Every Saturday morning of my childhood was spent pouring over the afternoon TV listings with a singular goal: determine if Destroy All Monsters would be shown on Creature Double Feature. There’s just something special about a film featuring Godzilla, Minya, Rodan, Mothra, Kumonga, Manda, Anguirus, Baragon, Gorosaurus, Varan, and King Ghidorah not to mention the coolest rocket ever Spaceship SY-3.
ADV acquired the rights to Destroy All Monsters a couple of years ago, first releasing it on VHS in glorious wide screen then on DVD also in wide screen. Both versions contain the “international dub” which, as I understand, was prepared for the Sci Fi Channel who first brought the film in its current incarnation back to US Television screens.
The plot begins with a detailed description of Monsterland, a special habitat created on Ogasawara Island where scientists of the International Oceanographic Institute study their behavior. The residents of Monsterland are trapped by specially designed barriers tuned to the specific stimuli that makes the monsters retreat.
There’s a lot of this sort of science in Destroy All Monsters.
Anyway, Kyoko Yamabe, one of the scientists at Ogasawara island and sister of Captain Katsuo Yamane, is on hand when a strange mist floods the Monsterland control room. Before you can say alien invasion the Kilaak have taken over Monsterland and released the monsters to do their bidding around the globe.
Seems the Kilaak want to establish a foothold here on good-old Earth and with the monsters under their control there’s no stopping them.
Or, is there?
Destroy All Monsters contains some of the greatest giant monster footage of the Showa series; from Gorosaurus blasting up from beneath the Arch d’ Triumph, to Rodan destroying St. Peter’s cathedral in Moscow, to Godzilla venting his fury on the UN in New York City, Destroy All Monsters rarely if ever lets up.
The special effects really show off the great work master effects artist Elji Tsubaraya, from the fantastic models of New York City and Space Rocket SY-3, he really pulls out all the stops.
Destroy All Monsters also contains Akira Ifukube’s best Godzilla score, and in Dolby Stereo it’s never sounded better.
All that said, Destroy All Monsters does have some problems.
The “international dub” misidentifies monsters and offers lots of uninspired voice acting. There also appears to be missing footage, and I say this only because several monsters are introduced but rarely if ever appear anywhere else in the film. Baragon and Varan, for example, appear both in Monsterland and at the final battle, but that’s it. I can’t imagine that either Honda or Tsubaraya would bother to put these guys in the film then not use them for anything. Toho has a pretty bad reputation for releasing crappy copies of their properties to overseas distributors, check out the recent Rodan release for example, so whatever edit this is I lay the blame on Toho.
It’s a shame too because Destroy All Monsters sets up a really fantastic flick, and only just manages to deliver a pretty good one.
ADV doesn’t pack this DVD like they do with all of their other titles. Short of chapter stops there isn’t much other than trailers for other ADV titles. No Japanese language track, no interviews, no nothing.
For all intents and purposes we Kaiju fans have waited patiently for good releases of our childhood friends from the land of the rising sun, and although ADV offers a great wide screen transfer, Destroy All Monsters just doesn’t fill the bill. The lack of meaningful extras, and crappy dub add up to a so-so viewing experience.
Destroy All Monsters does provide a stellar viewing experience for the kids though. In fact, Little McLargehuge, my son, has watched this movie maybe a hundred times since he was born, and hell, the kid’s only two.