Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Son of Godzilla, and the films that preceded it had seen a decline in box office return. Toho saw the interest wane for kaiju films, and so they were going to stop producing them. Before that, they were gonna send their monsters out with big celebratory fireworks display. Toho put every suit they had available into this film, and at the time it was the largest number of monsters in single film for the Godzilla franchise.

If Toho were going to end making kaiju films, they were going to do it right by hiring the director that started off the entire genre. Ishirō Honda returns with a more serious tone, as much as he can in a film where the villains are actually worms bent on world domination. He employs some interesting framing techniques that you don’t usually see in this series, to keep even to most mundane scene interesting. He hasn’t lost a step.

Despite the welcome return of Honda and the sheer number of monsters in this thing, the story isn’t much to speak of. The aforementioned evil worm people have zero motivation, and the plot is somewhat recycled from Invasion of Astro-Monster and bits of Ghidorah. It takes too long to get to what you paid the price of admission for, the big battle featuring all the monsters against Ghidorah. When it happens, it’s as entertaining as you’d expect. It’s a bombastic climax where every monster just kicks the absolute crap out of Ghidorah. It’s brutal. Unfortunately, this just happens a little too late in the film, and immediately afterwards it kind of goes off the rails, not ending on the high moment of Ghidorah’s final destruction like it should.

Destroy All Monsters is not my favorite Godzilla movie, but I recognize its place as a classic. At the time, this was the closest you could get to seeing every monster from the Godzilla franchise in a single film. If you want something that does this a little better, watch Godzilla: Final Wars. Still, if this had been the end, it would have been a decent way to close things out. Fortunately, Destroy All Monsters was profitable enough to convince Toho to keep making Godzilla movies. Although, the film that immediately follows this would make you wonder if that was a good idea.

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