The Return of Godzilla

The Return of Godzilla

name =The Return of Godzilla

caption =
director =Koji Hashimoto
producer =Tomoyuki Tanaka
writer =Shuichi Nagahara
starring =Kenpachiro Satsuma
Ken Tanaka
Yasuko Sawaguchi
Yosuke Natsuki
Keiju Kobayashi
Shin Takuma
Raymond Burr (USA)
music =Reijiro Koroku
Star Sisters
cinematography =Kazutami Hara
editing =Yoshitami Kuroiwa
distributor =Toho
New World (USA)
released =December 15, 1984
August 23, 1985 (USA)
runtime =103 min (orig.)
87 min. (USA)
language =Japanese
budget =
amg_id = 1:20091
imdb_id = 0087344
preceded_by = "Terror of Mechagodzilla"
followed_by = "Godzilla vs. Biollante"|

"The Return of Godzilla", released as nihongo|"Godzilla"|ゴジラ|Gojira in Japan and edited into "Godzilla 1985" in America, is a 1984 daikaiju eiga (Japanese giant-monster movie). The sixteenth in Toho Studios' "Godzilla" series, it was produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka and directed by Koji Hashimoto with special effects by Teruyoshi Nakano. This is the second "Godzilla" movie to have the same name as the original.

This was the first in the "VS Series" of Godzilla films (sometimes called the "Heisei Series" due to the near-coincidence of its beginning with that of the Heisei era in Japan). It was Tanaka's intent to restore the darker themes and mood of the early films in the series. To this end "The Return of Godzilla" disregards all previous Godzilla films except 1954's "Godzilla", to which it is a direct sequel. (It is later revealed that the Heisei continuity is an alternate reality to the Showa continuinityFact|date=September 2008.) It features the lengthiest debate over the use of nuclear weapons in any Godzilla film (making reference to former Prime Minister Satō's Three Non-Nuclear Principles) and is only the third to depict innocent people being killed by the monster(s).


This film picks up in 1985, 31 years after Godzilla was thought to have been killed. A fishing vessel caught in a terrible storm encounters Godzilla much larger and more mutated than he was during his first attack on Tokyo. Days later, a reporter, Goro Maki, is sailing in the oceans and discovers the wrecked fishing vessel. He investigates to find only one survivor, Hiroshi Okumura. The rest were killed by the giant sea louse, a mutant parasite which presumably fed from Godzilla's blood. Japanese Prime Minister Mitamura, confronted with this information, knows that Godzilla has indeed returned completely unharmed by the oxygen destroyer. Despite the impending danger, he decides to keep it a secret to avoid nationwide panic and orders a media blackout. Unfortunately, Godzilla destroys a Soviet submarine carrying nuclear missiles. Faced with an escalating situation between the Soviets, who believe their sub was sunk by the Americans, and the Americans, who fear an unwarranted counter strike from the Soviets, the Japanese Government is forced to go public with the news of Godzilla. Meanwhile, Godzilla attacks a nuclear power plant, but during the attack, it is discovered that Godzilla uses a homing signal similar to that of birds who fly south for winter. Goro and Co. decide to use this to their advantage by developing a way to lure Godzilla away from major cities utilizing a high frequency homing signal.

Godzilla arrives in Tokyo in the third act. He ends up damaging a missile control system on a Soviet freighter in Tokyo Bay and continues his rampage upon Japan. In another scene shortly afterwards, the last dying crewmember of the Soviet freighter docked in Tokyo Bay tries to abort the failsafe launch of a nuclear missile from a satellite in space in order to kill Godzilla. However, the crewmember is killed in the process. The SDF launches their newest weapon the "Super X" to combat Godzilla. During the initial confrontation, Godzilla is poisoned by cadmium shells fired from the Japanese flying fortress and is knocked out and dying. Meanwhile, the Japanese government finds out about the Soviet nuclear missile and asks the Americans to shoot it down. The Americans agree and are successful but the missile collision in the stratosphere causes a massive EMP, and then a radioactive lighting storm that revives Godzilla, allowing him to destroy the "Super X" and kill its crew and then continue his rampage. Scientists at Mt. Mihara manage to get their "lure" working, which calls out to Godzilla from across the Japan sea. Attracted by magnetic waves transmitted from their satellite dish on Mt. Mihara on Oshima Island, Godzilla falls for their trap. It is not until he is trapped in the mouth of the volcano that he awakens from his trance and realizes he has been lured into a trap. The SDF detonates a number of powerful explosions, which cause an artificial eruption. In the end he is trapped in Mt. Mihara, until 1989.


Shockirus (or Shokilas) is a monster featured in the film "The Return of Godzilla" of 1984. Shockirus is presented as a sea louse that mutated from exposure to nuclear radiation, growing to gigantic proportions. In the film, reporter Goro Maki encounters Shockirus on board the unaccounted-for vessel "Yahata Maru", the creature having drained all of the blood out of all but one of the crew. A short battle ensues between the Shockirus and Goro—with help from the newly conscious sailor Ken.

Box Office

"The Return of Godzilla" was a reasonable success in Japan, with attendance figures at approximately 3,200,000 and the box office gross being approximately $11 million (the film's budget was $6.25 million). In terms of total attendance, it was the most popular Godzilla film since 1966's "Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster".


The screenplay was first written in 1980, but as an entirely different film. Godzilla was to fight a shape-shifting kaiju named Bagan, and the "Super X" played a much smaller role. Among the SDF weapons in this script that made it to the big screen were the "Water Beetle" (an underwater mech) and the "Giant Basu" (which is equipped with a giant arm to capture submarines.)Fact|date=October 2008

Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka offered Ishiro Honda a chance to direct this film, but he strongly rejected the offer, because of what came of Godzilla in the 1970s, and his belief that Godzilla should have been permanently laid to rest after Eiji Tsuburaya's death.Fact|date=October 2008 Also at around the same time, he was busy helping Akira Kurosawa on some of the films he was directing such as Kagemusha and Ran.

Veteran Akihiko Hirata, who appeared in several past Godzilla films—the best known of his roles of which is Professor Daisuke Serizawa from "Godzilla"—was slated to play Professor Hayashida, but he had died from throat cancer before production began. Yosuke Natsuki, another veteran, took the role instead. Stuntman Kenpachiro Satsuma (who previously played Hedorah and Gigan in "Godzilla vs. Hedorah", "Godzilla vs. Gigan", and "Godzilla vs. Megalon") played Godzilla for the first time, as a replacement for another stuntman who backed out at the last minute.

Aside from being heavy, the suit was very dangerous (it was not only built from the outside in, but not made to fit him), and Satsuma lost a lot of weight after filming was done. This mildly mirrored what Haruo Nakajima went through when he played Godzilla in the original 1954 film. Subsequent Godzilla suits worn by Satsuma were much safer and more comfortable, as they were custom made to fit him (even though the suits still had some dangers of their own).

The lifelike animatronic Godzilla prop used in close-up shots is the 20-foot "Cybot Godzilla." It was heavily touted in the publicity department at the time, even though it was not used in the film as extensively as promoted. A full-size replica of Godzilla's foot was also built, but all of the scenes in which it is used were removed from the American version (the sole exception being a shot of the foot crushing a row of parked cars during the attack on the nuclear power plant).

U.S. Version

After acquiring "The Return of Godzilla" for distribution in North America, New World Pictures changed the title to "Godzilla 1985" and radically re-edited the film. Originally, New World reportedly planned to re-write the dialogue in order to turn the film into a tongue-in-cheek comedy (a la "What's Up, Tiger Lily?"), but this plan was reportedly scrapped because Raymond Burr expressed displeasure at the idea, taking Godzilla as a nuclear metaphor seriously. The only dialogue left over from that script was "That's quite an urban renewal program they've got going on over there", said by Major McDonahue.
New World's biggest change was in adding around ten minutes of new footage, most of it at the Pentagon, with Raymond Burr reprising his role as Steve Martin from "Godzilla, King of the Monsters!".

The poster image was the same as for the Japanese version, but a green tinting was added to Godzilla's charcoal-gray skin.

New World's changes were not limited to these scenes. Much of the original version was deleted or altered. A partial list of the changes: []
* Shortened and altered: Godzilla roars and the crew fell whereas the audience sees Steve Martin after Godzilla roars.

* Shortened: Goro's fight with the mutated sea louse; the louse's voice was also changed.

* Deleted: Goro calling his editor from an island.

* Deleted: Professor Hayashida showing Okumura photographs of Godzilla's 1954 attack and later discussing the mutant sea lice with an aide at the police hospital.

* Shortened: The scene where Naoko learns her brother is alive; Goro snaps pictures of them reunited, which angers Naoko because she realizes he only helped her in order to get the scoop.

* Shortened: The meeting between the Japanese prime minister and the Russian and American ambassadors. Also deleted was a scene after the meeting in which the prime minister explains to his aides how he was able to reach a consensus with both sides. Furthermore, this scene appears before Godzilla's attack on the nuclear power plant in the American version, whereas in the Japanese version it appears afterwards.

* Deleted: Hayashada and Naoko making a wave generator.

* Altered: Godzilla's first attack on the nuclear power plant.

* Added: Part of Christopher Young's score from "Def Con 4" in several scenes (including Godzilla's attack on the Soviet submarine, the scene where the SDF armored division arrives in Tokyo Bay, and Okumura's near-death experience during the helicopter extraction in Tokyo).

* Deleted: A shot of an American nuclear missile satellite in space (probably done in order to make America appear less aggressive).

* Altered: Almost all of Godzilla's rampage through Tokyo. Scenes of a crowd fleeing Godzilla that appeared later in the Japanese print were moved to an earlier point in the movie (and corresponding footage of them gathering around Godzilla after he is knocked out by the "Super X" was removed), the "Super X" fight was re-arranged (in the Japanese version, Godzilla fires his death ray at the "Super X" after being hit with cadmium missiles, not before), and various other scenes of destruction were either placed in a different order or deleted completely. Some fans were particularly upset by the removal of a shot showing Godzilla reflected in the windows of a large skyscraper (The Yurakucho Mullion Building) during the scene in which he attacks the Bullet Train.

* Deleted: All shots which employed a life-size replica of Godzilla's foot (mostly seen near the end); only one shot of the big foot crushing parked cars during the nuclear power plant scene was kept.

The most controversial change was the scene where the Russian submarine officer Colonel Kashirin valiantly attempts to stop the launch of a nuclear weapon. New World edited the scene (and added a brief shot of Kashirin pressing the launch button) so that now Kashirin deliberately launches the nuclear weapon. This change is widely believed to be for propaganda purposes.

In addition, the theatrical release (and most home video versions) was accompanied by Marv Newland's short cartoon, "Bambi Meets Godzilla".

The American version, with the added Raymond Burr footage, runs 87 minutes - 16 minutes shorter than the Japanese print.

Apart from the end credits (where he is listed as "Steven Martin"), Raymond Burr's character is never referred to by his full name, only as "Mr. Martin" or simply "Martin", for the entirety of the U.S. version. This was to avoid association with comedian Steve Martin.

The closing narration (spoken by Raymond Burr) is as follows:

:"Nature has a way sometimes of reminding man of just how small he is. She occasionally throws up the terrible offspring of our pride and carelessness to remind us of how puny we really are in the face of a tornado, an earthquake or a Godzilla. The reckless ambitions of man are often dwarfed by their dangerous consequences. For now, Godzilla, that strangely innocent and tragic monster, has gone to earth. Whether he returns or not or is never again seen by human eyes, the things he has taught us remain."

Critical Reception

The New World version of the film was almost universally lambasted by North American critics. Roger Ebert, who gave the film a mere one star in the "Chicago Sun-Times", wrote:

"The filmmakers must have known that the original "Godzilla" (1956) had many loyal fans all over the world who treasured the absurd dialogue, the bad lip-synching, the unbelievable special effects, the phony profundity. So they have deliberately gone after the same inept feeling in "Godzilla 1985." Examples: Dialogue: Is so consistently bad that the entire screenplay could be submitted as an example. My favorite moment occurs when the hero and heroine are clutching each other on a top floor of a skyscraper being torn apart by Godzilla and the professor leaps into the shot, says "What has happened here?" and leaps out again without waiting for an answer. Lip-synching: Especially in the opening shots, there seems to be a subtle effort to exaggerate the bad coordination between what we see and what we hear. All lip-synch is a little off, of course, but this movie seems to be going for condescending laughs from knowledgable filmgoers. Special effects: When Godzilla marches on Tokyo, the buildings are the usual fake miniature models, made out of paint and cardboard. The tipoff is when he rips a wall off a high-rise, and nothing falls out. That's because there is nothing inside." []

Ebert kept a copy of the poster in his office for many years and it was clearly visible in the opening of his television program.

Vincent Canby of the "New York Times" (who had given a positive review to "Godzilla vs. Megalon" nine years earlier, a film that was critically hated) was similarly unimpressed:

"Though special-effects experts in Japan and around the world have vastly improved their craft in the last 30 years, you wouldn't know it from this film. Godzilla, who is supposed to be about 240 feet tall, still looks like a wind-up toy, one that moves like an arthritic toddler with a fondness for walking through teeny-tiny skyscrapers instead of mud puddles.

"Godzilla 1985" was shot in color but its sensibility is that of the black-and-white Godzilla films of the 1950s. What small story there is contains a chaste romance and lots of references to the lessons to be learned from "this strangely innocent but tragic creature." The point seems to be that Godzilla, being a "living nuclear bomb", something that cannot be destroyed, must rise up from time to time to remind us of the precariousness of our existence. One can learn the same lesson almost any day on almost any New York street corner." []

One of the few positive reviews came from Joel Siegel of "Good Morning America", who is quoted on New World's newspaper ads as saying, "Hysterical fun...the best Godzilla in thirty years!"

Box Office and business

Given the scathing reviews and the American public's apathy to the genre, "Godzilla 1985" did not perform well in the North American box office. Opening on August 23, 1985, in 235 North American theatres, the film grossed $509,502 USD ($2,168 per screen) in its opening weekend, on its way to a lacklustre $4,116,395 total gross. []

New World's budget breakdown for "Godzilla 1985" is as follows: $500,000 to lease the film from Toho, $200,000 for filming the new scenes and other revisions, and $2,500,000 for prints and advertising, adding up to a grand total of approximately $3,200,000. [] Taking this in consideration, "Godzilla 1985", though not a hit, proved to be profitable for New World - a profit that would increase with home video and television revenue (the film debuted on television with a reasonable amount of fanfare on May 16, 1986).

"Godzilla 1985" was the last Japanese-made Godzilla film to play in American theatres until "Godzilla 2000" fifteen years later.

DVD Releases

The DVD rights for "The Return Of Godzilla" are believed to currently belong to Anchor Bay/Starz Entertainment, who have no plans to release the film on DVD. The TV rights are held by Lakeshore Entertainment. It is hoped that the future release of "Godzilla 3D to the MAX" will pique interest in its release.

This film is able to be purchased on DVD but only in Japanese from Japan which they have made this 1991 VHS release into DVD format. It is recorded in Japanese dialogue but has English subtitles if needed. This also applies to "Godzilla vs. Biollante".

In 2006, Universe Laser & Video Co. released a Region 3 DVD release of the film, titled "The Return Of Godzilla". It was the original Japanese release, with Japanese Audio and selectable English/Chinese (Traditional, or Simplified). The DVD featured a main menu, scene selections, and a featured trailer of Godzilla Vs Biollante in Chinese.


*This is the second Godzilla film where Godzilla does not fight any Kaiju. The first was "Godzilla".
*Seven years later, the origins of this Godzilla would be explained in "Godzilla vs King Ghidorah". Apparently, Godzilla was originally a "Godzillasaurus" living on Lagos Island which after being injured by American warships in 1944. Supposedly, in the Showa continuity it was mutated by either the atomic bombing of Japan in WWII or a US hydrogen bomb test. In the Heisei continuity it was transported into the Bering sea by time travelers. He would still be mutated by the atomic bomb test, the oxygen destroyer, long term exposure to nuclear waste, and attacks on three nuclear submarines, mutating it into the Heisei Godzilla.
*In the American version of the film, a model of Zoidzilla, a Godzilla-like mecha from the Zoids model line, makes a brief appearance as a child's toy Raymond Burr's grandson plays with.
*In the manga rendition of Godzilla vs. Biollante, it is revealed that Miki Saegusa's parents were two of many victims of Godzilla during the story of this movie.
*In one scene the "Super X" fires missiles into Godzilla's mouth and a green liquid drips from his mouth. Fans have speculated if this is Godzilla's blood or the liquid in the missiles which were supposed to put Godzilla to sleep.
*The giant sea louse's name is Shockirus, though its name was never uttered in the film.
*Made as the 30th anniversary Godzilla.
*In the original and international version there was a song called Goodbye now Godzilla

External links

* [ Barry's Temple of Godzilla]
* [ Toho Kingdom]
* [ Kaijuphile: Monster Site. Monster Obsession.]
* [ Monster Zero News]
* [ Sci-Fi Japan]
* [ Godzilla Stomp]
* [ The Godzilla Shrine]
*imdb title|id=0087344|title=The Return of Godzilla
*amg movie|id=1:20091|title=The Return of Godzilla
*rotten-tomatoes|id=godzilla_1985|title=The Return of Godzilla
*mojo title|id=godzilla1985|title=The Return of Godzilla

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