Mothra (1961) – Film Review
Cast: Frankie Sakai, Hiroshi Koizumi, Kyoko Kagawa
Director: Ishirō Honda
In the late 1970s, ITV screened Mothra, one of those movies that seems to have been lost for decades. That’s the last time I saw it, but thank heavens I get to review some terrific cult curios, because this is a real trip down memory Lane.
After the success of Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla reboot, the epic sequel King of the Monsters saw Mothra back on the big screen, and what a return it was.
As Godzilla smacked down with three-headed King Ghidorah, a certain flapping creature came to the rescue in one of those “Wow!” moments. Yes, it was partly silly, but the reverence for the Godzilla saga is fascinating. After all, in Japan he’s the stuff of legends, and so is his posse.
All of which preamble brings us back to the movie which not so much started it all, but remains one of the oddest spin-offs of the 1960s. Thankfully Eureka apply that same degree of reverence to most of their releases, even one as gloriously bonkers as this one.
Ishirō Honda’s stunningly inventive monster adventure-fantasy is the sort of thing that lovers of Pacific Rim will adore.
Following reports of human life on Infant Island, the supposedly deserted site of atomic bomb tests, an international expedition to the heavily radiated island discovers a native tribe and tiny twin female fairies called “Shobijin” who guard a sacred egg.
The overzealous expedition leader kidnaps the Shobijin to exhibit in a Tokyo stage show but soon they summon their protector, hatching the egg and releasing a giant caterpillar.
When Mothra arrives in Japan and transforms into her final form, the nation and its people face their destruction.
Mothra, as the Press blurb reminds us, “was radically different to every other monster movie that had come before it, and it remains a classic of the genre to this day”. Very true, even if the dynamics of fighter planes trying to destroy a huge swimming moth seems a tad off. Then there’s Mothra trashing a small town while the military throw everything they have at it. (The Kitten Kong episode of The Goodies was more terrifying).
A curious beast, in more ways than one, especially when the eponymous creature emerges from its cocoon and unleashes carnage.
It’s endlessly charming, utterly barking and strangely compelling.
One of the many bonuses is an interview with genre fan Kim Newman, who puts the whole thing in context while wearing a stunning waistcoat.
Reversible poster featuring the film’s original US and Japanese poster artwork
Includes both Japanese and English versions of each film (101 mins & 90 mins respectively)
Original mono audio presentations (LPCM)
English subtitles (Japanese version) and English SDH (English version)
Brand new audio commentary with film historian and writer David Kalat
Audio commentary with authors and Japanese sci-fi historians Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski
Kim Newman on ‘Mothra’ – an interview with film critic and author Kim Newman on the history and legacy of Mothra
Mothra: 1974 Champion Festival Version [61 mins] – a special version of the film edited by Ishirō Honda for the 1974 Toho Champion Festival (INCLUSION TBC)
Stills Galleries featuring rare archival stills and ephemera
PLUS: A Perfect Bound 60-PAGE Collector’s Booklet featuring essays by Christopher Stewardson and Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp (Midnight Eye); a new interview with Scott Chambliss (production designer on 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters); an extract from Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski’s Ishirō Honda biography; and archival reviews and stills.
Mothra is released on Blu-ray by Eureka, £29.99