Godzilla’s Revenge (1969)

Composed by: Kunio Miyauchi

No film in the Godzilla series, outside of the 1998 American bastardization, has drawn as much revilement as Godzilla’s Revenge (titled All Monsters Attack in Japan). The plot centers around Ichiro, a little lower-class boy who escapes his dreary existence by fantasizing adventures on Monster Island. There he hangs out with Godzilla’s son Minya, watching a series of stock footage battles from other island-centric entries. Minya and Godzilla teach him how to stand up to bullies. Fans hate it for its obvious kid-oriented tone and lack of original monster footage. It’s doubly worse for Minya’s detractors, as the little tyke now talks as well (in the American cut he has a Barney Rubble voice). Fans also tend to hate the villain, a goofy looking creature called Gabara who likes to torment Minya. Oddly enough it was directed by the highly respected Ishiro Honda. Honda even thought it was a pretty good film, his claim being that it was socially relevant and valuable for children.

The music doesn’t help out much. It reflects the kiddie tone all too well. “Monster March,” the main theme, doubles as an obnoxious song sung by an aggressive-sounding girl named Lily Sasaki (I think it’s a girl based on the name). The instrumental versions back Godzilla’s battles, as well as Ichiro’s real-life getaway from a pair of crooks. Ichiro himself has a cutesy kid theme (“Alongside the Tracks on the Way Home”). To Miyauchi’s credit he puts it through multiple variations, including a lullaby in “Dawdling Away the Time” and electronics in “Ichiro and the Bully”. Overall the music, like the film itself, seems rushed. Everything between the two themes sounds incidental and the instrumentation is a far cry from Ifukube’s orchestra or Satoh’s big band style. I guess the music matches the film pretty well, but the cutesy moments really do make it all the more insufferable. I guess if one dislikes the music that much, the complete score itself is less than half an hour so there is that.

Rating: 2/10

  1. Monster March I – sung by Lily Sasaki
  2. Monster March II – sung by Lily Sasaki
  3. Alongside The Tracks On The Way Home
  4. Dawdling Away the Time
  5. Message from Mother
  6. “The Love Assignment”
  7. Ichiro Heads Off to Monster Island
  8. Godzilla vs. Gimantis
  9. The Monsters of Monster Island
  10. The Monsters of Monster Island
  11. The Encounter with Minya
  12. The Appearance of Gabara
  13. Ichiro And The Local Bully
  14. One Devastated Building After Another
  15. The Strange Vines
  16. Back to Monster Island
  17. Gabara Attacks
  18. Reunion with Minya
  19. Godzilla vs. Ebirah
  20. Godzilla vs. Spiga
  21. Minya vs. Gabara I
  22. Minya’s Lesson
  23. Minya vs. Gabara II
  24. Minya’s Unusual Strategy
  25. Godzilla vs. Gabara
  26. Live Alone, Fight Alone
  27. The Robber Approaches
  28. Ichiro Gets Busy
  29. “I Can’t Stand Bullies”
  30. Ending
  31. Monster March I (Karaoke Version)
  32. Monster March II (Karaoke Version)
  33. Monster March (Record Version/Karaoke)
  34. Monster March (Record Version)

Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Akira Ifukube - Destroy All Monsters (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) =  怪獣総進撃 (2003, CD) | Discogs

Composed by: Akira Ifukube

Destroy All Monsters was thought up as a possible grand climax for the Godzilla series. Starring 11 monsters (actually, a few of them only register as cameos), the film once again sees aliens mind-control monsters to take over the Earth. When I was a kid I was stoked to see this movie, but was greatly disappointed. Too much time is spent on humans fighting aliens and most of the monsters don’t do much until the final battle. I would say it’s a middling effort, not good enough to be a true classic and yet not silly or terrible enough to stand with the great corny entries. Much of Godzilla’s more revered crew was brought back, among them director Ishiro Honda and composer Akira Ifukube.

As with Monster Zero Ifukube breaks out the Godzilla and Rodan themes a lot for the destruction scenes, though there are other monsters who join in on the fun in these scenes. Ghidorah’s theme also makes a return for “Major Battle at Fuji.” The female alien Kilaaks are given the same motif as Monster Zero’s Xiliens (along with the theremin), though Ifukube does freshen it up with alterations. One version I like is “Escape from Monster Land,” where the motif serves as the start of an action piece. The end of this piece is the same as the end of Rodan’s theme, though this might be a coincidence. “Main Title” introduces the Monster Land motif, for the island where all the monsters are being contained. Some of this material is worked into the opening of “Ending” and also appears when the monsters gather in “The Monsters Pow-Wow on Earth.”

The one theme everybody knows form this film is the military march. It kicks off the film in “Main Title” and appears throughout the film for the humans’ heroic efforts. It’s heroic, but has a harder edge than the previous films “Monster War March.” Reportedly a theatrical rerun of this film a decade later had the audience stamping their feet to the music. “Remote Control Destruction!” is an incredible cue not because it’s great, but because despite being well under a minute its energetic repetitive nature makes it feel much longer. Another cue of note is “SY-3”, which at 0:18 has another march that would later be incorporated into the Godzilla March over twenty years later.

Destroy All Monsters is a solid entry. Once again Ifukube is working with pre-established monsters characters and ideas so he doesn’t create a whole lot of new themes and motifs, but he’s good at what he does. Ironically, the film’s failure to provide monster action results in less repetition in the monster cues. The score’s strongest selling point is its new military march as well as nifty suspense music. After this entry the musical landscape for Godzilla would go all over the place as the series was continued to diminishing box office results.

Rating: 7/10

Tracklisting

  1. The Toho Mark/Main Title
  2. Title Credits
  3. Monster Land
  4. The Lunar Base I
  5. Unusual Change on Monster Island
  6. The Lunar Base II
  7. SY-3
  8. The Unmanned Subterranean Center
  9. The Kilaak Starmen I
  10. Escape from Monster Land
  11. The Unknown Metal
  12. Discovery of the Monster Controls
  13. Rodan Comes Flying
  14. The 4 Monsters Attack Tokyo
  15. The Missile War to Protect the Capital
  16. Ruins
  17. Godzilla & Angilas vs. The Defense Corps
  18. Radon in Pursuit
  19. The Kilaak Starmen II
  20. The Lunar Base and SY-3
  21. SY-3 Sortie
  22. The Expedition Vehicle Breaks Through
  23. The Kilaaks’ Essence
  24. Remote Control Destruction!
  25. The Monsters Pow-wow on Earth
  26. Major Battle at Fuji I
  27. Major Battle at Fuji II
  28. Destruction of the Subterranean Dome
  29. Fire Dragon Pursuit
  30. Ending

Son of Godzilla (1967)

Son of Godzilla (Soundtrack) | Gojipedia | Fandom

Composed by: Masaru Satoh

The Godzilla series was continued in another island adventure. This time humans are trying to find a way to control the weather. Their experiments have the side effects of enlarging some of the wildlife to create Gimantises and the monster spider Spiga (Kumonga in some versions). It just so happens that a baby Godzilla, named Minya, hatches on the same island, and Godzilla finds himself having to defend the infant from the giant bugs (while also frustratedly trying to get his son to breathe fire). Minya is a divisive character. Some think him a cute character who contributed to Godzilla’s character development, but plenty of others find him obnoxious and insufferable. I find myself in the middle of the debate. I’m not a massive fan of his, but I don’t cringe from his mere presence. Son of Godzilla overall is a very fun romp, and Satoh’s score is a large contributor.

Satoh is much stronger on his themes here. The theme for the titular character is a pretty cutesy piece that may not be pleasant for the character’s detractors. This theme open up “Main Title,” which switches over to an adventure theme. A popular tune is that for the Gimantises, which has a mischievous jazzy beat. There are menacing strings interwoven to remind listeners these creatures do pose a threat, though they are no match for Godzilla. One theme that is all menace is a simple eerie rhythm for Spiga. This is probably one of the creepiest themes I’ve ever heard and really sets the monster up as a true threat. Ironically Godzilla has the weakest theme. Satoh was probably attempting to create a theme that was not too villainous or too heroic. Godzilla is by no means a protector of humanity in this film, but his protection of Minya puts him in a protagonist role. The theme works better as an action motif in cues like “Parent Godzilla Comes to Shore” and “Godzilla vs. Kumonga,” where it plays at a faster pace. Satoh does do some theme mixing where the rhythm of Godzilla’s theme merges with Minya’s cutesy theme in “Godzilla and Minya II”.

The humans have a couple motifs of their own. “Visitor from the Sky” has a goofy light-hearted motif with similarities to Minya’s theme. The motif for island girl Psycho, a brief romantic melody, is stronger. I would hesitate to categorize it as a love theme, as like most entries in the Godzilla franchise there is no strong love story. “The Island’s Misery” introduces a suspenseful motif for the island itself, appropriately negative due to its sweltering heat and abundance of mutated wildlife. The music between the themes is more on the level of Sea Monster, with tropical and jazzy bits. The strongest non-thematic highlight is “Ending.” Its first part is a forlorn and subdued motif, with a lonely horn driving the mood home at 1:08. The mood changes at 1:25, where the music crescendos in a heartfelt manner. The rest of the track is highly emotional, one of the best concluding pieces ever composed for a Godzilla film.

Masaru Satoh finally produced a real quality score with this one. He created a much more identifiable and for the most part catchy set of themes. The only issue is that Godzilla’s majesty isn’t evident, but much of the blame can be put on the nature of the film itself. Satoh’s music in this period was certainly fitting for the lower-budget island Godzilla films. Seeing as how he hit his stride here, it’s unfortunate he was not called back for some of the future goofball entries like Godzilla’s Revenge and Godzilla vs. Megalon.

Rating: 8/10

Tracklisting

  1. Opening
  2. Main Title
  3. The Sherbet Plan
  4. Visitor from the Sky
  5. The Uninvited Guest
  6. The Giant Praying Mantis
  7. The Young Girl From Zorugeru Island
  8. Preparing for the Experiment
  9. The Frozen Sonde I
  10. The Synthetic Radioactive Sonde I
  11. The Island’s Misery
  12. Gimantis
  13. The Appearance of the Egg
  14. The Silhouette on the Tree
  15. The Birth of Minya
  16. Parent Godzilla Comes Ashore
  17. Psycho and Minya
  18. Shinjo and Psycho
  19. Godzilla and Minya I
  20. Godzilla and Minya II
  21. Night on Zorugeru Island
  22. The Hot Red Marsh
  23. The Research Team’s Impatience
  24. Psycho’s Crisis
  25. Minya vs. Gimantis
  26. The Appearance of Spiga
  27. Preparing to Escape
  28. Minya vs. Spiga
  29. Preparing for the Final Experiment
  30. The Frozen Sonde II
  31. The Synthetic Radioactive Sonde II
  32. Godzilla vs. Spiga
  33. Snow Falls on the Tropical Island
  34. Ending

Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster

Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (Soundtrack) | Gojipedia | Fandom

Composed by: Masaru Satoh

Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster is odd in that it was originally supposed to be a King Kong vehicle. Rankin-Bass, which was planning a King Kong cartoon, decided they wanted something different to promote their upcoming work (resulting in King Kong Escapes), and Godzilla was quickly inserted into the big ape’s place. This is why Godzilla’s foes seem underwhelming in terms of power levels and also why he gets a sudden fixation on an island beauty (thankfully this oddball moment is contained to one scene). The plot concerns a group of friends searching for a lost brother. They end up on an island where an expy of Communist China is using slave labor to manufacture heavy water as well as a yellow substance that keeps the giant shrimp Ebirah away. It’s a fun film that’s definitely less ambitious than its predecessors.

Masaru Satoh returned for his second film. His material is widely different from his score for Godzilla Raids Again. It’s more jazzy, exotic, and upbeat, fitting the tone of an island romp. The music is thus more entertaining, though bereft of outstanding tunes that stick in your head. The strongest thematic addition is “Mothra Song.” This piece graces the main title after some island percussion. It thereafter gets turned into another fairy song for the giant butterfly. It’s not as powerful as her more well-known songs, but it’s pretty nice. On the subject of Mothra there is a neat short cue towards the end called “Arrival of Mothra” with a sparkling heroic rhythm.

The music in general would fit a 60s spy show with all the percussion and some very jazzy moments. Ebirah’s theme is basically a guitar riff that is only slightly sinister. “Endurance Dance Rally” is a groovy source cue that could fit in the Adam West Batman show. In addition to the themes there are some pleasant travel and island cues. Standouts include “Transportation by Yahlen II” and “Departure of Boat to Lech Island,” the latter another instrumental of “Mothra Song.” Ironically one of the weakest aspects is Godzilla’s material. There is sinister motif that appears in “Sleeping Godzilla” and another rolling motif introduced in “Rebirth of Godzilla.” Oddly his fight with the villains’ planes is literally scored like a beach party. Satoh just does not convey the presence and majesty required for the character.

Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster is a very different score. Given the nature of the film, it’s not wrong for Satoh to have ditched the more ponderous and sinister tone of Ifukube’s work. However, he might have gone too far. There is some good music here, but outside of “Mothra Song” it lacks a strong thematic base. Satoh himself may have realized this judging by how his next two scores went.

Rating: 4/10

Tracklisting

  1. Main Title
  2. Young Go Go
  3. Appearance Of Yoshimura
  4. Transportation By Yaren I
  5. Transportation By Yaren II
  6. Yacht And Hurricane And Monster
  7. Lech Island
  8. Red Bamboo
  9. Fierce Ebirah
  10. No Way To Survive
  11. Wish Of Dayo I
  12. Mothra Song
  13. Sleeping Godzilla
  14. Infiltration Of The Enemy Base I
  15. Infiltration Of The Enemy Base II
  16. Escape
  17. Fly Away Balloon – Southern Sea Horizon
  18. Wish Of Dayo II
  19. Mothra Song II
  20. Crisis In The Pasture
  21. Sleeping Godzilla
  22. Godzilla’s Wakening
  23. Departure Of Boat To Lech Island
  24. Rebirth Of Godzilla
  25. Godzilla vs. Ebirah
  26. Red Bamboo Base
  27. Retreat from Base
  28. Godzilla vs. Big Condor
  29. The Demolition Of Red Bamboo Base
  30. Godzilla vs. Ebirah II
  31. Godzilla vs. Ebirah III
  32. The Wish Of The People On Infant Island
  33. Mothra’s Song
  34. Godzilla vs. Ebirah IV
  35. The Arrival Of Mothra
  36. Before Nuclear Explosion
  37. Ending

Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (1965)

Invasion of Astro-Monster (Soundtrack) | Gojipedia | Fandom

Composed by: Akira Ifukube

In 1965 the idea of aliens and space adventures was not new to Toho, being a central element in several non-Godzilla films. Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster, while having no actual aliens aside from the titular space dragon, did have one of its characters possessed by the psychic energy of a Venusian survivor (Martian in the American cut). This made Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (also known as Invasion of the Astro-Monster) the first of many times the Big G would come up against extraterrestrials. Inhabitants of Planet X agree to give Earth the cure for cancer in exchange for using Godzilla and Rodan to drive off Monster Zero, revealed as King Ghidorah. Of course, they are not as benevolent as they seem and the monsters are used as pawns in a bid for conquest. The human drama in this film is good for a Godzilla film (Nick Adams actually puts in a decent performance as an American astronaut), but I don’t find the overall movie as strong as its predecessors. The final battle itself is just a shorter rematch from the previous film sans Mothra. Continue reading

Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster (1964)

Ghidorah, The Three Headed Monster Original Soundtrack - YouTube

Composed by: Akira Ifukube

Right off the heels of two cross-over successes, Toho went further, combining Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodan, a popular giant pterosaur. This time, though, the three monsters would eventually have to stop fighting each other and instead focus on taking down the three-headed space dragon King Ghidorah. King Ghidorah is one of the most iconic Godzilla foes. Towering over the Big G, he is armed with laser beams, powerful wings, and an eerie cackling sound. Ghidorah was a turning point in the franchise, where it started to move in a goofy direction. The monsters are much more humanized. One scene even has Mothra’s fairies narrating a three-sided conversation, in which Mothra comes off like a school counselor and Godzilla and Rodan two troublesome kids. That being said, it’s still a strong entry with one of the best monster battles of the series. Continue reading

Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)

Cue By Cue: Film Music Narratives: Godzilla vs. The Thing (Mothra ...

Composed by: Akira Ifukube

With King Kong vs. Godzilla a roaring success, Toho had another epic crossover duel. Instead of grabbing a popular foreign character like King Kong, they went for their other homegrown mon-star, the giant butterfly Mothra. Unlike the other members of Toho’s growing stable of titans, Mothra was a good guy (or good girl?), only causing havoc when her faithful foot tall twin fairy priestesses are abducted by an unscrupulous businessman. Mothra vs. Godzilla concerns her egg washing ashore on a Japanese beach. Quickly the egg is claimed by a corporation, despite the pleas of the twin fairies. Days later Godzilla emerges and, despite the flaws of modern man, Mothra rushes out to defend Japan from the dinosaur’s latest rampage. Mothra vs. Godzilla is often considered one of the greatest films after the original. It’s not hard to see why. Godzilla is really built up as a threat, there is some actual depth to the story, and the battles with Mothra are satisfying in that she is a total underdog using her wits and specialized powers. Continue reading

Akira Ifukube - King King Vs Godzilla - O.S.T. - Amazon.com Music

Composed by: Akira Ifukube

Godzilla actually took a long hiatus after his second film. Toho instead put its resources into other solo monster films, introducing the likes of Rodan and Mothra. In 1962 it finally brought back the King of the Monsters, but only after acquiring the rights to American icon King Kong. In a rare event, two characters would cross universes to fight each other (or more accurately King Kong would enter Godzilla’s universe, as the big G starts the film encased in his prison from 1955). The end result was a pretty goofy film, shockingly butchered in its Americanization. The King Kong costume is terrible, but the final clash itself is one of the best fights of the entire series. Much of the crew from the first Godzilla film were brought over, including Akira Ifukube. Ifukube would have the chance to develop the Godzilla theme further, as well as introduce some other memorable tunes. Continue reading

Godzilla Raids Again

Godzilla Raids Again (Soundtrack) | Gojipedia | Fandom

Composed by: Masaru Satoh

Following the smash critical and financial success of the first Godzilla film, Toho quickly threw out a sequel to capitalize on moviegoers’ fresh memory. The result was a far inferior film absent of its predecessor’s depth and emotional impact. I don’t consider Godzilla Raids Again to be the worst Godzilla film, but it is the most boring. The plot kicks off when pilots for a fishing company stumble upon two giant monsters. They and their friends and co-workers thereafter find their lives interrupted by monster attacks. This film introduced Godzilla’s first monster opponent, fellow mutant dinosaur Anguirus, but (spoiler) he dies before the last act. The rest of the movie is a bunch of daily drama involving the human characters, until Godzilla appears for a slow-paced fight with planes. I fault the rushed production for the lackluster nature of the film, as the focus on giant monsters disrupting the lives and careers of ordinary workingmen is a neat concept. Continue reading

Godzilla, King of the Monsters

Composed by: Akira Ifukube

Toho, one of the major studios of the burgeoning Japanese film industry, decided to get into the giant-monster-created-by-nuclear-energy genre popularized in America. However, the Japanese actually had been attacked by nuclear weapons at the end of World War II, not to mention massive fire-bombing, so their film had a lot more weight and gravitas. Gojira, Americanized as Godzilla, King of the Monsters, is actually a deep and heavily thematic film. It’s incredible how the series progressed to kiddie superhero fare by the 70s. Imagine the Godfather turning into an over-the-top gangster action series. The film was even able to maintain some of its atmosphere in the Americanized version, which cut out much of the film and inserted scenes of Raymond Burr as an American reporter (all things considering did a good job linking him to pre-existing Japanese characters).

Godzilla himself is one of Japan’s most iconic exports, an amphibious dinosaur who looks like a mix between a tyrannosaur and stegosaurus and breathes atomic fire. His distinctive roar was actually produced with musical instruments by his first composer, Akira Ifukube. The roar was so linked to the franchise and its sound that it often appears on soundtracks. Ifukube himself is regarded as the franchise’s primary composer, scoring eleven of the thirty or so films. Though never having scored a film since the mid-90s and his death, each recent Godzilla film has featured at least one of his compositions. Continue reading