Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Sci-fi’s most evil robots, from androids to computers

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Though the best-known bad guys in Toho’s stable of fantasy/science fiction films are flesh and blood, like space dragon King Ghidorah, the company also featured some hostile mechanical marauders. In 1957’s The Mysterians, alien invaders unleashed Moguera, a burrowing, beam-blasting mecha (the robot’s name is taken from the Japanese word for “mole”) that rained down destruction on Japan’s defense forces in a show-stopping effects sequence. A decade later in King Kong Escapes, the villainous Dr. Who (not the Time Lord) used Mechani-Kong, a robot double of King Kong, to first mine a radioactive element from beneath the Arctic and then hypnotize the real Kong into doing its dirty work.

But both of these metal monsters paled in comparison to Mechagodzilla. A colossal robot modeled after the King of the Monsters but equipped with incredible firepower, the robo-double made its debut in 1974’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, where it served as the ruthless muscle for invading aliens, raining down missiles and laser beams on both Godzilla and his furry tag-team partner, King Caesar, until their combined efforts brought it down.

The robot’s popularity led to its return the following year in Terror of Mechagodzilla, where it teamed up with the amphibious Titanosaurus and waged a savage and bloody battle against Godzilla before its third-act defeat. Several versions of Mechagodzilla would return to the Toho fold two decades later, albeit as a hero, while a souped-up Moguera was created from the remains of Mechagodzilla for Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla in 2002. Got all that?

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