Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Final Wars reviews

Well, "Godzilla Final Wars" has premiered in America (the first time a G premiere happened here before Japan) and the reviews are coming in. And Ain't It Cool News has a review as well:

This past summer, I got really tired of hearing people try to defend VAN HELSING as “just fun,” because it didn’t feel to me while watching it like Stephen Sommers actually had fun making it. It just felt like he had a release date to make and thought that biggerlouderfaster was the way to cover any narrative flaws. Here, you can feel Kitamura giggling behind the camera as he piles up the insanity, and it’s infectious.
...
From the moment Godzilla wakes up to the end of the movie, Kitamura kicks out the jams and just bombards you with one fight after another. Some of them are frustratingly brief, like when he butts heads with the miserable American Godzilla in Sydney Harbor. Just about the time the real deals holds down the pale imitation and starts recreating a scene from DELIVERANCE, the sequence is over. Other fights pick up in the middle, like when we see Godzilla whup up on Hedorah, who was actually one of the toughest monsters to fight in the original series. These are minor nitpicks, though. There’s something like an hour of sustained monster action, intercut with kung-fu and spaceship dogfights and a kamikaze STAR WARS scene and did I mention that Minilla drives a car? Seriously. And he wears a seatbelt. It’s gloriously batshit, and I loved it all.

It sounds like this is a very fun movie filled with lots of references to Toho past. However, it's not a serious movie. Almost every review mentions Minya and how he just slows down the film.
Still, it all sounds immensely fun. I'm hoping it gets an American release so everybody can enjoy Godzilla's 50th in style.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Bob Eggleton on Godzilla

Fantasy and science fiction artist Bob Eggleton has written a nice summation of Godzilla's career at Locus Online. It won't be anything new for Godzilla fans, but it's a nice way to get literary science fiction fans to check kaiju films out. Eggleton is a great artist and is very active in Godzilla fandom. His most recent work is the cover of Japanese Giants, which can be seen at the Locus site.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Happy birthday, Gojira!

Today, Nov. 3, my favorite giant monster is 50 years old. The theatrical release of the original "Gojira" opened in Japan today. (It would be another year yet before his American sibling, "Godzilla, King of the Monsters" would premiere.) Half a century of giant irradiated reptile goodness, that's quite an achievement. Here's to another 50!

Monday, November 01, 2004

Inside the suit

Here's a nice profile of the latest man in the Godzilla suit, Tsutomu Kitagawa.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Gojira, Mysterians to be released on DVD!

According to this little snippet from USA Today (found at Digital Monster Island), the original Gojira will be put out on Region 1 DVD by Classic Media! It's about time. This follows up Rialto's theatrical release of the film that beat Van Helsing on per theater receipts this summer (it opened on the same weekend). No date yet. I can't wait!
And while I'm at it, Media Blasters has set Jan. 25 as a release date for The Mysterians, a classic Japanese science fiction film that includes the first appearance of Mogera. There's also talk of the same company bringing out Matango (aka Attack of the Mushroom People) which is my favorite Japanese fantasy film. This is truly a good time to be a fan of Japanese fantasy films.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

"Godzilla on my mind" review

Jim Knipfel, a Godzilla fan himself, reviews "Godzilla on My Mind: 50 years of the King of Monsters." He likes the book saying that while it is filled with fannish references to the movies and bad attempts at humor, it captures the personal experience of loving Godzilla movies.
And while I'm at it, let me continue to mention "The Buzzing," Jim Knipfel's novel. For any giant monster fan, it is overflowing with references to daikaiju and the plot hinges on one well known Godzilla film as well.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

More Final Wars photos

New "Godzilla Final Wars" photos have turned up. These include shots of Rodan, Angilas, King Seesar and Atragon. The shots apparently came from a Japanese magazine. I don't know about the Godzilla suit in this movie, its profile looks kind of odd.
Also, since I last checked in here, a second band has been announced for Final Wars: Zebrahead; and a release date of Dec. 14 has been announced for the DVDs of "Godzilla Tokyo S.O.S." and "Son of Godzilla."

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Garuda gets some attention

Well the reviews are starting to come in for Garuda, a "Thaikaiju" film (I can't decide if that word is too silly or not), a giant monster film from Thailand. At Stomp Tokyo, they give it 2 out of 4 lava lamps.

For those viewers hungry for good old-fashioned romp-n-stomp destruction, however, Garuda may well be what you crave. The monster design is certainly unusual enough, especially if you haven't read many comic books, and he proves surprisingly difficult to kill for a creature with bones light enough to allow flight. (Let's just say that if you're a fan of the "villain thought dead returns" gag, you're going to love Garuda.) At fifteen feet tall the title creature technically qualifies as a giant monster, but don't be surprised when he does more damage to the city's inhabitants than to the city itself.

At Digital Monster Island, they seem to have a better view of the film.
Luckily, the film is made with enough style to elevate it above its Sci-Fi Channel brethren. While Garuda has its share of flaws, it gets enough things right for kaiju fans to look forward to more monster films from Thailand. Grade: B

Unfortunately, Rotten Tomatoes doesn't seem to have the film listed. Every time I search for it, I get The Dream of Garuda, a much, much different film. Here's an entry for Garuda at Ken's Force.
Interesting side note, Garuda is the first Thai movie to be shot entirely on digital. And another side note, if you're a China Mieville fan, you probably recognize the word Garuda. He uses it for the name of his bird people, including Yagharek, one of the main characters in Perdido Street Station.

New Japanese Giants

Japanese Giants magazine has a new issue at the printer. Japanese Giants is a very irregularly published, but excellent magazine for daikaiju fans. Here's what you'll get:

Japanese Giants #10
Commemorative Issue for the 50th Anniversary of Godzilla (1954)
64 pages printed on high-quality slick paper with color cover

Featuring:
Color wraparound cover illustrated by Hugo Award winning artist Bob Eggleton
Godzilla (1954)
* Making of Godzilla by Ed Godziszewski
* Staff biographies by August Ragone and Ed Godziszewski
* Original story by Shigeru Kayama - synopsis
* Who was Gojira? by Richard Pusateri
* Deleted/Altered Scenes
* Godzilla-The Radio Drama
* Japanese Film Industry circa 1954 by Stuart Galbraith
* Haruo Nakajima interview by Steve Ryfle and Oki Miyano
* Godzilla-The Score by Jim Figurski
* Akira Takarada interview by Steve Ryfle and Oki Miyano
* Rialto Pictures-The Uncut Japanese Original by Keith Aiken
* Oxygen Destroyer Blueprints by Bill Gudmundson
Acting in Tokyo SOS by Norman England
50 Years of Movie Making and Movie Watching by Neil Riebe
Profile of Toho Production Designer Yasukyuki Inoue by Oki Miyano
Toho Production Design Roundtable Discussion by Oki Myano
Mini Reviews
* Onmyoji by Bob Johnson
* Giant Robo by Jim Walsh
* When You Sing of Love by Andre Dubois

Featuring several rare and unpublished photos, design sketches, and quotations.

Order by sending check or money order for $10 ($8 plus $2 postage), payable to Ed Godziszewski:

Japanese Giants
PO Box 30078
Chicago, IL 60630

For more information on this issue as well as back issues, please contact: edgoji@yahoo.com

Monday, September 13, 2004

Godzilla vs. Sum 41

Monster Zero News informs us that "Godzilla: Final Wars" will feature a song by Sum 41.
This has increased some of the misgivings Godzilla fans are having about this movie. There was a lot of excitement about all these monsters and old ideas being thrown into this movie. But now, people are wondering, how can this movie work? It's starting to sound like it will be one big mess. I'm not prejudging, I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of monster mash Kitamura can pull off. But to have a pop-punk band attached to your Godzilla film before a composer is named, well that worries me.
UPDATE: Tokyo Monsters has an mp3 of Sum 41's song "We're All to Blame" in its media section. It's the song that will be used in "Godzilla Final Wars."

Friday, September 10, 2004

King Kong toys

In other King Kong news, Playmates Toys will be in charge of making toys for the new King Kong movie. Playmates currently make the Simpsons and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys. It'll be interesting to see what they do with Kong.
On message boards at Club Tokyo there seems to be some doubt about how well this company can pull it off. But we'll have to wait and see.
In the meantime, I'm glad I have my McFarlane version of Kong looming over my computer.

King Kong site corrects unfortunate misinformation

So there is this pretty neat King Kong Web site called Kong is King. It looks like it will be good for news, but an entry on their The History of King Kong section has me doubting their credibility:

"King Kong VS. Godzilla" - 1962

Another addition in the "Godzilla" series, the Japanese certainly have their own unique, and fun, take on the great ape. In the Japanese version, Kong lost, but in the American version, he won.


I can't describe to you how much I cringed when I saw this. For those of you who don't know, there has never been, never was and never will be two endings to "Godzilla vs. King Kong." There is one ending in which Godzilla and King Kong topple into the sea and we see King Kong arise from the ocean and head back to his home island. That's it. I own both versions of the film so I can confirm what any good Godzilla fan knows, there's just one ending.
The worst thing is this bit of misinformation keeps reappearing over and over at official sites. It's awful.
Also, I didn't like their description of "Son of Kong":

After the wonderful reaction to the first film, a sequel was produced. Carl Denham returned, this time meeting a little Kong. The film was considered mediocre at best. (An interesting note: Both of these early films feature a character known as a "Witch king." Sound familiar?)


Of course, "Son" was not as good as "King Kong" (few movies are) but it was far from "mediocre at best." It think it's a highly underrated film.
As for that bit about the witch king, a reference to the Lord of the Rings, what relevance does that have? Lord of the Rings was written after King Kong (and no, I don't think it influenced the books) and the characters are totally different. Whatever.
Anyway, I hope the Kong news site cleans up a bit. I would like it to be a good place to go for information, it isn't currently, though.

UPDATE: Kong is King has corrected the entry on King Kong vs. Godzilla, which makes me very happy. Hopefully everything else is fact checked. In the meantime, it's a great site to watch for the new King Kong movie news. Check it out.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Gamera series to continue?

According to Monster Zero News, Kadokawa studios has mentioned doing a new Gamera movie. This is good news, although there is only one line in the original story stating that the president of the company is planning on continuing the series.
The Gamera series of the '90s was quite possibly the best (and certainly three of the best) giant monster movies of all time. Now continuing the series without director Shusuke Kaneko is a gamble, but we'll hope for the best.
(And for those who are having problems with Monster Zero hotlinks, here's the Web address, just paste it into your browser: http://www.monsterzero.us/editorials/editorials.php?catID=Nws&subCatID=15&contentID=535 )

Friday, September 03, 2004

Godzilla vs. Honda

Godzilla is shilling for Honda now. The first of their commercials is online.
Actually, when I first saw the title, "Godzilla X Honda," I thought it was some cheeky name for a documentary about Godzilla director Ishiro Honda. Too bad it wasn't the case.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

William Hope Hodgson

William Hope Hodgson was a great weird writer of the early 20th Century. He was loved by H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, and China Mieville has often mentioned his named as an influence.
He's also a great creator of giant monsters. Books like "The House on the Borderland" and "The Night Lands" were filled with giant, mystical monsters.
Recently, I've been reading his work, collected by Night Shade Books in a continuing series. In the first volume, there is a series of stories about the Sargasso Sea. I was surprised to find out that the Sargasso Sea is an actual place. It exists in the mid-Atlantic and is filled with seaweed. The Bermuda Triangle is within its borders.
Each of Hodgson's stories I've read so far have included a giant animal. I suspect most of the other stories in the series do as well.
Anyone who is interested in giant monsters couldn't go wrong picking up Hodgson's work. It's great weird fiction anyway. And Hodgson most likely had a direct effect on some of my favorite giant monster movies. His story "The Voice in the Night" was the direct inspiration for Ishiro Honda's film Matango, better known as "Attack of the Mushroom People." It's a great little horror film. I'd be curious to learn if Hodgson was regularly translated into Japanese.
Here's a site about Hodgson (edit: web site is gone) and there seems to be plenty more if you're so inclined. I also think his work is in the public domain, so you can find much of it online. Here's "From the Tideless Sea" (edit: link also gone, here's what Gutenberg has), the first of his Sargasso Sea stories. Enjoy.

Titano: The Monster that Time Forgot!!

At a flea market a few weeks ago, I picked up the No. 7 issue of "Tower of Shadows," a 1970 reprint Marvel comic. It's filled with wacky stories done by great artists. The first oneis called "Titano: The Monster that Time Forgot." Monster Blog has a few pictures and a description of the giant crab monster. It's a silly story, but fun. It has no credits, but there is no doubt that Jack Kirby drew it.
Titano splits boats in half and causes tremendous tidal waves over Japan, before our stalwart Navy hero comes on the scene. He paints his submarine in luminous yellow paint and gets the monster to chase him. Eventually, they embed the monster in a glacier in the arctic.
Kirby was the master of giant monster in comic books. Check out Monster Blog, which includes articles on all Kirby's giants. It's great stuff.

Smog Monster vs. Sea Monster

The "Godzilla Final Wars" info doesn't stop coming. Here's the latest, this Japanese (I assume) blog has pictures of Hedorah vs. Ebirah. They look like they were taken from a magazine. The last picture is the most interesting to my eyes.

Godzilla (1954) soundtrack review

Filmtracks reviews the Godzilla soundtrack. They are quite complimentary, although the second review seems pretty uninformed to me.

Filmtracks Recommends:

Buy it... if you have any interest in Akira Ifukube or Gojira, for the 2004 album is the definitive release of the original film's music.

Avoid it... if you do not value the history of Gojira more than the need for perfect sound quality, or if the Ifukube style has proven too foreign for your Western sensibilities.


I have the soundtrack on now and it is better than I ever imagined. The couple of excerpts on "The Best of Godzilla 1954-1975" made me think it might be boring. It's anything but. It's a definite must have for any Godzilla fan.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Godzilla clip and Hedorah picture

There's a new link at Monster Zero to a Japanese television promotional clip for "Godzilla Final Wars." The clip is filled with quick shots of Godzilla, Rodan, Gigan, Monster X and Zilla. Zilla (the monster previously known as GINO) is in such a short clip, you have to pause and brighten your screen to see him.
Also at Monster Zero, the first screen shot of the new Hedorah, the Smog Monster.
(I hear Monster Zero links aren't working correctly. If you take the following links and paste them into your browser, they should work.
GFW spot:
http://www.monsterzero.us/editorials/editorials.php?catID=Nws&
subCatID=15&contentID=527
Hedorah: http://monsterzero.us/monsterzero/news/gfw/hedorah.jpg )

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Fangoria on Akira Ifukube

Norman England writes in Fangoria about Akira Ifukube, possibly the greatest giant monster composer of all time. He wrote the music to the original Godzilla, now available through La-la Land Records, and most of the rest of the series. The article adds a few things I didn't know about Ifukube -- such as his work as a writer -- and is a good overview of his life. Definitely worth a read.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Godzilla vs. GINO

Many fans are getting their wish: the real Godzilla will face off against the Devlin & Emmerich Godzilla and annihilate it.

"I want to compete with America. I want to overwhelm the American Godzilla (which is a symbol of CG) with the Japanese technique of suitmation,"says Kitamura. In the movie, Godzilla is made from a suit, and Zilla is made from CG. "I’m putting in the movie what people all over the world want...Zilla. I want to reach the height of the series and return Godzilla back to being strong and cool again. There are times also when Godzilla behaves affectionately and humorously which I think will make Roland Emmerich laugh if he sees this movie," Kitamura says with confidence. FINAL WARS opens December 4th.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

NeoKaiju toys

The Neo-Kaiju Project has neared completion. Artists were asked to make designs for two toys, one completely their own and a second that would pay tribute to famous giant monsters. The Todd Schorr monster, called Steam Punk, pays tribute to Ghidorah and looks really really cool.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Fark vs. Godzilla

Fark's photoshoppers pay tribute to Godzilla's 50th birthday by putting him into other classic movies. I particularly liked the Apocalypse Now and Lord of the Rings entries.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Jurassic Park 4 news?

Apparently, Ain't It Cool News got its hands on a Jurassic Park 4 script written by William Monahan and John Sayles. Monahan is some young and upcoming writer who has three films in production. Sayles is the master independent filmmaker, but this is more in line with his early work on "Alligator" and "The Howling."
From the review, it sounds like the script veres off into really unexpected territory:

There’s the eight-year-old-boy side of me that thinks that a DIRTY DOZEN-style mercenary team of hyper-smart dinosaurs in body armor killing drug dealers and rescuing kidnapped children will be impossible to resist. And then there’s the side of me that says... WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!

If there's any truth behind this thing, it could really be fascinating (or just screwed up), but it doesn't seem likely that Hollywood is going to produce it anyway. We'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Catching up on all the Godzilla news

Lots of stuff going on in the Godzilla world. First of all, here's a a look at the new Gigan suit from a Japanese press conference. I've heard some people complain it's too humanoid looking, you can see the suit actor too easily. I don't know. I think it retains its monstrousness even though it's so thin.
Monster Zero reports that Sony has picked up both "Godzilla vs. Gigan" and "Godzilla, Mothra, MechaGodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S." and could be released in Octobor along with new boxed sets. There are three boxed sets being released. The first has "Godzilla vs. Hedorah," "Godzilla vs. Gigan" and the American "Godzilla." The second has those three plus "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla" (which I assume is the 2002 movie but HenshinOnline!, which has a very good article on all this, disagrees) and "Godzilla 2000." The final box set seems to be all rereleases. It has American "Godzilla," "Godzilla 2000," "Godzilla vs. Megaguirus," "Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack," "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla," and the two 2-movie discs containing most of the Heisei Godzilla series.
All the movies will be released separately. Apparently, the new version of "Godzilla 2000" will include the Japanese version of the film with subtitles as well as the American version.
MZ also reports that there is talk of "Godzilla Final Wars" having a Hollywood premiere. More info on that is expected Sept. 15.
There is also talk of Yoshimitsu Banno directing an IMAX Godzilla film that will feature Hedorah. Banno was the director of "Godzilla vs. Hedorah" (aka "Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster").
Speaking of "GFW," here's a "cast" photo of many of the giant monsters to appear in that film. And here's more photos of the cast and some action.
Phew, that's a lot of Godzilla news. I think I'm all caught up now.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Fay Wray dies

Fay Wray has died. Most of you know that by now. (I was away on vacation last week.) Wray was the beauty who killed the savage beast in King Kong. To look at that movie today, you can still see how beautiful she was. Her part was thin, she played a pretty girl living on the streets who risks a crazy adventure to put food on the table. In the process, she becomes the love interest of the Eighth Wonder of the World. She was 95 when she died. She had done many films over her career (which that article I linked to mentions) but she will always be remembered as the beautiful, unrequited love of King Kong.
Goodbye Fay Wray, as long as their are movies, you will never be forgotten.

British opera singer to be in 'King Kong'

British opera singer Lobo Chan is the latest actor to be signed up for "King Kong". The other announced cast so far is: Adrien Brody, Naomi Watts and Jack Black. People were upset about the announcement of Black to play Carl Denham, but I'm inclined to trust him. Denham is an over the top salesman with dreams that may exceed his reach. I could see Black pulling that off.

Dave Barry on Godzilla

Also, Dave Barry takes a look at Godzilla. His view is much less nuanced, but there's a chuckle or two to be had. (Am I the only one that thinks Barry is the nation's most overrated columnist? He's got his moments, but they seem to be far and few between, to me.)

Jim Knipfel on Godzilla

Jim Knipfel does an excellent article on Godzilla movies and his fascination with them. He gets into why he loves them, why they are so much better than people realize and what inner meanings they may have. He also delves into what it's like being a Godzilla fan.

If you're an allegedly intelligent, well-educated adult and you mention Godzilla in mixed company, people look at you like you've just admitted that you have syphilis. They immediately assume that you're one of those pathetic creeps who lives in his mom's basement, spends hours every day arguing Lost in Space minutiae in chat rooms and goes to conventions in New Jersey dressed like a Wookie.

Knipfel, by the way, wrote a fun novel called The Buzzing. The book is about a reporter at the bottom of his life stumbling onto a conspiracy. Strangely enough, that conspiracy has everything to do with giant monster movies. The book is good for any one who's interested, but there are so many references in the book to monster movies, that a fan will have tons more fun with it.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Web sites on "Godzilla Final Wars," in English

Toho has created an English version of its "Godzilla Final Wars" main page.

This year that marks the 50th anniversary, Toho produces "Godzilla Final Wars" as the creme de la creme of the series. Godzilla was created by mankind, but it became a God of destruction which cannot be defeated by man. We will put all the beauties and terrors of Godzilla in this film. The key words for this final film are "all-star monsters","worldwide" and "director Ryuhei Kitamura".

There's not much there yet. I hope they will start updating more information on the movie soon.
Also for English-speaking Godzilla fans, Kane Kosugi, one of the stars of GFW, has created an online diary. Most of it is in Japanese, but there are occasional snippets of information in English. Also, there's an English profile and a few other goodies. The diary can be a little frustrating. It slips in and out of English and Kane doesn't get all that deep. Here's an example:
Raishuu no owari kara eiga no satsuei ga hajimarimasu . Kondo no eiga wa Godzilla FINAL WARS desu . I play a cool , chotto ijiwaru na yaku , but in little by little becomes a better person .
I'm really looking forward to the shoot becasue I've always wanted to work with the director , Kitamura san . I hope you will all watch it when it comes out !!

It's nice that we're starting to see English resources for information on the movie, though.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

"The Blob" director dies

Irvin Shortess "Shorty" Yeaworth Jr. has died at 78 in a car accident in Jordan. Yeaworth was the director of The Blob.

The Blob is one of the weirdest of the giant monster movies. In fact, it didn't occur to me to put any links about it in the sidebar when I put this thing together. But it truly is a giant monster movie, and a very good one at that (although it has been quite some time since I saw it, but I aim to correct that.)

If you haven't seen it, a small bit of goo comes out of a meteorite and immediately eats a bum. It then precedes to eat anything in its way. Only an angsty teen played by Steve McQueen finds out what is going on. Eventually, after the blob is tremendous size, the town figures out the blob can be stopped by cold. So they freeze it and pack it away to Antartica.

The story has a strong resemblance to a story by Joseph Payne Brennan, called "The Slime," published in Weird Tales magazine in 1953.
Anyway, the film was a smash hit and launched the careers of both Steve McQueen and composer Burt Bacarach. Eventually a sequel was made: Beware the Blob, directed by Larry Hagman(!) in 1972.

I loved the film as a kid. I saw it many times. It was always part of the Monster Week specials on one of the New York UHF channels I could get as a kid. (Those Monster Week movies series, always advertised in TV Guide, was where my love for all these giant monster movies started.) I still remember most of it clearly. The diner covered by the blob, the people running from the movie theater as the blob begins to ooze out and the fight using fire extinguishers against the beast. And that scene right at the beginning of the movie of the blob moving up the stick toward the bum always freaked me out. I always wanted to shout -- Drop the damn stick! -- before it happened again. Pour old wino.

Apparently, Yeaworth wrestled with his feelings about the film. As the article states: "He was not very proud of it," his wife said. He made the movie as an experiment for Good News Productions.

Yeaworth seemed to be much more interested in religious productions. In fact, at his death he was working on "a Disney World-style theme park of Jordanian history" in an effort to ease tensions in the Middle East. Yeaworth certainly seemed to be an interesting guy.

Here's The Blob Site, which contains a tour of all the sites in Chester County, Pa. related to the movie and also some Blob Facts. Here's the IMDB entry and the Rotten Tomatoes entry.

And here's an interesting link, an interview with the Man Who Owns "The Blob." Wes Shank apparently bought a vat of the blob from Yeaworth in 1965.

HW: The big question--do you know what "The Blob" is made from?
WS: The"Blob" is made of silicone. At the time, silicone was made by Union Carbide. It comes naturally clear, which is the way you first see it in the film when it crashes to earth in a meteor and splits open. It did not begin to turn blood red until it began to absorb the old man who discovered it.
HW: Do you have any original production history on "The Blob" to share with us?
WS: The film was shot during the summer of 1957. It was Steve McQueen's third feature film, but his first starring role. He was paid about $5,000 for his appearance in a film that he thought would be quickly forgotten. The film was sold to Paramount Pictures, which was looking for a film to release on a double bill with I Married A Monster From Outer Space. The Blob cost about $125,000 to make, and took in nearly eight million dollars. Not bad for 60 cents a ticket.


Definitely click that link. It's an interesting little interview.

Dinosaur comics archive

Here's some fun with dinosaurs: Qwantz.com's dinosaur comics archive. It's a collection of daily comic strips. Each one is the same drawing of three dinosaurs talking (and crushing a little house.) The template has just the perfect expressions to capture many different stories. Check out giant robot suits, quick! save your game! or the bad news is there's finitely many songs about sad robots. It's good stuff.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Gojira still making the rounds

Horror author Caitlin Kiernan gives her approval to the uncut "Gojira." She also looks at the connections between Toho's giant monster movies and H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Godzilla: Pack of Destruction

I recently picked up this Pack of Destruction toy set. All these figures are about an inch high, but still highly detailed. Very cool. I'm not a huge toy collector, but when Godzilla figures come out in America (especially from Bandai who are the masters of Godzilla toys) I usually pick up a few.
I'm curious as to how they chose the monsters in this pack. Obviously, Godzilla, Mothra, Gigan and Minya are well known characters here, but Moguera, Destroyah and Manda are pretty obscure to the casual G-fan.
Anyway, they are well worth picking up if you want some cool little monsters to cover your desk. Next I have to pick up the Crumble Zone, which includes a King Ghidorah and a Baragon (another unusual choice.)
It's a good time to be a Godzilla fan.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Popcorn Godzilla stomps through Scotland

A theater in Scotland has built a 16ft high popcorn Godzilla. It's been put in the Guinness Book of World Records. Why the newspaper doesn't have a picture of this masterpiece is beyond me.

On the choice of model, Ms Wright said: “We decided to go for Godzilla because he is arguably the best known movie monster in cinema history."

A Sound of Thunder trailer

Sci Fi Wire has links to "A Sound of Thunder trailer. The movie, starring Ed Burns and Ben Kingsley, is based on the short story by Ray Bradbury. It's about a team of hunters who go back in time for a dinosaur hunt. But they make the error of stepping on a butterfly and changing everything. That's where the story ends. The movie seems to go on and have the hunters try to change the world back to the way it was.
I hope they do a good job with this. The monsters and city destruction looks impressive, I just wonder if the plot will hold up after they leave Bradbury's territory.
By the way, I remember a good version of that story on TV. It must have been on Ray Bradbury Theater. Good stuff.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Gamera director dies

Monster Zero is reporting the death of Noriaki Yuasu, the director of the original Gamera series. From what everybody on the Godzilla boards says, Yuasu was a kind and generous man. There's a picture up now at the Yahoo! Groups : godzillaforum showing Yuasu playing with a child dressed as Guiron at G-Fest.
The Gamera films were immensely important to my love of giant monster films. While they lacked the effects and budgets of the Godzilla films, they made up for it with some really wild ideas. Images of Gyaos eating from a rotating fountain of fake blood, Guiron chopping a silver Gyaos into pieces while two kids tried to avoid women trying to eat their brains and so many more stick out in your mind.
It's sad to see another person of that era gone.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Godzilla soundtrack

The soundtrack for the original Godzilla movie is now available from pre-order from Lala Land Records. You know you want it. I'm ordering it right now. I was very happy with their special edition disc of "The Dark Crystal."

Godzilla: The Series

It's a measure of how bad Centropolis's Godzilla (1998) was in that a Saturday morning cartoon surpassed it. I got to thinking about Godzilla: The Series when I heard that the Monster Wars Trilogy -- a three-part episode of the cartoon -- will be released in August. I taped a number of episodes, including those three, back when it was on, so I went back and watched.
The cartoon takes off from the ending of the movie. The original Godzilla is dead. A baby has been born from its egg. Somehow (I don't have the first episode on tape) the baby sees Nick Tatopoulos (the character played by Matthew Broderick in the movie) as its mother. Nick creates H.E.A.T. (Humanitarian Ecological Analysis Team (where giant monster or mutation is in that name, I have no idea)) to investigate the mutations, like Godzilla, forming all over the world. With him on this team are two minor characters from the movie: Dr. Mendel Craven, a dumpy, allergic joke who only has half-a-minute in the movie; and Dr. Elsie Chapman, the wise cracking scientist played by that
redhead from Newsradio.
They are joined by a protege of Jean Reno's character, Monique Dupre, a member of the French secret service, and Randy Hernandez, the token black character who has a Spanish(?) accent and is a master computer hacker. Craven also has a robot, Nigel, which, like Kenny on
South Park, gets blown up at least once every episode.
Other characters from the movie make occasional guest appearances. Audrey Timmonds, the girl reporter played by
Maria Pitillo in the movie, turns up in two episodes, one with Animal. Animal was odd since he was played by well known voice actor Hank Azaria in the movie. In the show, his voice is done by Joe Pantaliano. The Army general also shows up a few times.
Nick's character changes radically from the movie, where he was a schlebby scientist who just happens to have all the right answers for what's happening to Godzilla. In the series, it's as if he was played by
Dylan McDermott's character in The Practice. He's a strong-minded leader with all the right answers.
H.E.A.T. headquarters are on
Staten Island. Godzilla hangs out in the bay. The team spends most of its time on its boat, a fast little number with a shark's head drawn on the front. Actually, I think the boat may have been an homage to the Hanna-Barbera Godzilla cartoon, which also featured a team of characters who worked on a boat and could call for Godzilla using a button on the ship.
Godzilla follows the H.E.A.T. team wherever they go. It doesn't matter if they travel the globe or take airplanes instead of ships, he's always right there to show up in the nick of time. When they need him, they can call him using Nigel.
So the show is basically set up on the premise of a new bad monster every week. H.E.A.T. faces a giant worm in Central America, giant hot-headed mole creatures in the Antarctic, a weird electric creature in New York City and a group of aliens determined to take over the world using giant monsters.
This being a Saturday morning cartoon series, there's lots of leaps in logic and one-note characterization. But the series is still better written than the movie. In fact, one episode copies the stupid love story between Nick and Audrey and how she betrays him by using information he told her in private. Dumb in the movie and no better here.
The Monster Wars Trilogy isn't bad. It brings back a lot of the monsters from the series up to that point and adds the best of all: the movie's Godzilla suited up in cyborg armor. Also, the mind controlling aliens look pretty neat.
The plot has ridiculous moments. Nick and Craven want to get into an Army base. They state that there's no way they can get inside. So they send in a little robot eye to find out what's going on. They realize Elsie is in trouble, so they go inside to save her. Umm, how were they able to get inside the impregnable base? Don't ask, the show isn't telling. Also, the aliens have many chances to shoot the H.E.A.T. team, but never seem to manage it. Why is that? But if you can overlook such absurdities, there's a lot of fun to be had.
And occasionally the show picked up some good help. Len Wein wrote a good story about an electrical creature (the Crackler) that starts tearing apart New York.
Wein is a great comic book scripter who created Swamp Thing. He also edited the fantastic Alan Moore comic book series Watchmen.
Another comic book great,
Marv Wolfman, also came along for the ride. Wolfman was the creator of Blade among hundreds of other characters.
So I give a thumbs up to the Monster Wars Trilogy. It's a good, fun time. It's certainly not a masterpiece of plotting, but then the movie it's based off was worse.
Pick it up and hopefully the whole series will be released. Apparently, there are a few unaired episodes that could be added to a complete DVD series.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Ebert still not loving Godzilla

So Roger Ebert tries to throw cold water on all the other reviewers who have praised the re-release of Godzilla 1954. He admits there is a political theme to the movie that was taken out in the American version, but he says the special effects are cheesy and the dialogue is bad.
I almost think this is good. All the praise for a formerly reviled film makes me think that the reviewers were just hopping on the hip thing to do. I don't agree with Ebert, but you know he won't just follow the crowd.
And remember, this is the same guy who gave a 3 star review to Gamera: Guardian of the Universe.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Break stuff

One of the things I think about often: What do I find so appealing in giant monster movies? The truth is there is not any one reason, there are many facets to the gem that make up giant monster movies. So from time to time, I'm going to explore the ideas that appeal to me in these movies.
One reason stands out: I love destruction. Who doesn't? Anytime a skyscraper is going to be brought down by a professional demolition team, see how many people show up. There's always a crowd. People like to see things fall apart (under controlled circumstances.)
At The Mumpsimus, Matthew Cheney looks at destruction in fiction and why we come to it.

One of the reasons fantasy literatures are valuable is because of the often mysterious and generally unpredictable connections between imagination and reality. Western theatre is a perfect example of this -- we venerate as classic many works filled with imagined destructions, both personal and public. There have been, at least since Aristotle, countless suggestions of why this is so. Perhaps we need to be reminded of our mortality, to face our anxieties and doubts about how and why we live. Perhaps we need to imagine our world destroyed so that we can value it before it collapses. Perhaps we are strengthened by envisioning all that could go wrong.

In giant monster movies, there's almost a childlike pleasure we take in the destruction. It's the catharsis of being young, surrounded by building blocks and just wanting to knock them down. Who didn't want to be Sting in that Police video knocking down all the tall candlesticks?
Marc Cerasini, the author of several Godzilla novels that came out in the late '90s, knows all about this. He wrote a column called "Monster Mash or Monster Bash?" in which he categorizes two kinds of giant monster fans: mash fans or bash fans. The mash fans love to see men in rubber suits fighting it out. The bash fans are in it to watch elaborately built miniature models destroyed. Obviously, giant monster movie fans fall into both camps, but Cerasini says you have to ultimately come down on one side or the other. (It's like the whole Elvis vs. the Beatles thing in the deleted scene from Pulp Fiction.)
As Cerasini says, for the bash fan there is no better movies than the "origin episodes," those movies that first feature a monster alone. "Godzilla," "King Kong," "Gorgo" and "Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" offer unparalleled destruction of cityscapes. The movies are about the unrelenting advance of some monster, annhiliating all in its way. I can think of few more beautiful images than Godzilla spraying fire around him as flames rise from Tokyo's streets. The image has been updated and reused over and over in Godzilla movies.
On the other side are films like "Godzilla vs. Gigan" and "Daimaijan" where most of the action takes place on Pacific islands or in pre-industrial areas. These have an appeal all their own, but for the bash fan it's a thin gruel.
For me, this is only one small part of the glory of giant monster movies, but an important one nonetheless.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Battle me!

Go on, challenge my monster form.

Brian

is an Average-Sized Ape that leaves a Trail of Goo, came Back in Time from the 29th Century, is Radioactive, cowers from Radiation, has an Extra Head, and eats Trees.

Strength: 3 Agility: 4 Intelligence: 7



To see if your Giant Battle Monster can
defeat Brian, enter your name and choose an attack:

fights Brian using


Actually, he's kind of a wuss. Still though, the goo and extra head are cool.

Giant Monster Blog: All Out Attack

Welcome to Giant Monster Blog. Here I'm going to indulge in my love for giant monster movies, fiction and music. I'll be writing up essays, reviews and random notes on everything from Godzilla movies to "Them" to "Deep Rising," whatever strikes my fancy at the time.
This blog won't be updated every day, and it's unlikely I'll follow monster movie news. This will be a forum for my views on city crushing beasts. I hope you like it.