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Four genuine WTF Godzilla movie moments and the stories behind them
When Ishiro Honda directed the original Godzilla in 1954, it was his mission to present a terrifying monster who represented something topical, and he did so within the context of an almost completely humorless movie. Honda couldn't have imagined that, just ten years later, he would direct a movie in which his monster played boulder volleyball with a giant pterosaur and hurled swear words at a big caterpillar when she tried to break up their scuffle. Similarly, he probably didn't suspect that in 1965, Godzilla would celebrate victory against another monster by performing the 'Shie! dance. A happy moment for Godzilla; a bitter pill for Honda.
Though these silly moments weren't part of Godzilla's iconic first appearance, the goofier side of the King of the Monsters has become a beloved part of the franchise — and there are a lot of strange, silly moments in these films. Godzilla fans probably know about Godzilla's dance, the famous dropkick from Godzilla vs. Megalon, and the feature-length acid trip that is Yoshimitsu Banno's Godzilla vs. Hedorah.
However, there are many more WTF moments in the Godzilla franchise. Here are four of the most obscure and strangest parts of the series, complete with the fascinating backstories behind them.
01. The Nose-Scratch of Victory
In 1966's Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, directed by Jun Fukuda, Godzilla briefly engages in battle with a giant condor, swatting at the overgrown bird with his arms before ultimately dispatching it with a point-blank blast of his atomic breath. The charred condor subsequently plunges onto the rocky shoreline and then to its death in the sea. However, the really interesting moment occurs a few seconds afterward. Instead of rearing his head back and roaring in triumph as is usual for him, the King of the Monsters casually scratches the side of his nose with his index finger.
This little nuance might come across as inexplicable and random to most western audiences, but average Japanese moviegoers in 1966 would've recognized this as a direct homage to popular actor and singer Yuzo Kayama, whose performance antics often included rubbing his index finger against the side of his nose.
A fun footnote: Yuzo Kayama is the son of actor Ken Uehara, who had noteworthy roles in three of Honda's most acclaimed sci-fi movies: Mothra (1961), Gorath (1962), and Atragon (1963).
02. When you gotta go, go with a smile!
Acting as a direct sequel to Honda's original 1954 movie, Koji Hashimoto's The Return of Godzilla (1984) handles its story in a relatively straight-forward manner — though it does have a few bits of intentional humor to its credit. One such moment has baffled American audiences for years. Early on in the film's climactic rampage sequence, Godzilla plucks a bullet train off its tracks and stares in at the passengers inside.
After showcasing the terrified reactions of most of the people inside, the camera cuts to a long-haired priest, who calmly removes his glasses and smiles at the voracious monster.
Again, it's not quite as random as one might think — and there is a story behind it. The Return of Godzilla is a film loaded with cameos by Japanese celebrities, and the priest smiling at Godzilla is merely one example. Playing the priest was singer and guitarist Hiroshi Kamayatsu, who made a name for himself in bands such as The Spiders and Vodka Collins. At the time of this film's release, Kamayatsu had recently acted in a Japanese television drama, in which he played a teacher who dressed as a priest. He even wears the same costume from the aforementioned show. So this was a reference that only Japanese audiences — specifically Japanese audiences of 1984 — would understand.
Needless to say, Kamayatsu's cameo was wisely removed when New World re-edited the film into Godzilla 1985 for its North American release, as U.S. audiences, naturally, wouldn't have a clue as to what his cameo signified.
03. Another sudden rock star cameo
In 1989's Godzilla vs. Biollante, another Japanese rock star made a single-shot cameo that generally befuddles American audiences. After Godzilla emerges from Mount Mihara, we cut to Demon Kogure (of the heavy metal band Sekima-II) just as his television show is interrupted by an urgent news report. In addition to being a beloved figure of rock music in his home country, Demon Kogure is a huge fan of the King of the Monsters. So making an appearance in this film was something he would've been more than happy to do.
04. The greatest of all body slams
One of the more frequently mocked moments in Masaaki Tezuka's Godzilla vs. Megaguirus concerns the outlandish body slam Godzilla performs against his adversary in the film's final battle. Having pinned Megaguirus into the ground, Godzilla enunciates a defiant roar before leaping straight up into the air — ascending several times his own height — and barreling down upon Megaguirus.
Once again, there was some context for Japanese viewers. Godzilla vs. Megaguirus marked the second time suit actor Tsutomu Kitagawa had played Godzilla, and the body slam was a reference to his days working in the long-running Super Sentai series.
Tezuka was appalled by the body slam, but special effects director Kenji Suzuki was able to keep it in due to an agreement early on that he would be allowed to do whatever he wanted with the special effects. All the same, Tezuka was unhappy with it and did not ask Suzuki back for his later Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla in 2002 (though he did give him a cameo as a maser tank operator).