Director: Jun Fukuda
Columbia TriStar

Like GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER, the previous entry in the long-running series, SON OF GODZILLA was helmed by Jun Fukuda, taking over for Ishiro Honda who was off making other films like KING KONG ESCAPES. Like SEA MONSTER, SON takes the creature clashing to the setting of a tropical island, with good-doer Godzilla battling the baddies and defending the human race. Unfortunately for Stateside Gojira fanatics, SON was never shown in theaters and released straight to TV in the usual pan & scan edition. Now for the first time, Columbia TriStar has given the title an official home video release with a striking new widescreen DVD transfer.

A team of male United Nations scientists are conducting weather controlled experiments on a remote island called. Soon, they are joined by reporter Goro, and later, a beautiful native girl. Things get really out of control when a radioactive storm occurs, making the island unbearably hot. To make matters worse, the scientists then discover a horde of giant praying mantises which Goro names “Gimantis.” Some of the Gimantises beat an unusually large egg that cracks open to set free a baby Godzilla (known to many as Minya or Minilla). The Gimantises torment poor Minya until a wide-eyed Godzilla arrives to snuff them out and teach his son about life, the hard way. Godzilla and hid tyke sidekick then have to contend with a giant web-spewing spider, and the film’s plot prompts a massive snowstorm on the island, causing our reptilian friends to hibernate before their subsequent adventure.

With SON OF GODZILLA, the series took a definite turn in the juvenile direction, with the mush-faced, peculiar-shaped Minya being the center of a lot of goofiness. The character is played for laughs, as the giant mantises play hockey with rocks, using poor Minya’s head as a net, and daddy Zilla stepping on junior’s tale to force him to emit fire rather than lame smoke rings. The usual Godzilla theme is replaced with some rather upbeat music that actually works well for the film. The production values are pretty good, and the evil monsters are impressive to look at, especially when the leg of the spider beast is menacing our heroes in a cave. The cast includes a lot of familiar faces from other Japanese monster flicks, including Akihiko Hirata, Kenji Sahara, Tadao Takashima, Yoshio Tsuchiya and Akira Kubo, the then-young actor who would go on to play the lead in DESTROY ALL MONSTERS and YOG (aka SPACE AMEOBA). SON OF GODZILLA truly holds up as a fun, colorful monster/action film, and it’s great Saturday afternoon entertainment for the whole family.

With SON OF GODZILLA, Columbia TriStar is continuing the high quality witnessed on its other recent Godzilla releases. Presenting the film in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement, the transfer is near-flawless, with beautiful colors and nice detail, so much so that it’s easy to spot the wires holding up the various creatures in some scenes. For a movie that’s nearly 40 years old, it practically looks like it was made yesterday. Included are sufficient audio tracks in the original Japanese (with optional English subtitles) as well as the English-dubbed track. This is the uncut “international” version of the film that includes the original prologue removed from U.S. TV airings, as well as a different title card. The only extras are a new promo for Columbia's entire Godzilla DVD series, plus some additional trailers, Godzilla titles and othewise. (George R. Reis)