Friday, January 27, 2006

Monster music

I recently got an iPod, so I went searching for giant monster music on iTunes. It was a quick search, but I came up with a few things, besides soundtracks.

First of all, there is a surf rock/metal band called Daikaiju. I've been aware of them for a little while now and they seemed like great fun. I downloaded two songs from their self-titled album: "Super X-9" and "Daikaiju Die!" It's great stuff. The band is kind of interesting too. They wear kabuki masks and all their press materials sounds like words translated from Japanese by an Internet translator.

The second thing I found was a podcast by Infinite Sector Collective.

The infinite sector is a non-profit collective and netlabel dedicated to sharing and promoting free experimental music, noise, and electronica. Our members include musicians, bands, and artists from all corners of the globe.
In honor of 50 years of Godzilla, their first podcast episode is dedicated to kaiju eiga. So members of the collective do songs about Rodan, Hedorah, Biollante and others. Most of it is very experimental. If you like static and Metal Machine Music, you might like this. I like a lot of weird music, and I had a tough time with most of the songs. The song "Jet Jaguar," however, was more approachable than the rest of it. It was performed by the group Terminal Shock. The podcast is not for everyone, and clearly not intended to be, but check it out and see what it does for your ears.

I gave a search on iTunes for "kaiju" and came up with "Kaiju Babylon." It's a song by jazz guitarist Henry Kaiser. Like Infinite Sector Collective, it's experimental music, but I found it more fun. It was like some twisted combination of Sonny Sharrock and Spike Jones. I was happy to find Kaiser because I notice he has connections to other artists I like, such as Captain Beefheart, Richard Thompson, Sharrock, Bill Frisell and John Zorn, among others. And, apparently, he is a fan of giant monsters. He gives his praise to "Gamera: The Revenge of Iris" at his journal. (That just shows he has taste as well.)

Finally, something I didn't find on iTunes, but wanted to mention: King Geedorah, "Take Me to Your Leader." King Geedorah is actually MF Doom, an underground hip hop artist who has gotten much praise for his purist stylings. The album is a lot of fun and can be enjoyed even by non-rap fans. Quite a few of the songs on the album are "instrumentals" made up of sounds and clips from giant monster movies. If you do like rap, there's some great work on the album as well. Some well known rappers are here, but hidden under giant monster pseudonyms. I recommend it.

While I'm at it, I'd like to remind everybody about The Monster Project, who I wrote about here.

Jurassic Park IV, not coming soon

"Jurassic Park IV" is apparently quite a ways from happening. According to producer Frank Marshall, the fourth Indiana Jones movie is in the pipeline behind the third Bourne movie. After those two are under way, then there will be movement on JP4. No confirmations on the script, but it still includes William Monahan's name and people have mentioned dinosaur commandos. [Image found at Monsters and Critics.]

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

New Godzilla cartoon DVDs

Two new DVDs of "Godzilla: The Series" have been announced. Like the "The Monster Wars Trilogy" I don't think there will be much in the way of extras, but it will add more of the series to your collection. You can find my thoughts on the original disc here. I enjoy the cartoon and am looking forward to picking up more.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Slither trailer

All right, this is only technically a giant monster movie, but I must admit it looks fun. You can find the trailer for Slither here. At first, I thought this was a remake. I know there is some movie from the 1970s about an attack by earthworms, but I can't seem to remember the name of that. It used to be on the afternoon movie alongside "Frogs" when I was a kid.

Anyway, this movie is a horror-comedy starring that guy from "Firefly" and features giant worm-leech-like things that are turning people into monsters. The trailer is funny. Could be a good time.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Atragon on the way

I am so excited about getting "Atragon" on DVD. It's one of Toho's classic science fiction films and probably second only to "Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People" among the non-Godzilla films. There's a review here of the new DVD. They give it a thumbs up.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Gamera blogs

Gamera has its own blog. It's all in Japanese, so I have no idea what's being said, but there are some cute pictures of a stuffed Gamera visiting various sites.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

King Kong atop the world

I saw "King Kong" over the weekend. I loved it. The movie took the original King Kong and used it as an outline for this movie. Everything that was in the 1933 movie has been expanded on and enriched. This made for a long movie, over three hours, but it never felt like one.
There were a few holes in the movie. Jack Black's acting is just a touch too much. Black is a ham and he is trying to rein it in here, but only partially succeeds. I don't think he could make a subtle motion to save his life. Fortunately for him, his character is over the top anyway. The film really gives a new look at Carl Denham: ambitious, self-obsessed, adventurous and probably crazy. I liked the rebuilding of the character, it made for a deeper, more interesting guy (and probably one truer to the era.)
The scene with the insects and lampreys and all was pretty exciting, but why does the calvary turn up? As far as I could tell, the writers had just put themselves in a corner and had to find a way out, despite logic. I think that Jackson just wanted to do that scene so much, he let it override his sense of story.
And the last line, the same one from the original film, was just wrong here. It wasn't as cringe inducing as I'd been led to believe, but it certainly didn't fit. In fact, in this version of the movie, Denham should have been packing his bags as the ape was rampaging.
And the movie's length: Yes, it moved right along and didn't feel like three hours, but there was still a hell of a lot of stuff that could have been deleted to make a shorter running time. Even if you love every minute of the film, it's hard to find time in the day to see a three-hour movie.
Despite all those quibbles, it was a great movie. I had a good time and would love to see it again. Naomi Watts was terrific, as she has been in everything I've seen her in. Kong was a marvel to behold. Everything on Skull Island was scary. Atop the Empire State Building, you could really feel a sense of vertigo. I don't think any movie has ever given me such a great sense of height.
This version of King Kong was a worthy remake of the original and adds itself to a list of the finest giant monster movies ever made.

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