Friday, May 29, 2009

Kaiju Galaxy

One of the web's truly marvelous kaiju themed message boards is Kaiju Galaxy, founded by Donny Winter back in November, 2004. Donny's site, while covering all kinds of topics regarding Mothra, Godzilla and other Japanese giant monsters, and the films these monsters star in, is also home to some great kaiju fan fiction and other related literary submissions. Kaiju Galaxy has over 400 members and 80,000 posts.

Donny, expanding on his message board, and with the help of his close friend "Sahra", have created a new website(using Freewebs) that will expand on Kaiju Galaxy's forums. The new website is still "under construction" and further updates, and additional features, will follow.

To see the new "Kaiju Galaxy" home page click the below image:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Born Again: Rebirth Of Mothra(1996)

Now that the classic 1961 Toho film Mothra is about to be released to official R1 DVD(by Sony in August, 2009) I decided to watch again a trio of "Mothra" films produced by Toho in the '90s. The first of them is Rebirth Of Mothra, directed by Okihiro Yoneda, which originally opened in Japanese theaters back in December, 1996.

The film's story: a logging-mining company conducting operations in the north part of Japan inadvertently breaks an underground seal, this seal a lock that keeps a terrible giant monster imprisoned. The monster, called "Death Ghidorah" in the English dubbed version of the movie, is a three headed, dragon like quadripedal monster with an elephantine roar, a very hostile demeanor and possessing an array of blistering, highly destructive oral beams which the monster employs often.

Two small, six inch tall fairies, "Moll"(Megumi Kobayashi) and 'Lora"(Sayaka Yamaguchi), must call on the Earth's guardian, Mothra, to come and prevent Death Ghidorah from laying waste to the Earth. Opposing the two good fairies is their evil sister "Belvera"(Aki Hano), who has disdain for humans and advocates seeing the three headed monster rampage across our planet.

Mothra arrives and does battle with the much larger Death Ghidorah. During the battle Mothra's larva hatches from its egg and joins its "parent" in battle. In the end, and because of the battle(no scene spoilers), the larva is compelled to cocoon itself, in order that it might transform and emerge an adult creature, in order to engage Death Ghidorah and defeat the monster once and for all. (no other spoilers).

Observations: the first thing that grabs me about this film is the score, which is at times quite beautiful and majestic, and befitting a film that features children prominently in the story line to compliment the movie's decided "fantasy" feel. The movie itself is very colorful, from the background cinematography, the colors on Mothra's wings, right down to the colors of the various beam weapons used by the monsters. Fans of Toho "kaiju" films who like seeing beam weapon battles will love those of Rebirth Of Mothra: even the larval Mothra employs a beam weapon!

"Mothra's Song" is done quite well with the two benevolent fairies.

Those fans of giant monster movies who prefer an edgier, more grounded(literally) and serious film may find Rebirth Of Mothra a miss. As for me, the movie has grown on me over the passage of time. I do think it does Mothra a great service, both this movie and the two that would follow.

Rebirth Of Mothra(1996) has been released on R1 DVD as a double feature(paired with the sequel film "Rebirth Of Mothra 2"): both movies on this DVD are in widescreen and in English dubbed language. Here's a link to see the double feature of these "ROM" films at
(you can also access this URL by clicking the title of this blog entry)

The original Toho trailer for Rebirth Of Mothra(1996):

Monday, May 25, 2009

Reach For It: Tentacles(1977)

There are a multitude of giant monster movies on DVD that are likely relished only by those fans of the giant monster movie or "kaiju" movie genre. One such film is Tentacoli, an Italian movie directed by Ovidio G. Assonitis and widely considered a "Jaws" rip off. This film, which opened in Italian theaters in early 1977 would reach American theaters the summer of the same year as Tentacles.

It's not generally considered a quality movie but it has just enough to hold my attention. The film's story is simple: a giant octopus is antagonized by the pipeline work of a local company(Trojan Construction) and begins terrorizing a seaside community nearby. Various characters react to the rising tensions created by the giant mollusk's attacks: a reporter(played by curmudgeonly John Huston), the head of the company contracted to do the pipeline work(played by a hostile Henry Fonda), and a marine biologist(played by Bo Hopkins). Throw in Shelley Winters and Claude Akins(as Solana Beach's local head of law enforcement)and you've got one seriously unusual group of actors thrown together. In the end it's up to the marine biologist and his pair of specially trained orcas(killer whales) to deal with the ornery giant octopus once and for all. (no other spoilers)

The movie has been released by MGM, paired with Empire Of The Ants(1977) as a "Midnite Movies" DVD release. The aspect ratio of Tentacles is 2:35.1 widescreen and the "Midnite Movies" print looks good.

To see the MGM Midnite Movies DVD of this feature for sale at click the title of this blog entry.

The film's trailer:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

How Swede It Is: Terror In The Midnight Sun(1959)

Sweden's lone entry into the 1950's "monster on the loose" film craze is a sometimes bizarre but fairly entertaining movie called Terror In The Midnight Sun, which was originally released in Sweden in the fall of 1959. This title is one of several belonging to this Swedish film: other titles include Horror In The Midnight Sun and Invasion Of The Animal People, the latter the title of this film when it arrived in American theaters in 1962.

In Terror In The Midnight Sun a glowing alien spacecraft lands in the northern region of Sweden. Scientists are dispatched to investigate the crashed alien vessel. Complicating their efforts to study the craft: a wandering, Yeti-like, five meter tall hairy giant which trudges through the snow, menacing the locals and the members of the scientific expedition. (no other spoilers)

A promo trailer, courtesy of Something Weird Video:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

School Daze: Monster On The Campus(1958)

The 1950's are stocked with some classic and campy horror films: it's those from the decade of the 1950s that got me interested in the horror movie genre. Not too long ago a slew of 50's horror films were released by Universal as DVD sets. The first of the two, called The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection, includes Monster On The Campus, directed by Jack Arnold.
In the film a college professor pines over his newly arrived specimen of prehistoric fish. When the professor accidentally exposes himself to the specimen's blood the prof transforms into a hostile and garish looking neanderthal like creature who predictably makes life miserable for his girlfriend, others about the college campus he preys on, as well as the local authorities who are investigating his attacks on the victims.

This black and white film will get under your skin: a pretense to the professor's transformation is nicely realized when both a dragonfly and a dog are exposed to the prehistoric fish's blood, the winged insect mutating into a hawk sized monstrosity and the german shepherd flashing huge and nasty looking overgrown canine teeth.

The trailer for Monster On The Campus(1958):

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Shadows And Light: The Haunting(1963)

I have watched so many gory horror movies lately that I sometimes forget that there are plenty of films that can deliver creeps with nary a dangling limb or intestine in sight. These kind of horror films don't rely on some homicidal, axe wielding maniac who busies himself chopping off terrified victim's limbs to deliver scares, instead relying on the use of shadows, back lighting and the implied "something" that may, or may not be there in the dark corner of a huge room to give a person goosebumps.
One such film that delivers this kind of dread is The Haunting(1963), directed by Robert Wise. This black and white horror movie makes the rounds on a regular basis at Turner Classic Movies.

The film's trailer:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Double Trouble: Boa Vs Python(2004)

As "giant snakes on the loose" films go 2004's Boa Vs Python is surprisingly decent. An entrepeneur and big game hunter stages a hunt, his latest quarry an 80 foot long python. The python escapes into an underground public water works facility. The government agent assigned to the case relies on a herpetologist and his own gargantuan snake, a 70 foot long scarlet colored boa to track down the python so that it can be disposed of. Predictably, the two leviathan snakes battle it out at the conclusion of the film.

The trailer:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Parent Trap: Monster From A Prehistoric Planet(1967)

The year 1967 saw every major film studio in Japan theatrically release a kaiju film: Toho's Son Of Godzilla, Shochiku's The X From Outer Space and Daiei's Gamera Vs Gyaos. Last, but certainly not least: Giant Beast Gappa, aka Gappa The Triphibian Monsters. The movie, released by Nikkatsu, was later re-titled Monster From A Prehistoric Planet for release to American theaters.

In the film a greedy and unscrupulous entrepreneur with plans to turn an island into a resort for the benefit of his bank account funds an expedition to said island, called "Obelisk Island". There two members of the expedition discover, to their surprise, a huge egg inside a cavern. The egg hatches and out comes an infant creature that resembles both a bird and lizard. Despite warnings from one of the local island inhabitants, a small boy who has accompanied them into the cavern, the expedition takes the infant beast back to civilization, in this case a laboratory. Predictably, the infant monster's parents surface from the cavern lake and discover their "baby" is missing. The monsters, both 200 feet tall, and understandably curious as to their offsprings' whereabouts, thunder around the island and, failing to find their offspring, depart the island. Later, the two adult monsters, one male and one female, demolish cities when not conducting flyovers looking for their baby.

In the end the expedition members must decide whether keeping the infant creature is worth the risk of having two very large, and very angry parent monsters continue their rampage of destruction while searching for their "baby". (no other spoilers)

I have found the overall special effects in this movie to be on par with the '60's Gamera films directed by Noriaki Yuasa. I wouldn't call the effects great but many are clever and look very decent. Like other older giant monster movies, Monster From A Prehistoric Planet has a subtle charm about it which hopefully other kaiju film fans will pick up on as well when watching this lone giant monster entry from Nikkatsu. Mediablasters(under their "Tokyo Shock" label) has released this film as "Gappa The Triphibian Monsters" on official Region 1 DVD, the disc presenting the movie in its original widescreen aspect ratio of 2:35.1. To see this DVD for sale at Amazon copy and paste this URL into your address bar: (or click the title of this blog entry).

The trailer for Monster From A Prehistoric Planet(1967):

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pest Control: Godzilla Vs Megaguirus(2000)

Recently I decided to watch the only Millennium Godzilla film I haven't watched within the last two weeks: Godzilla Vs Megaguirus, the second movie in the "Millennium" G film series, originally released in Japanese theaters back in early November of 2000. The film was, unfortunately, the second lowest grossing "Millennium" Godzilla film.

This movie isn't a favorite of mine but it has grown on me over the years as I've watched it, usually a once per year viewing. Observations, both positive and negative -

Thumbs up:

1. actress Misato Tanaka, who plays "Major Kiriko Tsujimori" of the G-Graspers, the anti Godzilla unit of the JSDF. Tsujimori is brave, feisty, determined, and dedicated to her craft. She's physically not imposing at all, a slender, petite and slightly built woman, albeit with the attitude of a 1000 lb gorilla: get in her way and you'll get flattened.

2. the Godzilla theme during the first Godzilla vs G-Graspers sequence: this was the first time it was used. I thought it was great when I first heard it and I still feel the same way about it now.

3. many action/effects sequences are IMO quite good: the swarm of Meganeura(spelling?) that attack Godzilla on the island, the initial skirmish between Godzilla and the G-Graspers, and the sequence where Major Tsujimori latches onto part of Godzilla's dorsal to avoid drowning. All very cool shots! I especially liked the effects used to render the smaller meganeura swarm: the flying monsters would definitely have overwhelmed anybody sent to try and eradicate them from Terminix or Orkin Pest Control.

4. seeing Yuriko Hoshi again

5. the rendering of the "Dimension Tide": some nice effects are used to bring this machine to life

6. the battle between Godzilla and Megaguirus: overall I thought it was nicely choreographed, save for the leap and subsequent pile driver-like tackle by Godzilla on Megaguirus. Megaguirus was a tough opponent, blasting Godzilla about the head with its large claw like appendages, stabbing Godzilla in the torso and partially draining the monster king of energy, and dragging Godzilla headlong along the ground into a building. It also, absorbing some of Godzilla's energy, managed to launch a powerful, rolling fireball at G, turning Godzilla's own energy, temporarily, against him.

Thumbs down:

1. wires are clearly(and painfully) visible during Megaguirus' first appearance out of the flooded city and its first airborne attacks. Not good.

2. the movement of Megaguirus, a dragonfly-like monster, during some of its flying sequences made the creature look stiff and reminded me Battra and other flying Heisei G film monsters that looked unwieldy and cumbersome when supposedly in flight

3. some of the matte shots, as Godzilla makes landfall and an eventual battle with Megaguirus, looked shaky

4. a couple of underwater shots of Godzilla swimming looked more like something out of a video game

Overall, I like Godzilla Vs Megaguirus just fine. It entertains and holds my interest when I watch it once a year or every eighteen months. I have the Sony Region 1 DVD. This film is also available on Region 2( and region 3(

The film's trailer:

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Gojira/Godzilla Raids Again Tribute Video

A member of my internet message board, Monsterland Forums, has re-discovered an early music video he made of two of his favorite Godzilla films, Gojira(1954) and Godzilla Raids Again(1955):