Firstly, thank you for your support over the years. It has been vital to our existence.

I think it is kind of funny that I am sitting writing this in a very cold room - my poor allocation of meager funds (buying Blu-rays to review) left a hole in the payment to heat this space where I work. It's not too bad - I can't see my breath or anything.

We had an abysmal month of September, in a financial sense, and actually the entire year to date for a few reasons:
While numbers (hits) to the site have always grown over the 18+years. The commissions payout has dropped by 69% (ie. 8%->4%->2.5%) I thought I would do like always and 'work' through it... it didn't overcome the deficit this year.

People are, understandably, buying - sometimes cheaper - directly from the Blu-ray or DVD production company's online stores (these include Criterion, Arrow, Indicator, Kino - well, many of them) Unfortunately, although I have encouraged them - these companies do not offer an affiliate commission structure.

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Colin, bless him, still helps out but needs a real job. I wish him the very best. We also sell old Blu-rays to scrape together cash.

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Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films, 1954–1975

 

In 1954, an enormous beast clawed its way out of the sea, destroying everything in its path—and changing movies forever. The arresting original Godzilla soon gave rise to an entire monster-movie genre (kaiju eiga), but the King of the Monsters continued to reign supreme: in fourteen fiercely entertaining sequels over the next two decades, Godzilla defended its throne against a host of other formidable creatures, transforming from a terrifying symbol of nuclear annihilation into a benevolent (if still belligerent) Earth protector. Collected here for the first time are all fifteen Godzilla films of Japan’s Showa era, in a landmark set showcasing the technical wizardry, fantastical storytelling, and indomitable international appeal that established the most iconic giant monster the cinema has ever seen.

 

 

Reviews                                                                                                       More Reviews                                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

Review: Criterion - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion Blu-ray (October 2019): For their spine # 1000 Criterion have transferred 15+ Godzilla films to eight Blu-rays in their Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films, 1954–1975 Blu-ray package.

 

Blu-ray 1 has the 1954 original Godzilla and the 1956 Godzilla, King of the Monsters plus extras - it is fully reviewed HERE.

 

Blu-ray 2 has Godzilla Raids Again and the US version of King Kong vs. Godzilla (compared HERE). The only extra is a US King Kong vs. Godzilla trailer (1:10)

 

Blu-ray 3 has Mothra vs. Godzilla, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster and Invasion of the Astro Monster.

 

Blu-ray 4 has the Ebriah, Horror of the Deep (fully compared HERE), Son of Godzilla and Destroy All Monsters (fully compared HERE.)

 

Blu-ray 5 has All Monster Attack and Godzilla vs. Hedorah.

 

Blu-ray 6 has Godzilla vs. Gigan and Godzilla vs. Megalon.

 

Blu-ray 7 has Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Terror of Mechagodzilla.

 

Blu-ray 8 has the Japanese version of  King Kong vs. Godzilla (1080P running 1:37:00.856 - 32.81 Mbps) with one DTS-HD Master 4.0 channel audio track (24-bit) of Japanese and some English (with non-removable English subtitles for the Japanese dialogue and burned-in Japanese subtitles - on the right side  (see samples at the bottom of this review) - for the English dialogue (which is partially out-of-sync, btw) - plus extras (discussed below.)

NOTE: This Japanese-release version of King Kong vs. Godzilla was directed by Ishiro Honda and features scenes, edits, and narrative structuring that differ from the U.S. version. Comparison captures are the the bottom of this review.

 

Image quality varies in the films made in over a 20-year span and Japanese cinema archives have never been known for the most preservative storage. They are all transferred in 1080P with supportive (mid 20's or higher) bitrates. It doesn't look like there has been any film-level restoration with plenty of light scratches and marks evident. They aren't egregious and I find that they add to the historical value with suffering in the chiaroscuro contrast. There is, often, some stock military footage (planes) in each film that stands out as poorer quality and many times sequences are repeated in more than one film. I was a bit surprised by the softness of Ebirah, Horror Of The Deep as compared to Section 23's 2014 Blu-ray, but I think it is far more accurate to its theatrical roots showing much more information in the frame. Part of the appeal of these films is that the effects are, by other production standards, weak - it is almost at the level of expressionism evoking the idea of a towering monster stomping on houses and people than it really happening. This gives the films more of their charm. I was very pleased that the black levels are improved over previous Blu-rays, in one of my favorite of the set; Destroy All Monsters. I'd say that, in general, the HD video presentations are marginally underwhelming but a fair representation of the sources provided.     

On their Blu-ray, Criterion use linear PCM mono tracks (24-bit) in the original Japanese with a few films having English DUBs (most are lossy Dolby) included disc #2's King Kong vs. Godzilla (the US version in a LPCM mono track), Destroy All Monsters, Invasion of the Astro Monsters, Son of Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Terror of Mechagodzilla each offering English DUBs along with the original Japanese. Scores are usually remarkably catchy but simple orchestrations - by the likes of composers like Masaru Satô (The Yellow Handkerchief, Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, Throne of Blood, The Lower Depths, Hidden Fortress, I Live in Fear etc.), Riichirô Manabe (Lake of Dracula, Evil of Dracula, The Vampire Doll, Cruel Story of Youth) and Akira Ifukube (King Kong Escapes, Anatahan, The Mysterians, the original Godzilla, the bulk of Zatoichi series, plus Kurosawa's The Quiet Duel etc.) - among others. Criterion add optional English subtitles on their Region 'A' / 'B' (sold in North American and UK) Blu-ray package.

The Criterion Blu-ray of the 1954 original Godzilla included in this set has the same extras as their 2012 individual Blu-ray release (but different menus) - these include the Terry Morse’s 1956 reworking of the original entitled Godzilla, King of the Monsters with Raymond Burr. There are audio commentaries for both films by film historian David Kalat, interviews, an illustrated audio essay etc. For more detail SEE HERE. Aside from a trailer for the US version of King Kong vs. Godzilla on disc 2, there are only films up to and including disc 7. Blu-ray disc 8, the last disc, has the Japanese version of King Kong vs. Godzilla and these extras:

Honda and Banno is a 58-minute long 1990 interview filmed for the Directors Guild of Japan featuring Showa-era Godzilla director Ishiro Honda in conversation with Godzilla vs. Hedorah director Yoshimitsu Barino. I found it interesting and revealing. Handcrafted Artistry is a 6-minute new program with Alex Cox featuring the filmmaker discussing his admiration for the Showa-era Godzilla films. Launching Jet Jaguar is a new runs shy of 6-minutes with actor Tsugotoshi Komada recalling his role as Jet Jaguar in Godzilla vs. Megalon. Man of Many Faces is an 8-minute interview with actor and eventual Ultraman star Bin Furuya reminiscing about his early work as a bit player in many Showa-era Godzilla films. Music is Always Simple runs 1/4 hour. Filmed on VHS and edited for this release, this 1999 program by Jim Cirronella is one of the last known on-camera interviews with the renowned composer Akira Ifukube. We also get almost an hour of Toho Unused Special Effects Complete Collection. Made in 1986, this program highlights special-effects sequences from Toho Studios films, including Destroy All Monsters, that were not included in the final releases. This final Blu-ray has trailers for all the films except the Japanese original Gojira (including the Japanese release of King Kong vs. Godzilla while the English trailer is on disc 2).

There is also a lavishly illustrated deluxe hardcover book (see images below) included featuring an essay by cinema historian Steve Ryfle, notes on the films by cinema historian Ed Godziszewski, and new illustrations by Arthur Adams, Sophie Campbell, Becky Cloonan, Jorge Coelho, Geoff Darrow, Simon Gane, Robert Goodin, Benjamin Marra, Monarobot, Takashi Okazaki, Angela Rizza, Yuko Shimizu, Bill Sienkiewicz, Katsuya Terada, Ronald Wimberly, and Chris Wisnia.

Godzilla films can run the entire gamut from subtextual warnings of nuclear proliferation to downright campy nostalgia and cheesy costumes. Personally, I am always less enthralled with the 'tokusatsu' battles and destruction of cities and the military with miniature model and wire-evident effects than on how the story builds with kitschy alien characters, astronauts, scientists, go-go-booted costumes and story arcs with children. The Kaiju universe is huge with Rodan, Mothra, King Ghidorah and many others making multiple appearance in these The Showa-Era Films, 1954–1975 films fighting against or beside Godzilla. Criterion's choice for spine #1000 had a few people scratching their heads but this has significant re-watch value. This melds Japanese culture (many time I thought of the black and white simple drama films of Yasujiro Ozu showing Japanese life with people taking trains etc. or the flamboyant colors and style of Seijun Suzuki) with a unique strain of science fiction, fantasy or horror surfacing. It is a treat to be able to visit these on Blu-ray and have this keepsake package with the amazing book and fabulously cool cover art. The inclusion of the Japanese version of King Kong vs. Godzilla will be an enticement for many despite it having burned-in Japanese and non-removable English subtitles - respectively for the dialogue language. It may not be #1 in our year-end voting but this set will make a lot of people happy with its heavily nostalgic content.

Gary Tooze

Included Book


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

Godzilla (a.k.a. Gojira) is the roaring granddaddy of all monster movies. It’s also a remarkably humane and melancholy drama, made in Japan at a time when the country was reeling from nuclear attack and H-bomb testing in the Pacific. Its rampaging radioactive beast, the poignant embodiment of an entire population’s fears, became a beloved international icon of destruction, spawning almost thirty sequels. A thrilling, tactile spectacle that continues to be a cult phenomenon, the original, 1954 Japanese version is presented here, along with Godzilla, King of the Monsters, the 1956 "Americanized" version.

 

 

 

Blu-ray 1 has the 1954 original Godzilla and extras - it is fully compared HERE

 


 

 

Toho Studios followed the enormous success of the original Godzilla with this sequel, efficiently directed by Motoyoshi Oda as a straight-ahead monsters-on-the-loose drama. An underrated standout among the Showa Godzilla films, Godzilla Raids Again introduces the monster-versus-monster format that would dominate the remainder of the series, pitting Godzilla against the ferocious, spiny Anguirus as the kaiju wreak havoc in the streets of Osaka in a series of elaborate set pieces that succeed in upping the ante for destruction.

 

 

 

 

 

Blu-ray 2 has the Godzilla Raids Again and the US version of King Kong vs. Godzilla (compared HERE)
The only extra is a US King Kong vs. Godzilla trailer (1:10)
 

 


 

 

After his first two cinematic rampages, Godzilla was revived as an adversary for the Hollywood import King Kong. When Kong is discovered on a remote island by a publicity-hungry pharmaceutical company, the giant ape is set on a collision course with Godzilla, and Japan braces for a double dose of devastation. Both the Japanese-release version (see bottom of this review) and the U.S.-release cut were rousing hits, cementing Godzilla’s status as a series-worthy star.

 

 

 


 

 

Godzilla faces off against the benevolent insect monster-god Mothra in this clash of the titans, a crossover battle between two of Toho Studios’ most popular monsters—the last in which Godzilla would figure as a malevolent villain rather than a fearsome hero. Mothra vs. Godzilla marks a creative high point in the Godzilla series, with pointed social commentary from director Ishiro Honda, a masterful score by Akira Ifukube, and astonishing special-effects work by Eiji Tsuburaya.

 

 

 

Blu-ray 3 has Mothra vs. Godzilla, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster and Invasion of the Astro Monster

 


 

 

After laying waste to an alien civilization on Venus, the three-headed, lightning-emitting space monster Ghidorah brings its insatiable thirst for destruction to Earth, where fierce foes Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra must join forces in order to deal with the unprecedented threat. An electrifying screen debut for Godzilla’s archenemy Ghidorah, this film also marks a turning point for the series, as the first time the King of the Monsters acts to protect the planet.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Aliens from Planet X make an irresistible offer to the people of Earth: let them borrow Godzilla and Rodan to help defeat King Ghidorah, and in return they will provide a cure for all known human disease. But the aliens’ duplicity is soon revealed, as they deploy all three monsters in their quest to conquer Earth. This retro romp, featuring American star Nick Adams, stands as a high point in the Showa Godzilla series.

 

  

 

 

 


 

 

The first Godzilla film directed by Jun Fukuda, who would go on to direct four more, is fast-paced and light in tone, and builds to a riveting race-against-time finale. On a secluded island in the South Seas, a group of castaways stumble upon a paramilitary organization whose nefarious nuclear activities threaten the world at large—and set the stage for kaiju clashes involving Godzilla, Mothra, and the giant crustacean Ebirah.

 

 

 

 

  

Blu-ray 4 has the Ebriah, Horror of the Deep (fully compared HERE), Son of Godzilla and Destroy All Monsters (fully compared HERE)

 

 


 

 

In director Jun Fukuda’s second Godzilla outing, secret weather-control experiments create a radioactive storm and Godzilla must rescue monster hatchling Minilla from the giant mutant insects that result. Featuring a buoyant score by Masaru Sato and impressive wirework by special-effects director Sadamasa Arikawa, Son of Godzilla is lively, comic, and timely in its addressing of contemporary anxiety about worldwide food shortages.

 

 

 

 


 

 

The original Godzilla team of director Ishiro Honda, special-effects supervisor Eiji Tsuburaya, and composer Akira Ifukube reunited for this kaiju extravaganza, which features no fewer than eleven monsters. Set in the remote future of 1999, when the people of Earth have achieved world peace by confining destructive creatures to Monsterland (until an alien race intervenes), Destroy All Monsters mounts a thrilling display of innovative action sequences and memorable images that have made it a favorite for generations of viewers.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Director Ishiro Honda returned again for the first Godzilla movie expressly for children. Economizing by reusing effects shots from other films in the series, All Monster Attack tells the story of Ichiro, a lonely latchkey kid who finds solace in his dreams of befriending Minilla, the titular progeny of Son of Godzilla, whose parent is also often absent. In this thoughtful, human-scale story, boy and monster learn together what it means to grow up.

 

 

 

 

Blu-ray 5 has All Monster Attack and Godzilla vs. Hedorah

 

 


 

 

Intended to address the crisis levels of pollution in postwar Japan, Godzilla vs. Hedorah finds the King of the Monsters fighting an alien life form that arrives on Earth and steadily grows by feeding on industrial waste. Director Yoshimitsu Banno infuses the film with equal parts ecological horror, humorous monster antics, and sixties psychedelia straight out of San Francisco, making for a truly unique—and divisive—entry in the series.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

An alien invasion prompts a tag-team battle between Godzilla and Anguirus, the planet protectors, and King Ghidorah and the new monster Gigan, a cyborg with scythe-like claws, an abdominal buzz saw, winglike back fins, and pincerlike mandibles. In this action-packed film, which veers from the sublime to the ridiculous, the cockroachlike aliens—disguised as humans—use Gigan and King Ghidorah as weapons of conquest in their plot to take over a contaminated Earth.

 

 

 

 

Blu-ray 6 has Godzilla vs. Gigan and Godzilla vs. Megalon

 

 


 

 

Nuclear testing unleashes mayhem on the undersea kingdom of Seatopia, causing a series of environmental disasters that nearly wipes out Rokuro, the schoolboy protagonist at the center of this film. To exact revenge, Seatopia unleashes Megalon, a gigantic beetle with the ability to fire ray beams and napalm bombs. Meanwhile, Rokuro’s brother creates Jet Jaguar, a flying robot with a built-in moral compass. The inevitable matchup of Godzilla and Jet Jaguar versus Megalon and Gigan decides the world’s fate.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Godzilla’s evil twin Mechagodzilla first reared its head in this Jun Fukuda–directed film. A robot designed by aliens to conquer Earth, the enduringly popular villain has since been resurrected by Toho Studios several times. With the help of earnest direction, spectacular pyrotechnics, and guest appearances by veteran genre actors, this film recaptures the feel of the sixties Godzilla movies.

 

 

 

Blu-ray 7 has Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Terror of Mechagodzilla

 

 


 

 

In Godzilla’s last gasp of the Showa era, aliens retrieve Mechagodzilla’s remains and rebuild it with the aid of an unhinged biologist (a scenery-chewing Akihiko Hirata), in hopes of defeating Godzilla for possession of planet Earth. This film marked the return of director Ishiro Honda, who had retired years earlier, disheartened by the increasingly kid-friendly approach of the series. For this final entry, Honda steers the King of the Monsters back into grim territory, interweaving an alien-invasion plot with a tale of tragic romance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

After his first two cinematic rampages, Godzilla was revived as an adversary for the Hollywood import King Kong. When Kong is discovered on a remote island by a publicity-hungry pharmaceutical company, the giant ape is set on a collision course with Godzilla, and Japan braces for a double dose of devastation. Both the Japanese-release version (below) and the U.S.-release cut (above) were rousing hits, cementing Godzilla’s status as a series-worthy star.

 

NOTE: This Japanese-release version of King Kong vs. Godzilla was directed by Ishiro Honda and features scenes, edits, and narrative structuring that differ from the U.S. version. Comparison captures are the the bottom of this review

 

 

1) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion (King Kong vs. Godzilla - English version) - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion (King Kong vs. Godzilla - Japanese version with burned-in subtitles) - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion (King Kong vs. Godzilla - English version) - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion (King Kong vs. Godzilla - Japanese version) - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion (King Kong vs. Godzilla, Japanese version) - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion (King Kong vs. Godzilla, Japanese version) - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion (King Kong vs. Godzilla, Japanese version) - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion (King Kong vs. Godzilla, Japanese version) - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion (King Kong vs. Godzilla, Japanese version) - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion (King Kong vs. Godzilla, Japanese version) - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion (King Kong vs. Godzilla, Japanese version) - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Criterion (King Kong vs. Godzilla, Japanese version) - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray Captures

Example: Burned-in Japanese subtitles on right side of frame

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blu-ray 8 has King Kong vs. Godzilla (Japanese version) and extras:

Honda and Banno - Ishiro Honda Director (57:32)
Handcrafted Artistry (Alex Cox) (5:54)
Launching Jet Jaguar (Tsugotoshi Komada) (5:40)
Man of Many Faces: Bin Furuya (7:46)
Music is Always Simple (Jim Cironella) (14:35)
King Kong vs. Godzilla (Japanese Release Version - 1:37:00)
Toho Unused Special Effects Complete Collection (58:30)
Trailers (2:39)

 

 

 


  

  

 


 


 

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