Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
Just for you, I won't give up!
At the end of the century, the greatest battle has begun!
— Japanese taglines
Godzilla is back. This time, it's for good!
— North American VHS tagline
Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (ゴジラＶＳキングギドラ Gojira tai Kingu Gidora) is a 1991 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho, and the eighteenth installment in the Godzilla series, as well as the third in the Heisei series. The film was released to Japanese theaters on December 14, 1991.
Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah brings back Godzilla's arch-enemy, King Ghidorah, for the new Heisei series of films. Still weakened from the Anti-Nuclear Energy Bacteria following his battle with Biollante, Godzilla has remained dormant in the Sea of Japan for two years. However, a group of time travelers from the year 2204 arrive in Japan and warn that Godzilla will soon return and destroy the nation. To prevent this, they undertake a mission to 1944 to remove a dinosaur from Lagos Island before it can be mutated into Godzilla by the Castle Bravo H-bomb test conducted at nearby Bikini Atoll. The Futurians have other goals though, leaving behind three creatures called Dorats on the island which are exposed to the bomb in the dinosaur's place and become the three-headed terror King Ghidorah. As King Ghidorah terrorizes Japan, the government enacts a desperate plan to recreate Godzilla with a nuclear submarine, but it turns out that Godzilla was not actually erased from history as thought. After destroying and absorbing the energy from the nuclear sub, the empowered Godzilla prepares to face King Ghidorah himself.
In the year 2204, a submarine discovers the seemingly lifeless two-headed body of King Ghidorah at the bottom of the Sea of Okhotsk. Inside the submersible, a young woman confirms that Ghidorah had fought Godzilla at the end of the 20th century.
One night during the summer of 1992, an enormous unidentified flying object is observed at various points over Japan, including Tokyo. While the news media attempts to explain the strange phenomenon, Kenichiro Terasawa, a writer for Super Mystery Magazine MU, instead sets out to interview an old man who'd made news for protesting a dinosaur exhibit at a museum. The old man tells Terasawa a story of how, in 1944, a dinosaur saved his garrison from an American attack at Lagos Island, a story which is later confirmed by Yasuaki Shindo, the former Lagos garrison commander and present head of the Teiyo Group, a massive corporation he'd established in postwar Japan. In the course of his research, Terasawa develops a hypothesis that the dinosaur was exposed to radioactive fallout from H-bomb tests in 1954, irradiating the creature and transforming it into Godzilla.
Meanwhile, the JSDF tracks the UFO's movements over the Pacific Ocean, and it's discovered that the ship had visited Godzilla, who has been dormant since receiving a large dose of Anti-Nuclear Energy Bacteria and a battle with Biollante. The UFO soon lands at Mount Fuji and the inhabitants introduce themselves to the Japanese government: they are the westerners Wilson and Glenchiko, and the Japanese woman Emmy Kano, all three delegates from 2204 A.D. They reveal they've traveled through time to warn Japan of its grave future: due to industrialization and nuclear power, Godzilla will reappear and destroy Japan once and for all. As evidence, they present the book that Terasawa will write in the future, entitled The Birth of Godzilla. With the government's agreement, the Futurians organize a trip back to Lagos Island in 1944 to transport the Godzillasaurus to the Bering Sea, where it won't be mutated by the H-bomb, thus preventing Japan's destruction. In addition to Emmy and M11, the futurians' android, three people from the 20th century are invited to oversee the mission: Terasawa, Miki Saegusa, and Professor Mazaki, a paleontologist and one of Terasawa's associates. Also making the trip are three Dorats, the Futurians' genetically-engineered pets, ostensibly to provide companionship to the five time travelers.
The group from 1992 successfully arrives at its historical destination, where they secretly observe the battle between Imperial Japanese forces and American marines. The depleted Japanese garrison is overwhelmed and almost eliminated by the U.S. landing unit. The furious battle, however, disturbs the Godzillasaurus. The Japanese soldiers retreat while the Americans turn their attention to the angry dinosaur. It tramples the Americans, who call for backup. Offshore, their destroyers shell the island and gravely injure the Godzillasaurus in the process, but not before it finishes off its land-based attackers. Miki positively identifies the dinosaur as Godzilla, so the time travelers begin plans for teleportation. They advance in time roughly one week and observe the Japanese unit's departure, including Lt. Shindo's tearful farewell to the dinosaur, whom he credits with saving his life. M11 then teleports the dinosaur to the bottom of the Bering Sea. As the group prepares to time warp back to 1992, Emmy clandestinely releases the Dorats onto the island.
Back in 1992, it's confirmed that the mission was successful and Godzilla has disappeared. Glenchiko, however, reveals that the unforeseen has occurred: at the moment Godzilla disappeared, another monster called King Ghidorah appeared over the Pacific, heading for Japan. The three-headed creature ravages Fukuoka and begins moving northward through Kyushu. While the government struggles to grasp the connection between the two monsters, Miki concludes that King Ghidorah must have been created by the Dorats' exposure to the nuclear tests at Lagos Island, thus implicating the Futurians in the new monster's rampage.
Deeply upset by the latest turn of events, Emmy comes clean to Terasawa about the true nature of the Futurians' visit. In her future, Japan has become the preeminent world superpower, thanks to its meteoric economic expansion. In time, she says, the nation will become so corrupt and wealthy that it will buy entire countries and even continents. To counteract its domination, people from around the world unite to form the Equal Environment Earth Union, the group to which the Futurians belong. Extremists Wilson and Glenchiko, along with moderate Emmy, stole the time machine to create King Ghidorah and to use it to extort the 20th century Japan, preventing its future ascension. The story about Godzilla's revival and subsequent destruction of Japan was merely a lie to force the Japanese people to cooperate. In Emmy's view, however, Wilson has gone too far, as he's now using King Ghidorah to completely destroy Japan.
The government desperately formulates a plan to mutate the Godzillasaurus into Godzilla, who they perceive to be the only force powerful enough to defeat King Ghidorah and the Futurians. Despite the protests of certain civilian factions, Shindo's Teiyo Group provides a submarine armed with nuclear warheads for the task, dubbed "Operation G". Shortly thereafter, Miki senses Godzilla—not the Godzillasaurus—at the bottom of the Bering Sea. Emmy proposes that the dinosaur might have come in contact with radioactive material; Terasawa discovers that a nuclear submarine had previously disappeared in the Bering Sea where the Godzillasaurus had been transported. He realizes that this must have mutated the dinosaur, and thermal satellite images indeed confirm the existence of the 80-meter Godzilla where Miki had sensed him. But before they can warn the government, Godzilla destroys the submarine and consumes its energy, growing even larger in size and strength. Freshly energized, Godzilla comes ashore in Hokkaido.
Wilson and Glenchiko, realizing that the birth of Godzilla was an unavoidable event in the 20th century, send King Ghidorah to combat Godzilla. The monsters trade devastating blows, but Ghidorah gains the upper hand as it strangles Godzilla. Hundreds of miles away, on the Futurian UFO, Emmy, Terasawa and a reprogrammed M11 sabotage the monster control device. Godzilla seizes the opportunity and pummels his uncontrolled three-headed foe. With a supercharged atomic ray, Godzilla decapitates Ghidorah's middle head. King Ghidorah flies away, but succumbs to its wounds and crashes into the Sea of Okhotsk. Emmy confronts Wilson, whose plan has been foiled. Unbeknownst to her, however, Wilson plans to escape to the 23rd century. King Ghidorah may have lost, but Wilson reasons that the new Godzilla will finish off the ailing nation. Emmy, Terasawa, and M11 temporarily subdue Wilson and Glenchiko and escape the UFO in the smaller KIDS time-transport ship. From there, M11 teleports the mothership—with Wilson and Glenchiko aboard—to Hokkaido, where it's destroyed by Godzilla.
Godzilla is engaged by a Maser brigade in Sapporo but it fast becomes apparent that the nuclear monster is unstoppable. M11's computer simulations show that Godzilla will not stop until he strikes Tokyo. Emmy proposes returning to her time to use 23rd century technology to revive King Ghidorah, with which she'll defend 20th century Japan. In the meantime, Godzilla reaches and lays waste to Tokyo. In Shinjuku, in a penthouse atop his skyscraper, Shindo watches helplessly as his former savior destroys the city that he'd helped rebuild. Godzilla in turn sees Shindo, and the two share a moment of recognition. Shindo accepts his fate as Godzilla incinerates him with his atomic ray.
The sky flashes as Emmy arrives from the future. Her mission was successful: King Ghidorah had remained alive long enough for her government to convert it into the cybernetic being Mecha-King Ghidorah. The enormous monster engages Godzilla in battle in the midst of Shinjuku's towering skyscrapers. Even aided with future technology, Mecha-Ghidorah is no match for Godzilla's heat ray. Emmy arms the Godzilla Grip system, grappling cables which ensnare Godzilla. The mechanical dragon rises into the sky, with Godzilla in tow, and flies out to sea. Godzilla's ray tears through Ghidorah's wings and both monsters crash into the deep. The KIDS transport erupts from the ocean, revealing to her 20th century friends that Emmy had survived the battle. Before warping back to the the future, Emmy privately bids farewell to her country, and to Terasawa, whom she identifies as one of her ancestors.
At the bottom of the sea, entangled in Mecha-King Ghidorah's remains, Godzilla awakens.
- Main article: Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah/Credits.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Kazuki Omori
- Written by Kazuki Omori
- Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka, Shogo Tomiyama
- Music by Akira Ifukube
- Cinematography by Yoshinori Sekiguchi
- Edited by Michiko Ikeda
- Production design by Tadashi Sakai
- Assistant directing by Okihiro Yoneda
- Special effects by Koichi Kawakita
- Main article: Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah/Credits.
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Anna Nakagawa as Emmy Kano, Futurian
- Kosuke Toyohara as Kenichiro Terasawa, writer for Mu magazine
- Megumi Odaka as Miki Saegusa
- Kiwako Harada as Chiaki Moriyuma, editor for Mu magazine
- Shoji Kobayashi as Ryuzo Dobashi, Cabinet Security Director
- Katsuhiko Sasaki as Professor Hironori Mazaki
- Chuck Wilson as Wilson, Futurian
- So Yamamura as Prime Minister Hayashida
- Koichi Ueda as Masukichi Ikehata, former Lagos Island Japanese Army soldier
- Richard Berger as Glenchico, Futurian
- Robert Scott Field as M11
- Tokuma Nishioka as Professor Takehito Fujio, Director of National Institute of Science and Technology
- Yoshio Tsuchiya as Yasuaki Shindo, Chairman of the Teiyo Group
- Saburo Tokito as Reporter
- Junichi Yaoi as Himself
- Kent Gilbert as U.S. Navy Colonel
- Daniel Kahl as Major Spielberg
- Jeff Berklund as U.S. Navy Aide
- Ginnosuke Azuma as Morrys
- Shinji Morisue as Photographer
- Shingo Kazami as National Institute of Science and Technology staff member
- Ryoto Yoshimitsu as Shindo's secretary
- Kenji Sahara as Defense Minister Takayuki Segawa
- Susumu Kurobe as Fuyuki Takaoka, Air SDF Chief of Staff
- Kazuyuki Senba as Integrated Chiefs of Staff Conference chairperson
- Kenzo Hagiwara as Takeo Shimura, Ground SDF Chief of Staff
- Shin Tatsuma as Daisuke Hirata, Maritime SDF Chief of Staff
- Tetsu Watanabe as Lagos Island Japanese Army Sergeant
- Shigemitsu Ogi as JSDF Information Office member
- Shoichiro Sakata as JSDF Information Office member
- Yasushi Inoue as JSDF Information Office member
- Muneyoshi Akita as JSDF Information Office member
- Michael Foucannon as M101
- Mark Foucannon as M102
- Chuko Fujimoto as Newscaster
- Kenpachiro Satsuma as Godzilla
- Hurricane Ryu Hariken as King Ghidorah
- Wataru Fukuda as Godzillasaurus
Omni Productions English dub
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Sarah Hauser as Emmy Kano, Futurian
- John Culkin as Kenichiro Terasawa, writer for Mu magazine
- Stuart Onslow-Smith as Professor Hironori Mazaki
- Pierre Tremblay as Wilson, Futurian / M11 / Junichi Yaoi / Masukichi Ikehata, former Lagos Island Japanese Army soldier / U.S. Navy Colonel
- Chris Hilton as Professor Takehito Fujio, Director of National Institute of Science and Technology
- Rik Thomas as Yasuaki Shindo, Chairman of the Teiyo Group / Prime Minister Hayashida / Morrys
- Warren Rooke as Defense Minister Takayuki Segawa
- Jack Murphy as Shindo's secretary
Weapons, vehicles, and races
- Main article: Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah/Gallery.
- Main article: Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (Soundtrack).
- Godzilla vs. King Ghidora (international title)
- Godzilla vs. Kingghidora (alternate rendering)
- Godzilla: Duel of the Megasaurians (Godzilla – Duell der Megasaurier; Germany)
- Godzilla Against the Evil Monster (Godzilla Contra o Monstro do Mal; Brazil)
- Godzilla Against King Guidora (Godzilla Contra King Guidora; Brazilian television title)
- Godzilla Against King Ghidorah (Godzilla Kontra Król Ghidorah; Poland; Godzilla contra King Ghidorah; Spain)
- Godzilla Against King Ghidrah (Godzilla Contra King Ghidrah; Portugal)
- Godzilla Against King Ghidora (Godzilla contro King Ghidora; Italy)
- Godzilla Against King Guidorah (Godzilla contra King Guidorah; Spain (Catalonia))
- The War of the Dinosaurs (La Guerra de los Dinosaurios; Argentina)
- War Dragon Godzilla (戰龍哥斯拉; Hong Kong)
View all posters for the film here.
- Japan - December 14, 1991 [view poster]
- Thailand - 1991 [view poster]
- Germany - March 26, 1992 [view poster]
TriStar Pictures released Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah to VHS on April 28, 1998, along with Godzilla vs. Mothra. The film was titled Godzilla vs. King Ghidora for this release, though only on cover art (later releases would correct this to "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah"). Like what Miramax had done for Godzilla vs. Biollante in 1992, TriStar elected to simply use Toho's international English dub for the film, which was done by Omni Productions. The only edits TriStar made to the film involved on-screen text and the end credits. Rather than use Toho's international title card, TriStar included the Japanese title card with "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah" in parentheses at the bottom of the screen. TriStar also provided its own English-language opening credits and cut the end credits, replacing them with a black screen including copyright information.
A fullscreen DVD release followed on November 3, 1998, on a double-sided disc with Godzilla vs. Mothra. This DVD is also included in The Toho Godzilla Collection, Volume 2, along with Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla, Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, Rebirth of Mothra, and Rebirth of Mothra II, along with the 13-Film Collection, which adds Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II and the six Godzilla films from the Millennium era, and a Triple Feature with Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. Sony paired it with Godzilla vs. Mothra again for a two-disc Blu-ray release on May 6, 2014. Aside from presenting the film in its original aspect ratio, the Blu-ray includes a Japanese audio option, although some lines in the subtitles are copied verbatim from the English dub. Sony recreated the English visuals in the TriStar version, including the truncated end credits. Changes include the misspelling of Koichi Kawakita's name ("Kopichi Kawakita") and a repositioned English title card.
In 2013, SciFi Japan co-founder Keith Aiken disclosed that Sony's rights to Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah and Godzilla vs. Mothra would be up for renewal in 2019. Sony appears to have let their rights lapse, as prices for the film's individual DVD and Blu-ray releases have begun to climb on Amazon and eBay, and it is no longer available for digital rental or purchase on any platform.
Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah had a budget of ¥1.5 billion, or roughly $12 million. When the film was released in Japan on December 14, 1991, it had an attendance of 2.7 million and grossed ¥1.45 billion, making it the 8th highest grossing Japanese film of 1992.
Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah is generally well-received by fans. Internet critic James Rolfe (AKA the Angry Video Game Nerd) of Cinemassacre considers the film one of the best of the series. Most critics consider it a fun film but that the time travel plot holds it back. It's also been criticized for similarities with the Terminator films.
Some Godzilla fans have expressed dissatisfaction with King Ghidorah's origin in the movie, especially in reference to the Dorats, as well as with the film's time-travel plot.
Universe Laser & Video DVD (Year Unknown)
- Region: 3
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Stereo), Cantonese (2.0 Mono)
- Special features: None
- Notes: Includes traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles. Out of print.
- Region: 1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: English (2.0 Mono)
- Special features: Trailers for Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah and Godzilla vs. Mothra
- Notes: Cropped to 1.33:1. Packaged with Godzilla vs. Mothra (same disc). Also included in The Toho Godzilla Collection - Volume 1. Out Of Print
Toho DVD (2002)
- Region: 2
- Audio: Japanese
Madman DVD (2006)
- Region: 4
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo) and English (2.0 Mono)
- Special features: Trailers for Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah and other Heisei Godzilla movies, galleries of production stills and posters
Toho Blu-ray (2009)
- Region: A/1
- Language: Japanese
- Region: A/1
- Discs: 2
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Stereo) and English (2.0 Mono)
- Special features: 4 Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah trailers and 5 Godzilla vs. Mothra trailers
- Notes: Packaged with Godzilla vs. Mothra. Out Of Print.
- Main article: Novel: Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah.
A novelization of the film, titled Novel: Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, was written by Toho film producer Fumio Tanaka and published by Asahi Sonorama in 1991. The novelization follows the plot of the film, but includes some differences. Most notably, the novel opens with the discovery of the carcass of King Ghidorah on the surface of Venus, with the Futurians harvesting its DNA and using it to engineer the Dorats. Kenichiro Terasawa and Chiaki Moriyuma get married at the end of the novel, with Emmy Kano secretly attending their wedding party. Emmy gives the receptionist a pendant containing a photograph of herself and her mother, who is noted to look a lot like Chiaki, and asks the receptionist to give it to Chiaki. Other minor differences from the film include the name of the Teiyo Group's nuclear submarine.
- Main article: Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (manga).
A manga adaptation of the film was published by Shogakukan in December 1991. The manga's story corresponds to the film's, but many characters, notably Miki Saegusa, Yasuaki Shindo, and Professor Mazaki, are omitted. In addition, the character Sho Kuroki from Godzilla vs. Biollante is featured in the manga. Other changes include a battle between KIDS and Godzillasaurus, the JSDF sending tanks and MBT-MB92s after King Ghidorah while Godzilla goes unchallenged, and Godzilla trying to shoot down KIDS with the last of his energy after Mecha-King Ghidorah carries him out to sea.
- This is the first movie in the Heisei series where a monster from the Showa series besides Godzilla returns.
- Stuntman "Hurricane" Ryu Hariken, who portrayed King Ghidorah and Mecha-King Ghidorah, would later return to play Battra larva in Godzilla vs. Mothra, BabyGodzilla in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II and Godzilla Junior in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah.
- A loose end in the film's plot that deserves mention involves King Ghidorah and Mecha-King Ghidorah. In the beginning of the film, Grenchiko states that a person cannot exist in the same time twice; if they brought Yasuaki Shindo back to 1944, one of the Shindos would have to vanish. However, when Godzilla defeats King Ghidorah, the monster falls into the Sea of Okhotsk, where it stays for 200 years. In 2204, Ghidorah is resurrected as a cyborg and returned to 1992. However, as the wounded King Ghidorah is still laying in the sea when Mecha-King Ghidorah arrives, two Ghidorahs clearly exist in the same time. As if to further contradict Omori's law, when Mecha-King Ghidorah is defeated by Godzilla, it too falls into the Sea of Okhotsk, meaning two Ghidorahs not only coexist in the same time, but in the same place as well. This seems to be a clear violation of Grenchiko's statement. However, it is possible that once Mecha-King Ghidorah came to the past, the body of the previous Ghidorah that was lying in the Sea of Okhotsk vanished as Grenchiko said would happen; Mecha-King Ghidorah could then take the previous Ghidorah's place in the sea. It is also possible that he lied in order to prevent Shindo, whose company would become the largest in the world by 2204, from getting a firsthand look at the Futurians' technology.
- CNN and the Associated Press reported on the scene in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah where the Godzillasaurus kills American soldiers during the Pacific War, as well as the Futurians' plan to subjugate Japan before it can become a superpower. On CNN, director Kazuki Omori stated, "The movie is not especially anti-U.S., I just thought I'd try to picture the identity of the Japanese people." Ishiro Honda stated in an interview in 1992 that he felt Kazuki Omori went too far in depicting the American soldiers being killed. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah would not be released in the United States for nearly seven years, the longest wait of any Godzilla film.
- In the Japanese novelization for this film, King Ghidorah's corpse is found on the surface of Venus by the Futurians, who use his DNA to engineer the Dorats. This was originally meant to be included in the film as well, but Kazuki Omori reportedly did not want King Ghidorah to be a space monster again.
- Toho reportedly considered producing a direct sequel to this film called The Return of King Ghidorah, which would have involved a second King Ghidorah arriving from outer space, but decided to instead revive Mothra for 1992's Godzilla vs. Mothra. An early draft for what would ultimately become Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla also featured Godzilla battling an alien King Ghidorah called Emperor Ghidorah.
- A Godzilla 1964 toy can be seen on Kenichiro Terasawa's desk in multiple scenes.
- During the scene where Emmy Kano is reprogramming M11, Mechani-Kong is visible among a group of robot toys in a corner behind them, while a model of an Xilien UFO rests on a table behind M11's head.
- A poster for the 1981 Toho film Imperial Navy hangs on a wall of Masukichi Ikehata's ramen shop.
- Chiaki Morimura works as an editor for Super Mystery Magazine Mu, a real Japanese occult magazine.
- So Yamamura plays the Prime Minister of Japan in a third unconnected Toho sci-fi movie, following The Last War and Prophecies of Nostradamus.
- King Ghidorah becomes the only monster in the Godzilla series to attack Hiroshima, albeit in a single shot. The Genbaku Dome, which was the only building in the hypocenter of the 1945 atomic bomb blast to survive, appears in the foreground of the shot.
- Despite being destroyed by Godzilla in Godzilla vs. Biollante, the Haruna-class destroyer Hiei appears in a scene.
- The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which Godzilla and Mecha-King Ghidorah demolish during their battle, opened its doors just eight months before Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah premiered.
- Storyboard art shows at one point a spaceplane armed with a Maser Cannon was considered for the film, where it would fly above the Earth in low orbit and attack Godzilla with an orbital bombardment of maser beams, causing great damage to the surrounding area. Ultimately this weapon did not make it past the drawing board.
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