Godzilla Goodness: GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA (1974)
By Witney Seibold on May 15, 2014
Mechagodzilla is a ****ing pimp. He is a mechanical bitchslap. Mechagodzilla will kick your ass, and you’ll be grateful for it. Mechagodzilla is the best thing ever created by a human or a non-human. He’s the only thing greater than Godzilla. #15: Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.
So yeah, Mechagodzilla. Love it. Love it, love it, love it. Mechagodzilla is awesome. Godzilla is awesome. They fight, and it’s awesome. Godzilla twists Mechagodzilla’s ****ing head off. Not since Destroy All Monsters has a film pleased me this much. You will find that Mechagodzilla is an asset to whatever film he’s in. His appearance can improve everything. I sincerely hope that, what with pop culture’s increasing tendency to overlap, that Mechagodzilla shows up in Star Wars: Episode VII, joins The Avengers, fights Superman, and stars in the next James Bond movie. Godzilla already has a star on the Walk of Fame, but I think his mechanical counterpart deserves one as well.
How is it that the Godzilla movies vacillate so wildly in quality? The last film, Godzilla vs. Megalon, was crazy, cheap and short. There was a Godzilla film nearly every year from 1964 to 1975, and they seemed to alternate between awesome and iffy. This is odd, seeing as it was the same creative team all along. Well, whatever model they used, it eventually led us to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, so all the Hedorahs, Minillas, and Megalons can be forgiven. Indeed, here’s my theory: The quality of the Godzilla movie is directly proportional to the featured guest monster in it. So if you’re dealing with a weird monster like Gigan, the movie’s going to be weird. If it’s an awesome monster like Mechagodzilla, then, lo, your movie is awesome. Something to ponder.
The story is usual: Evil aliens want to take over the world by controlling the monsters that live here. The evil aliens this time are alien apes, a detail that only enhances the overall movie. At first it looks like Godzilla has gone berserk, and has been wrecking cities like back in the 1950s, but then the real Godzilla appears and reveals that he has an evil robot clone built by space apes. Godzilla enlists Anguirus, and Mechagodzilla kicks their monster butts. He can fire missiles from his fingers and lasers from his eyes. He looks like Godzilla, but is a robot. I will give you my life savings to have tea with Mechagodzilla.
In addition to Mechagodzilla, this film also introduces us to the truly weird King Caesar, a 50-meter-tall bipedal dog creature that hibernates inside a mountain. King Caesar seems to be the only monster in the Toho canon that is made of magic. King Caesar is not merely worshiped as a deity like Mothra — he may actually be a divine being. King Caesar, instantly recognizing that Godzilla is a benevolent monster, teams up with him to fight the alien robot clone. King Caesar fights. Godzilla twists Mechagodzilla’s ****ing head off. If you thought the fight between Ellen Ripley and the alien queen at the end of Aliens was exciting, it pales in comparison to this.
Also, metaphor time: King Caesar, having been summoned by ancient statues, and by using song and prayer, seems to represent the traditional aspects of Japanese society. Benevolent, perhaps hibernating, but always present. Mechagodzilla, with its lasers and metal body, clearly represents encroaching Japanese modernity. Japanese films tend to be about the conflict between modernity and tradition. And Godzilla? Godzilla is the balance. Created by a modern war device, but fighting for his ancient country, Godzilla is Japan.
Mechagodzilla was a big enough hit that he was brought back for the next installment, which would prove to be the final film in the first Godzilla continuity.
Up next: Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)