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Godzilla vs. Hedorah
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Box Front Japanese Title: Gojira Tai Hedora (“Godzilla vs. Hedorah”)
Original U.S. Release Title: Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster
Director: Yoshimitsu Banno
Original Release Year:
Running Time: 85 minutes

DVD Released By:
Power Multimedia / Tailent Video & Multimedia (Taiwan)
Video: Fullscreen
Audio: English mono, Mandarin mono
Extras: Summary (in Chinese)
Subtitles: English (Engrish), Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese
Closed Captions: None
Region: 0
Format: NTSC
Chapters: 6
Packaging: Keepcase
MSRP: Unknown
UPC #: 4714295990149
Catalog #: PW0184-004D
Status: Out of print


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The Film: An old fisherman complains to Dr. Yano that the fishing in the bay is terrible.  He presents Dr. Yano with the “catch of the day”:  A slimy, tadpole-like creature.  The doctor’s son, Ken, sees a news report of a similar, giant-sized creature attacking an oil tanker.  The inquisitive father / son team go to the waterfront to investigate.  While diving in the polluted bay, Dr. Yano’s face is severely burned in a close encounter with a man-sized version of the monster.  Young Ken’s hand is also burned.  Ken names the creature “Hedorah” (“hedoro” is Japanese for sludge).  While convalescing, Dr. Yano continues to study Hedorah.  He deduces that the many Hedorahs infesting the bay are feeding on pollution.  They also combine together to form larger Hedorahs.

One night, a giant Hedorah lumbers out of Sagami Bay.  It’s come ashore near an industrial park to feed!  Perched atop a factory, Hedorah sucks on the smokestacks like a hopelessly addicted smoker.  Godzilla arrives to challenge the bizarre new monster.  Even though he seems to have his way with his smaller opponent, none of his attacks significantly damage the sludge monster.  Eventually, Hedorah retreats back to the sea.

Feeding on pollution, Hedorah continues to grow larger and more powerful.  The next time it appears on land, it morphs into a saucer-shaped form and flies!  The sulphuric acid smoke it emits causes people to collapse and dissolve.  Even Godzilla is knocked out by the noxious fumes.  Round two goes to Hedorah.

Inspired by a suggestion from Ken, Dr. Yano has the military build a giant electrical device to dry Hedorah out.  The final battle between Godzilla and Hedorah takes place on Mt. Fuji.  Hedorah is now a lumbering, upright-walking creature that towers over Godzilla!  No matter what tactics the big G employs, he can’t seem to get an advantage over Hedorah.  However, Hedorah’s lasers and corrosive sludge take their toll on Godzilla, burning and blinding him.  Can Dr. Yano’s plan turn the tide?  Does it even matter unless humankind cleans up its act?

This is a very schizophrenic movie.  It combines eerily effective imagery of pollution and death with some of the campiest Godzilla action ever.  At one point, Godzilla even uses his atomic breath to fly via jet propulsion!  The theme of pollution is a logical extension of the Godzilla series’ traditional warnings concerning war and nuclear weapons.  The heavily bandaged Dr. Yano, whose tank full of tropical fish is dissolved by Hedorah, is reminiscent of the eyepatch-wearing Dr. Serizawa, whose fish were dissolved by the oxygen destroyer in the original
Godzilla:  King of the Monsters.  The film includes animated interludes, psychedelic rock music, poetry, and even a drug trip!  Godzilla vs. Hedorah is the most bizarre Godzilla movie, and that’s saying something.  It’s best appreciated as an experimental pop-art film.  Grade:  B

Video: Godzilla vs. Hedorah is presented in fullscreen.  While all of the Taiwanese “Real Action” Godzilla DVDs are cropped, the composition of this film seems to suffer the least.  There are some minor blemishes on the print (speckles and lines), but nothing major.  There is also quite a bit of grain.  The transfer is too dark.  While daylight scenes look fine, the evening and night scenes suffer.  (There are many such scenes in the film, since Hedorah is mostly nocturnal.)  They are murky and lacking in detail.  Luckily, the final battle on Mt. Fuji isn’t as bad as some of the earlier scenes.  Grade:  C-

Audio: Two audio dubs are included, English and Mandarin, both in mono.  The English track is Toho’s international dub.  The voices and dialogue are different from the English dub released by AIP in the U.S. under the title Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster.  Most of the differences are fairly minor; the most noticeable one being that the version on this DVD does not translate the title song (“Save The Earth”) into English.  It’s sung in Japanese.  Unfortunately, the English subtitle track offers no translation other than “Japaness Songs” (sic).  I’m sure a full Engrish translation would have been hilarious!  The other major difference is the pronunciation of “Hedorah.”  In the old AIP dub, it was “Heed-ra.”  In this version, it’s “Head-ra.”

Anyways, the English track sounds good.  The dialogue, music, and sound effects are clear.  There is an occasional hiss and pop, but nothing major.  The Mandarin track is equivalent in quality.  The sound effects (some of which are re-recorded) and dialogue are louder than the English version.  The music is also different.  Some of Riichiro Manabe’s odd-but-appropriate score is replaced, and additional music has been added to some scenes that originally didn’t have any.  Most of it sounds like stock B-movie music.  There is a poignant flute number when Ken is standing on the shore shouting for his “Papa,” and a hilariously out of place Mexican-sounding march when Godzilla leaves at the end of the film! 
Grade:  B

Extras / Menus: The only “extra” (I’m hesitant to call it that, since it adds nothing of value) is a brief summary.  It’s one page of text, all in Chinese.  There is also a “Copyright” (okay!) screen, also in Chinese.  The menus are basic and static, with most of the text in Chinese.  Grade:  F

Final Analysis: The movie is an odd one, but certainly enjoyable.  The Engrish subtitles and remixed Mandarin dub add some additional replay value to this disc.  Despite some video issues, this is all-around the most enjoyable of the Taiwanese “Real Action” Godzilla DVDs.  Even though it is eclipsed in quality by Sony's region 1 version, fans of the film may be able to squeeze some laughs from this disc, if they can find it cheap.  Final Grade:  C+
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