Of childhood icons that inspire both fear and awe, none can do it best than Godzilla.
He is the embodiment of destruction, the personification of nuclear warfare, the paragon of antiheros, the King of the Monsters. He is one of my favorite icons ever and this week, I’ll be celebrating the King with five articles covering him from movies to comics. I hope you’ll enjoy them as they were fun to write.
As a child, my love for Godzilla knew no bounds. I religiously watched his movies, I pretended I was him, and I worshiped him.
My first memory of him came when I was four, when I was at a friend’s house and was playing with his Godzilla toys. They roared when you pressed the button on their bellies. At the time, I didn’t know what these monsters were, but at such a young age, I found them frightful.
Unfortunately, I can’t remember what the first Godzilla film I watched was. The first memory I recall was when I borrowed Godzilla’s Revenge (debated to be one of the worst Godzilla films) from a friend’s house and watched it again and again. However, by then I was well into being a Godzilla fan and I loved watching his films.
The best part about being a kid was that you didn’t care about plot continuity in the films even if it mattered (which was rare). Ghidora may be dead in the end of one film but then he’s back in the other and I wouldn’t question it at all.
TNT showed a lot of Godzilla films. I remember staying up late and hiding in the basement with the blanket over the TV to prevent it from disturbing my family members. I would sit two feet away from the pulsing screen and watch the Godzilla films intensely. They would usually show the classics from the 1960s. AMC also showed a lot of Godzilla films during October but that gradually died off as the channel moved away from their classic movie lineup and more into modern shows.
Mystery Science Theatre 3000 also did Godzilla vs. Megalon and I remember watching that one a lot as well for it was a winning combination of MST3K AND Godzilla. You can’t go wrong there. “He’s got a tree! That’s not the Godzilla we know!”
Unlike nowadays, the Godzilla franchise was surprisingly good at releasing Godzilla films on VHS to the U.S. And being a kid that grew up in the 90’s, I got to see the just released films that were all the rage in Japan. The Heisei Era of Godzilla films was definitely a great time to be a Godzilla fan, ESPECIALLY a Godzilla kid fan. Return of Godzilla, Biollante, King Ghidorah, Mothra, MechaGodzilla, SpaceGodzilla, and Destoryah. Most of these films can be considered some of the best of in the entire series. The two that stood out to me the most though were definitely Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah and Godzilla vs. Destoryah (more on those films and my reaction to them later).
Some films though were just out of my reach for viewing, my town once did a special Godzilla exhibit to celebrate a Godzilla Anniversary. In it, I saw the pictures from the fabled Destroy All Monsters film, a film that I had never heard before but instantly I wanted to see it and its glorious monster rumble. This was a time when the internet was still young so I didn’t know what other Godzilla films were out there. Alas, many of these films I never got to see until I was an adult.
I remember when I was six or seven I had a Godzilla kid’s book that I would read abundantly. It was about Godzilla and his pals on Monster Island where they found an egg that later hatched into Mothra. Good stuff.
My friends were also Godzilla fans as well. When we saw Godzilla vs. King Kong, there was a heated debate on who won the fight. I, rightly so, declared that Godzilla won it, my friend, however, declared King Kong was the actual winner. Either way, watching Godzilla films with your friends definitely enhances the experience.
Speaking of which, I only went to two Godzilla films in theaters when I was young, both of which were with my friend. The first was Godzilla 2000, and let me tell you something, that was amazing. Seeing the big guy on the screen really was a special treat. The second film was special though. My local theater did a Godzilla Anniversary and showed the first Godzilla film in its original dub. I had reached the right age, about nine or so, to appreciate that film. It was intense, moving, and special. You can debate which Godzilla films are the best in the franchise but the best, hands down, was the first one. A film that’s not only a good Godzilla film but a great cinematic film in general. It was so potent that it spawned not only its own franchise but the kaiju genre as well. And man, I was glad to see it on the big screen.
Stay tuned for more Godzilla articles!