12/9/06

212 Godzilla vs. Megalon

(1973, Children-Rubber Monster, color)

Rex Dart, Eskimo spy!

Rating: ****

In a nutshell:

Evil monsters Megalon and Gigan battle Godzilla and his robot sidekick Jet Jaguar.

Summary:

Bellyflop in progress.Nuclear testing takes place off the coast of Alaska, while all the monsters on Monster Island dance. Meanwhile, two guys who live together with their pet child go for a picnic next to a lake. A sudden tremor shakes the countryside, threatening the squeaky-voiced kid, who’s riding an oddly ineffective dolphin water toy. Fortunately, the guys (consisting of the professor and the racecar driver) brought a rocket and a long rope to rescue their hot pants-clad protégé from the ensuing whirlpool.

They all go home to the professor’s laboratory (a concrete bunker covered in psychedelic murals, with an abstract sculpture display in the foyer) only to run into a pair of bad guys, who beat the crap out of them and run away. Fortunately, the driver recovers a button from his attackers, later discovered to be from the bottom of the ocean. This identifies them as Seatopians, underwater citizens angered by the aforementioned nuclear testing.

The professor completes work on his multi-colored robot just in time to be beaten up again by the wily Seatopians. He and the kid get sealed in a cargo truck and taken away by truck drivers and the Seatopian Luciano Pavarotti. The Seatopian Oscar Wilde holds the driver captive in the laboratory, explaining the whole plot to him in classic “talking villain” style. Apparently, they’re going to use the robot, named Jet Jaguar, to guide a monster to the surface and destroy Tokyo. Then they’ll create an army of robots and rule the world!

The driver escapes into a long silly chase scene, catching up with the cargo truck just as the traitorous truck drivers are about to dump the truck over a bridge. This is also the point where the first monster (a giant drill-headed beetle named Megalon) shows up. The truck drivers steal the driver’s car to flee, and Megalon bats the back of the truck high into the air to land half a mile away. The professor and the kid tumble out, unhurt by the impact.

The professor overrides the Seatopian’s control of the robot with his handy medallion, and sends Jet Jaguar off to Monster Island to fetch Godzilla. Recognizing their peril, the Seatopians ask the Easter Islanders to borrow their monster, the hook-handed Gigan, to double-team Godzilla when he arrives.

The racecar driver and the kid drive the Seatopian Oscar Wilde out of the laboratory with a toy plane, then settle in with the professor to watch all the monster carnage. Since he can fly, Jet Jaguar shows up first, programs himself with free will, and grows to gargantuan proportions. He tries to take on both monsters at once, but gets soundly beaten until Godzilla finally shows up. Together, Jet Jaguar and Godzilla take on Megalon and Gigan. I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow, but for most of the battle, Godzilla gets soundly beaten as well, until he finally decides to roast his opposition with his fiery radioactive breath. Gigan and Megalon slink away, defeated. Godzilla shakes Jet Jaguar’s hand and ambles back to Monster Island. Jet Jaguar shrinks back down to human size, relinquishes his free will, and walks off into the sunset with his creators to the music of his own stirring theme song.

Introduction:

...fruit juices anointing their bodies...Joel and the ‘Bots introduce the episode like a cheerful morning talk show.

Host Segment One:

Joel demonstrates easy-to-make Halloween costumes, wrapping himself in aluminum foil to disguise himself as Jiffy-Pop. The Mads show off Halloween costumes as well. Frank wears an air filter on his head and calls himself Star Trek’s Geordi La Forge. He introduces the movie, Reading Rainbow-style. Quoth Frank, “Don’t forget to read Godzilla vs. the Velveteen Rabbit.”

Host Segment Two:

Tom and Crow don’t want Joel to know that they’re looking a dirty pictures, so they distract him with vivid descriptions of their ideal monsters. Quoth Crow, “He sprays [Robert Frost poetry] like icy death from his bloody stumps!”

Host Segment Three:

Joel and the ‘Bots play a groovy spy theme over a montage of film footage, featuring the racecar driver from the film. “Rex Dart, Eskimo Spy!”

Host Segment Four:

Crow and Tom do a commercial, playing Orville Redenbacher and his goofy son. As Orville, Crow lords his popcorn fortune over his son. As the son, Tom complains that their geeky haircuts and glasses drive away women. Crow browbeats Tom into tears with convoluted, flowery descriptions of women running up and down the cornfields, “fruit juices anointing their bodies.”

Host Segment Five:

Joel gives the ‘Bots intimidating new arms. Crow has a bent wire hanger and a lobster claw; Tom has a Swiss army knife and a flame-thrower. They show the Jet Jaguar theme song scene from the film again, this time with subtitles. “He crime fighting cover basic insecurity.” Down in Deep 13, Super Mario falls to a mushroom-headed Goombah, and TV’s Frank mourns his death.

Stinger:

Godzilla jumps off a cliff, bellyflopping into the ocean.

Thoughts:

Knock, knock, knock!On a personal note, this is one of three MST3Ked films that I first saw in their original versions as a kid (the others were Castle of Fu Manchu and The Magic Sword). I used to fast-forward it to the part with all the cool rubber monsters and the giant robot. The movie’s kind of odd in that, even though it’s a monster movie, there are no monsters in it until the final third of the film.

Also odd is the portrayal of two bachelors that live together and have a child. The movie is fairly asexual, so I don't think they're supposed to be gay (that would be comparatively normal, actually), yet they clearly all live together as a happy scientist/racecar driver/child family in a psychedelic fantasy bunker. What’s the deal? And while we’re on the subject of the kid, why does he have to dress in Daisy Duke shorts? It never bothered me as a child (probably because I never really watched that part), but not that I’m an adult, everything about their domestic life seems very creepy.

While the intro and the first host segment are somewhat humorous, the last four rank among the best host segments they’ve ever done. Crow’s Robert Frost monster in segment two is hilarious. The Rex Dart montage in segment three is inexplicable, but really funny. In segment four, they do an amazingly eloquent Orville Redenbacher popcorn commercial in the style of Eugene O’Neill. Segment five’s rendition of the Jet Jaguar song had me gasping for breath. You can’t get a better combination of host segments than these.

The commentary during the film is top notch in this episode. Even the boring parts of the film are peppered with comments like “I feel that these opening scenes are a metaphor for our souls.” When the girly-voiced kid sorts paper from the floor, Tom cries out, “my own autopsy report!” The monster rumble is a treat, mostly because the crew acts as fight commentators, moving quickly from professional wrestling-style, to James Bond dialogue, to classic war movie style, to Aliens, to Raiders of the Lost Ark. Great host segments and great movie segments make this the best episode of the show so far, and one of the best of its entire run.