Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

The year 2009 certainly has come and gone fairly quickly. As I get older each year seems to go by a little faster. I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year holiday and best wishes for the year 2010!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from Godzilla and friends!

Think Santa Claus will be delivering presents to kids all the over the world tonight? Absolutely! What you may not know about ole Saint Nick is that he once starred in his very own action/sci-fi film, defeating a group of would be invader Martians! The movie is called Santa Claus Conquers The Martians. See it by clicking the video below.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kaiju Galaxy: Five Years On The Web!

I'd like to offer a belated congratulations to Donny Winter, the site founder of Kaiju Galaxy, a message board community that Donny first started back in November, 2004. The board has over 430 members and has just surpassed 103,000 posts. The board contains some of the best kaiju fan fiction submissions and other creative writing submissions I've seen on the internet. If you like talking about giant monsters then check out Donny's board called Kaiju Galaxy. The board URL:

You can also access Donny's fabulous online community by clicking the title of this blog entry.

Donny's board also has a "parent" site, some web pages with even more info and features. The board URL for this site:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bat Out Of Hell: Gamera Vs Gyaos(1967)

I'm a huge fan of the classic Gamera films which were made by the Daiei Motion Picture Company back in the 60's. My favorite among these older Gamera movies is called Gamera Vs Gyaos, first released to theaters in Japan back in March of 1967. This movie, directed by Noriaki Yuasa and produced by Hidemasa Nagata, pits Gamera, a 200 foot tall fire breathing and flying turtle, against a giant and malevolent, people eating and winged monster called "Gyaos". Gyaos resembles an enormous bat that can emit a powerful sonic beam capable of cutting buildings in half. The winged monster antagonist has blood red eyes and a creepy roar: there is in fact a decided "horror" undercurrent to this movie due in large part to the film's score.

The Daiei Region 2 DVD of Gamera Vs Gyaos(1967), which presents the film in it's original (widescreen) 2:35.1 aspect ratio, has become hard to find on the internet. The film was released by AIP in the U.S. under the title "Return Of The Giant Monsters" and has been released twice on DVD under its Americanized title:

-by Image Entertainment in June, 2004 as a full screen(1:33.1 aspect ratio), Region 1(NTSC) release and paired with Toei's 1966 fantasy-kaiju epic The Magic Serpent

-by St. Clair Entertainment in March, 2005 in full screen, all region(NTSC) as part of a nine(9) film DVD set.

To see the Image Entertainment R1 DVD release of Gamera Vs Gyaos(1967)/The Magic Serpent(1966) and the 2005 St. Clair Entertainment Group nine movie DVD set release click on the above DVD cover art images.

The original Daiei trailer for Gamera Vs Gyaos(1967):

Friday, December 11, 2009

Red Menace: The War Of The Worlds(1953)

I was greatly saddened to see the news posted this morning at that long time TV and movie actor Gene Barry had passed away. The 90 year old actor died at a rest home in the Los Angeles(CA) suburb of Woodland Hills. I've always had the greatest respect for this handsome and charismatic actor. I haven't always followed the late actor's TV career but I will always cherish his performance as scientist "Dr. Clayton Forrester" in the classic science fiction film The War Of The Worlds(1953). This film has stood the test of time very well and features great visual effects(for the time) by George Pal. More than anything, this movie is a great and epic story that is character driven and also serves as a reminder that perhaps we aren't alone in the universe...

In the movie Earth is invaded by Martians, who use devastating and seemingly indestructible machines to lay waste to cities. A group of scientists, led by "Dr. Clayton Forrester", frantically try to find a weakness of some kind in the marauding Martian machines, all while the military's efforts to stop the machines fail utterly. (no other spoilers)

Image Hosted by
Gene Barry (1919-2009)

This film has been released on Region 1 "Special Edition" DVD and can be seen for sale at Amazon by clicking the DVD cover art image above.

The trailer for the film:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Vegetable Matter: Matango(1963)

As a dedicated fan or horror films I spend considerable free time watching "Hammer" horror films and a great deal of horror movies from the 80's on DVD, raiding my DVD racks for "A Nightmare On Elm Street" and "Friday The 13th" films. Toho, which owns the rights to Godzilla, has made a lot of quality horror films as well. One of my favorites is Matango, originally released to Japanese theaters back in 1963, the film directed by Inoshiro Honda, produced by Tomuyuki Tanaka and based on a story called "The Voice In The Night" which was penned by William Hodgson.

The film's story: a group of affluent people aboard a yacht find themselves in harms way after their yacht is damaged during a storm at sea. The yacht runs aground on an island. The survivors of the ship wrecked yacht wade ashore and a short time later discover a rotting, seemingly abandoned derelict ship that is beached close by. An inspection of the derelict, mold covered and dilapidated vessel doesn't reveal much but left over documents on board the abandoned ship suggest some kind of scientific research was being conducted. A night time visit to the derelict vessel by an unknown intruder creates, along with the fog shrouded island and the rising tensions between the group members, an atmosphere of terror and suspense among the human cast of characters.

The group of survivors, when not making tentative forays farther into the island interior, subsist on canned food for a time: after their canned fare runs out they decide to try and find other food sources on the mysterious island. It quickly becomes apparent the island is teeming with mushrooms. Despite being warned by the yacht's captain not to consume them, the other survivors eat the mushrooms anyway, which sets in motion a series of events that may very well kill them all...(no other spoilers)

This moody, atmospheric and creepy horror movie was released to quality Region 1 DVD in March, 2005 by Mediablasters under their "Tokyo Shock" label. The DVD release presents the film in its original 2:35.1 aspect ratio and includes audio options and some great extras, including an audio commentary by cast member and veteran Toho actor Akira Kubo and some production stills.

The film was dubbed in English in 1965 by AIP(American International Pictures) and released as a TV movie with the title Attack Of The Mushroom People. There are a lot of bootlegged VHS tapes and DVD-Rs of the Americanized version around, both on the internet and in bargain bin video stores.

To see the Mediablasters R1 DVD for sale at Amazon click on the above DVD cover art image or click the title of this blog entry.

The Toho trailer for Matango(1963):

Monday, November 23, 2009

The center of attention: The Core(2003)

What with Roland Emmerich's "end of the world" disaster film 2012 playing in theaters right now I got to thinking about some of my own personal favorite disaster movies. One that comes to mind is The Core, released to theaters back in 2003 by Paramount, the film directed by Jon Amiel and loosely based on a novel authored by Paul Preuss called "Core". This movie didn't blow me away but it had some interesting visual effects and storyline.

In The Core, a secret government project to weaponize an earthquake making device inadvertently causes the Earth's molten core to stop spinning. The molten core's rotation is what provides our planet with the protective electromagnetic field that blocks out harmful cosmic and solar radiation. Without the core's rotation, scientists declare that the Earth will be incinerated by cosmic rays.

Scientists and the military forum and devise a plan to re-start the planet's molten core using nuclear weapons, this nuclear payload delivered by way of one scientists' special ship which will be fitted with a drill and special alloy to withstand the tremendous temperatures at the Earth's core. The ship, called "Virgil", begins it's descent into the Earth's mantle after being launched into the Marianas Trench in the Pacific ocean. From here the fate of the Earth rests in the hands of the small group of scientists and Air Force officer who have been tasked with piloting the "Virgil" to the planet's core, deploy and detonate 1000 megatons of nuclear bombs and somehow make it back to the surface...(no other spoilers)

The film's trailer:

To see this movie for sale on Region 1 DVD click the DVD cover art image above or click the title of this blog entry.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Monsterland Forums

It's hard to believe that my message board, Monsterland Forums, is nearly four years old. I started it back on January 29, 2006 on a used laptop computer. The board generated only 5637 posts in 2006 but nearly doubled that post total for 2007. The board's breakout year was in 2008 when "MF" began regularly exceeding 2000+ posts per month and averaged at least 1-2 new member registrations per month. The year 2009 has been a busy posting period for this online community. We now have 194 members and have exceeded over 30,000 posts for the year with December still in front of us.

Monsterland Forums should easily reach 100,000 posts and 200 members by the summer or fall of 2010. Check out our community! I think you'll like what you see!

The board link: (you can also access this online community by clicking the title of this blog entry)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Crystal Clear: Godzilla Vs Space Godzilla(1994)

Last night I sat down and watched my Region 3, Universe Laser DVD of Godzilla Vs Space Godzilla(1994). I have seen a lot of kaiju film fans, at message boards, label this movie as the weakest in the Heisei Godzilla film series. I'm not going to debate that particular position with anyone here or anywhere else on the internet. I will say that I like this movie considerably more now than I did when I first saw it on a bootleg VHS in late 1995.

Rather than chronicle the film's story and reveal any spoilers I'm simply going to offer both some positive and not so positive observations based on my most recent viewing of this film.

Thumbs up:

1. the actress who plays "Chinatsu Gondo", Towako Yoshikawa: she is possibly the hottest looking Japanese actress I have ever seen not named Yumiko Shaku. She's gorgeous!

2. the roar of "Space Godzilla": it has a warped quality and, while vaguely retaining part of Godzilla's roar is absolutely effective and unique

3. the short hairstyle of "Miki Saegusa"(Megumi Odaka). It makes an already adorable looking actress look even more comely!

4. Yuki, a wry witted, borderline surly and curmudgeonly fellow who, despite his disdain for Godzilla, gets his priorities right in time to assist Godzilla in the monster's final fight against Space Godzilla

5. the shootout between those who are guarding a kidnapped Miki Saegusa and her rescuers, G-Force officers Shinjo, Sato and Yuki: the guns used looked real for a change and actually sounded fairly real as well, a refreshing change from the often Showa G film gun play in which the firearms used look and sound like toys or novelties dropped out of a gumball machine

Thumbs down:

1. the effects and props used to render outer space during the first Mogera-Space Godzilla battle: they looked atrocious. Asteroids and other space debris looked like nothing more than styrofoam blocks and there appeared to be no depth whatsoever to the backgrounds

2. the overall rendering of Space Godzilla: I liked the head of the monster but the crystals on the monsters' shoulders appeared overly large. The flying sequences of the monster also looked sub par, the creature appearing about as aerodynamic as a cement block

3. the infamous "butt shot" of G-Force officer "Yuki", as he showered under a makeshift, outdoor set up on Birth Island. I'm not sure what possessed the producers of this film to include a shot of this man's buttocks. The immediate subsequent shot, that is of Sato briefly leering at Yuki, also was enough to creep me out a bit.

4. the overall design of "MOGERA": I thought this mechanical juggernaut looked too squat. A leaner look would have IMO made this machine look better.

Overall: Godzilla Vs Space Godzilla(1994) remains my least favorite Heisei Godzilla movie but is still a movie I enjoy watching every twelve to eighteen months.

If nothing else this movie has often made me wish for a movie in which we see Space Godzilla and Destoroyah square off. That would be an awesome battle!

Watch Godzilla Vs Space Godzilla(English dubbed language) at Crackle:

To see this film on Sony Region 1 DVD(as part of a double feature) click the title of this blog entry or copy and paste this URL into your browser's nav bar:

Monday, October 26, 2009

They Might Be Giants: The Lost World(1960)

I started this topic thread because I wanted to promote sci-fi and/or horror films that are universally slammed or otherwise deemed mediocre but that I find fun to watch and a fairly entertaining escape from reality. Few movies do that for me better than The Lost World , which originally opened in theaters back in 1960, written and directed by Irwin Allen.

Irwin Allen was, for lack of better words, "the man" when it came to sci-fi adventure on TV in the 1960's, producing the 60's TV series Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea, Lost In Space, The Time Tunnel and Land Of The Giants. Irwin Allen would also direct the sci fi film Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea(1961) and later produce/co-direct the spectacular disaster films The Poseidon Adventure(1972) and The Towering Inferno(1974), both films featuring impressive special effects and star studded casts of "name" actors.

The first of Irwin Allen's directorial efforts is The Lost World, a movie based on the book of the same name written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Doyle's book first came to cinema in 1925 with the silent film "The Lost World", which featured then state of the art special effects used to render the movements of the dinosaurs. Thirty five years later Doyle's book would come to life on the big screen again.

The film's story: professor George Edward Challenger returns to England from an expedition to South America with big news: he's seen dinosaurs roaming on and around a towering plateau in a remote area of the Amazon river. Challenger's colleagues, and the media, are understandably skeptical of the fiery, bearded professor's claims. In reply to his skeptics Challenger proposes that another expedition be assembled for the purpose of studying the area. With the financing of the expedition secured, Challenger and a group that includes his academic rival, an adventurer, a reporter and the daughter of the media mogul who bankrolls the expedition, embark to South America. Arriving in the humid, tropical Amazon basin it isn't long before Challenger and the group encounter the local animal population which includes, you guessed it, large and hungry dinosaurs. The remainder of the film chronicles the groups' struggle as they try to deal with the dinos and a group of hostile cannibals all while trying to find a way out of the remote and dangerous region. (no other spoilers)

Observations, both positive and negative -

Thumbs up:

1. the cast, all of who play off each other quite well. The differing personalities and pet peeves of the cast often provide for some humorous moments, including:
-Professor Challenger(played by Claude Rains) clobbering reporter Ed Malone(played by David Hedison) upside the head with his umbrella as the professor tried to make his way from the airplane to the airport terminal
-the fight between the adventurer Lord John Roxton(played by Michael Rennie) and reporter Ed Malone
-the withering back and forth wisecracks and sniping between Challenger and his skeptical academic rival Summerlee(played by Richard Haydn).

2. the sense of spectacle in the movie, aided by some very decent cinematography during certain sequences of the film

3. the audio of the dinosaurs is solid and the huge creatures roar often and with great effect

4. Jill St John, who looked gorgeous in this film as "Jennifer Holmes" and came off as a diva, albeit a likable diva. Vitina Marcus, who played the native girl, also looked very hot!

Thumbs down:

1. the special effects used to render the two primary reptilian dinos. It's fairly obvious that two large lizards were fitted with props(resembling back dorsals) and it looked absurd.

2. the effects used to render the giant spider. These sequences relied on matte shots and not very good ones.

3. the "man eating" vines mentioned in the film's trailer. Turns out no herbicides are needed as these vines are rendered in the movie through what look like simplified animatronics.

The film used to make the rounds on AMC(American Movie Classics). It was released to quality Region 1 DVD not too long ago, presented in its 2:35.1 widescreen aspect ratio, the DVD also including some extras and the 1925 film as an added bonus.

No one will ever mistake The Lost World(1960) for being an Oscar worthy science fiction film but if you're looking for a way to be entertained for ninety minutes then I would recommend that sci-fi film fans buy the Fox Home Video Region 1 special edition DVD of this movie.

The film's trailer:

To see The Lost World(1960) special edition DVD for sale at Amazon copy and paste this URL into your browser's nav bar or click the DVD cover art image below:

Bonus - here's the URL to watch a streaming video, at Google, of The Lost World(1925):

Friday, October 23, 2009

Low Budget Theater Returns: Doctor Of Doom(1962)

There are a handful of horror movies in my DVD collection that are truly wonky. One of them is Doctor Of Doom(1962), directed by Rene Cardona. This film is an unusual feature to say the least, replete with sexy women ring wrestlers and two people, a male and one of the female grapplers, who have the transplanted brains of gorillas in their heads, courtesy of the proverbial "mad" scientist. The plot of the film features two of the women wrestlers as they oppose the mad scientist and his "ape" man and lab enhanced super female grappler. I bought my Region 0 DVD-R of this movie from Sinister Cinema about six years ago. Anyone interested in watching it can see it as a streaming video by clicking the below image:

Click the title of this blog entry to see this Mexican horror film on DVD for sale at or copy and paste this URL into your browser's nav bar:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hair of the dog: Werewolf In A Girl's Dormitory(1961)

I'm a huge fan of werewolf movies and I came upon a rather obscure one last year that was part of a multi DVD discount priced set of horror movies. I'm referring to Werewolf In A Girl's Dormitory, aka "Lycanthropus". The title would suggest some serious cheese and camp. Both are delivered in abundance in this black and white film. Still, the movie is decent and has some creepy moments. Decide for yourself by watching this public domain horror film below:

There are numerous websites that sell a Region 1 or all Region DVD for this film. Click on the DVD cover art below to see this movie for sale at

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Foghorn(2007) - short kaiju film emerges from obscurity

A 2007 experimental short kaiju film directed by Daisuke "Dice" Sato and a crew from Replica Co. Ltd. has recently emerged from obscurity thanks to the efforts of Mr. Avery Guerra, a contributing writer with Ken Hulsey's "Monster Island News" and Robert Hood's "Undead Backbrain" blogs. A trailer for this short film has appeared on YouTube. The film, called The Foghorn, made to demonstrate the technical skills of the director and his crew, is based on a story(of the same name) written by legendary sci-fi author Ray Bradbury.

The director of this short, twenty minute film, Daisuke Sato, has expressed a willingness to get the movie released online(w/English subtitles) and/or to DVD...if there is enough fan interest.

Read more by clicking the title of this blog entry or by copying and pasting this URL link into your browser's nav bar:

The trailer for The Fog Horn(2007):

Monday, October 5, 2009

Low Budget Theater: Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster(1965)

As I always like to do every October, I make time in my schedule to watch some of my favorite low budget horror movies. These films are known for their low production values, stale acting and often hilariously poor special effects. Many of them actually develop cult followings. One of my all time favorites is Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster, released by Allied Artists in 1965.

Veteran character actor James Karen stars in this movie as a scientist who has created an android named "Frank Saunders". The android is blasted off into space to investigate why several other rockets launched into space have been obliterated. Saunders meets the same fate as an orbiting Martian spaceship destroys the android's rocket. Saunders manages to survive but is scarred by the Martians who attack him back on Earth. Now disfigured and with a damaged brain, the android begins a wandering and murderous rampage while his creator and the military search for him. Eventually the disfigured android "Frank", after being reunited with his scientist creator, is captured by the Martians, then escapes and fights the Martian's pet monster, "Mull", a clawed, hulking and garish looking monster inside the Martian's spaceship.

This black and white film has been released to quality DVD by Dark Sky Films in its original widescreen aspect ratio. To see the Dark Sky Films DVD of this film for sale at DeepDiscount click on the above DVD covert image.This movie will also be broadcast once by AMC during the cable channel's annual "Fearfest". Anyone wanting to watch this film online can do so below:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Are You Ready For Freddy? A Nightmare On Elm Street(2010)

In 1984 movie go'ers were introduced to A Nightmare On Elm Street and the film's antagonist, child killer Fred Krueger who, burned to a crisp by a mob of angry neighborhood parents, returns to stalk teenagers on Elm Street. Krueger, sporting a glove on his right hand with four razor sharp knives attached to the glove's fingers, stalks and kills his victims in their dreams: they die in their dreams and consequently die in real life as well since the subconscious mind controls the heart and other vital organs...right?

Remakes have been aplenty as of late what with horror icons "Michael Myers"( the Rob Zombie directed Halloween films) and "Jason Voorhees"( the 2009 Friday The 13th film) both getting their own respective re-starts. Why not Freddy Krueger as well?

A Nightmare On Elm Street is scheduled to open in theaters in late April of 2010 and is a reboot of the 1984 film. The remake is directed by Samuel Bayer.

I am a huge fan of Robert Englund and his marvelous portrayal of Krueger. Jackie Earle Haley takes over for Mr. Englund in the role. I like the casting of Haley to play Fred Krueger. I also like the official trailer for this "Elm Street" remake. I'm not sure I like the "post burn" makeup effects on Jackie Earle Haley, which can be seen briefly in the trailer. You can judge for yourself by watching the trailer:

Bonus: the trailer for the original 1984 classic:

Friday, September 18, 2009

In Through The Out Door: The Funhouse(1981)

Tobe Hooper has long been one of my favorite horror movie directors. He endeared himself to me with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre(1974) and then later Poltergeist(1982). In between these two horror classics Hooper also directed another horror film that I believe has ably stood the test of time. It lacks the depraved characters of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and the overall stand out special effects of "Poltergeist" but this movie still manages to hold its own quite well. I'm referring to The Funhouse, produced by Derek Power & Steven Bernhardt and directed by Tobe Hooper, the movie originally released to theaters in March of 1981.

The film's story: four young people(two males and two females) pay a visit to a local carnival, taking in all the entertaining and often bizarre acts and shows. The two couples, after smoking some weed behind one of the carnival tents, decide to enter "The Funhouse", one of the carnival's exhibits, and spend the night in the structure. The idea of spending the night inside the "Funhouse" seems innocent enough. The problem: there's a real monster inside the exhibit, a masked fellow who is kept of out sight most of the time by his father. After the two couples witness the monster murder another carnival performer in a fit of rage and are subsequently detected by the creature's father, the abomination begins to stalk the four young people inside the "Funhouse". Predictably, the monster, a truly grotesque, white haired humanoid in serious need of some cosmetic dentistry(and surgery), kills the members of the group until only one, a lone female, is left. The climax of the film is basically this young lady, "Amy" in a fight for survival against the monster. (no other spoilers)

Observations: the sets of the film are terrific. An actual carnival was literally moved to the shooting location of the film(in north Miami, Fl). The carnival is a visual bonanza of motley and often bizarre characters, as well as a disturbing image of what appears to be a severely disfigured fetus preserved in a large glass container. The "Funhouse" itself comes alive for our group of protagonists and the viewer of this movie: the facility, courtesy of some extensive animatronics, features skeletons, other monsters and a variety of loud audio effects including monster growls, roars and more human like shrieks and screams. This animated structure ably serves as a creepy backdrop for the struggles of the pair of young couples as they try to escape while being stalked by the monster.

The monster is played by Wayne Doba, who was employed as a professional mime when approached by the film's producer about being in The Funhouse. The monster make up effects are courtesy of Rick Baker, who has gone on to become one of Hollywood's legendary makeup artists. Doba does a good job of adding a sympathetic element to the monster through his variety of body postures and hand movements. The creature in The Funhouse reminds me a great deal of the Frankenstein monster: it's a hideous abomination to be feared but also a monster that I feel some sympathy for as well as it spends the vast majority of its life hidden away from society, and totally dependent on a single person, in this case its father(played by veteran actor Kevin Conway).

I haven't seen The Funhouse on television for as long as I can remember. I'd sure like to see this film make the rounds at AMC or on "SyFy" but that might be wishful thinking, especially regarding AMC, whose horror movie programming and its film lineup for "Fearfest"(formerly called "Monsterfest") in late October has become very predictable and redundant.

The DVD of The Funhouse(1981) is available on Region 1 DVD, the releases presenting this movie in its original 2:35.1 widescreen aspect ratio. To see the DVD of this movie for sale at Amazon click the DVD covert image above.

The trailer:

Hooked For Life: Candyman(1992)

Horror movie iconic characters like Freddy Krueger, Leatherface, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Pinhead may always get the majority of attention and props among "slasher" horror film fans but I also think there's something to be said for a fellow named Daniel Robitaille, aka "The Candyman". This character first appeared in Candyman(1992), a horror movie directed by Bernard Rose and based on a story written by Clive Barker. The "Candyman" is ably portrayed by veteran actor Tony Todd.

In this film, set in Chicago, Illinois a college student, "Helen Lyle"(played by Virginia Madsen), while accumulating content for a research paper, investigates a local urban legend that thrives in a section of Chicago suburbia called Cabrini Green. This legend, a fellow named "Candyman", is a shadowy, hulking menace who sports a huge hook in place of his absent right hand and, turns out, isn't afraid to use it. Is he real? And is it true that if you recite "Candyman" aloud five times this fellow will appear?

The film itself is a moody, grim feature with lots of use of shadows and often sudden, graphic scenes of violence in which the "Candyman" employs his hook on some very unfortunate victims. Take a look at the trailer:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Food For Thought: Soylent Green(1973)

(The late) Charlton Heston has always been one of my favorite actors. I have many films on DVD starring this great actor. His portrayal of astronaut "George Taylor" in 1968's Planet Of The Apes is terrific and helped cement this actor's lasting fame among fans of Heston and classic sci-fi movies. While Heston's portrayal of "Taylor" will always be a favorite I also recently watched Heston at work in another sci-fi movie on DVD, a film that is also something of a mystery and suspense thriller. I'm referring to Soylent Green, directed by Richard Fleischer and first released theatrically back in 1973 by MGM.

The film's story: in the year 2022 the world has degenerated into a miserable, polluted and over populated cesspool of mostly unemployed and malnourished humanity. In New York City the population has swelled to forty million, pollution hangs over the metropolis like a cloudy haze and mostly unemployed citizens live in squalor, packed in like cattle among the dilapidated and run down neighborhoods. Helmeted riot police patrol the city and, to subdue those who riot, employ trucks equipped with large buckets to scoop up rioters and dispose of them as if they were garbage.

A lone, cube shaped consumable called "Soylent Green" is mass produced and distributed to the masses to prevent their starvation. Meanwhile, Detective-Sergeant Thorn(Charlton Heston) is assigned to investigate the murder of a high ranking member of the Soylent Corporation, manufacturer of the substance "Soylent Green". The murder victim is named "Simonson"(Joseph Cotten). Thorn's investigation, aided by his own personal and human library from the past, "Sol"(Edward G. Robinson), leads him to a disturbing revelation about the origins of "Soylent Green", which also and subsequently jeopardizes Thorn's own life. (no other spoilers)

The sets used to portray the squalid and miserable living conditions in NYC are marvelous. The city's suburbia and downtown areas are effectively made to look like one huge run down shanty in the film. Charlton Heston brings his typical on screen presence and deliberate, often urgent mannerisms to the character of Police Detective "Thorn". Edward G. Robinson is also quite good, albeit a tragic figure for me, a man who is greatly despondent at what he has seen as the entire city gradually degenerates before his eyes, and over the decades, into little more than a human septic tank.

The cast for this film: Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson, Chuck Connors, Joseph Cotten, Brock Peters & Leigh Taylor Young.

The Region 1 DVD of Soylent Green, released by Warner Home Video, can be bought online at Amazon(click the title of this blog entry to see it for sale at Amazon). Click the DVD cover art image above to see the DVD for sale also.

The trailer for Soylent Green(1973):

Friday, September 4, 2009

Go With The Flow: The Blob(1988)

The decade of the 1980's is a great source for many of my favorite sci-fi and horror films. I'm not generally enamored with remakes but in August of 1988 a film directed by Chuck Russell was released in theaters called The Blob, a horror movie about a predatory, monstrous sized gelatinous organism that preys on and devours locals of a small town. This film is in many ways like the 1958 film of the same name, which starred a very young up and coming actor named Steve McQueen.

The special effects in The Blob(1988) are quite good. Many of the character interactions are often humorous. Woe to anyone unfortunate enough to be swallowed up by the pink, throbbing and ravenous "blob".

The film's trailer:

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Descent Part 2(2009) -official trailer

One of the best horror movie films I've seen in the last twenty years is 2005's The Descent, directed by Neil Marshall. The sequel for this film will hit theaters later this year, called The Descent Part 2. Here's a trailer:

Chop 'Til You Drop: Two Champions Of Shaolin(1980)

Despite the fact I've always been a fan of martial arts films it has been only in recent years that I've begun investing in these movies on DVD. A purchase I made a few months ago is a dandy: a four movie DVD set called the "Shaw Brothers Collection", featuring The Heroic Ones, The Battle Wizard, Two Champions Of Shaolin and The Duel Of The Century.

All of these films are presented in their original theatrical aspect ratios and have dual language options(English dubbed or in Chinese w/English subtitles).

The fighting sequences in these films are marvelous. My favorite among the four films in this DVD set is 1980's Two Champions Of Shaolin, which chronicles the rivalry between two warring clans, the Shaolin and Wutang. The combat sequences include stick fighting, "monkey" boxing, kung fu and the use of flying daggers.

To see the "Shaw Brothers Collection" DVD set for sale at click the title of this blog entry or copy and paste this URL into your browser's address bar:

The trailer for Two Champions Of Shaolin(1980):

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Take Your Pick: My Bloody Valentine(2009)

I'm not usually much for remakes of classic('80's) slasher horror films. That said I believe My Bloody Valentine(2009), directed by Patrick Lussier, is quite good. This remake is an update of the original, a movie of the same name that opened in theaters in 1981 and during a time when the "slasher" horror film was beginning to gain momentum in the minds and hearts of horror movie fans. Films like Friday The 13th(1980) and its follow up Friday The 13th Part 2(1981) were important in giving this genre of horror film a boost, as was 1981's The Burning and Tobe Hooper's '81 film The Funhouse.

My Bloody Valentine(2009)
, like other slasher horror film remakes or "reboots", presents some very gory and often stomach churning kills. The gore effects, along with the suspense of the film, work very well in concert in making this movie as much a mystery "whodunit?" as a "killer on the loose" film.

The film's story: the coal mining town of Harmony is trying to recover from the "Valentine's Day Massacre" when a crazed coal miner named Harry Warden went on a murderous rampage and killed twenty two(22) locals with a railroad pick. Warden was killed, or so the townsfolk believed. Fast forward ten years and Harmony again becomes a den of terror as a man wearing a mask and coal miner gear begins killing citizens again in gruesome fashion with a railroad mattock. Some of the town's citizenry believe Harry Warden has come back from the dead. Others believe somebody else has been doing the killing...but who?

The kills in this film are always bloody and at times will make even the most seasoned "gorehound" wince a bit. The acting is serviceable which is all it needs to be in this movie.

The trailer for My Bloody Valentine(2009):

My Bloody Valentine 3D HD 2009 Official Trailer - These bloopers are hilarious

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hack Job: Friday The 13th(2009)

Despite my disdain for remakes I have invested, from time to time, my hard earned money to buy DVDs of some of Hollywood's more famous horror movies. My most recent purchase in this regard was buying DVDs of the updated "Friday The 13th" and "My Bloody Valentine" films. I'll first offer my thoughts on the former, Friday The 13th(2009), directed by Marcus Nispel.

As remakes of classic slasher horror films go I'd rate this one better than average but not a film I would describe as "good". The makeup effects and special effects regarding Jason Voorhee's kills are predictably excellent. The acting is, well, predictably average to stale but given this genre of film I don't think anyone in their right mind would expect any Oscars to be awarded to this movie. Give credit to Derek Mears, who played "Jason Voorhees" in this film, who seemed to infuse Voorhees with a little more enthusiasm, and agility, than the more plodding style of previous "Voorhees" actor Kane Hodder. (I like all of Hodder's performances in the previous "Friday" films, by the way)

As before in the '80's franchise of "Friday" films, Jason Voorhees is a hulking, grubby looking and seriously disfigured fellow who goes on a murderous rampage at Camp Crystal Lake. Several sullen locals warn the group of young people, which includes the requisite young and buxom females and beer swilling, marijuana smoking male counterparts, to stay away from the lake and surrounding areas. The group doesn't, oblivious to the danger. The young people quickly become, along with two locals, lambs to the slaughter for Mr. Voorhees who, after a few kills, replaces the burlap bag on his head with a hockey mask. Obviously this does nothing to improve the killer's appearance but it does satisfy those fans of the '80 franchise, like myself, that have come to associate Voorhees with the hockey mask. The victims are systemically hacked, impaled or outright butchered by Voorhees.

The kills in this update of the '80's classics are similar to those of the second "Friday" film(in 1981) when Jason took over where his deranged mother left off(in the 1980 original): there are impalings, a screwdriver through the neck, an arrow through the skull and other gruesome shenanigans involving a pick axe and machete, all of which turn the camp into nothing more than a human stock yard of corpses.

Slasher horror film fans will no doubt like this film but after watching this remake I'm still much more entertained by the original and its two follow ups.

The trailer for Friday The 13th(2009):

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

White Out: Snowbeast(1977)

One of the topic threads at my message board, Monsterland Forums, is dedicated to horror/sci-fi films featuring Sasquatch and Sasquatch like creatures, including the "Yeti", aka "The Abominable Snowman". I've always been fascinated by the phenomena of these creatures and many of the movies about them creeped me out as a kid. One such feature is 1977's Snowbeast, a made for TV movie that originally aired on NBC. I remember, as a 15 year old, talking my mom into letting me watch it. She hated all horror and monster movies. For some reason I still can't remember, I got to watch this movie, and on a school night no less.

The film's story: the mysterious and gory deaths of skiers at a Colorado ski resort prompt the resort manager and his friend, along with the local police chief, to investigate the cause. They definitely don't like what they discover: a hulking and menacing Yeti like creature is roaming the areas around the resort. One night the creature wanders down into the resort community, its appearance creating terror and chaos. In the end the movie's principal characters enter the creature's domain and hunt it down, the movie's climax a face off between the hostile monster and our protagonists. (no other spoilers)

One of the things I like most about Snowbeast is that the monster's appearance isn't revealed too soon in this feature. The roar of the creature is instead what we get early and often and it's effective. The creature's roar is loud and has an almost dinosaur like quality about it. Those characters in this movie who hear it are understandably spooked.

The cast includes Bo Svenson, Yvette Mimieux and Clint Walker. The movie is available on various Region 1 multi movie DVD sets and also as at least one "stand alone" title disc.

Click the title of this blog post to see a DVD of this feature for sale at or copy and paste this URL into your browser's address bar:

A promo trailer for a DVD of Snowbeast(1977):

Friday, July 31, 2009

Kaiju Kingdom Forums

One of the things I like to do when I first find out about an internet kaiju discussion message board is promote it: Kaiju Kingdom Forums, with nearly one hundred registered members and over 17,000 posts(at the time of this blog post). Here's the board link:

You can also see the site by clicking on the title of this blog.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Back To The Egg: Godzilla Vs Mothra(1992)

I first watched Godzilla Vs Mothra on VHS back in 1995, in widescreen and with English subtitles. It was then, as it remains now, my third favorite Heisei Godzilla film, behind Godzilla Vs Biollante(1989) and Godzilla Vs King Ghidorah(1991). I have, with the passage of time, grown more fond of this movie, which originally debuted in Japanese theaters back in December of 1992. Godzilla Vs Mothra(1992) is directed by Takao Okawara, the special effects courtesy of Koichi Kawakita, and produced by both Shogo Tomiyama and Tomoyuki Tanaka, with the score provided by maestro Akira Ifukube.

Some observations and opinions of this movie, some positive and some not-

Thumbs up:

-The score. At times majestic and particularly pleasing to the ears during many of Mothra's scenes. The score of this film is easily my favorite of all the Heisei G movies.

-The underwater battle between Godzilla and Battra: frenetic and well choreographed. I especially liked the sound effects. There's plenty of action and we get to see Godzilla fire his oral beam underwater, and many times.

-Many of the effects shots in this film are marvelous, including larval Mothra's approach by sea and her engagement with the naval forces, including the sequence where the creature plows through the warship

-Takuya Fujita, the adventurer and thief, comes clean about his theft of "The Cosmos" fairies(to sell them) to his ex wife, presumably because he wants to start over again with her and his daughter: the man finally got his priorities right!

-Takuya Fujita Vs the Marutomo "secretary" Kenji Andoh on the ship: the skirmish actually appeared to be choreographed as a fight and not two grown men attempting to square dance. Both fellows grappled, threw each other around and Fujita landed a couple of solid rights to Andoh's jaw.

-Ken Satsuma, who wore the Godzilla suit in this film: IMO he did an excellent job at projecting Godzilla's menace and generally hostile disposition

-The final battle between Godzilla, Mothra and Battra. While I thought the two winged monsters looked a little stiff at times when flying the overall battle was well choreographed and the monster action was well paced.

Thumbs down:

1. members of the cast watching the final battle from a distance without much of any implied threat to their own safety...despite the fact three huge leviathan monsters are battling it out, and not terribly far away either.

2. Kenji Andoh's use of an alarm clock to ensure he didn't oversleep while on the early Infant Island expedition with Tetsuya Fujita and Fujita's ex wife Masako Tesuka: obviously Andoh couldn't rely on the trademark morning cackle of a rooster since this animal isn't exactly indigenous to a South Pacific island, but after seeing Andoh nervously clutch the alarm clock I half expected to see this fellow produce more gadgets out of his bag, like a small electric plate warmer or portable TV set.

3. the audio of Godzilla's beam sounded a bit too high pitched.

4. Battra's roar was a carbon copy of Rodan's roar. I would have liked seeing Toho employ a distinct and original roar for this monster, perhaps a derivative of Mothra's audio.

The 1998 Region 1 Columbia-Tri Star DVD release of Godzilla Vs Mothra pairs this film with 1991's Godzilla Vs King Ghidorah, both movies cropped to 1:33.1 "full screen" and with English 2.0 audio.

Godzilla Vs Mothra can also be purchased on Region 4/PAL format(Madman Entertainment) and Region 3(, both with English subtitles option, the movie in widescreen in both R4 and R3.

The trailer for Godzilla Vs Mothra(1992):
Trailer: Godzilla vs. Mothra -- 1992 - MyVideo

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Looks That Kill: The Gorgon(1964)

For the longest time I waited for Hammer Film's The Gorgon(1964) to be released on official DVD. Last year it was, part of the Icons Of Horror: Hammer Films DVD set. Like other "Hammer" horror films, this movie is a moody, atmospheric and downright creepy affair. The movie chronicles the struggles of a small German town that is plagued by a creature, a "Gorgon", that can turn anyone looking directly at it into stone. (no other spoilers)

The cast includes Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Barbara Shelley, and is directed by Terence Fisher. Any fan of Hammer horror movies should have Icons Of Horror: Hammer Films in their DVD collection.

The original trailer for The Gorgon(1964):

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Conqueror Worms: Mothra Vs Godzilla(1964)

Recently I watched the original Toho classic Mothra Vs Godzilla(1964) on DVD, in Japanese language and English subtitles. This film is widely considered, and justifiably, among the best of the "Showa" era Godzilla films, which were made from 1954 - 1975. The movie has a serious tone, an entirely believable plot, some memorable villains and overall special effects, including animatronics, miniatures, "suit"mation and other pyrotechnic effects that, while dated compared to today's "green screen" and CGI technology, have nevertheless stood the test of time quite well. The Americanized version of the film, released theatrically in the U.S. as Godzilla Vs The Thing, also includes an additional scene in which American warships fire "Frontier" missiles at Godzilla, a scene that is very well done. For any Godzilla fan who likes seeing this monster portrayed as the bad guy, Mothra Vs Godzilla is a film for you!

More observations about this film, some familiar and perhaps a few that aren't:

Thumbs up:

1. the abundance of high speed filming used to render Godzilla's movements. This lensing technique makes the action of the monster look slower and more realistic, given Godzilla's size

2. the trio of Akira Takarada, Yuriko Hoshi & Hiroshi Koizumi who all play off each other very well

3. the score overall is IMO terrific. The main Godzilla "march" helps enhance the urgent, serious tone of the film

4. many of the miniature effects, by Eiji Tsuburaya and his effects team, are stellar

5. comic relief, though not overdone, by the gruff and no-nonsense newspaper editor "Murata"(Jun Takazi) and his affable but bumbling and perpetually boiled egg eating reporter(played by Yu Fujiki). As personalities go these two are polar opposites.

6. the overall rendering of Mothra, which I thought was outstanding. The wire works staff were no doubt very busy in helping to bring this enormous prop to life in front of the camera

7. the overall battle between Godzilla and Mothra: nothing fancy as both monsters play up to their strengths: Mothra uses her maneuverability advantage in the air, her poison powder and hurricane force winds generated by her flapping wings. Godzilla basically relies on his oral beam, the monster perhaps realizing if he used it enough he would eventually score a hit on his winged adversary(which he did)

8. the JSDF(Japanese Self Defense Force) in this movie: these guys actually planned and carried out their attacks on Godzilla with purpose, unlike in other G films where the JSDF come across as being ineffective, unmotivated dullards. In Mothra Vs Godzilla the JSDF leave no doubt of their intent to not only stop Godzilla but also to try and destroy the creature if possible

9. the rendering of the twin Mothra larvae: well done(using animatronics), the two creature's movements retaining a good degree of realism

10, the presence of some truly despicable villains, in particular "Torahata"(Kenji Sahara), a greedy and arrogant shyster who tries to rip off and subsequently jam up his own business associate, "Kumamaya", himself no upstanding individual either.

11. the "Mosugoji" Godzilla suit. No, I don't like the "wobbling lips" but, forgetting that particular shortcoming, I thought the suit looked great overall

Thumbs down:

1. the sequences of the adult Mothra Vs Godzilla battle where hand puppets are used. I have never been nor will ever be a fan of the puppetry arts

2. the battle between Godzilla and the twin Mothra larvae: I have no problem with the larvae successfully cocooning Godzilla but I do think those tasked with choreographing this battle made things a little too easy on the larvae. I would have liked seeing Godzilla put up more of a fight against the smaller creatures.

The AIP trailer for "Godzilla Vs The Thing":
Godzilla vs. The Thing trailer

Monday, July 6, 2009

Spaced Invaders: Godzilla Vs Gigan(1972)

I first saw this movie on TBS Superstation back in 1987 in the attic apartment of a friend and co-worker on a sunny Saturday afternoon. I wanted my friend "Robert" to tape the movie but his VCR crapped out. Too bad too because it would be about eight more years before I would watch this film again, in the summer of 1995.

Having watched Godzilla Vs Gigan last night(Sunday) took me back to the year 1995 when I first saw this movie uncut, in widescreen and with English subtitles, on VHS, the tape one of many I had ordered from a now defunct bootlegger catalog video company located in New York state.

Godzilla Vs Gigan is one of the few G movies I've watched in which my overall opinion of it hasn't changed, for better or worse, with repeated viewings. I've always liked many things about this movie...and always disliked many things as well.

The film's story: Mild mannered and milquetoast magazine artist/cartoonist Genko Kotaka(Hiroshi Ishikawa) begins to believe there's something very wrong with the employees of "World Children's Land", a Japan branch of an international theme park corporation whose main office is located in Switzerland. His suspicions are justified: the employees, including the leader of the park, Kubota(Toshiaki Nishizawa), and the youthful Fumio Sudo(Zan Fujita) are all roach-like insectoid aliens from the Space Hunter M galaxy with designs on sanitizing, then colonizing the Earth. The aliens are able to occupy human bodies and hence draw little attention among themselves while they effect their devious plans. A mysterious audio reel tape, earlier confiscated by a young lady named Machiko Shima, is played, by accident, by Kotaka and Machiko(Tomoko Umeda), whose brother is being held captive by the aliens.

The tape is little more than gibberish to Genko Kotaka and Machiro Ishima, but not to Godzilla and Anguirus, the two monsters able to detect and understand the tape's message. Consequently, Godzilla dispatches Anguirus to make landfall in Japan and deal with the situation. The JSDF drive Anguirus off while a short time later the space monsters King Ghidorah and Gigan, controlled by the insectoid aliens, arrive on Earth and begin a rampage of destruction, the monster's actions the first phase in the alien's plans to colonizes the Earth. Godzilla and Anguirus arrive, eventually, and square off against the alien controlled monsters. The human cast members, Genko Kotaka, his girlfriend Tomoko Tomoe(Yuriko Hishimi), Machiko Shima, her brother Takashi Shima(Kunio Murai) and her friend Shosaku Takasugi(Minoru Takashima), all work together as well to defeat the aliens...(no other spoilers)

Observations, some good and some not so good:

Thumbs up:

1. the pyrotechnic effects in this film. Teruyoshi Nakano, the special effects director for this movie really delivers with the explosions, both those resulting from the monster's rampage and also those resulting from the monster battles

2. King Ghidorah's gravity beams, which look as devastating as ever

3. the overall rendering of the cyborg monster Gigan. The monster lacks a beam weapon but is very hostile and has a scary looking buzz saw built into its chest and abdomen. It's roar is effective as well and has a mechanical quality to it

4. the battle between Godzilla and Gigan, which looks to be entirely comprised of high speed filming, which slows the monster's actions and movements down, IMO adding some realism to the sequence

5. Yuriko Hishimi, who plays Kotaka's girlfriend "Tomoko Tomoe". She's gorgeous and, skilled in karate, gets to kick some alien ass as well

6. the overall "oil refinery" battle sequence: Godzilla and Anguirus make landfall for the first time to engage KG and Gigan. This scene is one of my favorite Showa Godzilla film kaiju battle sequences.

Thumbs down:

1. the many insertions of stock footage. Most are annoying but there's one sequence where a scene(or two) from 1964's Ghidrah The Three Headed Monster is used, which looks horrendous

2. the character played by Minoru Takashima, "Shosaku Takasugi": a portly hippie, leering and sporting a half assed scruff of chin hair while constantly nibbling on a stick of corn on the cob, there were times in this movie when I would have liked sticking that corn on the cob in various orifices of this character

3. the colossal ineptitude of the aliens in this movie: despite their advanced technology they were done in by the simple, yet effective, duplicity of the human cast members, including the "mural", in which alien henchmen, believing the mural to be the actual humans, fire away with their weapons, which quickly sets off a chain reaction of explosions that destroy the theme park tower base used by the aliens

4. Godzilla's sudden resurrection after being thrown into the 50 meter tall theme tower by KG. Godzilla, weakened by the laser beam assault from the aliens(in the tower), is suddenly and inexplicably rejuvenated after crashing into the tower. My reaction to this scene remains the same now as it was back in 1987: "What the hell?"

5. some of the human like mannerisms of the monsters, such as Godzilla appearing to wipe his mouth twice, waving at Anguirus to swim off to Japan during an early sequence in the movie, and then slapping himself in the side of the head when seeing the alien's tower, which has been designed to look like Godzilla

Overall: I like this movie just fine but it's no doubt hit or miss with many G fans because of the often wildly uneven effects.

This film reached American theaters in 1977, distributed by Cinemashares, and re-titled "Godzilla On Monster Island".

In 2004 Sony Home Entertainment released this movie to quality Region 1 DVD, the movie presented in its original 2:35.1 widescreen aspect ratio and with optional Japanese language(w/English subtitles) and English language(the international English language track) selection.

The Toho trailer:

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Race Relations: Godzilla Vs Megalon(1973)

Anyone who knows me will tell you I like all Godzilla movies. There are obviously some I like a whole lot more than others. There are also Godzilla movies that, I believe, are unfairly slammed. Godzilla Vs Megalon is one such movie, directed by Jun Fukuda, produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka and originally released to theaters in Japan back in March, 1973.

I am not now, nor will I ever in the future, try to convince anyone that this movie is a terrific Godzilla film because IMO it isn't. Still, over the years this movie has grown on me, not a lot to be sure but enough that I now like viewing Godzilla Vs Megalon on an annual basis...and sober.

The film's story: a subterranean race called the "Seatopians", fed up with mankind's atomic bomb testing and the adverse effects on their civilization these explosive devices are having, decide to open up a can of whoop ass on humanity. To effect their hostilities on human-kind the Seatopians dispatch a huge, beetle like, winged monster named Megalon to wage a rampage of destruction on Earth's surface. The Seatopians, despite their superior technology, cannot effectively navigate their insect-like monster on the Earth's surface and consequently send agents to abduct a special robot, named Jet Jaguar, from an inventor named "Goro Ibuki". Ibuki, understandably opposed to losing his prized robot, fights back, aided by his friend "Jinko"(Jinkawa) and Ibuki's kid brother "Rakuro". The trio regain control of Jet Jaguar from the Seatopian agents, and Jet Jaguar flies to Monster Island to ask Godzilla for help in dealing with Megalon. Jet Jaguar returns and, morphing into a 50 meter tall giant, battles Megalon. The Seatopians secure the services of the cyborg space monster Gigan from their Space Hunter galaxy allies: Gigan arrives quickly on Earth and joins Megalon. Together the two monsters quickly overwhelm Jet Jaguar. Just when Jet Jaguar appears to be done in by the two monsters Godzilla arrives to help "JJ"...(no other spoilers)

Observations, some good and some not so good:

Thumbs up:

-the rendering of Jet Jaguar in the film. I've seen this robot described as "an Ultraman rip off". Perhaps. I still like the design overall and the dash of color in JJ's design.

-many special effects shots in this film are marvelous, including the "dam" scene, the sequence where Megalon destroys the bridge, blasting the structure apart with its drill like appendage, and the lake draining out(near the beginning of the film)

-the pyrotechnic effects are quite good, no surprise here with Teruyoshi Nakano handling the SPFX for this movie: the movie's opening sequence starts off with a bang, literally, as there are lots of explosions and other various blasts leading into the movie's opening title credits. These explosion effects do not IMO make up for other effects shortcomings in this film but they do make it, at least for me, somewhat easier to overlook while watching this movie.

-the fight scenes and car chase scene: both added a nice bit of human action to the film, despite my disdain for the choreography of the fights, which I thought were sub par, limited to sloppy hand strikes and basic scuffling

-the rendering of Megalon: I liked the monster's overall appearance and it's beam firing horn, and exploding rocks launched from its mandibles

Thumbs down:

-the attire worn by Seatopia's leader "Emperor Antonio"(played by Robert Dunham), which looked like something out of the Broadway play for "I, Claudius".

-the stock footage is abundant in this film and used to horrendous excess

-the movements of Megalon during the scenes where the monster leaps. The creature's movements during the "leaping" sequences appear sloppy and awkward

-the ineptitude of the Seatopians in this film. This race possessed superior technology, as was boasted by one of their agents to "Jinko", yet their plans were completely thwarted by an inventor, his friend, a young boy and a resourceful robot, neither of these characters apparently needing much of any help from the JSDF

-the often lack of high speed filming in the kaiju battles

Godzilla Vs Megalon has seen a wide variety of releases on VHS and has also appeared in an episode of "Mystery Science Theater 3000", dissected by Tom Servo and friends. In 1976 this film was released by Cinemashares to American theaters in English dubbed language. It would be broadcast on NBC in 1977 as an hour long feature, hosted by a Godzilla suited and up and coming comedian named John Belushi, the movie butchered down to an hour run time.

Reading about this movie I was interested to discover that Godzilla Vs Megalon has no major female character in it, the only Godzilla movie lacking a female lead of some kind. The movie itself was originally planned as a "Jet Jaguar Vs Megalon" feature but Toho eventually decided that Jet Jaguar wouldn't be able to carry the movie theatrically, so a new screenplay was hastily written to include Godzilla and Gigan. The movie, subsequent to this change, was filmed in all of three weeks!

Anyone who has not seen Godzilla Vs Megalon should watch this movie uncut, in its original widescreen(2:35.1) aspect ratio and in its original language(with English subtitles if possible). The various cheapie VHS tapes of this movie on the market do this movie a disservice, with their chopped down run times and generally grainy prints.

This film is available on official Region 2/NTSC format DVD(no English subtitles) and on Region 4/PAL format DVD, the latter from Australia's "Madman Entertainment" website.

The film can also be had from various online retailers who sell DVD-R's of the movie. Here's the URL to see the film on Region 4/PAL format DVD for sale at "Madman Entertainment":
(you can also access this link by clicking the title of this blog)

The original Toho trailer for the film:

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Michael Jackson, 1958-2009

I was shocked and deeply saddened by the recent death of iconic entertainer Michael Jackson. I grew up listening to him, and his brothers, as "The Jackson 5", and then enjoyed Michael Jackson's solo efforts on albums like Off The Wall(1979), Thriller(1982), Bad(1987) and Dangerous(1991). There's nothing I can say that hasn't already been said about this legendary singer and performer: his contributions to the music industry are immeasurable. His positive influence on fans all over the world is remarkable and will, I hope, keep his legacy, and spirit, alive for decades to come.

My all time favorite music video, and one I think is among the best music videos I have ever seen, is "Thriller", directed by John Landis. This video, based on the song of the same name from the 1982 album Thriller, combines all the elements we have come to expect, and cherish, from Michael Jackson: the dance moves, the choreography, as well as the makeup effects. More than anything, this is simply Michael Jackson doing what he does best.

May he Rest In Peace.

Michael Jackson's "Thriller":

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pincer Movement : Godzilla Vs The Sea Monster(1966)

While legendary Toho director Inoshiro Honda gets the vast majority of props from die hard Godzilla movie fans, there's also, I think, a lot to be said for director Jun Fukuda. In interviews Fukuda has expressed disdain for the Godzilla films he directed. Nevertheless, Fukuda's Godzilla movies are always entertaining and action packed, including the first Godzilla movie directed by him: Godzilla Vs The Sea Monster, aka "Ebirah Horror Of The Deep", which originally opened in Japanese theaters back in 1966.

Now that I watch almost all my DVDs using my Blu-Ray DVD player I was interested to see how many of these Sony DVD releases of the Showa Godzilla films would look. I wasn't disappointed as Godzilla Vs The Sea Monster, like the other CM releases, looks noticeably better in the Blu-Ray player, the array of colors, including lots of yellows and reds, really standing out.

Some observations about this movie -

Thumbs up:
- the overall design of Ebirah, an enormous marine arthropod that menaces the islanders and, at the end, even the Red Bamboo. I'll be the first to admit this giant crustacean isn't my favorite kaiju. That said I thought it looked fairly realistic, including its antennae, claws and mandibles

- Kumi Mizuno: what a beautiful woman and we get to see her in a skimpier outfit for the duration of the film

- the generous use of high speed filming

- parts of the cinematography of this film looked very good, especially certain shots of the islands

- Godzilla Vs Ebirah I and II: I liked both battles overall, despite some aspects of the fights I didn't like(see "Thumbs down" below). Ebirah, despite having no beam weapon or other special power gave Godzilla a fairly good physical battle

- Haruo Nakajima turned in another solid performance in the G suit, utilizing his famous "attack" and "stalking" postures to great effect

- the brief skirmish between Mothra and Godzilla, a reminder that these two monsters will not be exchanging Christmas cards anytime soon

Thumbs down:
- certain matte shots and other effects shots were sub par, including the visibility of the wires, regarding both Mothra and Ebirah

- the Godzilla suit is clearly showing wear and tear in this film, evidenced by the sag in the suit under the arms

- the huge monster sized condor who attacked Godzilla. This Rodan wannabe seemed a little out of place in this movie and was, not surprisingly, dispatched easily by Godzilla's oral beam

- many of the water tank shots looked...well, too much like water tanks.

The film's trailer:

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Some Like It Hot: Hellraiser(1987)

Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Chucky, Cropsy, Candyman, The Creeper, Leatherface and Freddy Krueger all get major props from me for being the horror icons that they are. The one character in horror movies I always enjoy watching the most, however, is "Pinhead", who first appeared in the 1987 horror movie Hellraiser, directed by Clive Barker. Pinhead, played masterfully by Doug Bradley, would appear in many sequels to the 1987 film. Still, I prefer the first film in this franchise. I recently bought the twentieth anniversary special edition DVD of this movie which is available for sale at many online retailers, including Amazon:
(you can also see this DVD by clicking the title of this blog)

The film's trailer:

Monday, June 8, 2009

House-warming: Amityville 3 - The Demon(1983)

I've always had a great fondness for horror movies about haunted houses. The Haunting(1963), directed by Robert Wise, is still my absolute favorite and I think one of the best "haunted house" movies ever produced. Obviously there are more films featuring haunted abodes that litter the movie "landscape", some good and some bad. One film that rates as bad, but one I still have a lot of fun watching, is Amityville 3 - The Demon, directed by Richard Fleischer and originally opening in theaters back in November of 1983.

The film's story: "Reveal" magazine writer John Baxter buys a Long Island house from a local realtor named Clifford Sanders, despite the house's long history of purported ghosts and spirits borne out of a horrifying family tragedy many years before. Baxter settles in inside the house, even invites his daughter to inspect the home. Baxter's purchase of this house, not surprisingly, sets off a chain of events that result in the deaths of many people close to him, both personally and professionally. In the end Baxter seeks out the help of a paranormal scientist, Eliott West, to find the answers to these mysterious deaths.

This film is noticeably campier than the two previous "Amityville" movies. Tony Roberts is solid as "John Baxter", Tess Harper portraying Baxter's estranged and presumably soon to be ex wife, "Nancy". Lori Loughlin plays Baxter's daughter "Susan" and a young Meg Ryan is Susan's friend 'Lisa". These and the other characters of this movie are all serviceable but the star attraction of the third "Amityville" film is the house itself. Admittedly, the special effects could have been a lot better but the Amityville house, despite the effects shortcomings, definitely takes on a life of its own.

Several sequences do well to hold my attention regarding the otherworldly and, turns out, demonic effects going on in this creepy abode: the realtor Sanders(played by John Harkins) has a particularly unpleasant experience with flies, Baxter's daughter "Susan" goes on a sailing trip to hell, literally, Baxter's photographer assistant Melanie meets with a sudden and gruesome demise and paranormal researcher "Elliott West"(played by Robert Joy) has an up close and personal encounter with the demon in the basement of the house.

Creaking doors, slamming doors and thumps and bumps are expected in any "haunted house" film and they're present here, as well as a hole in the basement described by those familiar with the house as "a gateway to hell", a description that later in the movie becomes reality. There's also a nasty and very hostile demonic force at work in this film, manifest in the form of a fly for a great portion of the movie. Thankfully the entire appearance of the demon isn't revealed until the end of the movie: the monster won't scare the hell out of veteran horror movie buffs like me but it's sufficiently hideous enough to perhaps evoke a jump or two from someone who doesn't watch many horror movies.

The film's teaser trailer:
Teaser - Amityville 3-D