Sunday, June 26, 2016

"Godzilla 2000" (1999) d/ Takao Okawara

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Tonight, I'm the bearer of both good and bad tidings here at the Wop. Bad, first: This review will wrap up the specialty month of Kai-June. I had planned on writing about several more movies before June ended, but they don't call it summer for nothing. Since we've already covered what I believe to be the best all around Godzilla movie to date here, some nine years ago, I figured we could close up shop this time around on a similarly high note, with the first in the Godzilla Millennium series, which also happens to be the first Japanese movie to utilize a completely cgi-Goji in a shot while lessening the overall impact of miniatures. Fear not, purists. It all works somehow. And then some.

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"Park by Macy's I said! This is the last time I let you drive the flying saucer in the mall parking lot..."
By the turn of the twenty-first century, Godzilla is a devastating nuisance to his native Japan, meriting a "Godzilla Prediction Network", that studies the great beast at every opportunity like he was a tornado with dorsal spikes and nuclear breath. Elsewhere, the science chappies have uncovered a UFO dormant in the Japan Trench for the past sixty million years, that awakens just as they're in the process of raising it for further studies, and flies off. Unaware that Japan's defense forces are equipped with full metal missiles that will undoubtedly pass through him like fecal matter in a goose's turd cutter, Godzilla carries out a fierce attack anyway when the flying saucer suddenly interrupts, looking for genetic hand outs from the big green goliath. When Godzilla is defeated by the interstellar interloper, he retreats underwater to rejuvenate himself a la Gamera, while the ship hits the pause button, landing itself on terra firma,  to recharge it's own space batteries. Everybody needs a break, man.

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"Jump over my tentacles! Bubble gum! Bubble gum! Five cents a packet!"
Shinoda (Takahiro Murata), the head of GPN, discovers that the secret to Godzilla's constant cell regeneration lie in something called Organizer G1, but the alien craft soon obtains the knowledge and heads for Shinjuku, where it lands atop Tokyo Opera City Tower, and begins to hack all of Japan's computers for more information. While changing the surrounding atmosphere to better suit it, the ship issues an obligatory invasion message to all Earthlings, as it seeks out Godzilla DNA so that it might transform into something more comfortable for it's coming efforts. Godzilla makes the scene, and takes down the UFO, but not before it can absorb some of Big G's mojo, transforming itself into a monstrous Millennian before the DNA takes control of the hulking form, changing it even more drastically into the monster, Orga, whose giant mitts pack a serious wallop. Godzilla v Orga for bragging rights over the planet, with no time limits, and to the death. Just the way you want your kaiju movies to wrap up. Check it out to see how it finishes!

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"C'mere, you ticklish? Coochie coochie coo..."
I'd merit a guess that the drastically divergent Mire-Goji here is the natural adult progression of Godzilla, Jr., who survived the eye-popping, jaw-dropping finale of Godzilla vs Destoroyah (1995). He'd reappear in the next entry, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, the following year, with a lighter green skin tone and brighter spikes, before undergoing further modifications for his 2002 scrap against Mechagodzilla, who'd undergone some big changes himself by then. Despite a few flubbed effects match ups here and there, 2000 remains one of my favorite Godzilla movies, with a script made wittier for Western audiences ("those full metal missiles will go through Godzilla like crap through a goose!", for example.), packed to the dorsal spikes with loads of good giant monster action, and the most wicked-looking Godzilla suit ever committed to celluloid. For those reasons and more, three Wops have been bestowed upon it, and it comes highly recommended to kaiju fans everywhere. As we watch the radioactive beast once again lumber off into the ocean on his lonely journey home, and little high pitched Japanese kids in vasectomy shorts wave him on, we ponder his triumphantly destructive return one day and smile.

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Of all the buildings he could eat, Godzilla foolishly picked a Sriracha sauce factory.
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Thursday, June 23, 2016

"Gamera: Guardian of the Universe" (1995) d/ Shusuke Kaneko

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We've still got a few Showa era Gamera flicks to get through, but frankly, I needed to break up the childish ineptitude with an example of an excellent kaiju movie. If you asked me prior to 1995 if I thought such a concept was possible with Gamera as a centerpiece, and Gyaos as the villainous foe, I'd ask you where you scored the hard drugs, and more importantly, why you didn't immediately share 'em with me/ give them all to me. But that's exactly what happened. It's no surprise that such a project was helmed by Shusuke Kaneko, the man who'd be responsible for Godzilla Mothra King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack (2001), as well as the second and third movies in this trilogy. In the end, all he managed to do is make some of the greatest kaiju films to date, starting with this one...

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"I don't think that's coleslaw..."
After a ship loaded with plutonium collides with a floating atoll off the coast of the Philippines, a team of scientists are called in, and subsequently find a rune slathered stone slab and some amulets before they discover the horrible truth: This moving atoll has eyes and tusks. Elsewhere, in a tiny village in the Goto Archipelago, an ornithologist named Mayumi (Shinobu Nakayama) investigates a series of attacks eyewitnesses attribute to "giant birds". That explains that towering butte of bird shit with human remains in it. Her team discovers the winged culprits responsible in the nearby rainforest, and with government assistance, a trap is set and baited with sides of fresh beef to attract these strange creatures inside the domed Fukuoka Stadium. While they're all trapped in steel cages, the giant turtle unexpectedly makes the scene and blasts one with a death fireball directed from his tusked yap. The other two use a laser screech to sheer the cages in half and flap into the night sky before the half-shelled hellion can off them, too.

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No Gyaos were harmed in the making of this picture. All, I meant all.
Kusanaga (Akira Onodera), one of the scientists from the atoll, successfully translates the runes and thus identifies the turtle as Gamera, and the triangle-headed birds happen to be Gyaos, while the daughter of a marine officer from the ship named Asagi (Ayako Fujitani) inadvertently touches one of the amulets, developing a psychic link with the giant turtle. As a rare faux pas, the government forces attack the guardian, Gamera instead of the grotesque googly-eyed Gyaos. After rescuing humans from an attacking Gyaos, which he dispatches really briskly, Gamera is set upon by the armed forces, his wounds directly affecting Asagi in the same areas on her body. The last Gyaos shows up and seriously wounds the massive turtle, sending him into a mid-ocean heal sesh sequence that hearkens back to a lousier movie made nearly a quarter century earlier, and the young girl into a coma. While Gamera recuperates the Gyaos boosts his status from regular Gyaos to colossal Super Gyaos with devastating Tokyo attacks that'd make Godzilla jealous, even building a huge egged up nest on Tokyo Tower. It's just that Asagi awakens to relate news of Gamera's recent recovery and impending scrap with the giant asexual product of man's pollution, Super Gyaos, and follows the climactic action in a chopper full of her buddies. How it all turns out you'll have to find out for yourselves and score a copy!

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Ohhhhhh SNAP! Did y'all get dat? World Star! World Star!!
Besides her psychic bond with the giant turtle in her premier performance, actress/writer/director Ayako Fujitani also shares a blood bond with Steven Seagal, one of the worst action stars in movie history, and her dad. I'm pretty sure the Gamera suit is a better actor than he is. She's good, though, as is pretty much everything about this one. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a better, more enjoyable kaiju movie than this. Besides the competent acting from it's cast, the sets and miniatures are incredible, the suitmation effects, blended slightly with cg, is optimal, effortlessly surpassing Eiji Tsubaraya's best work, IMHO, and the score is both heroic and theatrical. Four Wops, without question, for this first reinterpretation, a job very well done. Highly recommended.

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"Gamera no want broccoli, dammit! Gamera want turtle flake!"
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Saturday, June 18, 2016

B.W.'s Top Ten Godzilla Suits (and his five least favorite)

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With thirty daikaiju movies to his name at the time of this writing, Godzilla, as originally created by suitmation/miniatures wiz Eiji Tsubaraya, is the most popular of Toho Studios giant cinematic monsters, by far. The fact that each movie's respective Godzilla suit was built from scratch results in thirty different, varying looks for everyone's favorite radioactive bully/hero. Some are cooler than Bueller, others Tonight, we'll bypass the usual movie reviews and continue our Kai-June celebration with a list of my ten favorite on screen incarnations of Big G. Roll 'em!

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10) 2002 Kiryu-Goji as seen in: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, Godzilla Tokyo S.O.S.
A variation on the Mire-Goji design from Godzilla 2000 and Godzilla vs Megaguirus with a more Heisei-slanted head and different skin base color and spikes, you can't deny Kiryu-Goji's wicked look. Next, we've got...

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9) 1971 Shoshingeki-Goji as seen in: Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster
With his sludge-burned eye and hands, this mouth-wiping variant was the first one I saw at the drive-in in my old man's '67 Chevy Impala as an evil little brat. Though his cartoonish look is seemingly geared more towards younger fans, it works for this guy.

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8) 1964 Mosu-Goji as seen in: Mothra vs Godzilla
Eyebrow-Goji, or Fuad-Goji as he's known in obscure circles of one that consist of me (bang, bang), is a decent looking suit, kept from the top of my list by the tragic side note that this particular Big G famously gets punked the fuck out in the end by a pair of silk-slinging caterpillars. WTF,  Eyebrows.

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7) 1954 Shodai-Goji as seen in: Godzilla (1954)
The one that started it all. Love those dead-looking eyes, and fully appreciate that he's not out to be a hero to any loudmouthed children. His one aim: Chew on train cars and destroy everything immediately, avoiding any oxygen destroyers in his legendary path. Very iconic and cool.

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6) 1975 Megaro-Goji as seen in: Godzilla vs Megalon
Here's another Godzilla I cut my teeth on, a playful variant on the Shoshingeki-Goji suit that had been featured as far back as 1968's Destroy All Monsters, slightly altered, though with his familiar unhappy scowl, and goofy mannerisms, i.e. shaking hands with Jet Jaguar. Why would he shake hands with that metallic mook? He was supposed to aid Godzilla, and ended up getting mopped up but good in mere moments by Megalon and Gigan, ultimately needing a bail out from Big G himself.
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5) 1993 Rado-Goji as seen in: Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla
Any of the Heisei-era suits would have fit the bill here, as they all share a pretty similar look  It's this Godzilla that reignited my flame of interest in kaiju movies that had laid mostly dormant since the late seventies, Godzilla 1985 included, as you'll soon see. Next there's...

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4) 1995 Desu-Goji as seen in: Godzilla vs. Destoroyah
Check out Burning Godzilla in the pic above. I rest my case.

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3) 2001 Sokogeki-Goji  as seen in: GMK: Giant Monsters All Out Attack!
Deliciously evil looking, this demonic incarnation will expel a mushroom cloud-inducing breath ray with his soulless white eyes and nifty pot belly. Tits, for sure, from the guy who resurrected Gamera in the nineties.

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2) 1962 King-Goji  as seen in: King Kong vs Godzilla
This stocky rascal is my favorite Showa era suit, famous for his cinematic scrap with King Kong, or at least the cheesy Japanese suitmation version of the American giant. That particular fight was fixed, btw. No way Godzilla loses to a special ed-looking ape suit, no fucking way.

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1) 2000 Mire-Goji as seen in: Godzilla 2000
Ah, my favorite, Millennium Godzilla. The drastic renovation of the classic Big G design was a grand slam, in my book.

and just for the hell of it, here are my five least favorite Godzilla suits/incarnations:

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5) 1985 84-Goji  as seen in : Godzilla 1985
84-Goji's smallish egg head and vampire fangs have the same effect on me that misogyny has on the ears of a hair triggered SJW. I didn't like the design when the trailers for the movie turned up at the theaters or on television, I didn't like it the first time I sat through it, and I probably don't like it any more today.

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4) 1967 Mosuko-Goji as seen in : Son of Godzilla
Mosuko-Goji might be the ugliest, most embarrassingly designed suit to date. It's fitting then, that it's paired up with that smoke ring-blowing gimp of a son, Minya/Minilla in this movie for one of the crappiest, least engaging adventures to date.

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3) 1955 Gyakushu-Goji as seen in: Godzilla Raids Again/ Gigantis the Fire Monster
The formula that was so effective the previous year in the pioneer film seems to have been tossed out the fucking window for this second one. Less Godzilla than Jim Varney. I could spend all day whipping up witticisms for how rotten this suit looks, surely the worst of the lot, but I'd rather turn attention towards the top/bottom two, which, to nobody's surprise, are...

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2) 2014 Legendary Goji as seen in : Godzilla (2014)
As shitty as the '55 and '67 suits are, at least they're actual fucking suits. Here's a fat, handicapped-looking dog-esque design fleshed out on computers for a whopping seven minutes of screen time. Admittedly popular with some, but some people will like whatever phoned in garbage you throw at them. Make no mistake, Hollywood cheapens that which it sinks its evil talons into, no doubt. Fail.

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1) 1998 Zilla as seen in: Godzilla (1998)
Where did you think Roland Emmerich's dud of a computer generated iguana would fall on my lists? I've yet to sit all the way through this mutt, and I have no plans to do so any time soon. Thanks for removing the "God" in Godzilla, Hollywood. My father, legendary for blurting out "Look how fucking fake that is! Fake, stupid shit!" whenever he spots Godzilla on television like a film critic with Tourette's, actually liked this movie. That should tell you all you need to know. Epic fail.

...so there you have it. What are your favorites? Least favorites? Let me know in the comment section, drop me an e-mail, or post your own entry and send me a link to it. I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

"Destroy All Monsters" (1968) d/ Ishiro Honda

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Growing up in the seventies, seeing tonight's review listed in the TV Guide for the coming week usually led to prolonged bouts of unbridled kid giddiness, if not lengthy negotiations with the M & P to stay up late and watch, if it was on after that grey, fuzzy area known in my house as "bedtime". After all, this wasn't just Godzilla and Mothra, or a couple of Gargantuas, this was ALL MONSTER territory. Besides the usual culprits: Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and the three-headed King, you were getting Gorosaurus, Kumonga (Spiga here), Manda, Angillas, Minya, Baragon, and even Varan the Unbelievable shows up for a brief pair of shots. That's unbelievable. Read on...

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Remember when astronauts wore this lemony get up, way back in 1999?
In the distant future of 1999, the United Nations Science Committee has somehow managed to rustle up all of the earth's giant monsters and supplant them on an impossibly tiny island they've christened "Monster Land". They're all there despite long shots that make the place look cramped for even two guys-in-suits. Everything is controlled from a subterranean base on the island, until it isn't. On the human front, you've got Dr. Yoshido (Jun Tazaki) dispatching his sixties-tastic Moonlight SY-3 rocket spacecraft and crew to investigate the sudden loss of communications with ahem, Monster Land. Wouldn't you know it, the researchers stationed there have been slipped a gaseous mickey and rendered subservient to a race of pushy alien women in silver lame capes n' hoods known as the Kilaaks. All the monsters are sent out on a worldwide rampage by the interstellar bitches, with Godzilla stomping the Big Apple, Gorosaurus burrowing up into Paris (Why does Gorosaurus burrow anyway? Strikes me as a poor man's T-Rex.), Rodan flaps through Moscow, Mothra headbutting oncoming trains in Beijing, and Manda flopping around limply in London, respectively. We foolish earthlings are indeed in for it now.

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"I removed the transmitter from behind your ear. I may also have elbow-titted you in the melee. Sorry."
While the world deals with its sudden monster infestation, the Kilaaks are building a stronghold under Mt. Fuji. The UNSC manages to uncover the extraterrestrial (While we're at it, why do the alien races all look like Japanese in these movies. Just a thought, I'm not complaining about hot Japanese cooze in go-go outfits, trust me...) plot, and most of the trainsmitters they've supplanted in rocks...coconuts. Basketballs. Yeah. Anyway, with control of the daikaiju transferred back to the good guys, the Kilaaks send for their three-headed trump card in the form of King Ghidorah, who squares off against the whole damned lot of them. Ghidorah manages to bully Angillas some, before ultimately getting punked the fuck out by an Angillas neckbite, Gorosaurus jumpkick (Why didn't he break out this stuff against King Kong two years earlier?), and Godzilla roughhousing, topped off with a silk casket woven by Kumonga and Mothra in unison. Godzilla stomps one head into the dirt, and as a final slap in the face, Minya smoke rings the last conscious head into defeat. The Kilaak's final hope lies in a mysterious Fire Dragon, which turns out to be little more than a flame-engulfed flying saucer, and that, too, is pulverized. Hooray for Earth. Wave goodbye to the monsters, cramped once again on their archipelago.

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"Spare us your lightning, you're about to get clowned, bitch."
I don't wanna sound too much like the kid who grew up into Mr.Elitist Prick, but overall, if you're not into Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Mothra larva, Rodan, Manda, Angillas, or Gorosaurus, there's not nearly as much daikaiju as advertised, hardly enough to merit "All" in the title. And though Godzilla, Gorosaurus, and King Ghidorah are all cool as fuck, nobody's settling in,  in front of the big screen, jonesing to cheer on a flimsy-looking Manda puppet or the perpetually piss-weak Angillas. Not even a gaggle of ironic kaiju hipsters in fedoras. I'm doubting Mothra larva's fan base as this juncture, too. Still, gonna lay two Wops upon it, in any case. Worth a look, for hardcore daikaiju freaks.

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As a Vikings fan, Godzilla did a lot less of this, especially in playoff games last season. Oof-ah!
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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

"Gamera vs Gyaos" (1967) d/ Noriyaki Yuasa

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We've covered some weird flicks here at the Wop over the past nine years, from beds that hungrily eat random hippies, to murderous pro black afro-penises that grow with hatred for the oppressive Caucasian race of honky pigs, and everything you can imagine in between, by cracky. Tonight, the Kai-June thruway passes through some serious weird hairpin curves, mix in some laughable ineptitude, poverty-level special effects, and the pioneer example of "abrasively whiny Japanese fatso kid in ill-fitting shorts who ignores the wisdom of all nearby adults for a terrifying-but-fun Gamera-based adventure" in the Daiei series. That's gotta account for something, right?

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If you should run and you trip and you fall...in the laaaand of Eiichi (Naoyuki Abe) the Latch Key.
Sudden volcanic eruptions attract Gamera, who's spotted by an annoying runt named Eiichi (Naoyuki Abe), who mistakes the massive monster for the pet turtle that he's been forced to abandon by his family, hereafter throwing all caution to the winds where the bellicose behemoth is concerned, certain that he wont be harmed in any way. A lot of this happens throughout. A lot. Gamera climbs into the volcano for his flame-enriched diet's sake, while a team of researchers on their way to the site inexplicably has its helicopter hilariously shorn in half by a sonic beam of mysterious origin. Eiichi and a reporter named Okabe find themselves trapped in a cave investigating the beam, and when a cave in occurs, Okabe leaves the high pitched brat behind, only to swallowed up by Gyaos, a bird-bat monster bested in realism by any old Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade float, with a triangular phony head full of deadly weapons at it's disposal. The boy manages to escape only to end up in one of Gyaos' claws, and would be up shit's creek, were it not for the timely arrival of everyone's favorite tusked flying mega-turtle.

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Who's setting who on fire here? It's not obvious.
Gamera rescues Eichii, but receives a painful-looking sonic beam ouchie for his troubles, cueing his obligatory lengthy recuperative sequence, and signalling an equally long segment detailing mankind's futile attempts to thwart the triangular terror, whose devastating attacks have been determined to be curtailed to the pm hours because hokey science. Another titanic tangle between the monsters sees Gamera nearly close the chapter on Gyaos, forcing it to tear its own toes off to escape the turtle's grip and the Sun's paralyzing rays. Despite regenerating his lost tootsies, on which scientists have discovered the fact that they shrink under the scrutiny of intense ultraviolet rays, Gyaos proves as formidable foe as he is fake-looking, dodging a crazy giant spinning platform, with a bird feeder that shoots gallons upon gallons of synthetic blood into the atmosphere to lure the beast in, and ultimately, make him too dizzy to fly off as the sun rises. That's right. The government paid to have that constructed, with kaiju dizziness in mind. Gamera comes back for round three, and though I'm not gonna detail the final scrap here, you can pretty much figure out what happens by now, can't you?

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"Blast you, giant, spinning platform and synthetic blood spraying bird feeder!"
If you've also got a copy of Gamera: Defender of the Universe(1995), then you've seen what a miraculous makeover Gamera's favorite foe, Gyaos,  underwent nearly thirty years later, though ingeniously retaining a slight touch of goofiness in the form of extra googly eyes. Compared to that particular film, tonight's review is like a child's crayon scribbles against the Sistine Chapel ceiling. They only get more outrageous from here, believe me folks, as you'll find out as Kai-June motors further down the sprawling asphalt in search of Cult kicks. On the scale, Gyaos manages to secure itself a telling single Wop, if only for the unintentional laughter packed throughout. If bad movies are your bag, this one's Louis Vuitton.

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"Aiiiiieeeee! If the sun's rays touch me, I'll turn back into a chunk of Yokohama rubber!"
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Saturday, June 11, 2016

"Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster" (1964) d/ Ishiro Honda

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What we've got on our hands tonight, folks, is tantamount to Toho's first big cinematic daikaiju Wrestlemania ticket, featuring the three biggest monsters to date, and introducing a brand spanking new one that would endure the ages while endearing kaiju fans the world over. Of course, I speak of none other than King Ghidorah, whose eight movie appearances span the Showa era, the Heisei era, and the Millenium era, in various incarnations. There's been a cretaceous variation, a Keizer version, a Death Ghidorah on all fours, and even a partially robotic incarnation, with just as many roles and backstories to mention, though here, in his first movie, it should be noted that he's the familiar gold scaled, dual-tailed, lightning breathing, three headed destroyer of planets that we've come to know and love, as Godzilla's baddest interstellar nemesis.

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"Ain't nuthin' in this mountain but us prehistoric chickens!"
After Princess Selina Salno of Selgina (Akiko Wakabayashi)...phew, that's some serious alliteration right there... disappears mysteriously moments before the plane she's aboard suddenly explodes in mid-air, Det Shindo (Yosuke Natsuki), who's assigned to protect her on her visit to Japan, can only assume he's failed in carrying out his orders. Elsewhere, Professor Murai (Hiroshi Koizumi) investigates an equally mysterious meteor shower that has deposited an enormous meteorite in the nearby forest, one that displays great magnetism from time to time. Meanwhile, Selina turns up unharmed in Japan, in plain clothes, and claiming to be Venusian, to boot, while spouting familiar prophesies of impending doom. The miniature Shobijin (The Peanuts) also happen to be in Japan, on vacation from Easter Island for a television appearance, where they sing to Mothra back home, to the glee of probably nobody that isn't five years old and wearing vasectomy shorts. Before Selina's corrupt uncle, who tried offing his niece in the first place, can send hit men from Selgina to finish the job, Godzilla and Rodan both make the scene, and their colossal scrap means death and destruction, as always. Cue: Stock footage of fleeing Japanese.

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This would've made a great 7th grade math book cover drawing or a back patch for a denim vest.
After Selina foregoes a psychiatric evaluation where the doctor's sole, reasonable prognosis is that she is, indeed, possessed by a Venusian consciousness, she relates the horrible extinction of her people at the electrical gravity beams of a terrible three-headed monster named Ghidorah, and further prophesies his arrival for more of the same right here on Earth! At this point, Murai's meteorite proves to be an egg, instead, and one from which King Ghidorah emerges. Before too much of civilization is wiped out, the Shobijin enlist Mothra, in larval form, to convince Godzilla and Rodan to stop their monstrous bickering long enough to save the planet from the invading dragon. Cue: subtitled monster convo, ready your diapers. Mothra shrugs off the unreasonable, unreachable behemoths, and takes on Ghidorah itself, not the brightest of ideas the heroic caterpillar has ever come up with. The larva's bravery (Am I actually writing this? Wow.) inspires Godzilla and Rodan to join the brawl, and what follows, must be considered an epic daikaiju battle for Showa era supremacy, and one you'll want to experience for yourselves.

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"Easy for you to say, you sprayed me with silk until I fell into the sea!", grumbles Godzilla (Haruo Nakajima).
We last saw Hiroshi Koizumi in 1963's Matango, but his next Godzilla appearance would come in 1974's Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. Akiko Wakabayashi would graduate from Toho-born kaiju films to You Only Live Twice three years later as a Bond girl. The fifth film in the Showa Godzilla series, the second of 1964, following Mothra vs Godzilla aka/Godzilla vs the Thing, and the first movie where Godzilla has a change of heart, turning heroic from his usual villainous role to this point. The Showa Ghidorah suit seen here would appear four times in Godzilla movies over a nine year period, before turning up for the last time in a mostly pulverized state in a pair of Jun Fukuda-directed Zone Fighter episodes in 1973. There's enough giant monster suit-age here to satisfy most kaiju fans, and ample silliness to cap off multiple viewings of this cult classic. Therefore, two respectable Wops, it must be. Check it out.

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"I'm giving out free...GRAVITY BEAMS! Ha-ha, take that!"
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Monday, June 6, 2016

"Gamera vs. Barugon" (1966) d/ Shigeo Tanaka

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The following review is dedicated to Stacie "Final Girl" Ponder, surely one of my inspirations to do this very thing I do on a semi-regular basis for nearly ten years now. Tonight, we'll look at my favorite of the Showa Gamera series, which really ain't saying too much, when you look at the other films we're dealing with here. I rarely missed the opportunity to catch it on late night tv, where it usually turned up during my childhood, regularly reveling in the Daiei Studio-based rottenness that comprises the giant fire breathing turtle's first turn as a hero instead of a villain. Seeing how it's only the second Gamera movie, the producers really didn't wait too long to give the big guy a change in heart, did they? Let's check it out, shall we...

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"Don't go fuckin' around opal huntin' in that cave now. You'll regret the fuck out of it, son."
When last we left our terrible terrapin, he was trapped inside a rocket destined for Mars. Unfortunately for earthlings, the rocket crosses paths with a wayward meteorite that frees Gamera, who returns to Earth and abruptly demolishes Kurobe Dam. Meanwhile, a World War Two vet named Kano sends a trio of adventurers to an island in the South Pacific to retrieve a fist-sized opal he hid in a cave years earlier. On the island, Onodera (Koji Fujiyama) proves to be a right greedy bastard, indeed, letting one of the other men die slowly from a scorpion sting, and double crossing Keisuke (Kojiro Hongo), Kano's younger brother, setting off a cave-in with grenades. While Keisuke is rescued by the villagers and more specifically, a tasty primitive native bird who cleans up real nice, named Karen (Kyoko Enami), Onodera foolishly incubates the would be opal with an infrared light as he returns to the mainland via ocean liner. From the gemstone hatches Barugon (not to be confused with Giant Japanese Frankenstein's floppy eared foe, Baragon), who grows to monstrous size, sinking the ship and destroying Kobe harbor in the process. In Osaka, Barugon utilizes his hyper-extending tongue which emits a freeze ray and his spiky back, from which a destructive rainbow emerges to negate both the defense forces and Gamera, who shows up just in time to get frozen solid. Oof-ah.

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"I'm always chasing rainbooooows, waiting to find a little bluebird in vaiiiin..."
Onodera, who refuses to believe that the opal was really a monster's egg, plans to dive to the ship's wreckage in the harbor and retrieve the gemstone, but accidentally relates to Kano that he murdered two men to get the opal, not excluding his younger brother. He then abruptly kills Kano and his wife to further mask his own treachery. Keisuke and Karen stumble upon Onodera, who they leave tied up, only to be rescued by his own wife later on. The duo work in conjunction with the defense ministry to lure Barugon into a nearby lake, using a massive diamond, and it nearly succeeds if it weren't for Onodera who boldly makes the scene and steals it, only to get tongued, gem and all, directly into the giant lizard's waiting yap. Serves you right, greedy wankstain. Next, the defense forces reflect Barugon's rainbow beams back at the creature using giant mirrors, successfully weakening him, just in time for...Gamera's triumphant return (yeah, wasn't this a Gamera movie to begin with?), and a final kaiju throwdown to the death. Who will come out victoriously, the giant flame-eating tusked turtle that flies? Or the giant horned chameleon/gecko with the lopsided face and an aversion to water? To find out, you must get your hands on a copy of it!

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"Ahhhh, you're wailing on the asymmetrical side of my grillpiece!"
Unlike most of the other early Gamera films, there are no annoying Japanese children scream-whining Gamera's name to speak of throughout the running time of this one, which I suppose makes the adult drama and crappy giant monster effects more palatable to me,  in this case. The purple blood of monsters flows graphically and frequently here, as is usually the case in the Daiei series. Weren't the vast majority of these movies marketed towards little kids? Strange. You'll never mistake this for a good movie, a good monster movie, or even a good Gamera movie, ferchrissakes, no matter what kind of spin you put on it. Thus, it receives the solo woppo of reverse-excellence, on the rating scale. It might be my favorite, but I wouldn't expect it to become yours, by any stretch. Hell, even if you dig rotten monster movies, you're gonna wanna approach with caution.

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Gamera gives Barugon the Mary Jo Kopechne treatment.
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