The new Godzilla movie will be coming out on DVD in September. To prepare yourself you can while away the late summer evenings brushing up on the classics. For those of you with sharp eyes the new movie is packed with Easter eggs that make reference to the original films. However, there are over 30 films in the Godzilla franchise, running from the original in 1954 through Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004. With so many movies and monsters to choose from where do you begin? I’ve compiled a list of five films, which introduce a number of the classic monsters and are so full of cheese that the kids should have a good time. The films on this list are generally appropriate for ages 8 and up although the subject matter in some of them may be too strange or difficult for younger viewers to follow.
The original. It feels quite old and doesn’t have the kooky fun of a lot of the others but with Godzilla conceived as a metaphor for nuclear destruction it’s more thoughtful than most Tokusatsu*.
Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
Everyone has a favorite Godzilla movie and/or monster and Mothra is one of the all-time greats, even though – as a giant moth – she isn’t exactly terrifying. As a classic Godzilla movie it’s hard to beat and Mothra’s entourage of miniature singing twins is, well, surreal. This is my favorite.
Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964)
After Mothra the franchise took a turn and Godzilla became the good guy battling his most formidable foe, and the one monster considered his arch nemesis, the three headed dragon monster Ghidorah. If you like Ghidorah you may also want to consider the popular 1991 film Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah.
Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (aka Invasion of Astro-Monster, 1965)
A truly bizarre mix of science fiction and giant monster movie complete with funky aliens. After the studio decided that Godzilla was the hero the movies became increasingly goofy and strange. This one was a big jump into goofy and strange territory.
Destroy All Monsters (1968)
This movie was originally intended to be the final film in the franchise so the filmmakers pulled out all the stops and brought in all the monsters. It culminates in a massive battle royale featuring Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, Anguirus, Gorosaurus, Kumonga, Manda, Varan, and Ghidorah. If you’ve dipped your toes into the world of Godzilla and find yourself wanting more this mega-battle is a treat.
What did he just say?
Tokusatsu: special effects movies, literally “special filming”, most easily defined by the effects pioneered in Godzilla.
Kaiju: “monster” in Japanese, Godzilla and his pals are generally referred to as Kaiju.