Film: Ghidorah The Three Headed Monster
"Gentlemen, we need whatever help we are able to obtain. In this case, it makes no difference, where we finally get that help from."
"Godzilla says he has no reason to save humans. They are always bullying me. Rodan agrees with him."
~ The Shobijin
translating Godzilla's Freudian Excuse
makes so much sense now.
The fifth film in the Godzilla
franchise, "Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster"
marked a few changes in the series. It was the first to deviate from the tried and true "giant irradiated mutants from a Lost World
trample Tokyo" plot of the previous four films by introducing elements of the Space Operas and UFO culture that was prevalent in the 50's and 60's. This experiment would be expanded upon in later films. Called San Daikaijū: Chikyū Saidai no Kessen
More importantly, "Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster"
marked a change in Godzilla as a character, one that was arguably necessary for the franchise to continue. After having played the villain for four movies straight, Godzilla switches sides in the third act of this film to fight an even worse monster than himself: the Planet Destroying King Ghidorah. This change in Godzilla's role would be slowly built upon in the following movies, and set the groundwork for the change in tone that would occur between the first and later halves of the Showa Godzilla series.
That's not to say it's all seriousness and high art, though. There is a fair deal of the silly and goofy atomic age monster movie weirdness one would expect from a good Godzilla movie. Magnetic meteors, assassination plots, princesses disguised as homeless prophets, tiny fairy women on talk shows, and Martians (or Venusians in the Japanese version) possessing human hosts all collide in this movie as three of Toho's biggest monsters join forces to fight a golden three-headed space dragon with "a voice like a bell."
Despite breaking the new the groundwork for the majority of the films that would follow, Ghidorah
pretty much never saw theatrical distribution outside Asian and American territories for some reason. Turkey is a notable European exception.
The film provides examples of
- Action Girl: Mothra Larva, even if she isn’t very powerful.
- Aloof Ally: Godzilla and Rodan hate each other’s guts right up until the climax of the movie.
- Anti-Hero: Type IV-V. Godzilla and Rodan are still very much creatures against humans where up until the last 10-15 minutes of the film they did whatever they wanted and even then it was either looking out for their fellow monster or just flat out Enemy Mine.
- Archenemy: This is the film that introduced King Ghidorah, who would go on to face Godzilla eight more times across four continuities.
- Asshole Victim: The assassins. Most of them die when one of Ghidorah's energy beams killed his men with a rock-slide and injured him. Malmess dies by the second energy beam, sending a rock-slide that kills him.
- Badass Normal: Rodan is just a plain big pterosaur, but can go toe to toe with Godzilla, and pull awesome move after awesome move on the King of Terror himself.
- Then again, he’s a giant pterosaur capable of withstanding all known military weapons and direct hits from Godzilla and King Ghidorah’s respective breath weapons. The only thing that makes him significantly weaker than Godzilla is Rodan’s inability to breathe nuclear fire, but even then he compensates for that by being able to fly.
- Malmess. It isn't everyone who can walk away (mostly) unscathed from a landslide that crushes his car.
- Badass Pacifist: Mothra Larva.
- Beware The Cute Ones: Mothra Larva, not Godzilla or Rodan, is the first to charge into battle against King Ghidorah and plays a key role in the dragon’s defeat.
- Big Bad: King Ghidorah.
- Blow You Away: Both Rodan and King Ghidorah can cause hurricane winds by flapping their wings, which can topple buildings and knock other kaiju off of their feet.
- Body Guard Crush: Vibes of it with Shindo to Selina.
- Breakout Villain: King Ghidorah
- Bus Crash: One of the two Mothra larvae from the previous film died between films for no explained reason.
- Butt Monkey: Godzilla is absolutely this in the movie in his fights with Rodan and especially King Ghidorah, with two Groin Attacks to boot.
- Cassandra Truth: Salno's predictions.
- Cop and Scientist: Shindo and Dr. Tsukamoto in the second act.
- Combat Tentacles: King Ghidorah's necks (and the heads attached to them) behave like this.
- Crisis Cross Over: The previous film linked Mothra and Godzilla but this one had Rodan coming in to join forces against a new enemy.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Though definitely monstrous in appearance, destructive, and incredibly self centered, Godzilla and Rodan are not truly evil. The lighter colored King Ghidorah, on the other hand…
- Destructive Saviour: Godzilla and Rodan, oh so very much.
- Death Ray: Godzilla's radioactive breath, obviously. And King Ghidorah's gravity beams too.
- The Determinator: Malmess the Selginian assassin. He pulls himself out of his crushed Mercedes after a rockslide and, bruised and bloody, immediately resumes his mission as if nothing happened.
- Mothra as well. Compared to the other monsters she's tiny. Yet she throws herself at King Ghidorah again and again.
- The Unfettered: Malmess again. To him, a giant, golden, lightning-spewing space dragon is a negligible inconvenience to his mission to kill a princess.
- Then again, Malmess was threatened by his boss with death as punishment if he returned home without completing his mission, so he actually has a valid reason to keep going.
- Disney Villain Death: How Malmess meets his doom. By the Bigger Bad.
- Eldritch Abomination: King Ghidorah is probably the greatest of all kaiju Eldritch Abominations, and this is him at his very best. He, as mentioned above, devastates entire worlds just for the fun of it.
- Enemy Civil War: Two of the film's key antagonists, Godzilla and Rodan, spend the bulk of their screen time fighting each other instead of focusing on their personal vendettas against mankind. They only stop when Mothra convinces them to pull off a Heel-Face Turn.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Godzilla only decides to fight King Ghidorah when the space dragon attacks the much weaker Mothra larva.
- Eviler Than Thou: Godzilla and Rodan are both fairly huge threats, but both cease being villains once Ghidorah makes the scene because they simply cannot compete.
- Evil Laugh: Ghidorah has an iconic cackle which he uses constantly
- Foreshadowing: Selina's ignored warnings to the ship's crew. Averted in the U.S. version, where the characters' dialogue make it pretty clear Godzilla's gonna be back in the game soon.
- Freudian Excuse: This film gives Godzilla one; stating that he doesn't like humans because humans attack him. This may be justified as Godzilla tends to mind his own business since Godzilla Raids Again and humans usually responds by attacking him, pissing him off to no end. Rodan agrees with him as well.
- Groin Attack: Poor Godzilla was in the receiving end of two of these. One when Rodan drops him on an electrical tower, and the other when King Ghidorah shoots him with his gravity beam.
- Global Warming: The worldwide heatwave in the middle of January. Emphasized less in the U.S. cut.
- Heel-Face Turn: Godzilla and Rodan quit raging war on humanity (and each other) to face the threat of King Ghidorah. This is also the beginning of Godzilla's change towards a heroic defender of Earth.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Takashi Shimura makes his first appearance since Godzilla Raids Again, as Dr. Tsukamoto.
- Human Aliens: The Venusian/Martian. Maybe… really, her whole deal is something of a Mind Screw.
- Implacable Man: King Ghidorah is nearly unstoppable as this stage.
- Jump Cut: Ghidorah is the victim of a very prominent one, during his otherwise fantastic materialization shot.
- Light Is Not Good: Ghidorah is a beautiful, golden, shiny dragon. Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra Larva are duller, darker-toned entities, with Godzilla being nearly black and Mothra resembling a large, mobile piece of dung.
- Lilliputians: The Shobijin, for obvious reasons. In fact, they are only one foot high.
- Little People Are Surreal: The Shobijin, again. They talk in unison, can teleport, and are priestesses of a gigantic-ass caterpillar.
- Master of Unlocking: One of the assassins. He makes a show of picking the lock on Selina's hotel room door.
- Recycled Soundtrack: While other major themes are widely known to be from Ifukube's earlier work, Ghidorah's theme is in fact a modified form of the lunar motif from Battle in Outer Space.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Ghidorah arrives within a meteorite. Subverted when Ghidorah breaks out without any help from outsiders. Averted when it becomes known that this is simply how Ghidorah travels between planets and conserves energy—there is no sealing up of any kind by anyone.
- Sir Swears Alot: If what the Shobijin say is accurate in their translation, Godzilla is this.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Gojira, Godzilla, Mosura, Mothra, Radon, Rodan, Ghidrah, Ghidorah...
- Staring Down Cthulhu: Mothra, in her generally helpless larval stage, faces down King Ghidorah, the King of Terror who wrecks worlds for the fun of it. Alone (initially).
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Naoko and Selina, depending on which personality the latter has, can go each way. Selina can do it in one body with her natural personality being quite feminine, even not so assertive, and her ancestral possession being a bit tomboyish and also suddenly very independent and assertive.
- Up to Eleven: Malmess turns the clinic's voltage up to 3,000 for insurance, even though any current above 500 would've proved fatal to the Princess.
- Worf Barrage: Godzilla's ray proves all but useless against Rodan. This is especially notable when taken into perspective, where in earlier films Godzilla's breath was used mostly as a last resort and often had devastating effects on opponents.