Godzilla in America
A Critical Comparison between the Japanese and
American Versions of the Godzilla Films
by Robert Biondiand John Rocco Roberto
Mosura tai Gojira
Released on April 29, 1964
Running time: 89 minutes
Godzilla vs. The Thing
Released in the United States on September 17, 1964 by American International Productions
Running time: 88 minutes
Formally available as “Godzilla vs. Mothra” by Simatar Home Video/DVD
Godzilla vs. The Thing (aka Godzilla vs. Mothra) is considered by many to be the best Godzilla film of the “old” (pre-’80’s) series, by some as the best Godzilla film of the ENTIRE series, and by still others as the LAST Godzilla film, period. Released the same year in the United States as in Japan (a rarity, since most of Godzilla’s later films took some years to reach American shores), it is fortunate and fitting that the most highly regarded Godzilla film received a polished American release. The only negative factor of the American version is the use of the name “The Thing” for Mothra, an obvious ploy from AIP to cash in on Howard Hawk’s 1951 classic “The Thing from Another World”. These references to Mothra, a creature of beauty and peace, as “The Thing” simply sounds awkward and ugly. Fortunately, Paramount wisely changed the title to the more accurate Godzilla vs. Mothra when the film was released on videocassette in the early 1980’s.
Aside from the title and references to “The Thing,” AIP left Mosura tai Gojira virtually intact. Only a few minor pieces were removed for the American version. These were:
Now for the famous “Frontier Missile” sequence. This scene was shot at Toho Studios at the request of AIP and was intended for the American release only. A comparison of this part of the film for both versions follows. Paragraphs in bold face indicate scenes that are unique to each version.
The impressive Frontier Missile Attack scene is further enhanced by the twilight setting, quick editing and a rousing score (which is actually the “A Plan” Attack theme used later in the film). The finished sequence works very well and is one of the best scenes in this fine movie. It is regrettable that this footage was not included in the Japanese version, and indeed this the only time when the American version of a Godzilla film turned out better than the original Japanese version.
Jim Harmon: The Godzilla Book, Psi Fi Movie Press, 1985
Toho Special Effects (SF) Picture Volume #2, Mothra, Mothra vs. Godzilla
Toho Special Effects (SF) Picture Volume #5, King Kong vs. Godzilla, The Mysterains
Guy Tucker; Age of the Gods, Daikaiju Publishing, 1996
Article © 1997, 1999 John Rocco Roberto, Robert Biondi, Daikaiju Publishing.