Destroy All Monsters (Japan 1968)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 7/11/02
Director: Ishiro Honda
Music: Akira Ifukube
Cast: Akira Kubo, Jun Tazaki, Yukiko Kobayashi

Director Ishiro Honda returns with a big budget monster-stomping spectacle that features a total of eleven Toho monsters. Man has somehow managed to collect all of the monsters in the world and contain them on an island called Monsterland (Monster Island in the US version). All is peaceful until a group of space aliens in shiny silver costumes come to Earth and set the monsters free. To make matters worse, the aliens can control the monsters, so they have them trample the world's major cities in an attempt to enslave the human race. Apparently, the only people who can handle the crisis are conveniently on the Moon, and they immediately return to Earth with their kick-ass rocket ship (a predecessor to G-Force's weaponry, no doubt). After several daring escapades of bravery and heroism, the humans finally knock out the aliens' ability to control the monsters, and then decide to turn the tables on them by having the monsters all gang up on the alien base at the base of Mt. Fuji. The aliens' final ace up their sleeve is King Ghidorah, and he is mercilessly pounded on by Godzilla, Rodan, Anguilus, and Gorosaurus. The other monsters just hang out in the scenery, although baby Godzilla (Minilla) cheers everyone on and Mothra and Kumonga spit silk. The effects, miniatures, and monster fighting are excellent and the film is a lot of fun.

The film is a delightful return to form after the disappointing "Ebirah, Horror Of The Deep" (1966) and the unbearable "Son Of Godzilla" (1967). Akira Kubo's overly serious performance borderlines parody, but it's a considerable improvement over the goofy characters that he previously played in the series. Toho intended to retire Godzilla after this movie, so they pulled out all the stops and made sure to go out with a bang. But their plans changed, and Godzilla returned (sort of) with "All Monsters Attack" in 1969.