Speaking of movies that should get a region 1 release in America, in 1984 Toho decided to bring Godzilla out of retirement to celebrate his 30th anniversary. After years of involving films with alien invasions and giant monster tag team battles. Toho decided to keep things simple and just feature a Godzilla film with just Godzilla going on a rampage in Japan. But since this was made in the 80’s, there was some Cold War drama going on and the film incorporated a sub plot that revolved around a soviet nuclear missile getting launched at Tokyo. This would kick start the Heisei series of Godzilla films ignoring all films that came before it severing as a sequel to the original 1954 Godzilla film. When the film was released in Japan, the film had a lackluster performance at the box office and decided distribute the film overseas in order to regain lost profits. Much like the release of the 1954 Godzilla film, the 1984 film would get an Americanized version of the movie called The Return of Godzilla were Raymond Burr would reprise his role as Steve Martin. However with the Steve Martin the actor becoming popular, the American release of the 1984 film would just call Raymond Burr’s character Mr. Martin. Also out of the 30 Godzilla films in existence, Godzilla 1984 is so far the only film not to get a region 1 release; until now, kind of. Recently the movie distribution company Kraken Releasing just got the rights to release the Americanized version of the film (where Raymond Burr reprises his role of Steve Martin) for a dvd/bluray release, but not the original Japanese version. rumor has it that there is still some sort of on-going copyright issues with the old company that released the movie back when VHS was still around. I don’t know the exact details.
After the release of Godzilla 1984, the studio in 1986 decided to hold a contest to see what would be the next Godzilla film in the Heisei series. The contest in question was to make a movie script that both an original story and an original monster for Godzilla to fight against. Out of the ideas summited for the contest, only two scripts stood out to Toho. One of them would involve Godzilla battling a giant computer. This script didn’t win the contest but the studio decided to rework the idea, removing Godzilla and other elements which would become the 1989 film Gunhed which was about a group of people and a robot who fought against a rouge computer. The film itself actually severed as an inspiration for movie director James Carmon who is a fan of the film would later make The Terminator. The other script that Toho decided to make into the next Godzilla movie involved Godzilla battling a giant plant monster. The script itself came from a dentist who was a part time science fiction author was chosen. This would become the 1990 film Godzilla vs. Biollante. The movie focused on the return of Godzilla (from the previous film) from his volcanic tomb and ends up battling a monster called Biollante that is part rose, part human, and part Godzilla. Even though I said that Titanosaurs was the last original monster, Biollante would kick start a trend that would involve Godzilla battling newer giant monster that were either created or shared his DNA. Like the very first film, the movie severed as a metaphor for the usage of bio-weaponry and dived into the ethic and usage of technology to create said bio-weapons. The movie also had an anti-nuclear theme as well since Biollante was designed to be the anti-Godzilla. Like the movie before it, Godzilla vs. Biollante didn’t do too well at the box office and so Toho decided to change the tone of their films to be more family friendly. Although years later the film started to become a fan favorite among Godzilla fans with other Godzilla films from Godzilla vs. Mothra, Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster, to Destroy All Monsters.
With the next film in the Heisei series, Toho decided that they wanted to bring back fan favorite monsters from the original series. However there was a big problem. What monster was Godzilla going to fight next since Toho has a huge library of their own giant monsters? In 1991, Toho wanted to remake King Kong vs. Godzilla since it was the most successful of the entire Godzilla series. After all King Kong was reintroduced to audiences back in the late 70’s and with the reintroduction of Godzilla. Toho figured that having the two monsters fighting it would make them profit. However they were unable to obtain the rights to use of the King Kong character. Toho than decided to replace King Kong with his robotic counterpart Mechani-Kong (from King Kong Escapes) as Godzilla’s next adversary. The only thing known about the movie was that Mechani-Kong would inject Godzilla with a mini-sub of sort carrying a small platoon of soldiers so that the Japanese military would fight Godzilla from both the inside and outside. However the owners of Kong soon learned that Toho was going to use Mechani-Kong. Again like Kong, even using a mechanical creature who resembled Kong would be just as problematic legally and financially for the studio. On an interesting side note, as of October 14, 2015, Legendary Pictures is currently planned to be “remade” the 1962 film as a part of their Godzilla-Kong Cinematic Universe.
Play list of all the Heisei Godzilla movies:
In the end, the any attempts of feature King Kong or creatures similar to Kong were scrapped. Toho decide to reintroduce long time Godzilla villain King Ghidorah for the 1991 film Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah. The movie since its release has become a fan favorite for many Godzilla fans for not only reintroducing King Ghidorah, but also feature elements of time travel letting the main characters to witness events during World War Two and seeing what Godzilla was before getting exposed to radiation. This was the first of the Heisei films to be more family friendly and was the first time Godzilla fought his arch rival without the usage of an ally like the Showa series of films did. The film also started a trend that involved introducing new monsters based off an already existing monsters or reintroduce monsters that were either fan favorites or obscure from the Showa series. With this film it was Godzillasaurus (Godzilla before being exposed to radiation) and Mecha-King Ghidorah (a cybernetic version of King Ghidorah). In the 1992 film Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth, it was Battra (Mothra’s evil twin brother). For the 1993 film Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (Despite its North American title, the film is not a sequel to the 1974 film.), Super Mechagodzilla (combined with a flying machine called Garuda), Baby Godzilla (a reimagining of Godzilla’s adopted son Minilla) and Fire Rodan (Rodan with the ability to fire a heat beam). The 1994 film Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla with Spacegozilla being an evil clone from outer space and reintroducing a giant robot called M.O.G.U.E.R.A.. that first appeared in Toho’s 1957 film The Mysterians.
During the remaining Heisei series of Godzilla movies, Toho studio wanted to retire the Godzilla character again so that there wasn’t an over saturation of Godzilla movies. After Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla, Toho had several ideas of how to end the second series of films. One of the first ideas was that the current Godzilla was going to fight against the original Godzilla from the 1954 film called Godzilla vs. Ghost Godzilla. This idea was scrapped since director Takao Okawara though that having three movies in which Godzilla fought against another creature that was similar him was too much since the two films before this were Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II and Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla. The only thing known about this movie was that the Ghost Godzilla ends up killing the current Godzilla, the film itself was going to be more of a fantasy feature and at some point the Heisei incarnation Anguirus was going to show up. Another idea for a movie that didn’t far into production for a more favorable movie was Godzilla vs. Bagan. Not much was known about the film other than Godzilla was going to fight against a mysterious creature called Bagan and the flying submarine called the Gotengo from Atragon. Bagan has an interesting history with Toho since it is one of Toho’s famous failed monsters that going to be in multiple movies but Toho wanted to reintroduce other monsters like Mothra and Mechagodzilla. However this does lead into his appearance in the 1994 video game Super Godzilla where he appears as the final boss in order to build up hype for the creature for the film. With the 1998 Godzilla film going to appear, Toho ended the second series of Godzilla movies putting an end to the Bagan creature.
mock ups of Godzilla vs. Ghost Godzilla (left) & Godzilla vs. Bagan (right)
What better way to end the Heisei series than with Godzilla vs. Destoroyah. This film not only introduces one of Godzilla’s most powerful enemies but manages to find a way to connect both Destoroyah and the film he appears in with the original 1954 movie. When this movie came out, it was a big deal since the film killed off the Godzilla character. Thought out the 1990’s, there were a lot of big events that revolved around well-known fictional characters where Superman “died” because of his battle with the creature called Doomsday. Even though the movie didn’t get a theatrical release in America, there were various news reports and behind the scene featurette about this being the final Godzilla film that Toho would ever make. During one of these featureets, there was an interview with one of the people working over at the studio and he said that they were looking forward to seeing the American take on their beloved icon.