Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)

*. I was surprised when doing some background reading for these notes to find that Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is one of the lowest-rated movies in this franchise. Indeed, some consider it to be the worst Godzilla movie ever made.
*. I am not of their company, and to be honest I’m not sure what its critics are complaining about. As I see it, the major strike against it is its formulaic and silly plot. But by this time the formula was long established, and as far as silliness goes I don’t think it’s any more bizarre than earlier films.
*. Sure, the notion of aliens from the Third Planet of the Black Hole plotting to take over Earth with the aid of a robotic Godzilla made out of “space titanium” is silly. And the fact that underneath their human disguises they’re all wearing Planet of the Apes masks doesn’t help things. But are they any sillier than the New Wave Xilians from Invasion of Astro-Monster? As madcap as their scheme for global domination is, I think it makes more sense than the crew from Planet X.
*. Or take the scene where the priestess awakens King Caesar (or Shisa) by singing to him. Is that as loopy as The Peanuts singing to Mothra? I don’t think so. And yet Mothra vs. Godzilla is a fan favourite.

*. So let me say up front that I think Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is one of the best Godzilla movies, period. Here are a few reasons why.
*. (1) Mechagodzilla is great. He’s the evil doppelganger who first appears disguised as the real deal. That just goes to show how devious he is. Plus he’s a giant weapons platform that fires rockets and blows things up, he flies by way of rockets in his heels, and he even generates a force field by spinning his head around. Is there any wonder he became such a popular addition to the franchise?

*. (2) The human story (or human-alien story) is really good. Yes, that’s a relative judgment, but compared to the usual nonsense in these movies I really enjoyed the plot here, with its cigar-smoking ape-men and hardy Interpol agents.
*. (3) The monster fights are more violent. Mechagodzilla (disguised as Godzilla) sets the tone early by ripping open the jaws of Anguirus (who actually suffered a somewhat similar fate in Godzilla Raids Again). In the final fight Godzilla will be soaked in blood, including a massive arterial spray from a neck wound that is later duplicated when the Interpol agent shoots the leader of the aliens in the throat. This was something new for the franchise. And Godzilla literally ripping Mechagodzilla’s head off is the perfect coup de grâce.
*. Even the elements that I don’t think work as well are at least inoffensive. I’ll confess I don’t know where Godzilla’s new magnetic power came from. Being struck by lightning? Whatever the case, it certainly comes in handy when fighting a giant robot. And then there’s King Caesar. I actually like his look, and his fighting style, but he doesn’t have much in the way of special powers and in the end he doesn’t do all that much. In the sequel, Terror of Mechagodzilla, he’s even erased from the opening montage that replays all the highlights from this film.
*. So yes it’s formulaic and silly, but in a good way. There’s no part of this movie I didn’t enjoy, and it’s one of the few in the series I can happily return to.

2 thoughts on “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)

  1. tensecondsfromnow

    This review has triggered memories of Time of the Apes, or at least the MST3K version of it. Strange how elements of other films get attracted to the Godzilla movies, kind of like the Fast and Furious movies.

    Reply
    1. Alex Good Post author

      Those ape masks were popular at the time. I think the zombie classic Tombs of the Blind Dead was going to be marketed, or actually was marketed, as a Planet of the Apes movie at one point. Any prop in a storm.

      Reply

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