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  Destroy All Monsters Smash It Up
Year: 1968
Director: Ishirô Honda
Stars: Akira Kubo, Yukiko Kobayashi, Kyoko Ai, Jun Tazaki, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Kenji Sahara, Andrew Hughes
Genre: Action, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: The year is 1999 and Earth has established a base on the Moon, from where astronaut Katsuo (Akira Kubo) contacts Kyoko (Yukiko Kobayashi), a scientist on the island off the coast of Japan now known as Monsterland. It's so called because it contains various giant monsters who have caused chaotic trouble for the planet over the years, including huge, fire-breathing lizard Godzilla, massive flying lizard Rodan, and enormous caterpillar Mothra. Any attempt by them to escape will be met with resistance from various mechanical sources. However, as Katsuo is talking with Kyoko, they are interrupted by a knockout gas which sends the crew at Monsterland to sleep. There are dark days ahead as someone is releasing the monsters to wreak havoc...

Supposedly the twentieth giant monster film from Toho Studios, which had started with the original Godzilla epic back in 1954, Destroy All Monsters was written by Kaoru Mabuchi and the director, Ishiro Honda. Not content with having a couple of monsters battling it out, they went the whole hog and raided their wardrobe department for every creature costume they could get their hands on, so that the screen is positively bursting with behemoths during the fight scenes. But first and foremost this is a space opera, the upshot of this being that we are treated to Katsuo and his colleagues combating the space aliens from planet Kilaak who have sparked the mayhem.

When the crew of the moonbase worriedly fly down to Monsterland to investigate the loss of communication, they discover the monsters are missing and the humans have been taken over by the aliens, with Kyoko as their spokeswoman. After a gunfight, they manange to capture a doctor, but he refuses to let on about the baddies' schemes even as the world's most important cities are attacked by the escaped creatures (see the Kremlin and the Arc de Triomphe duly flattened), with Godzilla taking care of New York. The United Nations Scientific Committee are on the case, and after the brainwashed doctor takes a leap out of a highrise window, a post mortem reveals he, and the other humans under alien control, are being led by tiny transmitters.

For the first half, if it wasn't for the mass destruction you could be watching a Japanese James Bond movie, with the aliens playing the part of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. If you're settling down for some non-stop, Godzilla-style Tokyo-stomping action, then you could be disappointed, because the sensational title is misleading. Sure, there's the setpiece scene of the giant lizard and three friends smashing up the city (I'm surprised there's anything left of it by this point in the series), but the ray guns and spaceships play just as big a role, with the aliens scooting around in flying saucers. Fortunately, Kyoko is saved from slavery after her mind-controlling earrings are bloodily torn out (which may make you wince), but there's a trip back to the Moon to be prepared for.

And that's not all, because there's the grand finale of all the monsters getting into a major skirmish. Here, Godzilla and company set aside their differences to battle a foe from outer space, the three-headed, flying Ghidorah; after the reporter announces them all as if they were professional wrestlers entering the arena, the pandemonium commences in a highly amusing fashion. At first it looks as if Ghidorah will be invincible, soaring above their heads and shooting off laser beams from his jaws. Just listen to the creatures' cries - it's music to a monster fan's ears. But then Godzilla gets him down on the ground and puts the boot in, this clash of the Titans degenerating into the equivalent of a punch-up outside a pub. It's only a matter of time before the aliens are vanquished. Overall, Destroy all Monsters provides entertainingly ridiculous enjoyment, all performed with a straight face and commendable vigour, even if you're not sure if you should be backing Godzilla or not - call him an anti-hero. Music by Akira Ikufube.

Aka: Kaiju Soshingeki
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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