Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster
Japan | 1971 | 86 minutes
Starring Akira Yamauchi, Toshie Kimura, Hiroyuki Kawase
Directed by Yoshimitsu Banno
Rising up from the sludge of a polluted sea, Hedorah feeds on the toxic pollution of the modern world. Transforming from monstrous tadpole to land-crawling giant octopus-thing to poison-emitting flying skate, the “Smog Monster” interrupts group-exercise classes, groovy nightclub performances, and environmental protests alike, leaving only burned-out skeletons in its wake. Godzilla’s arrival mirrors the Western hero riding off into the sunset; mankind’s rubber-suited savior steps out from the blazing sunrise to confront the evil of our own doing.
Godzilla emotes like a champion in this outing, laying down the challenge to Hedorah like a boxer with a taunting wave of his arm (“Bring it!”), while later holding a pensive claw-to-the-chin while considering the state of his opponent. Our hero even gives a knowing nod to the humans —fumbling with their electric shock apparatus in an attempt to desiccate Hedorah—before charging up their equipment with the fiery blast of his roar. And roar he does; the appealing screech-and-scrape of Godzilla’s classic vocalization almost loses its charm due to repeated looping.
But ultimately a sticky problem remains; does a giant radioactive lizard make the best environmental spokesmonster?