What’s it About?
Female aliens take control of Earth’s monsters and begin using them to destroy the human race.
“Destroy All Monsters” AKA “Kaiju Soshingeki” (Charge of the Monsters)
Directed by Ishirô Honda
“Destroy all Monsters,” the 9th film in the original Godzilla series of movies, is a nostalgic and fun trip down memory lane for the 8 year old kid in all of us. The kid that was raised on goofy yet charming Toho monster movies that either aired very late on Saturday nights or during kaiju marathons on Thanksgiving Day. Thankfully, for us, Toho’s promise of this being the last G film never stuck and we were treated to many more incredible entries. Made by the holy trinity of the Toho Kaiju films, Ishiro Honda, Eiji Tsuburaya (who created Ultraman) and Akira Ifukube, “Destroy All Monsters,” for all of it’s funky and kitschy charm, remains one of the most acclaimed and popular of the G films from the 60’s. And with really good reason.
“Destroy All Monsters” is a who’s who of Kaiju. It’s the WWE Summerslam of the giant monsters movies from Toho. The very instrospective Honda throws in just about every cool kaiju in this film. From Rodan to Manda to Baragon to big G himself, of course. The regular Toho space baddie is here as well: King Ghidorah! What Honda does here in grandiose style, is makes great use of Toho’s big budget for their 20th Kaiju movie. (The story was based on a draft named “All Monsters Attack Directive”) Honda and crew pull no punches with this abstract and gimcrack – free for all – monster bash. While it is far from being Honda’s best or even his most thought provoking film (Gojira is saved for that accolaide), he still infuses the movie with a cheeky regard to the legacy and relevance that Toho expects from him. All the while giving us a rip roaring monster royal rumble that is still full of innocent reverence.
The story is weird and silly right off the bat. Some uber-alien women called “Kilaaks” are using mind control to help the kaiju escape from monster island (or “monster land”) and wreak havoc on the earth in order for them to usher a new reign over the planet. That’s it. Easy peasy, right? The material here is simplicity itself and the quiet lack of implication just pummels you over the head if you think too long about it: Men always screw things up and space women have come to show us how really stupid we are by using the monsters we ourselves created to stomp the shit out of us. Not exactly subtle but you can’t help to be really charmed by all of this. If you allow yourself to find some real enthusiasm in the story and the monster action then this is the right kaiju flick for you.
The monsters all have their moments (I love Godzilla appearing in NYC and burning down the UN. There is that subtley again) in this film and each appear in different parts of the world to destroy civilization. Rodan attacks Moscow and poor Paris is pummeled by Gorosaurus. The lo fi and sometimes mawkish proceedings will no doubt turn off CGI purists that like their monster films done up on a PC instead of watching Japanese stuntmen wearing cumbersome rubber suits with strings attached crushing small scale cities made of plastic. I can see where some may be very jaded by all of this but if you take a minute to realize the spirit and conviviality that these Toho films are made in then you most definitely will surrender to the incomplex analogs that Honda handles here.
Toho’s “Destroy All Monsters” remains lots of fun and kaiju fans all over love the movie because of it’s childish and goofy monster mayhem (No one makes an entrance like Godzilla, into Tokyo) as well as the entrenched mythos which in itself can be seen as quite intrinsically loony. More sophisticated viewers… maybe not. It may be a hard sell for those who used, perhaps, Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” as a springboard for exporsure to kaiju movies. But there is a history and reverance for all of this and many new kaiju lovers will indeed love “DAM” as long as they know where it’s coming from.
Now, that awesome monster bash finale on Mount Fuji…It is indeed the best part of the film. While the protagonists (which include some astronauts trying to defeat the “Kilaaks”) are busy trying to maintain control of the kaiju, the Kilaaks unleash King Ghidorah to protect their hidden base. When, KG is defeated the Kilaaks, yet again, send in a Fire Monster (Which is later revealed to be a Kilaak saucer) to destroy Japanese cities nearby. The monster brawl is a thing of beauty. Rodan, Godzilla and the rest all use their combined powers and strengths to pound on Ghidorah and eventually the Kilaaks after Godzilla finds the base hidden inside Mt Fuji. Even the son of Godzilla, Minya (Or Manilla or something like that) gets in on the fun. It is just insane and off the wall kaiju mayhem that will make you grin from ear to ear. And let’s not forget the big reveal, when we see the Kilaaks for what they really are! And they are uuuuuuugly!
What is better than a quick, cheesy and action packed giant monster flick from Toho on a Saturday afternoon? Maybe hitting the lottery? Nah. No way. Nothing tops some kaiju insanity done by Ishiro Honda with an endearing and charming center that will tickle that nostalgic funny bone inside of all of us.
“Destroy All Monsters” is due for a Blu-ray release from Media Blasters this upcoming June and it boasts two dubbed versions of the movie as well as the original Japanese track. The video is AVC encoded 1080p HD and is framed at 2.41:1 Don’t forget to pick it up if you’re a fan!