I usually try not post too much straight video coverage here at once, but this is something of a special occasion. I managed to snag Kraken Releasing’s trio of upcoming Godzilla blu-rays a full month ahead of their street date thanks to the good folks at RightStuf.com, and thought I’d share the joy. I’ll be reviewing each of the films individually as time allows, but will keep my comments as brief as I can here. For those who like what they see, the discs are available through these links – Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster / Ebirah: Horror of the Deep, Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster / Godzilla vs. Hedorah, and Godzilla vs. Gigan / Godzilla on Monster Island – and can be pre-ordered through the other usual outlets as well (Amazon, etc.).

The technical specs across all three discs are pretty much identical. Each film gets a single layer BD25 and only the original theatrical trailer (with optional subtitles) as an extra. The packaging is quite misleading in this respect, using the word “Extras” on the back of each instead of specifically listing what’s on the discs. You get the film plus trailer – that’s it. Transfers for each are at the appropriate ‘Scope ratio, and each film receives a serviceable if middling Mpeg-4 AVC encode at an average bitrate of 23.5 Mbps. While I’d have preferred more robust encodes (none of these discs is close to hitting capacity) I didn’t notice any obvious instances of artifacting.

As for the transfers themselves, this is a bit of a surprise. I was expecting Toho’s own HD masters (a la Media Blaster’s Destroy All Monsters and Godzilla vs. Megalon), with the original Japanese titles and supers in place, but what Kraken Releasing were provided look to be exactly the same materials from which Sony minted their DVDs all those years back. Titles are in English (film-sourced for The Smog Monster, and video-generated for Gigan and The Sea Monster), and as with the earlier DVDs some of the English supers for The Smog Monster as well as the Japanese dialog bubbles in Gigan are absent. Otherwise the screenshots give a good idea of what to expect. The Sea Monster looks the best, with a relatively smooth appearance and subtle grain, and excellent color, contrast, and detail. The Smog Monster and especially Gigan can appear a bit harsher in their textures (akin to the Universal Kong blu-rays I just covered), but still improve quite drastically over past editions with regards to clarity and detail. These all look very good in playback, and perhaps better than many were expecting.

Audio options are identical across all three titles – original Japanese and (International) English dub, each robustly encoded in 2.0 monophonic DTS-HD MA. I’ve only listened to The Smog Monster and The Sea Monster in any extensive way, but those tracks sounded very good. As is typically the case, the scores for these films improve the most from the move to a less compressed format. Optional English subtitles translate both the spoken Japanese dialogue and the incidental Japanese text that crops up from time to time (with the text bubbles also missing, the monster dialog in Godzilla vs. Gigan is not subtitled). Those concerned about the prospect of dubtitles should know that some of the lines certainly match up, but that many do not, and some scenes play very differently between the dubs and the subtitles (a good example is when the Nebula M alien monologues about his planet in Godzilla vs. Gigan) – this is the case on all three films. Each disc is locked to Region A, as confirmed with my Region B secondary deck, so importers in Europe and elsewhere should take note.

For the low price point Kraken Releasing is asking ($14.98 SRP, with most retailers selling them for less) these are an easy recommendation, even if they’re far from the definitive editions fans crave. They look good, they sound good, and I imagine most will be pleased.

Screenshots were made by my usual method – they were captured as uncompressed .png in Totem Movie Player and compressed to .jpg at a quality setting of 93%. No filtering has been applied.

Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster

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Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster


Godzilla vs. Gigan


8 thoughts on “The Kraken Wakes: A First Look at Ebirah, Gigan, and Hedorah on Blu

  1. I’m happy its the transfers on the Sony disc. They were the best these films looked then. Nice these are on bluray. Those Sony disc are going to be a whole lot cheaper on amazon marketplace. Now for mechagodzilla and son.

  2. I’ve got Mechagodzilla and Son of… due in July regardless, so I don’t mind that they haven’t bee released yet. Having the dubs attached to HD video would be nice, though, and I’ll gladly pick them up if Kraken releases them.

    There are niggling issues that keep me from absolutely loving the Sony transfers (the video credits on Sea Monster and Gigan… missing supers in Smog Monster… missing speech bubbles and lack of translation for Gigan), but by and large they’re tough to complain about. They look really good in playback, and the price is more than reasonable.

    I am really interested to see how Toho’s Blu-rays compare, though. They put extra color correction and clean-up work into their other blu-rays, and I’d expect the same of their upcoming ones. Should be interesting at the very least, and I’ll be happy to have discs with the original film-sourced titles intact.

  3. Hi, Kevin P. What do you mean by “supers”? I’m referring to your comment that they are missing in Godzilla vs. Hedorah. I don’t understand that term.

    1. The superimposed text that accompanies Ken Yano’s pollution essay early on is missing, just like on the DVD. There may be other incidental text that’s missing, but that all I know well enough to miss. That’s all.

  4. The disc’s look great and much better than toho efforts. I just wish they would of put the original AIP dubs that originally aired in America they haven’t ever been released on dvd format and it’s a darn shame that the superior English dubbing along with the English “Save the Earth” song are getting harder and harder to find.

    1. I’m curious as to how many of Toho’s blu-rays you’ve seen – I own eleven and I’m pretty happy with them, and am curious to see how these three films compare when Toho releases their own editions in July.

      Agree with you on the dubs. Media Blasters, for all their faults, did port over the AIP dub for their short-lived Destroy All Monsters disc (wondering if the re-release will still have it?) but everyone else seems content to use the International dubs. One wonders if this is a stipulation from Toho themselves, or if those labels just never bother to ask / don’t want to do the work.

  5. Kevin,
    The issue of Sony’s English titles being video generated as long been believed by fans without any investigation. I asked Michael Schlesinger, who supervised all of these, and who struck 35mm theatrical prints as well, and he said that all of them were 100% optical, not video, generated. They redid all of them, some mimicking Toho’s original design (save SEA MONSTER), to improve the image and to include the Registered, Trademark, and Copyright marks, and not make them appear “tacked on.”

    And by the way, Media Blasters’ upcoming re-release of DESTROY ALL MONSTERS will NOT include the AIP English Dub track.

    Great coverage as always — keep up the good work!

    1. P.S. Toho doesn’t allow the use of previous English Dubs commissioned by companies like AIP, because they’re fearful of actors demanding royalties. So, even if you want to do it and have great source materials, Toho will absolutely not allow their inclusion.

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