With Toho’s latest kaiju epic stomping its way into North America this October, it seemed like a good idea to provide a list of films that can both get people hyped up for the monster king’s return and give people a bit of context for what kind of film we should be expecting. Without further ado, here are five movies anyone who is getting caught up in the Big G hype should check out beforehand!
5) Nihon Chinbotsu/Japan Sinks (2006, dir. Shinji Higuchi)
The single biggest budgeted film production in the history of Japan at the time of its release, Higuchi’s disaster epic is actually a remake of a 1973 film, which is in turn an adaptation of a rather celebrated novel by Sakyo Komatsu. It details the scrambled effort of the Japanese government to save its citizens when the entire country begins to crumble at the hands of catastrophic natural disasters. The political drama, massive cast and grande scope fit right in tone with what most have been saying about Shin Godzilla. It should come as no surprise that Higuchi would later go on to be co-director on that film.
4) Gojira/Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1954/1956, dir. Ishiro Honda/Terry Morse)
This one seems like a bit of a no-brainer. Ishiro Honda’s grim 1954 masterpiece is nothing short of a triumph. It’s a horror movie about the evils of war told through a monster movie context. It’s nothing short of a brilliant, well-acted nightmare of a film that everyone should see once. Completists and those desiring something a little more akin to western sensibilities should also check out the 1956 American cut with added scenes directed by Terry Morse which star Raymond Burr as a reporter covering the titular beast’s rampage through Tokyo.
3) Shingeki no kyojin/Attack on Titan (2015, dir. Shinji Higuchi)
Despite very dismissive reviews from fans of the anime, there’s no denying that Higuchi’s live action adaptation of the world-renowned manga is nothing short of a technical marvel. The battle sequences are enthralling, visceral bloodbaths and the Titans themselves are among the most terrifying movie monsters in recent years. Higuchi’s masterful combination of digital effects and traditional Tokusatsu style is put to great use here and (as the trailers have already proven) is going to make Shin Godzilla a visual feast worthy of its name (Shin translating to New/True/God).
2) Shin Seiki Evangerion/Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995, dir. Hideaki Anno)
Kinda breaking out of the mold here, because this is actually a series. However, given its multitude of connections to the latest Godzilla, it deserves a spot here. Hideaki Anno’s celebrated anime series tells the story of a group of young, deeply damaged young people who are assigned the task of defending the world from otherworldly beings called “Angels”, using cyborg-like beasts called “Eva-Units” to fight them. What begins as a standard Mech-vs-Monster series eventually becomes one of the most personal self-reflective works of art this writer has ever encountered. Anno created some truly fascinating visuals here and it can almost be guaranteed that we will be seeing similar visual cues in his take on the Big G.
1) Kyonshinhei Tokyo ni arawaru/Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo (2012, dir. Shinji Higuchi)
This short film is nothing short of a masterpiece. Directed by Higuchi and written by Anno, this short film was the first live-action effort from Studio Ghibli and serves as a prequel to their anime classic Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds. It details how the titular armor-clad monstrosities decimated humanity. It’s a pure visual effects showcase and almost feel like just a taste of what was to come from both Anno and Higuchi. At only 10 minutes long, there’s no reason to not check this beastie out before heading to the cinema to witness the world’s greatest monster have his resurgence.
Shin Godzilla stomps into North American cinemas on October 11th.