Godzilla vs. Hedorah DVD Review

There's a reason the Godzilla series has been so criticized over the years: The 1970's. Starting things off after the stock footage filled "Godzilla's Revenge," this oddball piece remains the strangest of all Godzilla films to date. It has a message for sure, but it's trapped inside a warped and flawed film that ends up being more campy than powerful.

Oil tankers have begun to disappear. The only evidence as to the cause is some video showing some sort of monster. Doctor Yano (Akira Yamauchi) and his son have discovered the creature is actually made from pollution and is slowly growing. Japan is helpless until Godzilla shows up, providing the country with a small glimmer of hope.

It's very hard to explain "Godzilla vs. Hedorah" to someone who hasn't seen it. It has a mixture of cheap cartoon animation, acid trips, incomprehensible music, and of course giant monsters. You're never quite sure if what is occurring on the screen is supposed to be funny or serious.

This is one of the only movies in the series to show people being killed (in this case, being reduced to skeletons due to Hedorah) and remains the only film to show Godzilla fly. Yes, fly. The director has stated it was to offset all the violence in the film, but it also defeats the environmental message the story is going for. You can't take anything seriously with a moment of camp like that.

Most of the monster action is formulaic as the titans battle and the humans sit on the sidelines. Hedorah, played by eventual Godzilla suit actor Kenpachiro Satsuma, is the heaviest suit ever created for the series, but it doesn't exactly work. All the tattered ends are supposed to be dripping sludge, but the way they flail about is ridiculous. The Godzilla suit doesn't fare much better, the bulge in the neck where the actor's head resides is painfully obvious in a few scenes. Some of the other effects, including some great looking matte work, are great.

Rest assured that you will never see another film like this one. Whether or not you can enjoy it depends on your tolerance for the absurd. The human dialogue scenes move quickly enough to get to the monster action, but even then it's pretty hard to swallow. (** out of *****)

Most of the movie takes place at night, but this nice looking transfer holds together pretty well. Some of the effect shots look grainy, but not to a point where things become aggravating. The clarity during the daylight sequences is pretty hard to complain about while the black levels keep things solid during the long battle at the end. Even more amazing is how clean this print is. There are hardly any scratches to be found. (****)

Two audio tracks are here, both English and Japanese. Each is presented in 2.0 mono. The Japanese track is very clear with no hissing or noise, though the soundtrack may convince you otherwise. The English track doesn't fare as well. It's a little quieter and the dialogue is distorted with a fuzzy quality to it. Bass is obviously non-existent. (***)

Sony has provided nothing in the extras department beyond a few trailers for related products. (No stars)

There are probably plenty of people out there who will find this goofy entry into the series to be enjoyable. It's just so insane, that's likely where the connection lies and the only logical explanation for it. This isn't a terrible movie, just one that doesn't have a lot of direction or a sense of what it wants to be.

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