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25. Ebirah, Horror of the Deep [1966, AKA Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster]

Look, as kids we all know that we peered into lobster tanks whenever our parents took us out to fancy restaurants and wondered “what would it look like if Godzilla just jumped in here and started pummeling these lobstrosities?” Wait, why are you looking at me like that? You’re saying not every kid dreamed of Godzilla fighting crustaceans? I find that hard to believe. Anyway, while Ebirah is kind of dopey looking, its still a blast to watch Godzilla wade into waist deep water and start throwing down with the clawed creature. Sure, these fights may not move the fastest, but fucking with the environment was a nice change of pace. It makes sense that this was originally intended to be Godzilla vs. King Kong at the script level, but watching Toho toss every beastie idea they had at the wall makes for silly fun.

Best Instance of Utter Destruction: Mothra shows up at one point and tries to get in on these shenanigans, turning Ebirah, Horror of the Deep into a “by land, or sea, or air” cavalcade of devastation. Thank God for this momentary air raid, as Godzilla also fights an oversized bird at one point, which may actually be the very worst kaiju battle the series has ever seen (though the jury’s still out on that one).

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24. Godzilla vs. Mothra: The Battle For Earth [1992] 

To be frank, the ‘90s were a dark period in Godzilla’s life that the big green guy probably wants to forget altogether (much like anyone else who survived the Friends epoch). By this point, Toho was putting out a Godzilla picture per year, and though it’s nowhere near as bad as SpaceGodzilla, this Battle For Earth is one of the most forgettable entries in the entire franchise, popping with garish colors and monster design that’s slathered in gaudy plasticity. While this was the Heisei Series’ stab at reviving the iconic flying moth, the main baddie kaiju is Battra, who’s a shittier version of Mothra that punishes humans for fucking with the planet’s natural order via purple laser beams. While it sounds wholly dismissive, you could totally skip The Battle For Earth and not miss a single beat.

Best Instance of Utter Destruction: Battra’s descent on Tokyo, shooting laser beams and generally wreaking havoc on the miniature replica of Japan’s urban society. Buildings are blasted, along with a bridge. It’s beautiful to behold, as the color of Battra’s weapon of choice adds a surreal feel to its catastrophic siege. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie lacks this poppy wonder.

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23. Godzilla vs. Hedorah [1971, AKA Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster

Godzilla vs. Hedorah almost plays like the kaiju approximation of The Blob, as Godzilla battles a giant mound of grey, toxic ooze, which becomes sentient and starts overrunning the city with its icky slime tentacles. Hedorah is arguably the strangest creature ever introduced into the franchise, which honestly made this writer consider placing it higher. But the overt politicization of the Godzilla series (you guessed it: this is an environmentalist movie) is kind of ham-fisted, and sucks a bunch of the fun out of watching this gooey mound of death take no prisoners, until it meets up with our scaly antihero. Nobody wants to be lectured while they watch their kaiju movies, no matter how odd the new opponent is. That’s proven by simple science, Jack.

Best Instance of Utter Destruction: Godzilla flies! That’s right, Big G devises a way to hop across the clouds using his atomic breath. It’s not the most graceful act the kaiju King has ever pulled off, but then again, we’re not taking ballet lessons here. Technically, he’s not destroying anything (so it might be a cheat to include it here), yet it allows Godzilla to keep fighting another day, which would ultimately lead to more devastation. So, let’s call it even.

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22. Ghidorah, The Three Headed Monster [1964] 

Ghidorah is arguably the worthiest adversary Godzilla ever squared off against, but like many introductions of a legend, the kaiju foe would be significantly improved upon by future entries. So, while it pains this writer to rank this movie so low, it’s good to remember that history must have a starting point, and just because a thing is first doesn’t necessarily mean it’s best. Ghidorah, The Three Headed Monster looks cheap, and the fights don’t hold up as well as some of the other entries in the Showa Series, but it also introduced the notion of multiple kaijus brawling at once. So, this ‘60s milestone delivered many wrinkles in the Godzilla formula that would be toyed with from here on out, marking it as more important than solid.

Best Instance of Utter Destruction: To take down Ghidorah down, Godzilla teams with the larvae of Mothra, as well as Rodan, to rid the world of this new tri-domed threat. The result is a rather raucous royal rumble, shaking the heavens as these four legends all get to share the frame together, inflicting damage and taking their own licks simultaneously. You know who wins out in the end, but the fight is totally worth it.

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21. Godzilla vs. Megalon [1972] 

This is arguably the strangest entry in the Showa Series, as Godzilla is essentially relegated to a supporting player by Jet Jaguar, Megalon and Gigan. Jaguar is the stand out bit of awesomeness; ripping off the super popular (and equally weird) Ultraman character, he prances around in orange and grey robot tights and throws punches like an effeminate boxer. Godzilla vs. Megalon is also notable for being so utterly bizarre (and, frankly, bad) that MST3K did not one, but two episodes mercilessly riffing on its cartoonish beat downs. The Godzilla series would never really reach this level of laughable idiocy again, and that’s both a good and bad thing.

Best Instance of Utter Destruction: Godzilla goes completely horizontal at one point, propelling himself forward through a cloud of dust to land a two-footed kick in the middle of his opponent’s chest. Then, he throws a tantrum (as if not satisfied with pulling the insane move off the first time) and does it again. Easily one of the craziest maneuvers we’ve ever seen in these early kaiju brawls.

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