It’s funny, but even though it came out the same year as the previous movie (Mothra Vs Godzilla), today’s movie has been considered by many to be the 10th anniversary film for Godzilla. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that it introduced Godzilla’s most popular foe, King Ghidorah. King Ghidorah’s popularity is evident by the fact that, in some form or another, he appears in 10 of Toho’s 28 Godzilla films, as well as the final Mothra film from the 90’s. Not too shabby for an armless, three-headed dragon from outer space. And it all started with his debut film, Ghidorah, The Three Headed Monster.
The plot: As some scientist are attempting to communicate with a flying saucer, they are surprised to see a sudden meteor shower occur, one of which lands near Mt. Hida. As this is going on, Detective Shindo is assigned to guard Princess Selina Salno during her upcoming trip to Japan. However, before the plane lands, Princess Salno is possessed by a Venutian and jumps out of the plane right before it explodes. The next day, a geological team, led by Professor Miura, heads to Mt. Hida to investigate the meteor, which they discover to be highly magnetic. Meanwhile, Princess Salno, with no memory of who she is, tells a group of reporters that she is from Venus and that some strange events will precede a great disaster to the planet, but the majority of the reporters scoff at her warnings. The next day, she appears at Mt. Aso and warns the tourists that Rodan will emerge from the volcano’s crater. Nobody believes her at first but suddenly Rodan does appear just as she predicted. She then appears at the docks, trying to warn a ship not to leave harbor. Shindo’s sister, Naoko, believes Salno’s warnings and gets her to come with her to a hotel so she can interview her. Shindo meets his sister at the hotel and explains to Naoko who Salno really is, but while they are downstairs, a group of assassins, sent by Salno’s uncle, break into the hotel room and attempt to kill Salno. Shindo is warned about the assassins by the Shobijin and manages to chase them off. At the same time, the ship that Salno was trying to save is destroyed by Godzilla. Shindo takes Salno to a famous psychologist to see if she can be cured, but they discover nothing wrong with her. She tells them that a monster named King Ghidorah destroyed Venus ages ago and now that monster is on Earth. At the same time, the meteorite explodes, unleashing a giant winged, three-headed dragon which begins to destroy everything in it’s path. The assassins make another attempt on Salno’s life but Shindo is able to chase them off once again.The Shobijin summon Mothra but knowing that the larva will not stand a chance against Ghidorah, have it try to convince Godzilla and Rodan, who are fighting nearby, to help defend the planet from this menace. The monsters refuse at first but after Mothra leaves to fight King Ghidorah by itself, Godzilla and Rodan decide to help. As the three monsters battle, one of the assassins manages to shoot Salno, but only grazes her head and snapping her out of her amnesia. Shindo tries protecting her but he is shot in the arm, but just before the assassin can finish the job, a stray blast from King Ghidorah causes a rock slide which kills him. Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodan are eventually able to beat King Ghidorah and send it flying back into space.
Ghidorah, The Three Headed Monster received fairly positive reviews form the critics, earning an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This was the first movie to feature Godzilla as a hero, instead of the villain Just like almost every Godzilla movie, there were some changes made when it was released in the U.S. The main one being that instead of Venus, it was a Mars that was destroyed by Ghidorah and a Martian that possessed Salno. This was probably due to the fact that American audiences had a tendency to associate Mars with most outer space aliens at that time. The other thing they did was to change King Ghidorah’s name to Ghidrah, which to be honest is rather minor.
This was a good movie although the human plots did seem to be a little much. The human actors all did a good job, and the dubbing for the English version wasn’t that bad. The suits used for Godzilla, Rodan, and King Ghidorah looked great and the marionette for Mothra, and the flying Rodan and Ghidorah were also well designed. The special effects were decent and aside from the sub plot about Salno, the story was pretty good, The one problem I had with the film is simply a matter of continuity. In the previous film, there were two Mothra larvae, but there was only one in this movie. They never explain what happened to the other larva. That was the only thing that really bugged me about the movie.
So if you want to see the introduction of Godzilla’s greatest foe, then you need to watch this movie.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 4