Destroy All Monsters

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Destroy All Monsters
Destroy All Monsters 1968.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byIshirō Honda
Screenplay by
Produced byTomoyuki Tanaka[1]
CinematographyTaiichi Kankura[1]
Edited byRyohei Fujii[1]
Music byAkira Ifukube[1]
Distributed byToho
Release date
  • August 1, 1968 (1968-08-01) (Japan)
Running time
88 minutes[2]
Budget¥200 million[3]
Box office¥170 million (Japan rentals)[4]

Destroy All Monsters (Japanese: 怪獣総進撃, Hepburn: Kaijū Sōshingeki, lit.'Monster Total Advancement') is a 1968 Japanese kaiju film directed by Ishirō Honda, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. The film, which was produced and distributed by Toho Co., Ltd, is the ninth film in the Godzilla franchise, and features eleven monster characters, including Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah, Anguirus, and Minilla. The film stars Akira Kubo, Jun Tazaki, Yukiko Kobayashi and Yoshio Tsuchiya.

In the film, humans have achieved world peace by the year 1999, and various giant monsters are confined to an area known as Monsterland. The monsters are freed from the area and are mind-controlled by aliens known as Kilaaks, who send them to attack major cities. When the monsters are freed from the Kilaaks' influence, the aliens send King Ghidorah to challenge the other monsters.

Destroy All Monsters was released theatrically in Japan on August 1, 1968. The film was released by American International Pictures with an English-language dub in the United States on May 23, 1969. Contemporary American reviews were mixed, with praise mainly held for the climactic monster battle. Retrospectively, the film has received more praise, and is considered a favorite among Godzilla fans for its "audacious and simple story", "innovative action sequences",[5] and a "memorably booming" score by Akira Ifukube.


At the close of the 20th century, all of the Earth's kaiju have been collected by the United Nations Science Committee and confined in an area known as Monster Island, located in the Ogasawara island chain. A special control center is constructed underneath the island to ensure that the monsters stay secure and to serve as a research facility to study them.

When communications with Monster Island are suddenly and mysteriously severed, and all of the monsters begin attacking world capitals, Dr. Yoshida of the UNSC orders Captain Yamabe and the crew of his spaceship, Moonlight SY-3, to investigate Ogasawara. There, they discover that the scientists, led by Dr. Otani, have become mind-controlled slaves of a feminine alien race identifying themselves as the Kilaaks, who reveal that they are in control of the monsters. Their leader demands that the human race surrender, or face total annihilation.

Godzilla attacks New York City, Rodan invades Moscow, Mothra lays waste to Beijing, Gorosaurus destroys Paris (although Baragon was credited for its destruction), and Manda attacks London. These attacks were set in to motion to draw attention away from Japan, so that the aliens can establish an underground stronghold near Mount Fuji in Japan. The Kilaaks then turn their next major attack onto Tokyo and, without serious opposition, become arrogant in their aims until the UNSC discover, after recovering the Kilaaks' monster mind-control devices from around the world, that they have switched to broadcasting the control signals from their base under the Moon's surface. In a desperate battle, the crew of the SY-3 destroys the Kilaak's lunar outpost and returns the alien control system to Earth.

With all of the monsters under the control of the UNSC, the Kilaaks call King Ghidorah. The three-headed space dragon is dispatched to protect the alien stronghold at Mount Fuji, and battles Godzilla, Minilla, Mothra, Rodan, Gorosaurus, Anguirus, and Kumonga. While seemingly invincible, King Ghidorah is eventually overpowered by the combined strength of the Earth monsters and is killed. Refusing to admit defeat, the Kilaaks produce their ace, a burning monster they call the Fire Dragon, which begins to torch Tokyo and destroys the control center on Ogasawara. Suddenly, Godzilla attacks and destroys the Kilaaks' underground base, revealing that the Earth's monsters instinctively know who their enemies are. Captain Yamabe then pursues the Fire Dragon in the SY-3 and narrowly achieves victory for the human race. The Fire Dragon is revealed to be a flaming Kilaak saucer and is destroyed. With the Kilaaks defeated, Godzilla and the other monsters eventually return to Monster Island to live in peace.



School children visiting the set during production, posing with some of the cast, monster suits and props.

Per the waning popularity of the Godzilla series, special effects director Sadamasa Arikawa noted that Toho were going to potentially end the Godzilla series as "Producer Tanaka figured that all the ideas had just run out."[7][8]

The film was written by Takeshi Kimura and Ishirō Honda, making it the first Godzilla film since Godzilla Raids Again not written by Shinichi Sekizawa.[9] Takeshi Kimura is credited to the pen name Kaoru Mabuchi in the film's credits.[8] Kimura and Honda's script developed the concept of Monsterland (referred to as Monster Island in future films).[9]

The earliest screenplay was titled Kaiju Chushingura (The word chushingura refers to a famous historical story in Japan about the rebellion of 47 samurai who took revenge after their master was unjustly forced to commit suicide). Written in 1967 by Kimura, this version of the film was to include “all of the monsters”, according to Ishiro Honda in an interview. The story called for Godzilla, Minilla, Anguirus, Rodan, Mothra, Gorosaurus, Manda, Baragon, Kumonga, Varan, Magma, Kamacuras, Gaira, Sanda, and King Kong to appear in the film. When it was decided to adapt Two Godzillas!: Japan SOS (an earlier version of Son of Godzilla) instead, the script was shelved for next year, by then the rights to Kong had expired. Ishiro Honda also wanted to show lunar colonies and brand new hybrid monsters, the results of interbreeding and genetic splicing. He also wanted to delve more deeply into undersea farming to feed the monsters. But because of budget constraints he couldn't show all this. In later scripts, the number of monsters was cut as well.

As the film has several monsters who continuously return in the films, the location was developed to be a faraway island where the monsters are pacified.[9] This tied other films not related to the Godzilla series within its universe, as creatures such as Manda (from Atragon) and Varan (Varan the Unbelievable) exist.[9] The film features footage from Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964), specifically King Ghidorah's fiery birth scene.[2][10]

New monster suits for Godzilla and Anguirus were constructed for the film, while Rodan, Kumonga, Minilla, Gorosaurus, Manda, Baragon, Mothra, and King Ghidorah suits were modified from previous films, with King Ghidorah having less detail than he had in previous films.[11]


Destroy All Monsters was released in Japan on 1 August 1968 where it was distributed by Toho.[2][7] It was released on a double bill with a reissue of the film Atragon.[2] The film was reissued theatrically in Japan in 1972 where it was re-edited by Honda to a 74-minute running time and released with the title Gojira: Dengeki Taisakusen (lit. Godzilla: Lightning Fast Strategy).[2] Destroy All Monsters continued the decline in ticket sales in Japan for the Godzilla series, earning 2.6 million in ticket sales.[12] In comparison, Invasion of Astro-Monster brought in 3.8 million and Son of Godzilla collected 2.5 million.[12]

The film was released in the United States by American International Pictures with an English-language dub on 23 May 1969.[2] The film premiered in the United States in Cincinnati.[7] American International Pictures hired Titra Studios to dub the film into English.[13] The American version of the film remains relatively close to the Japanese original.[10] Among the more notable removed elements include Akira Ifukube's title theme and a brief shot of Minilla shielding his eyes and ducking when King Ghidorah drops Anguirus from the sky.[13] Destroy All Monsters was shown on American television until the early 1980s.[13] It resurfaced on cable broadcast on the Sci-Fi Channel in 1996.[13]

Home media[edit]

Destroy All Monsters was released on VHS by ADV Films in 1998 which featured English-dubbed dialogue from Toho's own international version of the film.[13][14] In 2011, Tokyo Shock released the film on DVD and Blu-ray and in 2014 the company re-released it on DVD and Blu-ray.[15] In 2019, the Japanese version and export English version were included in a Blu-ray box set released by the Criterion Collection, which included all 15 films from the franchise's Shōwa era.[16]

Critical reception[edit]

From contemporary reviews, both Variety and Monthly Film Bulletin noted the film's best scenes involved the monsters together, while criticising the filmmaking. Variety reviewed the English-dubbed version of the film stating that it may appeal to "Sci-fi addicts and monster fans" while stating that the "plot is on comic strip level, special effects depend on obvious miniatures and acting (human) is from school of Flash Gordon" and that the film's strength relied on its "monster rally".[17] The Monthly Film Bulletin opined that "the model work is poor, and as usual the script is junior comic-strip".[18] Both reviews mentioned the monsters' final scene with Variety commenting that it was "clever" and the Monthly Film Bulletin stating that "apart from [the monsters] statutory devastation of world capitals [...] the monsters have disappointingly little to do until they get together in the last reel for a splendid battle"[17][18] The Monthly Film Bulletin commented that the film was "almost worth sitting through the banalities for the final confrontation on Mount Fuji" noting the son of Godzilla "endearingly applauding from a safe distance" and "the victorious monsters performing a celebratory jig".[18]

From retrospective reviews, Steve Biodrowski of Cinefantastique commented that the film "is too slim in its storyline, too thin in its characterizations, to be considered a truly great film [...] But for the ten-year-old living inside us all, it is entertainment of the most awesome sort."[19] Matt Paprocki of Blogcritics said the film is "far from perfect" and "can be downright boring at times" but felt that "the destruction scenes make up for everything else" and "the final battle is an epic that simply can't be matched".[20]

The film is considered a cult favorite among fans of the Godzilla franchise.[5][21] In Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski's 2017 book covering Ishiro Honda's filmography, they expressed that Destroy All Monsters is now seen as the "last truly spirited entry" in Toho's initial series of kaiju films, due to "its audacious and simple story, a bounty of monsters and destruction, and a memorably booming soundtrack from Akira Ifukube".[21]

Godzilla director Gareth Edwards previously expressed interest in making a sequel to his 2014 movie inspired by Destroy All Monsters.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Galbraith IV 1996, p. 149.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Galbraith IV 1996, p. 150.
  3. ^ Ryfle & Godziszewski 2017, p. 244.
  4. ^ Ryfle & Godziszewski 2017, p. 247.
  5. ^ a b "Destroy All Monsters (1968)". The Criterion Collection. The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 26 July 2019. ... Destroy All Monsters mounts a thrilling display of innovative action sequences and memorable images that have made it a favorite for generations of viewers.
  6. ^ a b c d e Ryfle 1998, p. 357.
  7. ^ a b c Ryfle 1998, p. 145.
  8. ^ a b Ryfle 1998, p. 146.
  9. ^ a b c d Kalat 1997, p. 98.
  10. ^ a b Kalat 1997, p. 99.
  11. ^ Ryfle 1998, p. 147.
  12. ^ a b Kalat 1997, p. 100.
  13. ^ a b c d e Ryfle 1998, p. 148.
  14. ^ Ryfle 1998, p. 368.
  15. ^ J Hurtado (12 December 2011). "DESTROY ALL MONSTERS Blu-ray Review". Screen Anarchy. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  16. ^ Patches, Matt (July 25, 2019). "Criterion reveals the collection's 1000th disc: the ultimate Godzilla set". Polygon. Archived from the original on December 17, 2019. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  17. ^ a b Willis 1985, p. 246: "Review is of 88 minute English-language version viewed on May 23, 1969"
  18. ^ a b c "Kaiju Soshingeki (Destroy All Monsters)". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 36 no. 420. London: British Film Institute. 1969. p. 267. ISSN 0027-0407.
  19. ^ Steve, Biodrowski (11 April 2009). "Destroy All Monsters (1968) – Kaiju Review". Cinefantastique. Archived from the original on 10 August 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  20. ^ Paprocki, Matt (6 July 2004). "Destroy All Monsters DVD Review". Blogcritics. Archived from the original on 17 November 2016. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  21. ^ a b Ryfle & Godziszewski 2017, p. 243.
  22. ^ Kendrick, Ben (25 July 2013). "'Godzilla' Reboot Director Talks Creature Design; Sequel Ideas Inspired by 'Destroy All Monsters'". ScreenRant. Retrieved 25 July 2013.

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