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!
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!
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!
Things you’ll find at the North Pole: snow, maybe a ringed seal or two, ice, a jolly magical chubster distributing toys based on a vague morality system, some polar bears… oh yeah and King Kong’s gigantic robotic doppelganger chilling with his evil creator, “that international Judas” Dr. Who!
“Wha-huh?” I’m talking about 1967’s King Kong Escapes! The Toho/Rankin-Bass (the company best known for bringing Rudolph and Santa to stop-motion life) co-production that pits a suitmation King Kong against his mechanical twin! I love to tie my reviews to the season, but until somebody makes Attack of the 50ft Krampus, Kong’s James Bond-inspired adventures at the North Pole are as close as we get to seeing Christmas on Monster Island.
This post will be a little different from my previous few.
I haven’t watched my next movie yet, and that’s partially because I had some folks show interest in watching it with me, so you know, schedules and shit. Daigoro vs. Goliath is definitely next. Mainly because I’m 3 reviews in, and haven’t even touched the rich veins of camp and cheese that run through this genre. That’s okay though, because there’s a whole bunch of other giant monster shit to talk about! Come on and slam and welcome to the jam!
I figured what better place to start my giant monster movie blog than with the one, the only King Kong! While not the first monster movie (that would be the 1915 silent shocker The Golem), it is arguably the first giant monster movie (more on why it could be argued later), and undeniably the father of this crazy film subgenre that I love so dearly. Not only that, but it has absolutely earned it’s place among the greatest films of all time, regardless of genre. The flipside is that the movie is 80 years old: so for all the groundbreaking effects, powerful music, and solid story-telling, there’s also some shit that will seem either cringe-worthy, hilarious, or both to modern viewers. So beat your fists against your chest, uppercut a T-Rex, and take a trip with me back to mysterious old Skull Island!