Cozzilla: Italian Psychedelic Godzilla
Article by Anthony Cleveland
With a new Godzilla releasing soon, a lot of new fans and casual moviegoers are asking, “Where should I start with the previous Godzilla movies?”
There’s many routes to explore with the franchise, and many depend on personal taste. There are the campy films like Godzilla vs Megalodon that are heavy loaded with cheese. There are films that parallel crises Japan has experienced [referring to Fukushima] like Shin Godzilla. And if you like fast-paced anime, there’s some really off the wall stuff in Godzilla: Final Wars.
The interesting thing about Godzilla is there’s also several versions of each film. For example, the original Godzilla released in 1954 is titled Gojira. Meanwhile, the American version released in 1956 was retitled Godzilla: King of the Monsters (also the title of the upcoming film) and has several new scenes that put Raymond Burr as the star of the film.
This wasn’t last time Gojira was re-edited for a new international audience either…
In 1977, Luigi Cozzi released a colorized, re-edited, and Italian dubbed version of the American version of the film. This new version has been dubbed Cozzilla, and it has reached cult status amongst hardcore fans, continuing to divide fans with its many artistic liberties.
The most glaring addition to the film is the coloring. Each frame is layered with a colored gel to give the appearance of actual colorization. So, for example, a scene would be tinted red where Godzilla storms through a fiery Tokyo. This coloring method was named Spectorama 70. The final effect of colorization gives a very psychedelic look to the film.
A controversial portion of Cozzilla that still draws criticism today is the new introduction that Cozzi included. The film begins with Spectorama 70 colorized footage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It shows the destruction and aftermath of the two cities as well as it’s victims. Besides being in poor taste, it’s a pretentious addition to include. Any audience member from the time Gojira was first released until now can see Godzilla is an allusion to the devastation of the atomic bomb and repercussions it has on all of humanity.
There are, however, some great additions the Cozzilla brought to the franchise. For one, the synth soundtrack is outstanding. Vince Tempera, Franco Bixio, and Fabio Frizzi worked together to create the score. Fabio Frizzi would later go on to use elements of the score to appear in Lucio Fulci’s City of the Living Dead and Zombi 2. The poster created for Cozzilla is also one of the most identifiable pieces of advertisements for the franchise. It was even used as Fangoria’s cover for issue #1.
Youtube has a bootleg version of the film if you’re interested in watching portions of it. I don’t recommend it personally, and I even think the incomplete fan films out there are better than this — Wolfman vs Godzilla, I’m looking at you. There are lots of places I could tell you to start with Godzilla and that really goes person to person with their tastes. But I can say with certainty to all...do not start with Cozzilla.
What do you think? Have you seen Cozzilla? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well!