The Death of Godzilla

They actually did it. They killed the King. In 1995, Toho announced that they would be ending the Godzilla film franchise and making one, last, movie featuring the big guy. He would die. And, the thing is, they actually did it. The film was GODZILLA VS DESTROYAH. And Godzilla was not just killed, he was vaporized.

Many of the main creators behind the Godzilla films returned for this one. Most notably, the man who composed the original theme song and score for the original GODZILLA/GOJIRA in 1954. His name was Ikira Ifukube and he is quoted as saying “since I had been involved in Godzilla’s birth, it was fitting to be involved in his death.”

The movie went on to be the number one Japanese film at the box office for 1996. It also received critical praise for being the best Godzilla film in years. In the U.S. it was given a bad dub and dumped as direct-to-video release on Columbia Tri-Star. And they had done it. After twenty-two films, spanning five decades, the Godzilla franchise had come to an end.

Fans were outraged. A bronze statue of Godzilla, in the Hibiya section of Tokyo, became the center of protest for crowds demanding that the King return. They left letters, even coins and tobacco, all in an effort to force Toho to bring him back, alive and well, for more films.

GODZILLA vs DESTROYAH is possibly the most underrated of all the Godzilla films. It’s not the first one, GOJIRA, a truly great movie on every level, and it’s not the silly, kitchy, fun of something like GODZILLA VS MEGALON. The buildings and miniature work aren’t as detailed they could be, but the story isn’t bad. It’s the overblown, brilliant, operatic ending, however, that really makes the film worthwhile. The King of Monsters dies slowly and tragically. Brutally rebuffed and vaporized by mankind as he lets out one, last, final roar. The King is dead. Never to return. At least, not until Toho decided they could make some more money off of him and brought him back, just four years later.