Mothra (1961) Rules in Her Original Form

She may not have the cinematic celebrity of some of her kaiju contemporaries, but since first hitting the big screen in 1961 MOTHRA has always had a sentimental spot in the hearts of monster movie fans. Like Godzilla, MOTHRA is the product of man’s mishandling of atomic radiation, but unlike the big lizard, MOTHRA isn’t a rampaging mass of radioactive hormones ready to shoot its irradiated ray all over Tokyo. The gentle protector of a remote island and her native people, she only comes out of her shell — literally — after an evil human steals the islands most treasured possession.

The fact that that island’s treasured possession is a pair of foot-high twin female fairies (twin sisters Yumi and Emi Itô) that the bad guy, Clark Nelson (Jerry Itô), turns into a cheesy musical act is just one of the quirky charms that separate MOTHRA from the pack. There’s more. As expected, MOTHRA ends with lots of toy tanks and rocket launchers firing on the creature, who in turn knocks down a lot of model skyscrapers, bridges, and business districts, but there is almost a gentleness to the destruction because of the way MOTHRA simply falls on the buildings, when she is still in her caterpillar phase, or knocks things over with the wind from her wings when she finally reaches her winged adult stage of development. And while she might not obviously be a guy in a rubber suit like the original Godzilla, MOTHRA has the same hand-made look that delights all vintage monster movie fans. When she is a caterpillar, MOTHRA looks like a half-deflated Thanksgiving Day parade float being dragged through the streets of the model city by a -drunken Chinatown dragon crew; when she is a full-grown moth you can almost see the fishing lie moving her wings.

Directed by Ishirô Honda, who virtually created the Kaiju genre with films like Rodan, Destroy All Monsters and the original Godzilla, MOTHRA also does a nice job of letting the people be part of the story. The good guys work very hard coming up with different plans to rescue the fairies and return them home, even before they know about the gigantic insect heading their way. The bad guys, each of whom comes with their own maniacal laugh, are more funny than fearsome, but their actions fit in well with the gentle tone of the story.

Fans of the most recent Godzilla movie, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, were introduced to a new CGI Mothra who may have looked more “realistic,” but they were denied a lot of the appeal of the original. It’s time they rediscovered just who MOTHRA is.

Mightiest Monster in All Creation!

From the Creators of “Godzilla”: A sci-fi classic – the wildly colorful kaiju eiga (monster movie), MOTHRA!

Following reports of human life on Infant Island, the supposedly deserted site of atomic bomb tests, an international expedition to the heavily-radiated island discovers a native tribe and tiny twin female fairies called “Shobijin” who guard a sacred egg. The overzealous expedition leader kidnaps the Shobijin to exhibit in a Tokyo stage show but soon they summon their protector, hatching the egg and releasing a giant caterpillar. When Mothra arrives in Japan and finally transforms into the ultimate beast, impervious to modern weapons, the nation, and its people face their destruction.

Starring: Frankie Sakai, Hiroshi Koizumi, Kyoto Kagawa, Ken Uehara

Special Features:
Includes both the Japanese and U.S. edits of the film

Contains feature-length commentary, trailers and photo gallery

  • Mothra (1961) - Blu-Ray - Mill Creek Entertainment
John Black
John Black still remembers his first horror movie, sneaking in to a double-feature of Horror House with Frankie Avalon and a Boris Karloff film he can’t remember the name of but will always remember for giving him his first glimpse of cinematic nudity as one of the actresses moved from the bed to the door without putting on any underwear! (Fond family memory: That glimpse, when discovered by his parents, cased John’s mom to call the theater and yelling at the manager for letting her son see ‘such filth’.) Luckily, John was more impressed by the blood and horror than the bare haunches and quickly became a devotee of the genre.

John has been a professional movie reviewer since 1987, when his first review – of a Robert De Niro film called Angel Heart – appeared in the entertainment section of The Cape Codder newspaper. He’s been writing about film ever since, primarily now as the entertainment editor at Boston Event Guide. Hardly a day goes by when he doesn’t watch at least one movie, which is how he thinks life was meant to be.