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Godzilla vs. Megalon (Alpha Video)
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Box Front Japanese Title: Gojira Tai Megaro (“Godzilla vs. Megalon”)
Director: Jun Fukuda (Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla)
Original Release Year: 1973
Running Time: 78 minutes

DVD Released By: Alpha Video
Video: Fullscreen
Audio: English mono
Extras: None
Subtitles: None
Closed Captions: None
Region: 0
Format: NTSC
Chapters: 5
Packaging: Keepcase
MSRP: $6.98
UPC #: 089218300799
Catalog #: ALP3007D
Status: Out of print.  This disc was not licensed by Toho, and has been discontinued.


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The Film: Goro, his friend Hiroshi, and his young brother Rokuro are picnicking near a lake.  However, their countryside repose is interrupted by an earthquake!  The once-tranquil waters of the lake are drained into a fissure that opens up in the lakebed.  They learn from a news bulletin on the radio that widespread violent earthquakes are the result of underground nuclear testing.  Even Godzilla and the other titans living on Monster Island are shaken by the seismic event.

Upon returning home, Goro and company find that their art-deco bachelor pad has been ransacked!  They confront two intruders, who escape.  The inventor Goro is relieved to find that his latest creation, a colorful humanoid robot called Jet Jaguar, has not been damaged or stolen.  After the construction of Jet Jaguar is complete, however, the mysterious men return and take control of the robot.

It turns out that the robo-nappers are agents of the Kingdom of Seatopia.  Like Atlantis, Seatopia is a legendary continent that sank into the ocean thousands of years ago.  This advanced subterranean society has been severely damaged by the recent nuclear tests.  Vowing revenge on the surface world, they invoke their monster guardian Megalon.  The Seatopian agents use Jet Jaguar to guide Megalon to their targets.

Eventually, Goro manages to regain control of the robot and dispatches him to Monster Island.  Using some kind of robot / monster sign language, he convinces Godzilla to come to Japan.  However, it’s a long swim, and Megalon is still wreaking havoc!  Flying ahead to confront the monster himself, Jet Jaguar grows to giant size and engages Megalon.  The battle escalates when the evil space monster Gigan is summoned to assist the Seatopian cause.  Godzilla himself finally arrives to even the odds and engage in an all-out monster tag-team battle!

Godzilla vs. Megalon is widely considered the low point of the Godzilla series.  Like most of the 1970s Godzilla films, it’s a low-budget quickie made for kids.  Megalon’s attack on Tokyo consists entirely of stock footage (including the same Mobil station that is destroyed in half of Toho’s kaiju eiga).  As a cost-cutting measure, the monster battle is staged on a barren landscape.  Jet Jaguar bears an obvious resemblance to Ultraman (who was immensely popular on Japanese television at the time).  Megalon (a bipedal beetle with drill arms) and Gigan (a one-eyed cybernetic bird / dinosaur) also look like TV Ultra-kaiju.  Godzilla has long since ceased being the nuclear terror of the 1950s and '60s.  In this film, he has a simplified design with a friendly puppy-dog face.  He also shakes hands with his robot friend and utilizes such silly tactics as the infamous sliding-tail drop kick.

Godzilla vs. Megalon is probably one of the most widely seen Godzilla films in the States due to it being public domain for many years.  The film’s negative reputation is somewhat undeserved.  Its status as a VHS bargain-bin staple means that most people have only seen the film looking its worst.  This is a shame.  There’s also a lot to enjoy in it.  There are a few impressive effects, such as the draining of the lake and Megalon’s destruction of a dam.  The entire final third of the movie is dominated by monster battles.  Godzilla vs. Megalon, in spite of its many shortcomings, manages to be a colorful, fun, and entertaining popcorn flick.  Grade:  C

Video: Godzilla vs. Megalon is presented in fullscreen.  The picture is grainy and lacking in detail.  The colors are dull and faded.  Some scenes are dark and murky.  There is a lot of print damage in the form of frequent black and white speckles, and vertical lines.  During the final battle, some of these lines are continuous, staying on screen for minutes at a time.  The picture on this DVD is worse than the old EP-mode VHS tape edition from GoodTimes VideoGrade:  D-

Audio: The single audio option is English mono.  The dubbing isn’t bad, except for the annoyingly shrill voice given to Rokuro (called “Roku-chan” in the film, and re-christened “Roxanne” on Mystery Science Theater 3000).  However, the entire sound mix is flat and unimpressive.  There is continuous dull hissing and popping, like the soundtrack is being played on an old record.  Grade:  D

Extras / Menus: The menus are still images with no music or sound.  There are no extras.  Grade:  F

Final Analysis: A pitiful waste of a disc.  Final Grade:  D- (I suppose it deserves a half a grade just for booting up.)
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