Godzilla, I Can’t Stay Mad At You

March 14, 2009

The first movie that I can recall seeing in a theater was Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster.

(simply typing the title makes me as giddy as when I was four)

Yes, perhaps you’ve seen a Godzilla flick or two, but there’s none of them like his match with the Smog Monster.

It has an early ‘70s environmental bent to it, blending psychedelic rock music, cartoons, Japanese hippies, and a Godzilla that could fly.

It truly was everything that a child’s first big-screen experience should be.

Some of it did, admittedly, frighten me (I was four).

Through the years, it was always like Christmas to stumble upon a Godzilla movie on late, late night TV. I must doff my chapeau to the Japanese for enriching my life through a man in a giant lizard suit.

Godzilla, sushi, and providing inspiration for Styx’ Mr. Roboto – the Japanese have greatly contributed to who I am today.

I thank you all (seriously).

So, I bought into the hype for the Godzilla remake in ’98. I remember checking out some trailer for the movie which arrived on the internet a year ahead of the flick.

The movie eventually did come out and did so while I was traveling in the UK with a couple friends. So, it had been in theaters for a week or so before I managed to see it. If I recall correctly, I went with some friends the evening of my first day back in the States.

Undone by jet-lag and crushed by the weight of expectations, Godzilla left me angry, disappointed, and hurt. You can’t CGI the inestimatable charm of a man in a fake suit (and the Puff Daddy song that came out the week before I left for the UK should have been taken as a very bad omen).

I’ve caught it on cable a few times in the last year, though, and I’ve learned to love it for what it is and not lament what it isn’t. I do think that the opening credits work well.

And the first twenty minutes or so do a good job of building suspense. His arrival in Manhattan, though, is where Godzilla and I part company, but it’s with much more mutual respect now than there was a decade ago (we both are older and more mature I suppose).

But it sure would be cool to stumble upon his predecessor – hanging with the hippies and saving the world from pollution – while channel-surfing.

There simply aren’t enough songs about Godzilla and I’ve already posted the Blue Oyster Cult classic, so here are a handful of songs that were popular in the spring of 1971 (when Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster was released)…

Keiko Mari – Save The Earth
OK, this wasn’t a hit, but, by God, it should have been. Save The Earth plays over a montage which opens Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster and truly sets the tone. It was actually kind of creepy – lava lamp graphics, images of pollution-choked harbors filled with manikins and such.

Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
To state the obvious, What’s Going On needs no comment from me.

The Doors – Love Her Madly
In high school, The Doors were arguably the most popular band amongst the general population (despite the fact that Jim Morrison had been dead for more than a decade). So popular were they that two sisters were adamant that they were the illegitimate daughters of The Lizard King (Morrison, not Godzilla – although going with the Godzilla angle would have been equally as believable).

Lobo – Me And You And A Dog Named Boo
This is the one song in the bunch which I actually remember hearing on the radio at the time. I imagine the fact that the singer had a dog appealed to me (my brother and I had to make do with a hamster and hamsters, if no one has ever told you, don’t fetch).