The original Japanese film directed by Ishirō Honda starts off with a fishing boat getting mysteriously destroyed. The local island villagers have stories of a legendary sea monster named Gojira who they believe has returned. Naturally the authorities are skeptical. But soon the stories are proved to be true as the monster attacks the island and then makes his way to the mainland. The beast soon attacks Tokyo, easily defeating the armies and leaving a trail of radiation that makes the survives extremely ill. How can Japan stop this monster?
After the film debuted in Japan, it was released internationally where an American producer bought the film. It was renamed Godzilla, King of Monsters and the Americans recut the film, cutting out parts and adding in new scenes shot with Raymond Burr who sudden appears and narrates a film he which he had nothing to do with. The rest of the film is poorly dubbed but it became extremely popular.
A sequel quickly followed, and then another and another. All told there have been 28 Godzilla movies and one crappy American remake. As the series progressed, the films became less serious as the first and were more obsessed with having Godzilla fight another giant monster. But it was the only one in the series to be nominated for best film at the Japanese Academy Awards. It lost to Seven Samurai. It was just announced that the Criterion Collection is releasing this awesome film on DVD and Blu-ray January 24, 2012.