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on December 20, 2004
It's wonderful that American home video distributors have finally started taking Godzilla seriously and releasing excellent DVDs of the Big Guy's flicks. This DVD of the 1971 "Godzilla vs. Hedorah" (originally released in America as "Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster") may not offer much in the way of extras, but it lets you see the film as you've never been able to: in a beautiful widescreen image (enhanced for 16:9 TVs) with the option to watch it in Japanese with English subtitles or dubbed into English. For older viewers, I definitely recommend watching it in Japanese; it will change your whole perspective on Godzilla and makes the film seem less cheap and campy. However, the English dub is a good feature to have for younger children, who will definitely want to watch the film as well.

Although watching "Godzilla vs. Hedorah" in Japanese will tone down the camp somewhat, this remains the weirdest, oddest, most mind-bogglingly bizarre of all Godzilla movies. In the 1970s the Japanese film industry entered a steep decline because of competition from television, and the Godzilla films suffered from severe budget cutbacks. One of the guiding fathers of the Godzilla films, special effects wizard Eiji Tsubaraya, died in 1969 and the effects work on the Godzilla films suffered an additional drop in quality. "Godzilla vs. Hedorah" therefore came at a time when the Godzilla films were changing, and not always for the better. A new director, Yoshimitsu Banno, helmed this film and purposely set out to make a completely new kind of Godzilla film: a weird mixture of serious environmental message, frightening horror sequences, rock 'n' roll party scenes, cartoon montages, kiddie antics, and surreal monster fights. This is one strange film! The shift between the often grisly horror sequences (Hedorah the Smog Monster does some nasty things to his human victims) to animated "bumper" sequences and Godzilla actually flying (!!!) will make you wonder if somebody put the reels out of sequence! For all these problems and the film's silliness, there's something endearing about this monster mash: compared to the next few films, which are so cheap and uninspired, "Godzilla vs. Hedorah" feels like a project that the people working on it actually cared about. The environmental slant also provides a real message, the first time since the original "Godzilla" (1954) that the series approached such a heated topic.

Godzilla steps into full superhero mode here. Hedorah (the name comes from the word 'hedoro' meaning 'sludge'), a monster born in the waters from humanity's pollution, rapidly mutates into a jelly-like giant that comes ashore in Japan and starts wreaking havoc and turning humans into skeletons. Godzilla answers the call to save humanity. But Hedorah is a fearsome foe, armed with laser eyes, poison gas, and toxic spit-balls! Godzilla won't have an easy time, but maybe the scientists and the military can lend a hand with their electrode device. In between scenes of monsters battling, you can hang out with Japanese teens at a disco and watch the psychadelic acid pattern show on the wall. Or just listen to the wah-wah-wah soundtrack music -- guaranteed to make you want to buy a lava lamp!

Yeah, this is a weird film. But it's a cult classic, and resembles no other Godzilla film. (Apparently series producer Tomoyuki Tanaka hated the final product and director Banno consequently never directed another film.)

Note about the English dub: Viewers who remember seeing this film on TV in the 1970s and '80s may notice that the English dub on this film is different than the one they remember. This is because there were two English soundtracks made for the film back in 1971. American International Pictures released the film as "Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster" and did their own dub through Titra Sound in New York, composing cool English lyrics for the theme song, "Save the Earth." Toho studios made their own English dub in Hong Kong for use in other English-speaking territories. In the early 1990s, the rights to the picture in America returned to Toho, and the Toho dub has now replaced the American International one. This DVD therefore contains the Hong Kong dubbing job, and that means "Save the Earth" is now in Japanese instead of English. Fans of this classic camp song might be a bit disappointed!
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on November 7, 2004
This review is for the October 19 DVD release of Godzilla Vs. Hedorah, and this film is the eleventh movie in the long-running Godzilla series. The movie is also known as Godzilla Vs. the Smog Monster. Watching this film as an adult, I was surprised how good this film is. I recall it receiving the infamous Turkey Award as one of the worst movies ever made, but this is far from being the worst Godzilla movie ever made. The plot (what little there is) is interesting and the special effects hold up rather well by Seventies standards. Hedorah would be a monster best realized by modern CGI but the costume works well, even if the sludge which oozes from beneath him is so digusting as to be laughable at times. Here Godzilla is a friend to humanity; however the movie is nowhere near as campy as subsequent releases which resulted in the temporary death of the series. One negative aspect of the story, Godzilla does fly in this movie -- embarrassing indeed.

The quality of this DVD is impressive. The image is a 2.35:1 widescreen, and the image is allegedly anamorphic. There are many night sequences in this film which are beautifully rendered on this transfer -- contrasts are terrific, and it's clear to see what is occurring, whereas videotapes of this film made it hard to tell what was going on. Colors are bright and lifelike, but do sometimes look slightly washed out in special effects sequences. The film has been impressively restored, but there are still occasional bits of dust which appear throughout the film. For what it's worth, the image quality of this DVD is far better than ADV Films' DVD release of the 1995 Gamera film.

The disk contains the usual badly dubbed English language track, but more impressively it contains the original Japanese track with English subtitles which appear in clear, large yellow type beneath the widescreen image on an analog television. Sadly there are some musical numbers in this film which are not subtitled or dubbed into English. The transfer also features the opening titles and credits in English rather than Japanese.

There are no bonus features on this DVD aside from a few trailers for other Columbia Tristar DVDs. Still, this is easily the definitive version of this film on home video. Also look for two other Seventies Godzilla movies available in widescreen, restored and having a Japanese track: Godzilla Vs. Gigan and Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla.
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on February 11, 2014
I remember as a youth, about 5-6 years old, watching Godzilla on T.V. , I was hooked! A giant lizard smashing cities!?!? Awesome!!

Now there are 2 camps in the Godzilla fan base, the ones who hate the "Kid" movies, and those like myself that love them. This is even weirder... almost in it's own category... part monster movie, part hippie environmental statement....

But its BECAUSE it's so weird that I love it!! If you want to see the weirdest Godzilla movie ever made, THIS is the movie to see!!
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on November 5, 2009
Okay folks, this is the one where I toss aside journalistic integrity (or whatever code online reviewers of DVDs have to abide by) and revel in pure, brazen fanboy love! Yes, I know the movie plays like a psychedelic mish-mash of 70s movie cliches and worn-out kaiju eiga conventions. Of course the music score is terrible. I am well aware that Hedorah looks (and sounds) like he is taking a hit off a titanic bong when he inhales the smoke from the smoke stacks(all red eyed & laid back even). Yep, those are electric instruments, powered by what must be the longest extension cord in the world, being played by hippies so concerned about the environment, they light a bonfire big enough to burn down a house. Yes, yes... All of this is true. However, I love this movie. Why? Because it's fun in its own weird way. Perhaps it helps that I saw this film every year around Thanksgiving as a child. I would spend hours entranced by WOR's Thanksgiving marathons of King Kong & Godzilla films. Hedorah was always the capper. I have many fond memories of watching scenes of Godzilla battling a giant pile of sludge set to a groovy 70s soundtrack. No, it's not a great movie but, you know what? I still love it. And, while I am confessing... I really like Hedorah as a monster. Yes, I know. I should be ashamed but.. I'm not! This is one crazy G film. See it. Dig it. Groove on it, man!
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on March 28, 2011
By 1971, the Godzilla series had become rather stale. To solve this problem and attract more numbers to theaters, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka recruited newcomer director Yoshimitsu Banno to helm the project and co-write the screenplay. For better or for worse, Banno certainly made his mark in this film, whose primary theme is an ecological warning about the dangers of pollution, something that the general public first became aware of in the late 1960s. The first Earth Day had been celebrated on April 22, 1970 so the time seemed right for the Godzilla series to address this important issue, just as war and nuclear weapons were covered in the first Godzilla film back in 1954. Godzilla vs. Hedorah was a plan to return to its roots, to bring relevancy back to a series that had long become irrelevant.

The implementation of this plan is quite another story altogether because Godzilla vs. Hedorah (or Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster as it was known here in the U.S.) is easily the most bizarre Godzilla film ever made. There are some very unsettling images of pollution and carnage, but whenever the film gets close to becoming serious about its message, the message is then sabotaged by some of the weirdest action and misguided decisions ever in a Toho kaiju film. Animated interludes, psychedelic rock music, poetic imagery (a broken clock in a sea of oil and garbage), an elementary school lesson about stars and nebulas, and an acid trip resulting in a fish head hallucination in a discothèque combine to create a wild hodgepodge of a film. Oh yeah, and Godzilla flies in this one, using his atomic breath as jet propulsion.

The grand music of Akira Ifukube is sorely missing, replaced with marching band music by Riichirô Manabe. Fortunately, he would return to score only 1 more Godzilla film, the dismal Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973).

Despite all its drawbacks, one has to admire director Yoshimitsu Banno for being gutsy enough to make a Godzilla movie that dared to be this level of different. I wouldn't want all Godzilla films to be like this, but I'm glad it's there in the canon.

So how does this new DVD compare to the original Sony release? As far as the video, it's neither better nor worse than the image quality of the Sony release, which was already pretty good. The flier design is an improvement in my opinion, being similar to Classic Media's cover designs, with the original Japanese poster and both the Japanese and American titles on the cover. The plot synopses are cool and good for a chuckle. As for extras, there is only the original Japanese trailer with subtitles. But the Sony dvds didn't even have that. Menus are a step up too.
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on June 10, 2014
this my favorite godzilla movie, made during the death throws of the contract studio system , and the growing popularity of television . of the three titans tanaka , honda , tsuburaya ,who were the undisputed heavyweights of monster movies , only tanaka would remain . this movie was different because the pollution in japan was horrible at that time , and this was hondas way of fighting it , the bad guy was made of pollution , his weapon was his toxicity . godzilla stomps and smashes his way to victory (after a few close calls) and the citizens of tokyo are saved . note godzilla uses his radio active breath more than ever before . the monster fights are well made . also the color is unique to this movie lots of way out psydelic almost acid trip color and visions . the fish head scene in the nightclub is far out man . if you olny see one godzilla movie ,,,make it this one .
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on September 17, 2014
Godzilla vs. Hedorah , on Godzilla Vs. the Smog Monster as it was known here, is available again on DVD in a proper presentation, thanks to Kraken. The anti-pollution message in this one will whack you on the head so much that there is no way you can miss it. be it in English or Japanese with subtitles, this is a key film in the legacy of the great green monster.
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on August 6, 2009
Out of every godzilla film I've seen, I would definitly say this is the wierdest. The story is good and actually quite effective. If we continue to pollute our planet, this is what could happen.
Hedorah himself actually looks very good, and he goes through more than one form. Big G is kinda goofy, with big eyes and a plain suit. I noticed he swayed and stood alot, with this really wierd music playing while he did so. The battles aren't great, and the characters are completely random (as usual).
At the very beginning, this kid comes out and starts playing with his godzilla toys. What he does with them is put them at the top of his slide, watch them slide down , go get them and do it again. That part made me laugh.
As much of the movie was funny as it was scary. The monster (hedorah) was tougher than one may have thought, and godzilla had some trouble. There are no other kaiju in this film, just Hedorah and Godzilla. It probably wouldn't be much better even if every giant monster was in it. On second thought, that could have been cool.
To sum up, it isn't the best Godzilla film at all, but other ones from the same series such as Godzilla vs. Gigan and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla are much better. Of course you can always check out the other series, and in particular the newest ones from the millenium series, such as Godzilla against Mechagodzilla, Godzilla Tokyo S.O.S or Godzilla final wars. There are 3 others from the millenium series, 7 from the heisei series and 15 from the showa series, including this film, which is from the showa series. Hope this was helpful to anyone who was wondering!
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on July 14, 2015
Great picture and sound, but I found a lack of special features makes this just an okay blu ray. If you want just the movie get this, if you want some special features other than japanese audio, get the previous dvd release.
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on May 4, 2016
A good Godzilla film in the Showa series, not a bad time, except if you hate babies...yes there is a scene where a baby is trapped in smog, WTF TOHO? Also, it can get pretty boring at the times. Basically a monster created by pollution, forced earth messages by the pop culture of the 70s, druggie hippies, and Godzilla. Godzilla defeats Hedorah by flailing his arms around while roaring then at the end literally rips the s*** out of Hedorah twice after his notable "flight" scene...
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