Released later in the same year as Mothra vs. Godzilla, Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster is the fifth film to feature Godzilla, and the second film in what I call the Showa Trilogy. Following up on the events from the last film in the canon, Mothra is regarded as a celebrity, and one of the larvae has unfortunately died due to story contrivances. Professor Miura (Hiroshi Koizumi) returns to study an unusual meteorite that turns out to be an egg or cocoon of sorts containing the demonic creature from space, King Ghidorah. Venusians have taken possession of Princess Selina Salno (Akiko Wakabayashi) to warn Earth of it’s impending doom. Hearing the warning, the Shobijin have Mothra attempt to convince monsters, Godzilla and Rodan to help save the Earth.
This is the first film featuring Godzilla in which his name is not in the title, because it’s not really his movie, it’s Ghidorah’s. This was another introduction to a new Toho creation that just happened to have Godzilla in it. An effective way to showcase how dangerous Ghidorah is was to crossover with all three of Toho’s most famous monsters, all of which have had stand alone films by this point. Godzilla (1954), Rodan (1956), and Mothra (1961), it was ingenious to take the three monsters from these films, which were formidable in there own stand alone movies, to bolster the dangerousness of big bad, Ghidorah. That’s right, the Godzilla series was the first real cinematic universe. Sure the Universal monsters did it first, but not as cleanly. The Avengers and the MCU owe much to Godzilla.
The progression of Godzilla from menace to hero is furthered even more. He’s reluctant to save Earth, but he and Rodan are ultimately convinced by Mothra and the Shobijin to help. How can you convince a monster to help save the world? Isn’t Godzilla supposed to be an animal of instinct? Not anymore. From here on, in the Showa era at least, Godzilla would be taking on more and more human characteristics. He’s intelligent, has a language, and even swears in this monster language albeit in the English dub only.
This film sees the Godzilla franchise taken further into the realm of pure science fiction with the introduction of space. It’s understandable given the time in which it was made. Humanity was becoming increasingly obsessed with space, and this increase in the fascination with the stars can be tracked with it’s inclusion in the Godzilla series. But as space focused as this film is, it’s nothing compared to the utter insanity coming up next, which happens to be my all-time favorite. Get ready to do the Godzilla stomp!