12 Strange Non-Japanese Manifestations of Godzilla

Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 6:00 am

5. Godzilla Game

There have been a number of Godzilla games over the years, from a '60s-era Ideal board game to 2011's Godzilla: Kaiju World Wars to the card game Godzilla Stomp! But it's doubtful that any of them have been marketed with the same eerie atmosphere as the TV commercial for this 1978 version from Mattel.

In the game, the titular beast springs up periodically to snatch a spaceship from an unsuspecting player. It looks like a sort of Godzilla roulette, played by haunted, joyless children. It has less the flavor of kaiju and more that of a '70s-era Italian horror picture.

4. Bobcat Goldthwait as Godzilla in One Crazy Summer (1986)

In this fondly-remembered '80s John Cusack comedy by Savage Steve Holland, Goldthwait spends much of his footage in a Godzilla costume. In his big scene, he comes to grief when the great William Hickey discards a cigar.

It's striking how comparable Goldthwait's characteristically strained voice is to Godzilla's nettled bellow.

3. John Belushi's Godzilla

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Gilda Radner, as Baba Wawa, interviewed Belushi, as Godzilla, in the March 1977, Broderick Crawford-hosted episode of Saturday Night Live. In the interview it's revealed that Godzilla isn't Japanese after all, but rather Hawaiian, "hatched from the warmth of a lava flow during the eruption of a dormant volcano." It's also revealed that he went to high school with Bette Midler, and that they "went steady for two years."

Belushi played the monster at least one other time, also in 1977, when NBC decided to kill a slow evening by showing Godzilla vs. Megalon, and used Belushi in the suit in videotaped wrap-arounds. It's sad to think that the titanic monster has proved far more stable in the role of movie star than the gifted young comedian spoofing him back then.

Footage of any of Belushi's Godzilla appearances doesn't seem to be readily available online these days, sad to say. But another magnificent and lamented comic talent, John Candy, played the unassuming "Grogan" in this sublime SCTV sketch from the '70s:


2. Bambi Meets Godzilla (1969)

Just about anybody who's ever attended a midnight movie since the '70s has probably seen this minute-and-a-half epic from animator Marv Newland tacked onto the bill. I've always thought it was an impressively Kubrickian piece of work, with its inexorably held frame, its use of classical music (Rossini's William Tell) and the austere ambiguity in that closing flex of Godzilla's claws.

David Mamet borrowed the title for his book of lordly essays on Hollywood: Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business. It fit nicely with the book's general argument that in Hollywood, the sweet innocent grazing fawn of honest cinema art has been crushed under the implacable reptilian talon of the ascendant producer. Does the guy who wrote The Untouchables and Glengarry Glen Ross think of himself as Bambi?

1. Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla"

Just listen to it. It's awesome. Yeah, this video does use Japanese footage; it's a promo for the Toho flicks from TNT in the '90s. So sue me.

When you think about it, it's quite a testament to the monster's power that, while Blue Oyster Cult told us not to fear The Reaper, they offer us no such reassurance about Godzilla.

Previously by M.V. Moorhead:

The Top 18 Dragons Who Aren't Smaug

The Thirteen Greatest Fictional Snails


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