The five most ridiculous Godzilla monsters
Godzilla occupies a tricky place in pop culture. He’s immediately recognisable and has been the star of 28 Japanese films since 1954 and one notoriously-unsuccessful US one (although that’s not stopping the plucky Americans: there’s a new one being shot right this very minute). And that pretty much encapsulates the problem: as monsters go he’s huge, powerful, and kind of goofy.
For all of the shots of terrified Japanese looking skyward and screaming “Gojira!”, he seems like a pretty easy monster to avoid: for one thing, he’s not exactly a stealthy creature which is why most Godzilla films follow a familiar template: Godzilla emerges from the ocean for no clear reason, wanders through a city knocking it over, the military fails to stop him, other giant monsters appear and fight and/or something something science, Godzilla goes back into the sea.
The US version tried to change the format by making him (actually her, since Godzilla laid eggs in this one) a bit more nimble and sneaky, which is one of the many reasons why it just didn’t work. That, and Hank Azaria. No wonder the real Godzilla gave her such a comprehensive beatdown all over Sydney’s Darling Harbour and Bennelong Point in Godzilla: Final Wars.
So why don’t Japanese audiences laugh out loud at Godzilla? Maybe it’s because they’ve grown up seeing the mighty beast fight adversaries even more ridiculous than him, such as…
5. A moth
Yes, we know: Mothra is almost as iconic as Godzilla. But putting aside the character: seriously, he’s a moth. Yeah, it does that supersonic sound wave thing and can knock over buildings with one beat of its mighty wings, but a moth? What was the development discussion like? “Well, Godzilla is a long-dormant dinosaur awakened and mutated by the terrifying power of nuclear radiation who can shoot heat rays from his mouth - how do you think he’d fare against a foe whose ability to move depends on the structural integrity of gossamer-thin wings?
4. A giant unicorn mole
The burrowing, high-leaping Baragon only turns up in two Godzilla films: he’s in the background of Destroy All Monsters and gets to have his arse handed to him by Godzilla in Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidora: All Out Monster Attack - a film where his fairly pitiful status is summed up by being the only monster not named in the title. They could have at least done a “featuring Baragon” on the end. God, even T-Pain gets that courtesy.
3. An alien cyborg chicken with a buzzsaw for a tummy
Gigan is a cybernetic space monster and was the first of Godzilla’s foes to actually draw blood on screen, but his devastating powers and unstoppable force doesn’t change the fact that he looks absolutely ridiculous. Seriously, it is as though two designers who hated each other’s guts were trying to destroy each other, one by coming up with the most deadly arsenal of weaponry Godzilla could face and the other by making sure that each element was added in the dumbest way possible - that, or someone was working through their issues having just discovered they were a Caesarean birth. Seriously, the abdominal chainsaw? That’s just weird.
2. A monster made of Godzilla’s DNA mixed with that of a rose and a scientist's dead daughter
It's a story as old as time: scientist has daughter, scientist loses daughter, scientist splices dead daughter's DNA with that of her favourite flower and a giant radioactive mutant dinosaur thereby accidentally creating a terrifying creature that threatens to destroy humanity. But y'know, it's a classic for a reason. Fun fact: this was the original plot of Hamlet before Shakespeare decided to make it about moody Danish nobles instead.
If you felt that the whole using-monsters-as-a-metaphor-for-man’s-hubris thing wasn’t getting quite enough play after the original Godzilla, then Godzilla vs Hedorah is the film for you as The Creature Spawned By Our Unbridled Lust For Energy squares off against The Creature Created By Our Cavalier Disregard For The Environment. The films is notable mainly for two things: one, the scene where Godzilla flies by using his heat ray as a rocket (a trick he never did before or since, possibly because of how hilarious it looked) and two, the swinging musical number about the need for responsible waste management that acts as the film’s opening theme: ‘Save the Earth’.
(Image via FDC)