Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)

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Soundtrack of Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster

Godzilla Films
Mothra vs. Godzilla
Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster
Invasion of Astro-Monster
Toho Company, Limited Monster Movie
The Japanese poster for Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monsters
Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster
Directed by Produced by
Ishiro Honda Tomoyuki Tanaka
Written by Music by
Shinichi Sekizawa Akira Ifukube
Distributed by Rating
Continental/Walter Reade OrganizationUS
Not Rated
Budget Box Office
¥???,???,??? ¥210,000,000[1]
Running Time
93 minutesJP
(1 hour, 33 minutes)
85 minutesUS
(1 hour, 25 minutes) 
Designs Used
MosuGoji, SanDaikaijuRado, SanDaikaijuMosuLarva, ShodaiGhido

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Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (三大怪獣 地球最大の決戦,   San Daikaijū: Chikyū Saidai no Kessen?, lit. Three Giant Monsters: Earth's Greatest Battle) is a 1964 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho, and the fifth installment in the Godzilla series as well as the Showa series. The film was released to Japanese theaters on December 20, 1964.


A princess from Selgina, a small Himalayan country, becomes possessed by the spirit of a Venusian (a Martian in the American version) and escapes from the plane just as it explodes. As this happens a meteorite falls from the sky containing King Ghidorah, the monster responsible for her planet's destruction. At the same time, Godzilla and Rodan emerge from hibernation and not only attack Japan, but each other as well. Mothra, along with its twin priestesses, attempt to convince Godzilla and Rodan to stop fighting each other and to team up to fight the new monster, Godzilla and Rodan, however, refused to help because they have no reason to save mankind as both "have always had trouble with men and men hate them", and Mothra had no choice but to battle King Ghidorah on her own and gets continually blasted by King Ghidorah's gravity beams. Luckily for Mothra, Godzilla and Rodan return to help Mothra fight King Ghidorah after being impressed by her courage and selflessness, thus the battle for Earth against King Ghidorah begins. Meanwhile, the princess is being hunted by a group of assassins, led by Malness, who want to kill her so that her enemies can take over her homeland. Then, just when Malness is about to kill the princess, King Ghidorah crushes him by knocking over a pile of boulders on him. Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra finally drive King Ghidorah off. The movie ends with the princess going back to her home land and Godzilla and Rodan watching Mothra swim back to Infant island.


Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.

  • Directed by   Ishiro Honda
  • Written by   Shinichi Sekizawa
  • Produced by   Tomoyuki Tanaka
  • Music by   Akira Ifukube, Hiroshi Miyagawa
  • Stock Music by   Akira Ifukube, Hiroshi Miyagawa
  • Cinematography by   Hajime Koizumi
  • Edited by   Ryohei Fujii
  • Production Design by   Takeo Kita
  • Assistant Directing by   Koji Hashimoto, Ken Sano
  • Special Effects by   Eiji Tsuburaya
  • Assistant Director of Special Effects   Teruyoshi Nakano


Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.

  • Yosuke Natsuki   as   Detective Shindo
  • Yuriko Hoshi   as   Naoko Shindo
  • Hiroshi Koizumi   as   Assistant Professor Murai
  • Akiko Wakabayashi   as   Princess of Selgina, Mas Selina Salno
  • Emi Ito, Yumi Ito   as   Shobijin
  • Takashi Shimura   as   Doctor Tsukamoto
  • Hisaya Ito   as   Chief Assassin Malmess
  • Akihiko Hirata   as   Okita, Chief Detective
  • Minoru Takada   as   Chairman of Board Meeting
  • Kenji Sahara   as   Editor in Chief Kanamaki
  • Somesho Matsumoto   as   UFO Expert
  • Ikio Sawamura   as   Fisherman
  • Kozo Nomura   as   Murai's Assistant
  • Toru Ibuki   as   Assassin
  • Susumu Kurobe   as   Assassin
  • Kazuo Suzuki   as   Assassin
  • Haruya Kato   as   Journalist
  • Shin Otomo   as   Leader of the Assassins
  • Senkichi Omura   as   Hat Retriever
  • Hideyo Amamoto   as   Butler Wu
  • Yutaka Nakayama   as   Tourist (Lost Hat)
  • Yutaka Oka   as   Meteorite Scientist
  • Yoshio Kosugi   as   Chief of Infant Island
  • Heihachiro Okawa   as   Astronomer
  • Yoshifumi Tajima   as   Ship Captain
  • Koji Uno   as   Spectators in Crowd
  • Shigeki Ishida   as   Spectators in Crowd
  • Toshihiko Furuta   as   Villager
  • Kotaro Tomita   as   Villager



Weapons, Vehicles, and Races


Main article: Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster/Gallery.


Main article: Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (Soundtrack).

Alternate Titles

  • Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster (United States)
  • Three Giant Monsters: The Greatest Battle on Earth (Literal Japanese Title)
  • Monster of Monsters, Ghidorah (Original International Title)
  • Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: The Greatest Battle on Earth (ゴジラ·モスラ·キングギドラ: 地球最大の決戦,   Gojira, Mosura, Kingu Gidora: Chikyū Saidai no Kessen?, Japan Re-Release Title)
  • Ghidrah, Monster of 3 Heads (Ghidra, Monstruo de 3 Cabezas; Spain; Mexico)
  • Ghidrah, the Monster of Three Heads (Ghidra, el Monstruo de Tres Cabezas; Argentina)
  • Ghidorah, Monster of Monsters (Gidorah, Canavarlar Canavari; Turkey)

Theatrical Releases

View all posters for the film here.

  • Japan - December 20, 1964   [view poster]Japanese 1971 poster, 1971   [view poster]Japanese 1971 poster
  • United States - September 13, 1965   [view poster]American poster
  • Mexico   [view poster]Mexican poster
  • Argentina   [view poster]Argentinian poster
  • Turkey   [view poster]Turkish poster
  • Brazil   [view poster]Brazilian poster

U.S. Release

American Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster poster

Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster was released in the United States by the Walter Reade Organization, under the title Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster. Like many Godzilla films before it, the American version made several alterations to the film.

  • Rather than being referred to by his full name, King Ghidorah's name is shortened to "Ghidrah" in the dub, presumably because it sounds more like "hydra." The "o" was also possibly seen as a redundant syllable in English as "Ghidorah" is always intoned without emphasis on the middle syllable in Japanese.
  • Selina Salno claims to be from Mars in the dub, rather than Venus as in the original version.
  • Numerous scenes were rearranged from the order in which they appeared in the original Japanese print, such as the old man whom the Princess trades the bracelet with identifying her in the police station and the battles between Godzilla and Rodan. The Princess originally told King Ghidorah's tale before the monster emerged from the meteorite, and the arrival of the assassins happens at an earlier time than it did in the Japanese version. Godzilla's appearance in Yokohama was mistakenly rearranged, in his first shot of the scene he appears on land, in the next shot he is in the water, and then he again appears on land. Rodan emerging from Mount Aso was mistakenly rearranged as well. In one shot his whole body can be seen rising out of the crater's wall when in the following shots he is still trying to raise his head out from the rocks.
  • The majority of Akira Ifukube's original score for the film was replaced with music from other American films.
  • Mothra is referred to as a male in the dub.
  • The American version runs roughly seven minutes shorter than the Japanese version.

Several scenes were also altered or removed.

  • Altered: In Godzilla's first appearance Rodan appears in the sky before Godzilla destroys the ship. The scene originally showed Godzilla rising from the sea and then destroying the boat almost uninterrupted.
  • Deleted: Shindo sees Naoko being dropped off by Dr. Murai at their home, explaining why Shindo was asking his mother about his sister having a boyfriend when returning home.
  • Deleted: Rodan lets out his signature roar when his head emerges from the cave wall.
  • Deleted: Brief shot of Rodan hovering over the volcano after he emerges.
  • Deleted: Before leaving the hotel room, Shindo witnesses a ship exploding in the harbor after being hit by Godzilla's atomic breath.
  • Deleted: The assassins are seen trying to escape Yokohama during Godzilla's landing.
  • Deleted: The Shobijin singing the song "Call Happiness" when calling for Mothra.

Box Office

In the original December 20th, 1964 Japanese release of the film, it had an attendance of 4,320,000 and grossed ¥210,000,000. In the film's theatrical re-issue on December 12th, 1971, it sold 1,090,000 tickets, adding up to a total of 5,410,000 attendees.

When Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster was released in the United States, its film rentals added up to roughly $1,300,000.


Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster is liked for its monster brawl and respected for being the film that started Godzilla's gradual change into a hero.

DVD and Blu-ray Releases

Toho DVD (2001)

  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: Japanese (1.0 and 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Japanese
  • Special Features: Audio commentary, isolated score, theatrical trailer, behind-the-scenes footage (11 minutes), Toho Storybook version of the film, 8mm version of the film (4 minutes)

Classic Media DVD (2007)[2]

  • Region: 1
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: Japanese (2.0 Mono), English (2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Special Features: Audio commentary by David Kalat, Eiji Tsuburaya featurette (7 minutes), poster slideshow
  • Notes: Read the details of the U.S. version's reconstruction here.

Toho Blu-ray (2010)

  • Region: A/1
  • Audio: Japanese

8-Films Blu-ray (2016)

  • Region: B/2
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: Japanese (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), German (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: German
  • Special Features: Audio commentary by Jörg Buttgereit and Bodo Traber, isolated score, Japanese and German trailers, interview with Shusuke Kaneko (21 minutes), behind-the-scenes footage (11 minutes)



Japanese Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster trailer
American Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster trailer
American Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster TV spot

End Titles

Original American Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster end title
Alan Enterprises American Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster revised end title


  • Not once (at least on-screen) does Godzilla use his atomic breath against King Ghidorah in battle, while he does use it repeatedly, with no apparent effect, against Rodan.
  • An early concept for King Ghidorah had him with rainbow-colored wings and a purple body with his three heads spitting fire from their mouths instead of gravity beams.
  • In Shinichi Sekizawa's screenplay for the film, all that is said in terms of a physical description of King Ghidorah is: "It has three heads, two tails, and a voice like a bell." From this, Eiji Tsuburaya designed King Ghidorah, which proved to be one of his most innovative and popular creations.
  • This film is the first Godzilla film not to feature any JSDF or military vehicles, such as tanks or jets.
  • This film marks the second screen appearance of Rodan, and the monster's first appearance in a Godzilla film.
  • This is the first film to portray Godzilla as a hero. Also, in the conversation with Mothra he states that he only hates humans because humans attack him with their weapons and military, suggesting that he was not really a villain in the first place.
  • In the American dub, when the Shobijin are translating Mothra, Rodan and Godzilla's conversation before Mothra goes on to fight King Ghidorah, the Shobijin exclaim "Oh Godzilla, what terrible language!" indicating that Godzilla was swearing.
  • There is only one Mothra larva in this film, and it is explained that the second larva died in between the previous film Mothra vs. Godzilla and this film.
  • The Godzilla suit used in this film was used previously in 1964 for Mothra vs. Godzilla. Nicknamed the "MosuGoji" suit, it is the first Godzilla suit to be used for more than one film. The suit's head had to be replaced due to damage sustained during filming for Mothra vs. Godzilla.
  • This was the first Godzilla film to introduce a monster taller than Godzilla.

External Links


This is a list of references for Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: [1]

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Era Icon - Showa.png
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Era Icon - Rodan.png
Era Icon - Mothra.png
Era Icon - King Ghidorah.png


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6 months ago
Score 0
My opinion: This is one of the much better installments, and it marks the beginning of an age which was by far the golden age of Godzilla. It also introduces King Ghidorah, one of the best of them all.

Toa Hydros

7 months ago
Score 0

My Thoughts: Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster

One of the stronger installments in the Showa era, and a pivotal one to boot.

Not only does this film introduce Godzilla's most renowned enemy, King Ghidorah, it also serves as a crossover with two of Toho's other monster films, making it very much the "Avengers" of its day and genre. Remember when people in the business actually knew crossovers and the like were what folks wanted to see? It wasn't until Marvel's superhero movies started up that the concept began to be taken seriously for the first time in many years.

But I digress. Anywho, the monster action is top notch for the Showa series; Goji's brawl with Rodan is pretty funny, while the final battle royal with Ghidorah is just classic.

The human characters, while not the strongest of the original series, are likable in they're own ways, and the Mothra Twins are always entertaining.

Overall, this is one of the crowning gems of the Showa series, and definitely worth a watch.