As a kid, I was a big fan of Godzilla movies. They were a mainstay on weekend afternoon television while I was growing up and they were always a treat. Sure, they were cheap, often silly, but there was an inherent charm to them. They were captivating and enjoyable in only a way a guy in a rubber suit stomping on model buildings can be. It’s hard to explain, but they were unique and different. Just fun is the best way to describe it I guess.
The last of the early Godzilla movies (called the Showa era, if you want to get technical) was released in 1975 and that was that, so far as my child brain was concerned, Godzilla movies were a thing of the past and only to be seen on Saturday afternoons with bad dubbing and multiple commercial breaks.
And then in 1985, a brand new Godzilla movie was released in theaters. Called Godzilla 1985, this was an Americanized version of the Japanese film The Return of Godzilla released the year prior in Japan. When I say “Americanized” I mean that it was dubbed (badly) and scenes were cut so that new scenes could be inserted with American actors standing in a room reacting to the events of the movie in a stoic and concerned way, you know to make it “better.” This is exactly what they did to the original Gojira back in 1956 by renaming the movie Godzilla: King of the Monsters and having Raymond Burr play intrepid reported Steve Martin (he was not a wild and crazy guy) standing around basically narrating the film. Actually, in a fun bit of continuity, Raymond Burr returned for Godzilla 1985 to reprise his role as Steve Martin (still not a wild and crazy guy) and deliver a genuinely moving speech at the end. So that’s nice.
None of this mattered to me back in 1985. All I cared about was that there was a new Godzilla movie and I wanted to see it. Not because I liked it or anything, of course not. You see I was in High School at this point and I was way too cool to actually enjoy a Godzilla movie – those wee for kids – no, I wanted to see it as a goof, you know? (Yeah, even back then we were watching things “ironically” to try to mask our insecurities while still indulging in the activities that truly gave us pleasure.) Anyway, I recruited a friend who was also way too cool to actually like Godzilla movies and we went to see it but did not really enjoy it because we were cool.
And I liked it.
Now, this opinion may have been enhanced by a certain substance that may or may not have been inhaled before we went into the theater (this detail is a rumor and cannot be confirmed or denied at the time of this writing) but I do remember truly enjoying the movie. It is not a great film by any stretch, but it did bring back the feeling of fun I got from watching those old films on TV. And it rekindles my love of Godzilla but only for a brief amount of time. Because you see, while Godzilla movies were still being made in Japan they were not widely released in the US. And that, combined with the need to be seen as cool continuing apace, it seemed that my love of Godzilla movies would be relegated to the vaults of nostalgia never to be opened again.
And then in 1998 Roland Emmerich decided to release a flaming pile of garbage upon the world and called it Godzilla.
Now at this point, my need to be seen as cool had all but disappeared. I realized that this was an unobtainable goal and that I should abandon it as a lifestyle choice. I was free to just embrace my geekdom and indulge my hobbies and interests openly. This included, but was not limited to, telling people why 1998’s Godzilla was not really Godzilla. In short, I nerdsplained the shit out of that motherfucker.
The result of this, aside from annoying most of my friends and co-workers (sorry), was that I actively wanted to revisit the old Godzilla movies including the ones I had not seen, the now concluded Heisei era. And so the search was on.
(Author’s Note: Everything in this article was meant to be an introduction to talking about the Heisei Era Godzilla films. This was supposed to be a few sentences or perhaps a paragraph. Obviously, it has spun out of control into a rambling, self-indulgent bit of fluff that has little to nothing to do with what I intended to talk about. And so, I decided to split this into two and the part where I actually talk about the films will be self-contained in part 2. [COMING SOON] Sorry for wasting your time. Unless you enjoyed this, then you’re welcome.)