Mothra vs. Godzilla

I know I saw the 1964 movie ‘Mothra vs. Godzilla’ on TV when I was growing up. But when I checked the IMDb website — an invaluable resource — and read the plot synopsis I was surprised. I didn’t remember a thing about the story.

To me, all the Godzilla movies were just those goofy scenes when Godzilla is stomping through Tokyo, chewing the scenery (literally), with panicked crowds fleeing in his wake. The Mothra movie had the added excitement of a giant moth defending the people — an addition that, even as a child, I found to be just plain weird.

The actual plot of this classic monster flick involves a greedy developer draining the coastline so he can put up expensive waterfront condos. (That sounds like the actions of a human monster, guilty of extraordinary evil.) Then a hurricane blows Mothra’s gigantic egg off its island home and onto Japanese soil. Ignoring the warnings of Mothra’s priestesses, somebody decides to put the egg on display because people will pay to see it.

Then Godzilla stomps around and Mothra flies around and the people run, run, run! The charm of these movies is the wacky visuals and the overheated dialog.

I was never frightened of Godzilla. But I was afraid of the rampaging crowds of people. In their scrambling for safety, they seemed out-of-control like the Black Friday stampede of shoppers that trampled a Walmart employee. Individual monsters can be very scary, but the mob mentality is another level of crazy, scary. When people swarm and lose themselves in the crowd, we’re in a lot of trouble.

Speaking of menacing swarms, if you’re fond of the Hitchcock film ‘The Birds,’ be sure to read the Daphne du Maurier story. Hitchcock was inspired by her story, but his script is pure Hitchcock. I read her really terrifying tale when I was a child at a slumber party and we jumped at every sound in the house. The movie pales in comparison.