Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Return of Godzilla - Audio mix differences (updated)

The Return of Godzilla (1984) has two main sound mixes: A seemingly earlier "A" mix, and a revised "B" mix with many alterations. The "A" mix is the only version released on home video in Japan, and its M&E assembly has been used as the basis for the majority of foreign language copies (additionally it served as the basis for the 5.1 remix). The "B" mix seems to have been created in tandem with or for a mono theatrical mix, which has never surfaced, unfortunately. The existence of a Japanese mono mix accompanying 16mm prints has been put forward on occasion, and the English and Cantonese mono tracks containing "B" alterations and different music edits support the possibility. The "B" mix was also used to create a special stereo version for a 1985 Drama LP release of the film. This list will cover the differences between the various mixes.

The "M" numbers correspond to the track listings on the Perfect Collection OST. It's also worth noting that in many instances, the export English dubbed track misses out or renders inaudible on a lot of incidental background foley heard mostly during dialogue scenes (e.g. the communications device sound effects at the beginning of the cabinet's discussion about the Super-X, Maki and Naoko running down the stairs in reel 6, etc.). I've cross checked these instances with the Cantonese mono dub/some parts of Godzilla 1985, and surely enough, they're clear as day in those.

Reel 1
- The mono recording of M1 has more prominently mixed brass (this is especially noticeable during the swell when the title card appears).
- The lava sound effects during the opening titles are much less prominently mixed in the "B" mix, not picking up in volume until the "Daikoku Island, southern tip of the Izu Island Chain" super.
- More water sound effects are heard in the soundscape of Maki's introduction in the "A" mix. Yasuko Sawaguchi's Sayonara Lover fades out sooner as well.

Reel 2
- There is additional/differently mixed computer chatter during the scene at Hayashida's lab in the "B" mix.
- M7 goes slightly off-pitch towards the end of the scene in the mono "B" mix.
- M8 is off-pitch in the mono "B" mix.
- M11 is timed slightly different in the "B" mix. The sounds of the paper presses also are more prominent in the Drama LP.
- Alternate take of M12 is used in the mono "B" mix. This take is available on the Perfect Collection OST and can be heard here. Drama LP uses the regular stereo take.

Reel 3
- *Alternate, louder bird foley in the "B" mix (See also to this video)
- The first portion of M13 is tracked in earlier in the Drama LP.
- M14 is quieter and timed differently in the "A" mix.
- An alternate sound effect is used in the "B" mix for when Godzilla pulls out the reactor core (it sounds less metallic). The hissing of the escaping steam is also more prominent in the "A" mix.
- M16 is off-pitch in the mono "B" mix.
- More alternate computer background noise at the institute during the "Godzilla is a warning" scene.

Reel 4
- M18A is tracked in later in the Drama LP.
- There is a change in volume in the rotor sound effects on the close up patrol helicopter in the "B" mix, while there is no such change in the "A" mix.
- M18B is tracked in sooner in the "B" mix. In the mono mix, it begins as soon as the shot of the dock comes up, but in the Drama LP, it begins even earlier during the preceding shot of the helicopter.
- The shot of the fighter pilot's cockpit exploding has an additional explosion sound in the "A" mix (the classic '50s-'70s variant).
- There is additional Russian dialogue aboard the Balashevo during Godzilla's attack in the "B" mix. Some of the clamoring aboard the deck is in the "A" mix, but it is deeply buried by music and sound effects. The other instance of additional voice work that also appears in Godzilla 1985 (during the shot of Kashrin stumbling below deck) is completely "B" mix exclusive, however. This is also heard in Toho's 5.1 remix.
- The stock scream heard during the shot of the soldier on fire is tracked in with a more abrupt beginning in the Drama LP. Furthermore, the screaming mixed under it is more prominent than in the "A" mix.
- The sound design of Godzilla's roasting of the port area fades out smoothly after the shot of the soldiers getting incinerated in the "B" mix, rather than coming to the abrupt stop heard in the "A" mix.
- M20 is off-pitch/timed differently in the mono "B" mix.

Reel 5
- M21 is timed much earlier in the Drama LP, as far as throwing off the score's normal synchronization with the action happening on screen. This cue is also slightly off pitch in the mono "B" mix.
- The Drama LP omits "Genzai..." from the shot of the police car blaring out evacuation instructions. This appears to be part of the "B" mix dialogue stem itself, since the truncated line also appears in the R2 5.1 mix and the Kraken DTS track.
- The composite shot of Godzilla advancing on the crowd in Nagatacho has no music in the "B" mix. When the music does resume, it is tracked in slightly earlier in the Drama LP compared to the mono mix.
- A different roar is heard for when Godzilla looks down on the bum at the restaurant in the "B" mix.
- The "B" mix lacks an impact sound effect as a laser cannon scores a hit on Godzilla.
- Alternate siren sounds are heard in the "B" mix as Hayashida and co. attempt to make their escape from the institute following the experiment. These are tracked in just as the Professor opens the door and runs out, while the "A" mix's equivalent starts earlier with the shot of Maki shielding Naoko from the debris. The "A" mix siren is then tracked in during the shot of the party running up the stairs to the roof, augmenting the "B" siren.
- M25 is timed and edited differently in the "A" mix, which repeats a bar before the Super-X appears from behind a skyscraper. Both mixes' respective edits of this cue both appear on the Perfect Collection OST. The Drama LP uses the "B" mix's edit, but times it earlier so the Super-X's flourish is no longer timed to immediately coincide with the craft's light coming into view.
- The "B" mix omits the first half of Godzilla's roar when the Super-X fires the first cadmium shell into its mouth.
- M27 is retimed in the Drama LP to make the dramatic crescendo coincide with the shot of the nuclear satellite launching its missile precisely. The missile's thruster sounds are also boosted in volume.

Reel 6
- No heartbeat sound effects at the head of the reel in the English track and Drama LP. The sound is heard in the Cantonese dub, however.
- Godzilla's breathing before it lets out a blast of its heat-ray has a smooth fade in the "A" mix, but an abrupt start in the "B" mix.
- M31 is timed differently in the "B" mix. The acoustics of this track seem to differ between all three mixes upon closer observation.
- M32 is off-pitch in the mono "B" mix.
- Different "suspense" synth in the "B" mix as the Prime Minister watches the missiles approach.
- The distant siren sound effects heard during the wideshot of Godzilla, the Super-X and the crowd beneath them after the missile approaches are rendered inaudible by the clamoring in the "A" mix.
- The siren sounds in the following scene between Maki and Naoko are also mixed differently in the "B" mix.
- M33 is off-pitch in the mono "B" mix.
- The "A" mix skips The Awakening of the Giant Beast III (or M35B') entirely and uses M35C in its place. The timing of The Awakening of the Giant Beast II (M35) also differs between the Drama LP and the mono mix.

Reel 7
- M38 is missing in the "B" mix.
- The sound effects of the skyscraper crashing down on the Super-X do not fade smoothly in the "B" mix
- Another different mix of sirens as our leads observe Godzilla after its victory over the Super-X in the "B" mix.
- Different roar used for the composite shot of the bum running from Godzilla in the "B" mix.
- There are additional destruction sound effects as Godzilla corners the bum.
- And most famously, Godzilla's wail only appears in the "B" mix.

Resources for documentation provided by Brian R. Culver/Allen Perkins and Steven Sloss.

*In the 5.1 remixes, if you crank up the volume on the surround channels, you can hear the muffled remnants of the "B" mix bird sound. This seems to be buried in an early version of the mono foldown "A" mix M&E track as well, as the oddity is heard in the German and French dubs.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Media Target's Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla

"Wrong movie!!!1!1"
Well, a new update was long overdue. Today, I present Media Target's 2002 DVD release of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, the explosive, action packed 20th Anniversary installment of the franchise. In Germany, the film was released during the winter of 1974, far earlier than Cinema Shares' belated Downtown Distribution U.S. release in 1977 (Godzilla vs. The Bionic/Cosmic Monster). The film was retitled King Kong gegen Godzilla, and yes, Mechagodzilla is indeed referred to as King Kong (a la Jet Jaguar in Constantin Film's previous release of Megalon) in the excellently dubbed German dialogue.
The great Goro Mutsumi in all his hammy glory.
As you'd expect from this period in the franchise's history, it is of course based directly off of Toho's international version, even down to lazily keeping the original credits in English. Media Target has presented two versions of the same film: a scope theatrical version (not sure if it's 35mm or 16mm...), and a standard, non-anamorphic cropped 1.85:1 TV version. The anamorphically enhanced theatrical print has a very dirty image, and an unquestionable grindhouse charm, the 20% greater PAL resolution adding to the theatrical feel. It runs about a minute shorter than the much cleaner cropped version, due to numerous small splices and dodgy reel changes spread across the runtime. One small complaint I have however, is that more than a third of the film is interlaced (starting around the 38 minute mark), reverting back to a progressive scan around the last reel.
*lame "off with his head!" joke*
For extras, we have some lengthy information on the film (in German) by Peter Clasen, but I haven't any real knowledge of the language to provide details on most of what is written. I believe some of it covers Japanese/Okinawan relations up to and during the production of the film. There is also some very brief information about director Jun Fukuda, and while he had a somewhat diverse directorial career, only his Godzilla films are covered.

Now, if only you were in a Godzilla movie Tamba-san...
There is also a large selection of German dubbed trailers, among them being Battle in Outer Space, The War of the Gargantuas, Gappa, King Kong Escapes, Destroy All Monsters, Submersion of Japan, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, Terror of Mechagodzilla, and The War in Space. Only a handful are accessible from the menu itself however. Also hidden in the DVD9's structure is the U.S. Ken Films 8mm reel for Frankenstein Conquers the World.

Most of the original publicity campaign for the German release is included in an animated gallery presentation, along with some German and foreign multimedia releases. Rounding out the supplements is a ten minute long excerpt from G-Fest '02 in Chicago, the focus being a fanmade Mechagodzilla costume (by one Paul Gavins), among other cosplays at the event. An odd inclusion, but interesting look back at a past G-Fest for sure.

All in all, it's a fairly good release by early 2000s standards, and a great thing to have if you're into the foreign releases of these films or dubbed '70s shlock in general.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Godzilla's domestic and foreign music and effects track differences

Page from Toho's 1955 overseas film sales brochure.
 You've seen Godzilla (1954, Ishiro Honda), its radical and revolutionary American reworking (Godzilla, King of the Monsters, Terry Morse), and Luigi Cozzi's bizarre, rainbow colored and charred flesh flavored Kong '76 exploitation reissue of that same reworking (Cozzilla), but what of the other releases of Godzilla's first dark, stark, monochrome outing?

Before going into detail about those other edits however, it's important to document some of the key differences between the version that played in Japanese theaters (which, although, did play subtitled in a few foreign showings in 1955) and the version the rest of the world was exposed to. There are many changes between the domestic and foreign music and effects track for Godzilla, and because the exporting of film from Japan was still in its infancy, there was less demand/reason to construct music and effects tracks for dubbing, so it's quite possible Godzilla's was made after the Japanese theatrical run when Toho began selling films overseas, resulting in a lot of accidental or deliberate changes.

Some of the main differences between the two mixes are as follows:

- The S.O.S. signal heard after the sinking of the Eiko-Maru in the Coast Guard HQ is extremely buried in the sound design, practically inaudible.
- Alternate take used for M7 (Storm on Odo Island). It is the same take used later in the film for Godzilla's attack in Shinagawa. The take used in the Japanese mix has a varied tempo, with the final crescendo accompanying the visuals of the destroyed helicopter played at a much slower, dramatic pace. It is not entirely clear what happened to the final take or why it was substituted here.
- Different Radio music used for Hagiwara, Emiko, and Serizawa's meeting. It's possible Foley and ADR was performed over the original cue, making it unusable.
- An entirely different musical cue is used for the party boat scene. Instead of the famous, cutesy, Hawaiian sounding cue, an accordion based rendition of Oh Susana is utilized instead. This is only heard in full during the French cut's version of the scene.
- Additional splashes are heard as Godzilla rises from the bay during the monster's first rampage.
- During the Shinagawa evacuation, M7-T1 (Storm on Odo Island) is tracked in about half a second later than in the Japanese mix.
- The music continues after Godzilla's roar, rather than ending with it as the Japanese mix does.
- Different roar utilized for when Godzilla tangles with the electrical blockade (One of the earlier Odo Island roars is reused instead of the low pitched grunt heard in the Japanese mix).
- Part of Godzilla's death cry is used instead of another Odo Island roar for his second roar heard during the blockade scene. Godzilla's third roar is tracked in slightly earlier and his victory roar lacks the pause heard between the first and second bellow.
- The sound effect for Godzilla's death-ray lacks the gradual fade-in heard during most instances during the Japanese mix and is louder in general.
- Godzilla doesn't growl while under tank fire.
- Different Morse code Foley used for the dispatchers' room.
- A more crackly variant replaces Godzilla's roar during the birdcage shot.
- Godzilla lacks a roar shortly before the destruction of the Wako Clock Tower. Different growls are also utilized for the fiery composite of Godzilla turning and the shot of Godzilla roaring at the tower.
- There is a rare instance where Godzilla's breath is actually quieter in the foreign mix.
- A different portion of MB (Desperate Broadcast) is used for the destruction of the TV tower.
- MC (Godzilla Comes to Tokyo Bay) is mixed much louder than in the Japanese assembly, in which it's almost inaudible.
- A repetition of M16 (Intercept Godzilla) is tracked in instead of slower tempo M1 (Repel Godzilla) for the JADF attack on Godzilla. Sound effects of the missiles firing were added as well.
- The beginning portion of  M23 (Ending) substitutes the instrumental beginning of Prayer for Peace heard in the Japanese mix, presumably because the announcement was recorded with the track itself, much like M19's child cries.
- The music during the finale plays at a consistent, pounding volume and lacks the fadeouts heard in the Japanese mix for Godzilla's death.
- Godzilla's death cry uses a different, shorter roar for the first half before fading into the normal, guttural sounds of the second half.

We will cover the German and French edits at a later time, but a big thanks goes out to Brian R. Culver and Jules L. Carrozza for providing the actual track from the 2001 Japanese DVD release for analysis.