Sunday Matinee: Rodan

RodanBefore I went to the newest Godzilla movie last week I had undertaken the task of rewatching several of the original Godzilla movies. Along the way I also watched some of Toho’s other giant monster movies like this 1956 film Rodan.

The new Godzilla movie owes a lot of its plot to Rodan. Made after the second Godzilla movie Godzilla Raids Again and the first kaiju movie in colour Rodan first introduces the giant Pteranodon enemy / ally for later Godzilla films.

The film starts in a small town which is near a volcano and where most of the villagers all work in the local coal mine. The miners are starting the morning shift and two of the workers who got into a fight the previous night are starting to fight again. They are broken up and everyone goes down into the mine. Soon an emergency is called. One of the pits has flooded and the two miners are missing. The first miner is found dead in the water but he didn’t drown. It seems that he was killed with a sharp object. Everyone assumes that it was the other miner.

Soon three more people are killed in the mine and a big man hunt for the missing miner begins. The accused’s sister is visited by her fiancee Shigeru who doesn’t believe that her brother is responsible for the killings. Suddenly a giant insect breaks into their house. The villagers chase the monster back into the mine. As they go in for the kill they discover more of the giant insects and then the mine collapses and Shigeru is lost from the group. Back at base it’s revealed that the bugs were the killers and that they are prehistoric bugs called meganulons. A few miles from the mine a large chunk of ground collapses and Shigeru is discovered with amnesia.

Soon there are reports of herds of cattle going missing. A couple of tourists are killed and a super sonic identified flying object is terrorizing the skies. Taking out jets, commercial planes and attack several different countries other than just Japan. Soon Shigeru regains his memory and reveals that he found a giant egg that hatched and released Rodan into the world. Rodan finally attacks and it’s discovered that there are two Rodans! Now they need to come up with a way to defeat the beasts.

This is pretty entertaining movie. As I have with all of Toho giant monster films, I’ve been watching the original Japanese versions of the movies. Sony released most of the films in the last few years with both Japanese and American cuts of the movie. The Japanese versions are always superior to the cut dubbed American versions.

Though Rodan doesn’t make an appearance in the new Godzilla, the plot seems familiar. Miners discover an egg, a flying monster is unleashed to the world. Like most of Toho’s kaiju movies the human characters are extremely underwritten, only really serving as people bearing witness to the events as the unfold and explaining plot points to the audience when necessary. I enjoyed the latest Godzilla movie, it fits right in with these early kaiju movie. If you’re a fan like I am then you’ll probably enjoy the movie too. If not then your time might be better spent watching something else.

This original Japanese trailer plays up the Godzilla angle by showing footage from the first two Godzilla movies before indtroducing Rodan. Rodan didn’t make an appearance in a Godzilla movie until the fifth movie Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster.

Author: Shane Hnetka

Shane Hnetka spends most of his life watching movies and reading comic books, using his vast knowledge of genre culture for evil instead of good.