Directed by Ishiro Honda.
Written by Ishiro Honda and Takeshi Kimura
Special Effects: Eiji Tsuburaya
Cast: Akira Kubo, Jun Tazaki, Yukiko Kobayashi, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Kyoko Ai, Andrew Hughes
Here in Raleigh, we used to have the terrific Cardinal Theatre, a 750-seat curved-screen 70mm paradise — one of the finest places I ever saw a movie.
The Cardinal was the site of a summer movie series when I was growing up. What a marvelous place to see beat-up, sometimes-faded TohoScope prints of things like Destroy All Monsters (1968) and War Of The Garganutas (1966). For monster kids in the mid-70s (such as me and my best friend James Graham), it just couldn’t get any better.
So this is a movie that comes with a great big monster-sized chunk of nostalgia.
The United Nations Science Committee (UNSC) has established Monsterland, an island where the world’s monsters have been gathered up and confined. Here, they go about their monster business, observed by a team of scientists in an underground control center. It’s a perfect set up, until a group of alien women (Kilaakians, from the planet Kilaak) take over the scientists’ minds and unleash the monsters upon an unsuspecting world.
Godzilla (played by Haruo Nakajima) trashes New York City, Rodan attacks Moscow, Mothra (in larva form) hits Beijing, Baragon heads to Paris and Manda destroys London — all under the Kilaakians’ command. This is all a diversion, as the aliens set up their secret base near Mt. Fuji.
It takes some doing, but the monsters are freed from their extraterrestrial mind control by a team from the UNSC. The Kilaakians then dispatch King Ghidorah — and the big monster battle is on!
For my money, Destroy All Monsters is the best Godzilla movie of them all. As a kid, it delivered on everything I was looking for — monsters. There’s a lot of ’em and they tear up tons of stuff. And it’s a huge step up from the previous picture, Son Of Godzilla (1967), which I loathed. Even at 11, I thought it was a juvenile piece of crap.
At this time, the Godzilla series was in decline, and Destroy All Monsters was an attempt to set things right. If you ask me, they did. But it was short-lived — the subsequent films seem to be geared toward younger and younger kids. This should’ve been the last one — allowing the King Of The Monsters to go out with a bang.