Godzilla — or “Gojira” as he’s known in Japan — has been delighting moviegoers and destroying Tokyo for five decades now. The sum total of his screen appearances is 28 films plus one very bad Hollywood outing, with another U.S. remake set for 2012. But which of his films truly stand apart from the pack of men-in-rubber-suits that make up the kaiju eiga (monster movie) genre? Here’s the short list of my personal favorites.
Premise: A giant dinosaur mutated and awakened by atomic testing wreaks havoc until super-science finds a way to stop the rampage.
Why it’s good: Director Ishiro Honda approached the ‘monster on the loose’ material as if he were making a documentary on Atom Age gloom and anxiety. The result is a classic of Japanese post-war cinema.
Godzilla, the monster: Special effects wizard Eiji Tsuburaya depicts best Godzilla movies as a terrifying walking H-bomb incarnate and a merchandise-ready movie star.
Trivia: “Gojira” was the most expensive Japanese movie of its time to produce, budgeted at around US$1 million — an amount double that of “The Seven Samurai.”