Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster
|Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster|
|Directed by||Ishirō Honda|
|Produced by||Tomoyuki Tanaka|
|Written by||Shinichi Sekizawa|
Haruo Nakajima as Godzilla
|Music by||Akira Ifukube|
Continental Distributing (USA)
|Release date(s)||December 20, 1964 (Japan)
September 13, 1965 (USA)
|Running time||92 min.|
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2010)|
Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, (released in Japan as San Daikaijū: Chikyū Saidai no Kessen (三大怪獣 地球最大の決戦, lit. "Three Giant Monsters: Earth's Greatest Battle"), is a 1964 Japanese science fiction kaiju film produced by Toho. Directed by Ishirō Honda, and featuring special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, the film starred Yosuke Natsuki, Hiroshi Koizumi, and Akiko Wakabayashi. The 5th film in the Godzilla series and the second Godzilla film produced this year (production began following Mothra vs Godzilla), this was the film where the decision to turn Godzilla from a villain to a hero in the original series took place. This film features the first appearance of King Ghidorah, the main antagonist of the Godzilla franchise.
The film was released theatrically in the United States in the Fall of 1965 by Continental Distributing as Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster.
Police Detective Shindo (Yosuke Natsuki) is assigned to guard Princess Selina Salno of Selgina (Akiko Wakabayashi) during the Princess' visit to Japan, due to a suspected assassination plot. Although Shindo is smitten with Selina's photograph, her plane never makes it to Japan, as it is destroyed by a bomb en route. At exactly the same time a meteorite shower draws the attention of Professor Murai (Hiroshi Koizumi), who along with his team of scientists strikes out into the wilderness to examine the largest of the meteors, which has magnetic properties.
To Shindo's surprise, the supposedly deceased Selina turns up in Japan, without her royal garb (including the golden bracelet which proves she is heir to the throne of Selgina), claiming to be from the planet Mars, and preaching to skeptical crowds of forthcoming disaster. To their surprise however, her prophecies begin coming true. First she predicts Rodan, thought dead in the eruption of Mt. Aso, will emerge from Aso's crater. Subsequently, none other than Godzilla will arise from the sea and destroy a ship. Both of these events transpire.
In the meantime, Selina's uncle (Shin Otomo), who was behind the assassination attempt, learns of her survival and sends his best assassin Malness (Hisaya Ito) to Japan to dispatch the Princess and steal the golden bracelet. Malness and his henchmen are stopped by Shindo, who was warned of their attempt by the Shobijin (Emi and Yumi Ito), who were in Japan appearing on a television show. The Shobijin had been scheduled to return to Infant Island aboard the ship sunk by Godzilla, but opted not to go after overhearing Selina's prophecy. A further attempt by the assassins is thwarted when both Godzilla and Rodan attack the city and engage in battle, forcing everyone to flee.
Convinced that Selina is insane, Shindo takes the Princess to see a renowned psychiatrist, Dr. Tsukamoto (Takashi Shimura), in the hopes of curing her. However, Tsukamoto can find nothing wrong with her, mentally or physically. He concludes she must therefore truly be possessed by a Martian as she claims. As if emboldened by the doctor's diagnosis, Selina reveals her final prophecy—that Mars' once thriving civilization was destroyed by an evil, golden three-headed dragon named King Ghidorah, and furthermore that Ghidorah himself has already arrived on Earth. No sooner has she revealed this than Professor Murai and his colleagues at the meteor crash site receive a nasty surprise—the "meteor" is actually an egg, which hatches into the fearsome King Ghidorah. Ghidorah begins razing the countryside.
To combat the combined threats of the three monsters, the Japanese government enlists the aide of the Shobijin to summon Mothra. Upon arriving on the Japanese mainland, Mothra attempts to persuade the quarreling Godzilla and Rodan to team up against the evil alien (which is translated to the humans by the Shobijin) but both refuse, with Godzilla stating they have no reason to save mankind as both he and Rodan "have always had trouble with men and men hate them" which Rodan agrees to. Despite Mothra stating that Earth belongs to them as well and that it is their duty to defend it, Godzilla and Rodan still refuse (with Godzilla apparently swearing at Mothra) and the pair refuse to forgive each other, wanting to continue their fight. Unable to convince them and despite being vastly overpowered, Mothra calls the pair of them "bullheaded" and resolves to fight Ghidorah by herself. Mothra engages Ghidorah and is continually blasted by his gravity beams. Luckily for Mothra, Godzilla and Rodan; impressed by her courage and selflessness; arrive to help and a titanic battle against Ghidorah begins. Meanwhile, Shindo and Dr. Tsukamoto are forced to protect Princess Selina as Malness and his men converge on Tsukamoto's clinic; they fend the killers off and escape into the mountains as the dueling monsters draw closer, so they can watch the battle from a safe distance.
The assassins attempt to follow, but a stray blast from Ghidorah buries their car in an avalanche. Only Malness remains uninjured enough to continue. He attempts to snipe the Princess from an elevated position, but only injures her. In her pain, she regains her memory and is no longer possessed by the Martian. Before Malness can take another shot, another stray blast from Ghidorah buries the assassin under a second avalanche. With the heroes thus saved from the human menace, they gather at a safe distance to watch the battle between earth's monsters and Ghidorah. After not gaining a clear advantage over Ghidorah, the three monsters coordinate their attack; Godzilla grabs hold of Ghidorah's tails while Mothra (riding on Rodan's back) sprays the three-headed dragon with her silk. Finally, Godzilla throws the alien beast off the cliff and the battered dragon flies off, back into outer space.
As Mothra and the Shobijin return to Infant Island while Godzilla and Rodan go their separate ways. Selina, having retained the memories of her time with Shindo, bids farewell to her guardian as she meets her bodyguards at the airport to return home.
An early concept for Ghidorah had him with rainbow-colored wings and a purple body with his three heads spitting fire from their mouths, instead of lightning which was used in the final draft.
English version 
The English-dubbed version was presented in American theaters in September 1965 by Walter Reade-Sterling, and distributed by Continental Distributing under 20th Century Fox on a double bill with Elvis Presley's musical-comedy, Harum Scarum. Originally titled Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster.
Several alterations were made to the American version, including:
- Much of Akira Ifukube's score was replaced with library music.
- King Ghidorah's name was romanized as "Ghidrah".
- In the English version, King Ghidorah destroys Mars (it was Venus in the Japanese version), and the Princess claims that she is from Mars. This was most likely because of the strong association the western world has with the possibility of Mars having been able to support life.
- When Godzilla first surfaces, Rodan is also present in the American version. In the Japanese version, only Godzilla appears in this scene.
- Continuity error: The sequence of Godzilla climbing on the docks in Yokohama harbor was changed around. First he is on the docks, then appears to be back in the bay, and then back on shore.
- The scene in which the Shobijins sing Mothra's Song a second time to summon Mothra is cut.
- The shot of the assassins escaping during Godzilla's rampage in Yokohama is deleted.
- The scene of Princess Salno telling Dr. Tsukamoto, Shindo, and Naoko about Ghidorah's arrival occurs after it comes from the meteorite in the American version.
The English version runs 85 minutes, seven minutes shorter than the original Japanese version.
Critical reception 
This film has received massive acclaim among many Godzilla fans and is considered to be one of the best Godzilla films of the Showa era. Cinemassacre's James Rolfe known as "The Angry Video Game Nerd" among the internet has stated in a review of this film "Three heads are better than one and four monsters are better than two." Reviewing the American version, Leonard Maltin gives the film two and a half stars, calling it "one of the better Toho monster rallies”.
Box office 
The film sold approximately 4,320,000 tickets in Japan.
- Three Giant Monsters: The Greatest Battle On Earth – Translation of Japanese title
- Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster – Original U.S. title
- Monster of Monsters, Ghidora – Toho's original English title
- Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster – Toho's current English title. Classic Media used this title for their DVD
DVD releases 
Classic Media 
- Release date: June 5, 2007
- Special features: Eiji Tsuburaya biography and audio commentary by David Kalat.
- Note: Contains both original Japanese and English versions.
- Note: Part of the Toho Collection
- Maltin, Leonard (2009), p. 520. Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide. ISBN 1-101-10660-3. Signet Books. Accessed May 9, 2012
- Godzilla on the web(Japan)
- Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster at the Internet Movie Database
- Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster at Rotten Tomatoes
- Martinez, Mike A. "Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster" (extended film analysis) Millon Monkey Theater. June 28, 2008.
- "三大怪獣 地球最大の決戦 (San Daikaijū: Chikyū Saidai no Kessen)" (in Japanese). Japanese Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-07-16.
- Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Toho Kingdom
- San daikaiju: Chikyu saidu no kessen / Ghidrah: The Three-Headed Monster (1964) at kensforce.com (press release information for the American release)
- Variety Weekly. October 6, 1965.