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Destroy All Monsters

Somehow I got out of order in watching this on Filmstruck. All Monsters Attack was listed before this one in their queue even though this was out prior. It ultimately doesn’t make too much of a difference, but it does explain why All Monsters Attack felt like it had so much reused footage. In a little Googling about this film, it appears that by the time this film was made, the Godzilla craze was kind of waning, so this was to be a swan song of sorts. Which you can tell because this movie includes nearly every monster from this series so far plus a few from other films.

One thing I noted early on in this series was that Godzilla wasn’t a singular creature since the original was killed and maybe one or two others since. So it was a bit interesting to see that we’re back to a singular reference in this entry. The other item of note is that we’re also back to all the monsters peacefully cohabitating. The series started off with Godzilla coming from atomic hellfire and being a bane to humanity, but now he’s humanity’s protector which he’s been in more than one case. Largely, it’s been because his interests coincide with ours, but this entry was definitely more skewed to him being a savior of humanity rather than a terror. Of course, his friends also are here to help out.

I’d also add that All Monsters Attack refers to the island these creatures reside on being called Monster Island instead of Monsterland. I guess that change was made between films and Monster Island stuck going forward. It’s not a great detail by any means but just shows how this series really doesn’t have an overall canon. The little Mothra followers of the island don’t seem to be involved anymore. So as we progress forward, more and more ideas are used and discarded.

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Destroy All Monsters

We start the film with a tour of how things are going in this monster verse. Humans have a moon base and a pretty sweet spaceplane called the SY-3. During a routine mission, the space plane runs into a UFO and tries to investigate but ends up losing the alien craft. Back on Earth, somehow the Japanese scientists have corralled all the Kaiju onto an island called Monsterland which looks and sounds a lot like Jurassic Park minus the tourists. There are barrier devices setup to keep the big baddies from leaving and a small demonstration is shown. Basically, there are deterrents based on the individual Kaiju. Rodan gets a magnetic field and Godzilla has some sort of gas that drives him back.

 

 

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Destroy All Monsters

In total, we have the usual suspects: Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and Minilla as well as newcomers Baragon, Manda, and Gorosaurus. Maybe one or two others I’m not exactly familiar with, but those are the names I recall. During the course of the movie, we don’t really get to see much of the new Kaiju, except there is a cool scene where Manda coils around a bridge. Manda looks more like your traditional Japanese dragon that is long and sinuous like a snake. Honestly, seeing this one made me wonder why there wasn’t more of this kind of monster all along. I typically associate these kinds of dragons to Japanese culture, but up until now, it’s been lacking in the big monster movies from there.

Anyway, back in the story, the aliens do a hostile takeover of Monsterland and gas out the humans running the place, implanting mind control devices in their scalp. They also implant similar control devices into the Kaiju and send them out into the world to wreck shop.

At this point, I will mention that this was supposed to be a kind of series finale because they were running out of ideas and quite honestly, it shows. This alien invasion by way of Kaiju is very reminiscent of Invasion of Astro-Monster. The alien villains are silver suited menaces from another planet except these are all women and from the moon as opposed to Planet-X. The aliens do have access to Ghidorah which leads to a pretty cool tag team battle but the photocopy story definitely feels like they just didn’t have any other ideas for how the series could play.

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Destroy all Monsters

Anyway, as the film unfolds, we visit various places on Earth trying to stop the alien menace only to be denied by their technology at every step. Even when the scientists get a hold of the control devices, the aliens just use a slightly different technology. Eventually, the Earthers figure out the aliens have their control transmitter on the moon. So they make a successful trip to go and commandeer it. In the process, they learn that the aliens need heat to maintain form. If they are left out in the cold, they melt down into rocks.

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Destroy All Monsters

One thing I’ve failed to mention up until this point is exactly how many gunfights take place in this film. For a series known for big monster combat, we get about a half dozen gunfights between the aliens and scientists in various places. It all felt kind of weird and was surprisingly bloody at times for a film from that decade. There was an early gunfight that was somewhat normal between the aliens and some security guards, but scientists packing heat seems weird to me.

So as things progress, we end up outside Mount Fuji in the big monster battle you’ve been waiting for. The humans now control the monsters and poise them to attack the alien base, but, as in Invasion of Astro-Monster, the aliens bust out King Ghidorah.

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Destroy All Monsters

Ghidorah initially seems to command the battle, but there are simply too many other monsters for him to hold out. So tooth and claw dig in to defeat this big baddie. Godzilla and company turn their attention back to the alien base which was unearthed during the fight, but the aliens have one last card to play. A fiery dragon makes an appearance with a promise from the alien command that they will destroy Tokyo in a matter of hours. Fortunately, our space crew returns in the SY-3 to save the day. Turns out this fiery dragon is nothing more than an alien craft bathed in fire.

This entry was a bit of a strange one. It’s like that Friday the 13th that was supposed to be the last one. The filmmakers did everything they could to end this series, but the fans responded very favorably and instead of being an ending, the series just took off into a ton of sequels still going strong today. While I wouldn’t call this a great film–it definitely steals ideas from older entries of the series–it was still fun. The effects team created some very cool sets for the monsters to destroy as well as a moon base and a kind of Bond villain lair in Mount Fuji. I’m giving this one 3/5 stars for the massive effort that went into it. The story was definitely kind of a sore point calling back to Invasion of Astro-Monster so much, but at the same time, I think this really brought a lot of the Godzilla universe together in one giant mashup that was a lot of fun.

 ★★★

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