Newest Reviews
Little Monsters
Spider-Man: Far from Home
Horrible Histories: The Movie - Rotten Romans
Moulin Rouge
Ray & Liz
African Queen, The
Helen Morgan Story, The
Golem, Der
Finishing Line, The
Triple Threat
Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians, The
Planet of the Dinosaurs
Big Breadwinner Hog
Thunder Road
Moby Dick
Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie
Mad Room, The
Phantom of the Megaplex
Night Sitter, The
Child's Play
Power, The
After Midnight
Dolemite is My Name
Varda by Agnes
Toy Story 4
Master Z: Ip Man Legacy
Man Who Never Was, The
Greener Grass
Scobie Malone
Gangster, the Cop, the Devil, The
Satanic Panic
Newest Articles
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
  Mothra when bug spray just won't doBuy this film here.
Year: 1961
Director: Ishirô Honda
Stars: Frankie Sakai, Hiroshi Koizumi, Ken Uehara, Kyoko Kagawa, Jerry Ito, Emi Ito, Yumi Ito, Takashi Shimura, Akihiko Hirata, Yoshibumi Tajima, Akihiro Tayama, Andrew Hughes, Kenji Sahara, Robert Dunham
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  8 (from 3 votes)
Review: Four shipwrecked sailors are picked up from Beiru Island. Since the island is used for atomic bomb tests, these men should have radiation poisoning but claim berries supplied by friendly natives saved their lives. Greedy foreign businessman Clark Nelson (Jerry Ito) organizes an expedition to hunt down these mysterious islanders, roping in scientists Dr. Chujo (Hiroshi Koizumi) and Dr. Haradawa (Ken Uehara), while scoop-hungry reporter “Bulldog” Tsin-chan (Frankie Sakai) sneaks aboard.

The explorers discover an island full of lush vegetation, ancient relics, and a vampire plant, but their real find is the Twin Fairies (Emi Ito and Yumi Ito, a.k.a. J-pop stars: “The Peanuts”), tiny magical princesses worshipped by the kindly natives. Nasty Nelson snatches the girls back to Japan for his “Secret Fairies Show”, bringing the wrath of their sacred monster Mothra upon the long-suffering citizens of Tokyo. Can good guy “Bulldog” and gal pal photographer Michi (Kyoko Kagawa) free the fairies and save the city?

Bill Warren, the great author of Keep Watching the Skies!, remarked that giant monsters generally have one of two motivations: to escape or eat as many people as possible. Toho’s fairytale-monster movie put a fresh spin on a genre in danger of becoming stale. Based on a novel: “The Luminous Fairies and Mothra” by Takehiko Fukunaka, the story was adapted screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa (Toho’s go-to guy for lighthearted whimsy) with monster maestro Ishiro Honda further lightening the mood with sunny colours and spectacular special effects by the great Eiji Tsuburaya. Mothra remains one of Japan’s most fondly remembered films and introduced a monster whose longevity rivalled that of Godzilla - although some curmudgeonly fans maintain the giant moth is boring. Strong characters were still important to Toho’s monster makers at this stage, and this film features some of the best. “Bulldog”, Michi and Chujo are lively and appealing in their heroism (“Bulldog” rescues a trapped baby from a flash flood) and friendliness to the fairies, while a subplot involves Chujo’s kid brother and his attempts to rescue the fairies. This would surely have appealed to children who were by now the core audience for Japanese monster movies.

Mothra arrived around the same time as Eugene Lourie’s similarly maternal monster movie, Gorgo (1961). Unlike that movie, the fairies are kind enough to worry about innocent lives at risk. It’s just as well the Japanese eventually made nice with the Twin Fairies, since they helped save the nation in Mothra vs Godzilla (1964) (a.k.a. Godzilla vs. the Thing), turned Godzilla into a good guy in Ghidrah: The Three-Headed Monster (1964), and returned several times well into the millennium. Emi and Yumi Ito were a very successful singing duo and stuck with the series until Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (1966) where they were replaced by “the Bambi Pair”.

Aside from the Peanuts, the star turn here comes courtesy of Frankie Sakai, a popular comedian who made a handful of genre films in sixties and went on to co-star with Richard Chamberlain and Toshiro Mifune in the hit miniseries Shogun (1979). Spare a thought for poor Jerry Ito whose semi-Caucasian features left him forever typecast as “shifty foreign devils” in everything from sci-fi to spy movies and gangster flicks. He even played a slimy American paedophile named Mr. Polanski (!) in the Sonny Chiba vehicle Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon (1977).

Toho revived Mothra for trilogy of films in the late nineties. The now-male Mothra Leo was powered by a 10,000 year old tree and could adopt an array of forms including Rainbow Mothra, Aqua Mothra, Light Speed Mothra, Armour Mothra and Eternal Mothra. Cast as a mystical eco-warrior, Mothra battled the flora-destroying Death Ghidorah in Rebirth of Mothra (1996), the toxic waste-spewing Dagahra in Mothra 2: Adventure Under the Sea (1997), and the newly reincarnated Grand King Ghidorah who feeds off the life force of Japan’s children in Mothra 3: Attack of Grand Ghidorah (1998). Unpopular with American fans, these films proved popular with youngsters in Japan and featured a new take on the Twin Fairies as feisty sisters with clashing personalities. Last seen in Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), chances are Mothra will return soon.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 3382 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (1)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M


Last Updated: