Dr. K’s Monster Mash – Godzilla vs. Hedorah

Dr. K. Movie Review - Godzilla vs. Heora

Always the academic with a penchant for fringe culture, our resident book/movie reviewer, Dr. K., will be gracing us with his takes on some classic monster/horror flicks. We kickoff the series with Dr. K’s take on Godzilla vs. Hedorah (aka Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster) Toho Films, Japan, 1971. Check out all the smoke stack sucking prose after the turn.

Godzilla vs. Hedorah (aka Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster) Toho Films, Japan, 1971

This is the most bizarre Godzilla film ever made and revisiting it after seeing it once as a child has elevated it to one of my favorite movies of all time. The science, graphics, props (especially in the laboratory) and script are all top rank, and this film effectively delivers a serious environmental message.

A concerned fisherman presents a strange tadpole to a scientist as odd events begin unfolding in local waters. The tadpole is actually a stage of the monster Hedorah who is created when a “biological mineral” arrives on a comet and interacts with the organic sludge of overly-polluted waters, thus creating a rapidly metamorphosizing creature. This spark of life in the form of alien mineral nicely sidesteps any forays into the debunked theory of “spontaneous generation of life” (Pasteur 1859) that would have quickly eroded the film’s credibility. Once dismissed as a psychedelic laughing stock, this film takes on a new sense of seriousness especially when viewed with the original Japanese soundtrack and juxtaposed with today’s Green movement. And the Japanese soundtrack is key. Previous U.S versions relied on poor English dubbing which robbed it of its power. I compared the Japanese to the English dub during a key scene in which the lifecycle of Hedorah is explained. The Japanese version uses eloquent and relatively sophisticated vocabulary describing the metamorphosis as aquatic, amphibian, and then terrestrial. The English dub merely refers to the creature in its “2nd stage”. Talk about the dumbing-down of America. While the creature acquires more pollutants for its growth and huffs from smoke stacks, Godzilla tries to defeat it. Meanwhile, the youth of Japan organize only to party like its 1999 on top of Mt. Fuji during the presumed Armagideon Time (Willie Williams, Studio 1, 1980). Watch closely for a pro-feline theme permeating this film. When Hedorah inhales smog and is “metabolizing”, he is actually purring- it appears to be a real cat purr on the soundtrack and is highly effective. A cat is also spared by Hedorah when covered in caustic sludge as it had no part in the pollution of the Earth.

And a final word about the intelligent script: When a teenager smartly inquires “Hey, if it lives by assimilating our waste, isn’t Hedorah a good thing for the environment?”, this excellent observation is countered with the explanation that Hedorah’s metabolic by-product is the even more toxic sulfuric acid. I don’t know about you but I am going to stop contributing to Hedorah. So suck it Greenpeace- your message was better conveyed by a Godzilla movie!

p.s. Only watch in English to hear the infamous “Save the Earth” theme song.

-Dr. Brad Krohn

Godzilla vs. Smog Monster Theatrical Trailer – English Version

Godzilla vs. Smog Monster “Save the Earth” Theme Song

6 Responses to “Dr. K’s Monster Mash – Godzilla vs. Hedorah”

  • A purring Smog Monster? Intriguing! They just don’t make ’em like they used to, eh? The most memorable thing about one of the recent Godzilla remakes was the marketing link to the Taco Bell Chihuahua.

  • I don’t know man, it’s no Gleaming the Cube. Will no one stop this mastodon of destruction?

  • I think that song destroyed the smog monster.

  • Coal Dust would have end the life cycle of the Smog Monster. A horrible by product made by burning coal for energy.

  • Yeah, SUCK IT GREENPEACE! Just kidding. Don’t hurt me Greenpeace.

  • I don’t understand all those kids hooped up on gop who keep trying to get the government to decriminalize toxic waste…I say we shut down those shops that sell smokestacks and other paraphernalia, too!

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