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Case Number 05778

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Destroy All Monsters

ADV Films // 1969 // 89 Minutes // Rated G
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 13th, 2004

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson would rather do something practical, like "destroy all dust bunnies."

The Charge

I…don't think this is real.

Opening Statement

Here we have it, the ultimate monster mash, the old-school royal rumble, the brouhaha to end all brouhahas, a knock-down, drag-out, rock'em, sock'em, radioactive breath-spewing, nuclear melting, tail-smacking, creatures-from-outer-space-trash-talkin', supersonic, quasi-bionic, sort-of-moronic ultra-mega-biggie-sized throwdown spectacular!!!

Facts of the Case

Recognizing the immense threat that radioactive lizards with fiery breath and their ilk pose to the world, the United Nations, in conjunction with Japan, has corralled all the world's mutant heavy-hitters onto an island, dubbed, appropriately but nevertheless unoriginally, "Monsterland."

On Monsterland, the U.N. has set up a laboratory tasked with monitoring the creatures and making sure they don't escape and run amok. Helping the scientists with their endeavor is a group of astronauts tooling around in their high-tech rocket ship, led by space-stud Katsuo (Akira Kubo).

The delicate balance struck between humanity and, er, monstrosity, is soon obliterated when the monsters mysteriously escape the island and start destroying Earth's greatest cities:





It's not long before the culprits reveal themselves. The Kilaaks, a race of space people hailing from a planet scientists were too stupid to discover before this mess, claim responsibility. These malignant Las Vegas showgirl look-alikes are holding Earth hostage, controlling the monsters with shrewdly hidden remote devices.

Miraculously, the good guys are able to locate these transmitters, which have been hidden in coconuts and seashells (!). The Earthlings now have a plan: turn the monsters on the Kilaaks!

Faster than the space-invaders can say "Look! It's Godzilla!" while their mouth doesn't quite match the words, their home base in Fiji is infiltrated by G-dog and the gang: Mothra, Anguirus, Baragon, Gorosaurus, Kumonga, Manda, Rodan, Varan, and Manilla, Godzilla's nerdy and ambiguously-originated son.

But the Kilaaks will not be subdued easily. They, in turn, unleash the dreaded space-dragon King Ghidorah!

Hello, is this Hell? Yes, I'm just informing you it's time to break loose."

The Evidence

Rarely in humanity's history have there been so many men in rubber costumes beating on each other. (Of course, there was graduation night '95…)

For Toho aficionados, this disc is a no-brainer. Destroy All Monsters, the one-time swan song for the Godzilla franchise, actually reinvigorated the series. Its popularity drove the Big Green One to star in about 18,000 more feature films.

Folks, it's all here. And more!

Giant monster fighting!

Tanks that look like leftovers from Radio Shack's going-out-of-business sale!

Rockets with Bunsen burners as boosters!

Aliens that look Japanese!

Monsters with unpronounceable names!

Idiotic decisions by mankind! (Is storing the world's monsters on a high-tech island an effective use of taxpayer's money, considering the potential for damage and loss of life if they were to break free? Is PETA involved in any of this somehow??)

Visible suspension wires!

Useless human subplots!

Giant monster fighting!

Coconut electronics!

Spaceships that fire ice missiles!

Father/son bonding between killer mutant dinosaurs!

Giant monster fighting!

Alien queens wearing way too much eye makeup!

Savage, destructive beasts that become loveable after killing thousands!

Spider ejaculate!

Giant monster fighting!

Destroy All Monsters pretty much follows the Godzilla blueprint: a truly disposable plot, uninteresting human characters, and a massive brawl at the end. But the movie also sprinkles in some bonus destruction throughout, thankfully choosing not to subject the audience to a straight hour of contrived human relationships.

And when the fight does come, the filmmakers go all out, just filling their set with a bounty of monsters, and adding King Ghidorah just to make it even crrrrrrazier!

If you haven't seen Destroy All Monsters and like Japanese monster movies, then what are you waiting for? It's what you love times 10. For the rest of you who think you've got better things to do that watching grown men dressed up as lizards…what is wrong with you people?!

ADV has packaged the movie beautifully. The disc jacket art and the reverse tabloid paper format just howls "monster movie." And three shots of fire breath for the widescreen presentation! Though the picture quality is what you'd expect from a 1968 print, the letterbox is immensely appreciated.

The sound quality could have used a little more help. The 2.0 mix doesn't do the big fights justice, often sounding shallow and tinny. Your subwoofer will have the night off. And as there are no subtitle options, suit up for 89 minutes of poorly rendered dubbing.

Extras? Well, here things get weird. ADV didn't include one iota of bonus materials on the disc. No trailers, or commentaries, or stills. Heck, there's not even a menu. But you do get a bonus disc, with the movie soundtrack. Thirty tracks!!! How they pulled that many tracks from what was essentially two pieces of score repeated over and over boggles the mind. This bizarre inclusion either nullifies the lack of extras or bolsters the stupidity of the set. I'll go with the former.

Closing Statement

For gripping narrative, read a Ludlum book. For monsters kicking each others' asses, watch Destroy All Monsters.

The Verdict

The accused is sent back to Monsterland to live a fruitful life of friendship, laughter, and love. Court adjourned.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 80
Extras: 90
Acting: 85
Story: 90
Judgment: 87

Perp Profile

Studio: ADV Films
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 1969
MPAA Rating: Rated G
• Action
• Classic
• Disaster
• Horror
• Science Fiction

Distinguishing Marks

• Bonus Soundtrack Disc


• IMDb

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