PCR past banners
Now in our eighth calendar year!
PCR #386  (Vol. 8, No. 33) This edition is for the week of August 13--19, 2007.

The Tampa Film Review for August  by Nolan Canova, Terence Nuzum, and Chris Woods
"The Invasion"  by Mike Smith
Birthday Bashers....Flash - Ahhh-Ah!  by Andy Lalino
Book Review: "Fangland" by John Marks  by Lisa Ciurro
DVD Review: “Godzilla Raids Again”  by ED Tucker
Missed Birthdays .... Musical Notes .... Poison Me Elmo .... Barry Bonds .... Whatever Happened To--? Chapter 27: Brad Sullivan  by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2007
Archives 2006
Archives 2005
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
Email PCR
CF Presents Retrorama

DVD Review:
“Godzilla Raids Again”

Released By: Classic Media
Release Date: April 3, 2007
Number of Discs: 1
Approximate Running Time: 160 Minutes
Special Features: Audio Commentary, Image Galleries, Art of Suit Acting Documentary
Suggested Price: $19.99

The Source:
Godzilla Raids Again is the first of many sequels to the original Godzilla (1954). Toho rushed the film into production immediately following the phenomenal success of their first installment and had this one in theaters less than a year later in 1955. Like Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the US version of this film differs greatly from its Japanese source material and took an additional four years before it finally turned up on US screens. The plot is fairly simple and functional, the Godzilla that died in the original was, as one scientist theorized, only one of many resulting from nuclear testing. A scouting plane discovers Godzilla and new monster Angillas on an uncharted iceberg. The recently thawed rivals find their way to civilization and monster mayhem and destruction ensues.

The Fanboy Factor:
Regardless of the fact that Toho has chosen to use the original international title, Godzilla Raids Again will always be Gigantis the Fire Monster in its US incarnation. Godzilla: King of the Monsters was an uncontested success during its US theatrical release but the distribution company that purchased the rights to the sequel decided a new monster would be more popular with US audiences than a returning one, so Godzilla became Gigantis. They also attempted to beef up the film by reusing scenes of the monsters and tacking on military and dinosaur stock footage. It’s amusing to note that even though the US distributors clearly intended to market this as unrelated to the previous Godzilla film, they left in all references to there having been an earlier monster. This includes allusions to the oxygen destroyer device that was used to kill the first creature and an explanation of why it cannot be used again! While this film is one of the weaker entries in the original Godzilla series, it is of major historical importance to fans. It establishes many of the conventions that would carry through all future installments and gives insight into how the blueprint was developed. For the first time, Godzilla has a worthy adversary and his superiority among even his own kind is displayed. When Angillas (re-christened Angirus for some reason in the US version) buys the farm around the half way point, the problem of dealing with Godzilla falls back on the Japanese military and they begin a long history of ineffectualness. Their final solution is clearly only temporary and so the set up for many sequels to come is put in place.

The Product:
Classic Media has done an excellent job on this DVD and given Godzilla fans just about everything they could hope for. The single disc contains both the original Japanese version of the film (available with optional English subtitles) and the US version. With the exception of a new title card, the US version is the same Gigantis we all know and love! The quality of both transfers is very good with only minor wear to the source material. For fans used to viewing Gigantis in murky public domain dupes, the image quality presented here is an eye opener. The stand out extra on the disc is an audio commentary by Godzilla-phile Steve Ryfle. Mr. Ryfle takes viewers on an exhaustive journey through the US release of this film including its aborted original attempt as The Volcano Monsters. The depth of Ryfle’s knowledge may be overwhelming to the casual fan but more advanced students of the Big G will be delighted. Also included is a documentary called The Art of Suite Acting that pays tribute to the actors inside the giant monster costumes. This brief overview provides some great behind the scenes photos and gives viewers an idea of just how difficult and dangerous it was to bring some of these creatures to life. The only thing missing here is a sampling of promotional material from the Gigantis the Fire Monster, which Toho would apparently like to see forgotten. It would have been nice to see some of the unique posters and lobby cards from this version in the image gallery and an original trailer.

The Bottom Line:
Godzilla fans rejoice! This is a great DVD at a favorable price. Classic Media has set the bar by which other Godzilla releases will be measured and we can only hope the rest of their DVDs in this series uphold these standards.

"Retrorama" is ©2007 by ED Tucker.   All graphics this page, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.