The original, uncut Japanese original finally coming to US video!
Today, Houston-based Kraken Releasing (a label of Section23 Films, formerly ADV Films), having previously issued GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER (1966), GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH (1971) and GODZILLA VS. GIGAN (1972), announced their forthcoming release of THE RETURN OF GODZILLA (1984) for the first time ever on home video in North America this coming September 13th — and will be available in both DVD and Blu-ray editions!
While Koji Hashimoto's film was "Americanized" as GODZILLA 1985 by New World Pictures, featuring Raymond Burr reprising his role from GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS (1956), opening in the summer of 1985 at theaters nationwide (followed by record home video sales), the original, uncut Japanese version of Hashimoto's 1984 version has never been issued on home video in the US.
Kraken's press release mentions, but does not name GODZILLA 1985, which has been embroiled in an on-going dispute between Michigan-based home video label, Anchor Bay, who grandfathered the rights to the localization, and Toho International, which disputes those rights. Previously, Anchor Bay released that version on VHS, but subsequent plans for DVD and Blu-ray have been stymied by Toho.
In Kraken's press release, GODZILLA 1985 is downplayed as a "highly edited version that cut over twenty minutes of original footage and effects, changed key plot points and altered the dark dramatic tone and narrative by inserting additional scenes and humor in an attempt to 'Americanize' the film." And without addressing it directly, intimate that this version will not be included in their release.
Conversely, Kraken also trumpets their release will feature "both the original Japanese version with English subtitles, as well as an English dubbed version", which might lead one to believe that there are two, separate versions of the film in this release; one being the original Japanese theatrical release, simply titled GODZILLA, while the other being the export version, titled THE RETURN OF GODZILLA.
So, this is a case of six of one, a half dozen of the other. On the one hand, we finally have an official release of Hashimoto's uncut 1984 revival, including Toho's English dub commissioned for overseas sales; while on the other, we lose the R.J. Kizer Americanization, which was completely a product of the self-effacing, self-referential low-budget exploitation sensibilities of the '80s, which hasn't aged well.
And while both versions have been illusive on the home video front over the years, perhaps its best that Hashimoto's uncut original will finally have its time to shine and be evaluated outside of the shadow of it's American counterpart — for better or worse — and be allowed to stand on its own. It's time for THE RETURN OF GODZILLA.