Godzilla, King of the Monsters! [1956]

Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
The first of the Godzilla movies, and the most somber and serious in tone, Godzilla, King of the Monsters was originally a 98-minute Japanese horror film, until a U.S. company bought the rights and reissued the film at its current 79 minutes, replacing sequences involving a Japanese reporter with new inserts of a dour, pipe-smoking Raymond Burr. True to the fashion of cautionary monster movies, Godzilla has arisen due to nuclear radiation--a 400-foot, fire-breathing dinosaur resurrected in Tokyo Bay--and proceeds to devastate Tokyo. Hardly a bogus building is left unbusted, nary a toy tank unmelted, by the reptilian rogue, until scientists discover another weapon of awesome destruction that just might stop him. The special effects are impressive, with the filming done so as to mask the fact that the monster is just a guy in a rubber suit, working better here than in the sequels, where they seem to have given up any pretense to that fact, in favor of flamboyant effects and battle sequences that more often than not are delightfully, unabashedly juvenile. The DVD includes a wonderful 25-minute documentary on movie monsters, pieced together from old trailers. This DVD offers your choice of Dolby 5.1 Surround or Mono, cropped-screen or letterboxed, and a plethora of other features. It is also available in a boxed set with four more of the best Godzilla flicks by director Inoshiro Honda. --Jim Gay

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