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Friday, November 11, 2011

Max Borenstein new writer on Godzilla 2014

It was announced earlier this week that Legendary Pictures has hired, yet again, a new writer for its Godzilla 2014 reboot. Max Borenstein has been brought in to pen the new script. This makes writer number 3 and counting. Borenstein replaces David Goyer, number 2, who took over from David Callahan, number 1. Borenstein's resume includes, Art of the Steal for Warner Bros., the Jimi Hendrix's biopic, Jimi, currently in development, and the upcoming supernatural fantasy, The Seventh Son, both by Legendary.

Personally, I feel Borenstein's is a bit of a step down from David Goyer, who was a heavy hitter in screenwriting, having written all of Legendary's Batman films. Only time will tell. Godzilla 2014's director Gareth Edwards is also relatively inexperienced. The main question on fans' minds is what kind of story will it be? Previously, it was rumored the story would be mixed with an abandoned monster movie script, Pacific Rim. There is speculation it will be a remake along the lines of the original Gojira in 1954, but Brian Rogers, the films producer has previously said that Godzilla would fight one or more monster opponents. Today's fans really want to see a Godzilla truer to the Japanese character and Legendary has stated from the beginning, they want to distance themselves from the disastrous 1998 Godzilla film by Sony. Seeing Godzilla battle other monsters would be a bigger draw. Toho Studios is apparently keeping a very close eye on this production and it was rumored they even insisted Godzilla by played by an actor in a suit rather than a CGI monster, not likely. We'll see if Borenstein can produce a winning story and stay on the job longer than his predecessors.

Go here for the original story by The Hollywood Reporter

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Godzilla Day-November 3rd ゴジラの日

Hey everyone, I've been living in Japan for over a decade, but I just found this out the other day. November 3rd is a national holiday in Japan called Bunka no hi, 文化の日(Culture Day). But among other things, it's also known as Gojira no hi, ゴジラの日, (Godzilla Day)! I saw some guy tried to start a Godzilla Day on Facebook on March 6th. I don't know where he got that date from, but Japan already had one. For you trivia geeks out there, November 3rd marks the opening day of the original "Gojira" in 1954. So, how will you celebrate? The Godzilla 2014 movie coming from Legendary Pictures will celebrate Godzilla's 60th anniversary. There's also talk of a new Japanese Godzilla film. Could we have two Godzillas on either side of the Pacific coming out at the same time? Everyone show your support and celebrate Godzilla Day on November 3rd. Long live the King!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan by Armand Vaquer

There are lots of books about Godzilla, about the movies, how they were made, or original stories. But there is only one book which is a travel guide to real film locations from Godzilla movies in Japan. It's "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" by Armand Vaquer. Published in 2010, the book is a complete travel guide and history of film locations from not only Godzilla movies, but other Kaiju Eiga movies as well. The book is really one of a kind.

The self-published book starts out with travel information, like passports, immigration, currency, and getting a train pass. He then describes the major cities from the films, starting with Sapporo in the north and moves southward, focusing on specific movie scenes and buildings destroyed.

Featured locations include; the Wako Department store in Ginza, Tokyo, whose clock tower was destroyed by Godzilla in the original "Gojira"(1954), Yokohama Bay with it's Ferris wheel, which was the location of the climactic battle scene in "Mothra vs. Godzilla"(1992), The Saikai Bridge in Kyushu, destroyed in "Rodan"(1956), and of course, the National Diet building which has been destroyed many times. The book also describes locations like the big statue of Godzilla in front of Toho Studios.

The book is a must have for the serious fan who has ever considered a trip to Japan. I'm sure after reading it, you'll be ready to pack your bags and buy your ticket.

 Yuu Asakura with "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan." Photo by Armand Vaquer.(a little eye candy never hurt)

 Armand Vaquer is a serious, long-term Godzilla fan who keeps close to the action. He regularly attends conventions, has traveled to Japan many times, and is a contributor to the Monster Island News and authored dozens of articles on Godzilla for various blogs and fanzines. He's also publisher of a great blog, "Godzilla 3D" with the latest developments in the Kaiju Eiga universe, including the upcoming Godzilla 2014 from Legendary Pictures.

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" sells for $15.00 and is available from Comixpress or you can order from him directly.

Godzilla 3D Blog

Comixpress.com 

Here's a funny promotion video for the book from Monster Mad House. I think that's Vaquer in the green make-up:



Monday, September 26, 2011

Top 10 Kaiju Eiga (Japanese Monster Movies) Without Godzilla Or Gamera



Nearly everyone on the planet knows that the most famous monster to come out of Japan is Godzilla, from Toho studios. The original "Gojira" (1954) was the first ever giant monster movie from Japan and also the first feature film monster to use a man in a rubber suit. Godzilla has 28 films to his credit and a career spanning over 60 years. There is also a new American Godzilla 2014 movie in the works by Legendary Pictures. And most people know the second most famous monster from Japan is Gamera, the flying turtle from rival studio Daiei Pictures. Gamera first appeared in 1965 and has 12 films under his belt. An interesting fact is that in Japan, movie theaters are owned by the studios and will only show that studio's films. If you want to see Godzilla, go here. If you want to see Gamera, go there.

But what most people don't know is that there have been many other entertaining kaiju eiga(giant monster movies) to come rom Japan that feature neither of these mon-stars. Most of these films were made in the 60's and 70's in an age before computer graphics. The special effects however, are good and there is something very satisfying and tactile about a real actor in a suit that CGI can't match. In fact, two of Godzilla's more famous monster co-stars got their start in their own movies. The stories of these films are often much more complex and interesting than those of more "realistic" American Sci-fi films. This is a top 10 list of these entertaining and lesser known kaiju films.

10. X From Outer Space (1968)

Monsters: Guilala, a.k.a. Gilala, a.k.a Girara

This was the first kaiju movie by studio Shochiku. In the future, the spaceship Gamma is sent from Japan to Mars to investigate U.F.O.s The Gamma encounters a U.F.O. which coats the ship in strange spores. The spores are returned to Earth, where they grow and develop into the giant lizard/chicken-like monster Guilala. The beast shoots fireballs from it's mouth and turns into an energy orb to fly. It sets out to destroy Japan and all attempts by the military fail. It is finally stopped by coating the creature with Guilalalium, a substance which causes it to shrink back to spore size. The spore is then shot back into space.

The movie tries to take itself seriously, but it's kind of hard because of the rather comical appearance of the monster with bulgy limbs and odd, spotted skin. Still, the special effects are pretty good. Guilala had a second movie, The Monster X Strikes Back/Attack the G8 Summit(2008). This film however, was a pure comedy and political satire featuring many actors impersonating famous political figures like Bill Clinton and former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. In this film, Guilala fights another giant, Take-Majin, a Golden idol God played by gangster action star and comedian "Beat" Takeshi Kitano. Gilala was also the subject of a light-hearted T.V. commercial by career consultants, The Ladders.

9. Frankenstein Conquers The World (1966)

Monsters: "Frankenstein", Baragon

During WWII, the Japanese obtain the immortal heart of the Frankenstein Monster in a sealed case, from Europe. The heart is taken to Hiroshima for experimentation just before the dropping of the atomic bomb. The heart vanishes in the blast. Many years later there is a wild Caucasian boy spotted killing and feeding on animals. The boy is eventually captured and soon is believed to be the reincarnation of the Frankenstein Monster. The boy has a strong resistance to radiation and is also growing in size at an alarming rate. Frankenstein is also befriended by the beautiful Sueko, who sympathizes with the child-like creature. Frankenstein grows to a giant and escapes. There are many disasters and deaths which are wrongly blamed on Frankenstein. These are actually caused by a new monster, the subterranean and man-eating Baragon. Frankenstein is sought out by Sueko and others, but instead are found by Baragon. The monster advances with the intention of eating Sueko, but she is saved by Frankenstein who suddenly appears and battles the monster. In the end there is a titanic earthquake that splits the earth, swallowing the two monsters.

This s surely one of Toho's most bizarre films with a European monster who appears with no suit at all and little make up. The battle scenes are fast paced, with the two monsters grappleing like wrestlers. but the lack of suit for Frankenstein kind of breaks the suspention of disbelief. Baragon later had a very brief cameo in the famous Destroy all Monsters(1968) along with Godzilla and a whole monster cast. Baragon was scheduled to destroy Paris in that movie, but was replaced with Gorosaurus. The Baragon suit was also used several times on the T.V. show Ultraman. Baragon was later resurrected in the movie Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001). In that film, Baragon was good, a protector of Japan, but was killed by a very evil Godzilla in one of the best fight scenes ever made.



8. Orochi: The Eight-Headed Dragon(1994)

Monsters: Kumasogami, Kaishin Muba, Orochi, Utsuno Ikusagami.

This movie was made by the same team that did the Heisei Godzilla films of the 90's. A period fantasy based on Japanese mythology. After Prince Yamato kills his brother, the Emperor exiles him. Yamato possesses a strange and deadly "power", which he can't fully control. Later he meets the priestess Oto who is supposed to be sacrificed to the Lava-demon god, Kumasogami. Yamato and his comrades come to her rescue. Kumasogami can morph its limbs into weapons, but Yamato defeats him with green energy beams from his eyes. Yamato and Oto later encounter the sea serpent Kaishin Muba, but Yamato's destiny is to rid the world of the eight-headed dragon, Orochi which is the reincarnation of an evil god. In the climactic battle scene, Yamato is transformed into the giant mecha warrior, Utsuno Ikusagami.

This is an exciting movie with great special effects and monsters. It is the retelling of a famous Japanese myth similar to the story of Hercules and the Hydra. In the original story, Susanoo, (Susanoo-no-Mikoto), the hot-headed god and brother to the godess Amaterasu, is cast out of heaven. On Earth, he meets an old couple whose daughter is to be sacrificed to the eight-headed dragon, Orochi. Susanoo falls in love with the girl and sets out to slay the monster He succeeds by getting the eight heads drunk and then cuts them off. He finds a magical sword in the tail of the monster. That sword, along with a magic mirror and embryo shaped magatama jewel are the magical regalia of the Japanese Imperial family. Susanoo and his love exchange hair combs as a symbol of their love. This story is close to my heart because it comes from the area of Japan where I live. Susanoo is enshrined at Kumano Taisha in Shimane Prefecture and is said to be the spot where Susanoo fell to Earth. Kumano Taisha is closely associated with the more famous Izumo Taisha nearby. Kumano is a shrine for finding a spouse and I have an American friend who was married there. They also have a large mural of the story of Susanoo. My wife and I have hair combs we bought there.



7. Rebirth Of Mothra Triligy (1996, 1997, 1998)

After appearing in Godzilla vs. Mothra(1992), Toho decided to give mothra her own series of movies. For number 7, I've included all three. These films were squarely targeted at children. Mothra's benevolent twin fairies are back, we now know as Moll and Lora, along with a new character, their evil sister fairy Belvera. The twin fairies spend most of their time riding around on Fairy Mothra and Belvera on a small dragon named Garu-garu. Each film has child protagonists who help the fairies along. The stories are not so serious and focus on adventure, nevertheless, the special effects are fantastic. Mothra appears in a dizzying array of forms throughout the trilogy, no doubt targeting the toy market and include: Mothra, Mothra Leo, Fairy Mothra, Rainbow Mothra, AquaMothra, Primitive Mothra, Armor Mothra, Light Speed Mothra, and Eternal Mothra. We also see a lot of King Ghidorah in various forms, a pairing that starts to get a little old. It's hard to believe Mothra could take out King Ghidorah by himself, but I have to admit, the Grand King Ghidorah in Mothra III is probably the most impressive Ghidorah ever put to film. Too bad Big-G wasn't there to take him on.

Rebirth of Mothra I
Monsters: Mothra, Mothra Leo, Death-Ghidorah

Long before Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), we see the first appearance of a four-legged Ghidorah monster. Millions of years ago, a huge monster, Death-Ghidorah arrives to destroy Earth. The invader is stopped, however by giant monster moths who are the guardians of a race of tiny people called Elias. Death-Ghidorah is imprisoned in the Earth under a magical seal. Only three Elias sisters survive, Moll, Lora, and Belvera. The first two stay with the last Mothra, but the last sister becomes twisted and vengeful at the extinction of her race. In modern day, Mothra lays an egg and is weakened. Also, a group of loggers unintentionally uncover Death-Ghidorah's prison and Belvera releases him. Mothra attacks, but is losing. Her egg hatches and Mothra Leo larvae emerges to help its mother. Death-Ghidorah mortally wounds the larvae and Mothra saves her child, but dies as a result. Mothra Leo spins a cocoon and transforms to adult form. Mothra Leo returns with a vengeance and defeats Death-Ghidora, imprisoning him once more.
Rebirth of Mothra II (Mothra 2: The Undersea Battle)
Monsters: Mothra Leo, Dagahra

The coast of Japan is ravaged by poisonous starfish-like creatures called Barem. With the help of some children and a strange creature "Gorgo", the fairies uncover the hidden temple of an ancient undersea kingdom called the Ninai Kanai that rises out of the sea. This civilization created a sea monster guardian called Dagahra, which has turned evil and is releasing the Barem. Mothra Leo attacks, but is severely wounded and covered in Barem. The children and fairies try to find the hidden treasure that will save Mothra an belvera and some brainwashed fisherman try to top them. It is discovered that Gorgo is the hidden treasure and they use his power to revive Mothra. He transforms into Rainbow Mothra to fight Dagahra and again into AquaMothra to take the battle underwater. AquaMothra defeats the monster. Everyone escapes as the temple sinks beneath the waves again. The world is saved.
Rebirth of Mothra III (Mothra 3: King Ghidorah Attacks)
Monsters: Mothra Leo, Cretaceous King Ghidorah, Grand King Ghidorah

A huge meteor lands on Earth containing Grand King Ghidorah who has visited Earth's ancient past and is believed to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. A boy, Shota plays hooky from school to investigate the meteor. Meanwhile, school children all over start dissapearing and are taken by Ghidorah to an organic dome near the meteor. Rainbow Mothra arrives to battle, but King Ghidorah is far too powerful and Mothra only just escapes. Later, Lora is turned evil by Ghidorah and attacks her sister Moll, trying to pull her into the dome. Fairy mothra saves Moll and Belvera is trapped inside. Moll teams up with Shota and tells him Ghidorah needs the energy of the children. As Ghidorah is far too powerful, it is decided that Mothra must travel to Earth's past to battle the older form of Ghidorah. Using Moll's energy, Mothra transforms to Light Speed Mothra. He travels to the past and battles Cretaceous King Ghidorah and defeats him, but not before a piece of it's tail falls off burying itself in the earth. Mothra is exhausted, however and encased in a suspended animation cocoon by the other prehistoric Mothra larvae. In the present, Ghidorah disappears, but is soon replaced by a new Ghidorah hat grew from the broken tail from the past. Mothra revives in the present and transforms to Armor Mothra who finally defeats Ghidorah. In the end, the three Fairy sisters are reconciled.





6. Varan The Unbelievable (1962)

Monsters: Varan

A group of scientists journey to a remote saltwater lake to catch rare butterflies. The local villagers worship a monster diety Varan who lives in the lake and scientists are killed by the monster. The millitary arrives, but his only results in angering Varan. It destroys the village before spreading the membranes between its limbs like a flying squirrel and flies at supersonic speed to Tokyo. Varan seems unstoppable but is tricked ino eating bombs which explode inside. The monster returnes to the sea before the last bomb goes off.

This is a really solid Kaiju Eiga film with good special effects and music. It was made in black and white, which really adds to the dark atmosphere. I'm just guessing here, but I think the name Varan comes from the word varanoid, which is the scientific name of a class of large lizards which includes prehistoric mosasaurs and modern day Komodo dragons. Varan made a tiny cameo in Destroy All Monsters(1968), with only a glimpse on screen. There were several other planned projects and appearances that were later scrapped. Varan remains one of the most unknown and under appreciated kaiju from Japan. He really deserves a comeback.


5. King Kong Escapes (1967)

Monsters: King King, Robot Kong, Gorosaurus, giant snake monster

This movie is so much fun to watch and has great action. An evil genius, Dr. Who (not to be confused with the other doctor from England) has succeeded in creating a giant robot version of King Kong. The purpose, well..to dig up a special radioactive substance "Element X", which is somehow associated with his 007-like plot of world domination. What better way to mine a radioactive ore than by using a giant robot gorilla? The only problem is, the radioactivity makes Robo Kong short circuit. The solution? Kidnap the real Kong to work in the mine, of course! At the same time a submarine crew with some Americans have gone to Mondo island to look for the real Kong. Instead, they find Gorosaurus, a giant dinosaur that advances toward the female crew member Susan Watson. Kong suddenly appears and saves her, killing the dinosaur in almost exactly the same way King Kong did in the original 1933 film. He also saves the crew from a giant sea snake. Dr. Who succeeds in kidnapping Kong and the submarine crew. Dr. Who uses a special flashing light on top of Robo Kong's head to hypnotize Kong into working in the mine. Kong soon recovers and all escape back to Tokyo. Robo Kong pursues and catches Susan. Kong goes to the rescue and the battle rages as the two giants climb up Tokyo Tower. Who will win?

This was Kong's second film appearance after the immensly popular King Kong vs. Godzilla. The Kong suit was much improved over the first film. A little known fact was that the story was loosely based on an American, Rankin/Bass TV cartoon, The King Kong Show. It was the first appearance of Gorosaurus, who despite being killed, reappeared in Destroy All Monsters, destroying the Arc de Triumph in Paris, a role originally meant for Baragon. He also gave a famous kangaroo kick to King Ghidorah in the climactic battle scene. The confident and arrogant Dr. Who was wonderfully played by Eisei Amamoto, well known to Kaiju fans and instantly recognizable for his incredibly bad teeth. He had many small roles in Godzilla films including the kindly toymaker in All Monsters Attack and Princess Salno's short lived butler in Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster right before the plane blows up. In 2001 he starred in Godzilla GMK, my all time favorite kaiju film, as a strange old man who prophesies the coming of the guardian monsters against a very evil Godzilla. It was his last film role before his death in 2003.



 4. War of The Gargantuas (1970)

Monster: Gaira, Sanda

This film was a kind of sequel to Frankenstein vs. Baragon. The two giant monsters are said to have grown from Frankenstein's cells, though this is not clear in the film. They are described as brothers. The story is sublime and takes on almost mythic proportions. It is a giant version of Caine vs. Able, a battle of dualities. One monster is green and aggressive, a man-eater whose domain is the ocean. Its name is Gaira, derived from the Japanese word for "sea". The other monster is brown, peaceful and kindly towards humans. It lives on land and name is Sanda, derived from the word "mountain".

One day, a giant green humanoid monster Gaira appears in the sea. Part hairy, part scaly. it battles a giant octopus before destroying the ship it was attacking and eats most of the crew.Later, it invades an airport and eats more people. The Japanese military attacks it with electricity and nearly kill it, before its brother Sanda appears and helps. It comes to light that Sanda was found in its youth by some scientists and spent some time with humans before escaping to the mountains and growing to gigantic size. Later, Sanda discovers his brother's bloodlust for humans, and enraged, attacks him. The two giants battle until they are finally destroyed by a volcanic eruption.

There are subtle emotions that play out between the two monsters. Sanda is the most moralistic and emotionally expressive of any other kaiju, not just because he is friendly to humans, but he tries to help his brother, too. He just doesn't like a pretty girl like King Kong. We feel him torn between two worlds. Ironically, because Sanda is acted in a suit, these emotions play better on screen than in Frankenstein of the previous film. I can't help but think that these two monsters were in part inspired by the famous 17th century artwork of two gods, Raijin and Fujin, the deities of thunder and wind respectively. One imagines they are brothers and seem ready for battle. I see Gaira and Sanda reflected there.


3. Daimajin Trilogy (1966)

Monsters: Daimajin

Daimajin is the story of stone idol monster that can change its face and was made by Daiei Studios, the same studio responsible for Gamera. Daimajin stands apart from other Kaiju Films and is one of the few stories to take place in ancient Japan There were three movies, all made in 1966 and released months apart.

Daimajin

In ancient Japan there is an earthquake that the villagers believe is the spirit of Damajin, a spirit trapped in the mountain. They follow the priestess to the shrine to pray. The feudal lord is a good man, but his chamberlain Samanosuke has been waiting for a chance to take over. He takes the opportunity and murders the lord and his wife, but their young son Tadafumi and daughter Kozosa escape with the help of a loyal samurai, Kogenta. Later the three are aided by the pristess who takes them deep into the mountains to where the stone idol statue stands with a peaceful, Buddha-like face half buried in the mountainside. The place is secret and they start to live in a small temple need the statue. Years later, Tadafumi has become 18 years old. The people of the village have suffered under the tyranical rule of Samanosuke. Attempting to gather loyal supporters for a rebellion, Kogenta and Tadafumi are captured. Samanosuke kills the priestess and orders his men to go and destroy the stone idol. In the mountains, they discover Kozosa who is forced to take them to the statue. The samurai hammer a large wooden stake into the forehead of the idol and are horrified when blood seeps from the hole. Then there is an earthquake that swallows up all the samurai. Kozosa prays to Daimajin and offers her life if it saves Tadafumi and Kogenta. The rocks fall away and the statue steps forward. Daimajin raises its arm and the benevolent stone face changes to the green face of an angry deity. Tadafumi and Kogenta have been tied to crosses to await execution. Daimajin appears and starts destroying the castle. The samurai try to stop it, but the idol is too strong. It frees the heroes and kills Samanosuke, impaling him on the wooden stake from its forehead. Daimajin goes on a rampage, destroying everything indiscriminately. It is about to crush Kozosa, but is stopped by her tear landing on its foot. The statue's face becomes peaceful again and the spirit returns to the mountain. Now lifeless, the statue crumples apart.

Return of Daimajin

In the second film, Daimajin now stands on a small island in the middle of a lake. The lake is bordered by two countries which are happy and peaceful. There is another country nearby that is unhappy and ruled by an evil lord. People keep escaping this land and moving to the happier countries. The evil lord is jealous and sees an opportunity to invade take over the other lands. There is soon to be a festival. People are on the run from the evil ruler and keep going to the island with the statue. Eventually the evil ruler's men blow up the statue with gunpowder and the broken pieces fall into the lake. Near the end of the film, there is an earthquake ad the wrathful Daimajin rises from the lake to punish the evil lord and destroys everything in its path. At the end, Daimajin stands in the waters and his face changes back to the peaceful one. His body changes to liquid water and disappears into the lake.

Wrath of Daimajin

In the third and final film, Daimajin now stands on top of a mountain. Some men have been captured by an evil warlord and forced to work in a labor camp. The four young sons of the men decide to try and save their fathers. Along the way, they stop to pay respects to the statue as not to incur his wrath. Later, angered by the evil warlord and at the pleas of one of the boys, Daimajin awakens. It destroys the labor camp and kills the warlord. It's the first time that Daimajin unsheathes and uses the short sword he wears at his waist, using it to impale the villain in the same way as the first film. This movie is also different n that the protagonists are commoners, not noblemen.

Daimajin remains a very popular monster with kaiju fans and is a good example of the dichotomous nature of Japanese kaiju. They are both savior and destroyer. Daimajin is a fearful demon, but is pleaded with to save the people. This dual nature is so clearly expressed in Daimajin's two faces. As with the Gargantuas, Daimajin is performed in a suit, but the actors eyes are visible, allowing the expression to come through. His eyes flash with rage as he dispatches the villains and at times look compassionately on the helpless. Daimajin's armor and flayed skirt are not that of a samurai, but belong to a much older period of Japan's history.Daimajin never fights any other monsters, but in one issue of Godzilla comics by Dark Horse in the 1990's, Godzilla fights a Daimajin-like stone demon called Gekido-jin.

There was talk a few years back of a new Daimajin movie that never happened, but in 2010 there was a short lived TV show called Daimajin Kanon. This show was rather silly though and changed the story a lot. It took place in modern times and was more like Masked Rider or Ultraman with a band of superheros. Daimajin's look is much altered. He's got riped abs and pecks, but gone were his human eyes and two faces.


2. Rodan (1956)

Monsters: Meganuron, Rodan (male and female)

Rodan is known as Radon in Japan and the name is derived from the word pteranodon. Most likely, the name was changed in America as not to be confused with the radioactive element radon. Rodan was the first daikaiju eiga filled in color and after the first two Godzilla films.

A small mining town is gripped by terror as miners go missing and are then found mutilated. Two police officers are killed in a similar fashion. The true killer is a giant hideous insect that emerges from the mine and attacks a miner Shigeru and his fiance Kyo in her home. The creature kills some more policemen and escapes into the mine. The monster is identified as meganuron, a giant, prehistoric insect larvae. Shigeru and the police descend into the mine, discover the body of Kyo's brother and finally kill the monster, before an earthquake causes a landslide and traps Shigeru inside. He is later found wandering outsde the mine and suffering from amnesia. In one good scene, at the hospital Shigeru watches a small bird in a cage which triggers a horrible flashback. He recovers his memory and relates his story. He was trapped in a giant, underground cavern and sees many meganuron along with an enormous egg. The egg hatches and a gigantic bird-like monster emerges. Dwarfing the meganuron in size, the monster quickly starts eating them. A few days later, a giant U.F.O is sighted. It has a wingspan of 500 feet and flies at supersonic speeds. The military track down Rodan's lair in a dormant volcano. The attack to no avail and a second rodan is spotted. The first monster(presumably male) attacks and destroys Sasebo and returns to the volcano. The military attack again, hoping to trap the monsters inside. The attack causes a volcanic eruption and one rodan creature is caught in the lava with its mate flying round helplessly. In the end, instead of escaping, it dives into the lava, choosing to die together with its mate.

Rodan later appeared in Godzilla films such as Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster and Destroy All Monsters. Rodan came back in a smaller version in the 1990's movie Godzilla vs. Mechagodzillaand had a close connection to Baby Godzilla. Rodan also destroyed New York in Godzilla: Final Wars. The original Rodan movie posed a question, If the giant meganuron insects were the larvae, what would the adult be? This question was answered in 2000's Godzilla vs. Megaguirus.In that film, a swarm of two meter dragonfly monsters attacks Godzilla before the giant "queen" Megaguirus monster appears.





1. Mothra (1961)

Monsters: Mothra larvae, Mothra adult

One of the best monster movies of all time, with colorful, almost cute monster hero. In this film the real villain is the scrupulous entrepreneur. Infant Island was the location of atomic tests by the fictitious nation of Rolisica. A ship runs aground there after a typhoon. The sailors are later rescued and amazingly are unaffected by radioactivity. They claim it was because of a special drink given to them by the native inhabitants. A Japanese-Rolician expedition led by the capitalist Clark Nelson goes to the island to investigate. There they encounter the natives and two tiny, twin "fairy" girls dubbed the "Shobijin". They find a hieroglyphic cross-star symbol that translates to "Mothra". They also find the enormous egg of Mothra, their god. The tiny girls plead with the visitors to protect their island from more atomic tests. They agree and keep the secret upon returning. Nelson, however, seeing an opportunity to get rich, later returns to the island to kidnap the girls, shooting any natives who get in the way. He opens a show in Tokyo with the two girls singing. Despite efforts from the reporter and scientist protagonists, Nelson refuses to let them go and the girls sing and summon Mothra telepathically to save them. The mothra larvae hatches from the egg and swims towards Tokyo, destroying a ship along the way. It attacks Tokyo and is imperious to the military attacks. Nelson takes the girls and escapes to his native country of Rolisica. Mothra spins a cocoon and emerges as a giant moth. Mothra pursues the girls to Rolisica. Nelson is finally killed in a shootout with police, but Mothra continues her rampage. The heroes see the shadow of a cross from a church steeple and are reminded of Mothra's star symbol. They organize to paint a giant version of the symbol on the airport runway. Mothra lands, retreives the girls and peacefully flies back to Infant Island.

The fairies were played by a pair of singers known as the "Peanuts" who later appeared in Godzilla vs. Mothra and Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster. They were not twins or related. The fictitious country of Rolisica is a metaphor for America and Russia and the vilian Nelson represents the unhindered capitalism that came in the post war economic boom in Japan. There was also alution to Christianity and Mothra's symbol, which was used again in future Mothra films, closely resembles the Celtic cross. Mothra is the most popular and recognizable Kaiju after Godzilla and has appeared in over a dozen films.



Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Top 10 Best Godzilla Movies



"The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away."
 It may be a little known fact that since Gojira, a.k.a. Godzilla, King of the Monsters in 1954, there have been no less than 28 Godzilla films, not counting Sony's 1998 Godzilla with Matthew Broderick. And there is a new American Godzilla 2014 movie in the works from Legendary Pictures.

Toho’s (the Japanese Studio responsible for Godzilla) Godzilla movies can be broken down into three series:

1. The Showa series: 15 movies from Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1954) to Terror of Mechagodzilla(1975). (The term Showa comes from the name of the Japanese emperor of the day.)

2. The Heisei series: 7 movies from Godzilla 1985 (1984) to Godzilla vs. Destroyah (1995) (This series takes its name from the current Japanese emperor.)

3. The Millennium series: 6 movies from Godzilla 2000 (1999) to Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

This is my top 10 Godzilla movies list. All the movies have their merits, but this is a top 10 list of the most fun to watch. You'll have to forgive me, the original 1954 "Gojira" does not appear here. It's a classic, I know, but when I'm in the mood for Godzilla, it's not usually the first that comes to mind. The same goes for Godzilla 1985. Perhaps it's because neither have any other monsters.  It comes as no surprise that you’ll see a lot of Mothra, King Ghidorah, and Mechagodzilla in my list.


10. Godzilla vs. Biollante(1989): One of the most original Godzilla movies, the story was the product of a national contest. The winner was a dentist. The story centers around international corporate espionage over possession of the Godzilla cells. Godzilla goes up against the creation of an unethical scientist, a cross between a rose bush, Godzilla’s own cells, and the soul of a young girl and takes its name from an old Nordic legend. Biollante is an impressive match for Godzilla. The music is bad, but the story is interesting, the special effects are great and it’s probably the best Godzilla suit design.


9. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah(1991):
Probably the most complicated story of any other movie. It features time travel, a new terrestrial origin to King Ghidorah, and is the only movie to fully explain how Godzilla was created and shows us what he looked like before he was mutated by the atomic bomb. It’s the most controversial Godzilla movie, made at a time when economic tensions between America and Japan were at an all time high, it features evil westerners from the future and American soldiers in WWII being killed by the Godzillasaurus. It also has an unforgettable scene where Godzilla cries. Both King Ghidorah and Mecha King Ghidorah are amazing. The battles and music are great.


8. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla/ Godzilla vs. The Bionic Monster (1974):
This is a classic. The first appearance of Godzilla’s robotic nemesis. It’s so fun to watch. It features four monsters including fan favorites King Seesar and Angilas. This is from the days when Godzilla was still a hero. Aliens create a robotic monster to kill Godzilla so they can take over the world. The action is great and fast paced.


7. Godzilla vs. Mothra: Battle for Earth(1992):
The hero is an Indiana Jones like adventurer that gets caught up in the search for the legendary Mothra. Godzilla fights Mothra and her evil twin, newcomer Battra, who was in part inspired by the old Megalon monster. The climactic battle takes place in Yokohama. Are the combined forces of Mothra and Battra enough to stop Godzilla?


6. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II(1993):
The pinnacle of the Heisei series. Mechagodzilla is constructed by man using the technology recovered from Mecha King Ghidorah. It also features Rodan and baby Godzilla. Godzilla is nearly killed and is saved by an unlikely ally in one of the best climaxes to any Godzilla film. A solid story and great special effects make this one a show stopper.


5. Destroy All Monsters(1968):
One of the most famous monster movies of all time. All the Giant monsters are set loose on the world, being controlled by a malevolent race of aliens. Eventually they join forces against a familiar enemy, King Ghidorah. This one features a wonderful score and engaging human story. It also has one of the greatest battle sequences ever set to film. A must see!


4. Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.(2003):
The story is eloquent. It combines high-technology and ancient gods. Mechagodzilla returns from the previous installment. Making Mechagodzilla a cyborg with the first Godzilla’s skeleton inside it, was a stroke of genius. In this one, Godzilla is back along with Mothra. The fairy twins come to plead with the humans to return the restless bones of Godzilla to the sea where they belong. Mothra is impressive and the fight scenes are really well done. The Mothra larvae get their chance at Godzilla, too. Will Tokyo survive the battle?


3. Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster(1964): I love this one. The original appearance of King Ghidorah is still the best. A beautiful foreign princess survives an assassination attempt and afterward believes herself to be a Martian and starts prophesying the appearance of giant monsters. The dashing young policeman Shindo and his sister must protect her from the assassins as the monsters appear one by one. Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra must combine forces to defeat King Ghidorah. Even by today’s standards, this one is amazing. The appearance of each monster is dramatic and the fight sequences are great.


2. Mothra vs. Godzilla(1964):
Still one of the best. A classic tale of evil vs. good, masculine vs. feminine, yin vs. yang. Mothra must defend her egg against a marauding Godzilla. The fight between them is one of the best in Kaiju history. Also, the battles with the Japanese military are very well done. One of the best of all time.


1. Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (GMK)(2001):
My pick for the best Godzilla movie of all time. The one that breaks all the rules. In this one, Godzilla is bad and Ghidorah is good. Three guardian monsters, Ghidorah, Mothra, and Baragon must defend Japan against a truly evil Godzilla. The story is original and the power and special effects are truly riveting. To learn more about this one, read my review

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Godzilla Rocks! (Literally) ゴジラ岩

ゴジラ岩




I've lived in Japan for over a decade, but just recently, I saw this. This was the picture on the cover of my wife's latest JAF(Japanese Automotive Federation) magazine. JAF is like AAA in the States. I soon learned there are at least three all natural rock formations in Japan that bear the name "Gojira iwa" or "Godzilla Rock". This first one is from the magazine. It's located in Akita Prefecture 秋田県 in northern Japan, on the 男鹿 otokoshika peninsula. It's really impressive in sunset, but even in the light of day, it's cool.


 


Number two is a towering full bodied Godzilla located in the area of Shiretoko 知床 in Hokkaido Prefecture北海道, the northernmost island of Japan. There's not much definition in the face, but what makes this one unique is it's located in the middle of town, not the coastline.
 


Number three is in Ishikawa Prefecture 石川県, which is on the Sea of Japan Coast near the Nodo Peninsula. This one has a bubbly coarse texture more like Godzilla's own skin. It looks like he's reaching his hand up to his face. Which one is your favorite?

Buy Godzilla T-Shirts Online


Shopping for a Godzilla T-shirt? Search no further. Amazon has the biggest selection and best deals on the web by far. A Godzilla T-shirt makes you stand out from the crowd and makes a perfect gift. Not just a few, but literally hundreds of designs are available in all sizes and most of them under $20. Amazon's Godzilla T-shirts fall into different categories. There are cool print and movie poster designs for the die-hard Godzilla fan, including shirts with Japanese. There is also the cute,"I love Godzilla" line, perfect for the female fan and also great Godzilla T-shirts for kids. Not only T-shirts, but there are also Godzilla caps and other accessories like tote bags and key chains available, too. Combine a T-shirt and another accessory to make the perfect gift for your special Godzilla fan. Get yours today.

Godzilla Rising Sun T-shirts
Japan is known as the land of the rising sun and in times past, the Japanese flag bore rays spreading out from the central sun. This really cool Andy Warholeske design comes in many different styles for men and women. You'll be the rave of the party.







Godzilla Black T-shirts
These Black T's feature a variety of colorful designs, mostly images of Godzilla from the movies. Some have Japanese print and others are printed on the front and back. Especially cool are the Godzilla World Destruction Tour line and the original "Gojira" design with Japanese.






Godzilla Movie Poster T-shirts
These shirts are printed with the original Japanese Godzila movie posters in full color and usually in Japanese. Featured movies include Godzilla vs. Gigan, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, and Godzilla 1985








"I Stomp Tokyo"
In the tradition of "I Love New York", "I Stomp Tokyo" design is very popular.











Big Print Godzilla T-shirt
These cool Godzilla T-shirts have oversized graphic designs. They are action-orentated and come in a variety of designs and colors.










Children's Godzilla T-shirts
These T-shirts have cute Godzilla designs for the youngest fans.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Buy Godzilla Books Online

Godzilla, that beloved behemoth, is an international icon that has endured for more 55 years and has more than 28 films to his credit. Godzilla has also been the subject of dozens of books. Amazon has great deals on Godzilla books for all ages. Most of these books I own myself.Godzilla books can roughly be divided into four groups; non-fiction, novels, comic books, and children's books.

Non-Fiction

The Official Godzilla Compendium: A 40 Year Retrospective by Marc Cerasini
This is a wonderful quick reference book on the movies. It gives a detailed synopsis of the movies from the original Gojira in 1954 to Godzilla vs. Destroyahin 1995. Especially handy are the movie info and cast and credits along the margin of the page. The book has many pictures, including many full color illustrations and original art by famous comic book illustrator Arthur Adams. In addition there are guest essays on many aspects of Godzilla including the making of the films, Godzilla in books and the media, and even Godzilla as a parenting tool. I especially love the one page filmography table in the back of the book for quick reference. The only drawback is that it was published in 1998, so it doesn't include any information on the movies made from 2000 on. Still, it's a great book and a must-have for any Godzilla fan. 144 pages.



 Japan's Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of "The Big G" by Steve Ryfle
Also published in 1998, this book is much more massive and broader in scope. The culmination of years of research, it not only details the films until 1995, but also tells the story of Godzilla's origins and his many fathers, like director Ishiro Honda, special effects wizard, Eiji Tsuburaya, and composer Akira Ifukube. Godzilla was originally a metaphor for the atomic bomb and was initially envisioned having a mushroom shaped head. The name "Gojira" is the combination of two words, gorilla and "kujira", the Japanese word for whale and was the nickname of a man working on the Toho Studio lot. A wonderful, in-depth book. 374 pages.



Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters by William M. Tsutsui
This book takes a fresh look at the King of the Monsters. The author combines solid scholarship with witty writing as he details the path of Godzilla in pop culture across the globe over the decade until the present; from issues of nuclear disarmament to science fiction fandom; from toys to TV endorsements for Nike and Dr. Pepper.. Well researched and accessible, it will be be enjoyed by enthusiasts of pop culture and historians alike. 256 pages.



Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda by Peter H. Brothers
This is a biography detailing the life and career of Ishiro Honda, one of Japan's most renown and prolific directors. Honda was one of Godzilla's "fathers" and the the director of the original Gojira movie which ushered in an era of Toho fantasy films. He directed not only most of the films in the original Godzilla series, but other giant monster movies, including Rodan and Mothra. He directed over 80 films over a career that spanned 60 years. Not just fantasy, his films are "beautiful nightmares" and are metaphors for the things which threaten mankind, both real and imaginary. While other directors like Akira Kurosawa get more critical acclaim, it is the movies of Ishiro Honda which have enthralled moviegoers all over the world for more than fifty years. 296 pages.



Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters: Defending the Earth with Ultraman and Godzilla by August Ragone
Eiji Tsuburaya was the special effects genius who almost single handed, created the entire genre of giant monster movies in Japan. He created the original Godzilla, the first ever man in a rubber suit to be filmed as a giant monster. He was responsible for not only Godzilla and Ultraman, but numerous other movies and TV shows. A must have for fans. 208 pages



A Critical History and Filmography of Toho's Godzilla Series, 2d ed. by David Kalat
This book proves that Godzilla can be the subject of not only fan books, but serious historical scholarship. This book is a direct response to years of abuse and ridicule that Godzilla has received over the years from American critics. Kalat not only gives a synopsis of the first 23 films, but also an indepth analysis of the sociopolitical subtexts. In addition, he reveals to us,another hidden father of Godzilla, Akira Ifukube, a serious classical composer. Ifukube created not only created Godzilla's famous theme music and marches, but the monster's characteristic roar as well. The sound was made by running a resined glove over the string of a contrabass. Though academic in nature, the book is easily accessible and enjoyable. 286 pages.



Novels
Random house has published a wonderful series of young adult novels about Godzilla. All the same giant monsters from Japan, but with all original stories. Authors Marc Cerasini and Scott Ciencin have created highly entertaining, fast paced stories that are fun to read. With dazzling titles and fantasticly illustrated cover art.

Godzilla 2000 by Marc Cerasini
This book was published in 1996 and not to be confused with the movie of the same name. Teenager Kip Daniels is grabbed by two agents after breaking records on a new video game called Battleground 2000. The military created the game to recruit new talent for training on a high-tech flying weapon to be used against Godzilla and other giant monsters who have been wreaking havoc worldwide. Kip and five other teenagers agree to join the secret organization called G-Force USA, but do they stand a chance against the mighty Godzilla?



Godzilla at World's End by Marc Cerasini
This sci-fi thriller is set in the year 2001. A team of young scientists head to the south pole in a modern dirigible airship. Miles below the surface of the South Pole, the Ancient Ones, a race of crystalline beings, have awakened after a million years and horrified to find "their" world infected by a plague of humans. To eliminate humanity, the Ancient Ones create an army of cybernetic monsters who lay waste to South America, China, and Russia before descending upon Japan to do battle with Godzilla. The young scientists in Antarctica and Godzilla, King of the Monsters, are humanity's last line of defense against the giant monster army of the Ancient Ones.


 Godzilla vs. the Robot Monsters by Marc Cerasini
The nations of the world prepare to fight back against Godzilla by constructing a pair of gigantic robotic weapons to be operated by teams of teenage geniuses. Unknown to the teams, however, the evil three-headed dragon King Ghidorah has returned. Rebuilt as a cyborg weapon, the creature can only by stopped if the robots now combine their forces and find an ally in the newly awakened Godzilla!




Godzilla vs. the Space Monster by Scott Ciencin
On the outskirts of Fort Wayne, Indiana, twelve-year-old Troy Richmond wishes on a star for more excitement in his life. When a meteorite lands in his backyard, it infects Troy with information about King Ghidorah, the terrible three-headed space monster who is heading straight for Earth. Troy finds himself at the center of a worldwide monster battle when King Ghidorah attacks Monster Island and hurts Godzilla's monster friends Rodan, Mothra, Battra, and Anguirus. Now it's personal, and it's up to Godzilla and a kid from Indiana to join forces and save the world!


Godzilla: Journey to Monster Island by Scott Ciencin
Lost in America, Godzilla can't seem to find his way back to the Pacific Ocean. He meets up with a group of giant monsters created by a scientific mishap and decides to wage war on a fearful military. When the monsters meet two courageous children who have convinced the authorities that the monsters are just looking for a way home, the group is allowed to continue their journey to Monster Island.



Godzilla Invades America by Scott Ciencin
A young Japanese boy is having trouble fitting in to his new American home. So when Godzilla arrives on America's shores, the boy decides to run away to follow him. In the process, he meets a young scientist named Hiro, who is on a quest of his own. The unlikely pair soon find themselves in the midst of an incredible adventure--and at the center of the biggest monster battle America has ever seen!



Godzilla: The Novelization by Stephan Molstad
This is the novelized version of 1998's Sony Godzilla with Matthew Broderick. Scientist Nick Tatopolous must uncover the secrets behind the giant creature known as Godzilla. After leaving a path of destruction across the globe, the trail leads to Manhattan. Can Nick and his team along with the U.S. Military, find a way to stop Godzilla before it's too late? 314 pages.



Comic Books

Godzilla: Age of Monsters
Noriko Yoshiwara's father discovered a large rock that altered the course of her life forever. The stone turned out to be a kind of beacon that summoned the King of the Monsters, Godzilla. Follow Yoshiwara and her team of scientists known as G-force as they track Godzilla as he battles Hero Zero, Charles Barkley and more!
This is a compilation of several stories from the Dark Horse comic series, excellent. Godzilla goes up against a whole new batch of enemies. The original comics were color, but this book has been done in manga style black and white. Necessary for any G-fan. 272 pages.


Godzilla: Past, Present, Future
This is a great book. It includes several of the best stories from Dark Horse. See Godzilla battle a giant mechanized Spider and go against giant aliens who come to Earth to hunt him. Then a power hungry mad scientist with a time machine takes Godzilla throughout human history. Godzilla destroys the Spanish Armada as well and breaks the Titanic in two! Great stuff. This thick, compilation comic is also in black and white. 272 pages.



Essential Godzilla (Marvel Essentials)
From 1977-1979, Godzilla had his own series from Marvel comics. In this version, he was green, scaly, and breathed red fire, but we didn't seem to mind, See Godzilla go up against Marvel's biggest stars, the Fantastic Four, The Avengers, and Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. Godzilla shrinks, goes west, travels through time and goes up against many more giant monsters. This massive compilation includes issues #1-24. 440 full color pages.


Children's Books 
Unfortunately, some of these great looking children's books are out of print, but are still available through special sellers

Godzilla on Monster Island by Jacqueline Dwyer
 Out of print. In this gentler story, Godzilla and his monster friends find a strange-looking egg on Monster Island. Knowing that the egg is important, Godzilla protects it from Gigan and Mechagodzilla's attacks. The egg turns out to be a cocoon, and when it opens, it releases beautiful Mothra--the newest monster on Monster Island! 24 pages.



Who's Afraid of Godzilla? by Di Kaiju and Bob Eggelton
Out of Print. Godzilla is sad because everyone on Monster Island is afraid of him. He goes off to live alone on a deserted island, then one day, sensing trouble back on Monster Island, he returns to find that Anguirus, has fallen into a volcano pit. Using his long tail, Godzilla saves Anguirus, and his act of kindness dispels the fears of the other monsters. Happily, Godzilla finally finds a home. 23 pages.




Godzilla Likes to Roar! by Kerry Milliron and Bob Eggelton
Out of Print. The rhyming story follows a day in the life of Godzilla in his Monster Island home. Godzilla roars when he's hungry, when he wants to play with his monster friends, and when he's tired. But eventually, even monsters have to go to sleep! This is a gentle monster "good night" tale for the youngest Godzilla fans. 24 pages.




 Godzilla Saves America: A Monster Showdown in 3-D! by Marc Cerasini
Illustrated in full color. Godzilla coming to America! Hold on to your special 3-D Godzilla Glasses, because you won't believe your eyes. This picture book features the latest in 3-D technology, allowing Godzilla to leap right off the page. Godzilla fans are in for a treat as they watch him battle Ghidorah, a three-headed dragon from outer space. No place in America is safe from this space monster. Godzilla must trek all across America--from the Golden Gate Bridge to Mount Rushmore to a quick shower under Niagara Falls--in search of the demolition dragon. Finally, they meet up in a mega-monster showdown set in New York City's concrete canyons.



Attack of the Baby Godzillas
Movie stills from the TriStar Pictures spring release relate the story of the most famous movie monster in the world. Godzilla has chosen the Big Apple as home for his newly hatched Baby Godzillas! Among those hot on his trail are Nick, a handsome scientist; Audrey, his ex-girlfriend and a novice reporter; and Animal, a daredevil cameraman.


Godzilla: A Junior Novelization by H. B. Gilmore
Godzilla has chosen the Big Apple as home for his newly hatched Baby Godzillas! Written for beginning readers--because it's never too early to read about everyone's favorite movie monster, this novelization includes movie stills. 71 pages.


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