I have been a giant rubber monster fan for as long as I can remember. I have so many fond memories of Saturday and Sunday afternoons watching the latest exploits of Godzilla or Gamera as they fought the newest monster foe bent on destroying the Earth. The one creature feature that always stood out though as the coolest of the Japanese giant monster movies was DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, from 1968. The funny thing is though, that as a kid, I never remembered the plot of the movie; I just remembered the last 15 minutes or so that featured the very best of what Toho had to offer in an over-the-top monster battle.
The plot is pretty simple. All of the world’s monsters have been brought to Monster Island, aka Ogasawara Island. The monsters live here in harmony (which is interesting in itself since many of them had battled each other in previous films) and they are studied by the United Nations Scientific Committee. There are all kinds of safety measures in place to prevent their escape. A group of aliens called the Kilaaks, with the intention of taking over the world, gain control of the monsters’ minds and send them on world-wide rampages destroying major cities in the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom and France. The people of Earth find the Kilaak base and the monsters regain control of their minds. In a last-ditch effort King Ghidorah is brought in to fight the Earth-monsters in a kaiju battle royal, that even features a play-by-play account of what is going on by a news reporter, at the base of Mt. Fuji.
In 2000 and 2004 DESTROY ALL MONSTERS finally came to DVD thanks to the folks at ADV Films. Unfortunately these releases featured a full screen version of the film and there was only one choice for audio…the poorly done Toho dubbed version. Though the picture quality was decent, I personally could not get past the dubbing on these releases and had a very difficult time watching it. Also, I am a purist when it comes to these films and prefer to watch them as they were meant to be seen…in Japanese with English subtitles. An interesting sidenote here is that ADV Films used the exact same disc for both releases! I had bought the first version and watched it halfway through before getting disgusted with the dubbing and turned it off. When I bought the 2nd version, hoping for an improvement, and put it into my DVD player, it asked if I would like to resume playback! The one benefit of the 2nd release though is the inclusion of the cd soundtrack.
Now, seven years later, this movie is finally being released as it should be thanks to the awesome folks at Media Blasters (who have a great history of releasing Godzilla films in the best possible versions). The high-definition print is gorgeous with a 2:35:1 aspect ratio and get this…there are three audio selections to choose from! You can do Japanese with English subtitles, you can do the poor Toho dub mentioned earlier or you can do the original AIP dub we all grew up on! There is also commentary available by Godzilla scholars Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski, original trailers and picture galleries featuring a bunch of movie posters. All in all this is a very satisfying release to an even more satisfying monster movie!