Pluto TV, the free, ad-supported streaming service, has made its name on hyper-specific, 24-hour channels made up of shows and movies on repeat. They have a Mystery Science Theater 3000 channel, for example. They were the first FAST service to have a tokusatsu channel, to my knowledge. It’s good fun, and you’re likely to find stuff there you want to see. Add to that, on July 1, Pluto TV will debut its Godzilla channel, which, among its 30 film library, will have two movies that have been hard to find in North America for a very long time.
The Showa-era Godzilla movies—which span from 1954-1975—are pretty readily available in the USA. Hell, Criterion put out a whole box set of them. But the Heisei-era movies—spanning 1985-1995—have been a bit spottier. A few have gotten disc releases; even fewer have been on streaming. But Pluto TV will include both 1989’s Godzilla vs. Biollante and 1991’s Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, which have been wholly unavailable here for ages. Both movies come from director Kazuki Omori.
Godzilla vs. Biollante, came a few years after the Heisei-era kickoff The Return of Godzilla. For my money, it’s one of the best in the whole series. It follows a scientist working for the government who has to try to make a creature capable of fighting the dangerous king of the monsters should he return. The scientist combines found Godzilla cells with cells of both a carnivorous plant and his own daughter to create a rapidly metamorphosing creature, dubbed Biollante. Biollante’s final form looks kind of like Audrey II with a crocodile head. It’s rad.
The follow-up movie, Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, is an all-out fantasy adventure. With time travel! It features a team of scientists, military guys, and a psychic woman (who recurs throughout the series) who go back in time to WWII where they discover a living dinosaur that, once hit with the atom bomb, became Godzilla. Unfortunately, the Futurians, a group of people who brought the time machine to our heroes in the first place, create a kaiju of their own—King Ghidorah—to subjugate Earth.
These movies are definitely of their time, in a good way. If you’ve only ever seen the OG movies in the series, you may be surprised at the high quality of the effects. Toho did not skimp on the model work here. While my personal preference is for Biollante, both movies deliver on loads of great monster fighting and compelling personal narratives.
Pluto TV’s Godzilla channel will launch July 1. In addition to the 30 aforementioned movies, it will also have the whole 1998-2000 animated Godzilla: The Series. That cartoon, while a spinoff of the ’98 Roland Emmerich movie, is actually very good. Enjoy big lizards and destroyed scale models this July 4 weekend!