| Destroy All Monsters!


Reviews The Compleat Godzilla

Destroy All Monsters!

Destroy All Monsters!

Kaiju Sōshingeki

Ishirō Honda

Japan, 1968


Review by David Carter

Posted on 09 February 2013

Source DVD

Categories The Compleat Godzilla

The Godzilla franchise was over a decade old and eight entries long when Destroy All Monsters! was released, and it was originally envisioned as the end of the series. As was often the case, the success of the film made sequels inevitable, but latter entries during the Showa era would not be able to top the intensity and destruction of Destroy All Monsters! Several Godzilla films had featured multiple monsters, and the big green guy had historically made allies of his former foes for their subsequent appearances. Destroy would surpass all previous entries, featuring eleven monsters including Godzilla himself; a feat not attempted in horror cinema since it was done on a smaller scale for Universal’s 1944/1945 House of Frankenstein/House of Dracula.

Set thirty years in the future (1999), Destroy posits a future where humanity and monsters have entered into a period of peaceful coexistence. Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, et al. have been relocated to Monsterland, a remote island with specially designed environments to fit each monster’s needs and keep them contained. A team of UN scientists monitors and studies the creatures but their studies are interrupted when a strange gas fills their laboratory. A Japanese mission to the moon is cut short when news arrives that the island’s containment fields have failed, and the crew returns to an Earth under siege, as New York, London, and Paris are being destroyed by Godzilla and crew.

The previously peaceful monsters are being controlled by the Kilaaks, a race of alien women who want to destroy humanity and replace it with a “scientific society”—one with them in charge of course. Broadcasting their demands to the world from a base under Mt. Fuji, the Kilaaks then level Tokyo, the last remaining metropolitan area after their campaign of worldwide destruction. The Kilaaks have a technological advantage, but they are unprepared for human cunning, and their control over the world’s monsters is broken after the Japanese space crew steals the control device from their home base on the moon. The aliens have one more trick up their sleeves, however, and unleash King Ghidorah and a flame dragon to fight the combined forces of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, Gorosaurus, Anguilus, Manda, Baragon, Varan, Spiga, and Minilla in one of the largest monster battles ever filmed.

Destroy All Monsters! is the equivalent of a “greatest hits” for Toho, showcasing their most popular kaiju creations, including several that had previously not been a part of the Godzilla franchise. It was also a synthesis of the most common plot elements of those films—invading alien races and, of course, massive destruction. Essentially a remake of Invasion of Astro-Monster, the magic of Destroy All Monsters! lies not in its repurposed “monsters save the Earth” plot, but in the ambition of its scope. The film manages to keep an atypically involved plot (for the Showa era) coherent both for the humans and the monsters, and the film further distinguishes itself by being one of the few to admirably balance both aspects. And, more to the point, Destroy All Monsters! features the most worldwide destruction of any of the early films—a remarkable accomplishment and making it an invaluable entry in the Godzilla series.

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