Japanese Live Action DVD Review: Godzilla vs. the The Sea Monster

Japan’s most famous monster is back on the big screen in Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla. What better time to revisit some of the original movies starring the giant lizard?

Kraken Releasing has just released the Toho 1966 film Godzilla Versus the Sea Monster: Ebirah – Horror of the Deep! on DVD, and you can read on for the review.

Back Cover Blurb

When Ryota’s brother Yata disappears at sea, the intrepid youth and his friends join forces with a slightly trustworthy bank robber, steal a boat and go after him! Of course, there’s the little problem that Yata may be lost on a mysterious island where the evil terrorist organization Red Bamboo has enslaved natives to make heavy water for nefarious purposes. And that means dealing with the island’s monstrous, 164 feet tall guardian Ebirah, as well as Red Bamboo’s arsenal of super advanced weaponry. On the plus side, help may be at hand in the form of a nubile island girl, two tiny fairies, their giant protector Mothra and the big G himself, the mighty Godzilla. Surviving the results of all that “assistance” may not be guaranteed, but Red Bamboo will never want to tangle with teenagers AND Godzilla at the same time again! Take a South Seas cruise to non-stop mayhem and giant monster destruction with EBIRAH- HORROR OF THE DEEP!

Audio:
The audio options are English mono and Japanese mono with English subtitles. I noted no issues with the film audio or subtitles, but the voice acting of the English-speaking cast has a cartoonish flavor which isn’t necessarily a bad fit for this film.

Video:
The DVD is presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and the images are relatively crisp.

Packaging:
The front cover features a promotional poster for the original film, showcasing the monsters Godzilla, Ebirah, and Mothra along with the human cast. On the back are a few screen shots and a movie summary. No inserts are included inside the case.

Menu:
Various stills from the film are used for the DVD menu backgrounds. There aren’t many options, so it’s easy to navigate.

Extras:
The only extra included with the DVD is the original Japanese film trailer.

Content

The subtitle for this film is Ebirah – Horror of the Deep! But there’s nothing horrific about it. This is partly due to its dated special effects. Modern viewers, even young ones, will likely find Godzilla as played by a guy in a lizard costume and the destruction he wreaks upon miniature sets either cute or funny. But clunky effects aside, the script is hard to take seriously.

It starts off when a young man Yata is lost at sea, and his mother refuses to believe he is dead because a mystic says he’s alive. So her younger son Ryota goes to the city to convince the police to search for his missing brother. But instead of recruiting their aid, he teams up with a couple teenagers he meets at a go-go dance marathon and hijacks a luxury yacht from a safecracker thief. While they’re searching the South Seas for his brother, a giant lobster claw rises out of the water and wrecks them on an island inhabited by the nefarious military group Red Bamboo and the natives they’ve enslaved. It’s a bizarre hodgepodge of goofy teen misadventure, spy flick, and Polynesian cultural act. Oh, and giant monsters. Can’t forget about the monsters.

Although it’s called Godzilla Versus the Sea Monster, the monsters don’t actually show up until halfway through the film. Plus, they are a lot sleepier than I remember. Mothra spends most of the film snoozing on Infant Island as its inhabitants strive to wake her up to rescue their captured kin. When Ryota and his friends stumble upon Godzilla in the island caves, they don’t think he’s even alive. Later, there’s a scene where Godzilla corners the heroine, and all the guys can say is, “We’ll have to wait until [Godzilla] falls asleep.” And the big lizard does actually start dozing off!

However, when the monsters catch sight of one another, the destruction begins, though it’s more laughable than the stuff of nightmares. Godzilla’s first match with Ebirah looks more like a game of catch as they whack a giant rock back and forth. When the Red Bamboo’s Air Force takes off against Godzilla, the big monster looks like he’s doing a dance amid the attacking planes, and there’s even upbeat go-go music in the background to complete the effect.

It’s hardly a terrifying film, but that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable. The random plot and old-school effects give it a campy charm. And while the Infant Islanders’ pseudo-Polynesian dance to Mothra does drag, there’s something fun about watching a guy dressed as a lizard stomp apart a blinking model of a military installation.

In Summary

The plot for Godzilla Versus the Sea Monster is flimsy at best. It’s beyond a stretch how it flings a random group of teens, a safe cracking thief, an enslaved Polynesian group, and a terrorist organization with nuclear weapons onto a tropical island guarded by a giant lobster. But if what you’re after is a kind of WWF featuring guys in old-school monster suits, the second half of Godzilla Versus the Sea Monster won’t disappoint.

First published at The Fandom Post.

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