Thursday, March 29, 2007

New DVD news

The always essential SciFiJapan has a new post about the upcoming Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster and Invasion of the Astro-Monsters DVDs from Classic Media. The post includes screen caps from the discs as well as Classic Media's press release. It looks awesome.

I'm surprised they are using the Astro-Monster title for that movie. I thought Godzilla vs. Monster Zero was Toho's preferred name. Shows what I know. But that's OK, I think Invasion of the Astro-Monsters is an awesome title.

As for Ghidorah, I've only seen that film on a screwed-up pan-and-scan VHS tape, and still it was one of my favorites. I really can't wait to see it in all its true glory.

This all reminds me that I'm falling behind on DVD buying. I still haven't picked up Godzilla Raids Again!

Now it's a movement

Thanks to a comment on my last post, I now know there's another game in town. Check out Giant Monsters Attack, a new blog about giant monsters. It's sort of like this blog, only Mysterious Pants (that's the blogger) has a deft hand in using photos and, of course, has his own voice. He's even reviewed Gamera: The Little Braves, which I have yet to see. He also has a post speculating on what monsters will be used on Godzilla: Unleashed.

Welcome to the neighborhood Mysterious Pants. I look forward to trading links and ideas about the biggest genre of them all!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Choose your own monster

SciFi Japan has the details on Atari's plan to let fans vote on the new monster that will be included in "Godzilla: Unleashed," the new giant monster videogame planned for the Nintendo Wii. (Here's the IGN article on it.) They've created four designs that "we felt were fresh, would fit into the Godzilla genre, and would fit into the group factions as delineated in the design doc for the game." Go to SciFi Japan for details about all this. Now I'm going to include my comments on each design. The photos are all snatched from SciFi Japan's page and are copyright Atari.

The Magmouth

It's a magma monster, made of molten rock and able to spew lava at its enemies. As a concept, it sounds pretty neat. I could see it fitting into the Smog Monster era of Godzilla movies, or possibly be a villain for Mothra in her solo years. In the game, it would have to be a slow, but tough monster. The only problem is it seems to lack a personality. There's no real face to it.


My first thought on seeing this one was, why not use King Sesar? Sesar is basically the same concept, a Chinese dragon guardian, but without the flaming hair and tail. Despite that, this looks like it would be a fun character to play in the game, and the flaming hair and tail might give it an interesting look during the action. I don't like the origin story, "guardian of the lost civilization of Mu." We all know that guardian is Manda. What good would a flaming lion do underwater anyway?

The Visitor

If they actually made this thing for a film it would look ridiculous; the jaw would be flapping around in the breeze. If it weren't for that face, this could have been one of my favorites. The extra limbs could have made for some fun game play, and tying it in with the Vortaak aliens of the game is a good idea. Nice touch with the "Alien" tail, too. Even his back story is cool. It's too bad about that jaw.

Lightning Bug

This thing's wings look too small and that sack too big. The bug concept is always cool, though Megalon already fills that role. The story works fine. Despite liking some aspects of this design, I'm underwhelmed.


All of the images for these creatures make me think they would fit comfortably in Godzilla: The Series. I think only Magmouth and Firelion could actually work in the movies as a rubber suit.

As for my vote, I'm torn between Magmouth and Firelion. Firelion seems like he'd be a fun character to play and look at, but he's so close to Sesar that I want to stay away. Magmouth needs more personality. I'm going to tentatively side with Magmouth and hope that the designers can add some interesting details before he appears in the game.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A great film about fungus

ScifiJapan takes a close look at Matango (aka Attack of the Mushroom People). As they point out, the film can be looked at as an allegory for drugs or capitalism, but it's much more than that. It's a good movie that cares about its characters, even though most of them are unlikeable, and makes the situation feel real, despite the rubber mushroom suits.

It's one of my favorite movies. With this film and Gojira, one can see that Ishiro Honda is a great, and criminally underrated, director.

Also at the link is the full text of William Hope Hodgson's "The Voice in the Night," which was the inspiration for the film. I would also recommend picking up the Matango DVD, which has some great extras including a story read by the screenwriter.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

John Cox on The Host

There's an interview with The Host's special effects director John Cox over at Fangoria (found via SciFiJapan). Here's an interesting part:

“We just saw partial storyboards,” he reveals, “so, not knowing any of the dialogue or anything, we really had no idea what it was we were working on, just that they needed this fish monster and it was part of this particular film. The director [Bong Joon-ho] having a fairly good reputation, we were expecting it to be at least halfway decent. The same thing goes, though, with a lot of films. Sometimes we read scripts and think, ‘Yeah, it’s a really good script,’ but by the end, it’s just…not. It becomes very mediocre, and it’s really hard to put your finger on where things didn’t gel. Because going into these shows, most of the time, all the key ingredients are there. I guess it depends on the meddling, whether or not the director’s vision is allowed to get to the screen unimpeded or whether everyone wants to put their two cents’ worth in it.

“In THE HOST’s case, there was Japanese money in it as well,” he notes, “so there was the opportunity for there to be interference from producers from other countries, but it doesn’t seem to have happened. From what I understand, the film is exactly the one that the director hoped to make.”
Also interesting, Cox is working on the next film by Greg McLean, director of "Wolf Creek." Apparently the film, Rogue, is about a giant crocodile. (It may be going straight to video.) Will it rival films like Lake Placid, Dinocroc and Alligator? We'll just have to wait and find out.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Host takes America by storm

Anthony Lane reviews The Host for the New Yorker. This is pretty exciting, a giant monster movie getting not only a review in the New Yorker, but a positive review. Lane makes comparisons to Little Miss Sunshine, Jacques Tati, Krzysztof Kieslowski and, more expectedly, John Carpenter. And you know what, the movie deserves all those comparisons while not being quite any of them. This should be a huge revival for giant monster movies, though it will take some expert screenwriters and directors to create anything this good again.

If you don't believe me or Lane, you can find some other reviews at these fine places:

Positive reviews: Evanston Review, The Examiner (San Francisco), Cinematical, Creative Loafing Atlanta, The Stranger, New York Magazine, Coming Soon, Cinematic Happenings Under Development (CHUD also has some thoughts on a proposed American remake.)

Mixed reviews: Real Movie News, Daily Record,

Negative Reviews: Big Picture, Big Sound, Gwinnett Daily Post

There's also a review by Rick Kleffel at NPR, but I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Alex Wald, artist of giant monsters

Omni-Monster!!! has a great post about Alex Wald, an artist whose works will certainly interest those of you who come to this blog. I particularly liked this album cover posted at Wald's blog, Astromonster, but be sure to take a look around his sites. He's done Ultraman and a load of other kaiju and science fiction works.

And while I'm at it, be sure and check out Omni-Monster!!! It's a fun blog filled with giant monster toys and other plastic kaiju goodness.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Godzilla's storytelling engine

I've been reading the blog Fraggmented for a few weeks now. It's mostly a comic book blog and one of the main features is "Storytelling Engines." With this series of posts, John Seavey looks at the protagonist of a comic book series and tries to delineate how the writers create "storytelling engines" -- the ongoing goals, characters and situations that keep the plot moving perpetually -- for that protagonist. (You can find some background on this idea here and here.)

This week, Fraggmented takes on Marvel's Godzilla series. Seavey talks about how Godzilla was added to the Marvel universe and how the story was run on the basis of a "false status quo" (think "The Fugitive" or "The Hulk" TV series). It's interesting stuff, Seavey thinks strongly and well about series and has interesting insights. Take a look at the Godzilla entry and let it lead you through his blog to the other Storytelling Engines, all of which are highly recommended.

The post makes me think about the Gorgo comic books (which I promise I will get back to). It might be interesting to look at the storytelling engine there, if there was one ...