Ebirah, Horror Of The Deep (Japan 1966)

Rating: *
Alternate Title: Godzilla Vs. The Sea Monster (US title)
Review Date: 3/2/20
Director: Jun Fukuda
Cast: Akira Takarada, Kumi Mizuno, cameo by Akihiko Hirata

A dim-witted young man named Ryota hijacks a boat in a ridiculous attempt to rescue his brother, whose ship was lost in the South Seas. Other people stuck on the boat include two college students who lost a dance competition, and a bank robber named Yoshimura (Akira Takarada). A violent storm leaves the crew shipwrecked on a tropical island where a nasty military group known as Red Bamboo is manufacturing nuclear weapons. They also enslave natives from Infant Island (Mothra's home) to create a special "yellow liquid" that repels Ebirah, a giant lobster that lives in the surrounding waters. Conveniently, Godzilla happens to be sleeping in a cave on the island, and the heroes wake him up in a last ditch effort to escape the pursuing Red Bamboo troops. Godzilla immediately jumps into the sea and battles the giant lobster, and then turns his attention to the Red Bamboo nuclear reactor. Along the way, a giant condor comes out of nowhere and attacks Godzilla while he's napping, and is quickly turned into barbecue. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of Infant Island succeed in waking up Mothra, and ask her to rescue their friends who are being held captive.

This film is a real chore to get through. It's also the first film in the series that doesn't have Ishiro Honda at the helm. Akira Ifukube's menacing music is also absent, and replaced by a bizarre mix of surf music and goofy circus tunes. On the plus side, the film features some very impressive miniature work, and seeing Ebirah skewer two humans and eat them is one of the most horrific scenes in the series to date. Unfortunately, the story is dull and the characters are unlikable and uninteresting. Kumi Mizuno is the only one worth taking note of, as a beautiful and scantily-clad island girl. Godzilla shows up too late in the game to save the film from tedium, but he's still fun to watch. It's also the first film in the series to acknowledge him as a "good" monster, which is a radical thematic shift. Allegedly, the film was originally supposed to be a King Kong vehicle, but they decided to replace him with Godzilla for some reason. That might explain the locale and Godzilla's odd and usual behavior.