The Showa era was the longest of the three major eras in the Godzilla franchise. I like breaking it down into even smaller sections. The first three films form a decent trilogy where Godzilla appears and dies, a new Godzilla shows up to battle another monster, and finally meets his match in King Kong. I call those films the Origin Trilogy. The previous three films formed the Showa Trilogy, with the most consistent through line and the best examples of the Showa series as a whole. Ebirah, Horror of the Deep is the first in what I refer to as the Monster Island Trilogy. It consists of Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, Son of Godzilla, and Destroy All Monsters, and it’s so named because the events of all three of these films takes place on an island which is another staple of the franchise.
Ebirah is a soft reboot of sorts. It doesn’t refer to, or follow up on any events from the previous films, and it take the series in a very different, more child friendly direction. Ebirah and the films that follow feel very distinct from everything that came before. This is the first Godzilla film to be directed by Jun Fukuda, and fans either love or hate his contributions. Generally, while I find this particular film rather middling, I enjoy Fukuda’s films, maybe not as much as Honda’s, but I think they have a charm all their own.
This wasn’t even supposed to be a Godzilla movie. It was actually going to star King Kong, but Toho lost the license to the character. Ebirah’s role was increased and Godzilla was thrown in to help sell the movie with an already established monster. Godzilla doesn’t even appear until halfway through, and when he does, he is awoken with the power of lightning, which is further evidence that this was supposed to be Kong’s movie. Godzilla appearing so late in the film unfortunately makes it a rather boring watch for the first half, but it does pick up once he is awoken.
Once the action gets going there are definitely things to enjoy, not the least of which is the return of Mothra and in her mature, winged form to boot. She was supposed to appear in Astro-Monster, but a new needed to be fabricated, and Toho had already gone over budget with that film. She’s back now though, and she was missed. Unfortunately, the Shobijin are not portrayed by The Peanuts any more, and they have very little to do except sing a never ending song.
There are still some returns of actors from previous films. This is Akira Takarada’s fourth time appearing in this franchise, but the last time he would appear in a leading role. Dr. Serizawa, Akihiko Hirata, has been in some of the previous films as well, but here he has an eye patch, and I cannot help but wonder if that is indeed a nod to his character from the first film. Kumi Mizuno, the female Xilien named Namikawa from Invasion of Astro-Monster plays a Infant Islander name Daiyo. Remember Mizuno’s name, she will come up much later in my series of reviews.
Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, commonly known in the US as Godzilla vs. the Sea-Monster, was the first Godzilla movie I had seen any part of, albeit on MST3k. I was very little, but it did leave an impression. So, I suppose this one does have a special place in my heart. Although, it has it’s fair share of problems. Ebirah’s design is not really all that interesting, the surfer music score by Masaru Sato is a bit much, and first half is kind of boring. All in all, it’s not a bad movie, but it isn’t particularly good. The next one however would raise the levels of stupidity and/or genius to knew heights.