Notzilla (2020) poster

Notzilla (2020)


USA. 2020.


Director/Screenplay – Mitch Teemley, From a Story Idea by Jeff Haberman & Mitch Teemley, Producers – Aymie Majerski & Mitch Teemley, Photography/Visual Effects Supervisor – Jeff Barklage, Music – Stephen Goers, Notzilla Design – Jacob K. Baker, Production Design – Gabby Leithsceal. Production Company – Creepy Ex-Boyfriend Productions.


Tifani Ahren Davis (Dr. Shirley Yujest), Frederic Eng-Li (Professor Ichiro Honda), Tim Bensch (Dr. Richard Blowheart), Samantha Russell (Pearl Stringer), Becca Kravitz (Dr. Jacques Butay), Ken Early (Dr. Bjorn Bloch), Charlie D. Harper (Dr. Mort Shortman), Michael Wilhelm (Dr. Hugh Mungish), Michael Bath (General Dirk Bogus), Darnell Benjamin (Colonel Reginald J. Stickler), Rupert Spraul (Kenny Wannabee), Spencer Lackey (Bobby Bleach), Landon Mergler (Dr Kidman), Russell Smith (Brewmaster Ubertrinker), Mitch Teemley (Captain Bleech)


Japan, 1962. Professor Ishiro Honda tries to protect the Notzilla monster, believing the creature is peaceful. However, he is ignored and the Notzills is killed by the military. Ishiro finds one of the Notzilla’s eggs and takes it with him as he moves to Cincinnati, only for the egg to be accidentally sucked out of the toilet on the plane. The egg is found by Dr Richard Blowheart, head of SNUGI (Secret Nuclear Underground Government Installation), and physicist Dr Shirley Yujest. Shirley and Ishiro form a connection but the self-important Blowheart takes the egg back to the laboratory where it hatches. Blowheart feeds the baby Notzilla creature alcohol, the one thing that causes it to grow to giant-size. As the Notzilla rampages through the city, the military arrive and try to shoot it down. In an effort to stop it, Blowheart gets the scientists at the lab to build a large version of the Super-Secret Uber-Fission Mega-Blaster. At the same time, Shirley and Ishiro try to perfect a formula that will return the Notzilla to regular size.

Notzilla was the second film directed by Mitch Teemley who has been making short films since the late 1990s. He had previously directed the regular drama Over-the-Rhine (2020). The rest of the time the Cincinnati-based Teemley is part of a Christian comedy act. Teemley can be seen briefly here as the aging sea captain that is thought killed.

Notzilla is a spoof of the Japanese Monster Movie. This is a prolific genre that began with Godzilla (1954) and has continued through a lengthy series of other monster movies, monster team-ups and monster bashes from Toho Films, as well as copycat entries from other studios and in more recent years Hollywood remakes. Japanese monster movies are cult items because of their cheesy men in rubber suit effects and frequently surreal visuals.

Mitch Teemley had apparently submitted the script to Toho but this was rejected and so he went away and made his own homage. This is not the first US attempt to parody the genre – Cannon Films had announced Godzilla vs Cleveland around 1985 but this was killed off by a lawsuit from Toho. There are a good many in-jokes made to the genre, most notedly the Japanese scientist named Ichiro Honda after the director of the original Godzilla and most of the 1960s sequels.

The Notzilla rampages through downtown Cincinnati in Notzilla (2020)
The Notzilla rampages through downtown Cincinnati

Mitch Teemley has a great snappy comedy pacing. The film creates much nonsensical comedy out of visual play that Break the Fourth Wall – people noticing the subtitles, or a scene that comes denoted ‘Plot Point Discussion’ and the like. The nearest comparison I can make is to the works of Larry Blamire – The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2001), Trail of the Screaming Forehead (2007) – with their larger-than-life characters, played as caricatures that verge on a cartoonish absurdity. Or maybe some of the visual sight gags that appeared in the original Airplane/Flying High (1980).

There are a good many visual gags – like Samantha Russell as the journalist who manages to eavesdrop on conversations in every scene, including hiding inside a radar console at a one point. This is a film that can make deliberately rubbery monsters work for it – Notzilla noticeably even comes with a zip down the front, while the people in the train it attacks are simply silhouette figures. When it comes to the military attack against Notzilla, the army is represented by toy soldiers (with cuts to extras falling over) and we clearly see the wires on the model planes – Notzilla’s means to defeat them is to simply snip through the wires! Although the funniest among a good many funny scenes is surely the showdown between Frederic Eng-Li and Tim Bensch where Frederic employs his black belt in haiku. Sublime silliness.

Trailer here

Full film available here

Actors: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Themes: , , , , , ,