Aug 2, 2022

On Planet X... It Won't Be Long Now

Godzilla vs Monster Zero
Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
This week's Tunnel Vision Tuesday is kind of an unofficial extension of the Schlock-O-Rama weekend with a screening of Godzilla vs Monster Zero.  It's the sixth film in the Godzilla franchise, and a direct sequel to Ghidora The Three-Headed Monster.  The Monster Zero referred to in the title is King Ghidorah, the three-headed space dragon that was introduced in the previous film.

left: original Japanese poster for Invasion Of The Astro-Monster Poster (1965)
right: The Tinker Take Off (Tinker Air Force Base newspaper) - Oklahoma City, OK (Mar 13, 1970)

Godzilla vs Monster Zero has gone under a few different names over the past 50+ years.  It was originally released in Japan on December 19th, 1965 as Invasion Of Astro-Monster.  It was first shown in the United States four years later in military base theaters where the film was billed as Invasion Of The Astros.

left: The Morning Call - Allentown, PA  (August 3, 1970)
right: Standard Speaker - Hazleton, PA (August 15, 1970)

The movie gained a wider release in North America during the Summer of 1970.  It was given its third name Monster Zero, and shown in a double feature with War Of The Gargantuas.  Finally, when it was released on VHS in the 80's, the movie was given the title Godzilla vs Monster Zero.

In professional wrestling, a match that is so good that everyone in the locker room stops what they're doing to watch the action in the ring is called a Curtain Sellout.  Godzilla vs Monster Zero seemed to be the drive-in equivalent of this at the Mahoning.  I spotted Rob (projectionist) and JT (production manager) in the crowd with their lawn chairs during the pre-show.  Although they were there to see the film and not to work, JT still busted out the Godzilla costume and marched around menacingly for photo ops.  Although I haven't talked with him too much, he seems to me like a genuinely good dude who goes completely out of his way to make everyone's experience at the drive-in more memorable.

The version of the film that was shown tonight was called Monster Zero on the title card, so I believe it was one of the 35mm prints that was shown across the country in Summer 1970.  This one of the few early Godzilla movies that wasn't heavily edited when it was brought over to the United States, so aside from the English dubbing, the version that we got to see has been said to be virtually identical to the original film that was released in Japan.

Even if you have never watched a Godzilla movie before, Godzilla vs Monster Zero is a movie that I strongly recommend.  The plot is ridiculous in all of the best ways, and it tells a story that you can enjoy even if you haven't seen any of the movies leading up to it.  All you really need to know is that the world is already aware of the existence of Godzilla, Rodan and King Ghidorah before the start of this film.  The rest of what you need to know is self-contained.  This movie is a hell of a lot of fun all ages.  I don't care if you're 5 or 105, I defy anybody to watch Godzilla doing the happy dance on Planet X  without at least cracking a smile.