krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
My order of the latest DVD set of Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes has arrived (complete with Tom Servo figurine to complement the miniature bust of Crow T. Robot wedged into the 20th anniversary can and a distinct holiday theme to the back cover copy), but I've been a bit unconventional in that, after watching "Santa Claus" with my brother (the DVD includes a short yet amusing documentary about the movie, covering everything from its making fifty years ago in Mexico to its elevation into the Mystery Science Theater pantheon, featuring cognoscenti of Mexican movies and some of the Mystery Science Theater writers), I've stepped away from watching the other episodes in the set and back to trying to fill in one last one-episode gap in my list of episodes commented on. The gap is something of a sneaky one, in between the penultimate episode of the second season and the premiere of the third. When it comes to "Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster," I suppose that one of my first experiences with the episode was secondhand, in the form of some comments at the end of Satellite News's then just-begun episode guide that it just couldn't live up to the example set by "Godzilla vs. Megalon." (Somewhat later, though, I did see a comment by someone more impressed with the second than the first Godzilla movie covered by the series...) It might seem significant that in the third season, the "Gamera" and other "Sandy Frank" movies were separated by American movies, and I've noticed comments that the string of 1950s black and white Universal movies at the start of the eighth season got to be a bit much for some. However, as it's been a while since I watched that previous Godzilla movie, I did wonder if my reactions to the second one might be better able to stand on their own...

Things lead off with one of the distinctive "Film Ventures International" opening credits, which the "riffers" manage to miss altogether and then ask what the movie's title was every so often after; a model ship is then sunk by a giant lobster-like monster. ("Quick, get some drawn butter!") A distraught mother can't believe that her son died in that catastrophe, and then it's straight on to a Japanese dance marathon, which may or may not have a boat as a prize. ("Oh, it's a wake for the guy who got killed in the boat!") Three guys who didn't win, one of who is the brother of the missing person, head to a marina and board one of the boats there, then just happen to run into the gun-toting person already on board. Despite this, they get to stay on board overnight, and manage to sail out into the ocean during those hours. It's established that the person already on board is actually an escaping bank thief, but his briefcase of money washes away in a tremendous storm. ("For once, this was a boating accident.") The four people awake on the shore of an island, which just happens to be occupied by a sort of "James Bond villain" organization arriving in a model ship spraying yellow stuff, which happens to be monster repellant for the Sea Monster. The organization has also enslaved people from Mothra's island, a comely woman of which escapes and joins our protagonists. An attempt to sneak into the stronghold of the villains using a fake shrub ("You know, they're really hedging with this one.") and the thief's lock-picking skills ends with one of the friends captured and another one carried away by a miniature balloon. He just happens to land on Mothra's island, where elaborate ceremonies are being carried out to rouse the monster ("It's the Mothra Graham Dance Troupe."), and just happens to run into his brother there. They attempt to return via dugout canoe through another tremendous storm as the remaining protagonists, having discovered Godzilla sleeping in a cave, try to rouse the monster with a lightning rod improvised from a machete and a coil of wire the female escapee picked up to use as a necklace. ("By the power of Greyskull!")

In this case, there's just a little concern beforehand about whether Godzilla has really become a "friend," but he battles the Sea Monster, battles a giant bird that just sort of happens to show up, stomps the stronghold of the villains into rubble, and then tears the claws off the Sea Monster. The villains have set their nuclear reactor to self-destruct, but Mothra rouses in the nick of time and carries our protagonists and the escaped slaves to safety via a big net framework. Godzilla then jumps into the ocean just as the island blows up ("Irwin Allen slept here.") and swims away.

After a description like that, I'm starting to think that things might well seem just about as insane as with "Godzilla vs. Megalon," although the lack of characters like a weird kid and "Rex Dart, Eskimo Spy" (as well as the presence of female characters) might make a bit of a difference in the end. I've wondered a little if this movie having been made in the 1960s as opposed to the 1970s might be significant, although that may well let nasty comments about "franchise decay" sneak in... I suppose moving back to second-season "riffing" remains a bit of an adjustment for me, but the package is fun enough when viewed by itself. (I've noticed people interested in a "host segment" where Joel goes "space-happy," and then remembered more speculation about him when, after he doesn't believe the bots have spoken with Mothra as voiced by Mike Nelson, he comments "You're so high...")

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