It was the end of Godzilla. Again.
For the third time, Toho’s series of Godzilla had come to an end, this time with the release of Godzilla: Final Wars. But that didn’t change the fact that there were a lot of people out there who still loved giant monster movies.
So, in that decade before the release of the second American Godzilla, there was a wave of more or less independent Kaiju Eiga films, many of them parodies or homages, including such efforts as Big Man Japan (2007), The Return of Monster X: Attack the G8 Summit (2008), Reigo, the Deep-Sea Monster vs. the Battleship Yamato (2005), Raiga: The Monster from the Deep Sea (2009), the CGI short, Negadon: the Monster from Mars (2005), and, of course, this film.
It starts in a very familiar way (and there are a lot of references to past Kaiju Eiga films): the engine on a fishing boat far out at sea falters, and when the crew tries to find out what is wrong, they find that their propeller is snarled up in…hair!
Which is when Gehara rises from the sea and destroys their boat.
The beast then rises from the sea and attacks, while a young reporter realizes that it matches an old legend — but when he goes to a temple dedicated to that old god, he finds that Gehara has broken the seal they put on him and escaped.
This is a stunning little film. It was made for TV and, while it may not have had a huge budget, it looks as good as the films it is copying. Their creature is unique and familiar at the same time — and it is actually quite impressive. The battle scenes are as well, and we even get a bittersweet moment reminiscent of the ending of Rodan when the Self Defense Force defeats the monster.
Which is when Gehara switches to parody, with a scene reminiscent of 1965’s Monster Zero, and a trailer for an imaginary sequel.
All in all a brilliant effort: it looks great, it offers a comfortable blend of the familiar with the new and surprising, and there is enough creativity on display here for not just one short film, but a whole series of movies. I particularly love the aliens who make an appearance at the end, with their silver clothing and matching skin, their bald heads, and these marvelously squeaky and silly cartoon voices.
For those of us who could never get enough giant monster movies, this film is a treat. About the only thing I can complain about is that it is short. But then, that is part of its charm, as well. It doesn’t have long enough to stick around too long.
So, if you love Godzilla, Gamera and Mothra, this is a film you need to see.
It’s worth the effort it takes to find it.
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