This film was based partly on a 1980 story treatment by Tomoyuki Tanaka and Akira Murao called "The Resurrection of Godzilla" ("Gojira no Fukkatsu"). Conceived as a direct sequel to Gojira (1954), a new Godzilla, identical to the one from 1954, was reawakened by illegal nuclear waste dumping by a freighter in the Pacific Ocean. The protagonists include Shinpei Muraki (the young director of the Information Science Center), Professor Inamura, his daughter Akikuko Inamura (Muraki's love interest), and American scientist Dr. Radner. The story was also the introduction of what is considered Toho's greatest "lost" monster, Bagan, which Godzilla fought in the story. Bagan, a guardian spirit, has four forms in this film: the Dragon Spirit Beast (Doragon Reijû), the Ape Spirit Beast (Enjin Reijû), the Water Spirit Beast (Sui Reijû), and ultimately, a totem-like amalgam of the three forms. Godzilla savagely fights and kills the monster after the middle of the film. Another adversary for the radioactive terror is a JSDF armored super-vehicle, the Super-Beetle (which was ultimately reworked into the Super-X). The film's climax has the protagonists attempting to destroy Godzilla on Beonase Atoll, with a trap containing Dr. Inamura's nuclear invention, Reiconium. When the device malfunctions, Dr. Radner makes a Serizawa-like sacrifice and reactivates the weapon, engulfing Godzilla in lethal radioactive blue flames, apparently killing the monster, and taking Radner's life in the process. The story ends with Godzilla's lifeless body washing ashore a beach on the West Coast of the United States, with a nuclear power plant nearby; a narration stated, "As long as nuclear energy exists, Godzilla will live," as Godzilla's eyes open and the monster stirs to life with a mighty roar. Although the script was never produced, many of its elements nonetheless remained in the film, including the Shokkiras (the radioactive sea louse), and Godzilla attacking a nuclear power plant (and absorbing energy from the core reactor).
Executive producer Tomoyuki Tanaka strongly considered two Godzilla series veterans, director Ishirô Honda and composer Akira Ifukube, to work on this film, but despite Tanaka's pleas, both men declined for professional and personal reasons. They were both still greatly affected by the passing of special effects wizard Eiji Tsuburaya in 1970, and felt that "Godzilla died when Eiji Tsuburaya died." Additionally, when Ifukube heard about the changes made to Godzilla, such as his increased size from 50 meters to 80 meters, he was rumored to have said, "I do not write music for 80 meter monsters." (It turned out that he said this in jest.)
Raymond Burr reprised his character as the journalist Steve Martin for the American version of this film. However, since Steve Martin was the name of a popular comedian, he is referred to on screen as "Steve" or "Mr. Martin."
This was the last Godzilla film to not get a DVD release in the United States. It was finally released on DVD and Blu-ray in September of 2016.
After almost a decade of failed film proposals to revive the Godzilla character (including "Resurrection of Godzilla," "Godzilla Vs. Gargantua," etc.), Toho finally made this film after the Godzilla-mania of 1983, when Toho held an incredibly popular film festival, featuring all previous Godzilla films, as well as all other Toho sci-fi and monster classics. (Actor Akihiko Hirata attended the festival dressed as his Dr. Serizawa character from the original Gojira (1954).) The mania even resulted in a new wave of merchandise and other events (including Bandai obtaining the license to do Godzilla toys in Japan, and Akira Ifukube conducting a popular "Godzilla Fantasia"), as well as creating a new generation of fans. Because of this resurgence in Godzilla's popularity, Toho figured it was time to bring back the character in earnest.
This is the first film in the series since the original Gojira (1954) in which Godzilla doesn't do battle with another monster.
Kenpachirô Satsuma had suffered grueling injuries while playing Godzilla, including a sharp wire in the suit's leg chewing on his thigh (and thus shouting for help inside the suit as a scene was to be shot), and sharp staples from pyrotechnic explosives trickling into his suit and down his feet when the back was left open (Satsuma was very angry with the SPFX crew about this, having warned them to "Wait until I am fully sealed in the suit!" The crew was more careful at this point). After production, Satsuma lost a lot of weight (similar to how Haruo Nakajima lost 20 pounds after he first played Godzilla).
When Godzilla blasts a news helicopter in Shinjuku with his radioactive breath ray, look carefully in the background for a billboard with the Ghostbusters (1984) logo (albeit backwards) as the copter falls from the sky just before hitting the ground.
Veteran actor Akihiko Hirata, who portrayed Dr. Serizawa in the original Gojira (1954), was originally slated to play Dr. Hayashida (and even listed in that role in the early Toho casting list), but he died of lung cancer before filming, leaving fellow veteran Yôsuke Natsuki to fill in for him. Days before his passing, Hirata expressed a strong interest to have at least a small cameo in the film, but sadly, he did not make it in time.
Ironically, the Russian military officer in the film who is in charge of launching the Soviet nuclear missile at Japan is played by an American actor.
Anchor Bay Entertainment announced the film would be released on DVD in 2003, but Toho prevented them from releasing it, which Anchor Bay claims they owned the rights to it, because they bought the rights to the new world pictures library, but Toho rejected the claim.
Originally intended to be a standalone film, it was successful enough to warrant a series of films in the same continuity, starting with Gojira vs. Biorante (1989).
Contrary to popular belief, Raymond Burr was actually quite proud of his association with Godzilla since his debut in the Americanized version of the film from 1956. It came as a surprise to friends and colleagues when he enthusiastically returned for the international release of the 1985 sequel. While working on that film, he used the clout he'd gained from his success on Perry Mason to ensure the film wasn't too heavily edited and Koji Hashimoto's original intentions were preserved.
Godzilla was brought to life using several different techniques: Two prosthetic "suitmation" costumes (one for land scenes, and the other for water), a full-sized "dummy" (for the scenes where Godzilla pops out of the water), a 3-foot model (the concept maquette), various appendages in a variety of sizes (including a tail prop, and a full-size Godzilla foot prop), and the one most expensive effect for the monster in the film, the 20-foot tall animatronic "Cybot Godzilla," which was manipulated by computers. Toho had heavily promoted the Cybot Godzilla in the press, and had hoped that this would be the ultimate technique to use for the film. But it could not be used to create full shots of Godzilla walking (since the prop was plugged onto a set of fixed legs/tail), so Toho compromised by using the classic "suitmation" technique, especially for nostalgic reasons.
This was the last Godzilla film for special effects art director Yasuyuki Inoue. He had originally been loaned to Toho to work on the original Gojira (1954).
This was not only the last Godzilla film produced during the Showa Era in Japan (the reign of Emperor Hirohito (1921-1989), but also the first film in a new series (later called the "Versus Series" in Japan), a direct sequel to the original film, Gojira (1954). The next film, Gojira vs. Biorante (1989), was the first Godzilla film to be filmed in the Heisei Era (the reign of Emperor Akihito; 1989-present). However, since this movie is a direct prequel to Gojira vs. Biorante (1989), this film is still considered to be part of the "Heisei" era.
In early 1985 the trade papers re-ported that Toho was asking several million dollars for the North American distribution rights, and that discussions had taken place w it MGM/United Artists and other studios. At one point, a Toho spokesman complained that the best offer ponied up (by an unnamed Hollywood studio) was in the $2 million range. It's doubtful that he was telling the truth, for the bidding war, such as it was, didn't last long, and Toho wound up getting far less money. By May, the new Godzilla movie had been passed over by the majors and fallen instead into the hands of New World Pictures, the modern-day equivalent of the kind of low-budget, exploitation movie producers and distributors that gobbled up Godzilla movies.
The American scenes were shot over the course of two days on a sound stage at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, California. Another half day's worth was shot at a ranch house in Malibu, California.
Ken Tanaka's character, the heroic newspaper reporter/photographer Gorô Maki, is a remaking of Akira Kubo's character in Kaijûtô no kessen: Gojira no musuko (1967).
This was Yoshifumi Tajima's final role. Ironically, it was his first series appearance since Gojira-Minira-Gabara: Oru kaijû daishingeki (1969).
The Maser Tank-like vehicles that shoot red laser beams at Godzilla are actually called the High-Power Laser Beam Tanks, created exclusively for this film. The actual Maser tanks themselves (introduced in Furankenshutain no kaijû: Sanda tai Gaira (1966), and last seen in Gojira tai Megaro (1973)) would not make their first appearance in the Heisei-era Godzilla films until Gojira vs. Biorante (1989).
When this film first opened in Japan on December 15th, it opened at #3 against Ghostbusters (1984) (at #1) and Gremlins (1984) (at #2), with the Japanese media calling that weekend, "The Year of 'G'." But despite "Godzilla" being the highest-grossing domestic film at the time (with a very respectable sum of 2 billion yen), Toho was hoping the film could do much better. (The strongest demographic attracted was college-age or older, with lots of elementary school children; teenagers showed lukewarm interest.) This inspired Toho to take measures for the demographic of their next Godzilla film, Gojira vs. Biorante (1989).
While this is the first Godzilla film since Kingu Kongu tai Gojira (1962) in stereo sound, this is the first Godzilla film in Dolby Stereo.
First Godzilla movie in Korea to actually be dubbed in Korean. Before then, most of the Godzilla movies in Korea were still in Japanese with Korean subtitles.
Stuntman Kenpachirô Satsuma played Godzilla for the first time in this movie, and continued to play the role for the remainder of the VS Series. However, the Godzilla suits used in this film (constructed from the outside in) were not originally made to fit him, but for another stuntman who left production at the last minute.
Actress Yasuko Sawaguchi was picked to play Naoko Okumura (the film's heroine) on the basis of being chosen as the then-new Toho Cinderella earlier the same year (immediately after which she had already made her debut in Keiji monogatari 3 - Shiosai no uta (1984)). So for Godzilla's big comeback film, it made sense for Toho to cast Sawaguchi as the female lead, since she was Toho's hottest new actress at the time.
The first Godzilla film, in its Japanese version, with closing credits.
The first Godzilla film shot in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio (VistaVision). All Godzilla films (in the VS/Heisei Series) up to Gojira vs. Desutoroiâ (1995) were shot in this ratio.
In its original Japanese version, this was the last Godzilla film until Shin Gojira (2016) to end with a "The End" ("Owari" in Japanese) title card; in the case of this film, at the end of the credits.
The picture was nominated for Worst Picture at the Hastings Bad Cinema Society's 8th Stinkers Bad Movie Awards in 1985.
This is one of the first science-fiction movies to reference the theory (now scientific consensus) that birds evolved from dinosaurs, nearly a decade before the release of Jurassic Park (1993): While studying ultrasonic images of Godzilla's skull, the protagonists observe that Godzilla, a mutated dinosaur, has a brain similar to that of a bird, and realize that he followed birds away from the nuclear power plant due to a primitive homing instinct in his brain triggered by the birds' chirping. Godzilla is subsequently lured to his volcanic trap at Mt. Mihara by an electronic signal in a frequency which emulates the sound of chirping birds. While the genetic link between dinosaurs and birds had been posited as early as 1868, it had recently gained new visibility in the years prior to this film's production, due to Yale paleontologist John Ostrom's studies of the theropod dinosaur Deinonychus.