• Godzilla Vs. Gigan / Godzilla On Monster Island



    Released by: Section 23
    Released on: May 6th, 2014.
    Director: Jun Fukuda
    Cast: Hiroshi Ishikawa, Yuriko Hishimi, Minoru Takashima
    Year: 1972
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Jun Fukuda, 1972’s Godzilla Vs. Gigan, also known as Godzilla On Monster Island, is a blast. The plot is ridiculous, the acting is pretty dire and the whole thing is just completely ridiculous BUT it’s so relentless and committed to its silliness that somehow it works in spite of itself.

    The hero of the tale is a manga artist named Gengo Kotaka (Hiroshi Ishikawa) who, along with his karate warrior girlfriend, Tomoko Tomoe (Yuriko Hishimi), teams up with a goofy hippie named Shosaku Takasugi (Minoru Takashima) to save the Earth. See, while out trying to sell some ideas for a comic series, Gengo happened across a plot hatched by cockroach aliens (who have taken the form of some human hosts) to take over the planet. As they’ve ruined their own homeland, they figure Earth will make a nice substitute and to make this happen they’ve built a life size tower of Godzilla inside a children’s amusement park and somehow managed to summon King Ghidorah and a monster with a buzz saw in his chest, pinchers and a laser eye named… Gigan from the depths of outer space to rough things up!

    Godzilla, however, is just sort of hanging out on Monster Island goofing around for the first half of the movie. Eventually, he and Anguiris make their way across the ocean to Tokyo where King Ghidorah and Gigan are making a giant mess of things. Lots of military guys with lasers mounted on trucks that look more or less like flashlight bulbs get trashed and the monsters duke it out for ultimate monster supremacy.

    So yeah, this is goofy, goofy stuff and done on what would seem to be a considerably smaller budget than many of the films that came before it in the cannon. The suits don’t look so convincing and the miniature work isn’t as impressive as it sometimes is, but c’mon… cockroach aliens!! This one throws in everything but the kitchen sink and while anyone looking for a movie that’s even remotely serious will be sorely disappointed, we do get a lot of unintentional comedy and some pretty cool monster battles. When Gigan’s buzz saw pops out of his chest and he cruises through a building to destroy it, it’s hard not to be impressed. And check out Godzilla swinging King Ghidorah over his head and body slamming him like a wrestler! At one point Anguiris, whose only power is that he has spikes on his back, decides to get into the brawl by just jumping backwards at his opponent and hoping for the best and then later in the movie Godzilla just coldcocks Gigan in the face with a mean right hook. The brawl starts at an oil refinery on the coast and more or less stomps its way, inevitably, to the Children’s Land amusement park where we learn that those dastardly space roaches have built a special laser inside the Godzilla tower to take the real Godzilla out of the picture for good while our comic artist friend does what he can to help. It’s all pretty insane stuff when you think about it.

    The film relies a bit too heavily on stock footage in spots and recycled bits from earlier movies are easy to spot and likely to irk some, but the eight year old in you probably won’t care once the monster show and trash all that there is to trash. That same eight year old won’t care that King Ghidorah’s wings don’t flap while he’s flying around most of the time and probably won’t care that the newly shot footage sometimes doesn’t match the recycled footage either. So yeah, the movie has some flaws that are going to be painfully obvious to adult viewers but given that at this point Toho was trying to lure in kids more than adults, it’s easy (for this writer, at least) to let most of that slide.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Godzilla Vs. Gigan arrives on Blu-ray in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and for the most part it looks excellent. Colors are strong throughout and reproduced very nicely on this disc. Black levels are pretty solid here while detail is generally quite strong. There’s hardly a speck or scratch to note here, the elements used would appear to have been damn close to pristine. Again, some might complain that the optical and miniature effects are more obviously just that on Blu-ray, but that’s the nature of the beast with old monster movies. There isn’t any obvious tinkering in terms of edge enhancement or noise reduction and all in all (as with the other two releases from Section 23), this is a very strong transfer indeed.

    Audio options are provided in Japanese and English language DTS-HD Mono with optional subtitles in English only. The quality of both mixes is fine, though the Japanese track seems to have more depth to it. The score has nice range and the effects have decent presence. Levels are well balanced and there are no problems to note with any hiss or distortion. The subtitles also translate any Japanese on screen text into English as well and when more than one character is speaking they switch from white to yellow to help you keep track.

    Aside from menus and chapter stops, the only extra on the disc is the original Japanese theatrical trailer.

    The Final Word:

    Godzilla Vs. Gigan is awesome. Really, what more could you want? A giant monster with a laser eye and a buzz saw in his chest, a three-headed flying super dragon, a spiky monster who can leap backwards to defeat his foe, cockroach aliens and of course, Godzilla! This one has it all and it’s a whole lot of fun from start to finish. Section 23’s Blu-ray has only got a trailer to offer as far as supplements go but it looks and sounds really nice. A solid release overall.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!