Godzilla vs the Gryphon
The unused plot for TriStar's 'Godzilla'Script written by Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott Additional re-write by Donald MacPherson
Somewhere in the icy waters off Alaska, a salvage ship is retrieving reactor cores dumped there by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Something goes wrong and a mammoth explosion destroys the ship. On shore, the snow catches fire and crevice cracks open, oozing steaming blood.
US government scientist Keith Llewellyn is flown to the military investigation of the incident, leaving behind his wife Jill and daughter Tina. The investigation into the Alaska incident is being given top secrecy by the military. Soldiers cart off entire barrels of the 'blood', which upon examination resembles nothing so much as amniotic fluid. Keith soon joins the team in the cavern the military has discovered beneath the crevice. There, he discovers that the enormous cavern is far from empty, there is a gigantic creature embedded in the ground, its head and claws poking through the dirt. Keith climbs onto the head, noting its dinosaur-like structure. As he stands on the creature's muzzle, he watches in horror as one of the eyes suddenly snaps open. The monster bursts from his prison, killing the team inside the cavern, and soon destroys the entire base camp. The reign of destruction continues when the monster appears at the Japanese Kuril Islands, wiping a fishing village from the face of the earth. A surviving fisherman calls the monster Godzilla, after a legendary dragon.
It is 12 years later. Cryptozoologist Aaron Vaught, a best-selling author, and his assistant Marty Kenoshita, sneak into a mental hospital in Japan. They interview the fisherman, who shows them pictures he has drawn of Godzilla, locked in battle with another creature. MPs arrive before the interview can progress and detain Vaught and Kenoshita. At the same time, a meteor crashes into Lake Apopka in Kentucky. The impact deluges a nearby town in a rain of frogs and fish, torn from the lake by the violence of the fireball's advent.
In Massachusetts, the US military has established the 'St. George Project', a top-secret project to find Godzilla. Jill Llewellyn is the project's director. It is learned that Godzilla was last seen six years ago when he destroyed an oil tanker. In the hopes of drumming up more funding from Congress, Aaron Vaught has been brought on-board as co-director, the Pentagon hoping that the best-selling 'authority' on monsters will impress the politicians. It is a decision that does not exactly thrill Llewellyn. Adding to her problems is the fact that base MPs have just arrested Tina for trying to steal a car. Meanwhile, back at the cavern in Alaska, another military base has been constructed. Two sentries are surprised to see a strange light emanating from a previously undiscovered cave branching off from Godzilla's cell.
In Lake Apopka, the strange bio-metallic meteor begins to stir. Flowing through the sediment like a mass of liquid metal, the probe enters a cave. The creature extends tendrils, snaring bats nesting in the cave and absorbing them. The probe regurgitates the bats, now altered into monsters with 12-foot-wingspans. The 'probe bats' leave the cave and their 'parent' and fly into the night.
Vaught, Llewellyn, and Kenoshita fly to the Alaska site, where the amniotic 'blood' has begun to flow again in the cavern. Vaught deduces that this was the proper time for Godzilla to be re-awakened, but the salvage ship tragedy disrupted things and released him early. The side cave is lined with strange organic structures, remnants of an ancient society with advanced biotechnology. No one sees a small creature strike Marty Kenoshita and burrow into his neck. Even Kenoshita does not feel the creature's attack.
Events progress. In Kentucky, strange cattle mutilations occur. In the Pacific, Godzilla is reported, swimming towards San Francisco.
A command post for the 'St. George Project' is established at the Presidio. Llewellyn and Vaught soon arrive, but Kenoshita takes ill and is rushed to a hospital. The Navy dispatches two missile carriers, a battleship and a submarine to intercept Godzilla. Godzilla retaliates, cracking one of the carriers in half when he resurfaces from beneath the ship, and blasting the others with a fiery breath that actually melts armor plate. The military considers using a small nuclear device to destroy the monster, but Vaught advises against it, He feels that Godzilla is a living nuclear reactor. What the monster breathes is not fire but something that ionizes oxygen, so great is its heat. Llewellyn further postulates that the amniotic fluid was not food, as previously supposed, but a tranquilizer to keep Godzilla asleep. The fluid is hastily transported from Alaska and fireboats spray the substance on the water at the mouth of San Francisco Bay. Godzilla swims right into the oily liquid. Roaring feebly, he emerges from the water and collapses on the southern extremity of the Golden Gate Bridge. The military secure the unconscious Godzilla to six super-helicopters and airlift the monster back to the St. George Project in Massachusetts. Godzilla is housed in a huge hangar. Tina realizes that her mother has been trying to hunt down and kill Godzilla for the past 12 years. She protests that the monster is just a force of nature, not responsible for the damage he causes. Not wishing to listen to this point of view, Jill sends her daughter to stay with an aunt in New York.
At an army hospital, the strange infection that has griped Kenoshita is becoming worse, consuming his internal organs and leaving his face an eyeless blank surface. Before death claims him, Marty tells Jill Llewellyn that he has been taken over by an ancient force. The force has told him of its history, and the threat that has come to Earth. An alien civilization employs probes to aid its colonization of the universe. These probes consume the native life on the target world and create a doomsday beast from the genetic material. By the time the aliens arrive, the probe will have wiped out all life on the target planet. An ancient Earth civilization warded off these probes by crating Godzilla from dinosaur genes. Godzilla would awaken when the probes arrived and destroy them before they could reproduce. In Kentucky, the probe bats continue to absorb animals, returning to the cave with their genetic collections to deliver to the main mass of the probe, which is slowly beginning to take on a definite shape.
Vaught, upon hearing the late Kenoshita's story, decides that Godzilla was heading for Kentucky, where the meteor crashed. Local storekeeper Nelson Fleer drives Vaught out to Lake Apopka. The two men don scuba gear and dive into the water. They discover a tunnel leading upwards from the bottom of the lake. The tunnel leads into a series of caves, and Vaught is horrified when he stumbles upon a giant paw. The paw is attached to the newly formed shape the probe has assumed. The monster has the body of a puma, the huge wings of a bat, and a hydra-headed tongue composed of snakes. The probe has become the Gryphon of the Japanese fisherman's drawings. Fleer accidentally bangs his air-tank against the cave wall, the sound awakening the dormant Gryphon. The men beat a hasty retreat, but the monster's roar pursues them even into the water. As they surface, they seem safe. Suddenly, the water churns and the huge Gryphon emerges, lifting into the air. The Gryphon flies away, descending upon the Clarksburg, Virginia. The monster destroys a train and blasts a fuel storage tank with energy bolts, as well as killing hundreds.
Despite the steady drip of amniotic fluid being given to him, Godzilla awakens, destroying the hangar and slipping into the Atlantic. It is clear that he has sensed the Gryphon's awakening. It is later determined that the two monsters will run into each other in one of the worst scenarios possible. Evacuation of New York City is begun. Jill Llewellyn tries to make her way into the city to save Tina. She is trapped in the Queens Midtown Tunnel when Godzilla steps on it, but manages to swim to safety. Jill finds her daughter just as the Gryphon arrives and the battle of the monsters begins.
The Gryphon attacks Godzilla from the sky, forcing the dinosaur back towards the shore. Gripping the frame of a proto-skyscraper to secure himself to the ground, Godzilla pulls the Gryphon downwards and savagely mauls its leg with his teeth. Horribly, the Gryphon's wounds heal instantly and it blasts Godzilla with its energy bolts. Godzilla topples into a row of buildings and the Gryphon tears into his flesh with its talons. The battle continues across Manhattan, the two monsters wrestling into skyscrapers and warehouses. The Gryphon finally delivers a double-kick that sends Godzilla crashing into the base of a building which topples onto both monsters, burying them in rubble.
Vaught realizes that Godzilla cannot hope to defeat the Gryphon as long as the tank of amniotic fluid is still attached to him, the liquid weakening the giant beast. Army helicopters distract the Gryphon while another gunship drops Vaught and Fleer onto the stunned Godzilla, to blast the restraining device from Godzilla's neck. The Gryphon blasts the gunship from the sky just as Vaught and Fleer attach explosives to the restraining device. Jill and Tina distract the Gryphon again by crashing a gasoline tanker into the alien horror's leg. As the Gryphon is turning toward Godzilla, the restraining device is destroyed. Godzilla rises and blasts the alien with his atomic breath, wounding the Gryphon. The Gryphon tries to retreat, but Godzilla pursues it. The battle moves to the East River. Godzilla creates a fog of steam that blinds the Gryphon by breathing on the water. The Gryphon crashes into the Brooklyn Bridge, getting tangled in the support cables. Godzilla tears one of the Gryphon's wings off, but the monster instantly grows another one and pulls itself free from the bridge. The Gryphon rises into the sky and then power dives at Godzilla. Godzilla waits until the last moment and then leans forward. The Gryphon is sliced in half as its body connects with Godzilla's dorsal plates, so great was the beast's velocity. Godzilla rips the head from the alien monster and sets fire to the body.
Victorious, Godzilla roars and heads out to see. Air Force jets begin to attack the wounded monster, but Jill Llewellyn calls them off. She has finally come to terms with Keith's death and forgiven Godzilla. Jill, Tina, Vaught and Fleer watch from the shore as Godzilla disappears into the sea.
When MacPherson rewrote the script, principally to make it more stream-lined, with less effects shots and more in keeping with the somewhat miserly budget TriStar was allocating to the film, he made several changes. There were to be more apocalyptic images and references, going so far as to set the story in 1999. The characters of Keith Llewellyn and Marty Kenoshita were eliminated. The salvage ship scene would be replaced with a scene of an Eskimo fisherman (Junji, replacing the Japanese fisherman) on the ice with his son when the red blood appears. Godzilla does not awaken until the probe has landed, this time in Utah. Nelson Fleer becomes a redneck. At Fleer's wedding, the probe bats attack, killing his wife among others and giving Fleer a film-long desire to see the Gryphon dead. Vaught is a former student of Llewellyn's and it is she who convinces the head of the St. George Project, a government man named Pike, to allow the writer on-board. It is also Vaught, not the Japanese fisherman, who names Godzilla after a legendary dragon. Junji the Eskimo is the one infected by the ancient civilization, the injury occurring in his eye rather than neck. The battle with the Gryphon encompasses more of New York, some scenes occurring at the World Trade Center. In the end, Godzilla bests the Gryphon at Ellis Island, spitting the alien's detached head on the Statue of Liberty's torch. Jill and Vaught intercept a missile flying at the victorious Godzilla with their helicopter. Godzilla catches the damaged helicopter and gently sets it down on Ellis Island, saving the heroes before retreating into the Atlantic.
The biggest change was forced by Toho themselves. Rossio and Elliott originally wanted to have a different foe for Godzilla to fight, but Toho wanted more money to allow another famous monster to be used. The Gryphon was a substitute for the ultimate in evil beasts … King Ghidorah!
TriStar secured rights from Toho to produce an American Godzilla film in 1992. One of the key players in this arrangement was Henry G. Saperstein, who had brought several Godzilla films to America with his United Productions of America. TriStar originally hoped to have the film released in 1994. However, it was not until May of 1993 that Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott were asked to write a screenplay. The script was completed in November, but TriStar had yet to select a director for the film.
In July of 1994, well after the originally announced release date, TriStar tapped Jan DeBont to direct the film. DeBont confessed to liking the older Godzilla films, although he stated that many of the later ones with their monster free-for-alls were a bit silly. Although he intended to keep humor in the picture, DeBont also pledged to deliver stunning effects and preserve the indomitable spirit of the Japanese Godzilla. DeBont assembled a team and had Rossio and Elliott rework the script to make it more to his liking. The revised script was ready in December of 1994.
After Industrial Light and Magic turned down working on the Godzilla project, in October of 1994 it was announced that Stan Winston's Digital Domain would be doing the effects work for Godzilla, with a reported budget of around $50 million. The entire film was estimated to cost around $120 million. DeBont sent crews to construct a Japanese fishing village on the Oregon coast, filming Godzilla's attack on the Kuril Islands as the backbone for a teaser trailer. The sets were built, but filming did not occur. Sony, TriStar's parent company, panicked when they saw the massive price tag being affixed to DeBont's Godzilla project. In late December of 1994, TriStar and Jan DeBont parted company after the director refused to accept the studio's new budget restrictions. Although the script was rewritten again, this time by Donald MacPherson in May of 1995, the project was to all intents, dead. TriStar began to court Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, the team who had just reaped huge profits with Independence Day in late 1995. By May of 1996, Devlin and Emmerich officially had the job. They agreed to bring the movie in for about half of what DeBont wanted, $65 million. In the end, the resulting iguana rampage offered no aliens, ancient civilizations, atomic heat rays, or shape-shifting Gryphons. It did offer an eventual cost of $150 million for TriStar to swallow, plus the astronomical ad campaign.