Mothra vs. Godzilla (Mosura tai Gojira) is Japanese monster movie craziness at its craziest. It was made in 1964 by Toho Studios and directed by Ishirô Honda, who also helmed the original Godzilla.
Those wicked capitalists are at it again, building a beachfront resort which will employ hundreds of local people. Then a typhoon strikes and a gigantic egg is washed ashore. The wicked capitalists buy the egg from the local villagers with the intention of making it the star attraction of the Shizonuwa Happy Centre.
Two tiny girls (about 6 inches high) appear and ask if they could please have their egg back. Reporter Ichiro Sakai (Akira Takarada) and press photographer Junko Nakanishi (Yuriko Hoshi) are sympathetic and do their best the wicked capitalists to return the egg. The egg comes from Infant Island. It is the egg of Mothra, a gigantic moth. Infant Island had been the site of a H-bomb test which naturally produced all sorts of strange things, like gigantic moths and miniature girls.
Meanwhile Godzilla is back, and he’s looking for things to stomp. The army has plans to stop the giant reptile but our two intrepid news hounds realise that only Mothra can save humanity. An epic battle between Mothra and Godzilla follows, the egg hatches to produce two enormous moth larvae which spout some kind of sticky substance which is very useful for wrapping up unwanted giant prehistoric monsters, but the future of humanity hangs in the balance.
The movie is marred by a lot of tedious propaganda about human wickedness and the dangers of atomic testing. Everything is all our fault of course. There are also songs, provided by the tiny girls.
Once the action switches back to giant monster battles though there is plenty of fun to be had. The stop motion effects are extremely good and while it’s difficult to imagine how a huge moth could be portrayed as being capable of battling Godzilla it has to be admitted that the film-makers succeed pretty well. Mothra is one very formidable moth. She uses her wings to create a wind that keeps knocking poor old Godzilla down. This is not the least of the indignities that Godzilla suffers - he is electrocuted by artificial lightning, shot at by tanks, has bombs dropped on him by the air force and has giant nets dropped on him as well.
Tokyo doesn’t actually get stomped in this movie but there is still plenty of giant monster stomping. Coastal cities get devastated, an industrial complex gets squashed, and there is general mayhem. It’s all very well done and in fact all of the effects are good. Mothra is pretty impressive, beating its wings in fine style.
The acting is adequate for a monster movie and Ishirô Honda by this time had plenty of experience with monster movies and other science fictional fun silliness.
There was apparently a US version that eliminated some scenes and added others.
Madman’s Region 4 DVD is excellent, an anamorphic transfer that makes the most of the Tohoscope aspect ratio. Colours are vibrant and picture quality is exceptionally good. It includes both the English dubbed version and the original Japanese version.
If you ignore the breast-beating about human wickedness this is a fun silly classic monster movie. Recommended for all monster movie fans.