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.