An attack of the crabs is never pretty, especially from one the size of Madison Square Garden, but that’s unfortunately what Godzilla has to endure in this, his 7th big screen outing.
But first slight history lesson. If Ebriah: Horror Of The Deep feels a little off, if it doesn’t feel Godzilla-y enough for lack of a better word, that because it isn’t. The story of a random group of people (two teens, a bank robber and a young man desperate to find his lost-at-sea brother) getting shipwrecked on a island owned by crime syndicate The Red Bamboo was originally intended to be another Toho vehicle for King Kong after his bout with Godzilla and his stand alone romp, King Kong Escapes.
When taking this into account E:HOTD starts to make a little more sense as it has far more of a Kong vibe pulsing through it’s skipping rope sized veins. Actively turning on evil humans, an ability to draw strength from electricity and a randomly unnecessary fight with a passing giant condor all suit the 8th Wonder Of The World far more snugly than The Big G. There’s even a scene requiring the main Kaiju to be temporarily smitten with a fetching native girl, not exactly textbook Godzilla but vintage Kong. Kong LOVES the ladies
Anyway, things turned out different, someone changed “Kong” to “Godzilla” in the script (and nothing else I’d wager) and Toho was off to the races but this time without Ishiro Honda guiding the proceedings.
His absence, while not devastating, is felt quite profoundly as is the themes of regular composer Akira Ifukube. Their successors, while turning in a passable action/adventure film, hew toward a more kiddie friendly tone with a jaunty hero score and day glow bright colours which is at odds with the slave labour sub-plot involving The Red Bamboo abducting Mothra-worshiping natives from a nearby Infant Island.
Also this is a rare case of the human stuff (which honestly isn’t that bad) actually being more entertaining than the monster stuff and a lot of that is down to it’s lacklustre title creature. Despite his title billing, Ebirah just isn’t that formidable a foe, proving not once to be the “horror” that the title promises and instead is only a minor irritant. Slow, utterly water bound and completely susceptible to Godzilla’s radioactive breath, this lobstrosity hardly ranks in the upper echelons of the Kaiju rogues gallery…
Plus you can definitely tell Toho were starting to tighten their belts when it came to budgets because while an island is far cheaper to recreate in models than a city, it bloody well looks it too.
As the film plods along like a giant hangover made flesh, interest starts to wane and when it’s all said and done it really does feel like a sizable step down from everything that has come before.
Despite it’s sizable claws Ebirah: Horror Of The Deep regrettably doesn’t come through in a pinch.