Godzilla on the Big Screen


Do you have any favorite childhood Halloween memories? I’ve been able to piece back together my best Halloween ever. It was 1980 and unforgettable year. There was the Miracle on Ice at the winter olympic games, the eruption of Mount St. Helen, the election of Ronald Reagan as President, and the debut of the Rubik’s Cube. Here in Philadelphia, the Eagles loss Super Bowl 15 and the Phillies won the World Series. It was a year of firsts for me. That summer my brother took me to my first movie, Star Wars Empire Strikes Back. But that was not my last big screen experience that year.

Star Wars Empire Strikes Back playing at the Sam Eric theater in downtown Philadelphia

Growing up friends made Halloween what it was. We went up and down our neighborhood streets tricker-treating. But Halloween 1980 was the best and I enjoyed it with my best friend Eric and I. Our mothers knew our favorite things, Godzilla and Star Wars. They were always on the look out for them on our behalf. In 1984, Eric’s mom took us to the Godzilla 30th birthday celebration at Rocketships & Accessories in 1984. And in 1980 my mom took us to the Academy of Natural Sciences Halloween All-Night Monster Movie Marathon.

In the middle, Eric and I joined at the hip at the Philadelphia Zoo year back in the 70s.

Here in Philadelphia, the Academy of Natural Sciences is every kid’s dream school trip. It is full of dinosaur bones, insects and more. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (now “of Drexel University”) is historic institution founded in 1812. It is “the oldest natural science research institution and museum in the Americas.”1 The museum is located downtown on Benjamin Franklin Parkway on the corner of 19th street.

Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (Source:

That year to celebrate the chills and thrills of monsters’ favorite night, the museum held a “monstrous all-nighter” featuring King Kong and the Big G on the big screen. King Kong kicked off the evening at 8 pm. Godzilla closed the night out with showings of Godzilla vs Megalon at 2:50 am, Godzilla on Monster Island (aka, Godzilla vs Gigan 1972) at 4:10 am, and Godzilla vs. The Bionic Monster (aka, Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla 1974) at 5:40 am.

“Even Tug can’t save us now,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 31, 1980, p 54 (Source:

That was a long Halloween night but we were up for it. And that night was the first time I had seen Godzilla on the big screen. Eric and I jumped into my mom’s maroon station wagon and headed down to the parkway. When we arrived the event was already in progress. It was well attended. I remember coming in the theater on Godzilla on Monster Island with all its blood was underway. During the intermission we stocked up on popcorn. Next up was my favorite movie Godzilla vs the Bionic Monster. I was blown away when I saw Godzilla struck by lightning on his island shelter after his first fight with MechaGodzilla. I had never seen that scene before on television. But I do remember seeing the sun come up when we left the museum.