BATTLE OF THE ASTROS; GODZILLA VS MONSTER ZERO; INVASION OF THE ASTRO MONSTER
What surprises about Monster Zero is that it appears to have been conceived as a monster movie second. Primarily, it seems to have been made as a space opera-come-alien invasion film along the lines of director Ishiro Hondas The Mysterians (1957). The success of The Mysterians had inaugurated a genre of Japanese space opera and produced copies like Prince of Space (1959), Battle in Outer Space (1961), Invasion of the Neptune Men (1961) and those that were peculiar blends that lay somewhere between space opera and monster movies with Gorath (1962) The Green Slime (1968) and Ishiro Hondas own Yog Monster from Outer Space (1970). The monster scenes play a relatively minor part here and do not occur in a major way up until the very end. The same occurred with the subsequent Godzilla film Destroy All Monsters (1968).
In all the requisite regards, Monster Zero is a typical Japanese monster movie of the era. Ishiro Honda directs in his usual stolid way. Everything is bright and colourful. There is a reasonable, if didactic, score. The plotting is rudimentary one can see all the surprises that the Xians are up to no good, that Miss Namikawa is an Xian miles in advance. The science is bizarre to say the least the planet X is in the constellation of Scorpio, although the constellation of Scorpio appears to be located right behind the planet Jupiter. Nick Adams was imported as an American name to boost international sales but gives an ingenuous and nasally grating performance that annoys considerably in its chirpy cockcertainty. (Adams committed suicide in 1968, which resulted in Monster Zeros English-language release being held up until 1970).
The colourful absurdity makes for a surprisingly entertaining film. Despite some questionably acceptable model rocket effects, the special effects are among the better of the Godzilla series (at least up until the 1980-90s revivals). The mass destruction climax is rousingly well done. The three-headed Ghidrah looks convincing and the monster fight scenes are not too obviously silly as they increasingly became in the 1970s entries. The film has its share of lunatic moments like that of Godzilla jumping for joy at having trounced Ghidrah although the last fight scene where Godzilla and Rodan turn on Ghidrah with Godzilla kicking rocks and champing at the bit like a riled boxer is just a little silly.
The other Godzilla films are: Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1954), Gigantis the Fire Monster/Godzilla Raids Again/The Return of Godzilla (1955), King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962), Godzilla vs the Thing/Mothra vs Godzilla (1964), Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster (1964), Godzilla vs the Sea Monster/Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966), Son of Godzilla (1968), Destroy All Monsters (1968), Godzillas Revenge (1969), Godzilla vs the Smog Monster/Godzilla vs Hedorah (1971), Godzilla vs Gigan/Godzilla on Monster Island (1972), Godzilla vs Megalon (1973), Godzilla vs the Cosmic Monster/Godzilla vs the Bionic Monster/Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1974), Terror of Mechagodzilla/Monsters from an Unknown Planet (1976), Godzilla 1985 (1984), Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991), Godzilla vs Mothra (1992), Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1993), Godzilla vs Space Godzilla (1994), Godzilla vs Destoroyah (1995), Godzilla 2000 (1999), Godzilla vs Megaguirus (2000), Godzilla Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002), Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003), Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) and Shin Godzilla/Godzilla: Resurgence (2016). Both Roland Emmerichs Godzilla (1998) and Gareth Edwards Godzilla (2014) are big-budget, English-language remakes.
Japanese language trailer here (no subs):-