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:
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.