KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (1968)

This movie started as a vehicle for the Japanese version of King Kong, with the title Operation Robinson Crusoe: King Kong vs. Ebirah. It was rejected by Rankin/Bass Productions, the folks who created all your favorite holiday specials and who had the rights to Kong, producing a licensed TV show — The King Kong Show — which was amongst the first original cartoons to be produced in Japan for Americans.

King Kong’s role was replaced with Godzilla under the title Ebirah, Horror of the Deep*. It’s the first of two Godzilla films — Son of Godzilla is the other — set on a South Pacific island instead of Japan.

What most filmmakers have never realized is that no one cares at all about the humans in these stories. As a child and an adult, I do not care if people find their brothers that have been lost or if the Red Bamboo terrorist group sells heavy water weapons. I only care to see the monster crab named Ebirah and our friend Godzilla fight.

Yet as an old man, I also feel for Godzilla, who just wants to hide in a cave and sleep after defeating the menace of Ghidorah. Instead, these kids make a lightning rod** and zap him to awareness before he has to kill a giant condo (which is totally a Rodan costume), knock down some jets and then set that big crustacean*** straight by ripping his claws off.

Bonus points to Godzilla to remembering that just because Mothra**** is the friend of humanity, she and he are not on speaking terms. The movie ends with another big battle, an island getting blown up real good and Godzilla going back into the murky depths. Soon, he would meet his son, but that’s a story for another day.

This one has a really lower budget and reused the Daisenso-Goji suit. At some point during filming, the head of this suit was combined with the Mosu-Goji suit for episode ten of Ultraman to create the monster Jirass. That head was replaced with a different head that shows up after Godzilla fights the Red Bamboo and is noticeable for the bug eyes and raised eyebrows.

A lizard with eyebrows. This is why I love Godzilla.

*It’s known by so many names around the world, but my favorites are Germany’s Frankenstein and the Monster from the Ocean, Poland’s Ebirah: The Monster of Magic and Holland’s Mothra the Flying Dracula Monster.

**Godzilla being powered by electricity is totally because the script was written for the Japanese King Kong, who is powered that way. It’s also why he’s so protective of Dayo, as falling for human females is a Kong characteristic.

***Ebirah’s name comes from the Japanese word ebi. That means shrimp, so he’s really one of those and not a crab, but he has crab claws, so…

****This is the last Showa-era Godzilla film where Mothra’s twin helpers the Shobijin, appear. They’re played by the same actress, Pair Bambi, instead of The Peanuts (Emi and Yumi Itô).

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