Monday, February 04, 2008

Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster (1964) and Q: The Winged Serpent (1982)

Two giant monster movies that are better than Cloverfield. Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster was the fifth movie in the original Godzilla series, and might just be the best after the original. To compare it to another long-running series, Ghidorah is this franchise's Goldfinger - a well-crafted distillation of everything that made the series fun, without lapsing into self-parody or tedium. And Ghidorah has it all; not only does this episode introduce King Ghidorah himself as the biggest, baddest monster on the block, it gives us a mega-melee between him (them?), Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra with plenty of destruction.

On top of that, this movie features a fun B-plot involving a band of assassins on the trail of a missing Princess from a random Asian country who develops amnesia and psychic abilities (!) with some typically pop-'60s style.

The best scene in this movie has Mothra attempting to convince Godzilla and Rodan to team up to fight Ghidorah, at which point one of the humans watching in the distance asks, 'What are they saying?' and another responds, 'I don't know, I don't speak Monster' very matter-of-factly.

Q: The Winged Serpent comes from a very different realm, one of the last gasps of the grindhouse cinema era of the '70s from director Larry Cohen. As such, it's a movie that finely balances the rough grittiness of Ed Koch-era New York with the total absurdity of having a giant Aztec god-lizard kill people and nest in the spire of the Chrysler Building. It's goofy fun, but it wouldn't work without the anchors provided by David Carradine and Richard Roundtree (as the hard-bitten cops) and Michael Moriarty as the recovering junkie and small-time crook who just sort of randomly stumbles onto the monster's nest. He's great as a full-bodied character, sympathetic and complex, in the kind of movie that usually just shows girls taking their tops off and getting eaten. Of course, because Larry Cohen knows where his bread is buttered, he includes that too.So why are these movies better than Cloverfield? The short answer is, Cloverfield isn't fun. It has fun things in it (the girl who explodes after being bitten by a giant spider is a nice touch) but despite its cheesy, fun genre origins, the makers of Cloverfield constantly refuse to let me enjoy it, by ham-handedly forcing me to think about 9/11 and by taking its characters so very seriously and so on. Simple things.

5 comments:

cjkennedy said...

Ghidorah = Goldfinger. Nice!

glimmer said...

and maybe your just as bad as cloverfield etc/since you show us fun things like female without a bra/but you don't show her getting eaten.you just sucked the fun out of your review.

but that pic was a nice touch. ;)

Actionman said...

I had a lot of fun with Cloverfield. It's a classic monster movie with some fresh twists. I used to watch the old Godzilla movies with my parents when I was younger...haven't seen one in probably 10 or 12 years.

Jeff McMahon said...

It's too flawed to be a 'classic' but it does have some interesting new twists and if it had been made with more integrity I'd have been a fan.

Actionman said...

What is this lack of integrity you speak of?