With my Godzilla 60th Birthday Challenge underway, a few people have brought up the issue of availability of the films. Especially here in the UK where, of the Japanese films, only the original and vs. King Kong have official releases that I could find. Japan is the obvious place to try, and luck would have it that they share Region 2 DVDs with us but their DVDs are often outrageously expensive or have no English subtitles, or quite often, both. That said they have released the glorious Godzilla: Final Box collection from Japan for upwards of £600. It doesn’t have English subtitles, but who cares? If you have £600 spare it’s magnificent. For the average budget, though, a bit more searching is required.
It’s probably becoming evident that I’m going to tell you that you need a multi-region DVD player, or to hack your current device (you can often get codes online or buy custom-programmed remotes on a certain auction site for more modern ones). Only then is it possible get every film on legitimate release DVD as I am doing (except for Godzilla 1985 / Return of Godzilla, which I will explain later).
Madman Entertainment in Australia have got the rights to 23 of the 28 films and have conveniently packaged them in 4 boxsets complete with Japanese audio and the English dubs (where dubs exist). They’re locked to Region 4 hence the multi-region requirement. These boxsets are very good value; they cost me about £25 each including postage to the other side of the planet. They’re simply but nicely packaged in thick jewel cases with each film on a separate disc, in flip-over disc holders. The covers are decidedly cool, with silhouettes of the different incarnations of Godzilla.
Showa Classics Vol. 1 contains the original Gojira, alongside Mothra vs. Godzilla, Invasion of the Astro Monster, Godzilla vs. Eborah, Son of Godzilla, & Destroy All Monsters.
Showa Classics Vol. 2 contains All Monsters Attack, Godzilla vs. Hedorah, Godzilla vs. Gigan, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla, & Terror of MechaGodzilla.
On to the Heisei collection, which contains Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, Godzilla vs. Mothra, Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II, Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla, & Godzilla vs Destoroyah.
Lastly the Millenium collection features Godzilla 2000, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, Godzilla Mothra & King Ghidorah; Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla III, Godzilla: Tokyo SOS, & Godzilla: Final Wars. Seemingly this boxset only contains Japanese audio as English dubs have probably never been made.
King Kong vs. Godzilla is available on its own or in an excellent boxset alongside the original King Kong, and the bonkers Toho-produced King Kong Escapes in which the oversized gorilla fights a robotic double of himself.
[UPDATE: I’ve since realised that these contain only the American versions; only select bootleg copies currently contain the Japanese version with English subtitles]
Godzilla Raids Again, Ghidorah, The Three-headed Monster, and Godzilla vs. Biollante are available on Region 1 DVDs from USA, meaning the only missing one is Return of Godzilla / Godzilla 1985. I spent a long time trying to get hold of this; the only release with English subtitles I could find mention of was released in Hong Kong on Region 3 but has since gone out of print. Regardless of price I simply couldn’t find a single copy available for sale to ship to the UK. Perhaps someone else will be more successful, but I had to resort to getting a bootleg copy available on the unnamed auction site I mentioned previously.
I don’t think anyone will have any trouble getting hold of the 1998 American remake (why you would want to may be the biggest question).