Who Is Godzilla Anyway ?

Godzilla is an incredibly huge, nearly invulnerable, dinosaur-like, radioactive monster with the ability to blow some sort of destructive nuclear plasma mist out of his mouth to ignite, explode, or melt things a considerable distance away. He was created by Toho movie studios in Japan, and introduced in the 1954 classic film Gojira.

Godzilla in Film

Gojira would be the first of a fifteen movie series which would span more than twenty years. Starting off as grim and deadly serious horror films, the Godzilla series would lighten up to popular culture, play to the kiddie market, and eventually go camp with silly (but somehow still fun) movies that truly deserve their places on MST3K.

Starting with Gojira, the Japanese movies were not only dubbed into English for American release, but also reedited, reworked, and often had American-shot footage added. For various reasons, this "Americanization" usually confuses the continuity of the series and is best taken with a grain of salt... Basically, if you see a white guy in a Godzilla flick speaking English in correct lip-sinc, don't take anything he says in relation to Godzilla's history seriously.

The old Godzilla movies were usually released in the USA one to five years after Japanese release. Sometimes they were later released to TV under a different title, and then released on video under yet another. So the same movie may be called by three or more English titles... Not to mention the Japanese title or a translation of it, or even the German titles, which always seem to include "Frankenstein". (Godzilla films were reworked for German release, usually including footage of Dr. Frankenstein sending the monsters into the fray.)

A Special 30th Anniversary Film

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the original Gojira, Toho released their first Godzilla flick in almost a decade in 1984. This movie was a direct sequel to the 1954 classic, and ignored the continuity established by the previous 14 sequels. It was reworked and released theatrically in America to limited success as Godzilla 1985.

Most Americans don't know that this film was the start of a new Godzilla series which would run through 1995 and include six more movies which were not theatrically released in the USA. Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) was quietly released to video years ago. The remaining five films were released to U.S. video and pay-TV to go with the theater and video releases of the 1998 American "Godzilla" movie.

The new series would return Godzilla to his original Japan-stomping, bad-natured form. Special effects, although still based on a guy in a dinosaur suit, were dramatically improved to the point that the term "suitimation" was coined to describe them.

The First Godzilla American Film Made

In 1998 the first American-made Godzilla movie was released with much fanfare and huge first-week box office. This creature-feature bears rather little resemblance to the classic Godzilla, and cost a whole lot more to produce, with CGI effects and a gigantic marketing budget. Although ticket sales dropped radically after the first week, the worldwide release, toy and merchandise sales, and TV/Cable/Pay Per View/Video sales almost certainly kept the studio execs from losing sleep over the huge initial budget.

The results of the American attempt to produce a big-budget Godzilla movie may have prompted Toho resume production of their own Godzilla films sooner than expected. In late 1999 they unveiled GODZILLA 2000: MILLENNIUM, which starts yet a third Godzilla continuity for the Japanese films. The 24th Japanese Godzilla film, Godzilla vs Megaguirus was released in late 2000, followed by Godzilla's 25th film extravaganza Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack! in late 2001. The 26th Godzilla movie is being made at at the time of this update.