The Many Heads of King Ghidorah Part II – By Jordan Garren

DESGHIDORAH (a.k.a. DEATH GHIDORAH)

Height: 50 Meters (164 feet)
Length: 100 Meters (328 feet)
Wingspan: 80 Meters (262.5 feet)
Mass: 75,000 metric tons (83,000 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: Once this four-legged beast sprouts its wings, it can fly at Mach 3 and create hurricane force winds. Desghidorah can spout powerful “Lava Gout” energy beams from its trio of heads, emit a powerful shockwave from its body to stun its enemies, and can send a massive electrical surge through anything it bites. As Desghidorah feeds off the life force of Gaia (“Mother Earth”), its power and number of special abilities increases!
First Appearance: Mosura (1996) – a.k.a. Rebirth of Mothra
Desghidorah’s Complete Filmography: Mosura (1996).
Origin: Desghidorah is an ancient creature with a mysterious past. All that is known is that Desghidorah ravaged Mars and then came to Earth eons ago. After a great battle with Mothra, the mighty triple-headed kaiju was imprisoned within a mountain for eternity… that is until a logging company disturbs Desghidorah’s resting place.

Hello and welcome to Part II of my homage to Godzilla’s most popular foe, King Ghidorah. When I last left off, King Ghidorah was killed off after his Heisei series debut (much to the chagrin of some fans) and was shelved for the remaining films. However, once Godzilla was “officially” annihilated in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, other popular Toho daikaiju were brought back into the limelight. Case in point: Mothra. With the Heisei Godzilla series in the bag, Toho hired Okihiro Yoneda to bring a new series of Mothra films to the screen. While this may have sounded great to kaiju fans, there was a slight catch. The proposed Mothra films were to be kid-oriented adventure films, with lower budgets than most other Toho flicks. What resulted was a trilogy that divided an entire Mothra fanbase…. or… maybe not. Hell I don’t know!

The first Mosura film followed the hijinks of two annoying Japanese brats who befriend, Moll and Laura, the twin fairies seen in every other Godzilla film ever made. (This time, they are known as the Ailenas, not the Shobijin.) The children attempt to help their lilliputian friends stop Belvera (the Ailenas’ evil sister) from releasing Desghidorah (a.k.a. Death Ghidorah) from its ancient prison. Needless to say, the kids and fairies fail, and the mighty three-headed Desghidorah is unleashed upon Japan. As the mighty beast ravages the forests and Japanese countryside (mostly because the budget for miniature cityscapes wasn’t available), Moll and Laura call upon their sweater-eating deity, Mothra. Mothra and her premature larva take the fight to Desghidorah, which ultimately leads to “Momma” Mothra’s demise. (It turns out that Moth’s are not adept swimmers.) The surviving larva manages to travel to an uninhabited island and cocoon’s itself on the side of a huge and ancient tree.

In the meantime, Desghidorah continues to leech energy from Mother Earth and eventually grows itself an impressive pair of wings. As the mighty three-headed and four-legged beast attains more power, it begins to take a toll on Japan’s air supply and people start having some breathing problems. Things look grim until the larval Mothra bursts forth from its cocoon as Mothra Leo, now with more laser beam powers than ever before. (Plus a new color-scheme.) After a back and forth battle of beam weapons and explosions, Desghidorah is defeated and imprisoned once again. This would be Desghidorah’s one and only film appearance and deservedly so. Desghidorah isn’t nearly as powerful as the three-headed beast that it’s modeled after and proves to have more bark than bite once Mothra gets an upgrade. Two years later, another version of King Ghidorah would rear its ugly heads to take on Mothra once again.

CRETACEOUS KING GHIDORAH

Height: 40 Meters (131.2 feet)
Wingspan: 50 Meters (164 feet)
Mass: 20,500 metric tons (22,500 tons)
Weapons/Abilities:Flight at Mach 3, hurricane force winds from its wings, fireballs from each of its three heads, powerful regenerative capabilities, and the ability to consume and absorb lifeforms to gain more power and energy.
First Appearance: Mosura 3
Cretaceous King Ghidorah’s Complete Filmography: Mosura 3.
Origin: This creature is the early form of King Ghidorah and arrived on Earth roughly 130 million years ago, and its true origin still remains a mystery to this day.

Cretaceous Ghidorah’s history is a short one. This early incarnation of King Ghidorah landed on Earth during prehistoric times and was defeated in battle by Mothra Leo. Cretaceous Ghidorah was a fairly weak form of the powerhouse it would become, and actually devours living organisms to increase its strength and special abilities. Cretaceous Ghidorah is dropped into an active volcano, never to be seen again…. or so we thought. During the battle, one of the monster’s tails is severed. The piece of tail literally burrows underground and regenerates into a new and more powerful daikaiju. (Hmmm…. sounds like the film maker’s watched Reptilicus before making this movie.)

GRAND KING GHIDORAH

Height: 60 Meters (197 feet)
Wingspan: 80 Meters (262.5 feet)
Mass: 50,000 metric tons (55,115 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: Flight at Mach 3, hurrican force winds from wings, powerful (and fully chargeable) gravity beams from each head, uses a “zero gravity field” to fly when its wings are destroyed, can fire bolts of electricity from its wings, can create a sort of reverse force field (you can get through, but you can’t get out), and… jeez, how many special powers does this Ghidorah have?!.
First Appearance: Mosura 3
Grand King Ghidorah’s Complete Filmography: Mosura 3.
Origin: After the defeat of Cretaceous Ghidorah, Mothra Leo returns to modern day Japan to discover that Ghidorah is back; bigger and badder than ever. As you may have read above, during their previous scuffle, a piece of Ghidorah’s tail was cut off. Said tail piece burrowed into the ground and regenerated into an all new monster!

Grand King Ghidorah’s role in Mosura 3 is slightly different this time around. While Ghidorah has always been a destroyer of other planets, it has never been hinted that he ate all of the inhabitants… until now! Mosura 3 clumsily uses a time travel subplot in which Mothra Leo is sent back in time to kill the younger and weaker Cretaceous Ghidorah before it can eventually return to Earth and destroy humanity. The plan nearly works, but Ghidorah still manages to come back and continue its previous quest: To gather up all the children of Japan under an energy dome and eventually devour them and absorb their life essences. Mothra proves to be completely ineffective against this new Ghidorah, but naturally this is a Mothra film, and the bad guy isn’t allowed to win.

To successfully combat Grand King Ghidorah, Mothra is rebuilt; “She will be made better, faster, stronger” and climb back into the proverbial ring as “Armor Mothra.” With her newfound Armor form, Mothra is practically invincible and makes short work of her once mighty foe. Once again, a new version of Ghidorah arrives to destroy humanity and the creature is totally wasted. Not only is the fearsome “destroyer of worlds” defeated numerous times by a mammoth moth, but each new version of King Ghidorah is never utilized again in future films. This is a total shame because the designs for Desghidorah, Cretaceous Ghidorah, and Grand King Ghidorah are wonderful, and I think that each version of Ghidorah should’ve gotten either more screen time or at least another film. I don’t see why Toho executives would have a problem with this since they like to sequelize the hell out of their more popular kaiju series.

KING GHIDORAH (2001)


Height: 49 Meters (160.76 feet)
Wingspan: 93 Meters (305 feet)
Mass: 25,000 metric tons (27,600 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: Flight at Mach 3 & hurricane force winds from wings, gravity beams from mouths, “electric bite,” and the ability to absorb and/or deflect projectiles and beam attacks back at their source.
First Appearance: Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (a.k.a. GMK)
Grand King Ghidorah’s Complete Filmography: Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack.
Origin: In GMK, King Ghidorah is hinted at being a sort of brethren to the dreaded Orochi (the Eight-Headed Dragon beast that battled Yamato Takeru). However, Ghidorah was awakened prematurely to battle Godzilla and never managed to grow all those other heads and isn’t nearly as powerful as it should be. And, if you don’t already know, this King Ghidorah is actually a Guardian Monster of Japan! That’s right folks, King Ghidorah is a good guy this time around!

Shusuke Kaneko’s GMK is by far one of the best (if not the best) films in the Millenium Godzilla series. To sort of skip to the chase (since I’ve already extensively covered this film in other related kaiju articles), Godzilla has once again returned to his official stomping grounds after decades of peace. On top of that, the Big-G may be a demonic being, composed of the souls of the soldiers who fought in died in World War II’s Pacific theater. In order to combat the uber-evil Godzilla, three Guardian Monsters are awakened, namely Baragon, Mothra and…. King Ghidorah?! That’s right, the alien being that had repeatedly tried to wipe Japan off the map is now a homegrown beastie and a defender of the island nation!

However, King Ghidorah is at a huge disadvantage in this film. For the first time ever, King Ghidorah is smaller than Godzilla and wingless for the first chunk of the film. As King Ghidorah gains more power from its fallen comrades, the three-headed dragon grows stronger and begins putting up a better fight. After hours of battling on land, in the air, and even under the sea, King Ghidorah manages to make a permanent wound on the Big-G. (Said wound is located right around where Godzilla’s neck and shoulder meet.) The wound is made worse when a Japanese millitary commander pulls a Fantastic Voyage-like attack within Godzilla, via a mini-sub. In the end, Ghidorah is defeated by Godzilla, who in turn nukes himself out of existence. King Ghidorah, once again defeated and destroyed, would return to movie screens one more time to engage Godzilla in mortal combat.

KAISER GHIDORAH


Height: 140 Meters (459.3 feet)
Length: 150 Meters (492.1 feet)
Mass: 100,000 metric tons (110,231 tons)
Weapons/Abilities:Can fire gravity beams from each of its heads and can drain energy through its bite.
First Appearance: Godzilla: Final Wars
Grand King Ghidorah’s Complete Filmography: Godzilla: Final Wars.
Origin: Created by alien invaders, Kaiser Ghidorah is Godzilla’s (allegedly) most powerful adversary ever. Originally a bipedal creature known as Monster X, Kaiser Ghidorah morphed into a four-legged, three-headed master of disaster! Is Godzilla powerful enough to overcome this new threat to planet Earth?!

Ghidorah’s final appearance (thus far) is in the widely controversial Godzilla: Final Wars. (Seriously, there’s so many mixed reviews and mixed feelings toward this film that I don’t think it is going to be the final G-film.) In this modern Destroy All Monsters epic, alien invaders called the Xilians attempt to conquer the entire Earth (not just Japan this time!) by using a variety of monsters to cripple the world’s defenses. One thing the aliens didn’t really count on was the awakening of Godzilla, who has been sleeping in the frozen tundras of the arctic. Soon “orgies of monster battles” blaze across the screen as Godzilla goes on a worldwide tour of destruction, taking on all comers.

Eventually the film boils down to a showdown between Godzilla and the Xilians’ final creature, Monster X! The creature proves to be quite powerful but not strong enough, so it eventually morphs into what was intended to be the ultimate supermonster: Kaiser Ghidorah. (I say intended because I’ve read many reviews that have heckled and pointed out the “cheapness” of the Kaiser Ghidorah costume.) Now admittedly, I still haven’t seen the film and I’ve tried to avoid reading too many spoilers, so I can do nothing but assume that: Godzilla wins and wades off into the ocean (like he’s done in nearly all the other Godzilla films) or dies while battling Kaiser Ghidorah. Of course if this were to happen, that would mean that Kaiser Ghidorah is also dead and gone. I guess I’ll have to wait for an American theatrical or DVD release to find out.

Godzilla: Final Wars is supposedly the end of an era but not just for Godzilla. It seems that King Ghidorah, for the time being, is also seeking out temporary (?) retirement. Personally, I have no problem with that because I think Ghidorah is extremely overused. Sure King Ghidorah is Godzilla’s arch nemesis, but Ghidorah’s screen appearances have reached critical mass over the last four decades. I’d prefer seeing another classic kaiju get a shot at Godzilla, or heck, why not create an all new monster?! Now there’s an idea! In any case, King Ghidorah will always remain a fan favorite, wether the three-headed beast plays a malevolent being intent on humanity’s destruction, or serves as mankind’s protector. The fact that Ghidorah has been in so many films is testament to its popularity, and I wouldn’t be too shocked to see a solo adventure for this tri-skulled kaiju! Long live the “King of Terror!”

Pictures courtesy of Toho Kingdom.