother, a charming thief and a couple of inept tagalongs on a stolen yacht go up against some Bond villains trying to set off a hydrogen bomb on an island.
Look for some pretty good blending of miniatures and location shooting, as well as a satisfying semi-submerged fight between Godzilla and Ebirah, a giant lobster, for the finale.
Unfortunately blackface is still used to portray the inhabitants of Mothra’s island, the fact that Godzilla was once Kong in an earlier draft of the script is obvious (big lizards aren’t generally as obsessed with ogling/saving pretty ladies like Kong is), and the build-up to a nuke going off in the finale is weirdly lacking in tension, especially when a safe-cracker is able to apply his skills to defusing a WMD without any further explanation.
10. Son of Godzilla (1967)
It’s difficult to get past the fact that Baby Godzilla looks a bit like Danny DeVito.
Admittedly, the sight of daddy Godzilla dragging his kid away by his tail in the midst of a tantrum is really funny. Godzilla proves to be a pretty severe, borderline abusive dad to his son, which is just not OK. You have to ask, what kind of audience is this movie supposed to be for?
The Godzilla films are often just big, dumb fun, but you can’t presume that your audience, whatever their age, are idiots. There’s a line where a character has to warn oblivious scientists about giant spider Kumonga guarding their objective, and they act understandably surprised at the monster’s existence, but a minute later seem to know all about it and what its weaknesses might be.
The rubber monsters doing comic slapstick routines starts to grate pretty quickly, as does the relentlessly chipper musical accompaniment to little Manilla’s (isn’t that an envelope?) antics. Things get much, much better when the impressively nasty-looking Kumonga turns up in the final stretch to do battle against Godzilla Sr and Jr.