Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971)
The Smog Monster Hedorah arrives in a shooting star! Two giant monsters battle, crushing streets and forests underfoot! (流れ星でやって来た公害怪獣ヘドラ！ 街を森をふみつぶし二大怪獣が大決戦！)
— Japanese tagline
All life doomed as a hideous monster is spawned in the filth of pollution
— International tagline
Pollution's hideous spawn dooms the Earth to choking horror and pits... Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster. With deadly breath and venomous blood it slithers across the land. A poisoned slime in its wake... a trembling world in its path!
— American taglines
Godzilla vs. Hedorah (ゴジラ対ヘドラ is a Gojira tai Hedora)1971 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho, and the eleventh installment in the Godzilla series as well as the Showa series. The film was released to Japanese theaters on July 24, 1971.
With a strong environmentally-focused message, Godzilla vs. Hedorah features the Smog Monster Hedorah, who feeds on the pollution produced by mankind. As Hedorah continues to feed and evolve, Godzilla rises to confront the creature before it can threaten him as well as all of humanity. However, Hedorah is bolstered by mamnkind's pollution and continues to achieve larger and more powerful forms to the point it dwarfs even Godzilla, and causes horrific devastation to all of Japan. Marine biologist Toru Yano and his son Ken work to find a method to defeat Hedorah as Godzilla's war against the Smog Monster culminates in a decisive final battle atop Mount Fuji.
Young Ken Yano is playing outside with his Godzilla toys when his uncle Yukio Keuchi asks him if Godzilla is his favorite. Ken responds that to him, Godzilla is Superman. Local fisherman Gohei comes to the Yanos' home to show Ken's biologist father Toru a strange black tadpole he found. Dr. Yano is unable to identify the specimen, and asks where Gohei caught it. Gohei responds that he caught it in Suruga Bay, which is becoming more polluted by the day. Later, while watching the news, the family sees a report about an accident at Suruga Bay where a huge black monster attacked two oil tankers which had crashed. Ken immediately recognizes the monster as a larger version of the tadpole Gohei had brought over. Dr. Yano decides to investigate and dons a diving suit to explore Suruga Bay. Ken stays behind on the rocks to wait for his father. As Yano dives beneath Suruga Bay, he finds the sea floor polluted with all manner of garbage and even several dead waterfowl. While waiting for his father, Ken sees the huge monster tadpole from the television approaching him. The creature leaps from the water, with Ken defending himself with a knife. The knife slices harmlessly through the monster, which lands back in the water and swims toward Yano's location. Ken notices he is otherwise unharmed save for a burn on his hand, and calls out for his father and tells him he saw the monster. Beneath the surface, Yano sees the monster tadpole approaching and hides. He is however unable to escape the creature, which attacks him.
Following the attack, Dr. Yano is confined to bed rest with gruesome burns on his face. Reporters interview him and Ken about their encounter with the monster, which Ken has named Hedorah. Ken tells the reporters that Hedorah comes from the sludge dumped into the sea and feeds on pollution. Furthermore, he says there is more than just one Hedorah. Yano agrees with what his son has said, adding that the Hedorah they encountered was dangerous enough to severely burn his face. The reporters prepare to take pictures of Yano's injuries, but his wife Toshie asks them not to. Yano says he wants people to see pictures of him so they know how severe the threat is, and asks the reporters to take photos. Ken shows the reporters his hand, saying Hedorah got him too. Over the following days, numerous accidents occur involving tankers, all caused by the monster dubbed Hedorah. Ken has a dream where Godzilla arises to battle Hedorah in response to the severe pollution of the sea. He heads to his father's laboratory to tell his parents about his dream. Inside the lab, Dr. Yano finds that the Hedorah Gohei brought him has dried out and begun to crumble. He is shocked to find that the so-called tadpole is actually a mineral. He places powder from the Hedorah in water, where it forms into very small Hedorahs. He notices that when he places them in dirty water, they will combine into a larger Hedorah. He says this proves Ken's theory that Hedorah comes to life in polluted waters.
Yukio attends a nightclub where his girlfriend Miki Fujinomiya is performing. For a brief moment, he hallucinates that all of the patrons have fish heads. Not far from the club, Hedorah evolves into a terrestrial Landing Stage and crawls onto land in a port area. The Smog Monster approaches a nearby factory and places its head over the smokestack, breathing in the toxic pollutants and growing. The creature's feeding is interrupted when it overhears Godzilla's roar. Hedorah responds to the call with its own roar and watches as Godzilla approaches. Hedorah leaps at Godzilla, who manages to tear himself free of the monster's grip. Godzilla grabs Hedorah and swings it through the air, causing a chunk of its body to crash into the upstairs of the night club. Yukio, Miki, and all of the patrons then witness the fragment of Hedorah slither down the stairs before retreating back up, leaving a sludge-covered cat in its wake. Yukio and Miki escape to Yukio's car, from which they see Godzilla pursuing Hedorah. The monsters exchange taunts, with Hedorah seemingly mocking Godzilla's own gestures. They begin to fight again as Hedorah leaps at Godzilla but misses. Godzilla fires his atomic breath at Hedorah when it is on the ground, but this only causes his enemy to spark. Hedorah quickly retreats into the ocean, with Godzilla in hot pursuit. Godzilla fires his atomic breath in the water, trying to hit Hedorah, but to no avail.
In the aftermath of the battle, Yukio takes Dr. Yano to the area in the port where he saw Hedorah spark. Yano asks his family to harvest as many samples of ash in the area that they can find. Back in his lab, Yano has uncovered the secret to Hedorah's biology. The creature is composed of an undiscovered element he calls Hedrium. Hedrium absorbs tocins and pollutants which are converted into energy for Hedorah. Thus, Hedorah literally feeds on manmade pollution. Miki asks if this would solve their pollution problem, but Yano responds that it would make things far worse. When Hedrium reacts with pollutants, it produces sulfuric acid, the same acid which caused the burns on his face. When it feeds on pollutants, Hedorah produces a deadly sulfuric smog which corroded metal in the area where it came a shore. While it absorbs manmade pollutants, Hedorah creates its own toxic smog that is far more deadly. Yano believes Hedorah is an alien which came to Earth on a comet, likely originating from a dark, sticky planet somewhere far away from Earth. Miki and Yukio take Ken to an amusement park on a bright and sunny day, when it is believed Hedorah won't come ashore. Ken sees Godzilla in the distance while he is on a rollercoaster, and quickly gets off once the ride stops and runs off to call his father. He calls his father from a phone booth and says that if Godzilla is here, Hedorah must be as well. Yano tells his son to go to his mother's school, but their call is cut off by an explosion. Ken ducks as the explosion rocks the phone booth. When he is unable to contact his father, he runs away. Oil tanks at a nearby refinery begin to explode, and from the smoke emerges Hedorah in its new Flying Stage. Yukio and Miki try to pursue Ken in their car, but find it has stalled just before they see sludge running down the windshield. The two bail from the car as it is pulled in by Hedorah along with surrounding traffic. Hedorah takes flight once more and passes over the school where Toshie teaches, causing the students to collapse and choke for air as the plants wither around them. Godzilla confronts Hedorah near a factory, grabbing it from the air and throwing it to the ground. Godzilla punches Hedorah, but the blow is harmlessly absorbed by Hedorah's amorphous body. Hedorah takes flight again, spraying its sulfuric acid mist directly into Godzilla's face, causing him to fall to the ground gasping for air as the factory explodes around him. Hedorah flies above a fleeing crowd, its sulfuric mist reducing them to skeletons in a matter of moments. The creature then flies over a construction site, melting the metal girders with its sulfuric acid mist.
In the aftermath of Hedorah's daytime raid, Fuji City is enveloped in toxic smog as casualties number in the thousands. Rescue workers are hindered by the smog, as bodies reportedly pile up in the streets. It is clear that no time of day or place is safe from Hedorah, which against expectations came ashore on a clear day and now has the ability to fly. Humanity is left to wonder which new terrifying form the creature while assume. Yukio meanwhile has organized a party for the youth at the top of Mount Fuji in a final act of defiance against Hedorah before it conquers all of Japan. Back at his home, Toru struggles to think of any way of stopping Hedorah. It is possible that oxygen may deter its growth, but this seems insufficient to defeat it. Ken proposes that if Hedorah is made of sludge, they should be able to just dry it out. This suggestion gives Yano an idea. He places a small Hedorah between two electrode panels, a method utilized to dry fields in Hokkaido. He activates the electrodes, which release an electrical current that dries out the Hedorah in a matter of moments. With this method proving effective, Yano decides to contact the JSDF to reproduce the electrodes on a larger scale.
Ken attends the party at Mt. Fuji with Yukio and Miki, but has a vision of Godzilla while he is there. He warns the others that Hedorah must be coming as well, which is proven to be true as the roars of both monsters are heard. Godzilla fires his atomic breath at Hedorah as it flies overhead, but it dodges the blast. Hedorah knocks Godzilla down with its Hedrium Light Ray then touches down and metamorphoses into its colossal Perfect Stage, which far exceeds Godzilla's size. Hedorah makes its way toward the partygoers. Yukio and the others throw torches at Hedorah, who retaliates by firing sludge at them, killing many of them including Yukio. Miki and Ken watch helplessly as Hedorah continues its advance. Godzilla confronts his now-larger enemy before it can reach the survivors, hitting a rock with his tail to distract Hedorah. When the monster turns, Godzilla plunges his fist into Hedorah's eye, which bleeds profusely before Hedorah forces it closed. Hedorah's acidic blood burns the flesh off of Godzilla's hand down to the bone. Hedorah counterattacks Godzilla with blasts of acidic sludge from its body which cost Godzilla his eye, and its deadly Hedrium Light Ray. Hedorah transforms into its Flying Stage and lifts and drops Godzilla into a pit, then changes back and proceeds to nearly drown Godzilla in sludge. Godzilla escapes the pit and the two monsters roll down the hillside, damaging the power lines powering the Giant Electrode nearby. Hedorah is drawn by flashing headlights in front of the Electrode and flies there. Yano and Toshie arrive after learning that Ken is in danger and watch as the JSDF works to get the Giant Electrode working in time. Helicopters try to distract Hedorah with oxygen bombs, but it blasts them out of the sky with its Hedrium Light Ray. Hedorah continues advancing toward the trucks flashing their headlights and passes in front of the Giant Electrode. Suddenly, Godzilla fires his atomic breath at the Electrode which powers it on. The electrical current causes Hedorah to writhe in agony before falling to the ground as a dried husk. Godzilla approaches the fallen Hedorah and tears out its eyeballs before powering on the Electrode once more. The eyeballs are reduced to piles of ash in Godzilla's hands. Godzilla inspects Hedorah's carcass before walking away. However, he strikes a rock into Hedorah's carcass with his tail, only for the husk to split open and a Flying Stage Hedorah to fly out. Godzilla calmly holds his arms apart and fires his atomic breath at the ground, causing him to lift off into the air. Godzilla chases down Hedorah and knocks it out of the sky. Hedorah transforms into its Landing Stage, but is no match for Godzilla anymore and is easily subdued. Godzilla grabs Hedorah and flies back to the Giant Electrode. The JSDF activates it, but blows a fuse. Godzilla shakes his head in disappointment and again fires his atomic breath, powering on the Electrode. Hedorah is again dried into a husk, but this time Godzilla tears into it to expose every square inch of moisture that could reanimate into another Hedorah. He then activates the Electrode and completely dries out all of Hedorah's remains, leaving no chance of the monster coming back to life. Godzilla briefly turns his head toward the onlooking humans before walking away. Ken and Miki follow Godzilla as he walks down the slopes of Mt. Fuji, with Ken calling after his hero. While Godzilla is victorious, continuing rampant pollution means that the emergence of a second Hedorah may not be out of the question.
- Main article: Godzilla vs. Hedorah/Credits.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Yoshimitsu Banno
- Written by Yoshimitsu Banno, Kaoru Mabuchi
- Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka
- Music by Riichiro Manabe
- Cinematography by Yoichi Manoda
- Edited by Yoshitami Kuroiwa
- Production design by Taiko Inoue
- Director of special effects Teruyoshi Nakano
- Assistant director of special effects Koichi Kawakita
- "Return the Sun!" performed by Mari Keiko, Honey Knights, Moon Drops
- Lyrics by Yoshimitsu Banno
- Arranged by Hiroshi Takada
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Akira Yamauchi as Dr. Toru Yano
- Hiroyuki Kawase as Ken Yano
- Toshie Kimura as Toshie Yano, Ken's mother
- Mari Keiko as Miki Fujinomiya
- Toshio Shibaki as Yukio Keuchi
- Yoshio Yoshida as Gohei, fisherman
- Haruo Suzuki as Suzuki, JSDF senior officer
- Yoshio Katsube as Katsube, JSDF technical officer
- Tadashi Okabe as Scholar
- Yasuzo Ogawa as Person
- Wataru Omae as Officer
- Eizaburo Komatsu, Koji Uruki as Non-commissioned officers
- Yukihiko Gondo as Helicopter pilot
- Tatsuhito Go as Young person
- Kentaro Watanabe as Himself, announcer
- Tatsu Okabe as Himself, announcer
- Kazuo Imai, Saburo Kadowaki, Masaki Shinohara, Nobuo Katsura as Mahjong players (uncredited)
- Akio Kusama, Soji Ubukata as People on TV screen (uncredited)
- Shigeo Kato as Construction worker (uncredited)
- Yutaka Oka as Non-commissioned officer (uncredited)
- Kenpachiro Satsuma as Hedorah (as Kengo Nakayama)
- Haruo Nakajima as Godzilla / man on TV screen / non-commissioned officer
International English dub
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
Titan Productions English dub
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Bernard Grant as Dr. Toru Yano
- Peter Fernandez as Yukio Keuchi
- Lucy Martin as Toshie Yano
- Earl Hammond as JSDF officer
Weapons, vehicles, and races
- Main article: Godzilla vs. Hedorah/Gallery.
- Main article: Godzilla vs. Hedorah (Soundtrack).
- Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (United States)
- Hedorah, the Toxic Bubble (Hedorah, la burbuja tóxica; Spain)
- Godzilla Against Monsters of Smog (Godzilla contra monstruos del smog; Mexico)
- The Monsters of Smog (Los monstruos del smog; Mexico)
- Frankenstein's Battle Against the Devil Monsters (Frankensteins Kampf gegen die Teufelsmonster; Germany)
- Godzilla: Fury of the Monster (Godzilla - Furia di Mostri; Italy)
- Godzilla Against the Monster of Fog (Godzilla contre le monstre du brouillard; French Belgium)
- Godzilla Against Hedorah (Godzilla kontra Hedora; Poland)
- Satan's Creature (Satans creatuur; Netherlands)
- Monster Hedorah (Canavar Hedorah; Turkey)
- The Monsters Invade Earth (Os Monstros Invadem a Terra; Brazil)
View all posters for the film here.
- Japan - July 24, 1971 [view poster]
- United States - April 1972 [view poster]
- Germany - December 10, 1971 [view poster]
- Spain - 1971
- Italy - 1972 [view poster]
- Belgium - 1972
- Brazil - October 1972
- Mexico - 1973 [view poster]
- Poland - 1973 [view poster]
- United Kingdom - April 1975
- Turkey [view poster]
- Israel [view poster]
Godzilla vs. Hedorah was released theatrically in the United States in February 1972 by American International Pictures, under the title Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster. It was dubbed into English by Titan Productions, in the company's last work on a Godzilla film. No footage was cut or replaced, apart from shots of Japanese text. Notably, the anti-pollution song which reappears throughout the film, "Return the Sun!", was replaced by a new version with English lyrics called "Save the Earth," written by Adryan Russ and Guy Hemric and performed by Russ. The AIP version of the film is only available on VHS and LaserDisc.
Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster was initially rated PG by the MPAA, but re-rated G despite the unusual amount of on-screen death for a kaiju film. When TriStar Pictures released the international version of the film on DVD, it was rated PG once more. The film does not appear to have been widely released as a double feature, though 103 theaters in the New York City area paired it with Frogs and five Houston theaters with Yog, Monster from Space.
Prior to AIP's Americanization, Toho commissioned an international English dub from a company in Hong Kong, which went unreleased in English speaking territories until the Sci-Fi Channel aired it on January 20, 1996. It has since been included on the DVD and Blu-ray releases by Power Multimedia, Columbia TriStar Home Video, Madman Entertainment, and Kraken Releasing.
Godzilla vs. Hedorah was the main feature of the 1971 Summer Toho Champion Film Festival, alongside an edited version of episodes 5 and 6 of The Return of Ultraman, simply titled The Return of Ultraman, and various cartoons. It recorded 1,740,000 admissions, grossing ¥300,000,000 against a budget of ¥90,000,000. It was Toho's second-highest earner in 1971, and fifth among Japanese films overall.
Godzilla vs. Hedorah was panned by the few Japanese critics who reviewed it, with the exception of the Yomiuri Shimbun. It was mentioned in passing by New York Times critic Vincent Canby in his review of Frogs, with Godzilla described as "a sort of Japanese Smokey the Bear... looking as embarrassed and pious as an elderly clergyman at a charity masquerade ball." Writing for the British Monthly Film Bulletin, David McGillivray remarked that, "Times certainly have changed since the days when Godzilla was an 'X' certified Thing bent on destroying Tokyo. Today he is a comic figure (with his own signature tune) obligated to save mankind from destroying itself by way of water and atmospheric pollution." He concluded by saying, "[T]here is scarcely a minute when the monsters are not exploding something or other with their death rays. Eight-five minutes of such excess is a little wearying, although one has to admire Toho's public-spirited enthusiasm." Boxoffice, in its Review Digest, simply rated the film "good."
Among genre fans, Godzilla vs. Hedorah has long sparked divisive opinions, though they are generally more favorable now than in past decades. In G-Fan's reader surveys, its rating has consistently risen, from 5.81 in 1996 (18th out of 22 Godzilla films) to 7 in 2014 (19th of 29). Praise for the movie tends to focus on its experimental style, powerful anti-pollution message, and Hedorah's strength as a villain, while criticism targets the frequent shifts in tone, Riichiro Manabe's score, and, most prominently, the decision to make Godzilla fly. Scott Ashlin, writing for the website 10,000 Misspent Hours, encapsulates those mixed opinions: "I'm not sure I've seen such an intractable tangle of the laugh-out-loud stupid and the chills-up-the-spine disturbing in one movie, ever. Yeah, this is the flick in which Godzilla flies by using his atomic breath as a jet engine, but it’s also the one in which entire crowds of extras melt away into muddy skeletons as Hedorah flies overhead."
Steve Ryfle thought poorly of the way the film's message was presented, saying, "The problem is that its treatment of pollution is visually didactic and dramatically childish... the issue of pollution is reduced to terms a child can understand (a monster) and its root causes are never discussed, making it hard to take the picture seriously." David Kalat noted the film's many parallels with the original Godzilla - the on-screen suffering of civilians, Dr. Yano's damaged eye, fish killed by chemicals in a tank, the ending raising the prospect of a second Hedorah, and an allegorical monster who "embodies and symbolizes humanity's poison (industrial pollution) without assigning responsibility to any one person or group." Godzilla, no longer the villain, also departs from the role of heroic kaiju in many of Toho's 1960's films, as he is "not recruited by any human interest group. In fact, Godzilla saves the human race only as a side effect of battling Hedorah, which Godzilla does for his own reasons. Godzilla acts as a free agent, motivated by his own agenda. Hedorah threatens the world, so Godzilla acts to save it." The film is, in his estimation, "a cynical, depressing picture with no real hope for the future. The authorities are stupid and incompetent, and the counter-cultural youth movement is also stupid and incompetent. Industry, which caused the problem in the first place, makes no effort to redress their wrongs."
On his blog, artist Matt Frank suggests that Banno's documentarian background should be taken into account when considering the film's unique style: "The various animated segments call to mind the chapter-breaks in a documentary. The other cutaways and non sequiturs, such as the television interview, the collage of people shouting (not to mention the baby submerged in sludge) all remind me of something you’d see in a Michael Moore-style production highlighting the effect of pollution and the public's call to action."
Power Multimedia DVD (1999)
- Region: N/A
- Discs: 1
- Audio: English (Mono, international dub), Mandarin (Mono)
- Subtitles: English, Chinese (traditional and simplified)
- Special features: None
- Notes: Presents an unaltered 16mm transfer of the film's international version, albeit cropped to 1.33:1. Out of print.
Toho DVD (2004)
- Region: 2
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Mono and 5.1 Surround)
- Subtitles: Japanese
- Special features: Audio commentary by special effects director Teruyoshi Nakano, Japanese theatrical trailer, scans from publicity material, "Return the Sun!" sing-along, scans of publicity materials, behind-the-scenes video of Hedorah (2 minutes)
- Region: 1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese, English (2.0 Mono, international dub)
- Subtitles: English, French
- Special features: Trailers
- Notes: Out of print.
Madman Entertainment DVD (2006)
- Region: 4
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Mono, 5.1 Surround), English (2.0 Mono, international dub)
- Subtitles: English
- Special features: Japanese theatrical trailer, poster gallery
Kraken Releasing DVD/Blu-ray (2014)
- Region: 1 (DVD) or A/1 (Blu-ray)
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese, English (2.0 Mono, international dub)
- Subtitles: English
- Special features: Japanese trailer
- Notes: Subtitles alternate between translating the Japanese dialogue and following the English dub. "Return the Sun!" is not translated.
- Region: A/1 or B/2
- Discs: 8
- Audio: Japanese
- Subtitles: English
- Special features: All bonus features on Criterion's Godzilla Blu-ray, 1990 Ishiro Honda interview by Yoshimitsu Banno, interview with director Alex Cox, interviews with actors Bin Furuya and Tsugutoshi Komada, 2011 interview with critic Tadao Sato, unused effects sequences from Toho releases including Destroy All Monsters, trailers, illustrated hardcover book with an essay by Steve Ryfle and liner notes on each film by Ed Godziszewski
- Notes: Uses a new English subtitle translation. Sony distributed a Region B/2 version of the set in the United Kingdom.
Behind the scenes
- Godzilla vs. Hedorah includes a scene that is the first, and only, time Godzilla demonstrated the ability of flight in a film, using his atomic breath as jet propulsion. Yoshimitsu Banno reportedly added the scene to provide a light moment in what is otherwise a fairly dark movie compared to many of those which preceded it. Godzilla also demonstrated this ability in the comic series Godzilla: Ongoing and in Bandai Namco's Godzilla.
- Despite Tomoyuki Tanaka reportedly prohibiting Yoshimitsu Banno from ever working on another Godzilla film, Toho attempted to produce a sequel to Godzilla vs. Hedorah with Banno as director, though this never made it past the concept stage. After Tanaka's death, Banno attempted to create a spiritual successor to Godzilla vs. Hedorah called Godzilla 3-D, which was scrapped in favor of Legendary Pictures' Godzilla, for which Banno was credited as an executive producer.
- During the fight against Hedorah in the countryside, Godzilla tries to fend off one of Hedorah's eye beams by forming a cross with his arms, a reference to the pose Ultraman strikes when firing his Specium Ray.
- Hedorah is the last monster that Godzilla battles in the Showa series that acts independently and is not under the control of some other being.
- Godzilla vs. Hedorah was released at Toho's Summer Champion Film Festival alongside a theatrical release of episodes 5 and 6 of The Return of Ultraman which were edited together as well as several cartoons.
- Comparison of the film's two English dubs
- English visuals from Ken's poem in the international version, which were not included in TriStar and Kraken's DVD and Blu-ray releases
- Scans of AIP's Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster pressbook
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