Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)

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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
Alternate Titles
Flagicon Japan.png Three Giant Monsters: Greatest Battle on Earth (1964)
Flagicon United States.png Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster (1965)
See alternate titles
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka
Written by Shinichi Sekizawa
Music by Akira Ifukube
Distributor TohoJP
Continental/Walter Reade OrganizationUS
Rating Not Rated
Box Office ¥210,000,000[1]
Running Time 93 minutesJP
(1 hour, 33 minutes)
85 minutesUS
(1 hour, 25 minutes)
Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Rate this film!
4.21
(38 votes)

Space Super Monster (King Ghidorah) attacks the Earth! Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra and the monster war of the century! (宇宙超怪獣(キングギドラ)地球を大襲撃!ゴジラ・ラドン・モスラと世紀の怪獣戦争!) „ 

— Tagline

Nothing the screen has ever shown before can surpass the thrills of Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster! Created from an atomic fireball hurled from outer space, Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster, threatens man's very existence on Earth! Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster, battles Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodan for mastery of the world! Quake before the terror of their unleashed fury! All new, all never to be forgotten! A new high in screen terror! „ 

— Trailer for the 1965 U.S. release

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.[2]

Plot

During an unseasonably warm winter night, reporter Naoko Shindo observes members of a UFO club searching the sky for flying saucers. When the club fails to spot any UFOs, the head member laments that the aliens won't reveal themselves because they brought a non-believer into their midst. Naoko incredulously asks if they actually believe aliens exist, to which the head of the club replies that there are many strange phenomena occurring across the globe, such as the incredibly warm temperatures in the winter months. Naoko asks if he thinks the world will explode, but he replies he simply feels something terrible will happen soon. Just then, a huge meteor shower falls over Japan, with one particularly large meteor crashing into the Kurobe valley. Meanwhile, Naoko's brother, Detective Shindo, is given an assignment by his chief of police. Shindo is assigned to act as the bodyguard for Princess Maas Selina Salno, ruler of the small Himalayan kingdom of Selgina, who will be visiting Japan to escape political opposition in her home country. While Princess Salno's plane is flying over Japan, she suddenly becomes possessed by a mysterious voice, who causes her to jump out of the plane immediately just before it is blown up by a bomb.

Professor Murai and his team arrived near Kurobe Dam and assigned to study the meteor that crashed in the Kurobe valley. As they approach, they find that their compasses are all malfunctioning. Once they reach the meteor, they discover that it is emitting a powerful magnetic force. They immediately begin studying the strange meteor, which they discover is slowly growing in size. Elsewhere in Japan, a mysterious woman appears and begins offering ominous predictions for the future. Naoko is sent to cover the prophetess, and attempts to gain an interview with her. When Naoko asks the prophetess where she is from, she claims to hail from Venus, and warns that terrible disasters will begin to befall the planet, starting at Mount Aso. When Shindo sees a picture of the prophetess, he notices she bears a strong resemblance to the Princess, and asks the chief to allow him to pursue the case. Meanwhile, the head of the political opposition in Selgina learns that a woman strongly resembling the Princess has been seen in Japan. He orders the assassin Malness, who had previously assassinated Princess Salno's father, to travel to Japan and finish the job, or be killed himself.

While searching for leads on the prophetess, Shindo encounters his sister, who is also looking for the prophetess to continue her story. The two of them go to a bar to meet with Murai, with whom Naoko is working on a story about the meteor in Kurobe. While they are at the bar, they see a news report on the television showing the prophetess speaking at Mt. Aso. She warns the surrounding crowds that volcanic gases accumulated inside the mountain will resurrect Rodan, but her warnings are laughed off by the crowd. However, true to her warnings, Rodan emerges from the crater and takes flight. As Rodan resumes his reign of terror across Japan, the Venusian reappears at a port, warning that the cruise ship preparing to leave there must not sail. The captain stubbornly refuses to heed her warnings, but the Shobijin, who are passengers on the ship, are intrigued by her prediction. Naoko arrives at the scene and convinces the prophetess to come with her to a hotel so she can do a story on her. Malness and his men follow them to the hotel, and enter the room when Naoko leaves. Malness tries to find out for certain that the woman is the Princess, and holds a knife to her throat to threaten her. Meanwhile, Shindo arrives at the hotel to try and secure the prophetess, believing her to be the Princess. When he enters the room, the Shobijin kill the lights and warn that killers are in the room. Shindo opens fire and chases the assassins off, and once the lights are turned back on he finds the prophetess meditating in a corner. Naoko asks why the Shobijin are here, and they reply that they are heeding the prophetess' warning.

True to the prophetess' prediction, the cruise ship is destroyed when Godzilla rises from the ocean and obliterates it with his atomic breath. Godzilla comes ashore and his attention is caught by Rodan flying overhead. Godzilla follows Rodan to the Mount Fuji area, where they begin a fierce battle. Shindo brings the prophetess to the laboratory of Dr. Tsukamoto, who attempts to diagnose whatever mental illness is affecting her. All of the doctor's attempts to get the truth out of the prophetess fail, and she still claims to be a Venusian. She claims that thousands of years ago, Venus was home to a great civilization far more advanced than Earth's. However, an evil space monster called King Ghidorah arrived on the planet and completely annihilated its civilization in a single day. The few Venusians that survived the attack fled to Earth, where they were assimilated into the planet's civilization and gradually lost their identity. She goes on to claim that she is one of the last descendants of the Venusian refugees, and retains her ancestors' power of prophecy. She warns that King Ghidorah has already arrived on Earth, and will do the same to it what he did to Venus thousands of years before.

In Kurobe, Murai and his men notice that the meteor's magnetism has seemingly stopped, and they have not noticed any more strange phenomena recently. Suddenly, the meteor begins emitting strong magnetism once again, and they resume their intense study of it. While they are sleeping one night, the meteor splits open and begins spewing sparks. Murai holds up a Geiger counter, which registers a strong radioactive reading. Soon, a pillar of flames blasts from the meteor into the sky, where it materializes into King Ghidorah, a three-headed golden dragon. King Ghidorah flies over Japan, blasting apart its cities with his gravity beams. With King Ghidorah, Godzilla, and Rodan terrorizing Japan, the government convenes an emergency meeting at the National Diet Building. Murai, Naoko and the Shobijin attend the meeting, and propose a desperate plan to get Mothra to battle King Ghidorah, like she did against Godzilla previously. The Shobijin warn that Mothra is still a larva, and cannot hope to stand against King Ghidorah on her own. But, they propose that if Mothra were to join forces with Godzilla and Rodan, the three of them could overcome the space monster. As King Ghidorah flies over Tokyo, the Cabinet begs the Shobijin to call Mothra. The Shobijin oblige, and Mothra sets off from Infant Island.

Back in Tsukamoto's laboratory, the doctor prepares to administer electroshock therapy to the prophetess and hopefully clear her mind. Shindo sets the voltage to the required level, after which Malness sneaks in and sets the voltage to a lethal level, letting Tsukamoto kill the princess for them. Just before the lethal shock can be administered, Rodan drops Godzilla onto a power pylon, knocking out all power in the area. As Malness and his men breach the laboratory and try to shoot the princess, Naoko and Murai arrive to tell Shindo about their plan. Shindo engages in a brief shootout with Malness and his men before they flee, then gets into a car with Tsukamoto, the prophetess, Murai, Naoko and the Shobijin. Once they reach a traffic jam, they exit the car and climb to a hill to witness Mothra attempt to convince Godzilla and Rodan to help her. As Godzilla and Rodan throw rocks back and forth at each other, Mothra arrives at Mt. Fuji and restrains them with silk. Godzilla and Rodan reluctantly stop their fight and listen to Mothra. The Shobijin translate the monsters' conversation, which begins with Mothra asking Godzilla and Rodan to help her fight King Ghidorah. They both refuse, saying they have no reason to help humanity, as humans have always attacked them. Mothra insists that the Earth belongs to all beings, not just humans or monsters, but Godzilla and Rodan each stubbornly refuse, each demanding the other apologize. With her pleas falling on deaf ears, Mothra gives up and attempts to battle King Ghidorah by herself. King Ghidorah lands near Mt. Fuji and repeatedly blasts Mothra aside with his gravity beams. Godzilla and Rodan are inspired by the larva's courage, and decide to help her battle King Ghidorah.

As the Earth monsters struggle against the space demon, Shindo notices that the prophetess has wandered off and is standing over a gorge, praying. Malness climbs to the top of the other side of the gorge and opens fire on the prophetess with a sniper rifle. One shot grazes her head and causes her to fall onto another ledge. Shindo jumps down to help her, and finds that she has returned to her right mind and now knows she is actually Princess Salno. As Malness opens fire on her and Shindo, the princess recognizes Malness and calls him a traitor. Just before Malness can kill either of them, one of King Ghidorah's stray gravity beams strikes the mountainside, causing an avalanche that sends Malness plummeting to his death in the gorge below. Tsukamoto and the others help Shindo and the princess to safety, while the Earth monsters gain the upper hand against King Ghidorah. When Mothra covers King Ghidorah in silk, Godzilla grabs him and throws him off a cliff, after which he begins pelting him with boulders. Finally, King Ghidorah takes flight and flees into space, while Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra look on.

Sometime later, Shindo, Tsukamoto, Naoko and Murai are present at the airport to bid farewell to the princess before she departs for Selgina. The princess asks Tsukamoto how she regained her consciousness, to which he replies it was the shock from being shot in the head. When she asks if her psychic abilities will ever return, Tsukamoto tells her it's impossible to tell. Just before she leaves, Princess Salno approaches Shindo and thanks him for saving her life three times. She says that the only things she can remember from when she thought she was a Venusian are the times when Shindo saved her. She assures Shindo that she will never forget him, then leaves in a plane. Elsewhere, Godzilla and Rodan watch from afar as Mothra and the Shobjin swim back to Infant Island.

Staff

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

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

Cast

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

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

Appearances

Monsters

Weapons, Vehicles, and Races

Gallery

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

Soundtrack

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[2]   [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.

Reception

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)[3]

  • 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)

Videos

Trailers

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

Trivia

  • 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.
  • A Natarl UFO prop from Battle in Outer Space can be seen in the office of the head of the UFO club in this film.

External Links

References

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]

Era Icon - Toho.png
Era Icon - Showa.png
Movie
Era Icon - Godzilla.png
Era Icon - Rodan.png
Era Icon - Mothra.png
Era Icon - King Ghidorah.png



Comments

Showing 6 comments. Remember to follow the civility guidelines when commenting.

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avatar

Gman2887

26 days ago
Score 0
To confirm, does the Toho Special Effects Monster Encyclopedia list this Rodan as one of the same from the 1956 film?
avatar

Les

26 days ago
Score 1
There is no official confirmation of if the Rodan from Rodan and the Rodan from Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster are one in the same, at least not from that specific book. The closest it gets to revealing anything is listing the 1950s Rodan's location of origin as "Underground near Mount Aso" (阿蘇山付近の地下) and the Ghidorah Rodan's as "Mount Aso, Kyushu" (九州・阿蘇山).
avatar

The King of the Monsters

25 days ago
Score 1

At the very least we know the 1964 Rodan came from the same location as the 1956 Rodans, as well as the same location they were seemingly killed. Princess Salno also says Rodan was "resurrected" by volcanic gases, as if implying it's one of the Rodans that was thought to be killed.

Japanese Wikipedia says the 1964 Rodan is one of the 1956 Rodans, but is called 2nd generation for "convenience only." It acknowledges the possibility of it being their offspring, but calls it a "popular fan theory."
avatar

Titanollante

2 months ago
Score 0

I watch Ghidorah Three Head Monster here thoughts:

It was very good. The characters were good, and really the best part was the Godzilla vs. Rodan fight and then the final fight. It was really funny Rodan and Godzilla acting like little kids and playing volleyball. I also really find it funny that Godzilla really loves to throw rocks around. Very fun movie.

I rate 🏯🏯🏯🏯.5 (4.5/5 pagodas)
avatar

Garfzilla

10 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.
avatar

Toa Hydros

11 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.