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Ghidrah, The Three-Headed Monster
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Box Front Japanese Title: San Daikaiju Chikyu Saidai No Kessen (“Three Giant Monsters:  The Greatest Battle On Earth”)
Alternate Titles: Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (international title)
Director: Ishiro Honda (Godzilla, King Of The Monsters; Rodan)
Original Release Year: 1964
Running Time: 86 minutes

DVD Released By: CineVu; New Media, Beverly Wilshire Filmworks, Telefilms International Inc., and Downtown Entertainment are also credited, either on the box or when the disk boots up.
Video: Fullscreen (the box says “widescreen,” but it’s a lie)
Audio: Mono (the box says “Dolby Digital,” but don’t bet on it)
Extras: None
Subtitles: None
Closed Captions: None
Region: 0
Format: NTSC
Chapters: 11
Packaging: Keepcase
MSRP: $19.98
UPC #: 026617884499
Catalog #: BWFD 8844-9
Status: Unknown; Amazon.com has stopped selling it.


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Reviewed by:  Zillamon51
The Film: During a nighttime meteor shower, a large meteorite crashes in Kurobe Gorge.  In a seemingly unrelated incident, an airplane carrying Princess Salno (heir to the throne of the small Asian country of Selgina) is destroyed en route to Japan.  It explodes in midair, but the Princess escapes this assassination attempt by jumping from the aircraft at high altitude!

Scientists investigating the meteorite make some strange discoveries.  Not only does the object from space have unusual magnetic properties, but it expands in size as well!  Meanwhile, Princess Salno appears in Japan.  With no memory of her royal heritage, she begins to make a name for herself as a prophet.  Not only does she foretell disaster for the Earth, she claims to be from Mars!  While most people dismiss her as a crackpot, the Shobijin (Mothra’s twin faeries, who are visiting Japan for a TV appearance) apparently hear the truth in her words.

While the police try to protect the princess from the assassins who have come to finish their job, her prophecies begin to come true.  The monsters Godzilla and Rodan return to Japan, and head for a showdown with one another!  The princess foretells even greater disaster, however.  The scientists in Kurobe Gorge are at ground zero for the birth of this calamity.  The space monster King Ghidorah explodes forth from the meteorite.  The golden, three-headed dragon takes to the skies to ravage Japan!

Princess Salno warns that Ghidorah will lay waste to the Earth, just as he did to Mars many ages ago.  The Shobijin summon Mothra to Japan, but the larval monster would be no match for Ghidorah.  The Earth’s only hope may be for Mothra to join forces with both Godzilla and Rodan to oppose King Ghidorah!

Ghidrah, The Three-Headed Monster was Toho’s most ambitious monster epic to date.  Not only did their three most popular monsters return, they faced a foe worthy of their combined might.  Ghidorah is an awesome creation, and would prove popular enough to become a perennial villain in Toho’s kaiju eiga.  The film has an over-abundance of plot elements, but they all come together well.  The four-way monster finale is well staged and exciting.  Akira Ifukube’s score is excellent.  The music ranges from subtle to rousing, and the themes for the various monsters are interwoven nicely.  Ghidrah, TTHM has its share of problems, though.  It appears to be choppily edited, though this may be the fault of American tinkering.  There are some rather silly monster moments, such as the “negotiations” between the three Earth monsters (translated for the human onlookers, and the audience, by the Shobijin).  The battle between Godzilla and Rodan is played for laughs, and suffers from poor effects work in the form of obvious cross-cutting between suitmation monsters and puppets, and a goofy new look for Rodan.  Godzilla’s fighting tactics rely too much on rock-throwing, and most of the time his ray isn’t animated.

This film was the turning point for the Godzilla series.  It added bizarre space monsters and multi-monster battles to the mythos.  Godzilla himself begins the film as a threat, before assuming the role of Earth’s defender.  Child-oriented humor became a semi-permanent element of the kaiju action.  For both its on-screen spectacle and historical significance,
Ghidrah, TTHM is recommended for all monster fans.  Grade:  B

Video: Ghidrah, TTHM is presented in fullscreen.  The spectacle of the original widescreen composition is lost in favor of constant close-ups and missing scene elements at the sides of the frame.  The colors are dull and faded.  Darker scenes are very murky and completely lacking in detail.  The level of detail isn’t much better in lighter scenes, though.  There is a lot of print damage, in the form of speckles, blotches, and scratches.  Objects moving onscreen sometimes cause the image to warp or blur slightly.  The picture sometimes pauses and skips, due to frames missing from the print.  This is simply a poor presentation of a poor print.  Grade:  D-

Audio: The audio is flat and low, complete with hissing and popping to compliment the on-screen blemishes.  Grade:  D

Extras / Menus: Zip, zero, nada.  There are no extras.  The amateurishly-designed menus include some animated film clips.  There are way too many screens crediting John Matarazzo and several companies for slapping together this meager effort.  Grade:  F

Final Analysis: My 14-year-old, LP-mode VHS tape of Ghidrah, TTHM from Video Treasures looks and sounds better than this DVD.  This disk belongs in the crapper, plain and simple.  The final element that earns it a flush is the fact that it’s not even a factory-pressed DVD, it’s a DVD-R bootleg!  The first time I removed the disk from the case, ink from the disk label smudged on my fingers.  At first, I thought this might be dust or residue from the plastic case.  When I wiped the disk with a slightly damp sponge (something I’ve done many times to clean DVD’s, especially rentals), the image on the label smeared!  Turning the disk over, I noticed the underside was purple, not silver or gold like a "real" DVD.  The pathetic cover art is straight off of John Matarazzo's printer (J.M.'s name is all over the box and disk like it's something to be proud of).  I was infuriated that this kind of homemade crap cost $20!

I have nothing against bootlegging films that are, for whatever reason, unavailable from official channels.  (I
might even own one or two myself.)  However, bootlegging a dubbed, fullscreen print that’s in horrible shape is rather pointless.  Trying to pass off such a boot as a legitimate item by selling it through a respected retailer like Amazon.com is downright fraudulent.  The circulation of gray-market films is a mainstay of kaiju fandom, because their official distribution is so spotty.  Fans of Ghidrah, TTHM can easily obtain a decent-quality DVD-R copy of the uncut Japanese version of the film, in widescreen with English subtitles, for less than CineVu’s garbage cost.  It’s only a matter of time before Toho plants their corporate boot up someone’s ass for this debacle, and for once I’m on their side.  AVOID THIS WORTHLESS DISK.  Final Grade:  F
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