“Cozzilla” (1977)

(aka, “Italian Godzilla”, Godzilla: The Euro-Trash Version)

A psychedelic Italian Godzilla film?

Well…yes and no.

In 1977, Luigi Cozzi, best remembered for his goofy Star Wars rip off, Starcrash (and the terrible Alien rip off, Contamination/Alien Cargo) got the job of preparing a version of the original Gojira for the Italian market.

The only problem was that the distributor didn’t think they could sell a black and white film so it had to be colorized.

Now this was before the advent of computerized colorization, and there were only two ways to do it: one, hand paint every single frame; or, two, create an overlay — a mask — with the colors you wanted added to each scene in the more or less appropriate places, in the hope that the colors would stay more or less lined up with the action.

The first would be quite expensive, so you should be able to guess which one they used.

And, as you can imagine, the results are rather…strange.  We get big blobs or streaks of color which do not really line up with the action — and in many scenes it doesn’t really seem to line up with much of anything in the shot.

Nor does it help that the colors are way too bright and do not seem at all appropriate.

Almost as strange is the addition of some very Italian 1970s rock that sounds like it came straight out of one of Dario Argento’s films, although this is limited to a few songs (and supposedly the opening song is based on the Song of Peace from the movie, not that I would have recognized it as such).

This particular version is based on the terrible American version, Godzilla, King of the Monsters, with Raymond Burr.  It amazed me, when I saw the Raymond Burr version after watching the original Japanese version, to see just how much new footage there was in that version, much of it involving lots and lots of talk — which hasn’t been improved by being dubbed into Italian.

Now all these things would have made for a memorably bad film, but that wasn’t enough for the producers.  They didn’t think Toho’s special effects looked realistic enough, they stuck in a lot of badly mismatched stock footage including a long intro about Hiroshima, footage of what looks like American Battleships, lots of aircraft including B-29s, B-17s, and even what looks like the crash of a German WWII Messerschmidt Bf 109.What is truly disturbing about all this is that we see footage of a very real man burned to death by a flamethrower, of lots of badly burned bodies, and others which have their bones showing.  It seems very out of place in a film aimed at children.  I can’t imagine that such footage would even be allowed in our day and age.

At least not as entertainment.

Even without the very uncomfortable specter of real footage of real death this is not a particular good movie.  In fact, it is more of a curio, a weird footnote to the history of film, a strange, psychedelic remnant of the Seventies.

Or, in other words, this one is for film collectors and fanatics, only

(Better version available at the Internet Archive)



And check out our new Feature (Updated June 11, 2020):

The Rivets Zone:  The Best SF Movies You’ve Never Seen!



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