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Movie Review: ‘Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster’

Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster


Known in Japan as Godzilla, Ebirah, Mothra: Big Duel in the South Seas, 1966’s Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster (also known as Ebirah, Horror of the Deep) is the seventh entry in the Showa series of the Godzilla franchise. The film brings together Godzilla and Mothra, although the latter has what amounts to a glorified cameo. Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster is one of the stranger Godzilla movies, perhaps because the original script called for the use of King Kong instead of the Big G.

Poster for "Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster."
DVD cover art for "Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster."

The story involves a pair of brothers, Yata (Toru Ibuki) and Ryota (Toru Watanabe). When Yata is lost at sea, Ryota tries to secure a boat with the help of two of his friends. They inadvertently wander onto a yacht, where they encounter a bank robber on the lamb. The four then set sail, only to encounter the sea monster Ebirah, which tears apart their boat and forces the men to wash ashore a strange island. It turns out that there is an organization on this island known as the Red Bamboo, a nefarious outfit manufacturing heavy water for nuclear proliferation. The Red Bamboo has also developed a yellow chemical that keeps Ebirah under their relative control.

The men soon discover that the Red Bamboo is using enslaved natives from another island to do its heavy work. The natives are from none other than Infant Island, the home of the giant winged monster Mothra. It turns out that Yata is among the natives of the island.

Joining forces with a native girl (Kumi Mizuno) who has eluded capture, Yata and the other men try to escape the island. They stumble across a sleeping Godzilla inside a cliff-side cave. They elect to wake Godzilla by infusing him with electricity, and soon Godzilla is soon battling Ebirah, who manages to escape into the sea. Godzilla then briefly battles a giant condor-like bird and a squadron of fighter jets financed by the Red Bamboo.

In the meantime, Ryota is reunited with his brother, and the group frees the enslaved natives. Godzilla then begins to destroy the Red Bamboo’s base. A scientist-type then activates a self-destruct sequence that will destroy the island, and it falls onto Mothra to rescue everyone off the island. Godzilla in the meantime finally finishes off Ebirah by ripping off his claws. The Big G then turns his attention to Mothra. Will the two fight and will they blow up along with the island?

Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster suffers from a low budget, meaning that there is little in the way of destruction. The giant monsters are relegated to the island or the sea, ensuring that there is little for them to destroy. One strange element of the movie is that the script was originally written for King Kong. Knowing this helps explain away Godzilla’s infatuation with the native girl (he sits down and stares at her for quite some time), his use rocks to battle Ebirah and to destroy the Red Bamboo’s base, and the use of electricity to waken and make him stronger. Godzilla is also not friendly to Mothra, who was an ally (along with Rodan) of his in 1964’s Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster.

As is typical with Godzilla movies, too much time is spent developing the human story and not enough time is spent with the monsters. In Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, pace is further delayed by scenes of natives chanting and dancing to wake Mothra. It literally takes the natives the entire movie to wake Mothra so that she can spend a few moments rescuing some people off an island while Godzilla does all the fighting.

The monster action in the movie is relatively lighthearted and fun to watch. This time around, Godzilla and Ebirah throw rocks at each other, with Ebirah mimicking a baseball pitcher using her giant claw and Godzilla using soccer-like moves to counter the throws. During Godzilla’s fight with the Red Bamboo’s aircraft, it looks like the Big G is doing a dance, and this effect is compounded by the surf music in the background.

Although not one of the stronger entries in the Showa series of Godzilla flicks, Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster is worth a casual glance and is course essential for fans of kaiju films.

The Blu-Ray version of Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster is the Japanese version in widescreen. The references to the Red Bamboo are left intact, as are the many scenes of natives trying to wake up Mothra—these scenes were either dubbed out or cut out of the original American version of the movie. The movie looks great (you can even see Mothra’s wires when she flies) but the disk comes with only sparse extras, such as the original trailer and the original Japanese audio track with optional subtitles.