films seen
23/51
average score
2.00*
nationality
Japan - 81 years old
status
R.I.P. (1911 - 1993)
more info

Legendary director who dragged the Kaiju genre into the mainstream. Honda did more than just the Godzilla franchise, but he'll be forever be remembered as the man behind the radioactive lizard. Not the greatest director, even so well worth checking out.

The inoffensive

Matango

by Ishirô Honda
1963 / 89m - Japan
Fantasy,Horror,Mystery
3.0*/5.0*
Matango poster

One of Honda's most serious films. The camp is almost entirely absent, which is a curse as well as a blessing. The plot is still pretty cheesy, but the execution is very straight-faced. Overall it's moodier and more atmospheric compared to his other work, but the radioactive mushroom stuff is just too goofy to be taken seriously. Quite fun though.

Battle in Outer Space

by Ishirô Honda
Uchu Daisenso
1959 / 90m - Japan
Sci-fi
3.0*/5.0*
Battle in Outer Space poster

I'm not sure whether spectacular is the right word, with so much obvious model work involved, but Battle in Outer Space is of Honda's bigger undertakings. There are lots of space scenes and the film has a strong focus on action, sci-fi and adventure, keeping the drama and conversations to a minimum.

Earth is under attack. An alien race has settled itself on our moon and is trying to take over our planet from there. All nations on Earth unite and they devise a plan to drive the aliens back. That's easier said than done, as the aliens have a strong fleet and they are able to mind control some of our crew.

Battle in Outer Space looks surprisingly competent for a Honda film, that doesn't take away that you're clearly looking at small-scale models. Don't expect realistic-looking space battles here, but if you appreciate the charm of Honda's trademark model work then there's plenty to enjoy. After a somewhat slow start, the film really delivers a barrage of pleasant cheese.

Worthy but flawed

Destroy All Monsters

by Ishirô Honda
Kaijû Sôshingeki
1968 / 88m - Japan
Sci-fi,Action
2.5*/5.0*
Destroy All Monsters poster

Feels like a classic Godzilla best-of film. All the monsters are here, there's a bunch of weird sci-fi stuff and some random extraterrestrial interference. Some Godzilla entries can be a little slow and tepid in between the fighting, there's simply so much happening here that they didn't have the time or money to waste film on any serious conversation. Good fun, but very, very cheesy.

Godzilla vs. Monster Zero

by Ishirô Honda
Kaijû Daisensô
1965 / 93m - Japan
Sci-fi,Adventure
2.5*/5.0*
Godzilla vs. Monster Zero poster

This was pretty fun. You get a kaiju film and a space exploration film rolled into one. It's all very cheesy and cardboard-like of course, but there's hardly a dull moment and some there are some truly stand-out scenes. Apart from the original Godzilla film, this is one of the best Honda films I've seen so far.

Gorath

by Ishirô Honda
Yôsei Gorasu
1962 / 88m - Japan
Sci-fi
2.5*/5.0*
Gorath poster

A lesser known Honda film. Gorath isn't the name of a giant monster, but of a star that is on a collision course with Earth. Don't worry though, it's a vintage Honda film that has everything you'd expect to see in his films. Yes, even a giant monster (no matter how random his appearance may be).

When scientists on Earth discover Gorath is racing towards Earth, they send a mission to investigate the mysterious planet. None of their attempts to stop the planet are successful, mankind's final desperate plan is to attach a ton of rockets to the South Pole, hoping to push Earth out of its trajectory.

The first half hour is a bit sluggish, but once Honda is allowed to go crazy with his trademark miniatures sets and vehicles, Gorath becomes a lot more interesting. Add to that a giant sea lion and some good old destruction fun (poor Tokyo) and what you have is a pretty cheesy yet entertaining film.

Mothra

by Ishirô Honda
Mosura
1961 / 101m - Japan
Fantasy,Adventure
2.5*/5.0*
Mothra poster

Godzilla is by far Honda's most popular property, but Mothra may very well have an even bigger cult following. I've seen the creature before in several Godzilla films, but never managed to catch the original one. While it fits very well within Honda's oeuvre, Mothra has a slightly different focus that may suprised seasoned Godzilla fans.

The film is slightly more geared at adventure and spends quite a bit of time on the initial exploration of Mothra's island, including the tribal culture it houses, and in particular the two fairies. While there is room for the usual destruction, it doesn't come until very late into the film.

Mothra is probably one of Honda's cuter creatures, looking more like a cuddly teddy bear than a fearsome monster. It appears slightly more menacing in its caterpillar state, but it never measures up to Godzilla's angrier adversaries. The start is pretty slow and 100 minutes it's a bit long for a film like this, but once Mothra finally take center stage there's enough Honda magic for faithful fans. Not bad, but I prefer Honda's crazier films.

Godzilla

by Ishirô Honda
Gojira
1954 / 96m - Japan
Sci-fi,Horror
2.5*/5.0*
Godzilla poster

Dubious filler

Terror of Mechagodzilla

by Ishirô Honda
Mekagojira no Gyakushû
1975 / 79m - Japan
Sci-fi,Action
2.0*/5.0*
Terror of Mechagodzilla poster

Honda's final film is another decent entry in the Godzilla franchise, without bringing anything too special or out of the ordinary. There's a lot of sci-fi cheese to brighten things up and the battles between Godzilla, Mechagodzilla and Titanosaurus are plentiful, but there's not enough to make it stand out from the many other entries in the franchise.

Yog: The Space Amoeba

by Ishirô Honda
Gezora, Ganime, Kameba: Kessen! Nankai no Daikaijû
1970 / 84m - Japan
Sci-fi,Adventure
2.0*/5.0*
Yog: The Space Amoeba poster

King Kong Escapes

by Ishirô Honda
Kingukongu no Gyakushû
1967 / 96m - Japan
Sci-fi,Adventure
2.0*/5.0*
King Kong Escapes poster

The War of the Gargantuas

by Ishirô Honda
Furankenshutain no Kaijû: Sanda tai Gaira
1966 / 92m - Japan
Action,Horror
2.0*/5.0*
The War of the Gargantuas poster

Feels slightly more serious than most entries in the Godzilla franchise, at the same time also a little less entertaining. It's a decent film that is going to please fans of Honda, but the Frankenstein creatures aren't as enigmatic as Godzilla and even though the film is short, it does drag a little in places. Not bad, but not a stand-out Honda either.

Frankenstein Conquers the World

by Ishirô Honda
Furankenshutain Tai Chitei Kaijû Baragon
1965 / 87m - Japan
Sci-fi,Horror
2.0*/5.0*
Frankenstein Conquers the World poster

A typical Honda film, with a couple of huge monsters battling it out after a relatively lengthy intro and a drawn-out middle part. Of course the atom bomb has its role to play in the setup of the story, but ultimately these films are all about campy fun and elaborate destruction. It's decent filler, but I don't think I'll ever become a big fan of Honda's work.

Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster

by Ishirô Honda
San Daikaijû: Chikyu Saidai no Kessen
1964 / 85m - Japan
Action,Adventure
2.0*/5.0*
Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster poster

Ghidorah may be one of the most appealing monsters within the Godzilla universe, his introduction to the series is rather plain. Mothra and Rodan are present for the battle, but all they really do is flick stones at each other, in a rural landscape. The result is a pretty plain and uneventful entry in the Godzilla franchise.

Varan the Unbelievable

by Ishirô Honda
Daikaijû Baran
1958 / 87m - Japan
Horror,Adventure
2.0*/5.0*
Varan the Unbelievable poster

A very simple Godzilla knock-off by Honda, the Kaiju master himself. If you like giant lizards with spiky backsides and grueling howls, destroying Japanese villages (small and large), this film has everything you need. The monster is somewhat pointless though and the film is extremely predictable, but it's fun enough while it lasts.

The Mysterians

by Ishirô Honda
Chikyû Bôeigun
1957 / 85m - Japan
Sci-fi,Action
2.0*/5.0*
The Mysterians poster

Rodan

by Ishirô Honda
1956 / 82m - Japan
Sci-fi,Horror
2.0*/5.0*
Rodan poster

Not too long after releasing the original Godzilla movie, Honda came with Rodan. It's a pretty classic Kaiju film that neatly sticks to genre conventions. Then again, Honda is the one who created half of these conventions, so that probably shouldn't come as a big surprise. The result is a little basic, but good fun nonetheless.

A small rural village gets swamped by creatures. When a team goes down in the tunnels that run underneath the town, they find more than they bargained for. Rodan is a prehistoric flying creature that, when set free, goes on a violent rampage throughout Japan. Things get even trickier when a second Rodan pops up.

Men in rubber suits, miniature sets that get trashed, a tiny bit of adventuring and some war tactics. The human vs nature theme is also very present, making this a very typical early Kaiju flick. It's not one of Honda's more inspired films, the monster itself is a bit too boring for that, but there's enough cheesy charm to fill the short runtime.

Plain forgettable

All Monsters Attack

by Ishirô Honda
Gojira-Minira-Gabara: Oru Kaijû Daishingeki
1969 / 70m - Japan
Action,Adventure
1.5*/5.0*
All Monsters Attack poster

A nonsensical Godzilla film that slaps two unrelated plot lines together and still manages to get some additional Godzilla action in there. There's a lot of different monsters present, but they only appear in a kid's dream, and they're just battling it out on their own territory. It feels pretty cheap, but at least it's short and the scenes on Monster Island are decent.

Mothra vs. Godzilla

by Ishirô Honda
Mosura tai Gojira
1964 / 89m - Japan
Sci-fi,Action
1.5*/5.0*
Mothra vs. Godzilla poster

Atragon

by Ishirô Honda
Kaitei Gunkan
1963 / 94m - Japan
Sci-fi,Adventure
1.5*/5.0*
Atragon poster

Kingu Kongu tai Gojira

by Ishirô Honda
Kingu Kongu tai Gojira
1962 / 97m - Japan
Fantasy,Action
1.5*/5.0*
Kingu Kongu tai Gojira poster

The H-Man

by Ishirô Honda
Bijo to Ekitainingen
1958 / 79m - Japan
Horror,Crime
1.5*/5.0*
The H-Man poster

A pretty disappointing Honda. I even had to double-check whether I got the right film, as it starts as a plain police/crime thriller. Not really what I expected from a Honda film, later on minor horror elements are added and his signature style starts to shine through a little, but overall it remained quite boring.

The police are trying to track down a gang of criminals who have the uncanny capability to disappear on the spot. The police is clueless, until one of the cops discovers they might have taken part in a nuclear test. Their bodies became unstable and they turn to goo whenever they're touched.

The effects are crummy, Honda isn't really suited to direct cop thrillers and the performances are quite poor. It's just a very sluggish and dull film. The finale quarter is slightly better as things heat up (quite literally), but watching transparent goo isn't as much fun as seeing someone prance around in a rubber suit. Not a fan.

Eagle of the Pacific

by Ishirô Honda
Taiheiyô no Washi
1953 / 119m - Japan
War
1.5*/5.0*
Eagle of the Pacific poster

A pre-Godzilla, and so pre-Kaiju film from Honda. Honda's main draw has always been his miniature work, which still comes in handy when doing a war flick. Without the Kaiju cheese though, it's not really the same thing. Eagle of the Pacific is a more serious take on the Pearl Harbor attack.

Yamamoto is a tactical genius and loyal to the emperor of Japan. That puts him in an awkward position, as he is ordered to lead the attack on Pearl Harbor, a mission he opposes. Yamamoto is overruled, so even though he feels the mission should be aborted, he'll do his best to make it work.

The first hour is pretty slow, it isn't until the second half that the war scenes introduce some much-needed action. With people like Mifune and Shimura on board this was certainly not an inconspicuous project, though it's not a film that really stands out as majestic nowadays. I'm not surprised Honda took a different path after this.

Irritation overload

Dreams

by Akira Kurosawa, Ishirô Honda
Yume
1990 / 119m - Japan
Fantasy
0.5*/5.0*
Dreams poster