DVD Review: “Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster”


Released By: Classic Media
Release Date: June 5, 2007
Number of Discs: 1
Approximate Running Time: 180 Minutes
Special Features: Audio Commentary, Poster Gallery, Image Galleries, Eiji Tsuburaya Biography
Suggested Price: $19.99

The Source:
The fifth entry in the original Godzilla film series, Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster is an all out monster brawl. The imaginatively rendered tri-headed space dragon Ghidrah has emerged from an asteroid with his sites set on laying waste to the Earth. The reluctant team of Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra must settle their own differences and work together to stop this menace to their home turf. While the monster scenes are scored with comic overtones and subplots involving diamond thieves and a princess with amnesia aren’t very interesting, there is plenty of impressive fight time on the screen. In his premier outing, King Ghidorah (as he was known in Japan) is a uniquely designed creature and proves a worthy adversary. Ghidrah has lost some of what must have surely been an epic feel during its original release (imagine four giant monsters battling on the big screen all at the same time) due to the subsequent and increasingly unwieldy monster bashes, but it still packs a solid punch.

The Fanboy Factor:
The contributions of Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster to the Godzilla film cycle can be summed up in a single word – transition. Over the course of the first four films, Godzilla had shifted from a heartless force of destruction to a misunderstood threat. Now he would reach his final form – guardian of the Earth. Thankfully, this film not only acknowledges this transformation but treats it as seriously as anything involving giant monsters can be taken. Where most films of this type would just conveniently ignore this major personality alteration, Ghidrah exploits it to its best advantages. Initially, Godzilla and Rodan have absolutely no intention of becoming involved in planetary problems and are completely content to fight amongst themselves. It takes a desperate plea from a third monster, Mothra, to convince them that if they don’t act now this will eventually become their problem whether they want it to or not. Allusions to countries, politics, and wars are not lost on the audience. Once the lines are drawn and the final battle gets underway, the special effects are as impressive as anything featured in the previous films and would be culled for stock footage in future entries. This is also the first Godzilla film with a lighter, more comical, tone that eventually forced the series into kiddie matinee territory and almost caused its premature demise.

The Product:
This single DVD contains both the original Japanese version of the film along with the dubbed American edition. Both transfers look excellent with only minor wear. Extras include audio commentary, a strictly Japanese poster gallery, stills from the production of the film and a short but informative documentary on special effects legend Eiji Tsuburaya. The original Japanese trailer is also included but, as with previous Classic Media Godzilla DVDs, any material related to the original US advertising campaign is sadly missing.

The Bottom Line:
This is another fine example of the type of quality Classic Media has infused into their Godzilla DVD collection at fan favorable prices. This DVD set is highly recommended to both new and old Godzilla fans for its quality and pivotal position in the overall structure of the original Godzilla film series.