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Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971) Poster

Trivia

Director Yoshimitsu Banno has mentioned that Hedorah's eyes were deliberately made to resemble female genitalia, with Banno joking that the vaginally inspired look made it more unsettling. During Godzilla's battle with Hedorah, strange white orbs are ripped out of Hedorah's dried-out body. According to Banno, they are meant to be Hedorah's eyes, which he considered the most important part of a person's body. The movie has a running theme of eyes being injured with several of its characters. However, the reason they don't resemble Hedorah's actual eyes are due to rushed production and a smaller budget. Banno mentioned that not only had Toho given him less than half of the budget of prior Godzilla films, but he was also only given 35 days to shoot the entire picture (both drama and effect scenes). Making matters even more challenging for Banno was the fact that he had to make do with a single crew.
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This was the first film that featured Kenpachirô Satsuma wearing the a Toho monster suit, in the role of Hedorah. Reportedly, Satsuma was initially disappointed by the role, as he didn't care for monster films and his face wouldn't be visible in the costume. He accepted the job because it paid well and over time developed a fondness for monster suit acting, which he partially credited to the kindness displayed by special effect director Teruyoshi Nakano. Though small in stature, Satsuma was quite strong for his size and was the only one capable of supporting the 300-pound suit for long periods of time (though there were some wire works to help support it). Satsuma then went on to wear the Gigan costume for the next two films. After a break of over 10 years, he would be asked to wear the Godzilla costume for Godzilla 1985 (1985) and would continue in the role of Godzilla through the Heisei series. He retired after Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995).
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When Godzilla chases down Hedorah near the end of the film, the director originally shot two different scenes. One had Godzilla chasing Hedorah on foot, the other had Godzilla flying after him. The flying scene was the one used in the final cut of the film, because the director thought a comical scene was needed to lighten up an otherwise dark film.
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A sequel, set in Africa, was tentatively planned. However, Godzilla series producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, who had been hospitalized during production, was disappointed by the finished movie and supposedly even told director Yoshimitsu Banno that he had ruined the Godzilla series. Late in his life, Banno disputed this story, claiming Tanaka never got openly mad at him. Tanaka had approved the script and let Banno complete the film his way, with the caveat that the studio would decide on the final cut. Tanaka even briefly visited the set where the nightclub scene was being filmed, but immediately left without saying anything. Banno only found out about Tanaka's supposed outrage in an English Godzilla book from the 90s, shortly after Tanaka's passing. Banno did admit the producer was somewhat displeased with the film and might have secretly feared what a sequel would be like. Tanaka ordered the filming of Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) instead, a more conventional Godzilla movie.
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The original Japanese trailer promoted this as "Promising young director Yoshimitsu Banno debut title." However, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka was said to have not been pleased with Banno's work and it is often alleged that Banno was banned from ever working on another Godzilla film for as long as Tanaka lived. Banno however has mentioned that the story is exaggerated and that while Tanaka's reaction to the movie wasn't positive, it wasn't nearly as heated as it is so often claimed. Banno would eventually acquired Godzilla's film rights and planned to produce an IMAX short film entitled Godzilla 3-D to the Max. When Banno could not acquire funding for the film, he approached Legendary Pictures on behalf of Toho and discussed production of a new feature film. Ultimately, Godzilla (2014) was produced from this deal, with Banno acting as executive producer. While Banno passed away before ever getting the opportunity to make another Godzilla film, his drive would eventually lead to the creation of the MonsterVerse, which has given Banno posthumous credit as a producer.
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This is the only movie in which Godzilla demonstrates his ability to fly by firing his atomic breath towards the ground and propelling himself backwards.
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There are differing accounts on who came up with the movie's anti-pollution message and dark imagery. Director Yoshimitsu Banno says it was him, as he wanted to maintain the social commentary aspect of the Godzilla series relevant. Special-effects director Teruyoshi Nakano on the other hand claimed that Banno was trying to make the movie appeal to kids, and that the darker scenes were his ideas.
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One commonly misreported "fact" about the film stated that Hedorah's suit actor Kenpachirô Satsuma suffered from appendicitis during shooting and had to undergo surgery inside his monster costume because taking it off would have taken too long. This myth was even repeated in the 2022 book Godzilla: The Official Guide to the King of the Monsters, which was officially licensed by Toho Studios. However, this story makes no sense, since there would have been enough time to get Satsuma out of the suit by the time the surgeon arrived on set, and there is no damage visible on the Hedorah suit that would indicate it was cut up for the supposed surgery. Satsume himself has stated that his symptoms only got bad after filming had already wrapped and he was doing an interview for a magazine while only loosely wearing the suit as a publicity stunt. He was taken to a hospital following the interview and there are no legit sources that claim he was still wearing the monster costume during surgery. One part of the story that is true is that his body was resistant to painkillers. Even after being sedated, Satsuma had felt the pain of the surgery.
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Like many Godzilla films, this film has a strong social message attached to it. In this case, the rising crisis of pollution that was impacting Japan during the early 1970s.
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In the German version of the movie, "Frankensteins Kampf gegen die Teufelsmonster" ("Frankenstein's Fight against the Devil-Monster"), Hedorah was renamed Hydrox.
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The bizarre - but impressive - feat of Godzilla flying hasn't been repeated in any other Godzilla movie, though it has reappeared briefly in video games and comics. The fact that the only time it happens in live-action is in Godzilla vs. Hedorah makes this moment even more noteworthy. As for how it came together, Godzilla vs. Hedorah director Yoshimitsu Banno has explained (via Vantage Point Interviews) that Godzilla needed to fly in order to catch up with the smog monster. Also, the scene added a bit of levity to the movie, which was much darker than its predecessors.
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Though it is commonly said that producer Tomoyuki Tanaka was furious at director Yoshimitsu Banno after viewing the finished film, Banno claims that people exaggerate the story and that Tanaka's reaction to the movie, while negative, wasn't nearly as heated.
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Hedorah is often assumed to have been born from pollution, but the monster is actually a space monster, arriving on earth to feed on pollution.
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Before his death, Yoshimitsu Banno released a book titled "The Man Who Made Godzilla Fly" which details his career under Akira Kurosawa and Mikio Naruse, to the making of this film, his career at Toho, and the development of the Legendary Godzilla film.
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Roger Ebert's favorite Godzilla movie.
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This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #1000.
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The film was intended to address the crisis levels of pollution in post-war Japan.
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Director Banno has mentioned that much of the inspiration for the film came from the seminal environmental science book, "Silent Spring" by Rachel L. Carson.
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For the first time, the American International Pictures (AIP) dub of the movie translated its theme song, "Bring Back Nature". The English song, re-titled "Save the Earth", was performed by then-upcoming singer Adryan Russ. Russ claims that for a long time she had considered her involvement with a Godzilla movie an embarrassment, but upon learning of the movie's cult status, she completely changed her mind. The other official English dubbing track for the film, produced by Toho, keeps the song in Japanese.
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This was the last Godzilla film to be released by American International Pictures (AIP) and dubbed by Titra Productions. The remaining Godzilla films from this decade were released by Downtown Distribution and/or Cinema Shares, and simply used edited versions of Toho's international English prints.
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Prior to this film, Yoshimitsu Banno had studied under Mikio Naruse and Hiromichi Horikawa and his directing experience had mainly been as an assistant director for Akira Kurosawa.
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According to Banno, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka had director Ishirô Honda watch a rough edit of the film and give Banno his advice. Banno was successfully able to ask Honda if he could convince Tanaka to give him a few more days of shooting.
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This is one of only three Godzilla films from the Showa era to feature a child protagonist.
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In terms of Godzilla screen-time, this is third highest Godzilla film with most Godzilla screen time. It also has the most Godzilla screen time out of all the original Showa films.
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Director Banno has mentioned how the culture of Japan influenced his work stating, "Although it brings many disasters, the nature in Japan is deep and rich. We see nature as even rocks having life because we've lived with nature since ancient times. We're animalistic, meaning we believe even inanimate object may posses souls because we've lived with this rich nature and natural disasters for so long and we try to harmonize with it."
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"Godzilla vs Hedorah" was released on VHS and dubbed In English in the UK In 1998 by Carlton Home Entertainment.
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Yoshimitsu Banno's drive to create a new Godzilla film led to the Hollywood reboot, Godzilla (2014), and the eventual Monsterverse.
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With the previous film changing the series in a more child-friendly direction, director Yoshimitsu Banno wanted to include a message about pollution that would speak to adults as well.
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This was the first Godzilla film on which special effects wizard Kôichi Kawakita worked, uncredited, as assistant special effects director. After working as an assistant on several other Godzilla films into the mid-1980s, he would be the special effects director of the franchise from 1989 (the start of Japan's Heisei era) to 1995.
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The monster toys Ken plays with in one scene are official Godzilla vinyl figures (also known as "sofubi" toys in Japan) produced by the companies Marusan and Bullmark. Among them is the first Godzilla vinyl toy made in 1966 by Marusan, as well as the updated giant Godzilla and the original King Ghidorah, both made by Bullmark in 1970. This was an early example of self-referential product placement in a Godzilla movie.
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The Godzilla prop that was used for the flying scene was the same one used when for the scene where Godzilla and Rodan were transported to Planet X in Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)
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