Next up on my list of Godzilla (and other kaiju) movie re-discovery is Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster. Yoshimitsu Banno’s 1971 take on the giant monster is a little darker tale than the last film I watched in the famous film franchise, Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, making it a little more enjoyable for the every day horror and sci-fi fan.
A local shrimp fisherman discovers a unique type of tadpole and delivers it to Dr. Toru Yano to examine. After going for a swim himself, it doesn’t take long for the doctor and even his young son, Ken, to figure out this is no ordinary tadpole. The monster is bred from the sludge and pollution, which is plentiful, not only in the water where the creature originated, but also in the air and the land. The monster, now known as Hedorah, continues to transform into various forms and phases, and can only be stopped with the help of the military forces and of course, another local hero, Godzilla!
I must say that I enjoyed this film much more than Sea Monster. Although it still has some silly parts, mainly the G man’s pre/post fight ‘dance’ and the scenes in which the giant monsters are scrapping, it also is much more serious. I never dive too deeply into the ‘true meaning’ of movies, but it is clear that director Banno was making a real statement about the country’s pollution issues. By creating Hedorah, he gave the dilemma a life of its own and, although outrageous, brought a real urgency to the situation. In the end, the creature is destroyed, but the problem of unclean air, land, and water is still very much a problem, even going as far as creating yet another Hedorah smog creature, as a result.
The special effects are still what you expect from a 70’s Godzilla film and while I’m sure I would be much more impressed if I were a young child, I can still appreciate what is presented in this film. The design for Hedorah is creative and I love the fact that he evolves into various forms, throughout the course of the movie.
Just like Section 23/Kraken Releasing’s blu-ray release of Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, Smog Monster has a remarkably beautiful transfer and is accompanied by both Japanese and English audio tracks. If you are a Godzilla completest, you certainly need this release in your collection!
I give Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster 2.5 muddy water test tubes out of 5.