Godzilla Lost Something When He Became A Hero, According To Certified Monster Expert John Carpenter

There's nothing like sitting down to watch a movie, possibly one you haven't seen before, while in the comforting presence of the television horror host. Folks like MeTV's Svengoolie and Shudder's Joe Bob Briggs ("The Last Drive-In") have kept the communal experience of a bygone era running strong into the 21st century. Even Elvira, the Mistress of the Dark, jumped back into her delightfully ghoulish ways with her own special last Halloween. Even though the Halloween season has passed us by once again, a master of his craft has stepped in to guide us through one of cinema's greatest Kaiju.

To celebrate "Godzilla" day, legendary filmmaker John Carpenter will be hosting a select few of the fire-breathing lizard's features on Shout Factory TV with "Masters of Monsters." Starting November 3, Carpenter will be at the center of a four-day event, with "Gojira," "Rodan," "Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster," and "The War of the Gargantuas," where he'll be giving his insight and other fun observations.

Even if you're a "Godzilla," aficionado who has seen these movies too many times to count, it's difficult to pass up this special experience, especially if you've seen Carpenter in interviews. He's a man of unfiltered opinions when it comes to the wide world of horror. In preparation for this event, the "Halloween" filmmaker shares an interesting point-of-view on Godzilla.

'He's an all-purpose monster'

In an interview with Den of Geek, Carpenter talks about how turning Godzilla into a more heroic figure took something special away from the character. "We don't want him to be a good guy, but people loved him that way," says the "Prince of Darkness" filmmaker, also adding, "Well, I wasn't a fan of that, but yeah, he lost something." 

After all, the King of the Monsters started out as a walking metaphor for the destruction caused by nuclear annihilation in Ishirō Honda's 1954 classic. Carpenter shows a great reverence for the amphibious monstrosity as a result of corrupted nature, but he recognizes that Godzilla can be a great many things:

"He's been an arch-villain. He's been a savior, a hero who saves the Earth. He's an all-purpose monster. Anything you need, he's there for you. If you need him to be a vicious world-ending creature, he's there. If you need him to save the earth, he's there. That's why we love him. There's something great about any big reptile who destroys a city, he is in our hearts."

When you have a monster that has lasted over nearly seven decades of films, there are bound to be changes in how he functions. He may not have been quite the friend of all children like "Gamera" has, but you can definitely point to periods where the towering Kaiju skewed towards the side of good, based purely on how bad his monster opponents were.

Godzilla will always have a complicated history

Godzilla often transforms based on what the period needs him to be.

The Toho films, especially, have been split into four distinct eras: Shōwa, Heisei, Millennium, and Reiwa. Each of the ways in which they use him is vastly different from one another, with the common throughline being some form of destruction. The "Gojira" Godzilla versus the terrifying force in "Shin Godzilla" share a different, albeit similar DNA. Neither makes the destruction look like anything but an apocalyptic event bred by the drive to create a super weapon unlike any other.

The stark look of black and white shows a more ferocious side to the monster. You know it's Haruo Nakajima in the suit, but the low-angle shots of Godzilla firing up his atomic breath are still horrifying. Cut to 15 years later with "All Monsters Attack," where the monster is at the center of a child's imagination as a means of facing his fears.

The American "Godzilla" movies have always struggled to fight the right balance, with Gareth Edward's 2014 film coming the closest. "Godzilla" will always be the most effective when he's, but there's also something so captivating in watching a man in an exquisitely detailed costume knocking down building models. There's room for both.

"Master of Monsters" will start streaming today on Shout Factory TV, in addition to the next three days.