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I've never seen any of the original "Godzilla" movies
but from what I know about them, "the Japanese equivalent of cult films" seems right on the mark. Timeframe is also important. The first film was made in '54, during the peak of the "cheesy B-movies starring guys in monster suits" era in the US. And in either case, I seriously doubt the campiness was actually *intentional* even if the filmmakers were aware of it before the films were released (they just didn't have the budget for better actors or effects).