Godzilla 1985

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Godzilla 1985
Theatrical poster
Directed by R. J. Kiser
Koji Hashimoto
Produced by Tony Randel
Written by Shuichi Nagahara
Tony Randel
Lisa Tomei
Story by Tomoyuki Tanaka
Starring Raymond Burr
Ken Tanaka
Yasuko Sawaguchi
Yosuke Natsuki
Keiju Kobayashi
Shin Takuma
Music by Reijiro Koroku
Christopher Young
Cinematography Kazutami Hara
Steven Dubin
Edited by Yoshitami Kuroiwa
New World Pictures
Toho Studios
Distributed by New World Pictures
Release date(s)
  • August 23, 1985 (1985-08-23)
Running time 87 minutes
Country Japan
United States
Language English
Budget $2,000,000
Box office $4,116,395

Godzilla 1985 is a Japanese American science fiction kaiju film produced by New World Pictures. It is an American production incorporating much of the footage of the Japanese film, The Return of Godzilla, originally produced by Toho in 1984. The Japanese version was directed by Koji Hashimoto, with special effects by Teruyoshi Nakano and starred Ken Tanaka, Yasuko Sawaguchi, and Yosuke Natsuki.

Both the New World Pictures and Toho versions of the film serve as direct sequels to the original Godzilla film. However, while Toho's version serves as a sequel to the 1954 original, Godzilla 1985 serves as a sequel to Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, the 1956 Americanization of the original film which starred Raymond Burr. The film uses the same editing method used in Godzilla, King of The Monsters where the original Japanese footage is dubbed and cut together with newly filmed footage featuring American actors, with Burr reprising his role as Steve Martin who has been summoned by the United States military to aide them in a counterattack against Godzilla after he resurfaces 30 years after his initial attack. In addition to keeping Reijiro Koroku's original score, the film samples cues from Christopher Young's Def-Con 4 film score.

The film was met with mainly unfavorable reviews upon its release in the United States. Just like Godzilla, King of The Monsters, a majority of the nuclear themes and political overtones featured in the Japanese version were removed from the U.S. version. Godzilla 1985 was the last Godzilla film to be distributed theatrically in the United States until the release of Godzilla 2000.


The Japanese fishing vessel Yahata Maru is trying to find its way to shore in a horrible storm while near an uninhabited island, when a giant monster appears out of the island and attacks the boat. Meanwhile, Steve Martin is sitting at the typewriter in his office, observing the storm outside his window. A day later, reporter Goro Maki finds the vessel intact but deserted. As he explores the vessel, he finds all the crew dead except for one young man called Hiroshi "Kenny" Okumura, who has been badly wounded. Suddenly a giant sea louse attacks but is eventually killed with some difficulty by Okumura.

In Tokyo, the Japanese Prime Minister is informed of Godzilla's attack and orders that Godzilla's involvement be kept secret. Maki's report is not published by his newspaper as a "national security matter" over concerns about mass panic. Maki is ordered to keep it a secret and is told to interview bio-physicist Hayashida. Maki goes to the Hayashida Bioscience Institute labs where he finds Hayashida working on genetic mutation, part of his studies of Godzilla, who killed his parents in the 1954 attacks. Maki finds Naoko, Okamura's sister working as a lab assistant to Hayashida and informs her that her brother is safe, against his orders. She rushes to the hospital.

Godzilla attacks a second time and destroys a Soviet submarine. At the Pentagon, General Goodhoe is informed of the storms in the Pacific and the discovery of a giant sea louse. In a war-room, Goodhoe is informed of the attack on the Soviet submarine. The Russians believe the attack was orchestrated by the Americans and the situation threatens to escalate into war. In Tokyo, the Prime Minister is informed of the attack on the submarine and is shown evidence that Godzilla attacked the submarine. The Japanese intervene and hold a press conference to announce that Godzilla was behind the attack and Okamura gives his eyewitness account of the fishing boat attack. After the press conference, the Americans bring back their nuclear bombers, which had been sent aloft on high alert, and Goodhoe orders his officers to find someone "who knows what we are dealing with." The Japanese arrange a meeting with the Russian and American ambassadors and, after some debate over the issue, Prime Minister Mitamura decides nuclear weapons will not be allowed in Japanese territory even if Godzilla was to attack the Japanese mainland. The Soviets keep the nuclear option open despite Japan's forbidding it. A Russian control ship disguised as a freighter in Tokyo Harbor is prepared to launch a nuclear missile from an orbiting satellite should Godzilla attack.

Hayashida explains to Maki and Okamura that Godzilla appears to require nuclear materials as an explanation for the attack on the submarine. Meanwhile, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) are put on alert with orders to search for, but not engage, Godzilla. Soon, Godzilla appears on an island off the coast of Japan and attacks a nuclear power plant there, where he is observed by Hayashida. Godzilla feeds off the reactor, absorbing its radioactivity until he is distracted by a flock of birds, and leaves the facility almost as quickly as he arrived.

The US military show up at Martin's house to bring him to the Pentagon. The Japanese make plans for defense if Godzilla should attack Tokyo. The defence ministry reveals to the Japanese emergency task force the existence of the Super X, a piloted VTOL craft constructed in secret. It is shielded with titanium alloy and platinum circuitry, is extremely heat-resistant and is equipped with a variety of missiles.

Through the use of "ultrasonic images", Hayashida determines that Godzilla's brain is bird-like, only mutated. Hayashida realizes that Godzilla had a conditioned response to the birds chirping and suggested that if they could duplicate the sound electronically that Godzilla might follow that sound. Hayashida sends Kenny away to work with Professor Minami, a geologist friend of his. Okamura assists Minami in studying a volcano, while Hayashida assists the Japanese emergency task force in a plan to coax Godzilla into the volcano by emitting the bird sound frequency in the hope Godzilla will follow it into the volcano, followed by a controlled eruption to trap Godzilla inside the volcano. The Prime Minister authorizes both the JSDF plan and the plan to use the volcano against Godzilla.

The Americans study old film footage of the 1954 attack and review the strategic forces that can be used against Godzilla. Martin arrives to explain that Godzilla is invulnerable, that he is like "a hurricane, a force of nature and that we must attempt to understand him." He also states that the Japanese never found a corpse after the previous attack 30 years previous.

Maki learns the JSDF plans to use special missiles made of cadmium to fight Godzilla, which Hayashida states will be ineffective against Godzilla. "Godzilla is no reactor."

Godzilla is later sighted at Tokyo Bay, forcing mass evacuations out of the city and a state of emergency is declared while preparations for defense and at the volcano are stepped up. Hayashida explains that Godzilla will not be killed if he falls into the volcano, only that Hayashida hopes to "send him home."

The JASDF attacks Godzilla with Mitsubishi F-1 fighter jets, but their missiles are useless against him. Godzilla then proceeds to the coast, where the waiting army, equipped with tanks, rocket launchers and soldiers armed with Howa Type 64 assault rifles, fires on Godzilla; the defending ground forces are quickly subdued by Godzilla using his atomic breath. The Soviet freighter docked in Tokyo is damaged by a wave stirred by Godzilla's attack. The ship's captain, however, is able to reach his launch control and pushes the button to launch the missile.

Before the Super-X is able to launch, Godzilla proceeds towards Tokyo's business district, wreaking havoc along the way. Using his atomic breath, he blows up a news helicopter that has strayed too close. He then pulls apart an approaching train and picks up a train car before dropping it to the ground. A homeless man looting a downtown restaurant stumbles upon Godzilla and gets trampled.

The Americans observe the destruction from their war room at the Pentagon and one soldier observes "that's one hell of an urban renewal program they have going there." The General tells his aides that the Americans will lend whatever assistance they need, while Martin cautions that weapons will only confuse and antagonize Godzilla further. According to Martin, Godzilla is searching for something in Tokyo, and whatever it is must be identified before too late.

Godzilla is attracted to the electronic signal which Hayashida is testing at his laboratory. Before Godzilla reaches the laboratory in a downtown skyscraper, he is distracted by a laser attack but damages the skyscraper with Hayashida, Maki and Naoko inside. Godzilla follows the laser-equipped military vehicles, which lead him away from downtown. The Super-X finally arrives on the scene and fires the cadmium shells into Godzilla's mouth. Because Godzilla's heart is similar to a nuclear reactor, the cadmium shells that are fired into his mouth by the Super X seal and slow down his heart, and Godzilla falls down unconscious. The Americans believe that Godzilla is dead, but Martin is not sure. At that moment, the Soviet missile is launched from the satellite and is immediately detected by the Americans. The Soviets inform the Japanese emergency team of missile, which is set to explode over Tokyo in thirty minutes with a warhead 50 times as powerful as the Hiroshima blast. The Japanese contact the Americans to ask for them to shoot down the missile. General Goodhoe takes the call and informs them that the interception would be unprecedented and wishes the Japanese minister good luck. The American missile is launched and the Japanese wait and hope.

Hayashida and his signalling equipment is evacuated from the building by an aerial rescue from a helicopter. The American missile successfully intercepts and destroys the Soviet missile moments before it reaches Tokyo. The resulting atmospheric nuclear blast creates an electrical storm which disrupts the Super-X and military communications and awakens Godzilla. Godzilla has a final battle with the Super-X, eventually damaging the aircraft and forcing it to make an emergency landing where he destroys it by toppling a building down onto the crippled aircraft.

Godzilla continues his rampage until Professor Hayashida is successful with his invention and uses the bird call device to distract him. Godzilla leaves Tokyo and swims across the Japanese sea to volcanic Mt. Mihara, where he notices the signal device. As he walks towards it, he falls into the mouth of the volcano which is rigged with detonators. Okumura activates the detonators, creating a controlled volcanic eruption that traps Godzilla.

The movie ends with Martin's closing narration:

"Nature has a way sometimes of reminding man of just how small he is. She occasionally throws up the terrible offspring of our pride and carelessness to remind us of how puny we really are in the face of a tornado, an earthquake or a Godzilla. The reckless ambitions of man are often dwarfed by their dangerous consequences. For now, Godzilla, that strangely innocent and tragic monster, has gone to earth. Whether he returns or not or is never again seen by human eyes, the things he has taught us remain."



After acquiring The Return of Godzilla for distribution in North America, New World Pictures changed the title to Godzilla 1985 and radically re-edited the film. Originally, New World reportedly planned to re-write the dialogue in order to turn the film into a tongue-in-cheek comedy (à la What's Up, Tiger Lily?), but this plan was reportedly scrapped because Raymond Burr expressed displeasure at the idea, taking the idea of Godzilla as a nuclear metaphor seriously. The only dialogue left over from that script was "That's quite an urban renewal program they've got going on over there", said by Major McDonahue.

New World's biggest change was in adding around ten minutes of new footage, most of it at The Pentagon, with Raymond Burr reprising his role as Steve Martin from Godzilla, King of the Monsters!.

The poster image was the same as for the Japanese version, but a green tinting was added to Godzilla's charcoal gray skin and the Soviet attack satellite in the upper right corner was removed.

New World's changes were not limited to these scenes. Much of the original version was deleted or altered.

A partial list of the changes:[1]

  • Godzilla roars and the crew fell whereas the audience sees Steve Martin after Godzilla roars.
  • Goro's fight with the giant sea louse; the louse's voice was also changed.
  • The scene where Naoko learns her brother is alive; Goro snaps pictures of them reunited, which angers Naoko because she realizes he only helped her in order to get the scoop.
  • The meeting between the Japanese prime minister and the Russian and American ambassadors. Also deleted was a scene after the meeting in which the prime minister explains to his aides how he was able to reach a consensus with both sides. Furthermore, this scene appears before Godzilla's attack on the nuclear power plant in the American version, whereas in the Japanese version it appears afterwards.
  • Part of Christopher Young's score from Def Con 4 in several scenes (including Godzilla's attack on the Soviet submarine, the scene where the SDF armored division arrives in Tokyo Bay, and Okumura's near-death experience during the helicopter extraction in Tokyo).
  • Stock footage from Godzilla, King Of The Monsters! was added as the Americans are talking about Godzilla's first appearance in 1954 and ways how they can attempt to stop Godzilla.
  • The scene in which the vagabond helps himself to the food in a deserted restaurant (due to Godzilla's arrival in Tokyo) was edited. In this scene, the distant sound of Godzilla's footsteps was added to the US version.
  • Almost all of Godzilla's rampage through Tokyo. Scenes of a crowd fleeing Godzilla that appeared later in the Japanese print were moved to an earlier point in the movie (and corresponding footage of them gathering around Godzilla after he is knocked out by the Super X was removed), the Super X fight was re-arranged (in the Japanese version, Godzilla fires his atomic ray at the Super X after being hit with cadmium missiles, not before), and various other scenes of destruction were either placed in a different order or deleted completely.
  • Godzilla's first attack on the nuclear power plant.
  • Okumura's first name is changed to Kenny.
  • All shots which employed a life-size replica of Godzilla's foot (mostly seen near the end); only one shot of the big foot crushing parked cars during the nuclear power plant scene was kept.
  • A shot of an American nuclear missile satellite in space.
  • Hayashada and Naoko making a wave generator.
  • Professor Hayashida showing Okumura photographs of Godzilla's 1954 attack and later discussing the mutant sea louse with an aide at the police hospital.
  • Goro calling his editor from an island.

The most controversial change was the scene where the Russian freighter officer Colonel Kashirin valiantly attempts to stop the launch of a nuclear weapon. New World edited the scene (and added a brief shot of Kashirin pressing the launch button) so that now Kashirin deliberately launches the nuclear weapon; possibly due to the fact that the Cold War was ongoing during the release of the film.

In addition, the theatrical release (and most home video versions) was accompanied by Marv Newland's short cartoon, Bambi Meets Godzilla.

The North American version, with the added Raymond Burr footage, runs 87 minutes, 16 minutes shorter than the Japanese print.

Apart from the end credits (where he is listed as Steven Martin), Raymond Burr's character is never referred to by his full name, only as "Mr. Martin" or simply "Martin", for the entirety of the US version. This was to avoid association with comedian Steve Martin.


Box office[edit]

Godzilla 1985 was not a box office success. Opening on August 23, 1985, in 235 North American theaters, the film grossed $509,502 USD ($2,168 per screen) in its opening weekend, on its way to a lackluster $4,116,395 total gross.[2]

New World's budget breakdown for Godzilla 1985 is as follows: $500,000 to lease the film from Toho, $200,000 for filming the new scenes and other revisions, and $2,500,000 for prints and advertising, adding up to a grand total of approximately $3,200,000.[3] Over time, Godzilla 1985, though not a hit, was partially profitable for New World only with the addition of home video and television syndication (the film debuted on television on May 16, 1986).

When Godzilla 1985 failed at the box office, it was the last Godzilla film produced by Toho to receive any major release in North American theaters until Godzilla 2000 fifteen years later.

Critical reception[edit]

Godzilla 1985 was almost universally criticized by North American critics. Roger Ebert, who gave the film a mere one star in the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote:

"The filmmakers must have known that the original Godzilla (1956) had many loyal fans all over the world who treasured the absurd dialogue, the bad lip-synching, the unbelievable special effects, the phony profundity. So they have deliberately gone after the same inept feeling in Godzilla 1985. Examples: Dialogue: It is so consistently bad that the entire screenplay could be submitted as an example. My favorite moment occurs when the hero and heroine are clutching each other on a top floor of a skyscraper being torn apart by Godzilla and the professor leaps into the shot, says "What has happened here?" and leaps out again without waiting for an answer. Lip-synching: Especially in the opening shots, there seems to be a subtle effort to exaggerate the bad coordination between what we see and what we hear. All lip-synch is a little off, of course, but this movie seems to be going for condescending laughs from knowledgable filmgoers. Special effects: When Godzilla marches on Tokyo, the buildings are the usual fake miniature models, made out of paint and cardboard. The tipoff is when he rips a wall off a high-rise, and nothing falls out. That's because there is nothing inside."[4]

Ebert kept a copy of the poster in his office for many years and it was clearly visible in the opening of his television program.

Vincent Canby of the New York Times was similarly unimpressed:

"Though special-effects experts in Japan and around the world have vastly improved their craft in the last 30 years, you wouldn't know it from this film. Godzilla, who is supposed to be about 240 feet tall, still looks like a wind-up toy, one that moves like an arthritic toddler with a fondness for walking through teeny-tiny skyscrapers instead of mud puddles. Godzilla 1985 was shot in color but its sensibility is that of the black-and-white Godzilla films of the 1950s. What small story there is contains a chaste romance and lots of references to the lessons to be learned from "this strangely innocent but tragic creature." The point seems to be that Godzilla, being a "living nuclear bomb", something that cannot be destroyed, must rise up from time to time to remind us of the precariousness of our existence. One can learn the same lesson almost any day on almost any New York street corner."[5]

One of the few positive reviews came from Joel Siegel of Good Morning America, who is quoted on New World's newspaper ads as saying, "Hysterical fun...the best Godzilla in thirty years!".


The movie was nominated for a Stinkers Bad Movie Award for Worst Picture[6] and also nominated for two Razzie Awards including Worst Supporting Actor for Raymond Burr and Worst New Star for The new computerized Godzilla.[7]

Home video[edit]

Godzilla 1985 has been released on home video several times in the U.S. The first release was by New World in the mid '80s, another by Starmaker video (who had acquired some of New World's library) in 1992, and again by Anchor Bay in 1997. All home video releases include the Bambi Meets Godzilla animated short with the exception of the Starmaker release.


  1. ^ Gojira (1984) - Alternate versions Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ Godzilla 1985 Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ The Return of Godzilla - Box Office Report Toho Kingdom Archived 21 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Review Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, September 20, 1985
  5. ^ Review Vincent Canby, New York Times
  6. ^ "1985 8th Hastings Bad Cinema Society Stinkers Awards". Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 17, 2006. Retrieved April 2, 2013. 
  7. ^ Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0. 

External links[edit]