(Gojira no Musuko)
Director – Jun Fukuda, Screenplay – Shinichi Sekizawa & Kazuo Shiba, Photography – Kazuo Yamada, Music – Masaru Sato, Special Effects – Sadamasa Arikawa & Eiji Tsuburaya. Production Company – Toho.
Akira Kubo (Maki Goro), Beverly Maeda (Reiko Matsumiya), Tadao Takashima (Dr Kusumi), Akihiko Hirata (Dr Fukisaki), Kenji Sahara (Morio), Yoshio Tsuchiya (Furukawa)
In search of a story, reporter Maki Goro parachutes down into the midst of an experiment in weather control on Soldier Island. However, the experiment goes wrong and the radioactive capsules sent up in a balloon explode, ravaging the island with 200-degree rains. In the aftermath, giant mantises and a giant spider overrun the island. The mantises dig up a giant egg that hatches a baby Godzilla. Soon the adult Godzilla arrives to claim its child and to teach it how to breathe fire instead of merely smoke rings.
Son of Godzilla was the eighth Godzilla film. By this point, director Ishiro Honda, who had started the series off, had opted for semi-retirement and the series had been taken over by Jun Fukuda who delivered the dreary previous entry Godzilla vs the Sea Monster/Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966) and would go onto make some of the series’ worst entries in the 1970s.
By this point, all serious threat that Godzilla had once maintained was gone and the series was well on its way towards being little more than a juvenile punch-up between guys in rubber suits. Rival Japanese studio Daiei had made Gammera the Invincible (1965), a blatant copy of the Godzilla series, where they had had some success by adding a young kid to the mix and Son of Godzilla saw Toho attempting to appeal directly to the same juvenile market. Oddly though, Son of Godzilla is a film that works likeably as a juvenile and is certainly the best of Jun Fukuda’s entries in the Godzilla series.
With its scenes of giant insects being body-slammed and games of hockey played with rocks between the mantises’ crab pincers, not to mention the jaunty carnival music that accompanies the young Godzilla every time he appears on screen, it is clear that this is not a serious entry in the series. Still, Son of Godzilla is a likeable entry. Despite a certain awkwardness of movement and the odd visible wire on the insects, the effects are decent – the glowing stipple eyes of the mantises are somewhat unworldly and the moment when the giant mantis takes to the air is good.
The latest addition to the fold Minya (although he is never actually referred to as such in the film) is a shamelessly cute one and surprisingly one that works – the bulgingly wide dopey eyes, the stumbling pratfalls and the mammalian whimpers make it adorable. The image of the child-abused Minya finally accepted into Big Daddy’s arms at the end is a tender one, despite its ludicrousness. The performances emerge as good, in spite of the usual abuses conducted in the dubbing.
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), 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 vs King Ghidorah (1991), 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) and Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle (2018) and span class=”filmref”>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).