Underrated Car Chases: ‘Godzilla Raids Again’ (1955)
There are few fictional characters with as varied and wide-ranging a history as Godzilla. Today, the creature is most-often associated with things like monster fights, cinematic cheese, and — if you’re a regular reader of The News Wheel — some silly car chases. However, not all of Godzilla’s vehicle-related escapades are goofy chuckle-fests. In fact, one of the single-best sequences from the 36 film-strong franchise involves a car chase. The film in question is 1955’s Godzilla Raids Again.
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The car chase in ‘Godzilla Raids Again’
The very first Godzilla film hit Japanese theaters in 1954, and less than a year later, a sequel had been released. Godzilla Raids Again was largely produced to cash in on the first film’s unexpected success, and lacks a bit of its predecessor’s polish. However, the film — which most fans remember for its aggressive monster fight between Godzilla and the ankylosaur-like Anguirus — does have one excellent sequence that deserves mention.
About halfway through the film, the city of Osaka begins preparing itself for Godzilla’s arrival. The Japanese Self-Defense Force instigates an operation to lure Godzilla away with flares dropped from planes. It’s a simple plan, but surprisingly, it ends up working.
As the military continues to gradually lure Godzilla back out to sea, drama begins to unfold in the city. A prison truck is seized by the violent inmates inside, and the convicts take off in search of freedom. When a police car spots them fleeing in their stolen vehicle, a chase begins.
The convicts drive with reckless abandon through the darkened city. The police car continues to pursue them, but is unable to get too close. Ultimately, the chase takes both vehicles to a refinery near the coast. This is where tragedy strikes.
The convict driving the getaway vehicle loses his focus on the road. Before he and his passengers can react, their vehicle flies off the road and collides with the delicate machinery of the plant. The vehicle explodes, and in seconds, the plant is engulfed in flames. The dark skies over Osaka suddenly come alive with fire.
When Godzilla sees this, he decides that the SDF’s flairs are no longer all that interesting. He returns to the city, and destruction ensues.
Why the scene works
Although the idea of a group of convicts accidently crashing into the side of a refinery and exploding might sound humorous, the film’s presentation of the scene is anything but. For starters, the entire chase sequence is completely devoid of music. With the residents of the city either underground or evacuated, the streets are empty and hauntingly silent. The film uses this silence to build a great deal of tension.
When the explosion comes, it’s a completely unexpected moment. As the fireball begins to rise, the music begins to creep back in. The tension is broken, and we, the audience, now feel legitimate fear.
One of the running themes of the Godzilla franchise is that mankind is the cause of its own misfortune. In the end, Godzilla’s attack on Osaka — and all of the resulting destruction and death — is caused by a careless accident on the part of murderous men. In short: we keep doing it to ourselves.
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If all of this is a bit too heavy for you, remember that this is the same franchise that also featured this ridiculous car chase. Never let it be said that Godzilla wasn’t capable of catering to audiences with polar-opposite tastes!
Daniel DiManna hails from little Sylvania, Ohio. A graduate of Lourdes University with a degree in Fine Arts (which has thus far proven about as useful as a wet paper towel), Daniel’s hobbies/passions include film history, reading, fiction/non-fiction writing, sculpting, gaining weight, and adding more toys, posters, books, model kits, DVD’s, screen-used props, and other ephemera to his already shamefully monumental collection of Godzilla/movie monster memorabilia. His life goals include a return trip to Japan, getting a podcast off the ground, finishing his novel, and yes, buying even more monster toys. See more articles by Daniel.