9. Godzilla vs Gigan (1972)
This has a pretty standard stealth alien invasion plot, but it has a pretty good reveal about the aliens’ true forms with the cockroach-like shadows they cast. In case you’re wondering, Gigan is a mean space chicken with a Cylon visor and a circular saw in its belly.
Tighter deadlines and slashed budgets that dogged the Godzilla franchise in the 70s do occasionally show here. The heyday of prestigious Godzilla films was well and truly over by this point. The finale is supposed to take place in the area around a building shaped like life-size Godzilla, but it looks more like the fight is happening in a Kaiju-themed adventure playground.
This one was, for whatever reason, quite a bit more violent than most Godzilla films to that point. Apparently kids in the audience had asked about the lack of monster blood so Toho duly obliged and gave them Godzilla gushing claret from his forehead, which is a little shocking after years sanitised wrestling action.
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8. Godzilla vs Megalon (1973)
This is the movie with that very gif-able, physics-defying forward tail slide.
Godzilla vs Megalon is a vibrant, campy knockabout affair and doesn’t ask anything further of its audience.
An advanced underwater society (Seatopia rather than Atlantis, for some reason) summons giant beetle Megalon to lay waste to the world while human baddies try to take control of an inventor’s advanced robot to bolster their plans for world domination.
A lot of stock footage and re-used SFX are in evidence, but the story is a lot of fun and moves at a decent pace. It also makes a refreshing change to have big, colourful robot Jet Jaguar fight alongside Godzilla for the latest round of monster-bashing action. They even shake hands at the end, good sportsmen that they are.
7. Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
The recent Godzilla: King of the Monsters is for all intents and purposes a far glossier remake of this. The original version has golden hydra Ghidorah landing on a meteorite from outer space, a psychic prophet from Venus becoming a media sensation and Mothra (in her larval form) holding a peace summit with Godzilla and Rodan.
The latter ridiculous sight of a grub, a dinosaur and a pterodactyl growling and shrieking earnestly at each other while the gathered human observers provide commentary on how the monster negotiations are going is one of those really quite joyous sights you only get in these early Godzilla movies.
Unfortunately the rest of the Kaiju action that takes up the film’s last third all feels a little samey and it ultimately amounts to a particularly unsatisfying stalemate.