Cozzilla (1977)

All the way back in 1979, the first issue of Fangoria came out with a psychedelic cover of Godzilla. I always wondered where this image came from and now I know — the strange and alluring 1977 Luigi Cozzi led version of the original film.

Yes, Italian filmmaker Luigi Cozzi (StarcrashContaminationPaganini Horror) created this colorized version of the original Godzilla, complete with a soundtrack that used a magnetic tape process similar to Sensurround.

Due to the success of the 1976 remake of King Kong, Cozzi attempted to cash in on the film’s success by re-releasing Gorgo, but it costs too much. Toho gave him a good price, but were only able to provide negatives for the 1956 American version of the film. Cozzi’s distributors refused to release the film, after discovering it in black-and-white.

At this point, Cozzi got the approval from Toho to colorize the film, provided they get the new negative when he was done. He had final approval over the stock footage, music, and choice of coloring.

To pad the film’s running time to 90 minutes, Cozzi added stock footage, saying “The decision to insert extra footage was because the original picture was 1 hour and 20 minutes. This was normal length in the fifties but in the mid seventies a picture to be shown theatrically had to be at least 1 hour and 30 minutes long. So we were forced to add material to it in order to reach that length. Its final length was 1 hour and 45 minutes.”

Cozzi wanted to give an old film an “up-to-date and more violent look,” so the director added real footage of death and destruction from war-time and Hiroshima  stock footage, as well as scenes from The Train, The Day the Earth Caught Fire, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and Godzilla Raids Again

To make the movie even bigger, Cozzi added Sensurround effects that would be blasted from giant loudspeakers specially placed in each theater. Composer Vince Tempera wrote the film’s additional score on electric piano, with synth music being used to give the film a more modern feel.

Image from SciFi Japan

Then, the film was colorized by Armando Valcauda frame-by-frame using stop motion gel photography, a process that took three months. The effect isn’t really seeing the movie in color, as later colorization efforts would accomplish, but pretty much providing a tripped out version of the film that is constantly being splashed with neon colors.

So what was Spectrorama ’70? Cozzi told SciFi Japan, “Spectrorama 70” is just a name I did invent to help advertising. It refers to colorization but also gives a feeling of 70mm which at that time was typical of every big budget Hollywood blockbuster. This invented name, in the style of William Castle, helped to give a “bigger” look at my Godzilla theatrical re-release advertising materials.”

This is one of the hardest kaiju films to find and one that’s probably one of the weirdest and most interesting. There’s really nothing like this movie and you can say that about just about every film that Cozzi created.

You can download this on the Internet Archive.

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