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Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster(1966)
A sea cruise goes bad when a crash landing on a tropical island subjects the crew to an army that wants to take over the world. While the crew tries to get out alive, Godzilla takes on a giant sea monster that inhabits the waters and can only be kept away by the juice of a berry that grows on the island
For more about Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster and the Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster Blu-ray release, see Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on May 5, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Akira Takarada, Kumi Mizuno, Ch˘tar˘ T˘gin, Hideo Sunazuka, T˘ru Ibuki, Akihiko Hirata
Director: Jun Fukuda
» See full cast & crew
Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, May 5, 2014
Gojira first marauded through an epically miniature Tokyo in 1954's Godzilla, quickly assuming the mantle of King of the Monsters when the film matriculated to American shores shortly thereafter. The evolution of this now iconic character is an interesting study in how an archetypal villain can morph rather unexpectedly into either an outright hero or at least a default protective force who might be the lesser of two (or more) evils. The original conception of Gojira (a fabricated "word" meant to evoke the monster's supposed resemblance to both a gorilla and a whale, and, no, that isn't a typo) was an obvious visual metaphor helping the Japanese to come to grips with the aftershocks of their own nuclear holocaust, and in fact in the most renowned of the creature's origin stories, it's nuclear activity itself which brings the beast (back) to life. In many of the Godzilla films, the titular being is able to emit its own nuclear smack down, courtesy of a radioactive blast it emanates from its immense mouth. If the original film was both figuratively and literally black and white, positing a destructive behemoth who had to be stopped at all costs, the franchise underwent a rather startling transformation through the years, with a "kinder, gentler" giant quasi-dinosaur emerging as a friend to humanity, or at least as less of an imminent threat. With the imminent release of a new theatrical Godzilla poised to stomp through cineplexes, a whole glut of older Godzilla entries are being released on Blu-ray, including three from Kraken Releasing (an imprint of anime specialist Section 23, which distributes Sentai Filmworks releases). These three come toward the end of Godzilla's miraculous metamorphosis from nemesis to colleague, and each of them has a certain childlike innocence that seems to point toward the fact that these were crafted with children in mind. There are lessons to be learned about our stewardship of the Earth in all three of the films, in what might be seen as the most obvious throwback to the original formulation of one of the most recognizable rubber suits in the history of film.
The earliest of the three films Kraken is releasing (surely someone at this company has said "Release the Kraken releases!") is 1966's Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, which is also known under the alternate title of Ebirah, Horror of the Deep. In some ways this film depicts a very unusual Godzilla, perhaps due less to the continuing evolution of the character than to the fact that this film was originally written for another oversized animalŚone King Kong. Godzilla sleeps in a very Kong-like lair rather than miles beneath the sea, and shows some peculiar powers which are not in the typical Godzilla canon and provide this film with something different if not always traditional.
There are other ways that Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster is an "odd behemoth out" in the overall Godzilla filmography. This was the first of a handful of Godzilla outings helmed by Jun Fukuda, and the director seems intent on investing the film with a number of tangential (to put it charitably) plot points that disclose the film's mid- sixties provenance while also harkening back to an even earlier time. Among this particular film's guilty pleasures are a crazy teenage dance contest that looks like some outtake from some little known Japanese version of Hairspray and a tropical island with all sorts of restless (albeit imprisoned) natives that may recall a previous generation's fascination with South Seas melodramas that frequently starred people like Jon Hall. Weaving in and out of the tale, though, are several Godzilla tropes, including monster on monster battles and the sort of cheekily innocent tone that informed many of this era's Godzilla movies.
The dance contest plays into a brief prelude segment where Ryota (Toru Watanabe) is on the prowl for a boat in order to look for his brother Yata (Toru Ibuki), who has been lost at sea. In one of the perfectly bizarre but somehow wonderful "coincidences" that inform many of the Godzilla movies, Ryota wanders into a dance contest where first prize isŚa boat. Interestingly, that turns out not to be how Ryota ends up with a seafaring vehicle, but ultimately Ryota does set out with a motley crew to search for Yata. The sailors run afoul (or a-claw, as the case may be) of a giant lobster like creature named Ebirah, an interaction which casts the group away on an uncharted island where nefarious doings are afoot (really big feet, once Godzilla gets awakened).
It turns out the island has become the top secret lair for a nefarious organization called Red Bamboo, which is planning on world domination, a plot which includes enslaving the natives of the island. The natives pray to Mothra, a giantŚ well, moth whom the natives hope will come to their rescue. As with many Godzilla films, an at times carnival-like series of events unspools before Godzilla even really enters the fray. It turns out the giant dinosaur has been taking a little nap in a cave on the island, and once Ryota and his cohorts, now including the gorgeous native girl Dayo (Kumi Mizuno), more or less stumble across Godzilla during their attempts to elude Red Bamboo, the stage is set for a giant melÚe involving Godzilla, Mothra, Red Bamboo's squadron of fighter jets, and a couple of other combatants just for good measure.
Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster is a film that never really makes a whole whale of a lot of sense, but it has a certain baseline of craziness underlying most of it that gives the film a really enjoyably comic ambience. This is a big, colorful, noisy affair that never takes itself at all seriously, something else that helps elevate it above its frankly less than ambitious elements. The best moments are saved for the climactic battle, when all hell breaks loose both above and below the water.
Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster Blu-ray, Video Quality
Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Kraken Releasing, an imprint of Section 23 Films, with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1. Rather interestingly, at least when considering the fact that this is the oldest of the three Godzilla outings Kraken is releasing, Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster offers by far the least grain, though there doesn't really appear to have been any over aggressive filtering applied to this release. The elements show their fair share of age related wear and tear, but nothing is ever at a highly problematic level, limited mostly to tiny knicks and flecks that afflict the image. Colors are quite vivid, if perhaps slightly skewed toward the brown side of things. Blues pop especially well throughout this presentation. The higher resolution easily reveals some of the sillier effects work, including less than convincing miniatures and some of the various techniques utilized to bring Godzilla to life.
Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster features lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono mixes in both English and Japanese. While the opening sequence sounds nearly identical in both versions, once the dialogue kicks in, there's incremental though noticeable uptick in the Japanese track's amplitude. Both tracks have a tendency to sound just slightly boxy quite a bit of the time, especially in sound effects laden sequences like when the giant monsters emit various calls. The boxiness also slightly afflicts the film's score, which can only be described as a curious mash up of James Bond idioms as played by The Ventures. Dialogue is very cleanly presented and neither tracks sports any damage considerable enough to warrant concern.
Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Some fans take Godzilla very seriously, despite little peccadilloes like zippers in rubber suits occasionally being apparent. Those folks probably won't gel well with Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster's frankly manic and at times over the top comedy, not to mention some probably unintentional comedy that pops up along the way. But this is big, goofy fun for those who don't mind laughing at unabashed silliness. The technical merits of this Blu-ray may not be reference quality, but they're surprisingly strong. Despite the lack of any really meaningful supplements, Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster comes Recommended.
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Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Section23 to Release Three Godzilla Catalog Films on Blu-ray - January 29, 2014
Section23 Films has announced the Blu-ray debuts of three classic Godzilla films: Godzilla vs Gigan: Godzilla on Monster Island (1972), Godzilla vs Hedorah: Godzilla vs the Smog Monster (1971) and Ebirah - Horror of the Deep: Godzilla vs the Sea Monster (1966). ...
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