For over 20 years, GODZILLA 1985 was only available in a soft, washed-out, pan-and-scanned transfer on home video in the United States, United Kingdom, and Japan. These releases were slightly different from the original theatrical prints of the film which often left off the New World Pictures logo with Godzilla’s roar, among other changes. An Australian rental VHS was released in 1986 that was a minor improvement over the previous releases as it was a better representation of the original theatrical version, yet the image was still mercilessly cropped on the sides. It wasn’t until 2006 until the Monsters HD channel ran the film mastered from 35mm film in 1080i, presented in high definition, dolby digital and widescreen.
The quality of the film is exceptional, easily making the Toho R2 DVD look like VHS quality in comparison. The blacks are actually black, and details I’ve never noticed before were visible such as Yasuko Sawaguchi’s tan-line, the scar tissue on Shin Takuma’s forehead, etc. Unfortunately, this increased resolution has left a majority of Teruyoshi Nakano’s optical, matte, and blue-screen effects which were blurred on previous releases to stick out like a sore thumb. Godzilla’s breath actually appears that someone colored it in with a crayon, the animated birds look like they flew in from a Disney movie and the air holes in the suit’s neck are visible in every close-up. You can literally see Ken Satsuma’s skin inside the suit after Godzilla roars in victory after crushing the Super-X.
The film is presented in widescreen, and appears to be in the correct aspect ratio. Compared to the framing on the R2 DVD release, only a slight area of picture information on the right side of the screen is lost, which will be corrected viewing the film on a computer monitor, eliminating the over-scan problem of television sets.
Compared to the 1986 Image laserdisc release of the film, the version shown on Monsters HD is a revelation in regards to the Raymond Burr scenes-
It should be of note, however, that this version of the film is an older workprint version of the New World cut. These are the differences found-
*The film opens with the New World Pictures logo without Godzilla roaring (this can only be heard in the Japanese and UK home video release of the film)
*The eerie sound heard before the birds take flight is omitted
*The suspenseful musical cue when the Prime Minster watches a helicopter on a monitor has been replaced with mumbling and voices in the background
*Footage of Godzilla stepping on the homeless man is not tinted red (this was corrected on all home video releases except the Australian release which utilized a 35mm theatrical print)
*Half of the music is omitted when Godzilla roars in triumph over the Super-X
*The music is downplayed slightly when Godzilla approaches Mt. Mihara due to an increase of the supersonic sound he is being attracted to
*A slightly different take of the volcano erupting is used before the credits roll. In this version, the credits music begins to play as the screen fades to black.
*The biggest change occurs with the Russian dialogue. None of the Russians are subtitled in this version, even though the original newspaper headlines and location texts are present. It should be noted, however, that the English subtitles for the Russians were video generated in previous home video releases except the Australian one that had burned-in subtitles (which is what theatrical prints used).