TCM Stomps Into 2024 With a New Year’s Day Marathon of Eight Old-School Godzilla Movies
Godzilla, Toho Studios’ mighty King of the Monsters, will turn 70 later in 2024 (Nov. 3, to be exact), so it’s fitting to kick off the year with a day of movies starring that classic kaiju and several of his friends/frenemies and foes.
TCM Godzilla Movie Marathon — Monday, Jan. 1, 2024 (All Times Eastern)
6am: Gojira (1954)
TCM’s lineup kicks off with the one that started it all. Director Ishirō Honda’s classic, enhanced by Eiji Tsuburaya‘s special effects and an iconic musical score by Akira Ifukube, depicts Godzilla at his second-most terrifying (the title monster in the recent Godzilla Minus One managed to top this one in ferocity and brutality) as he embarks upon his initial devastation of Tokyo. The cast, many of whom would turn up in subsequent Godzilla movies and other Toho sci-fi features (as well as other productions), is led by Akira Takarada, Momoko Kōchi, Akihiko Hirata, Takashi Shimura and Kenji Sahara. Actor/stuntman Haruo Nakajima wears the Godzilla suit here and in every other film airing today.
8am: Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
The second and last black-and-white entry in the franchise was directed by Motoyoshi Oda and features a musical score by Masaru Sato. It introduces the spiky, four-legged monster Anguirus, and while he and Godzilla become besties in later movies, they engage in deadly combat here. Hiroshi Koizumi, Minoru Chiaki and Yoshio Tsuchiya are among the notable actors in the cast, with Shimura briefly reprising his Gojira role as Dr. Yamane.
9:30am: Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964, aka Godzilla vs. the Thing)
The first of two 1964 movies that are among the high points of the early Godzilla era, this is the last one in which he is purely a bad guy. Here, fierce mom Mothra, who had been introduced in a standalone 1961 title, battles to defend the egg carrying her larval offspring from Godzilla. Takarada, Yuriko Hoshi, Koizumi, Yū Fujiki, Sahara, Jun Tazaki and Yoshifumi Tajima lead the cast. Of course, it can’t be an early ’60s Mothra-related movie without The Peanuts (identical twin sisters Emi and Yumi Itō). Among their songs here is the lovely Ifukube composition “Sacred Springs.”
11:15am: Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
Released later in 1964, this great title sees Godzilla begin to make his turn from heel to hero as one of Mothra’s kids tries to convince him and winged monster Rodan (back onscreen for the first time since his 1956 standalone movie) to help her save Earth from the space monster King Ghidorah, making his entry into the franchise as one of its biggest “big bads.” Yosuke Natsuki, Hoshi, Koizumi (reprising his Mothra vs. Godzilla role of Professor Miura), Akiko Wakabayashi, Shimura, Hirata, Sahara and The Peanuts (this time singing Ifukube’s “Let’s Try to Be Happy“) star.
1pm: Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965, aka Godzilla vs. Monster Zero or just Monster Zero)
Ghidorah and Rodan are back with Godzilla here, and for a time all three are under alien control in a plot to conquer Earth. The film is led by Takarada, Nick Adams, Kumi Mizuno, Tazaki, Akira Kubo, and Tsuchiya as the commander of the “Xiliens” from Planet X (who somehow manage to look like Devo well before Devo was a thing).
For a long time, many people believed that the 1962 monster match-up had Godzilla winning in the Japanese version, and Kong in the American one. But was that really the case?
2:45pm: Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966, aka Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster)
Directed by Jun Fukuda, and with its score by Sato, this one pits Godzilla against the titular giant crustacean on a South Seas island (with Mothra also making an appearance). Takarada, Mizuno, Tazaki, Hirata and Hideyo Amamoto lead the cast.
4:30pm: Son of Godzilla (1967)
Director Fukuda and composer Sato were back behind the scenes on this entry, which is set on another remote island and introduces Godzilla’s adopted son, Minilla, as well as the giant spider Kumonga. Certainly geared toward children, it can be silly, but it’s fun (and I’m sure most parents will relate to Godzilla thwarted in his efforts to catch a nap as Minilla bugs him). The cast features Kubo, Tadao Takashima, Bibari Maeda, Hirata, Tsuchiya and Sahara.
Look back at the characters and themes from the Tohoverse that led to the classic, 11-monster team-up event.
6:15pm: Destroy All Monsters (1968)
The lineup concludes with this classic monster mash that features a who’s who of some of Toho’s most memorable early kaiju creations, 11 in all, who again are under alien control for a bit. Most of them, led by Godzilla, of course, eventually come together to help defeat the aliens and King Ghidorah. Kubo, Tazaki, Yukiko Kobayashi, Tsuchiya, Sahara and Tajima head the cast.