The Return of Godzilla (1984)

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Credits for The Return of Godzilla
The Return of Godzilla soundtrack

Godzilla films
Terror of Mechagodzilla
The Return of Godzilla
Godzilla vs. Biollante
The Return of Godzilla
The Japanese poster for The Return of Godzilla
Alternate titles
Flagicon Japan.png Godzilla (1984)
Flagicon United States.png Godzilla 1985 (1985)
See alternate titles
Directed by Koji Hashimoto
Producer(s) Tomoyuki Tanaka
Written by Hideichi Nagahara
Music by Reijiro Koroku
Distributor TohoJP
New World PicturesUS
Rating PGUS
Budget ¥640 millionJP
$200,000US (added scenes)[1]
Box office ¥1.7 billionJP[2]
$4.1 millionUS
Running time 103 minutesJP
(1 hour, 43 minutes)
87 minutesUS
(1 hour, 27 minutes)
Aspect ratio 1.85:1
Rate this film!
(45 votes)

Breaking 30 years of silence comes the anticipated-worldwide latest "Godzilla" work! (30年間の沈黙を破って全世界待望の「ゴジラ」最新作!)

— Tagline

After ten years the terror returns!

— International tagline

In 1956... he first appeared on motion picture screens across the country. His impact on audiences was instantaneous and unprecedented. His acting technique was revolutionary. His presence... overwhelming. He possessed more raw talent than any performer of his generation. He soon became an international legend, a giant who took the world by storm. Then, suddenly, at the height of his fame, he retired from motion pictures. Now he is back. And he's more magnificent, more glamorous, more devastating than ever. Prepare yourself: the greatest star of all has returned.

— Trailer for Godzilla 1985

The Return of Godzilla (ゴジラ,   Gojira, lit. Godzilla) is a 1984 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho, and the sixteenth installment in the Godzilla series, as well as the first in the Heisei series. The film was released to Japanese theaters on December 15, 1984,[3] and to U.S. theaters on August 23, 1985.

A reboot to the Godzilla franchise and the first entry in the Heisei series of films, The Return of Godzilla ignores every film after the 1954 original and returns to the series' darker and more serious roots. When the fishing boat Yahata-Maru no. 5 is destroyed at sea, the sole survivor reports that the culprit was none other than Godzilla. The Japanese government seeks to avoid panic by keeping the monster's return a secret but is forced to reveal it to the world when Godzilla destroys a Soviet nuclear submarine and escalates Cold War tensions to a breaking point. Both the Soviets and Americans are eager to test their nuclear arsenals against the King of the Monsters, while the Japanese Prime Minister remains firm in his refusal to condone the use of nuclear weapons. While delegates from all three nations debate how to proceed, Godzilla begins to make his way to Tokyo, which is now defended by the advanced hovering warship Super X. But when Godzilla triggers a Soviet nuclear missile to accidentally launch at Tokyo, suddenly he may no longer be the biggest threat to the Japanese capital.

Plot[edit | edit source]

A Japanese fishing vessel, the Yahata Maru no. 5, is trying to find its way to shore in a fierce storm while near an uninhabited island, when a giant monster appears and attacks the boat. The next morning, reporter Goro Maki finds the vessel intact but deserted. As he explores the vessel, Goro finds all the crew dead with their bodily fluids seemingly drained except for one young man called Hiroshi Okumura, who has been badly wounded. Suddenly a giant sea louse attacks Goro but is eventually killed when Hiroshi regains consciousness and stabs it with a hatchet, saving Goro's life.

In Tokyo, Okumura is kept isolated in a hospital room and meets with Dr. Makoto Hayashida, who presents him with pictures of Godzilla attacking Tokyo from back in 1954. From looking at the pictures, Okumura confirms that the monster he saw was Godzilla. The news of Godzilla's return is kept secret by the Japanese government to avoid panic until Godzilla attacks a second time and destroys a Soviet nuclear submarine. However, the Russians believe the attack was orchestrated by the Americans, and a diplomatic crisis ensues which threatens to escalate into nuclear war. The Japanese intervene and finally announce that Godzilla was behind the attack. The Japanese arrange a meeting with the Russian and American ambassadors and, after some debate over the issue, Prime Minister Mitamura decides nuclear weapons will not be used on Godzilla even if he were to attack the Japanese mainland, an announcement that both the Americans and Russians are upset with. The JSDF are put on alert and begin to search for Godzilla. Meanwhile, the Russians have their own plans to counter the threat posed by Godzilla, and a Russian control ship disguised as a freighter called the Balashevo in Tokyo Harbor is outfitted to launch a nuclear missile from one of their orbiting satellites in outer space toward Japan should Godzilla attack. Kashirin, the colonel in charge of the ship, reluctantly orders the nuclear device to be disarmed, as the Soviet government ultimately agrees with the Prime Minister's demands.

Soon, Godzilla appears on an island off the coast of Japan, determined to feed off a nuclear power plant in the outskirts of Mihama. When Godzilla attacks the facility near Mihama and feeds off the reactor, he is distracted by a flock of birds, and leaves the facility almost as quickly as he arrived. After some research, Hayashida determines that like birds, Godzilla follows Earth's magnetic field in order to navigate, and that he can be lured to any location using a magnetic transmitter. Hayashida forms a plan to construct a transmitter and lure Godzilla to Mount Mihara on Oshima Island, where he will be trapped in the volcano's crater with a controlled eruption.

Godzilla is later sighted at Tokyo Bay, forcing mass evacuations out of the city and a state of emergency is declared. The JSDF attacks Godzilla with fighter jets, but their missiles are useless against him. Godzilla then proceeds to the coast, where the waiting military forces, equipped with tanks, rocket launchers, ground-to-ground missiles and infantry, proceed to fire on Godzilla, but they are quickly obliterated with a single blast of Godzilla's atomic breath. As Godzilla climbs ashore, he causes the Balashevo to crash into the shore and capsize, damaging its systems and accidentally starting a countdown that will cause the nuclear missile to launch. The ship's captain, Colonel Kashirin, bravely attempts to disarm the missile but is killed by a small explosion before he can do so. Godzilla then proceeds towards Tokyo's business district, wreaking havoc along the way. There, he is confronted by two N1-00s and the Super X, a piloted craft armed with cadmium weapons constructed in secret to defend Tokyo in case of emergency, in particular a nuclear attack.

Godzilla has a bad reaction to the cadmium shells that are fired into his mouth by the Super X, and falls down unconscious. Unfortunately, the city is faced with a greater threat when the countdown ends and the Russian missile is launched from the satellite, leaving the Japanese government and people helpless to stop it. Fortunately, the Americans intervene and shoot down the missile with one of their own before it can hit Tokyo. However, the atmospheric nuclear blast creates a radioactive electrical storm, which revives Godzilla once more.

Godzilla has a final battle with the Super X, eventually damaging the aircraft and forcing it to make an emergency landing where he destroys it by toppling a building on it. Godzilla continues his rampage until Professor Hayashida arrives on Oshima Island and activates his magnetic transmitter, which gets Godzilla's attention. Godzilla leaves Tokyo and swims across the ocean to volcanic Mt. Mihara, where he notices the signal device, which fascinates him. As he walks towards it, he falls into the mouth of the volcano where he is surrounded by bombs. Okumura detonates the charges and causes a volcanic eruption. Godzilla roars as the ground beneath him crumbles and he falls into the volcano's crater, his fate unknown.

Staff[edit | edit source]

Main article: The Return of Godzilla/Credits.

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

Godzilla 1985[edit | edit source]

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

  • Directed by   R.J. Kizer
  • Screenplay by   Lisa Tomei
  • Produced by   Anthony Randel
  • Additional music by   Chris Young
  • Cinematography by   Steven Dubin
  • Edited by   Michael Spence
  • Assistant director   Lee S. Berger

Cast[edit | edit source]

Main article: The Return of Godzilla/Credits.

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

  • Keiju Kobayashi   as   Prime Minister Kiyoteru Mitamura
  • Ken Tanaka   as   Goro Maki, reporter for the Tohto Times
  • Yasuko Sawaguchi   as   Naoko Okumura
  • Shin Takuma   as   Hiroshi Okumura
  • Yosuke Natsuki   as   Dr. Makoto Hayashida, biophysicist
  • Eitaro Ozawa   as   Kanzaki, Minister of Finance
  • Taketoshi Naito   as   Hirotaka Takegami, Chief Cabinet Secretary
  • Nobuo Kaneko   as   Isomura, Minister of Home Affairs
  • Takeshi Kato   as   Kasaoka, Minister of International Trade and Industry
  • Mizuho Suzuki   as   Seiichi Emori, Foreign Minister
  • Junkichi Orimoto   as   Mori, Minister of Defense
  • Shinsuke Mikimoto   as   Kakurai, Integrated Chief of Staff
  • Kanta Mori   as   Okouchi, Director General of the National Land Agency
  • Yoshibumi Tajima   as   Hidaka, Minister of the Environment
  • Kiyoshi Yamamoto   as   Kajita, Director General of the Science and Technology Agency
  • Hiroshi Koizumi   as   Minami, Geologist
  • Kunio Murai   as   Noboru Henmi, Chairman of the Cabinet Information Research Office
  • Sho Hashimoto   as   Akiyama, Super X Commander
  • Tetsuya Ushio   as   Operator
  • Takashi Ebata   as   Captain of the Fifth Yahata-Maru
  • Chiyoyuki Tahara   as   Fisherman on the Fifth Yahata-Maru
  • Shigeo Kato   as   Radioman on the Fifth Yahata-Maru
  • Kenji Fukuda   as   Super X officer
  • Taiga Mori   as   Super X officer
  • Kenichi Urata   as   Ishimura Tatami Room personnel
  • Yumiko Tanaka   as   Akemi
  • Kenyoi Watanabe   as   Operator
  • Yuhiro Fuse   as   Operator
  • Nakatomi Kaze   as   Technical Officer
  • Walter Nichols   as   Rosenburg, Special Envoy for the President of the United States
  • Alexander Kilis   as   Chefsky, Special Envoy for the Soviet Union
  • Luke Johnston   as   Colonel Kashirin, Special Soviet Operative
  • Dennis Falt   as   Soviet Submarine Captain[4]
  • Kei Sato   as   Godo, editor-in-chief of the Tohto Times
  • Takenori Emoto   as   Kitagawa, desk editor for the Tohto Times
  • Shinpei Hayashiya   as   Kamijo, cameraman
  • Hiroshi Kamayatsu   as   Bullet train passenger[note 1]
  • Takero Morimoto   as   Newscaster
  • Koji Ishizaka   as   Nuclear Power Plant personnel
  • Tetsuya Takeda   as   Vagrant (special guest appearance)
  • Joe Raznack   as   Kramer, American Ambassador (uncredited)
  • Joseph Grace   as   Zazimov, Soviet Ambassador (uncredited)
  • Nigel Lead   as   Soviet Nuclear Submarine Deputy Captain (uncredited)
  • Terry Sonberg   as   Balashevo sailor (uncredited)
  • Setsuko Kawaguchi   as   Bullet train passenger (uncredited)
  • Nabeyakan   as   Bullet train passenger (uncredited)
  • Akira Toriyama   as   Man fleeing from Godzilla (uncredited)
  • Yuji Horii   as   Man fleeing from Godzilla (uncredited)
  • Akira Sakuma   as   Man fleeing from Godzilla (uncredited)
  • Kenpachiro Satsuma   as   Godzilla

International English dub[edit | edit source]

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

  • Barry Haigh   as   Prime Minister Kiyoteru Mitamura / Godo / vagrant / Soviet submarine captain / Nuclear Power Plant personnel
  • John Culkin   as   Goro Maki, reporter for the Tohto Times
  • Elizabeth Oram   as   Naoko Okumura / Akemi
  • Warwick Evans   as   Hiroshi Okumura / Newscaster
  • Matthew Oram   as   Dr. Makoto Hayashida, biophysicist / Kakurai / Chefsky / Kamijo

Godzilla 1985[edit | edit source]

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

  • Raymond Burr   as   Steven Martin
  • Warren Kemmerling   as   General Goodhue
  • James Hess   as   Colonel Raschen
  • Travis Swords   as   Major McDonough
  • Crawford Binion   as   Lieutenant
  • Justin Gocke   as   Kyle
  • Bobby Brown, Patrick Feren, Mark Simon, Shepard Stern, Alan D. Waserman   as   Extras
  • Tony Plana   as   Goro Maki, reporter for the Tohto Times (voice)
  • Lara Cody   as   Naoko Okumura (voice)
  • Paul Wilson   as   Dr. Makoto Hayashida, biophysicist (voice)
  • Andy Goldberg   as   Hiroshi Okumura (voice)

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Monsters[edit | edit source]

Weapons, vehicles, and races[edit | edit source]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Main article: The Return of Godzilla/Gallery.

Soundtrack[edit | edit source]

Main article: The Return of Godzilla (Soundtrack).

Alternate titles[edit | edit source]

  • Godzilla (literal Japanese title; Finland; Spain)
  • Godzilla Is Alive (early U.S. title)[5]
  • Godzilla 1985 (United States; Γκοτζίλα 1985; Greece)
  • Godzilla: The Legend is Reborn (UK home video title, box)
  • Godzilla 1984 (U.S. DVD/Blu-ray title)[6]
  • Godzilla: The Return of the Monster (Godzilla – Die Rückkehr des Monsters; West Germany)
  • The Return of Godzilla 1986 (El Retorno de Godzilla 1986; Mexico)
  • Godzilla Returns (Godzilla vender tilbake; Norway)
  • Return of Godzilla (Godzilla'nin Dönüşü; Turkey; West German English video title)

Theatrical releases[edit | edit source]

View all posters for the film here.

  • Japan - December 15, 1984[3]   [view poster]Japanese poster
  • United States - August 23, 1985   [view poster]American poster
  • Belgium - March 12, 1985
  • France - June 1, 1985   [view poster]French poster
  • Germany - July 26, 1985   [view poster]German poster
  • India - 1985   [view poster]Indian poster
  • United Kingdom - 1986
  • Norway - 1986
  • Pakistan - 1980s   [view poster]Pakistani poster
  • Mexico   [view poster]Mexican poster
  • Turkey   [view poster]Turkish poster
  • Yugoslavia   [view poster]Yugoslav poster
  • Egypt   [view poster]Egyptian poster

Foreign releases[edit | edit source]

U.S. release[edit | edit source]

U.S. Godzilla 1985 poster

After acquiring The Return of Godzilla for distribution in North America, New World Pictures changed the title to Godzilla 1985. The company heavily re-edited the film. Most significantly, they added around 10 minutes of new footage, most of it set at the Pentagon, with Raymond Burr reprising his role as Steve Martin from Godzilla, King of the Monsters!. As the comedian and actor Steve Martin had risen to prominence since the U.S. release of the original film, the fictional Martin's first name is never spoken in the film, and the end credits list him as "Steven Martin."

Much of the original version was deleted or altered:

  • Shortened and altered: During the film's opening, instead of seeing the crew of the Yahata Maru's reaction after Godzilla roars, the film cuts to a shot of Steve Martin.
  • Shortened: Goro's fight with the Shockirus; the sea louse's screech was also changed.
  • Deleted: Goro calling his editor from an island.
  • Deleted: Professor Hayashida showing Okumura photographs of Godzilla's 1954 attack and later discussing the Shockirus with an aide at the police hospital.
  • Shortened: The scene where Naoko learns her brother is alive; Goro snaps pictures of them reunited, which angers Naoko because she realizes he only helped her in order to get a scoop.
  • Shortened: The meeting between the Japanese Prime Minister and the Russian and American ambassadors. Also deleted was a scene after the meeting in which the prime minister explains to his aides how he was able to reach a consensus with both sides. Furthermore, this scene appears before Godzilla's attack on the nuclear power plant in the U.S. version, whereas in the Japanese version it appears afterwards.
  • Deleted: Hayashida and Naoko making a wave generator.
  • Altered: Godzilla's first attack on the nuclear power plant.
  • Added: Part of Christopher Young's score from Def-Con 4 in several scenes (including Godzilla's attack on the Soviet submarine, the scene where the SDF armored division arrives in Tokyo Bay, and Okumura's near-death experience during the helicopter extraction in Tokyo).
  • Deleted: A shot of an American nuclear missile satellite in space (probably done in order to make the United States appear less aggressive).
  • Altered: Almost all of Godzilla's rampage through Tokyo. Scenes of a crowd fleeing Godzilla that appeared later in the Japanese print were moved to an earlier point in the movie (and corresponding footage of them gathering around Godzilla after he is knocked out by the Super X was removed), the Super X fight was re-arranged (in the Japanese version, Godzilla fires his atomic breath at the Super X after being hit with the cadmium missiles, not before), and various other scenes of destruction were either placed in a different order or deleted completely. Some fans were particularly upset by the removal of a shot showing Godzilla reflected in the windows of a large skyscraper during the scene in which he attacks the Bullet Train.
  • Deleted: Almost all shots which employed a life-size replica of Godzilla's foot (mostly seen near the end); only one shot of the big foot crushing parked cars during the nuclear power plant scene was kept.
  • Added: When Godzilla falls into the erupting Mount Mihara, he screams at a high pitch. This scream was actually recorded by Toho for an alternative monaural mix and was included in the international version of the film. Godzilla's roars prior to falling into the volcano are also different in the U.S. version.
  • Added: Stock footage from the original Godzilla during one of the new scenes set in the Pentagon.

The most controversial change was the scene where the Russian officer Colonel Kashirin valiantly attempts to stop the launch of a nuclear weapon. New World edited the scene and added a brief shot of Kashirin pressing the launch button so that Kashirin actually launches the nuclear weapon. This and a few other changes pertaining to the Americans and Soviets were believed to be due to Cold War tensions at the time, in order to portray the United States in a more benevolent light and portray the Soviets as villainous. However, in an interview with Godzilla 1985 producer Anthony Randel, he stated "That was a complete joke I did. (laughs) I did it. I remember looking over the film and trying to figure out how we were going to integrate scenes. I had a really funny idea: Let’s make it so the Russians start the whole thing!" and "I’ll take 100% blame for that, and to this day I get the biggest laugh about it. Because it was the Reagan era, and because I made it look like the Russians started the whole (thing), it was a 1980s joke."[7]

The new scenes set in the Pentagon have been similarly controversial among fans. Many take issue with the comedic dialogue spoken by the American characters and their lack of contribution to the plot of the film. Also infamous is the product placement for Dr Pepper, as a Dr Pepper machine is seen multiple times in the scenes set in the Pentagon, with one character even shown drinking a can of Dr Pepper. However, Raymond Burr's performance has been generally more well-received and appreciated, especially by fans of his performance in Godzilla, King of the Monsters!. Raymond Burr, taking the message of the original Godzilla very seriously, refused to treat the film as a joke and delivered all of his lines in a straightforward and serious manner that was meant to be respectful to the film and the character of Godzilla. Burr's character even shows noticeable annoyance and displeasure at Major Mc Donough's jokes about the destruction Godzilla causes.

The U.S. version has caused some confusion as to the identity of the Godzilla featured in the film. While the Japanese version never specifies whether it is meant to be the same Godzilla from 1954, having somehow survived the Oxygen Destroyer, or an entirely different Godzilla (later clarified in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, which establishes it is a separate Godzilla), the U.S. version takes measures to imply it is the original Godzilla. At one point, Steve Martin even says that "Thirty years ago, they never found any corpse." The U.S. version also states that Godzilla first attacked Tokyo in 1956, the year that Godzilla, King of the Monsters! was released in the United States, rather than 1954.

In addition, the theatrical release, and most home video releases, was accompanied by Marv Newland's short cartoon Bambi Meets Godzilla.

The U.S. version, even with the added Raymond Burr footage, only runs 87 minutes; 16 minutes shorter than the Japanese print.

It is interesting to note that Raymond Burr's character is never referred to by his full name, only as "Martin" or "Mr. Martin", for the entirety of the U.S. version, though the end credits list him as "Steven Martin." This was to avoid association with comedian and actor Steve Martin, who had begun to become quite popular around the time this film was released in the U.S.

The closing narration, spoken by Raymond Burr, is as follows:

Nature has a way sometimes of reminding man of just how small he is. She occasionally throws up the terrible offspring of our pride and carelessness to remind us of how puny we really are in the face of a tornado, an earthquake or a Godzilla. The reckless ambitions of man are often dwarfed by their dangerous consequences. For now, Godzilla, that strangely innocent and tragic monster, has gone to earth. Whether he returns or not or is never again seen by human eyes, the things he has taught us remain.

New World released Godzilla 1985 on VHS in the late 1980s and early 1990s following its theatrical release. When New World was acquired by 20th Century Fox in 1997, the home video rights to its library of films released from 1984 to 1991, including Godzilla 1985, were acquired by Anchor Bay Entertainment. The company released it as part of a VHS box set in 1997 in anticipation of the upcoming American Godzilla film, along with Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Son of Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Gigan and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. While Anchor Bay's other Godzilla films were acquired by new distributors after its rights lapsed, primarily Classic Media and Sony, legal issues arose regarding who held the rights to Godzilla 1985, and as a result Toho withheld the film from distribution in North America for nearly two decades. An exception was the satellite channel Monsters HD, which aired Godzilla 1985 several times in the mid-2000s. A 2006 broadcast, which used a workprint of the film slightly different from the theatrical version, was recorded in standard definition and is currently in circulation online.[8]

On May 19, 2016, Kraken Releasing, which had previously released Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, Godzilla vs. Hedorah and Godzilla vs. Gigan on DVD and Blu-ray, announced it had acquired the rights to the film, and released it on DVD and Blu-ray on September 13, 2016. However, due to the ongoing rights issues regarding Godzilla 1985, Kraken's discs only offered the Japanese version of the film and the international English dub track. According to Kraken Releasing co-founder Matt Greenfield, the inclusion of additional music composed by Christopher Young for the score of the film Def-Con 4 in the soundtrack for Godzilla 1985 was among the factors that prevented its inclusion.[9] It was the last Godzilla film to be released on DVD in the U.S., with the exception of Shin Godzilla, which at the time was still playing in Japanese theaters.

United Kingdom release[edit | edit source]

Entertainment Film Distributors distributed Godzilla 1985 in the United Kingdom in 1986. The British Board of Film Classification required 17 seconds of cuts to the Shockirus's attack on Goro Maki for the film to receive a PG rating, as they felt it would "frighten kids under the seats never to re-emerge, and also load them with false anxieties regarding the rest of the movie to come."[10] However, New World was able to issue it on VHS the following year unedited, as the BBFC felt the scene's impact was reduced on a TV screen. In 1998, Carlton Home Entertainment released the international dub of The Return of Godzilla on VHS.

Box office[edit | edit source]

The Return of Godzilla was a reasonable success in Japan, with attendance figures at approximately 3.2 million and the box office gross being approximately ¥1.7 billion.[2] In terms of total attendance, it was the most popular Godzilla film since 1966's Ebirah, Horror of the Deep.

The U.S. release of the film, Godzilla 1985, however, failed to ignite the North American box office. Opening on August 23, 1985, in 235 North American theaters, the film grossed $509,502 in its opening weekend, on its way to a lackluster $4,116,395 total gross.[11]

New World's budget for Godzilla 1985 consisted of $500,000 to lease the film from Toho, $200,000 for filming the new scenes and other revisions, and $2,500,000 for prints and advertising, adding up to a grand total of approximately $3,200,000. Taking this into consideration, Godzilla 1985, though not a hit, proved to be profitable for New World, and the profit would increase with home video and television revenue.

Reception[edit | edit source]

The New World version of the film was almost universally lambasted by North American critics, receiving only a 20% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 8 reviews. Roger Ebert, who gave the film a mere one star in the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote: "The filmmakers must have known that the original Godzilla had many loyal fans all over the world who treasured the absurd dialogue, the bad lip-synchronizing, the unbelievable special effects, the phony profundity. So they have deliberately gone after the same inept feeling in Godzilla 1985. Examples: Dialogue: Is so consistently bad that the entire screenplay could be submitted as an example. My favorite moment occurs when the hero and heroine are clutching each other on a top floor of a skyscraper being torn apart by Godzilla and the professor leaps into the shot, says "What has happened here?" and leaps out again without waiting for an answer. Lip-synchronizing: Especially in the opening shots, there seems to be a subtle effort to exaggerate the bad coordination between what we see and what we hear. All lip-sync is a little off, of course, but this movie seems to be going for condescending laughs from knowledgeable film-goers. Special effects: When Godzilla marches on Tokyo, the buildings are the usual fake miniature models, made out of paint and cardboard. The tip off is when he rips a wall off a high-rise, and nothing falls out. That's because there is nothing inside."[12]

Vincent Canby of the New York Times, who had given a positive review to Godzilla vs. Megalon nine years earlier, was similarly unimpressed:

"Though special-effects experts in Japan and around the world have vastly improved their craft in the last 30 years, you wouldn't know it from this film. Godzilla, who is supposed to be about 240 feet tall, still looks like a wind-up toy, one that moves like an arthritic toddler with a fondness for walking through teeny-tiny skyscrapers instead of mud puddles. Godzilla 1985 was shot in color but its sensibility is that of the black-and-white Godzilla films of the 1950s. What small story there is contains a chaste romance and lots of references to the lessons to be learned from "this strangely innocent but tragic creature." The point seems to be that Godzilla, being a "living nuclear bomb," something that cannot be destroyed, must rise up from time to time to remind us of the precariousness of our existence. One can learn the same lesson almost any day on almost any New York street corner."[13]

One of the few positive reviews came from Joel Siegel of Good Morning America, who is quoted on New World's newspaper ads as saying, "Hysterical fun...the best Godzilla in thirty years!"

Awards[edit | edit source]

Yasuko Sawaguchi won a Newcomer of the Year award at the 9th Japanese Academy Awards for her role as Naoko Okumura. Teruyoshi Nakano and his special effects team also received a Special Award for their work on the film.[14] The Return of Godzilla was a recipient of the "Excellent Silver Award" for Japanese films at the 3rd Golden Gross Awards, which recognized the highest-grossing films of 1985 in Japan.[15] Godzilla 1985 received the dubious honor of two nominations at the Razzie Awards, for Worst Supporting Actor (Raymond Burr) and Worst New Star ("the new computerized" Godzilla).[16]

Award Category Recipient(s) Result
9th Japan Academy Awards Newcomer of the Year Yasuko Sawaguchi Won
Special Award: Special Effects Teruyoshi Nakano and other special effects staff Won
3rd Golden Gross Awards Excellent Silver Award The Return of Godzilla Won
6th Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Supporting Actor Raymond Burr
Worst New Star The new computerized Godzilla

Novelization[edit | edit source]

Main article: The Return of Godzilla (novelization).

A novelization of the film written by Fumihiko Ino and Kohei Nomura was published by Kodansha in 1984. The novelization mostly follows the story of the film, but incorporates scenes from early drafts and screenplays, such as an attack on a fishing village by a swarm of Shockirus.

Manga adaptation[edit | edit source]

Main article: The Return of Godzilla (Bessatsu CoroCoro Comic Special manga).

A manga adaptation of the film was published in Japan by Shogakukan in 1984, and was later translated into English and published in the West by Dark Horse as a six-issue comic miniseries titled Godzilla in 1988. Dark Horse republished the manga in 1998 under the title Terror of Godzilla, this time in color rather than in black-and-white.

Video releases[edit | edit source]

Super Edições Vídeo VHS (1988)

  • Tapes: 1
  • Audio: English with Portuguese subtitles
  • Notes: According to the tape's back cover, SEV had distribution rights not only to Portugal, but also to Angola and Mozambique.

Toho DVD (2002)

  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: Japanese (2.0 Stereo and 5.1 Surround)
  • Subtitles: Japanese
  • Special features: Audio commentary by Teruyoshi Nakano, trailers for the film and the Godzilla 1983 Movie Festival, making-of featurette (43 minutes), photo galleries

Atlantic Film DVD (2006)

Universe DVD (2006)

  • Region: 3
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: Japanese (1.0 Mono) and Cantonese (1.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Chinese (traditional and simplified)
  • Special features: Cantonese Godzilla vs. Biollante trailer

Toho Blu-ray (2009/2014)

  • Region: A/1
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: Japanese (2.0 Stereo and 5.1 Surround)
  • Subtitles: Japanese
  • Special features: Audio commentary by Teruyoshi Nakano, trailers for the film and the Godzilla 1983 Movie Festival, making-of featurette (43 minutes), Godzilla Series Location Guide (49 minutes)

Kraken Releasing DVD/Blu-ray (2016)

  • Region: 1 (DVD) or A/1 (Blu-ray)
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: Japanese (5.1 Surround) and English (5.1 Surround, international dub)
  • Special features: Trailers for The Return of Godzilla and Kraken Releasing's other Godzilla titles
  • Notes: The international dub's 5.1 audio mix differs from the original 1.0 mix in several ways, most notably the exclusion of Godzilla's scream as he falls into Mt. Mihara.

Videos[edit | edit source]

Trailers[edit | edit source]

The Return of Godzilla Japanese newsflash/special announcement
The Return of Godzilla Japanese trailer
The Return of Godzilla Japanese TV spot
The Return of Godzilla
international trailer
The Return of Godzilla
French trailer
The Return of Godzilla West German trailer
Godzilla 1985 U.S.
teaser trailer
Godzilla 1985 U.S.
teaser trailer and TV spots
The Return of Godzilla
West >German video trailer
The Return of Godzilla
Portuguese video trailer

Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

Visuals from the
international export version
West German opening credits
Godzilla's "scream" heard
only in certain versions
Sound and music differences between
the "A" and "B" mixes of the film's audio
English voice work missing
from the Kraken DVD and Blu-ray
Cybot Godzilla exhibition

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Although the first entry in what became the Heisei series of Godzilla films, The Return of Godzilla was actually the last Godzilla film to be produced and released during Japan's Showa period (昭和時代,   Shōwa jidai), which lasted from 1926 to 1989; the reign of Japanese Emperor Hirohito.
  • The original story for The Return of Godzilla was first written in 1980, but as an entirely different film titled Resurrection of Godzilla. Godzilla was to fight a shape-shifting kaiju named Bagan, and the Super X played a much smaller role.
  • Teruyoshi Nakano, who had worked on the special effects for the Godzilla series since 1971, provided his final contribution to the series in The Return of Godzilla. Nakano later stated that The Return of Godzilla was his favorite Godzilla film that he directed the special effects for, along with Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.[17] Nakano retired from special effects four years later after working on Princess from the Moon.
  • This is the first Godzilla film to have been shot in the less-wide, non-anamorphic "flat" (1.85:1) aspect ratio, using spherical lenses, which had not been used since Godzilla Raids Again.
  • The Return of Godzilla is the only Godzilla film in the Heisei series to not have "vs." in its Japanese or international title.
  • Released in December of 1984, The Return of Godzilla was the first in a string of Toho-produced Godzilla films to be released in December. Every subsequent film through Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004 also saw a December release date, though this trend would be broken in 2016 with Shin Godzilla's July 29 release date.
  • This film's protagonist, Goro Maki, shares his name and occupation with the main character of the 1967 film Son of Godzilla, who was played by Akira Kubo. The name "Goro Maki" would be used again for an unseen character in 2016's Shin Godzilla, who was a biologist rather than a reporter.
  • Originally, veteran Godzilla series actor Akihiko Hirata was intended to portray Dr. Hayashida, but Hirata became seriously ill prior to the start of filming, and eventually passed away prior to the film's release. Another veteran Toho actor, Yosuke Natsuki, who had previously appeared as Detective Shindo in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, was cast in the role instead. Natsuki later admitted in an interview that he had no idea Hirata was originally meant to play the role, and insisted that he would never have accepted had he known, feeling he could never replace Hirata.
  • This was the second film role for actress Yasuko Sawaguchi, the winner of the first Toho Cinderella Contest in 1984. Sawaguchi was honored as "Newcomer of the Year" at the 9th Japan Academy Awards for her role. Sawaguchi also performed the song "Goodbye Lover," which Goro Maki can be heard listening to aboard his boat early in the film prior to discovering the abandoned Yahata-Maru.
  • Shinji Higuchi worked as an uncredited member of the assistant creature unit for this film. Higuchi would go on to become one of Japan's top special effects technicians, providing the special effects for Shusuke Kaneko's Gamera trilogy in the 1990's and later co-directing Shin Godzilla in 2016.
  • During the scene where Godzilla drops a train, the Ghostbusters logo can be seen on a nearby building. Ghostbusters opened in Japanese theaters 13 days before The Return of Godzilla.
  • The Return of Godzilla began a trend that Toho would continue in the Millennium series, ignoring all prior sequels to the original Godzilla and using that film as a jumping-off point.
  • The Return of Godzilla was the first Godzilla film to be dubbed into Korean. Prior to it, all Godzilla films released in South Korea simply had the original Japanese audio with Korean subtitles.[citation needed]

External links[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Kamayatsu appears in a nonspeaking cameo, wearing his character's costume from the television comedy Beat Takeshi's Academic Recommendations (1984). The series consisted of 12 episodes broadcast from July 12 to September 27, 1984. This cameo was removed in Godzilla 1985.

References[edit | edit source]

This is a list of references for The Return of Godzilla. 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]

  1. Japan's Favorite Mon-star: The Unauthorized Biography of "The Big G" by Steve Ryfle
  2. 2.0 2.1 List of Godzilla Movies. Nenda Ryuukou. Retrieved on 5 July 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 ゴジラ|ゴジラ 東宝公式サイト (official page)
  4. Interview: Dennis Falt (2018) - Toho Kingdom
  5. The Return of Godzilla - Toho Kingdom
  6. Interview: Matt Greenfield - Toho Kingdom
  7. GODZILLA ATTACKS THE NEW WORLD! Producer Tony Randel on Bringing Godzilla 1985 to American Shores
  8. Godzilla 1985 Widescreen On Monsters HD:Liner Notes and Pictures
  9. Exclusive: THE RETURN OF GODZILLA Blu-ray & DVD Details from Kraken Releasing
  10. BBFC Case Study: Godzilla 1985
  11. Box Office Mojo Godzilla 1985
  12. Roger Ebert Reviews Godzilla 1985
  13. NY Times Reviews Godzilla 1985
  14. Stuart Galbraith IV (2008). The Toho Studios Story: A History and Complete Filmography. Scarecrow Press.
  15. 3rd Golden Gross Awards
  16. Razzie Awards (1986)
  17. Teruyoshi Nakano Interview by David Milner (Conducted July 1994) - Kaiju Conversations


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