Ichiro Miki (Tomonori Yazaki) is a young boy who is the victim of bullying by a kid named Sanko Gabara (Junichi Ito) and his gang. Ichiro’s parents work long hours, so he is often left alone after school, though his toy inventor neighbour Shinpei Inami (Hideyo Amamoto) checks in on him regularly and gives him dinner.
While he is alone, Ichiro likes to nap and dream about visiting Minya on Monster Island. Like Ichiro, Minya is bullied by a big green monster named Gabara and is too afraid to stand up for himself.
Meanwhile, the police are searching the area for some bankrobbers that are on the run. The bankrobbers kidnap Ichiro from his apartment while he is alone and plan to use him as a hostage to get away from the police.
In his dreams, Ichiro sees Godzilla teach Minya to stand up for himself against Gabara, with the young monster eventually defeating his bully. Ichiro uses the lessons he learned from Minya to fight off the bankrobbers and escape. Ichiro runs to safety and the police arrest the bankrobbers.
The next day, Ichiro encounters his own Gabara and his gang again. Ichiro stands up to Gabara and the two of them get into a fight, with Ichiro walking away victorious.
Toho’s decision to end the Godzilla series with Destroy All Monsters in 1968 didn’t last long and All Monsters Attack was released in Japanese theatres the following year, on December 20th, 1969. Many fans consider All Monsters Attack to be the worst Godzilla movie because it is directly aimed at a child audience and reuses a lot of footage from previous movies to fill out the monster scenes, especially from Ebirah, Horror of the Deep and Son of Godzilla. Despite that, there are some, including me, who think All Monsters Attack has a bit of an unfair reputation and is much better than most give it credit for.
All Monsters Attack is a fun little children’s movie and, at only 69 minutes long, the film moves very quickly. Tomonori Yazaki does a great job portraying Ichiro, despite his young age, and is very easy to empathize with as he is picked on by bullies and suffers from loneliness while his parents work. Likewise, Kenji Sahara and Machiko Naka, who portray Ichiro’s parents, both make you feel their pain as they are forced to be away from their son while they work.
The most obvious message in All Monsters Attack is aimed at the child audience and it is about learning to stand up to bullies. At the beginning of the movie, Ichiro is afraid to stand up to his bullies, and offers very little resistance when they pick on him. After seeing Minya learn to stand up to Gabara and beat him, Ichiro has the bravery not just to stand up to his own Gabara, but also to the bankrobbers that kidnapped him. While it is a great message about learning to be assertive and push back against those that would happily keep you down, it is perhaps a little too optimistic. Ichiro could have easily been killed by the bankrobbers, and standing up to the bullies could have ended up in him getting punched in the nose.
There is another message woven into All Monsters Attack just under the surface and it is much more relevent to the adults taking their kids to see the movie. Ichiro’s parents both have to work long hours at the expense of the well-being of their family to make ends meet. The morning after Ichiro’s ordeal with the bankrobbers, his mother promises him she won’t work late again. Ichiro responds by saying they won’t have enough money if she doesn’t, and adds that he would like for his mom and dad to be home all the time, but he’ll be fine by himself. Ichiro then runs out of the apartment to go to school, leaving his mother alone in the apartment crying. It is a powerful portrayal of the effects of capitalist exploitation of the working class.
One other thing to note is the industrialized setting in which the film takes place. Ichiro lives in an apartment in an area surrounded by pollution spewing factories and traffic. At one point his father even mentions wanting to move away from such a polluted area, and his co-worker expresses concern Ichiro may get asthma. But smog is a discussion for another Godzilla movie…
All Monsters Attack was released in North American theatres on December 8, 1971 by Maron Films under the title Godzilla’s Revenge. The movie was going to be released under the title Minya: Son of Godzilla, but it was thought the movie would be confused with Son of Godzilla (1967), which was being broadcast on TV. For its North American release as Godzilla’s Revenge, All Monsters Attack was dubbed into English and had the song which plays over the opening credits and one other scene changed to the jazz piece Crime Fiction by Ervin Jereb.
The dubbed version of All Monsters Attack was pretty much the only version of the film released in North America until 2008 when Classic Media released both the Japanese version and English dubbed version on a single disk DVD. Only the original Japanese version of All Monsters Attack is currently available, and it is as part of The Criterion Collection’s Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films, 1954-1975 Blu-ray set featuring the first 15 Godzilla movies.