There is only one, undisputed, king when it comes to Kaiju movies. No, it’s not freaking King Kong you damn Americans. That title belongs to Godzilla. Godzilla, or Gojira, is a legendary Kaiju created by Toho Studios way back in 1954. There are thirty-six movies currently with the Big G starring in them and, like all series, there have been some good and some bad films.
As the first in my series of Worst to Best, I chose Godzilla because of two reasons. One is the longevity of the series. The Godzilla series has spanned 67 years to date. There really aren’t many film series’ with that kind of longevity or number of films to their name. The other reason is that I’ve been a huge Godzilla fan since I was five years old. I remember staying up for days watching the old Godzilla marathons on TNT back in the day.
Since there are so many films in this series, I’m going to be breaking it down into parts. Part one will consist of the worst films in the series, as should have been hinted with the title, from number 36 to 31. Some of you Godzilla fans may not agree with my list, and that’s totally fine. We all have our favorites and I cannot fault anyone for their opinion. However, these lists are mine and if you disagree, just be respectful. That’s all I ask. That said, let’s get into this.
#36. Godzilla |1998
We’re scraping the bottom of the barrel with this abomination of a film. The much maligned, universally hated, absolutely horrendous piece of shit that Tristar decided to regurgitate on us from 1998. This ‘Godzilla’ film should never have been made. Not only does the creature look like a mutated Iguana, but it also lacks everything that makes Godzilla special.
Guess what folks? It’s been twenty-plus years and this movie is still the biggest piece of shit that I have ever had the misfortune of viewing. A lot of people love the cartoon that came from this movie, and that’s totally your call there, but after watching this abortion one time I had absolutely no desire to watch it, or any potential sequels, ever again. I cannot even call this a film. Films are enjoyable. This is a movie and it is just awful.
Honest to god though, if this movie had been called anything other than Godzilla then it could have been passable. When you tie a movie to a legendary figurehead, you have to live up to that name otherwise it’s just a disappointment. Tristar failed miserably here, rushing production and not giving the movie any real test screenings before a Memorial Day release.
I could go on and on and on but I’m not going to subject you to the vitriol that this movie makes me spew any longer. If you really want to watch it, be my guest, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you.
#35. All Monsters Attack (Godzilla’s Revenge) | 1969
Okay so, All Monsters Attack was Toho trying to market Godzilla more to kids much like Gamera had done previously. A lot of people think that, because of this, the film should not be judged by the same merits that the others are. I can kind of see where they are coming from but at the same time, the film is just awful. It focuses on a young, bullied boy who escapes to Monster Island, in his imagination, and befriends Godzilla’s son Minilla. The monster even talks to the boy.
How much more directed to kids can you get here?
The film has a positive message and addresses bullying in a unique way, but there isn’t much else redeeming about it. You’ve got a tiny Godzilla that can’t breathe fire unless his tail is stomped on, a giant cat-like bully monster and a weird-as-hell story. The film doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but at least I will watch this film as opposed to our previous entry.
This may be regarded as one of the worst films in the Toho Godzilla franchise, but at least it’s not the train wreck that preceded it on this list. If you’ve got young kids and you want to introduce them to Godzilla, consider this film. Otherwise, it’s best viewed in small doses.
#34. King Kong vs. Godzilla | 1962
Believe it or not, 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong is not the first time these two Titans have faced off. Way back in Godzilla’s third outing, all the way back in 1962, we say the two kings face off for the first time.
For the time, I’m sure the film was very well made. But watching this film after sixty years is honestly really hard to do. For one, there are scenes where it’s clearly hand puppets fighting each other, filmed at a great distance. Kong looks absolutely horrible in this film too. Let’s not forget that he gets struck by lightning during his fight with Godzilla and then develops lightning fingers.
Lightning freaking fingers.
If that’s not enough of a statement to make you roll your eyes then I don’t know what will. That said, this film is the most successful movie in the franchise, grossing Toho 352 million yen that year. The original Japanese version of King Kong vs. Godzilla is infamous for being one of the most poorly-preserved tokusatsu films.
In 1970, director Ishiro Honda prepared an edited version of the film for the Toho Champion Festival, a children’s matinee program that showcased edited re-releases of older kaiju films along with cartoons and then-new kaiju films. Honda cut 24 minutes from the film’s original negative and, as a result, the highest quality source for the cut footage was lost. For years, all that was thought to remain of the uncut 1962 version was a faded, heavily damaged 16mm element from which rental prints had been made.
1980s restorations for home video integrated the 16mm deleted scenes into the 35mm Champion cut, resulting in wildly inconsistent picture quality. The ending is also the source of a lot of controversy, as the film ends with Kong swimming away. The controversy comes from who fans think won the battle. Americans think Kong was the victor while the Japanese are adamant that Godzilla won. It’s up for debate some 60 years later.
#33. Godzilla Raids Again | 1955
Okay, so we’re going back to 1955 for our next entry, the second film in the series. Critics loved this film and actually rated it better than the original film. However, I cannot agree with them. While the film introduces my favourite sidekick and second favourite Kaiju in Anguirus, the film just feels like a jumbled mess of a story for me.
That said, it’s not a movie that is unenjoyable. It actually can be a pretty good watch if you’re in the mood for it. There are just moments and elements in the film that make me scratch my head. Ishirō Honda (director of Godzilla) noted that reviews for Godzilla Raids Again were more positive compared to the previous film, stating that it was considered “stupid” by the media for a director to add “ideas or themes” into a science fiction film, he commented,
“That’s why I think that the first Godzilla was only considered a ‘weird’ movie. That’s probably why they liked the second movie much better.”
Godzilla Raids Again was distributed theatrically in Japan by Toho on April 24, 1955. The film generated 8.3 million tickets, less than what the first Godzilla film drew but still considered moderate business. The film drew little enthusiasm from audiences, the press, and Toho staff. Years later, Tanaka admitted that the crew had little time to prepare and hardly considered the film a success.
#32. Son of Godzilla | 1967
In a contemporary review, the Monthly Film Bulletin declared the film to be “out of the top drawer of the Toho Company’s monster file, with the special effects department achieving their best results in monster locomotion” and that the film “has the advantage of a more soundly constructed story than most of its predecessors and a delightful vein of humour that allows for a gentle parody of the genre.”
Like All Monsters Attack, I feel that this film is geared more towards children even though technically it isn’t. Toho wanted to create a baby Godzilla to appeal to the “date crowd” (a genre of films that was very popular among young couples during this time period), with the idea that girls would like a “cute” baby monster. For the idea behind Minilla, Fukuda stated,
“We wanted to take a new approach, so we gave Godzilla a child. We thought it would be a little strange if we gave Godzilla a daughter, so instead we gave him a son”.
Fukuda also wanted to portray the monsters almost as people in regards to the father-son relationship between Godzilla and Minilla, as Fukuda stated “We focused on the relationship between Godzilla and his son throughout the course of Son of Godzilla.” The result is a monster that appeals more towards children than women. I’m sorry, but I just don’t care for this film all that much.
#31. Godzilla: The Planet Eater | 2018
King Ghidorah is iconic in the Monsterverse. He’s arguably Godzilla’s greatest adversary and has been in more films than any other rival to the Big G. That said, the third anime feature that came to Netflix introduced us to a redesigned and re-imagined Ghidorah.
I love the design of Godzilla in this series, but the design for Ghidorah is just awful. It looks nothing like the monster fans know and love. The story of the three-part series of movies is a bit convoluted and out there, but it could have been pretty epic. It had all the potential in the world to be innovative and be a phenomenal series of films. However, it falls short for me on every level.
There are some good points in this movie, and the series wrapped up pretty well all things considered. But the getting there and the final adversary for Godzilla just didn’t live up to my expectations or hopes.