Friday, December 30, 2005

Realism and giant monsters

Stephen Bissette argues against criticisms of the realism of the new King Kong by pointing out all the absurdities of the classic Kong. He asks why people aren't willing to accept the handwaving of the new film when they buy it from the classic? He essentially says, if I understand correctly, that there is a basic absurdity to the films that one must accept to enjoy the tale being offered, and if you're not willing to accept those absurdities in the first place, why bother going to see it?
This got me thinking about giant monster movies, and something that is very basic to all of them. The absurdity is the main reason we come out to see it. Once the giant monster has entered the scene, what can't happen? Once our disbelief has been that far suspended, why not hang it higher?
The pleasure of giant monster movies then, as I see it, is waiting to see what absurdity the movie brings along. The movie world is wide open to go anywhere after a giant monster enters the scene. This, I think, is why I enjoy Godzilla films so much; they take that absurdity and run with it, no worries of realism to bog them down.
Once Godzilla is on the scene, why not more monsters? Why not make monsters talk? Why not make a two legged beast fly with its tail between its legs? Why not make a monster out of sludge? Why not have a giant cyborg monster be controlled by roach-like aliens who own a children's theme park? Why not have a weapon that shoots mini-black holes?
And this is why the Heisei series of Godzilla films seems so dour now. They aimed for a higher level of realism. And that aim only served to bog the films down. The most enjoyable of those films was Biollante, which featured a giant rose monster that may have the soul of a little girl bomb victim trapped inside it.
It seems to me, the enjoyment of giant monster movies is all about the joy of unfettered imagination. And what could be better than that?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Bloggers on King Kong

Stephen Bissette is doing a fascinating critique of the new King Kong. He's got three parts so far, Part the First, Part the Second and Part the Third. A fourth part is promised.
Bissette writes about the special effects, the performances, the history behind the movies and the way the new movie improvises from and improves on the original. It's great writing writing, check it out.
While your at it, check out Tim Lucas's thoughts on Kong at Video Watchblog. Lucas can always be counted on for interesting movie commentary.
By the way, the movie has an 83% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. It really is about time I got to the theater to see this film.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Konga review

There's a review of the King Kong like movie called Konga at Now Playing Magazine. I've never seen it and it sounds interesting.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Conqueror Worms by Brian Keene

I've been meaning to buy one of horror writer Brian Keene's books for a while. I've read his blog, Hail Saten, regularly and he seems to be a fun guy with some writing skills. I've read a few short stories and enjoyed them, I've even put The Rising on my gift lists for Christmas.
Now I have another reason to buy a book of his. The Conqueror Worms, his new novel coming out in May. Here's the description at Shocklines:

One day the rain just didn't stop. As the flood waters rose and coastal cities and towns disappeared, some people believed it was the end of the world. Maybe they were right. But the water wasn't the worst part. Even more terrifying was what the soaking rains drove up from beneath the earth---unimaginable creatures, writing, burrowing...and devouring all in their path. What hope does an already devastated mankind have against... THE CONQUEROR WORMS.

(If you order it in advance from Shocklines, Keene will sign the book.)
So I'm expecting giant worm madness! How can that be bad. You can read an excerpt here. There's a thread on the book at Keene's Web site message board.
Looking further into this, I think this novel was previously published through Delirium Books in hardcover as Earthworm Gods. There's another thread about that edition here.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Primer for giant monsters

The Morning Sun points out to the world that there are other giant monster movies besides King Kong. (You'll need to register to get in to the article. Use Bugmenot for an easy, anonymous password.) Among the movies they list are: Gamera, Mothra, Them!, The Blob and 20 Million Miles to Earth. A good selection and a nice primer for people new to giant monster movies. Although, why no Godzilla? Well, nobody's perfect.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Giant monster creates havoc in Legoland

Kathryn Cramer finds this cool giant monster made out of Legos; it's even posed tearing down an elevated train! I'm loving it. It comes from this site, which seems to be made up of mostly Star Wars Lego sets.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A few Kong links

I'm sorry, I've been lax in my coverage of King Kong news. You can find a ton of it out there, however, so I hope I haven't left you too stranded. The trailer for Peter Jackson's film looks terrific.
I should point out that the original movie is out in two beautiful editions. I'll be picking up the second one, which includes Mighty Joe Young and Son of Kong with it.
Thanks to a blog I read, I did pick up some Kong news you probably haven't heard elsewhere. Violet Crown Radio Players are putting on their own radio adaptation of the original movie. Check out their Web site, join their mailing list. They seem to have some interesting stuff there. Besides their Kong adaptation, I'm also interested in their pulp-style hero show, the Blue Menace, among other series characters.
And if you're still hungry for Kong, here's a Kong related story at the soon to be late, lamented SciFiction.

Deep Sea Monster Reigo

Fangoria has a list and brief descriptions of films screened at the American Film Market. Among them is this:

"With Toho on a Godzilla sabbatical (sob), DEEP SEA MONSTER--REIGO stands out as the closest example of an old-school Japanese giant monster mash for sale this time. A humongous aquatic creature battles the WWII battleship Yamato in this low-rent period production, directed by kaiju fan Hayashiya Shinpei."

This sounds exciting, so I started looking into it. And voila! They have an English Web site. It calls it "A heartrending love story that sinks into the beautiful blue south seas."
Apparently, the story will be an alternate history of the Yamato, Japan's great battleship that sank. (The Web site has some interesting facts about the Yamato.) It will show off what armaments the ship could have had and how it would stand up to a monster.
Here's what the Web site says about the monster:

The enemy, REIGO, is a creature that propels itself through the seas like a dragon. Director Hayashiya Shinpei has specially created this new monster for the film with extensive creative input from Amemiya Keita and Haraguchi Tomoo.

And here's a little more behind the scenes:
First, the character of Monster REIGO:
It was designed by Amemiya Keita, who is known as the director of SF film "Zeiramu" and as the designer of characters for a number of special-effects films.
Based on his design, the character was made by Haraguchi Tomoo, well-known for the Heisei "Gamera" series.
This is the first collaboration of Amemiya Keita and Haraguchi Tomoo, a combination that special-effects fans have been longing for.
The deep-sea fish monsters that appear along with REIGO were made by Japan's leading plastic arts character specialists and Wakasa Shin-ichi, who is known for the Godzilla costume.

The director of the movie is Hayashiya Shinpei, who directed the fan film "Gamera 4." (I wish I could read Japanese, because his Web site looks cool.) So we have a real giant monster movie fan directing this one.
Hotaru Yukijiro will appear in this film. He's the detective who appeared in all 3 of Shusuke Kaneko's Gamera films. He was also in Battle Royale, Zeiram and Godzilla: Operation Tokyo SOS.
There is also going to be a famous Kabuki actor in the film. That should be interesting.
Also on the Web site is a trailer with English subtitles. It looks pretty good. Some of the effects seem to be cheap CGI, but it looks like there is a lot of respect for both war and giant monster movies here.
The Web zine Twitch
seems to be keeping up on the film here, here, here and here.
This is fascinating. The first truly new kaiju, unrelated to any other series, in a while. I can't wait to see it. I hope it comes to these shores.