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Home > Sci-Fi > 31 (Japanese) Monsters #23: Zilla

31 (Japanese) Monsters #23: Zilla

October 23rd, 2010

Every once in a while, the fanboys are right.

In 1998, dire reports began to bubble up that the script for Tristar Pictures’ remake of Godzilla did not do justice to the King of the Monsters. Godzilla doesn’t breathe fire, they said. Godzilla runs and hides rather than confronting the military. Godzilla gives birth.

At the time, I thought that all of this was just fans being fans. Surely it was in everyone’s best interests to preserve the basic concepts that separate Godzilla from any other radioactive lizard.

Hoo boy.

The gangly-limbed, thorn-backed creature that slunk its way onto the screen may have been a computer-generated image, but somehow it appeared more like a man in a suit than the Japanese Godzilla.

Born from French nuclear tests–ah, yes, let’s blame it on the French–this Godzilla was literally a mutated iguana. Furthermore, it was asexual, laying thousands of eggs in its hidden nest.

By film’s end, the newfangled Godzilla was struck dead by a pair of conventional air-to-surface missiles. Somewhere, King Kong was laughing.

Toho Studios played ball during the film’s release, praising the new design. But eventually, the American Godzilla was given a new name intended to suggest that it was an inferior model…

Zilla!


Monster Island Nickname GINO
Hails From French Polynesia (yes, French Polynesia)
Movies Appeared In
(not counting stock footage)
2
Hobbies Running, Hiding
Quote “Hey, I was just doing my job.”

One of the offspring of the tragic beast later starred in a Saturday morning cartoon series based on the Tristar film. To everyone’s surprise, it was actually pretty good. The design looked better in cel animation. The son of Godzilla was more aggressive in its battles with other mutants. It also breathed fire. Yes, that was important.

This Godzilla–or one like it–made its sole appearance in the Japanese film series in 2004’s Godzilla Final Wars. Renamed Zilla, it was one of the monsters controlled by the Planet X aliens. Its fight with the Japanese Godzilla lasted all of 13 seconds.

Amusingly, it’s the only monster in that film that’s entirely computer-generated rather than the traditional man-in-a-suit.

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