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:'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.