Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (三大怪獣 地球最大の決戦,   San Daikaijū: Chikyū Saidai no Kessen?, lit. Three Giant Monsters: Earth's Greatest Battle) is a 1964 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho Company Ltd., the fifth installment in the Godzilla series as well as the Showa series. The film was released to Japanese theaters on December 20, 1964.

Ghidorah was directed by Ishiro Honda, produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka, and written by Shinichi Sekizawa. The film introduces Rodan and King Ghidorah to the film series, alongside Mothra and Godzilla.

A sequel to this film, Invasion of Astro-Monster, was released on December 19, 1965.


A princess from Selgina, a small Himalayan country, becomes possessed by the spirit of a Venusian (a Martian in the American version) and escapes from the plane just as it explodes. As this happens a meteorite falls from the sky containing King Ghidorah, the monster responsible for her planet's destruction. At the same time, Godzilla and Rodan emerge from hibernation and not only attack Japan, but each other as well.

Mothra, along with its twin priestesses, attempt to convince Godzilla and Rodan to stop fighting each other and to team up to fight the new monster, Godzilla and Rodan, however, refused to help because they have no reason to save mankind as both "have always had trouble with men and men hate them", and Mothra had no choice but to battle King Ghidorah on her own and gets continually blasted by King Ghidorah's gravity beams. Luckily for Mothra, Godzilla and Rodan return to help Mothra fight King Ghidorah after being impressed by her courage and selflessness, thus the battle for Earth against King Ghidorah begins.

Meanwhile, the princess is being hunted by a group of assassins, led by Malness, who want to kill her so that her enemies can take over her homeland. Then, just when Malness is about to kill the princess, King Ghidorah crushes him by knocking over a pile of boulders on him. Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra finally drive King Ghidorah off. The movie ends with the princess going back to her home land and Godzilla and Rodan watching Mothra swim back to Infant island.


Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.

  • Directed by Ishiro Honda
  • Written by Shinichi Sekizawa
  • Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka
  • Music by Akira Ifukube, Hiroshi Miyagawa
  • Stock music by Akira Ifukube, Hiroshi Miyagawa
  • Cinematography by Hajime Koizumi
  • Edited by Ryohei Fujii
  • Production design by Takeo Kita
  • Assistant directing by Koji Hashimoto, Ken Sano
  • Special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya
  • Assistant Director of Special Effects Teruyoshi Nakano


Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.

  • Yosuke Natsuki as Detective Shindo
  • Yuriko Hoshi as Naoko Shindo
  • Hiroshi Koizumi as Assistant Professor Murai
  • Akiko Wakabayashi as Princess of Selgina, Mas Selina Salno
  • Emi Ito, Yumi Ito as Shobijin
  • Takashi Shimura as Doctor Tsukamoto
  • Hisaya Ito as Chief Assassin Malness
  • Akihiko Hirata as Okita, Chief Detective
  • Minoru Takada as Chairman of Board Meeting
  • Kenji Sahara as Editor in Chief Kanamaki
  • Somesho Matsumoto as UFO Expert
  • Ikio Sawamura as Fisherman
  • Kozo Nomura as Murai's Assistant
  • Toru Ibuki as Assassin
  • Susumu Kurobe as Assassin
  • Kazuo Suzuki as Assassin
  • Haruya Kato as Journalist
  • Shin Otomo as Leader of the Assassins
  • Senkichi Omura as Hat Retriever
  • Hideyo Amamoto as Butler Wu
  • Yutaka Nakayama as Tourist (Lost Hat)
  • Yutaka Oka as Meteorite Scientist
  • Yoshio Kosugi as Chief of Infant Island
  • Heihachiro Okawa as Astronomer
  • Yoshifumi Tajima as Ship Captain
  • Koji Uno as Spectators in Crowd
  • Shigeki Ishida as Spectators in Crowd
  • Toshihiko Furuta as Villager
  • Kotaro Tomita as Villager





Alternate titles

  • Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster (United States)
  • Three Giant Monsters: The Greatest Battle on Earth (Literal Japanese Title)
  • Monster of Monsters, Ghidorah (Original International Title)
  • Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: The Greatest Battle on Earth (ゴジラ·モスラ·キングギドラ: 地球最大の決戦,   Gojira, Mosura, Kingu Gidora: Chikyū Saidai no Kessen?, Japan Re-Release Title)
  • Ghidrah, Monster of 3 Heads (Ghidra, Monstruo de 3 Cabezas; Spain; Mexico)
  • Ghidrah, the Monster of Three Heads (Ghidra, el Monstruo de Tres Cabezas; Argentina)
  • Ghidorah, Monster of Monsters (Gidorah, Canavarlar Canavari; Turkey)
  • Ghidrah The Tricephalic Monster (Ghidrah, O Monstro Tricéfalo; Brazil)

Theatrical releases

  • Japan - December 20, 1964
  • United States - September 13, 1965; October 1984 (Chicago International Film Festival)
  • Portugal - January 1, 1965
  • Mexico - August 17, 1967
  • Germany - August 13, 1998

U.S. release

American Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster poster

Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster was released in the United States by the Walter Reade Organization, under the title Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster. Like many Godzilla films before it, the American version made several alterations to the film.

  • Rather than being referred to by his full name, King Ghidorah's name is shortened to "Ghidrah" in the dub, presumably because it sounds more like "hydra."
  • Selina Salno claims to be from Mars in the dub, rather than Venus as in the original version. In the English sub, it says that she is from Jupiter.
  • Numerous scenes were rearranged from the order in which they appeared in the original Japanese print, such as the old man whom the Princess trades the bracelet with identifying her in the police station and the battles between Godzilla and Rodan. The Princess originally told King Ghidorah's tale before the monster emerged from the meteorite, and the arrival of the assassins happens at an earlier time than it did in the Japanese version. Godzilla's appearance in Yokohama was mistakenly rearranged, in his first shot of the scene he appears on land, in the next shot he is in the water, and then he again appears on land. Rodan emerging from Mount Aso was mistakenly rearranged as well. In one shot his whole body can be seen rising out of the crater's wall when in the following shots he is still trying to raise his head out from the rocks.
  • The majority of Akira Ifukube's original score for the film was replaced with music from other American films.
  • Mothra is referred to as a male in the dub.
  • The American version runs roughly seven minutes shorter than the Japanese version.

Several scenes were also altered or removed.

  • Altered: In Godzilla's first appearance Rodan appears in the sky before Godzilla destroys the ship. The scene originally showed Godzilla rising from the sea and then destroying the boat almost uninterrupted.
  • Deleted: Shindo sees Naoko being dropped off by Dr. Murai at their home, explaining why Shindo was asking his mother about his sister having a boyfriend when returning home.
  • Deleted: Rodan lets out his signature roar when his head emerges from the cave wall.
  • Deleted: Brief shot of Rodan hovering over the volcano after he emerges.
  • Deleted: Before leaving the hotel room, Shindo witnesses a ship exploding in the harbor after being hit by Godzilla's atomic breath.
  • Deleted: The assassins are seen trying to escape Yokohama during Godzilla's landing.
  • Deleted: The Shobijin singing the song "Call Happiness" when calling for Mothra.

Box office

In the original December 20, 1964 Japanese release of the film, it had an attendance of 4,320,000 and grossed ¥210,000,000. In the film's theatrical re-issue on December 12, 1971, it sold 1,090,000 tickets, adding up to a total of 5,410,000 attendees.

When Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster was released in the United States, its film rentals added up to roughly $1,300,000.


Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster is liked for its monster brawl and respected for being the film that started Godzilla's gradual change into a hero.

Home media releases

Distributor Released Region Language Format Misc.
Toho 2001 Region 2 Japanese N/A N/A
Classic Media[1] July 1, 2012 Region 1 English
2.35:1 aspect ratio
93/84 minutes run time
1 disc
Japanese and American versions
Toho 2010 N/A Japanese N/A N/A


  • Not once does Godzilla use his atomic breath against King Ghidorah in battle, while he does use it repeatedly, with no apparent effect, against Rodan.
  • An early concept for King Ghidorah had him with rainbow-colored wings and a purple body with his three heads spitting fire from their mouths instead of gravity beams.
  • In Shinichi Sekizawa's screenplay for the film, all that is said in terms of a physical description of King Ghidorah is: "It has three heads, two tails, and a voice like a bell." From this, Eiji Tsuburaya designed King Ghidorah, which proved to be one of his most innovative and popular creations.
  • This film is the first Godzilla film to not feature military vehicles, such as tanks and jets.
  • This film marks the second screen appearance of Rodan, and the monster's first appearance in a Godzilla film.
  • This is the very first film to portray Godzilla as a hero. Also, in the conversation with Mothra he states that he only hates humans because humans attack him with their weapons and military, suggesting that he was not really a villain in the first place.
  • In the American dub, when the Shobijin are translating Mothra, Rodan and Godzilla's conversation before Mothra goes on to fight King Ghidorah, the Shobijin exclaim "Oh Godzilla, what terrible language!" indicating that Godzilla was swearing.
  • There is only one Mothra larva in this film, and it is explained that the second larva died in between the previous film Mothra vs. Godzilla and this film.
  • The Godzilla suit used in this film was used previously in 1964 for Mothra vs. Godzilla. Nicknamed the "MosuGoji" suit, it is the first Godzilla suit to be used for more than one film. The suit's head had to be replaced due to damage sustained during filming for Mothra vs. Godzilla.
  • This was the first Godzilla film to introduce a monster physically larger than Godzilla.


  1. (Jul 1, 2012). Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster Amazon. Retrieved July 4, 2017
Film media
Godzilla films
King Kong films
Mothra films
Gamera films
Other films
Cancelled or scrapped films