If the post-Gojira films of the Godzilla series indicated its move in a more childish direction, All Monsters Attack completes the journey. Also known as Godzilla’s Revenge, this film executes the swift emasculation of a character originally created as a symbol of death and nuclear destruction. That’s not to say the movie is a total waste or even unwatchable. But just as with Batman & Robin, All Monsters Attack takes its camp factor to the extreme and emerges worse for the wear. At best, it’s a failed experiment whose only worth to fans of the Big G is as a morbid curiosity.
Ichiro (Tomonori Yazaki) is the textbook definition of a latchkey kid. With scant few friends and his parents always working, Ichiro is often left to his own devices. Luckily, our plucky young hero has an active imagination, which allows him to daydream about hanging out on Monster Island and watching Godzilla beat up all manner of opponents. After getting teased by a gang of classmates, Ichiro retreats into his self-induced solitude, in which Godzilla’s son Minilla is tangling with his own bully, the red-haired monster Gabara. But while these fantastic encounters are only in his mind, Ichiro starts to learn a valuable life lesson or two, which come in handy when he runs into a pair of bumbling bank robbers.
All Monsters Attack is often ranked in the lower tier of the Godzilla franchise, and it’s easy to see why. As an addition to the series, it’s an absolute joke, and a confusing one at that. Although the Godzilla action only takes place in Ichiro’s dreams, whether the big guy is real or not is never established. We’re never sure if the Japanese have simply grown used to Godzilla’s attacks or, the more conspicuous option, if Ichiro picked the right monster to idolize. Either way, the film’s confounding nature soon finds itself supplanted by the sheer ridiculousness of the story. The idea of combining the Godzilla universe with Home Alone (or “The Ransom of Red Chief,” for you literature nerds out there) is nothing short of blasphemy, and yet I can’t really criticize director Ishiro Honda for trying something different. After all, The Curse of the Cat People had a similar story and was nothing like its dark, atmospheric predecessor. There were some moments when the kiddie angle even sort of worked, although (SPOILER ALERT!) Honda sends a mixed message by turning Ichiro into a brat by the movie’s end.
I can, however, gripe about what a downright lazy movie All Monsters Attack is. At a mere 69 minutes, it’s one of the more slim entries in the series, and a lot of those consist of stock footage from previous Godzilla movies. I haven’t seen them as of this writing, but you can tell scenes have been reused from how Godzilla’s own appearance changes from brawl to brawl. Sure, it’s cool to see Godzilla take on a fleet of fighter jets, but it’s hard to enjoy it without wondering if Honda just recycled that scene too. The one new monster added to the mix, Gabara, is pretty weak. Resembling Godzilla’s pimply cousin, Gabara spends his time roaring, getting his ass handed to him, or beating up on poor little Minilla. Speaking of which, the flick all but forces you to fall in love with Minilla; from the squeaking noises he makes to the little smoke rings he blows, it’s hard not to.
Despite what seems like a harsh condemnation of All Monsters Attack, I’m keen to let it off with a warning. It’s not a good film, that’s for certain, but it has a real “so bad, it’s good” sort of charm to it that other movies couldn’t pull off if they tried. With All Monsters Attack, all you can really do is sit back, shake your head, and drown yourself in a sea of inherent goofiness.