Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Missing in Action: Godzilla

Godzilla has been around for more than 55 years and is world famous. The original Godzilla (Gorjira) opened the doors for giant monster movies. Godzilla would go onto star in 24 movies and spawn two animated tv shows. In Japan he is a national treasure and his movies have been released many times over the years on every popular format, yet here in the states his movies have either been mistreated or remain unreleased.

Some of the Godzilla movies have been given proper releases here. Classic Media has given six Godzilla movies the royal treatment on dvd, giving us both the original Japanese version as well as the American version, along with featurettes and commentaries. This is how Godzilla movies should be treated, but these releases are just a small taste of the overall picture.

Other Godzilla movies have been released here, but their treatment is far from acceptable. Some of the movies contain the American version only (King Kong vs Godzilla, Godzilla 2000 ), released in a modified widescreen (most of the 90's Godzilla movies), or have been released with dubtitles (most of the Sony "anniversary" editions). For such an iconic character, these releases are subpar, but there are a few Godzilla movies that have yet to be released on dvd here.

The first Godzilla movie that has yet to see a dvd release is one that will probably never see release here is the crapfest that is known as Godzilla vs Megalon. This movie is so bad that it even appeared as a featured movie on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Megalon did get a theatrical release here in 1976, but has been absent on dvd (it did appear on volume 10 of the MST3k dvd releases, but was recalled after the rights holder threatened legal action.)

The second Godzilla movie to not have a dvd release here is both the American and Japanese versions of The Return of Gojira (1984). Released in the states as Godzilla 1985, the movie was edited much the same way the the original Gojira was edited by in 1956, with Raymond Burr returning to his role as Steve Martin. The American version was released on vhs, but has never seen the light of day since.

The final Godzilla movie that has yet to grace dvd is Godzilla vs Biollante(1989). Released on vhs by HBO home video, the movie seems to have been forgotten by the dvd companies.

The reasons that these movies have not seen releases on dvds vary depending on the release. The rights holder to Godzilla vs Megalon is reported to be embaressed by the movie and refuses to let the movie be released in the states. This is why the MST3k version was recalled. Godzilla 1985 and Biollante seem to be caught up in legal issues. Godzilla 1985 was released theatrically by New World Pictures, but since they do not exist anymore there is no telling who owns the rights. Biollante's rights were, at one time, held by Miramax, but it is unlikely that they renewed their rights to the movie.

Since every other Godzilla movie has been released on dvd here in the states, these three releases leave a gap in any fans collection. Sure, the movies can be imported, with the exception of Godzilla 1985, but it would be nice to see American releases of these movies. Be as it may, it seems that the only way that we are going to be able to get these movies is either importing them, or through various bootleg channels. These movies need American release and fast.

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