Son of Godzilla (1967)
— Japanese tagline
Have you ever seen a monster hatched from a monster egg? No? You will! In Toho's production Son of Godzilla
— International tagline
Son of Godzilla (怪獣島の決戦 ゴジラの息子 is a Kaijūtō no Kessen Gojira no Musuko, lit. The Battle of Monster Island: Son of Godzilla)1967 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho, and the eighth installment in the Godzilla series as well as the Showa series. The film was released to Japanese theaters on December 16, 1967.
United Nations scientists on Sollgel Island are undertaking an experiment in altering the climate, with the goal of solving the inevitable world food shortage as the human population explodes. When the experiment goes awry and triggers a radiation storm, the giant mantises native to the island are mutated into deadly kaiju called Kamacuras. When the Kamacuras unearth an egg which hatches into Minilla, a baby Godzilla, Godzilla himself comes to the island to rescue the infant. But while Godzilla is more than a match for the huge mantises, he and his newly adopted son are soon faced with the giant spider Kumonga which also dwells on the island. As Godzilla fights to save Minilla from Kumonga's clutches, the stranded scientists must find a way to escape Sollgel Island with their lives.
On the remote Sollgel Island in the Pacific Ocean, a team of United Nations scientists, led by Tsunezo Kusumi, is undertaking a weather controlling experiment, hoping to allow mankind to grow food in previously unsuitable climates and potentially ending world hunger. As the scientists are getting closer to carrying out the experiment, they begin noticing strange radio interference that is adversely affecting their equipment. One day, a plane flies over the island, and a man using a parachute jumps out of it. When Kusumi and his assistant Fujisaki go to investigate, the man simply waves at them and accompanies them back to their base. He introduces himself as Goro Maki, an investigative reporter who wants a scoop on the scientists' experiments. As the experiment is meant to be top secret, the scientists refuse, but they decide to allow Maki to stay with them on the condition he help cook and clean and act as the team's photographer. As the days pass, Maki sees a giant praying mantis moving through the jungle surrounding the camp. Later, while he is exploring the island, Maki sees a beautiful native girl swimming in the waters just off the island. When Maki tries to photograph her, she quickly dives under the water and disappears.
Eventually, the experiment is ready to commence. Weather Control Capsules on the island begin spraying a cooling gas into the air, while a balloon carrying a Radioactivity Sonde is launched into the atmosphere. When Maki is warned to stay inside before the Sonde explodes and begins cooling the island, he searches for the native girl to warn her about the experiment. When Maki fails to find her, he is forced to retreat back to the base. The experiment is progressing normally, until the radio interference returns and the Radioactivity Sonde prematurely detonates in the air, triggering an extreme heat wave, accompanied with severe radiation storms. After several weeks, the storms cease, and Kusumi and Maki exit the base and begin observing the damage. As they wander across the island, they notice that the giant mantises have grown into huge kaiju, which Maki names "Kamacuras." Three Kamacuras approach a dirt mound on the island and begin tearing it apart, revealing a huge egg. The Kamacuras smash the egg with their claws until it breaks open and reveals Minilla, a baby Godzilla. Soon, Godzilla surfaces at the island and begins coming ashore to rescue the infant. Godzilla reaches the Kamacuras, and immediately attacks them. Godzilla manages to kill one in hand-to-hand combat, then kills another with his atomic breath. The last Kamacuras flies away, leaving Minilla safe and sound. The native girl approaches Minilla and tosses fruit into his mouth, but is forced to flee when Godzilla approaches the infant. Godzilla allows Minilla to grab onto his tail, and carries him up a hill.
One night, Maki and the scientists catch the native girl stealing one of Maki's shirts, but she escapes before they can catch her. Maki tracks her down to a cave on the island, but slips and is knocked unconscious. When the girl returns to the cave, she holds a knife to Maki and accuses him of being a thief trying to steal her notebook. Maki assures her he is not a thief, and is simply trying to reclaim his shirt, but he decides to let her keep it. The girl introduces herself as Saeko Matsumiya, the daughter of a Japanese scientist who had worked on the island and died seven years ago. Maki brings Saeko back to the camp and introduces her to the others. When Godzilla passes by and destroys the camp, Saeko offers the scientists residence in her cave. After a few days, many of the scientists begin showing symptoms of a severe fever, which Saeko recognizes as "Sollgel Fever." She says the only cure is warm red water from a boiling lake located on the interior of the island. Saeko and Maki set off, and as they head toward the lake they pass over a valley, which Saeko warns is the "Valley of Kumonga," a giant spider native to the island. Eventually they reach the lake, but discover that Godzilla and Minilla have taken up residence near it. Saeko remarks that Godzilla is "educating his son." Godzilla attempts to teach Minilla how to breathe atomic breath, but finds he can only breathe pitiful smoke rings. Godzilla stomps on Minilla's tail, which causes him to spew a blast of fire from his mouth. Godzilla congratulates his son, who shrieks excitedly at his success. Saeko manages to collect some of the water, and brings it back to the cave. She administers the water to the men, and they quickly recover.
One day while Saeko is collecting plants on the island, she is attacked by a Kamacuras, and she calls out to Minilla, who comes to her rescue. While Minilla tries to fight off the Kamacuras, he accidentally kicks a rock into Kumonga's valley, which awakens the colossal spider. When the Kamacuras hears Godzilla approaching, it flies away. Saeko tries to return to the cave, but she is attacked by Kumonga. Maki sees Saeko and tries to get her to safety, but they are cornered by Kumonga, who begins spitting webbing at them. Maki uses his lighter to cut through Kumonga's web, and he and Saeko successfully escape back to her cave. However, once they are in the cave, they find that Kumonga is waiting outside and trapping them inside with webbing. Saeko and Maki escape the cave from a secret underwater exit, and successfully set up a radio antenna outside the cave, allowing Fujisaki to make radio contact with the U.N., who send a rescue submarine. Kusumi says that they have no hope of escaping alive with the monsters roaming the island, and proposes that they conduct their weather experiment again and freeze the monsters. The others agree, and they immediately begin preparations.
Minilla approaches the cave to try and rescue Saeko from Kumonga, but is immediately restrained by the monster's webbing. The Kamacuras flies overhead, but Kumonga knocks it out of the sky and traps it in webbing as well. Kumonga bites the Kamacuras and injects it with venom, which kills it instantly. As Kumonga approaches Minilla and prepares to do the same to him, Minilla cries out for his father, who is sleeping near the red lake. Godzilla overhears Minilla's cries, and heads to his rescue. The weather control experiment commences and is successful, causing the temperatures on the island to drop drastically as snow begins to fall. With Godzilla battling Kumonga, the scientists use the opportunity to escape on a raft. Kumonga manages to wound one of Godzilla's eyes and trap him in webbing, but before he can finish him, Minilla comes to his father's rescue. Together, Minilla and Godzilla use their atomic breath to set Kumonga ablaze and defeat him. With the island beginning to freeze over, Godzilla and Minilla head for the ocean, but Minilla falls into the snow and begins falling asleep. Unwilling to leave his son, Godzilla turns around and embraces Minilla in the snow, as they fall into hibernation together. The scientists are rescued by a U.N. submarine, and finally leave Sollgel Island behind.
- Main article: Son of Godzilla/Credits.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Jun Fukuda
- Written by Shinichi Sekizawa, Kazue Kiba
- Executive producer Tomoyuki Tanaka
- Music by Masaru Sato
- Cinematography by Kazuo Yamada
- Edited by Ryohei Fujii
- Production design by Takeo Kita
- 1st assistant director Takashi Nagano
- Director of special effects Sadamasa Arikawa
- Special effects supervisor Eiji Tsuburaya (ceremonial title)
- 1st assistant director of special effects Teruyoshi Nakano
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Tadao Takashima as Dr. Tsunezo Kusumi
- Bibari Maeda as Saeko Matsumiya
- Akira Kubo as Goro Maki, journalist
- Akihiko Hirata as Fujisaki
- Kenji Sahara as Morio
- Yoshio Tsuchiya as Furukawa
- Susumu Kurobe as Meteorological observation plane captain
- Kazuo Suzuki as Meteorological observation plane navigator
- Kenichiro Maruyama as Ozawa
- Seishiro Kuno as Tashiro
- Yasuhiko Saijo as Suzuki
- Chotaro Togin as Meteorological observation plane radio operator
- Wataru Omae as Meteorological observation plane co-pilot
- Seiji Onaka, Hiroshi Sekita as Godzilla
- Haruo Nakajima as Godzilla (water scenes)
- Masao Fukazawa as Minilla (as "Little Man Machan")
- Osman Yusuf as United Nations submarine captain (uncredited)
International English dub
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- William Ross as Dr. Tsunezo Kusumi / Narrator
- Burr Middleton as Goro Maki / Meteorological observation plane captain / Suzuki
- Robert Dunham as Fujisaki / Meteorological observation plane co-pilot
- Cliff Harrington as Morio / Meteorological observation plane navigator
- Bud Widom as Ozawa
Titan Productions English dub
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- William Kiehl as Dr. Tsunezo Kusumi / Narrator
- Peter Fernandez as Goro Maki
- Earl Hammond as Fujisaki
- Lucy Martin as Riko Matsumiya
- Kenneth Harvey as Furukawa
- Larry Robinson as Ozawa
Weapons, vehicles, and races
- Main article: Son of Godzilla/Gallery.
- Main article: Son of Godzilla (Soundtrack).
- The Battle of Monster Island: Son of Godzilla (literal Japanese title)
- Monster No. 1 Godzilla (怪獣
Ｎｏ． １ゴジラ Kaijū Nanbā Wan Gojira, Japanese 8mm title)
- The Son of Godzilla (El hijo de Godzilla; Spain; Mexico; Il figlio di Godzilla; Italy; Syn Godzilla; Poland; O Filho de Godzilla; Brazil; El fill de Godzilla; Spain (Catalonia); Le fils de Godzilla; French video title; De zoon van Godzilla; Netherlands)
- The Planet of the Monsters (La planète des monstres; France; French Belgium; De planeet der monsters; Dutch Belgium)
- Frankenstein's Monsters Hunt Godzilla's Son (Frankensteins Monster jagen Godzillas Sohn; Germany)
- Godzilla's Son (Godzillas son; Sweden)
- Frankenstein's Island (Frankensteinin saari; Finland)
- The Return of Gorgo (Il ritorno di Gorgo; Italy, reissue)
- Godzilla: Son of Godzilla (Australia)
View all posters for the film here.
- Japan - December 16, 1967 [view poster]; August 1, 1973 (Toho Champion Festival) [view poster]
- Thailand - 1968
- United Kingdom - August 1969 [view poster]
- Italy - 1969 [view poster]
- Brazil - February 1970
- Taiwan - December 30, 1970
- Netherlands - April 7, 1971 [view poster]
- Germany - 1971 [view poster]
- Mexico - 1971 [view poster]
- Sweden - 1973
- Poland - 1974 [view poster]
- Finland - 1976 [view poster]
- France - June 8, 1977 [view poster]
- Spain - April 1980 [view poster]
Like Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, Son of Godzilla was released directly to American television by the Walter Reade Organization in 1969, with an English dub recorded in New York and directed by Peter Fernandez, utilizing many voice actors from Titan Productions, Inc.
Very little was changed for the film's Americanization:
- The opening sequence in which a military plane spots Godzilla heading for the radio interference on Sollgel Island is removed. In its place is the U.S. version's main title, underscored by Masaru Sato's opening theme. The title is set against a deep blue background.
- The main title in the Japanese and international versions is placed over a shot of Godzilla walking towards the camera. That shot remains in the U.S. version but it is not accompanied by any text. Similarly, the U.S. version has no credits although the footage used in Toho's credit sequence is retained.
- The final shot is textless as well in the U.S. version. Initial U.S. prints featured no end title; the Walter Reade Organization logo played after the final shot concluded. Later prints struck after distribution was taken over by Alan Enterprises replace this logo with an end title card and Toho copyright notice.
- Saeko Matsumiya is called "Reiko," as in the earlier English dub by Frontier Enterprises for Toho's international version. Both English versions use the original English names "Gimantis" and "Spiega" for the characters Kamacuras and Kumonga, respectively.
As with Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, unlicensed home video copies of Son of Godzilla released in the 1980's were sourced from 16mm prints of the initial Walter Reade Organization version. Official home video versions from Video Treasures and Canada's HGV Video Productions used the video master created from the Alan Enterprises version.
Columbia TriStar Home Video released the film on DVD in 2004. Visually, the DVD is based on Toho's uncut international version, although the English titles and credits were digitally recreated. Neither of the Japanese and English audio tracks included on the disc had been officially heard in the U.S. before; the international English dub, originally recorded by Frontier Enterprises in Tokyo in the 1960's, had only been used in the U.K. prior to this. TriStar's rights to the film lapsed in the early 2010's and the DVD has since gone out of print. As a result, Son of Godzilla has become one of the most difficult and costly Godzilla films to obtain on Region 1 DVD, matched only by Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. A digital copy of the TriStar release (with the English audio track) can still be purchased through Vudu, an online content delivery network.
Currently, North American rights to Son of Godzilla are possessed by Janus Films, who released it on Blu-ray as part of The Criterion Collection box set Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films, 1954-1975. The Japanese version was available for streaming on Janus' streaming platform FilmStruck prior to its discontinuation on November 29, 2018. This version of the film has been broadcast on U.S. cable networks IFC and Comet TV.
United Kingdom release
Nat Miller brought the international English dub of Son of Godzilla to UK theaters in August 1969, as part of a double feature with Ebirah, Horror of the Deep. Edited down to 71 minutes, it received an U (Universal) rating from the British Board of Film Censors. PolyGram Video released it on VHS in 1992 with Terror of Mechagodzilla, followed by 4 Front Video in 1998. Sony released the Japanese version of the film on Blu-ray in 2019 as part of the The Criterion Collection's Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films, 1954–1975 box set, with the international English dub available as a secondary audio option.
Toho DVD (2003)
- Region: 2
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Mono and 5.1 Surround)
- Subtitles: Japanese
- Special features: Audio commentary by special effects director Sadamasa Arikawa, 8mm version (5 minutes), theatrical trailer, storybook with narration
- Region: 1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Mono), English (2.0 Mono, international dub)
- Subtitles: English
- Special features: Trailers
- Notes: Out of print.
Madman DVD (2006)
- Region: 0
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Mono and 5.1 Surround), English (2.0 Mono, international dub)
- Subtitles: English
- Special features: Japanese trailer, poster gallery, Madman-made trailers
- Region: A/1 or B/2
- Discs: 8
- Audio: Japanese, English (international dub)
- 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 by Jason Franzman. Sony distributed a Region B/2 version of the set in the United Kingdom.
When Son of Godzilla was released on December 16, 1967 in Japan, it sold 2,480,000 tickets. When the film was re-issued on August 1, 1973, it received 610,000 attendees, adding up to a rough attendance total of 3,090,000.
The film received mixed reviews. Critics enjoyed the style and monster fights, but thought the film was too childish. It currently owns a 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film sold 2,480,000 tickets. It was released for TV in the US in 1969, and was not screened for critics.
- Following the conclusion of Toho's naming campaign for the still unnamed-Minilla prior to the release of Son of Godzilla, where as many as 8,211 applicants had submitted entries, a raffle was conducted and "Minilla" (which had been submitted 135 times) was drawn and ultimately became the monster's final name. The name was publicly revealed in a "naming ceremony" party at the film set with the movie's stars.
- A sequence that shows Godzilla leaving Minilla behind on the freezing Sollgel Island and making it to shore before turning back was cut from the final film's ending. Part of the sequence has survived in both the trailer and in a workprint outtake reel included as supplementary material on the third bonus disc of the 2005 Godzilla Final Box DVD collection.
- Son of Godzilla is very similar to the previous year's Ebirah, Horror of the Deep. Both take place largely on a south Pacific island populated by monsters, and both include a "native girl" among the cast. Also, both end in a similar way, with the heroes waving goodbye to the monsters as the island is destroyed/frozen. The similarities are due to the faces behind the scenes that worked on both films, including director Jun Fukuda and music composer Masaru Sato.
- The suit in this film, MusukoGoji, was used again in Godzilla vs. Gigan for the water scenes.
- Son of Godzilla was re-released at the Summer Toho Champion Film Festival on August 1, 1973 alongside a theatrical version of episode 1 of Ultraman Taro titled Like the Sun, Mother of Ultra, and various cartoons.
- The lever-action rifles used by the heroes resemble the Marlin Model 336.
- This was the first Godzilla film where Haruo Nakajima was not the primary suit actor for Godzilla. Instead, Godzilla is played by the taller Hiroshi Sekita, who was chosen to make Godzilla seem much taller than Minilla. Nakajima still plays Godzilla during water scenes in the film, which utilize the Godzilla suit used in the previous two films.
- Son of Godzilla was the first Godzilla film to feature a female writer. Kazue Kiba collaborated with Shinichi Sekizawa on the film's screenplay.
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