1954’s Godzilla is the paterfamilias of the giant monster from the sea concept, spawning a half century’s worth of remakes, reboots and rip-offs. Directed with grim relish by Ishiro Honda, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, Godzilla is built on the stuff of nightmares, and it’s a fitting karmic justice for man’s greedy and foolhardy tinkering with the dark side of science. While often derided as imitative of such American-made creature features as The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and Them - an odd criticism since all of these films were actually made at about the same time - Godzilla upped the ante by cashing in not only on a nation’s primal fears, but its recent experience with mysterious forces of mass destruction. As the enormous monster runs amok, reducing the splendors of Tokyo to finely crushed rubble, the citizenry can only watch in helpless terror. Japan’s military defenses are powerless against this humongous lizard, just as they were a decade ago in Hiroshima, when another devastating hellfire rained from the sky.