Haruo Nakajima, the man inside the original Godzilla (and many other classic monsters like Mothra, Rodan, King Kong, and various Ultraman baddies) passed away on Monday August 7th, 2017. He was one of the best and bravest performers in film history, bringing to life one of the most iconic and beloved characters of the last century.
Nakajima was a founding figure in the genre, having played Godzilla for the first twelve consecutive films. Nakajima imbued rubber suit monsters with an impossible amount of emotion, personality, and humanity. He didn’t just endure the hellish conditions inside the kaiju suits (more often than not at risk of drowning, asphyxiation, and/or burns from pyrotechnics), he thrived, using his expertise to coach his fellow suit actors and choreograph the creature brawls that have thrilled audiences all over the world. He was The Man of a Thousand Monsters, and he’s directly responsible for some of the coolest shit to ever happen in cinema.
Fans from all over the world have stepped up and shared their favorite Nakajima stories, pictures, and tributes online, so I’ve collected some personal favorites here. Click through to check them out!
Let’s get Ultra, fools! I have no concept of how long it’s gonna take, but I’m determined to review every last episode of this show and after a couple months off I’m jazzed to dive back in.
If you haven’t checked out the previous installments or want a refresher, hit up Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4!
This month we get some of the (intentionally) funniest monster action I’ve ever seen, our creepiest antagonist since Baltan, and a fresh, funky formula shake-up! Pour yourself a nice tall glass of oil because shit’s gettin’ ULTRA in here!
Happy Kaijuly everybody! If you’re wondering what the fuck Kaijuly is, wonder no longer! (or do, it’s a free country)
Kaijuly is one of those weird internet holidays like May the Fourth or Zelda Month, except you know, about kaiju instead of space aliens or forest-dwelling adventurers.
Obviously The Legend of Zelda (above left) is about eerie interplanetary beings, and Star Wars (above right) revolves around cute woodland dwellers.
From what I can tell, Kaijuly got its start over on Tumblr as an art challenge: create and share an original kaiju (or fan-art of an existing one) for every day in July! It’s been broadening every year since, including month-long discussion challenges (I’m doing one! Just posted for days 1-3!), and El Rey Network (the coolest channel almost no one gets) has run a “Kaijuly Roarth” Godzilla marathon for the last couple years!
Let’s correct that right now! Between Ultraman and Mothra I’ve been living and breathing 60s golden age kaiju action, so this month I’m reviewing 1991’s Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah. Gimmick CGI! Time travel! Evil white people (which stirred up enough controversy to temporarily kill the series Stateside!)! This was almost a Mothra movie (co-starring fan-favorite “lost” monster Bagan!), a King Kong movie, and a Mechanikong movie! Back to the Future II directly inspired this flick (writer/director Kazuki Omori even said so!)! Ghidorah like you’ve never seen him before (or since!)!
And that’s still just a sample of the delightful (if ultimately pretty uneven) madness in this very 90s entry in the Godzilla series. We’ll talk about all that, plus the most direct (and pulpy!) Godzilla origin ever filmed, and maybe most importantly: M-11’s off-brand Terminator shenanigans. Fire up the Delorean, shit’s about to go bonkers.
How the fart have I not reviewed the original 1961 Mothra yet? I’m correcting the fuck out of that oversight in honor of “Mothra’s” Day last Sunday. Mothra is easily Toho’s biggest mon-star other than Godzilla himself, and that’s got a ton to do with how awesome and original this movie is.
This isn’t just another big bug movie, it’s a groundbreaking genre film that brought wild fantasy and colorful adventure to the kaiju formula and put the monster’s motivation and personality front and center.
It’s also a beautifully shot, well acted, tightly plotted, fun, funny piece of classic kaiju fiction with some eye-popping action setpieces and visuals. I’ll talk about all that, plus the scrapped (heh) plane crash ending (and the suicide scare it caused!), the serialized novel the movie is based on (sort of???), the fact that it’s a stealth King Kong remix, and MOOOOORRRRE!!!
After spending the last few months digging into the kaiju TV classic Ultraman, it’s time to shake things up again! And look, there just happens to be a brand new King Kong movie out this month! That by itself is more than enough to get me all riled up, but Kong: Skull Island is also the integral next step in Legendary’s shared movie “MonsterVerse“! This movie paves the way for 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters and… (deep breaths, Matt, stay cool, Matt) my most anticipated film of all time, 2020’s Godzilla vs. Kong.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, what’s the scoop on this movie? Directed by some indie dramedy guy? Starring Loki, Jules Winnfield, Dr. Steve Brule, and Walter Sobchak? No T-Rex? No Empire State Building? Vietnam War? Is it even a Kong movie at this point? Shit yeah it is, read on to find out how!