Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991) poster

Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah (1991)


(Gojira Vs Kingugidora)

Japan. 1991.


Director/Screenplay – Kazuki Omori, Producer – Tomoyuki Tanaka, Music – Akira Ifukube, Special Effects Supervisor – Koichi Kawakita. Production Company – Toho.


Kosoyuke Toyohara (Terasawa), Anna Nakagawa (Emi Kano), Megumi Odaka (Miki Sagusa), Robert Scott Field (M11), Yoshio Tsuchiya (Hasuki Shindo), Katsuhiko Sasaki (Professor Mizaki), Chuck Wilson (Wilson), Tokuma Nishioka (Fujio), Richard Berger (Grenchiko)


A UFO appears over Japan. This turns out to be a time machine from the year 2204. The three time travellers beg an audience with the Prime Minister where they warn that Godzilla must be stopped as its rampages will cause Japan to become a radioactive wasteland by the time of their future. The writer Terasawa realizes that Godzilla is in fact a dinosaur that helped Japanese soldiers against American troops during World War II, which was then mutated by nuclear testing in 1954. Terasawa and the time travellers return to 1944 to eliminate the dinosaur from the timeline before it becomes Godzilla. Unfortunately, this is a ruse on the part of the time travellers who are in fact trying to prevent Japan from becoming the most powerful nation in the world in their time, due to its being defended by Godzilla. They covertly leave some genetically engineered creatures behind in 1944. When they return to the present day, the nuclear tests have caused these creatures to mutate into the giant three-headed King Ghidorah, a creature that the time travellers are now able to control as they wish.

Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah was the eighteenth Godzilla film. (See below for the other Godzilla films). Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah was also the third film in what might be termed the second wave of Godzilla films that began with Godzilla 1985 (1984). The Godzilla films from this point on caught up with modern effects technology and produced substantially better films than their 1960s and 70s counterparts. After the attempt to introduce a new nemesis in the previous film Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), the subsequent film from this second wave (the Heisei era) – Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992), Godzilla Vs Mechagodzilla (1993), Godzilla Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001) – focuses on and took the opportunity to remake or at least rework former battles between Godzilla and other monsters. Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah was the first of these and is a reworking of Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster (1964).

Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah is also one of the most unique and original of all Godzilla films. It certainly has the most conceptually audacious plot of any Godzilla film – being centred around time-travellers from the future who go back into the past to eliminate Godzilla’s wake of destruction throughout history. The film seems to overflow with ideas as this is then revealed to be a ruse and that their scheme is to instead substitute Ghidorah at the site of the A-bomb tests that created Godzilla and to not only eliminate Godzilla from becoming Japan’s protector against any threat, something that will allow Japan to become the most powerful nation in the world in the future, but to substitute a creature that can be more easily controlled.

Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991)
Godzilla vs Ghidorah with cyborg head

It is an uncommonly idea-ridden Japanese monster movie – Godzilla doesn’t even make an appearance until at least half-an-hour in. (It also becomes a origin story, dealing for the first time in the series with the creation of Godzilla). The plot has some unique doglegs that twist around to have both Godzilla and Ghidorah each playing both the aggressor and defender against the other’s rampage at different points in the film. Although, the script doesn’t always think the time travel out logically at times – wouldn’t the elimination of Godzilla in the timeline also erase him from people’s memories in the present?

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the modern Godzilla films are the great effects. Here there is all the exhilarating scenes of mass destruction that one has come to expect of the genre. There is an excellent sequence with Ghidorah fighting a series of Air Force jets. The climax with Godzilla and the partially cyborgized Ghidorah duking it out is breathtaking.

The other Godzilla films are:– Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1954), Gigantis the Fire Monster/Godzilla Raids Again/The Return of Godzilla (1955), King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962), Godzilla vs the Thing/Mothra vs Godzilla (1964), Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster (1964), Monster Zero/Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965), Godzilla vs the Sea Monster/Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966), Son of Godzilla (1968), Destroy All Monsters (1968), Godzilla’s Revenge (1969), Godzilla vs the Smog Monster/Godzilla vs Hedorah (1971), Godzilla vs Gigan/Godzilla on Monster Island (1972), Godzilla vs Megalon (1973), Godzilla vs the Cosmic Monster/Godzilla vs the Bionic Monster/Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1974), Terror of Mechagodzilla/Monsters from an Unknown Planet (1976), Godzilla 1985 (1984), Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992), Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1993), Godzilla vs Space Godzilla (1994), Godzilla vs Destoroyah (1995), Godzilla 2000 (1999), Godzilla vs Megaguirus (2000), Godzilla Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002), Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003), Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), Shin Godzilla/Godzilla: Resurgence (2016) and Godzilla: Minus One (2023), plus the anime Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017), Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle (2018) and Godzilla: The Planet Eater (2018). Both Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla (1998) and Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla (2014) are big-budget, English-language remakes, while the latter launched two sequels with Godzilla, King of the Monsters (2019) and Godzilla vs. Kong (2021).

Trailer here

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