The film was written by Honda and Takeshi Kimura who introduced the concept of Monster Island into the Godzilla film series. The film featured some complete new costumes for monsters such as Godzilla and some that were altered since their appearance in previous films. The film was not as successful in the box office in Japan as previous Godzilla films with critics from Variety and Monthly Film Bulletin praising the final monster fight, but finding the rest of the film making (direction, sets, acting) to be of low quality.
At the close of the 20th century, all of the Earth's kaiju have been collected by the United Nations Science Committee and confined in an area known as Monsterland, located in the Ogasawara island chain. A special control center is constructed underneath the island to ensure that the monsters stay secure and to serve as a research facility to study them.
When communications with Monsterland are suddenly and mysteriously severed, and all of the monsters begin attacking world capitals, Dr. Yoshida of the UNSC orders Captain Yamabe and the crew of his spaceship, Moonlight SY-3, to investigate Ogasawara. There, they discover that the scientists, led by Dr. Otani, have become mind-controlled slaves of a feminine alien race identifying themselves as the Kilaaks, who reveal that they are in control of the monsters. Their leader demands that the human race surrender, or face total annihilation.
Godzilla attacks New York City, Rodan invades Moscow, Mothra (a larva offspring) lays waste to Beijing, Gorosaurus destroys Paris, and Manda attacks London. These attacks were set in to motion to draw attention away from Japan, so that the aliens can establish an underground stronghold near Mt. Fuji in Japan. The Kilaaks then turn their next major attack on to Tokyo and, without serious opposition, become arrogant in their aims, until the UNSC discover that the Kilaaks have switched to broadcasting the control signals from their base under the Moon's surface. In a desperate battle, the crew of the SY-3 destroys the Kilaak's lunar outpost and returns the alien control system to Earth.
With all of the monsters under the control of the UNSC, the Kilaaks unleash their hidden weapon, King Ghidorah. The three-headed space monster is dispatched to protect the alien stronghold at Mt. Fuji, and battles Godzilla, Minilla, Mothra, Rodan, Gorosaurus, Anguirus, and Kumonga. While seemingly invincible, King Ghidorah is eventually overpowered by the combined strength of the Earth monsters and is killed. Refusing to admit defeat, the Kilaaks produce their trump card, a burning monster they call the Fire Dragon, which begins to torch cities and destroys the control center on Ogasawara. Suddenly, Godzilla attacks and destroys the Kilaak's underground base, revealing that the Earth's monsters instinctively know who their enemies are. Captain Yamabe then pursues the Fire Dragon in the SY-3 and narrowly achieves victory for the human race. The Fire Dragon is revealed to be a flaming Kilaak saucer and is destroyed. Godzilla and the other monsters eventually return to Monsterland to live in peace.Akira Kubo as Captain Katsuo Yamabe
Jun Tazaki as Dr. Yoshida
Yukiko Kobayashi as Kyoko Manabe
Yoshio Tsuchiya as Dr. Otani
Kyoko Ai as Kilaaks Queen
Andrew Hughes as Dr. Stevenson
Kenji Sahara as Nishikawa, Moon Base Commander
Chotaro Togin as Astronaut Okada
Yoshifumi Tajima as Major Tada
Haruo Nakajima as Military Advisor, Baragon and Godzilla
Susumu Utsumi as King Ghidorah
Hiroshi Sekita as Anguirus
Per the waning popularity of the Godzilla series, special effects director Teisho Arikawa noted that Toho were going to potentially end the Godzilla series as "Producer Tanaka figured that all the ideas had just run out."
The film was written by Takeshi Kimura and Ishirō Honda, making it the first Godzilla film since Godzilla Raids Again not written by Shinichi Sekizawa. Takeshi Kimura is credited to the pen name Kaoru Mabuchi in the film's credits. Kimura and Honda's script developed the concept of Monsterland (referred to as Monster Island in future films). As the films has several monsters who continuously return in the films, the location was developed to as a faraway island where the monsters are pacified. This tied other films not related to the Godzilla series within its universe, as creatures such as Manda (from Atragon) and Varan (Varan the Unbelievable) exist. The film features footage from Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964), specifically King Ghidorah's fiery birth scene.
New monster suits for Godzilla and Anguirus were constructed for the film, while Rodan and King Ghidorah suits were modified from previous films, with King Ghidorah having less detail than he had in previous films.
Destroy All Monsters was released in Japan on 1 August 1968 where it was distributed by Toho. It was released on a double bill with a reissue of the film Atragon. The film was reissued theatrically in Japan in 1972 where it was re-edited by Honda to a 74-minute running time and released with title Gojira dengeki taisakusen (lit. Godzilla Electric Battle Masterpiece). Destroy All Monsters continued the decline in ticket sales in Japan for the Godzilla series, earning 2.6 million in ticket sales. In comparison, Invasion of Astro-Monster brought in 3.8 million and Son of Godzilla collected 2.5 million.
The film was released in the United States by American International Pictures with an English-language dub on 23 May 1969. The film premiered in the United States in Cincinnati. American International Pictures hired Titra Sound to dub the film into English. The American version of the film remains relatively close to the Japanese original. Among the more notable removed elements include Akira Ifukube's title theme and a brief shot of Minilla shielding his eyes when King Ghidorah drops Anguirus from the sky. Destroy All Monsters was show on American television stats until the early 1980s when it stopped being shown. It resurfaced on cable broadcast on the Sci-Fi Channel in 1996.
Destroy All Monsters was released on VHS by ADV Films in 1998 which featured new English dubbed dialogue from Toho's own International version of the film. In 2011, Tokyo Shock released the film on DVD and Blu-ray and in 2014 the company re-released it on DVD and Blu-ray.
From contemporary reviews, both Variety and Monthly Film Bulletin noted the film's best scenes involved the monsters together, while criticising the film making. Variety reviewed the English-dubbed version of the film stating that it may appeal to "Sci-fi addicts and monster fans" while stating that the "plot is on comic strip level, special effects depend on obvious miniatures and acting (human) is from school of Flash Gordon" and that the film's strength relied on its "monster rally". The Monthly Film Bulletin opined that "the model work is poor, and as usual the script is junior comic-strip". Both reviews mentioned the monsters final scene with Variety commenting that it was "clever" and the Monthly Film Bulletin stating that "apart from [the monsters] statutory devastation of world capitals [...] the monsters have disappointingly little to do until they get together in the last reel for a splendid battle" The Monthly Film Bulletin commented that the film was "almost worth sitting through the banalities for the final confrontation on Mount Fuji" noting the son of Godzilla "endearingly applauding from a safe distance" and "the victorious monsters performing a celebratory jig"
From retrospective reviews, Steve Biodrowski of Cinefantastique commented that the film "is too slim in its storyline, too thin in its characterizations, to be considered a truly great film [...] But for the ten-year-old living inside us all, it is entertainment of the most awesome sort." Matt Paprocki of Blogcritics said the film is "far from perfect" and "can be downright boring at times" but felt that "the destruction scenes make up for everything else" and "the final battle is an epic that simply can't be matched".
Godzilla director Gareth Edwards has expressed an interest in making a sequel to his 2014 movie inspired by Destroy All Monsters.