This topic needs to be revisited more often, because the creative geniuses at Toho in the 50s and 60s made so many more wonderful sci-fi adventure than what we see in the Godzilla series. Personally,I think that some of these classics are better than the very best Goji films. Recently, I've been satisfying an addictive thirst for Toho's most imaginative of film genre's, so I 've watched a great deal of movies over the past few weeks. I have a fresh perspective on alot of these masterworks, so I thought it was time, atleast for me to re-evaluate which ones are my favorites. Hopefully, some of you feel the same way. So, without further adeu(sp?)...
Ultimately, I always come back to this film, because to my taste, it is the quintessential Toho fantary film. It's wildly colorful and imaginative in its design, and the opening act from the moment it starts until Moguera is immobilized by the destruction of the bridge, is by far the greatest thing that Honda, Tsuburaya, Kimura and Ifukube have ever done. It does get a bit slow in certain areas, but that was Honda's style. His eye for documentary-style drama has always made for a very thorough interpretation of a story. I absolutely adore this movie!
If someone where to ask me which film is Ishiro Honda's best, I'd say that Godzilla King of the Monsters! and Godzilla vs. The Thing are undisputed. but Matango is a masterpiece. Here, he gets to work with a very grim story by Kimura, excellent effects work by Tsuburay and his crew and of the best ensemble casts ever assembled. This film gived Honda the opportunity to be pessimistic for once, and when unleashed in such a manner, he depicted a very disturbing view of mankind. Vastly underrated, and should be considered in a general poll of great sci-fi/horror movies.
Frankenstein Conquers The World/War of The Gargantuas
I will never choose between these two movies. Ever. They're both equally brilliant, and represent the apex of the Honda, Tsuburaya et. al team. This was truly the golden age of Japanese sci-fi, and along with Godzilla vs. The Thing, Ghidrah The Three-Headed Monster[/i], Monster Zero and Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, these two movies are simply THE cream of the kaiju eiga crop.
The introduction of the most intelligently scripted kaiju in Toho's gallery. Not to mention the great story, effects, performances, etc. Toho mde alot of great science fiction films, but there are only a select few that qualify as bona-fide masterpieces. Mothra is one of them. My fandom of the big bug was reawakened byTokyo SOS, and whenever I watch this movie, I feel like I'm looking at a great piece of art. It simply a beautiful movie.
This film, on the whole, is not one of Toho's finest. The pressures of a practically nonexistent partnership with an American co-producer, are evident throughout. Joseph Cotten is a fine performer, and even though he is fun to watch here, I've always felt that maybe somebody else would have been more appropriate for the role of Captain Craig MaKenzie(sp?). The story is pure Toho fantasy, but the dialogue is, as written by a foreign screenwriter, not always suited to the traditonal sensibilities of Honda and Sekizawa. Still, this is a very fun movie that, at its best, exhibits how good its creators really were at making these kinds of movies. Ishiro Honda and Eiji Tsuburaya shoot some of their absolute best work, and Shinichi Sekizawa writes a very vivid and believable depiction of paradise and harmony on Earth. Latitude Zero is not the film it could have been, but it's still pretty damn-fine. Atleast partially underrated in the Toho canon.
These five(six) films are the ones that I am predominantly infatuated with, but on any any given day, one of Toho's other great works could be my favorite. I feel that Dogora is also one of their best of the genre, because it's a well-constructed, wacky assortment of yakuza, sexy women robbers, great performances, occidental and Japanese, and daikaiju. And Gorath is the pinnacle of Honda's vison of mankind working together to defeat a common enemy (except for the cool, if unnecessary walrus). And of course, Rodan goes without saying. I could be here all night talking about these movies, but.....well you know! Let's see what you guys have to say.
"EVERYONE FORGET YOUR TROUBLES! ENJOY YOURSELVES!THERE'S NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT!" - Gigantis The Fire Monster
"It was HUGE...It was...IT WAS LIKE A MONSTER!!! Suddenly the rocks rose...ALIVE!" - Godzilla 1985