I’m really quite annoyed that I couldn’t get hold of a copy of Destroy All Monsters. The reason is because I have now had to watch two of the most misguided Godzilla films of the Showa era in a row. The last film I reviewed was Son of Godzilla. A film that features Godzilla playing pops to a baby Godzilla known as Minilla. That film may have been first of the Godzilla films squarely aimed at children, but it did at least bear the hallmarks of the sci-fi elements you expect from the series along with the sort of characters you expect. All Monsters Attack is odd. Really odd. How odd? Click the link below and I’ll explain.
All Monsters Attack largely takes place within the dreams of an approximately 6 year old latchkey kid (Ichiro – Tomonori Yazaki) living in Tokyo. He has a problem with a bully nicknamed Gabara that he is afraid to stand up to. His father works away from home and his mother does long shifts at work meaning he is often left on his own at night. His neighbour, a toy inventor named Shinpei (Eisei Amamoto), is often left to keep and eye on Ichiro. As Ichiro dreams of being on Monster Island with Godzilla’s son, Minilla, the young boy learns to stand up for himself. This comes in handy as he soon finds himself kidnapped by a pair of thieves hiding out nearby. In the interests of keeping the monster quota up Ichiro still finds time to sleep and dream of Monster Island whilst tied up and having a knife to his throat. Yup, two fully grown adult men threaten a 6 year old boy with a knife, all because he found one of their driver’s licenses. They don’t bother asking for it to be returned, just jump straight to kidnapping.
So there’s a weird juxtaposition for you. A poor latchkey kid in danger played off against giant monster fights. I can see what they were going for here, a story of a child learning to take care of himself by the situation that his life has been placed within. Not sure such a story required Godzilla to allow it to be told, but, whatever. So, you may be asking, how does a small 6 year old boy make friends with Minilla? How does a 1 metre tall child hang out with the 20 metre tall son of Godzilla? Well that is simple you idiot. Obviously Minilla can just change his height at will now. Also, he speaks English. Good job this takes place in a dream world or Godzilla fans would have gone nuts. Only a crazy director would depict the son of Godzilla as being human sized outside of a dream world.
A major problem with All Monsters Attack, and an issue that does appear fairly often over this period of films, is the reuse of stock footage from previous Godzilla films. All monsters Attack is easily the worst offender of the bunch. The film runs just shy of 70 minutes and about half of that is set within the Monster Island dream world. Somewhere in the region of one half to two thirds of the scenes in the Monster Island sequences use footage from previous films. Ichiro and Minilla literally wander from one location to the next watching fights we have already seen. Most of this comes from Ebirah, Horror of the Deep and Son of Godzilla. They even included the terrible Giant Condor fight from Ebirah. There is a new monster, in the form of Gabara (Wonder what he represents), and that does lead to two fights that are actually newly produced for this film. But to get to that fight we have to get through the previously mentioned Condor fight, Vs Ebirah, Vs 3 Kamikuras, Vs Kumonga and Godzilla taking on a squadron of fighter jets. All culled from Ebirah Horror of the Deep and Son of Godzilla. This leads All Monsters Attack to end up feeling a hell of a lot like a clips show.
Now, assuming you are unaware of the use of fights from previous films and assuming you are 5, would you enjoy All Monsters Attack? I’d say yes, quite a lot. It’s certainly a fun film to help small children learn about our lord and saviour Godzilla. Definitely a less frightening film to introduce them to the King of the Monsters than Gojira would be. On top of that there’s a nice lesson about standing up for yourself and enduring hardships. Granted, that lesson gets undermined in the last few minutes when Ichiro stands up to the bully and then proceeds to act like a little delinquent shit head. Way to mature and then not kid. But, yeah, all in all this isn’t a bad film for little kids to watch so they can get their Godzilla fix. That said, it’s not like the majority of the Showa era was lacking in child friendly films.
So, what about you as a potential adult person? Would you enjoy All Monsters Attack? That’s a tricky question. Would you enjoy watching a Godzilla film that you’ve likely seen a quarter of already? By nature of the use of stock footage many of the fights have no real purpose to the films plot. They’re just padding to keep the kids happy. Remember, this film is not even 70 minutes long. They felt the need to pad out a 69 minute long film. The new fights with Gabara vs Minilla and Godzilla have their humorous moments. Personally I laughed quite heartily at the moment where Gabara just punches Manilla right in the face and knocks him out. I think the last time I laughed that much at a tragic moment involving a child’s pain in a film was when Macaulay Culkin got stung to death by bees in My Girl.
The film also features another very swinging 60s score that, for once, feels quite in place. As the film is entirely aimed at children having much lighter music isn’t a bad choice. As the film also has the fairly depressing story of a lonely child being left to look after himself at home it also earns points for not bullshitting children. The light music is used mostly during the Monster Island sequences which helps with the juxtaposition.
I can’t say that, if I was a fan at the time, I would have expected the Godzilla series to go in this direction, but here it is. They clearly didn’t have as much to go on financially as they had on previous films but there does seem to be at least somewhat of a concerted effort to provide something for children to take from the film’s real world story. The dream stuff is just there to keep them entertained between all the talky bits. All Monsters Attack has lower rating by fans on IMDB than Son of Godzilla and I have to believe that it is because of how odd a Godzilla film this is. Personally, I’d rather watch All Monsters Attack before seeing that terrible film again. I can fully understand why this is rated lower though. In many ways this is the complete opposite of what a Godzilla film should be in the minds of fans. So, I don’t recommend this to anyone familiar with other Godzilla films, but, this makes a fine introduction for small children to enjoy.