DVD Review – Destroy All Monsters from Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock

 

2/26/13: Apparently, some knucklehead linked THIS page to a binsearch.info page as a source to download a copy of DAM.
Well guess what, would be pirates –

IT AIN’T HERE! IT NEVER WAS!

Hell, it even SAYS “Review” in this page’s address! So if you ARE here to download a copy,
you’ve been duped by the poster (which was NOT me) of that page.
The ONLY binary files here are the screen caps for the review.

If you are here to read the expected review of Media Blasters’ excellent release of Destroy All Monsters, welcome, and I hope you find my review helpful.

DigitalDen1

Today, I’m reviewing the DVD release of Toho’s Kaiju Eiga (Monster Movie) classic, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, from Media Blasters/ Tokyo Shock on November 9, 2011. note: they also have released it on blu ray, but I do not have access to it.

STORY SUMMARY: (Warning – spoilers ahead)

NOTE – All vidcaps are unmodified.

It is the year 1999. There’s a moonbase with daily flights and the world’s monsters are being held on Ogasawara Island, in an area known as ‘Monsterland’, for matters of scientific study and world security.

Ogawara Island, where monsters dwell

Kyoko (Yukiko Kobayashi) arrives at the research center as assistant to Dr. Otani (Yoshio Tsuchiya), a senior member of the research team.

The Monsterland Control Room

During a video call from her astronaut boyfriend, Katsuo (Akira Kubo) (from the moon, no less), communications are cut off as the Island is suddenly under a gas attack. The attack is not only on the center, but the monsters as well.

Gas!
Godzilla gets gassed!

In Tokyo, at a UN Science Council meeting,  Dr. Yashida (Jun Tazaki), the head of the research team is desperately trying to reestablish contact with the base. While only scrambled satellite images are coming in, news reports come in that Rodan is attacking Moscow, Gorosaurus is destroying Paris*, Manda is in London, Mothra in Peking and that Godzilla is attacking New York City.

*Despite being identified as Baragon, it’s Gorosaurus!
There goes the UN

For some reason, Tokyo, despite its close proximity to Ogasawara Island, has seemingly been spared. The UNSC calls back the spaceship, Moonlight SY3, in the midst of pursuing what seems to be a flying saucer. Katsuo and his crew are ordered to investigate the base. Instead of destruction, they find the base intact, with the equipment fully operational. They’re greeted by Kyoko and Dr. Otani, who show them that THEY sent the monsters all over the world, using a remote control. They introduce the crew to the inventor of the control, the Queen of the Kilaaks (Kyôko Ai). She tells them that they’re from another world, and that they are taking over.

“We are here to make you our slaves.”

When the crew tries to resist, another gas attack is unleashed and the Monsterland techs come in, armed with guns. The crew backtrack, putting on gasmasks and dragging Otani with them. Kyoko gets away during a firefight between the crew and the techs. Katsuo brings Otani to Dr. Yashida and they try to get answers from him as to why he did what he did, but Otani stays quiet. While Katsuo and Yashida confer, Otani calmly walks over to a window, opens it and jumps to his death on the beach below. When they get down to him, they’re accosted by Kyoko and armed techs-turned thugs. They cuff Katsuo and start dragging Otani’s body away. The police arrive and a gunfight ensues. They drop the body, but one takes out a knife and seems to be desperate to cut into Otani’s neck. Katsuo stops him and the thug runs away. The gang runs and speeds away in a secreted power boat.

What is he after?

At Otani’s autopsy, they discover that a strange metal ball had been placed in his neck, which is what they must’ve tried to recover. They find that it gives off a faint signal, and realize that this was how they were controlling the Monsterland personnel as well as the monsters. While Katsuo and his crew are of trying to find transmitters to give hint of the new base, Kyoko gets thru a police checkpoint in Tokyo, and all hell breaks loose, as not one, but four monsters attack the city at once. Rodan, Godzilla, Manda and Mothra all but raze Tokyo to the ground.

The terrible destruction

Katsuo returns and finds out that the alien base would seem to be somewhere near Izo, as the hot springs are dried up, and Baragon has been seen in the area. As Katsuo is about to leave to check it out, Kyoko walks into the damaged defense center and once more delivers the Kilaaks’ demands for surrender. Katsuo rips her earrings off, and she returns to normal, but her memory of everything that happened after the gas attack has vanished. Katsuo heads off to Izo in the SY3.

“This is how Otani was murdered!”

The SY3 and the remote control drone tanks begin searching Izo, and are soon attacked by Godzilla and Anguilas. As the SY3 gets closer to Mount Fuji, they encounter the same ship they saw on the moon, but before they can get too close, Rodan atacks and forces them off. The next day, Katsuo, his men, and the army head out on foot to find entry to the base. They are once more chased by Godzilla. Katsuo, his lieutenant – Ogata (Chôtarô Tôgin) and the commander of the army, Major Tada (Hisaya Itô) are cut off from the rest, and find what seems to be a vent. They make their way inside and find themselves trapped. The Kilaaks appear to them and once more demand the Earth’s surrender. The aliens show them a projection of the inside of the mountain base, confident that the Defense Forces can’t do anything to stop them. The three men are then set free and they report in to headquarters.

“Surrender?”

Meanwhile, a new base has been set up by Dr. Yashida on Ogasawara Island. Using the equipment to trace the transmitters’ signals, they find the control’s master signal is coming from the moon.

“The moon itself! Now, we have a chance!”

Fighting through a saucer and then massive flame jets in a crater, Katsuo and his men break through the base’s shield and discover the Kilaak’s weakness – they can’t stand the cold, or they revert to their form and hibernate in a rock-like ball.

HOT!
The Kilaaks in their true form.

Katsuo and his men find the transmitter, remove it and bring it back to Earth. With the signal from the moon gone, the research center can now use the signal to control the monsters themselves.

“Captain! This looks important!”

As they prepare the monsters to attack the Kilaak base, the aliens bring out another weapon – King Ghidrah attacks Godzilla and the other Earth monsters.

King Ghidrah attacks!

Ghidrah is easily beaten by Godzilla and the others. Suddenly a bizarre burning monster attacks Rodan and then speeds to Ogasawara Island and destroys the base and their control over the monsters. The Kilaak Queen contacts the Defense Force to boast, but is interrupted as Godzilla attacks the base even without the control.

‘They know who their natural enemies are.”

The base destroyed, and the Kilaaks defeated, Katsuo then heads out in the SY3 to combat the burning monster, which turns out to be the last Kilaak spaceship. They blast them out of the sky, claiming victory.

Victory!

The monsters are then returned to Ogasawara Island and the base rebuilt, it’s a happy ending and a curtain call for the monsters.

Happy ending
Gorosaurus & Mothra
Anguilas
Spiga / Kumonga
Baragon
Manda
Rodan
Varan the Unbelievable
Godzilla and Minya

FILM BACKGROUND:

Released as Kaijû Sôshingeki (March of the Monsters) on August 1, 1968 in Japan, this was the ninth film in the first Godzilla series (referred to as the Showa Era), and was the final collaboration of the main four creative forces behind Gojira (1954) – Producer Tomoyaki Tanaka, Director Ishiro Honda, Composer Akira Ifukube and Special Effects Director Eiji Tsuburaya (though for this one, he was technically Special Effects Supervisor). As the film economy was beginning to fall off in Japan, Toho decided that if they were going to be going out, they’d do it with a big bang. They decided to spend extra money and use as many monsters from their films as they possibly could, even ones NOT connected to the Godzilla series. They may have based their choices on what suits they had intact. Baragon was NOT used for the attack scenes, as it was far too damaged from being used for TV work. They went with the Mothra caterpillar, last seen in GHIDRAH THE THREE HEADED MONSTER, as opposed to the adult, flying version, because the puppet last seen in GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER was pretty much destroyed. The Godzilla suit in this film was newly built (as was the Anguilas suit) and would be used over the next three films.

Destroy All Monsters was chosen as the international title by Toho, and AIP decided to keep it and built a huge campaign around it. In the past, they’d changed most of the titles Toho offered. They hired Titra Studios to do the dubbing, and Hal Linden (TV’s Barney Miller) voiced Katsuo. The dubbing was directed by Peter Fernandez (a voice actor in his own right, and famous for voicing SPEED RACER).

PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS:

First of all,  I need to say that I have been waiting for this one so eagerly after it was announced in July of this year. The reason was that at last, I’d have (at least) the Japanese version of the film on DVD with decent subtitles. The four earlier Tokyo Shock videos I’ve purchased over the years have, so far, been excellent in that regard. Add to this, the possibility that the AIP version of the film (the original 1969 US release) was to somehow figure into it, made it a done deal that I had to have it, even if it was a semi-rumor. For weeks, the story went back & forth about whether or not it would be there. I wonder if the absence of its documentation is due to the uncertainty.

Now some of you may ask, what the big deal is. Simply put, it’s this: For me, Godzilla is a cherished part of my childhood memories, and a connection with my Dad, who’ll have been gone an unimaginable 30 years this February. He was the one who introduced me to Godzilla. I was always into dinosaurs and dragons, and he thought I might like Godzilla, so he let me stay up one special Saturday night, to watch MONSTER ZERO, in bed, on my little 12″ portable black & white TV. I was 9 years old, and I was immediately hooked. DESTROY ALL MONSTERS was actually the SECOND G-Film I saw. I loved how many monsters there were in it, and I never missed it when it was on. Some time in the 80s, it disappeared from the airwaves, and years later, when I watched it again, something was horribly different – the voices were all different than what I remembered. It was only due to getting G-FAN Magazine (remember that the internet was barely in its infancy in the early 90s) that I learned about the different versions -the version that I grew up with, the AIP version, as originally released in the US, and  the horrible ‘international dubbing’ version – a version that Toho themselves had made, for international distribution at the film’s release. I was floored at how awful it was. I was hopeful when the VHS came out, but sadly, no audio that I’d grown up with, just the terrible one that was now making rounds on the airwaves. For many years, the only remnant I had a was a badly degraded vhs copy I got at a convention. We had no ‘official’ release of the AIP version, and we didn’t know if we ever would. So now I hope you younger fans will appreciate why us older fans would be so happy to possibly have a real release of ‘our’ DAM after so many years.

Be that as it may, there is only ONE video track. There are no edited versions of the film itself. In all honesty, It’s been so long since I saw the AIP edit, that I’m not sure of too many differences, other than the timing of the credits, the zooming in on the sign outside the ruined Tokyo Defense HQ and possibly some of the gunfight at the Ogasawara base. The first time I saw the original version, I was surprised by the headshot. I figure that wouldn’t have been IN a 60s era G-rated film. As a result, there is some audio distortion at the very beginning, most notably during the monster ‘roll call’. It’s a bit wobbly sounding, and there’s an echo repeating Rodan’s name. So, in that there’s only the one video presentation, that’s different than the Tokyo Shock release of FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD. The fact that the US audio is included gives this a big one-up over their release of MYSTERIANS, though, as that didn’t even HAVE the original US audio presented.

Addendum (11/25/11):

I was reminded that as a reviewer, I need to subject myself to the whole experience, so I can be completely fair in my judgement. I did so, and watched it with the ‘international audio track’. Do yourselves a favor. watch it with this on a few minutes, and you’ll appreciate the AIP track all the more! There is no depth to the voice over artists’ (using that word VERY loosely) performances, and the script borders on ridiculous. They mention specifics in the commentary, so I’ll leave it at that.

DVD

PACKAGING:

They used the original Japanese poster art, modified by adding a modern English language logo for the front cover. The only thing that confuses me is the twin ‘ray-guns’ that are used in the logo. They don’t resemble anything used in the film. The front of the ‘gun’ looks a little like a space capsule. This shape is the cursor used on the menus, as well. The back cover’s images consist purely of what look like screen captures, though they are very clear. The disc itself is nicely done as well.

DVD MENUS:

The main menu is easy to navigate. I also like that they used the original , unmodified movie poster art. The Scene Selection Menu is likewise uncomplicated.

Main Menu
Scenes Menus

There’s no clear-cut delineation on the settings menu. It just says there are two English tracks, without being specific as to which track is which. To inform you now, Track 1 is the ‘International Version”, contracted by Toho directly. Track 2 is the long sought-after AIP audio track. For some unknown reason, there’s no documentation ANYWHERE, either on the jacket or the menu to tell you that the AIP dubbed track is even THERE, let alone that it’s Track 2. Similarly, even on the commentary (Audio Track 5), they never explicitly say that the AIP track is included. They hint that, “Clever fans can find it with a few button clicks.”

They also aren’t very clear on the subtitle tracks. Track 1 is simply the slates – The film title and the signs that are in the movie. Track 2 is the translation of the Japanese audio track, as well.

Setup Menu

DVD EXTRAS:

Extras Menu

There are some very nice extras included in here. In case you’re wondering, the rather neat poster is from Toho’s “Champion Festival” re-edited version of the film called GOJIRA DENGEKI DAISAKUSEN, or GODZILLA ELECTRIC BATTLE MASTERPIECE. In order, we have:

Image Gallery: Dozens of still photos, varying from behind the scenes to publicity. There are also pictures of props and models from the film. According to a disclaimer, both photos and items were provided, as loans, by private collectors.

Production Art & Storyboards: Just as it says. This is a VERY cool bonus. The same disclaimer prefaces the images.

Posters: Pretty self explanatory. These are movie posters, insert cards and lobby cards from various countries that the film was shown in. There are also the US Pressbook, two versions of the Champion Festival program book and the original Japanese release program book.

English Commentary: This just starts the movie, but with the commentary track (also available by selecting audio track 5 with your remote’s audio button). The insights here are provided by Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski authors and experts on Japanese Cinema, especially Toho films. Anyone who has purchased any of Sony’s Toho Master Collection (from Classic Media) will be familiar with them. Here, they stick to the film we’re watching, only going outside of it VERY briefly when talking about the cast’s other projects. This is a major improvement in their style, in my opinion. They also provide some fun background on the suits and props used as well as reasons for why certain things happened as they did, and even the fate of some of the props and sets.

Promo Reel: These are cinematic trailers and US radio advertisement tracks. The trailers are from the US release, the Japanese release and the French release.

Trailers: These are advertisements for other Tokyo Shock/ Media Blasters releases. (accessible on the Main Menu)

EASTER EGG ALERT! Thanks to @SW_Tronix for pointing this out to me! (Check out his blog BW Media Spotlight) Navigate to the TITLE in the movie poster on the Extras Menu. You’ll get a neat 8-9 minute treat!

DVD SPECIFICS:

The video is 2.35:1 and anamorphic widescreen. The quality is very good. The sound on all of the tracks is very good, except for the minor garbling I mentioned earlier on the second English audio track.

OVERALL RATING:

Forgiving the minor garbled sound, I absolutely LOVED this release. It is, in my opinion, the best offering of a Toho film I have gotten from the Tokyo Shock label. I hope that I can get my hands on their release of GODZILLA VS. MEGALON, due later this month. By all means, if you haven’t done so yet, GRAB THIS DVD! If for nothing else, the AIP audio track is the main reason to get this. Considering how downplayed this was, you might want to get it as soon as you can! The extras are fantastic as well. They more than make up for the lack of an AIP video edit (which again, as far as I remember was NOT all that different than the original cut).

I give Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock’s DVD release of DESTROY ALL MONSTERS a kaiju-sized 5 out of 5 ‘Jaggies’!

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8 comments

  1. When is someone going to release the Japanese version of KING KONG VS GODZILLA (1963) with the original Akira Ifukube music score and presentation structure (sans the inserted additional U.S. footage) intact on DVD?

    This film has to feature (likely) the best incarnation of Godzilla in the entire series!

    • Thanks for writing. As far as I know, the main problem lies with the fact that Universal owns the licensing rights to ANYTHING related to King Kong. I was speaking with another blogger just this afternoon on this very subject. It’s why we haven’t seen a stateside release of the original, Japanese version of King Kong Escapes, either. The agreement between Universal and Toho (& parent company Sony) more than likely only covers the US releases of the two films. Back then, there was no way to imagine that there would be such a demand in the US for the original versions, so there was naturally no coverage of it in their agreement. To try and set up a new agreement would be difficult to say the least. Look at how long it took to get a great release of Destroy All Monsters. I’ve been considering taking a shot at organizing a movement/petition to submit to Universal to show them that it would be worth their while to look into it. Keep an eye on the blog so you’ll see when I start it up. Thanks again!

  2. Thanks alot for this great review, made me certain to wanna buy this 🙂
    I was a bit unsure and thought it was a bootleg since it is so rare, so a huge thank you for doing a review of this 🙂

    • You’re welcome. Please keep in mind, that the review is a few years old, and there may have been some changes made to the contents. I haven’t been able to confirm this either way, so do keep that in mind. Cheers!

      • Ah okay, so they might have changed the contents on the actual DVD? That sounds strange.. but thanks anyway 🙂
        The most important thing for me to know was that it wasnt a bootleg or at least not a shitty bootleg of some sort.

        Cheers and thanks!

      • The only changes might involve the AIP audio track & the Easter egg. Toho held back permission for Media Blasters to release their Godzilla vs Megalon for MONTHS after DAM’ s release & the theory was that there was something they didn’t approve of. The AIP track is the only thing that they might not have approved as it’s not part of Toho’s “official” material. In the review, i mentioned the possibility as it was not indicated ANYWHERE on the menus that it might be missing from future pressings. If you get it, please let me know if it’s still there. Cheers!

      • Oh okay, I must have missed out on that..
        But I have ordered one copy now, called “the Barebone version”, which I have no idea what that is?

        Anyway, I can try and check and come back to you when I receive the DVD 🙂

      • Hi man!
        Well I got the DVD today and it seems to have no extras at all, which is kinda shitty but hey.. I’m glad just to get the move.
        But it’s pretty crappy that they couldn’t get their rights together before releasing it with all the extras.

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