Godzilla movie marathons were a common staple of 90’s television programming, even before the hype over Tristar’s 1998 disappointment started. Although most of them were promoted by simply combining narration with clips from the films, some stations rolled up their sleeves to create something truly special. Our first example comes to us from WGN, as uploaded by tvbrain:
I actually tuned in during the final day of the “Oh My God-zilla!” marathon after this very same bumper caught my attention while channel surfing. I don’t know what was more exciting to me, the marathon or how I was watching one of those “superstations” I heard so much about. I also remember footage from the promo being recycled as bumpers during the commercial breaks. I just wish I could remember whether it was in 1995 or 1996!
But as fun as WGN’s toy Godzilla trashing a model of Chicago was, only one marathon deserves to wear the crown. The one that immediately sprang to mind when most people read the title of this article: “Godzillabash ’94.” While most of the marathons I was familiar with only used a portion of what was then known as the UPA package of Godzilla movies, TNT showed the whole thing on one glorious Thanksgiving weekend: Godzilla, King of the Monsters, Godzilla vs. Mothra, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Godzilla’s Revenge and Terror of Mechagodzilla. They even threw in some episodes of the Hanna Barbera Godzilla cartoon for good measure! But that’s not what made the marathon truly special. No, that was due to its special promo. Sure, it was made up entirely of footage from the movies, but its inventive transitions and being styled as some sort of government file on Godzilla helped set it apart. Well, that, and how it was set to the music of Blue Öyster Cult’s “Godzilla.” I can’t be the only one whose first exposure to the song was through this promo, as uploaded by vastnessoftheabyss:
I definitely wasn’t the only one puzzled by the ad referring to Gabera as “Baragon,” as later versions of the above video had the offending segment removed. As you can see in the additional promos and bumpers uploaded by TheH-Man, Gabera was correctly identified in the narration for another ad:
I suspect this goof was the result of someone at TNT having consulted one of John Stanley’s Creature Features movie guides or Donald C. Willis’ Horror and Science Fiction Films II, both of which identified Baragon as the film’s main villain. Old school G-fans will remember how an appalling amount of American reference books which contained inaccurate information about Japanese monster movies. I once read one which referred to Gigan as “Borodan” (presumably since they consulted the American publicity materials for Godzilla vs. Megalon rather than actually watch the movie). I think the same book might claimed Godzilla battled “King Baragon” in a movie! It’s hard to say, given the sheer amount of such books I went through looking for information on Godzilla movies before I had regular internet access. Whoever put this together presumably had access to both the internet and footage from the movie where Gabera’s name is mentioned, so their decision to use a movie guide instead is truly mystifying.
As the years went on, Godzilla movies migrated away from location stations and basic cable into the world of premium channels. The UPA package was acquired and expanded by Classic Media, which eventually became part of Dreamworks! The release of Legendary’s Godzilla did result in Turner Classic Movies showing a bunch of the classic Shōwa films and one of the Starz channels occasionally runs marathons of the Heisei films Sony has the rights to. Perhaps we’ll see more Godzilla marathons (and specially made promos) once the Legendary films wind up on one of the major networks. Until then, all we can do is hope the eventual move to streaming and video on demand services doesn’t wipe out this sort of thing.