So how do you top something as epic and ambitious as Destroy All Monsters? Apparently, Toho’s answer was “you don’t even try”.
I hate All Monsters Attack (better known to Americans as Godzilla’s Revenge). Heck, I don’t think I’m out of line in asserting that *most* people hate All Monsters Attack. The film attempts to be something of a hybrid of Son of Godzilla and Destroy All Monsters, but in all the worst kinds of ways. More overtly targeted towards children than any other installment in the Showa Series, a lot of folks say that you simply have to be a kid in order to appreciate it. I think that’s bullshit. I hated this movie when I was seven just as much as I hate it now.
Young Ichiro (Tomonori Yazaki) isn’t a very happy kid. Forced to grow up in the worst industrial park Hell hole of rural Japan with two inattentive parents who work twenty-two hours a day and a throng of bullies all wanting to beat him up and steal his vacuum tubes, the kid’s got it pretty tough. He escapes his tortured existence by sleeping. Like, all the time. In his dreams, he’s best buddies with Minilla (“Little Man” Machan), the son of Godzilla (Haruo Nakajima), who takes him to Monster Island to hang with his pop. Minilla’s got it just as bad as Ichiro, as he’s constantly tormented by a bully monster named Gabara (Yu Sekida). As Minilla works up the courage needed to face Gabara, can Ichiro learn a lesson or two from his pal? He’d better, as he’s just been kidnapped by a pair of bumbling bank robbers (Sachio Sakai and Kazuo Suzuki).
Godzilla’s always been popular with the kids. I loved him when I was a tyke and I still love him. But just because Godzilla’s popular with the under-10 crowd doesn’t mean you have to change the formula to appeal *only* to the under-10 crowd. All Monsters Attack takes all the worst things about the kid-friendly Son of Godzilla and cranks them up to eleven. To put that into perspective, Minilla breaks the tolerance threshold by discovering the ability to speak English. In the Japanese version he speaks in the voice of a child, whereas in the English version, well, he sounds too much like Barney for comfort. He and Ichiro spend most of the movie cavorting and capering around Monster Island, watching stock footage from older Godzilla movies and pretending like they’ve never seen them before (you’re not fooling anyone, kids).
And that brings us to perhaps the worst offense of All Monsters Attack: The stock footage. As if the story weren’t thin enough, Director Ishiro Honda pads the thing out with clips from previous flicks. The selection is a tad random, as we get to see several battles from Ebirah, Horror of the Deep and Son of Godzilla, with some clips of Manda and Gorosaurus from Destroy All Monsters thrown in for the heck of it. To Honda’s credit, he manages to segue into these clips pretty seamlessly, but if you’ve seen any of these films before, you’re basically watching a glorified clip show.
The only original monster battle filmed for this movie is Godzilla and Minilla against Gabara. Keep in mind that all of this is taking place within the sanctity of Ichiro’s fevered imagination, so Gabara isn’t a “real” monster. Not that you care. Anyway, he’s pretty wacky. He looks like a cross between a cat and unicorn with a big orange afro on his head. His “roar” is designed to sound like evil laughter and you better learn to like it, because once he starts he does… not… STOP. When mixed with Minilla’s trademark “waaaah waaaah” roar, you’re going to go out of your freaking mind. Although credited with the special effects, Eiji Tsubaraya actually had nothing to do with this atrocity, having only had a hand in the stock footage. The special effects were headed up by Ishiro Honda and Teruyoshi Nakano and, well, Tsubaraya’s absence is sorely felt.
And what was up with the message at the end of the film? After defeating the bank robbers, Ichiro proceeds to beat the shit out of a bully, play a cruel prank on a completely innocent stranger and then joins a gang of miscreants. What a… happy ending?
Anyway, All Monsters Attack is just an all-around excruciating film. No matter how young you are, you’re going to find the plot too juvenile and wonder where all the conquering aliens and mad scientists ran off to. If you’re a devoted Godzilla fan, you’ll find the film boring thanks to all the stock footage. And if you’re just a passerby, then you’re going to find the film torturous because it’s just plain-ole terrible.
If you’re still curious to check out All Monsters Attack/Godzilla’s Revenge, pick it up on Amazon by clicking the link.