As Godzilla vs Hedorah’s opening credits close, a broken clock floats on ocean sludge. An hour chime sounds. Then a smash cut to a close-up of bright flowers. In Godzilla vs Hedorah’s symbolism, this qualifies as relative subtlety.

“We have to do something before it’s too late,” says Dr. Yano (Akira Yamauchi), practically staring into the camera, bemoaning the pollution that formed Hedorah. It’s an alien being, attracted to Earth to suck on smokestacks and litter. Like Godzilla, Hedorah is humanity’s fault, representing a “now” issue compared to nuclear fears some two decades before.

Still later, Yano notes, “Mankind could defeat it if we all joined forces,” a line less about Hedorah than pollution as a whole. Godzilla vs Hedorah’s dialog works like that, and given the wonky surrealist tone, Yano’s statements never seem out of place. With an aggressive posture, people turn to skeletons by way of acid. Children choke on smog. Buildings rot when Hedorah passes. Death is everywhere, but rather than pure horror, Godzilla vs Hedorah rams this terror between cartoon science lessons and bizzaro fish head discos.

Nothing in the series before or after attempts anything near Godzilla vs Hedorah’s political stew

It’s different. That much is inarguable. Nothing in the series before or after attempts anything near Godzilla vs Hedorah’s political stew. Watching Godzilla vs Hedorah is equivalent to an environmentalist yelling into your ear for 90-minutes. The counter then is 1969’s All Monsters Attack, suggesting the same theme, but with innocent eyes; Godzilla vs Hedorah seems ready to murder those who disagree.

Godzilla flies in this one. In the next sequel, he talks. Then, he floats hundreds of feet to dropkick his enemy. The ‘70s embraced “anything goes,” grappling with new extremes. Toho morphed their character in totality, now Earth’s defender whose radioactive breath burns away Hedorah’s muck. Godzilla is so pure by this point, there’s no consideration about lingering nuclear fallout.

In an overlong climatic battle on a depressingly barren studio set, Godzilla and Hedorah brawl near Mt. Fuji. Slowly, Hedorah is lured toward a military-built device designed to dehydrate his goo. When the military general screams at his crew for their inability to get things running, Godzilla shakes his head and starts the process himself. Even Godzilla is irritated by man’s stupidity, letting things get so bad without a working solution, they need a monster to sort things out. Point made. But then again, that point was made in the opening credits.


Previously issued on US Blu-ray by Kraken Releasing, the Criterion disc (sharing space with All Monsters Attack) uses what looks like the same materials. It’s a release print source, with visible splice seams visible on occasion. Grain thickens, if resolved well by this encode. Given the heavy smoke and dust used during monster fights, it’s a difficult task.

Moderate resolution draws limited definition. Hedorah close-ups bring visible texturing to the suit, and the same goes for Godzilla. Otherwise, the overall look is notably softened. It’s imprecise and lacking firmness, a mediocre HD presentation at its high points.

The key is color saturation, not only attractive when at its brightest, but bringing out reds and yellows on Hedorah, lost over the years of poorly mastered prints. That’s important for synergy between plot points and the monster. Elsewhere, the intended murkiness gives Japan a yellowed look, sour and lacking to suggested a polluted skyline.

Overall contrast avoids true black, giving shadows a brown or blue-ish hue. Again, the suggestion is that of dirty, murky blight.


Composer Riichiro Manabe makes his debut in the series, creating an ear-piercing, screechy score that no audio could properly contain. Here the blaring horns stretch treble beyond its limits. Flat range limits a few songs. At best, the DTS-HD track achieves a sour clarity.

Note only the Japanese audio track is offered.



Godzilla vs Hedorah
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras


Disjointed and awkward, Godzilla vs Hedorah is laced with forceful messaging that uses a hammer to make its point. Loudly.

User Review
3 (2 votes)

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