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

Dinosaur

Composed by: James Newton Howard

Towards the tail-end of its Renaissance era, Disney released an ambitious fully CGI dinosaur film simply titled Dinosaur. Visually the film is great, but the story and characters are so clichéd and predictable that it becomes a surprisingly forgettable experience. It’s telling that the best part of the movie is the first five or so minutes, where there is no dialogue. The plot itself concerns an orphaned Iguanodon named Aladar who is raised by lemurs. Displaced by the meteor that supposedly wiped out the dinosaurs, he teaches a herd of migrating herbivores on how to work as a team. One of the positives is James Newton Howard’s score, featuring some of the best music of his career. Howard had a brief tenure as a lead composer for Disney as it shifted towards non-musical action-adventure films. While he does not have the songs to make his scores iconic, I have to say that the actual instrumental scores are generally superior to Alan Menken’s. Continue reading

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

LOTR2 soundtrack.jpg

Composed and Conducted by: Howard Shore

The second installment of the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy is a very good middle, although some of the meddling with the characters and storyline of the books felt uncalled for. On the more overwhelming positive side, The Two Towers introduced the awesome Riders of Rohan and Andy Serkis’ groundbreaking role as the twisted creature Gollum. Howard Shore wrote a score that matched and also developed the material from The Fellowship of the Ring. Shore has often stated that The Two Towers was the hardest of the three films to score due to the need to create a beginning that carried over from the previous film and a cliffhanger ending. He need not have worried because he does a great job. The actual original one-disc soundtrack doesn’t live up to the previous film’s thanks to some questionable edits, but the score taken as a whole is on the same level.

Most of the new themes and motifs can be separated into two sets. Gollum uses the Shadow theme, also referred to as the Gollum Pity theme, but this takes a backseat to two new identities. The first is a mischievous ditty heard in “The Taming of Smeagol.” It is used to represent the scheming, more sinister side of the Gollum. It’s quirkier, more playful variations are present on the complete recordings. The second theme is a tragic motif that plays at the start of the “Forbidden Pool,” from a memorable inner dialogue sequence. Continue reading

The Princess Bride (1987)

Image result for princess bride soundtrack

Composed by: Mark Knopfler

The Princess Bride is one of those films that everyone loves. Thus it may surprise many to learn it did not do so hot at the box office. It was difficult to market. Was it a comedy, a children’s fantasy, a romantic adventure, or what? (William Goldman’s original novel was borderline satirical, yet Goldman also wrote it to entertain his daughters) The general gist of the plot is that the “most beautiful woman in the world” Buttercup loses her lover Wesley, but learns he is alive. They have to rediscover their love and protect it from a scheming Prince. It is an amazing, highly quotable film that strides along so many genres with success. Helping is one of the most perfectly cast assemblage of characters, special shout-out going to Andre the Giant as lovable Fezzik. Also praised is the music by Mark Knopfler. Knopfler gives the film a more romantic and probably intentionally cheesy fairy tale atmosphere. Rather than a bringing out an orchestra, he uses a synthesizer and guitar. Continue reading

Hellboy (2004)

Image result for hellboy soundtrackHellboy: The Deluxe Edition

Composed by: Marco Beltrami

In 2004 one of the lesser known, but still popular superheroes got his own film adaptation. Hellboy is perhaps my favorite comic book franchise, mixing elements of early 20th Century pulp elements (particularly Lovecraft and Nazis) and mythology and folklore. In both the comics and film Hellboy is the son of a demon, summoned to earth by historical character-turned super-villain Rasputin for nefarious apocalyptic purposes. Fortunately, the demonic child is picked up by supernatural expert Professor Bruttenholm and raised to be a good guy in the government organization known as the BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research & Defense). On Hellboy’s side are other misfits and freaks such as the fire wielding Liz Sherman and amphibious Abe Sapien and against him are Rasputin, a collection of Nazis, and other odd terrors determined to unleash elder gods of chaos and usher in a new world.

The film is pretty good, though as a Guillermo del Toro film its visuals tend to be a little stronger than the actual story. The film was scored by Marco Beltrami. Beltrami is well liked today by film music fans, but at the time most of his works were for dumb horror flicks and comedies. Hellboy provided him with a rich and varied source of characters and ideas to work with and he delivers, creating an eclectic but thematically driven score with bits of wackiness. The amount of themes and motifs is impressive and many are remarkably effective despite their simplicity. Continue reading