Return 1984: The Legend is Back!

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Taglines

  • Your favorite fire-breathing monster… Like you’ve never seen him before!
  • The Legend Is Reborn.

Origins of Godzilla 1984

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The return of Godzilla was released in Japan as Godzilla (ゴジラ Gojira?), and it is a Japanese science fiction Kaiju film produced by the Toho Company. Directed by Koji Hashimoto, with special effects by Teruyoshi Nakano, the film starred Ken Tanaka, Yasuko Sawaguchi, and Yosuke Natsuki. This would be the 16th film in the collection of the Toho Company’s Godzilla series. It also marks the beginning of an entirely new reboot of the Godzilla films ignoring all of the Showa Series films that began in 1955 to 1975.

The film acts as a direct sequel to the original 1954 Godzilla: King of the Monsters. This particular film would actually celebrate Godzilla’s 30th anniversary and it would mark the return of the darker themes that you see in Godzilla: King of the monsters that came out in 1954. He would return to his destructive antagonistic roots.

The return of Godzilla 1984 would race the United States the very next year and will be released as “Godzilla 1985” by New World Pictures. However this particular movie was heavily reedited and it did include some new footage exclusively just for the United States release of the film. It featured a Canadian actor Raymond Burr who is reprising his character Steve Martin, from the film Godzilla: King of the Monsters that came out in 1954 it would be 30 years later he would reprise his role.

Synopsis

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Three months after a volcanic eruption on Daikoku Island, the Yahata-Maru Japanese fishing vessel is caught in strong currents off its shores. As the boat drifts into shore, the island begins to erupt, and a giant monster lifts itself out of the volcano. A few days later, reporter Goro Maki is sailing in the area and finds the vessel intact but deserted. As he explores the vessel, he finds all the crew dead except for one young man called Hiroshi Okumura, who has been badly wounded. Suddenly a giant Shockirus sea louse attacks but is eventually killed with some difficulty.

In Tokyo, Okumura realizes by looking at pictures that the monster he saw was a new Godzilla. However the news of Godzilla’s return is kept secret to avoid panic until Godzilla attacks a second time and destroys a Soviet submarine. The Soviets believe the attack was done by the Americans, and a diplomatic crisis ensues, which threatens to escalate into war. The Japanese intervene and finally announce that Godzilla was behind the attack. The Japanese arrange a meeting with the Soviet and American ambassadors and, after some debate over the issue, Prime Minister Mitamura decides nuclear weapons will not be used on Godzilla even if it were to attack the Japanese mainland. The Japanese Self-Defense Forces are put on alert and search for Godzilla.

Soon, Godzilla appears on an island off the coast of Japan, determined to feed off a nuclear power plant there. When Godzilla attacks the facility and feeds off the reactor, he is distracted by a flock of birds, and leaves the facility almost as quickly as he arrived. Okumura and his friends realize that Godzilla reacts to the same signal as birds, and Professor Hayashida decides to use this method to lure Godzilla away from Tokyo. Meanwhile, the Soviets have their own plans to counter the threat posed by Godzilla, and a Soviet control ship disguised as a freighter in Tokyo Harbor prepares to launch a nuclear missile from one of their orbiting satellites should Godzilla attack.

Godzilla is later sighted at Tokyo Bay at dawn heading towards Tokyo, forcing mass evacuations out of the city throughout the day as a state of emergency is declared. Later in the evening, Godzilla abruptly appears in front of a patrol helicopter and roars as The JASDF attacks Godzilla with Mitsubishi F-1 fighter jets, but their missiles are useless against him and he shoots two of them down with his thermonuclear ray. Godzilla then proceeds to the coast, where the waiting army, equipped with tanks, rocket launchers and soldiers armed with Howa Type 64 assault rifles, proceeds to fire on Godzilla, but they are quickly subdued by a long blast of his atomic ray. At the same time, the Soviet ship hits the harbor and damages the ship and it’s circuitry, leaving the missile countdown on a timer that must be manually deactivated. The crew captain is the last member on the ship and attempts to stop the missile from launching. However, he is killed by an explosion due to an equipment malfunction. Godzilla then climbs out of the docks and proceeds towards Tokyo’s business district, wreaking havoc along the way. There, he is confronted by four laser-armed trucks known as Hyper Laser Cannons which lure him away from Professor Hayashida’s laboratory, and then the Super X, a piloted VTOL craft constructed in secret to defend Tokyo in case of emergency, in particular a nuclear attack.

Because Godzilla’s heart is similar to a nuclear reactor, the cadmium shells that are fired into his mouth by the Super X seal and slow down his heart. Unfortunately, during the fight, the city is faced with a greater threat when the countdown ends and the Soviet missile is launched from the satellite, leaving the Japanese government and people helpless to stop it. After unleashing his atomic breath on the Super X, Godzilla falls down unconscious. As the missile is predicted to hit Tokyo in 30 minutes, the Americans intervene and fire a counter missile at the Soviet missile. Professor Hayashida and Okumura are extracted from Tokyo via helicopter and taken to Mt. Mihara on Oshima island to set up the bird call device before the two missiles collide above Tokyo. The American counter missile soon hits the Russian missile and Tokyo is saved. Unfortunately, the atmospheric nuclear blast creates an electrical storm and an EMP, which revives Godzilla once more and temporarily disables the Super X.

Godzilla has a final battle with the Super X, eventually damaging the aircraft and forcing it to make an emergency landing where he destroys it by toppling a building on it. Godzilla continues his rampage, until Professor Hayashida is successful with his invention and uses the bird call device to distract him. Godzilla leaves Tokyo and swims across the Japanese sea to volcanic Mt. Mihara, where he notices the signal device. As he walks towards it, he falls into the mouth of the volcano where he is surrounded by detonators, which are activated by Okumura, creating a controlled volcanic eruption that traps Godzilla for good, at least for the time being.

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84Goji, ShodaiShokkigoji

  • Height: 80 meters
  • Mass: 50,000 tons
  • Powers/Weapons: Atomic Ray; super regenerative power; can absorb radiation; Nuclear Pulse
  • First Appearance: The Return of Godzilla (1984)
  • Other Appearances: Godzilla vs. Biollante; Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah; Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (stock footage); Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (stock footage); Godzilla: Final Wars (stock footage)

For the rebirth of the Godzilla legend, Toho decided to once again portray the King of the Monsters as an evil creature. Thus the 1984 Godzilla would possess the general appearance of the 1954 Godzilla (from Godzilla, King of the Monsters) and the facial expression of the 1964 Godzilla (from Godzilla vs. the Thing), the latter incarnation being arguably the most evil-looking version of Godzilla up to that time. The 1984 Godzilla suit therefore possessed features previously seen only on the 1954 and 1955 (Godzilla Raids Again) suits; fangs, four toes, ears, staggered rows of dorsal plates, and a rough underside of the tail. The detailing in the legs for the 1984 Godzilla was very good, but the musculature for the chest and shoulders were less well-defined, thus diminishing the costume’s overall image of power. The dorsal plates were very well-detailed, but also appeared to be more numerous compared to the 1954 and 1955 costumes. The largest dorsal plate was placed at waist level, which had not been done before or since.

The tail was longer than any previous version, the neck was short and the head was fairly large in proportion to the body. The 1964-style eyes, with red-brown irises, looked suitably evil. The 1984 costume also boasted a new feature for a Godzilla suit; the upper lip could curl up in snarl. It was so advanced, one might think it could even read a 3D barcode. For water scenes, a virtually identical Godzilla suit was built. Since this was the first time molds were used to construct a Godzilla suit (as opposed to the scratch-built methods previously employed), it was very easy to build two matching costumes. It should be mentioned that a 5-meter tall mechanical figure of Godzilla, called the “cybot”, was used for several close-ups in the movie. Unfortunately, the face of “cybot” scarcely resembled the face of the suits, and in the finished film the alternating footage of the Godzilla suits with the “cybot” is very jarring. As with the 1962 Godzilla (from King Kong vs. Godzilla), the 1984 Godzilla is an anomaly in the evolution of the King of the Monsters because it does not resemble prior or subsequent Godzilla costumes.

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Other Information Based on The Return of Godzilla 1984

  • The screenplay was first written in 1980, but as an entirely different film. Godzilla was to fight a shape-shifting monster named Bagan, and the Super X played a much smaller role. Among the SDF weapons in this script that made it to the big screen were the Water Beetle (an underwater mech) and the Giant Basu (which is equipped with a giant arm to capture submarines).[citation needed] Elements of the original screenplay were translated to the 1995 Super Nintendo game known as Super Godzilla.

  • Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka offered Ishirō Honda a chance to direct this film, but he strongly rejected the offer, because of what came of Godzilla in the 1970s, and his belief that Godzilla should have been permanently laid to rest after Eiji Tsuburaya’s death.[citation needed] Also, at this time, he was busy assisting his friend Akira Kurosawa with films he was directing, such as Kagemusha and Ran.

  • Veteran Godzilla actor Akihiko Hirata, who appeared in several past Godzilla films (best known of his role of Doctor Serizawa from Godzilla) was slated to play Professor Hayashida; however, he had died from throat cancer before production began. Yosuke Natsuki, another veteran, took the role instead. Stuntman Kenpachiro Satsuma (who previously played Hedorah and Gigan in the original Godzilla films) played Godzilla for the first time, as a replacement for another stuntman who backed out at the last minute.

  • Aside from being heavy, the suit was very dangerous (it was not only built from the outside in, but not made to fit him), and Satsuma lost a lot of weight during filming. This mildly mirrored what Haruo Nakajima went through when he played Godzilla in the original 1954 film. Subsequent Godzilla suits worn by Satsuma were much safer and more comfortable, as they were custom-made to fit him (even though the suits still had some dangers of their own).

  • The lifelike animatronic Godzilla prop used in close-up shots is the 20-foot (6.1 m) “Cybot Godzilla.” It was heavily touted in the publicity department at the time, even though it was not used in the film as extensively as promoted. A full-size replica of Godzilla’s foot was also built, albeit all of the scenes in which it is used were removed from the American version (the sole exception being a shot of the foot crushing a row of parked cars during the attack on the nuclear power plant).

  • Prior to New World Pictures’ release of the film, Toho had the film dubbed in Hong Kong. This “Toho international version”, titled The Return of Godzilla is uncut and was released in the United Kingdom in the 1990s. So far, this version has not been made available in the United States.

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Trivia and Interesting facts about The Return of Godzilla 1984

  • The Return of Godzilla was a reasonable success in Japan, with attendance figures at approximately 3,200,000 and the box office gross being approximately $11 million (the film’s budget was $6.25 million).

  • When Godzilla 1985 failed at the box office, it was the last Godzilla film produced by Toho to receive any major release in North American theaters until Godzilla 2000 fifteen years later.

  • After almost a decade of failed film proposals to revive the Godzilla character (including “Resurrection of Godzilla,” “Godzilla Vs. Gargantua,” etc.), Toho finally made this film after the Godzilla-mania of 1983, when Toho held an incredibly popular film festival, featuring all previous Godzilla films, as well as all other Toho sci-fi and monster classics. (Actor Akihiko Hirata attended the festival dressed as his Dr. Serizawa character from the original Godzilla (1954).) The mania even resulted in a new wave of merchandise and other events (including Bandai obtaining the license to do Godzilla toys in Japan, and Akira Ifukube conducting a popular “Godzilla Fantasia”), as well as creating a new generation of fans. Because of this resurgence in Godzilla’s popularity, Toho figured it was time to bring back the character in earnest.

  • This film was based partly on a 1980 story treatment by Tomoyuki Tanaka and Akira Murao called “The Resurrection of Godzilla” (“Gojira no Fukkatsu”). Conceived as a direct sequel to Godzilla (1954), a new Godzilla, identical to the one from 1954, was reawakened by illegal nuclear waste dumping by a freighter in the Pacific Ocean. The protagonists include Shinpei Muraki (the young director of the Information Science Center), Professor Inamura, his daughter Akikuko Inamura (Muraki’s love interest), and American scientist Dr. Radner. The story was also the introduction of what is considered Toho’s greatest “lost” monster, Bagan, which Godzilla fought in the story. Bagan, a guardian spirit, has four forms in this film: the Dragon Spirit Beast (Doragon Reijû), the Ape Spirit Beast (Enjin Reijû), the Water Spirit Beast (Sui Reijû), and ultimately, a totem-like amalgam of the three forms. Godzilla savagely fights and kills the monster after the middle of the film. Another adversary for the radioactive terror is a JSDF armored super-vehicle, the Super-Beetle (which was ultimately reworked into the Super-X). The film’s climax has the protagonists attempting to destroy Godzilla on Beonase Atoll, with a trap containing Dr. Inamura’s nuclear invention, Reiconium. When the device malfunctions, Dr. Radner makes a Serizawa-like sacrifice and reactivates the weapon, engulfing Godzilla in lethal radioactive blue flames, apparently killing the monster, and taking Radner’s life in the process. The story ends with Godzilla’s lifeless body washing ashore a beach on the West Coast of the United States, with a nuclear power plant nearby; a narration stated, “As long as nuclear energy exists, Godzilla will live,” as Godzilla’s eyes open and the monster stirs to life with a mighty roar. Although the script was never produced, many of its elements nonetheless remained in the film, including the Shokkiras (the radioactive sea louse), and Godzilla attacking a nuclear power plant (and absorbing energy from the core reactor).

  • As of November 2012, this film is the only Godzilla movie not officially released on DVD in the United States, until the rights of the film will expire in 2016 which will give a official R1 U.S DVD.

  • Actor Akihiko Hirata, who portrayed Dr. Serizawa in the first Godzilla feature was supposed to have a role in the new update. Unfortunately he had succumbed to throat cancer just before filming.

  • Raymond Burr reprised his character as the journalist Steve Martin for the American version of this film. However, since Steve Martin was the name of a popular comedian, he is referred to on screen as “Steve” or “Mr. Martin.”

  • Executive producer Tomoyuki Tanaka strongly considered two Godzilla series veterans, director Ishirô Honda and composer Akira Ifukube, to work on this film, but despite Tanaka’s pleas, both men declined for professional and personal reasons. They were both still greatly affected by the passing of special effects wizard Eiji Tsuburaya in 1970, and felt that “Godzilla died when Eiji Tsuburaya died.” Additionally, when Ifukube heard about the changes made to Godzilla, such as his increased size from 50 meters to 80 meters, he reportedly said, “I do not write music for 80 meter monsters.”

  • Kenpachirô Satsuma had suffered grueling injuries while playing Godzilla, including a sharp wire in the suit’s leg chewing on his thigh (and thus shouting for help inside the suit as a scene was to be shot), and sharp staples from pyrotechnic explosives trickling into his suit and down his feet when the back was left open (Satsuma was very angry with the SPFX crew about this, having warned them to “Wait until I am fully sealed in the suit!” The crew was more careful at this point). After production, Satsuma lost a lot of weight (similar to how Haruo Nakajima lost 20 pounds after he first played Godzilla).

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  • When Godzilla blasts a news helicopter in Shinjuku with his radioactive breath ray, look carefully in the background for a billboard with the Ghostbusters (1984) logo (albeit backwards) as the copter falls from the sky just before hitting the ground.

  • This was not only the last Godzilla film produced during the Showa Era in Japan (the reign of Emperor Hirohito (1921-1989), but also the first film in a new series (later called the “Versus Series” in Japan), a direct sequel to the original film, Godzilla (1954). The next film, _Gojira vs. Biorante (1989)_, was the first Godzilla film to be filmed in the Heisei Era (the reign of Emperor Akihito; 1989-present). This led to some confusion with American Godzilla fans, who called this particular series the “Heisei Series.”

  • This is the first film in the series since the original Godzilla (1954) in which Godzilla doesn’t do battle with another monster.

  • Stuntman Kenpachirô Satsuma played Godzilla for the first time in this movie, and continued to play the role for the remainder of the VS Series. However, the Godzilla suits used in this film (constructed from the outside in) were not originally made to fit him, but for another stuntman who left production at the last minute.

  • Godzilla was brought to life using several different techniques: Two prosthetic “suitmation” costumes (one for land scenes, and the other for water), a full-sized “dummy” (for the scenes where Godzilla pops out of the water), a 3-foot model (the concept maquette), various appendages in a variety of sizes (including a tail prop, and a full-size Godzilla foot prop), and the one most expensive effect for the monster in the film, the 20-foot tall animatronic “Cybot Godzilla,” which was manipulated by computers. Toho had heavily promoted the Cybot Godzilla in the press, and had hoped that this would be the ultimate technique to use for the film. But it could not be used to create full shots of Godzilla walking (since the prop was plugged onto a set of fixed legs/tail), so Toho compromised by using the classic “suitmation” technique, especially for nostalgic reasons.

  • This was the last Godzilla film for special effects art director Yasuyuki Inoue. He had originally been loaned to Toho to work on the original “Gojira” (1954).

  • The first Godzilla film, in its Japanese version, with closing credits.

  • First Godzilla movie in Korea to actually be dubbed in Korean. Before then, most of the Godzilla movies in Korea were still in Japanese with Korean subtitles.

  • This was the last Godzilla film, in its original Japanese version, to end with a “The End” title (in the case of this film, at the end of the credits).

  • The first Godzilla film shot in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio (VistaVision). All Godzilla films (in the VS/Heisei Series) up to Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995) were shot in this ratio.

  • Justin Gocke is uncredited in the US version of “Godzilla 1985”. He played “Grandson Kyle”. The first name is not used in the American version. He does not appear in the Japanese version.

  • Actress Yasuko Sawaguchi was picked to play Naoko Okumura (the film’s heroine) on the basis of being chosen as the then-new Toho Cinderella earlier the same year (immediately after which she had already made her debut in Karate Cop III: Song of the Sea (1984)). So for Godzilla’s big comeback film, it made sense for Toho to cast Sawaguchi as the female lead, since she was Toho’s hottest new actress at the time.

  • The picture was nominated for Worst Picture at the Hastings Bad Cinema Society’s 8th Stinkers Bad Movie Awards in 1985.

  • In early 1985 the trade papers re-ported that Toho was asking several million dollars for the North American distribution rights, and that discussions had taken place w it MGM/United Artists and other studios. At one point, a Toho spokesman complained that the best offer ponied up (by an unnamed Hollywood studio) was in the $2 million range. It’s doubtful that he was telling the truth, for the bidding war, such as it was, didn’t last long, and Toho wound up getting far less money. By May, the new Godzilla movie had been passed over by the majors and fallen instead into the hands of New World Pictures, the modern-day equivalent of the kind of low-budget, exploitation movie producers and distributors that gobbled up Godzilla movies.

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Goofs

  • Godzilla changes sizes many times over the course of the movie.

  • When Godzilla picks up the train car he lifts it up to his eye so he can look inside. When the camera cuts back to a full body view, he is holding it at waist level (US version only).

  • When Godzilla enters the Japanese harbor he uses his atomic breath to blow up all of the resistance along the shore. When he starts using it he turns to the left, facing the camera, but the breath still goes to the right on the shore.

  • In the scene where Godzilla plummets into the crater of Mt. Mihara, the shadow of his tail does not match the position it’s really in.

Crew or equipment visible

  • As Dr. Hayashida’s sonic oscillator starts luring Godzilla out of Tokyo to the volcano, there’s a POV shot from Goro and Naoko’s perspective that clearly shows the wire controlling Godzilla’s tail. This almost appears to be an unintentional homage to the scene in the original Godzilla, where Godzilla’s tail appears outside the window of a partially demolished building (the one in which Raymond Burr’s character was reporting from in the American version), and the wire is similarly visible.

Plot holes

  • In the American version, the American general and his peers keep talking about giving support to the Japanese, but the only real visible thing they “help” with is the stopping of the Russian nuclear missile.

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Quotes From The Movie

[US version]

  • Steve Martin: Nature has a way sometimes of reminding Man of just how small he is. She occasionally throws up terrible offspring’s of our pride and carelessness to remind us of how puny we really are in the face of a tornado, an earthquake, or a Godzilla. The reckless ambitions of Man are often dwarfed by their dangerous consequences. For now, Godzilla – that strangely innocent and tragic monster – has gone to earth. Whether he returns or not, or is never again seen by human eyes, the things he has taught us remain…

  • General Goodhoe: Seeing as how you seem to be the only person who seems to know anything about whatever it is we’re dealing with, what can we do?

  • Steve Martin: I was the only American to have survived that catastrophy. If you men had seen what I saw, you’d realize that fire power of any kind or magnitude is not the answer.

  • General Goodhoe: Well if the Japanese were able to stop him 30 years ago, why can’t we now?

  • Steve Martin: General, Godzilla’s like a hurricane or a tidal wave. We must approach him as we would a force of nature. We must understand him. Deal with him. Perhaps, even, try to communicate with him. And, just for the record, 30 years ago they never found any corpse.

[US version]

  • Bum: Run for your lives! Let’s do lunch sometime!

[US Version]

  • Goro Maki: When the bomb triggers a real volcanic eruption, Godzilla will be burned alive. What a horrible death.

  • Dr. Hayashida: It won’t kill him. Couldn’t.

  • [Goro looks on skeptically]

  • Hiroshi Okumura: What do you mean? It’s gotta’ kill him, Professor!

  • Dr. Hayashida: The other night at the reactor… Didn’t you sense it? The beast has a purpose. 30 years ago, Godzilla appeared for the first time. Before that, he was only a legend. Godzilla is a warning. A warning to every one of us. When mankind falls into conflict with nature, monsters are born. I’m just trying to… send him home.

[Japanese version]

  • [to Godzilla, who’s outside the window of the building]

  • Bum: What are you doing here? You have the rest of Shinjuku to play with!

  • Prime Minister Mitamura: [US version] Godzilla… I was hoping I would never hear that name again.

  • Goro Maki: Professor. They say Godzilla’s a mutation. A monster made by intense radioactivity. Professor, is that true?

  • Dr. Hayashida: He’s a product of civilization. Men are the only real monsters. Godzilla’s more like a nuclear weapon.

  • Goro Maki: Nuclear weapon?

  • Dr. Hayashida: A living nuclear weapon destined to walk the Earth forever. Indestructible. A victim of the modern nuclear age.

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