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RODAN - 4 Slimes
Copyright 1956 Toho
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 31 January 2001

The Characters:  

  • Shigeru - Safety officer working at the coal mine and a very resourceful fellow. I don't imagine he likes omelettes anymore.
  • Kiyo - Engaged to Shigeru, I want to know what sort of laundry detergent she uses to keep that kimono so clean and bright.
  • Dr. Kashiwagi - Expert on prehistoric reptiles.
  • Gorro - Brother to Kiyo and known for his short temper, he is killed by a cave-in.
  • The Japanese Military - Ineffective as ever. (Sneaking up on people on a Sunday doesn't count.)
  • The Meganurons - Huge prehistoric insects. Here would be a valid reason for the Orkin man to wear power armor, a flamethrower and rocket launcher wouldn't hurt either.
  • Rodan and Rodanette - A mated pair of enormous Pterosauria that can fly at supersonic speeds. The species became extinct due to an unfortunate natural habit of nesting in active volcanoes. That would include both of these.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

Stock nuclear bomb test footage starts us off, with the narrator dryly intoning about the massive blows mankind is dealing to our planet. It's filler really, just to give the movie a running time of over eighty minutes. Not entirely without merits as filler though, for our narrator friend warns about the blasts cracking the crust and doing irreparable damage. We may cause ourselves and the biosphere some grief, but rest assured that the Earth could care less about nuclear weapons.

With that out of the way you should buckle your seat belt, because this movie takes off like a race car and never slows down. In the mining town of Kitamatsu, on the island of Kyushu, the safety engineers are worried about a problem known as "creeping floor." Evidently caused when support (in this case a coal vein) between strata is removed, it worries the mine managers. Their concern turns out to be well founded, for a partial collapse occurs and a section of the tunnel is flooded. When a rescue team arrives they find the body of a man Gorro argued with; since the latter is missing somewhere inside the mine they decide he has become a homicidal maniac.

Authorities always choose the easy answers, don't they? The real problem is a vicious species of giant insect, released into the mine when the tunnel connected with an ancient cavern. I wanted to say voracious vice vicious, but the bugs refuse to eat anyone. Maybe they are herbivores, subsisting on cave fungus, that evolution equipped with a nasty temper and sharp claws.

The police insist on searching for Gorro and I'm all for that. One of the movie's chilling scenes (to a much younger version of myself) was watching two men pulled underwater by an unseen terror, while a third frantically saws the rope from his own waist. When the bugs finally arrive they are obviously cumbersome contraptions built much like the Chinese Dragons used in street fairs, only much heavier. Pay no attention to the man's legs under that arthropod of death!

Shigeru accompanies soldiers into the mines to hunt for bugs and even saves the day with quick thinking when machine guns prove ineffective. What sort of insect shrugs off .30 caliber bullets like they were stones anyway? The weakened tunnels respond to the ruckus by collapsing, trapping our hero in the prehistoric warrens.

Earthquakes rock the mountains near Kitamatsu and a huge area sinks into the Earth. Shigeru is found wandering in the newly created depression in a state of shock, he is also suffering from amnesia. Concurrent with these events, a strange UFO begins appearing and causing random acts of destruction. When pursued it proves able to maneuver better and accelerate faster than any fighter aircraft, plus it has a bad tendency of destroying the chase plane.

Just in case you didn't notice, the movie shifted gears and the giant bugs are nowhere in sight (for a good reason). Two enormous eggs hatched in that underground cavern, it was seeing the creatures awakening and eating the Meganurons that drove Shigeru almost insane. His darling fiancee' is kind enough to jog those memories loose by showing him her songbird's eggs, right as they begin to hatch. She also probably dragged him to see the Japanese premiere of "Cool Hand Luke" years later, rendering him comatose for the rest of his life. George Kennedy claims another innocent soul...

Pacing can make or break a movie and I love the speed here. The title monsters may show up in force for only one scene, but they have a solid part. There is not a whole lot to do with a rubber chicken on wires anyway. Rodans do not appear to require wing movement once they get off the ground and it probably caused some scientists to have nervous breakdowns figuring out how a one hundred ton creature could fly in the first place. They should have payed better attention, because one of the things used a little too often is the same footage; shots pop up a couple of times that caused me serious déjà vu.

Darwin would pull his hair in frustration upon seeing the nesting site the monsters pick, but in the end the Rodans are done in by their love for each other. Isn't that the way it always happens? Wait millions of years to be together and a volcano roasts the girl of your dreams, somebody should write a country western song about it.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • There is one thing more comforting than a mother's womb: seeing the names "Honda" and "Ifukube" in the credits of a Japanese monster movie.
  • Being tied to someone who is being eaten by a monster is "not good."
  • Sleeping on rubble is bad for your back.
  • It is possible to cast shadows against the sky.
  • Military command bunkers are located underground or in hardened buildings for a very practical reason.
  • Shooting at an active volcano with heavy artillery is not the brightest thing in the world.
  • Swans are descended from Rodan.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 9 mins - You don't want to see him lady, go and reserve a closed casket funeral.
  • 17 mins - I've been thinking, these people are remarkably clean for working in a coal mine.
  • 27 mins - Obviously the song "Unforgettable" was not written about Kiyo.
  • 36 mins - Why did the claw show up in the photograph when it was not on the negative?
  • 39 mins - There! Right there is when his mind snapped.
  • 44 mins - Unless you knew what part of the egg that came from and its usual shape this test would never work.
  • 83 mins - And I complained about all the leftover turkey we had from Thanksgiving...

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note rodan1.wav Narrator: "Can the human race continue to deliver these staggering blows without arousing, somewhere in the depths of Earth, a reaction, a counterattack, a horror still undreamed of?"
Green Music Note rodan2.wav Shigeru: "Yoshi was dead when they carried him from the mine, but he didn't die from drowning. He had been killed, more than killed, he had been slaughtered like an animal. Even in death there was a look of horror on his face, as if in those last moments he had seen something dreadful and terrible beyond words."
Green Music Note rodan3.wav Military Officer: "If this thing you call Rodan is extinct, how come it is still alive?"
Green Music Note rodan4.wav Rodan roaring.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Cliprodan1.mpg - 3.0m
Rodan takes part in a little urban renewal project. This thing makes a tornado look like a picnic. Of course, now that I think about it, tornados don't eat people...

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Comments:Write CommentPages: [1] 2 3 ... 5
Reply #1. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Squishy
The miniature involving the collasping bridge is fantastic. It's one of those you don't realize is a miniature until it gets destroyed. Likewise, the jeep getting slammed into the rocks--complete with the poor driver's jellified legs hanging out--is the ultimate "ouch!" scene. It looks like it really, really hurts.

Shigeru does not narrate the ending of the Japanese version; Honda assumed the audience was bright enough to understand what was happening. I like it so much better...

What the hell does is that 'breath weapon' of Rodan's supposed to do? Not even Toho knows, apparently. Judging by the soldiers' reaction, it simply causes high wind-gusts, but some writers have described it as being anything from radioactive contaminants to poison gas. None of these makes a lot of sense in context, and the weapon was never used again--though in 1994's "Gojira vs MekaGojira" (US video title: "Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla 2"), the all-new Rodan gets a souped-up radiation-beam-weapon.

Fun facts: Rodan is really "Radon," pronounced rah-doh-n, not ray-don (like the gas). It is a kind of abbreviation of "pteRAnoDON." (Many kaiju get their names from similar reworkings of dinosaur names or Japanese words.) Forrest J. Ackerman refered to the mate as "Rodanna." I suppose Gilda Radner would've played "Rodan Rodanna-Dana."

Rodan's first meals, the meganeuron, return in the newest Godzilla movie, "Godzilla x Megaguirus"! In this version, they are the first stage of an interdimensional insect army that eventually evolves into the title 'villian.' They don't get a lot of screen time, but they are still vicious, violent maneaters. "GxM" might get a theatrical release in the summer of '01, definitely a video release.
Reply #2. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Bryce
My favorite Jap monster movie. They should restore the original print though. It's full of scratches and it's really showing its age. But I love it. Love Rodan's shriek. Love the model work. Love the fact that it flies super fast amd mimics hurricane strenght winds. Love the whole plotline about the bugs and how Rodan(s) are introduce. Love the scene where the jeep smashes against the rock. With the original Godzilla and Godzilla vs the Thing (mothra), Rodan is the best Jap monster flicks.
Reply #3. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Paul Westbrook
Rodan had it's moments. Still, if you've seen one Toho flick, you've seen them all.
Reply #4. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Chadzilla
I believe that this was the first Kaiju opus filmed in scope and color.  Seeing a restored print in the widescreen would be nice.  Honda and company worked some real magic on this one, the details are incredible.  As far as your little comment of "seen one, seen 'em all" Mr. Westbrook, well that may be true.  But for addicts like me the old adage "One's too many and a hundred not enough" applies.  I can never get bored with these things, they're like potato chips.  Yummy yummy I got Kaiju in my tummy!  :-)
Reply #5. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Megaloman
RODAN is better in it's American form than the original Japanese.  The ending narration is far more touching, and brings a true sense of pathos to the film.  You really feel sorry for the animals, even after they cause all the destruction earlier.  Hey, they are just hungry!
And RODAN was not filmed widescreen, just the Academy ratio, so that will never change.
Excellent monster movie.
Reply #6. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Yuri Rentfro
The second best Toho monster movie ever made. Only the original "Mothra" was better. The dubbing was alright, better than most of the later Godzilla movies. The Akira Ifukube score was great but did not have the typical "Rodan" theme music that you hear in "Ghidrah: the three-headed monster" and all of the other movies Rodan was in. I love this movie. Rodan is one of my favorite Toho monsters. This movie just came out in japan on DVD.
Reply #7. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Dr. Maniac
    If you want to appreciate this movie you have to see the uncut Japanese version.  For one thing it is minus the narration (that is Keye Luke dubbing Kenji Sahara's voice if you care) and there is more of the monsters.  I cannot be the only one who has noticed:
   1.  When the giant insects grab the two policemen on the hill the sound effects are from THE GIANT BEHEMOTH.
   2.  The insects vary in size depending on where they are standing at the time.
   3.  In the dubbed version the appearance of the second Rodan is done by flopping the film, in the original version Rodan 2 just shows up with no explanation.
   4.  Do Paul Frees and Marvin Miller dub every other voice in this picture?

   Still, I love thi spicture.  Gosharootie I even cried at the end when I was a kid, I loved those big birds THAT much!
I have the Japanese version now and love it just as much.  The dubbed version was released by the King Brothers who also gave us GORGO.  Knowing that makes the Americanised version acceptable if still a bit difficult to swallow.
Reply #8. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Lance Manion
 My second favorite monster movie next to the first Godzilla.  Poor dubbing and Tokyo taking another beating right after Godzilla took a stroll through it.  My favorite line "Not only are thereone, but two Rodans"  
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