83 of 87 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The strangest of all Godzilla films, but a great DVD!
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...
Published on December 20, 2004 by Claude Avary
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Groovy!
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)...
Published on November 5, 2009 by The Baron
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83 of 87 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The strangest of all Godzilla films, but a great DVD!,
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!
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In Many Ways, One Of The Very Best,
THIS is the Godzilla movie I had always wanted to get my hands on as a little kid. THIS is the one I always heard about, but could not find anywhere. THIS is the one that piqued my curiosity, due to all the controversy directed at it. And now, thanks to the powers that be at Sony, it is finally available again in the States . . . . . . . . on DVD, no less! And having finally seen it after all these years, I must say that GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH, though not one of the *best* G-films ever, is definitely among the better entries.
Director Yoshimitsu Banno was obviously trying to do something (VERY) different with the Big G, and for the most part he succeeds. On the surface, the film is about the effects of pollution, and how it may very well destroy us in the end. Rather than relying totally on the characters to get this across by talking (and it does become a bit heavy-handed whenever they try), the filmmakers rely on often haunting imagery. Visions of unclear objects floating in huge clumps of sewege in the middle of the ocean are used quite often (the sight of a mutilated human body is especially effective). As Hedorah flies around, he spews sulfuric gas, melting buildings and leaving a trail of bodies whose flesh have been dissolved and rotted down to the bone. Banno's techniques are disturbingly/beautifully brought to life by effects maestro Teruyoshi Nakano.
However, whatever Banno was trying to get across with the psycadellic imagery, short animated segments, and musical/dance numbers fails miserably. They're not thought-provoking, they don't enhance the atmosphere, they don't add to the anti-pollution message . . . . . they really serve no purpose. They're just distracting, and pretty jarring at times. I'd only count this complaint as a small nit-pick, if it didn't happen so often. But then, that's what the fast-forward button is for.
Now I come to the actual monsters. Effects-wise, here's where the film slightly falters again, mainly with Hedorah. When it moves on all fours, for instance, it moves too much like a dog rather than slithering as it should have. I was expecting a lot more, but I guess for the time it was the best they could do. Godzilla looks good, but one can kind of see that the suit is getting rather old. (Indeed, by the next film GODZILLA VS. GIGAN the suit would literally fall apart on screen!)
The battles in this movie do NOT disappoint!! Director Banno allows for plenty of stare-downs between the monsters, establishing a splendid rivalry and bitter hatred that one rarely feels between Godzilla and his foe(s). Once they actually duke it out, it is nothing short of spectacular! There's none of the crappy "beam-fighting" to be found in other 70s entries (a.k.a. Godzilla's "Dark Age"), or the boring "monsters-bumping-against-each-other" of the Heisei Era. When these kaiju get at it, they really get at it! The fights are brutal, with Godzilla being pummled, drowned in a pool of sludge, getting his skin melted off and his eye burnt shut, and Hedorah getting holes punched right through him! Hedorah is without a doubt the greatest and most powerful foe of the Showa Series (and maybe even ever), which makes for some of the best G-battles in history.
All in all, despite its flaws, GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH makes for superb kaiju-eiga entertainment. That said, this one is definitely not for the kiddies; previously mentioned imagery of death and decay will not sit well with very young children, and even left me (a high school student) surprised.
Here, I come to the DVD quality. Though I wouldn't call it stunning as other people have, this is definitely the best I have ever seen a classic G-film look and sound E-V-E-R. Picture is slightly soft in some shots, but there was no grain or scratches to be found. The color is muted and dull, but I don't count this as a fault; this was intentional and adds to the film's look. Don't expect this one to be bursting with bright colors. Audio-wise, it's fine, with everything coming off crisp and clear. As with all of these recent G-DVDs, extras extend as far as trailers for everything else BUT the actual film! Thanks to this, I wish these discs didn't cost so much a piece. But having these classics on DVD with such awesome presentation is definitely worth it.
Do not let this one pass up the chance to sit on your DVD shelf!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Learn to speak Japanese with the Big G,
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it!! But not for eveyone...,
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
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!!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Groovy!,
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!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the BEST, but come on Sony release the AIP cut!!,
As much as some G-fans may call this the worst G-film ever, it is really one of the best. The film has absolutely no stock footage in it at all like other G flicks have. Ya, the part where Godzilla flies does kinda ruin it a bit but the film up until then is awesome, very good kaiju action, decent actors, funky music, and a little bit of horror. Most people don't know but this film was the only Godzilla flick that was put on rental shelves as a horror flick not a sci-fi flick for good reason. For small children(under 8) this is not a film they need to be seeing even though I saw it when I was 4.
Video: crisp remastered widescreen, absolutely fantastic.
Audio: wasn't able to test the 5.1 since I don't have a 5.1 system but the regular audio sounded pretty darn good.
Dubbing: Ok, my only problem with this version. Some reviewers either haven't seen the AIP cut or don't think there is a difference. There IS! This DVD has the horrible Toho International dubbing which at this time their dubbing was just bad, in later films they start doing a better job but here it's just horrid. The AIP cut sounds so much better, the voices fit much better and the "Save the Earth" song is translated! "True" kaiju fans will say just use the Japanese audio track, but I grew up on the AIP cut, and to have it ommitted and potentially cast into oblivion is just wrong.
Sony, please, please, please release the AIP cut with the remastered widescreen video!!!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What were they smoking?,
Godzilla vs Hedorah is insane even by later Showa era Godzilla standards, a surreal mix of monster mash, message movie, kiddie flick, 1960s educational shorts, groovy protest songs, go-go dancers wearing fish masks, terrible special effects and basic Sesame Street style animated inserts as Friend of the Earth Godzilla takes on a giant toxic flying tadpole that craps acid on him, drowns mah-jong players in excrement and farts deadly toxic fumes over the population of Japan. Avante garde doesn't cover it: this is Godzilla on acid and it's a real happening, baby. The big feller even gets to fly in one scene.
Despite getting a great entrance in front of a rising sun while introduced with a slide trombone theme straight out of a Laurel and Hardy get drunk comedy, Godzilla has never looked camper (well, at least until Godzilla vs. Megalon), mincing his way through his underpowered punchups with the allegorical scheissencritter - Hedorah is basically just a vertical turd with a tail and glowing red eyes. It's tempting to believe from the number of times Mr G wipes his nose that this was during the big feller's cocaine period, but he seems all too aware of the humiliation: at one point he even turns to the camera and shakes his head to the audience in disbelief.
Co-writer-director Yoshimitsu Banno had been an assistant director on Kurosawa films before being hired to revitalize the Godzilla series while its producer Tomoyuki Tanaka was in hospital only to be suspended from the studio after they looked on with horror what he had wrought, but is currently writing next year's IMAX Godzilla 3D. The mind boggles...
As others have noted, for those who want to watch the film dubbed, the English soundtrack is one prepared by Toho rather than the one used for AIP's re-edited version of the film, Godzilla Vs The Smog Monster. However, it's worth seeking out the Region 4 PAL Australian DVD, which also includes the original Japanese trailer and keeps the original Japanese credits.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hero Godzilla. I prefer the GMK pissed off Godzilla.,
This movie is just funky but good at the same time. Someday i doubt we are going to be attacked by a 60meter walking piece of our own sh*t, but this movie is good enough for my bid. Special effects are OK, action is cool and story is original. Its a wonder Godzilla didnt just keel over from wrestling with that fruitloop. I liked it when Godzilla gave Hedorah a black eye. Point is that this movie is weird as h*ll but still good.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!,
This Godzilla movie rocks!Hedorah is made from Japans air pollution.(You probaly already know that)........I thought Godzilla was really cute in this movie.At the beginning of the movie.......it was freaky.....You know......When the kids papa(as he would call him)went under water and saw Hedorah.....Woah........
HEDORAH ATTACKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!This is a really good movie.You should buy it!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bizarre, super eerie flick sure to entertain fans of all genres!!,
I first saw this film when I was just a mere 5 year old tyke, and then again when I was about 9. I remember both of those viewings well, and have seen it numerous times since then.
Godzilla vs. Hedorah was born during Godzilla's infamous, corny, and non-serious period of his life known as the "Dark Age" of Godzilla films. During this period, the quality of the films had been dropping drastically and the appeal to general viewers had plummeted. This film, however, displayed a very noticeable difference in regards to the previous films, and remains the most bizarre, and unique G-film in the great history of Godzilla.
One major difference many viewers will likely notice (who are familiar with many of the other Showa films of the 60's and 70's), is the tone set in the movie. All the films prior to this film, with the exception of the original, were easily notable for their somewhat ridiculous stunts and plots, and incredibly poor quality and low budgets. They also seemed to lack any true message anymore and had moved away from the allegory-style original Godzilla and made simply for kids and their viewing pleasure (the main reason the original series was ended). Yoshimitsu Banno, the new director selected for the film, really increased the tone for this film. The film was very dark in contrast to the previous films, and displayed graphic images of death and terror not seen since the masterpiece, Gojira (1954). The amount of campy humor commonly found in typical Showa films, was greatly reduced for the film, though manages to preserve just enough to retain its nostalgic feel. Godzilla vs. Hedorah was also the first Godzilla film to feature a true, heavy message about mankind and its sins against nature in years. The original Godzilla was about mankind being punished for crimes against nature and the embodiment of the nightmares and horrors faced by the Japanese people in a massive, unstoppable beast. In this film, the message is very similar, yet this time, the death-spawned Hedorah is the containment of pollution and its negative side-effects and what will happen to mankind if they do not cease their destructive and reckless ways. Also, this film has more impact and horror in one respect: that is, pollution is everywhere and affects life on a world-wide level. Godzilla symbolically represented mankind's futile efforts to solve their pollution problems and just how hard it is to cleanse themselves of the obviously permanent damage done to the earth (which explains Hedorah's indestructibility). However, there is a degree of campiness still present, mainly because Banno wanted children to be exposed to this message as well, and knew that an all-dark, graphic, nightmarish film would not be suitable for young viewers. He was also well-aware of the reputation Godzilla had among children to begin with, and knew Godzilla must retain many of the most familiar qualities. It is surprising, though, that this film didn't receive a higher rating due to drug references, and the overall graphic nature of the film.
Perhaps readers are wanting more specific details of the movie itself and not just the symbolic perspectives on Godzilla as a whole?
Well, first off, this film is definitely a worthwhile purchase and makes both a great popcorn movie, and a sick-in-bed movie, so it's enjoyability is a versatile one indeed and conforms to many different environments and moods. The plot of pollution taking the form of a horrible sludge demon and annihilating much life on earth is simple, but effective and entertaining nonetheless. Godzilla himself puts up a great performance, while still being rooted to the good ol' camp days. Hedorah deserves as much praise, as he is one of the most deadly, and creative foes ever created and whose virtual indestructibility really made him all the more terrifying. This is a film that people of all ages can enjoy, whether really young, or really old, and will likely be cherished for generations to come. So if you can relate to everything I said, then this is one hell of a film and that you'd do well to get. If, however, you just can't see yourself getting this film no matter what I or anyone else says, well, then at least rent it and watch it at least once, then see if you've changed your mind.
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Godzilla Vs. Hedorah [Blu-ray] by Godzilla Vs. Hedorah (Blu-ray - 2014)
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