The Smog Monster; HedrahPortrayed By:
Kenpachiro Satsuma (suit actor)First Appearance: "Godzilla vs. Hedorah"Original Premier Date:
July 24th, 1971Species:
Extraterrestrial / Pollution MutationKaiju Portrait Order:
Unless The Kaiju Portrait
and its spotlighted subject are super obscure, I'm going to ease off on the extensive articles.
And focus the aforementioned on my personal thoughts towards said characters, while allowing outside links to do most of the exposition work for me. Even if said web-sites don't go into the same kind of extreme, or nonsensical details like I often do.Tohokingdom's Hedorah Profile: www.tohokingdom.com/kaiju/hedo…Wikipedia's Hedorah Page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedorah
Now with that out of the way, onto main meat of the article.
If I was to do a Top Ten List
of my all time favorite Kaiju and other Giant Monsters, well it'd be very difficult for me to do so, on the account that I love a lot of these characters. And with a fluctuating favoring of the various characters, depending on my feelings towards them at differing times.
And outside some guaranteed mainstays like Gamera
, and a cheating tie between "Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman"
(1958) and Itassis
from "Power Rangers Mystic Force"
, I really wouldn't know how to place / number them, especially in an order off the top of my own head.
But the one monster who would make it to the top of my this list would diffidently be the walking heap of deadly pollution itself - Hedorah, the Smog Monster
For the longest time, "Godzilla vs Hedorah"
(1971, also known as "Godzilla vs The Smog Monster"
) was my favorite giant monster movie, with me even going as far as making a yearly tradition of watching it on late night Christmas Eve, with the front room Christmas Tree serving as a Hedorah-like effigy for full viewing effect.
But as I grew older and (relatively) wiser, the film's flaws of being ridiculously uneven in tone, became unavoidable. Fluctuating wildly between beautifully nightmarish, and just plain childish nonsense.
And far more irritating, was "Hedorah"
turning out to be a rather slow paced movie; an almost common problem with Japanese films that painfully got worse in the 1970's and escalated onward to this very day.
Now don't get me wrong..."Godzilla vs Hedorah"
is a pretty decent film, and interestingly weird enough to overcome the slow pacing issues. And as such, is more infamous in being so strange, as opposed to being one of the worst entries into the Godzilla film series. Or at least in my humble opinion.
But that stated, it no longer holds a special spot in my heart like it use to. And has now been replaced by arguably better films like "Mothra"
(1960), "The Green Slime"
(1969), "Godzilla vs The Sea Monster"
(1967), and the majority of Ray Harryhausen's output
from this same decade.
In fact, now that I think about it, "Godzilla vs Hedorah"
would be excellent fodder for Internet comedy critic The Nostalgia Critic
Quickly everyone! Let us bother Doug Walker with multiple requests for a "Godzilla vs Hedorah"
episode, and make this pipe dream a terrifying reality! And don't give me the argument that The Angry Video Game Nerd
did it already, because a short three-minute video can't do this film's idiosyncrasies justice.
Despite all this, Hedorah himself remains my top favorite Kaiju / giant monster. And why so, you may ask?
Because he's just so incredibly, destructively EVIL!
True, one could make the argument that Hedorah is a true alien entity, who works more on mindless instinct than sentient malice. And that may be quite true, seeing how simple minded Hedorah's actions can be, like easily being attracted to headlights on military jeeps. Or attacking waste filled industrial factories for food (he / it is a pollution mutation after all).
But than you remember that Hedorah actually giggles and laughs, however bizarrely, at the pain and suffering it inflicts onto others, particularly at his lone enemy and unwilling, victimized playmate Godzilla
If I'd be so bold, I'd gladly compare Hedorah to a lower leveled, yet no-less monstrous creations of legendary cosmic horror and fantasy writer H.P. Lovecraft
I know comparing any weird alien monsters as 'Lovecraftean' is an all too common mistake we modern fans make (myself included), because of basic similarities done unintentionally.
In other words, not taking into account that most creative minds and their related creations, probably have no idea Lovecraft even existed to begin with. And as such, simply came to similar conclusions through like minded science-based, or even fictional inspirations.
The title amorphous creature of "The Blob"
(1958) being a very good example, even if H.P. Lovecraft did it first and spectacularly more so with The Shaggoth from his novella "At The Mountains of Madness"
But in all fairness, both The Blob and the Shaggoth were probably inspired by real life slime molds, single cell organisms, and related fantasies of 'living liquid', which has only recently become a recurring trope in fiction. And in turn, the more famous Blob being an even bigger inspiration for later slime monsters to come, like our mucky fiend Hedorah here.
But like the Lovecraftean horrors who are not overtly massive, cosmically indifferent Great Old Ones, Hedorah again, seems to have an evil intellect that pushes him above the aforementioned in character driven villainy. And why Japanese movie monsters have always been more unique and interesting than most of their more bland, foreign counterparts.
Now a malicious, giant-sized villain is bad news on its own, but being a walking, pulsating heap of toxic, chemical waste makes Hedorah all the more horrible. The guy just has to show up, and people start dying in mass by his mare presence, wither Hedorah meant them to, or not!
Sure, we can make the tired old gag that Hedorah in his flat, flying form, was basically fatally gassing whole crowds, with what amounts to 'jetting farts'...which I have to sadly admit is somewhat true. Even if Hedorah isn't built like any Earthly creature, and as such, he's just a biological jet engine, and nothing more.
But yeah...Hedorah is basically gassing, squirting, and 'leaking' his poisonous self all across Japan. And leaving behind a massively high death toll in its terrible wake.
The only living creature on Earth who can physically stand up against Hedorah, is of course Godzilla, who by this point of his Showa-era adventures (1954-1975), was starting becoming a more obvious hero, against pure evil Kaiju of Hedorah's ilk.
But even the mighty King of the Monsters
doesn't have at all an easy time fighting Hedorah off. And royally suffers for it in turn. Seriously, the first two brief bouts, and the final, prolonged death duel between the two across the summit of Mt. Fuji, are more into Hedorah's favor, over Godzilla's.
And even though Godzilla does get some good attacks in the final battle, even going as far as in taking out one of Hedorah's eyes, he's still outmatched by the toxic mutant.
Hedorah may have ultimately lost and was killed in the end, but like James 'Clubber' Lang
and Ivan Drago
to boxing hero Rocky Balboa
, The Smog Monster sure did give poor Godzilla one Hell of a acidic beating before the day was saved.
And one can argue that many of Godzilla's foes never got as nasty, or as brutal as Hedorah did. Including Godzilla's official arch-nemesis of King Ghidorah
, and most of the separate incarnations of MechaGodzilla
So yeah, another reason I love Hedorah...he can beat the snot out of Godzilla!
Which now brings me to how the original Hedorah was defeated, which both makes sense in its own fanciful logic...and kind of frustrating in its execution as well.
Hedorah is at his / its most basic of make-up, 'a walking pile of living sludge'.
And like real sludge, he can be dried out, although under circumstances as extreme as Heodrah's own extraterrestrial origins. And thankfully, humans in the original Godzilla continuity had access to various super-weapons and technology, resulting in the creation of two gigantic electrode walls, that would create a killing field of electricity to dry out, and finally destroy Hedorah.
Unfortunately, the depiction of the military in this film is bizarrely played for subdued laughs. With them being portrayed as fumbling and incompetent in getting The Giant Electrodes
to work. Let alone luring Hedorah into the trapping kill zone, without loosing their men in rather embarrassing manner.
A far cry from the overpowered, but no less skilled monster-fighters of the 1960's monster movies produced by Toho Studios
. And sharing way more in common with the ineffective military operations seen in the rival Gamera film series.
This also being another example of the film's uneven tone, with a brutal and grueling battle between Godzilla and Hedorah on Mt. Fuji, being juxtaposed with a comically ineffective Japanese Self Defense Force.
And so much so, that this makes me more than willing to forgive the plot conveniences of having the Giant Electrodes constructed at Mt. Fuji, where everyone seemed convince that Hedorah would visit there, like some old world conqueror...Which Hedorah totally does in the end.
And yes, the betrayal of the military is even more jerking for me than 'Flying Godzilla', but that's a tangent for another long-winded article from yours truly.
Now I could go into further detail about Hedorah's appearances beyond the 1971 film, along with the mushroom-based offshoot Neo Hedorah
, from the 1997-1998 television obscurity entitled "Godzilla Island"
But let's face facts, and admit that I WRITE TOO F***ING MUCH!
And as such, I'll save that extended tidbit for another time.
There was also Hedorah's less than triumphant return in 2004's "Godzilla: Final Wars"
. But I'm going to act like most of the willfully stupid, and equally as difficult fan boys out there. And illogically pretend that this incident never, ever happened...
...That is until I do the eventual Kaiju Portrait based on GFW Hedorah
, from which I'll have to man-up like a real scholar, and share my disappointment when I ever get to that planned illustration.
*SIGH*Related Links and Recommended Artwork:
Original Japanese film trailer for "Godzilla vs. Hedorah"
The American film trailer: youtu.be/ELDVjutzan8
Behind the scenes footage from the film (man that's a big suit!): youtu.be/NljKz9RCcDc
Cinemassacre's brief review of the film: youtu.be/ox20l8LtE88The rest of The Kaiju Portraits series can be found here: enshohma.deviantart.com/galler…