10 Cloverfield Lane came out this month! Just like its 2008 predecessor Cloverfield, it was a surprise announcement, and the true nature of the film has been shrouded in secrecy. And just like with Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane built up excitement and mystery with a complex and creepy alternate reality game (or ARG).
So what’s the connection between the two movies? What did J.J. Abraham Lincoln mean when he said 10 Cloverfield Lane isn’t a sequel but a “blood relative” to Cloverfield? Is it a mean older brother? Precocious twin sister? Cool uncle? Cousin that’s constantly in and out of jail? Grab a Slusho, lock yourself in your doomsday bunker and keep reading to find out!
Hope you had a good (or at least not-shitty) Varantimes Day! I always like to try and tie my reviews to something current-ish, so this month I went hunting for a little giant monster romance! Last year worked out great with Rodan‘s star-crossed terror-dactyls. This year… let’s just say kaiju generally aren’t lovey-dovey creatures.
Gamera gets pragnent in this one! Implies a little hanky-panky, yeah? Except Gamera is a boy and there’s no sex, just a (non-erotic) shanking. Also two kids abort the murderous monster-baby. Hahaha, hoo boy. This is truly one of the craziest, most fun entries in the classic Gamera series, and that’s saying a lot considering we got shit like this in a previous installment.
So light some candles, put on some slow jams, and check yourself for ancient curses and/or monstrous parasites, because we’re talking about 1970’s Gamera vs. Jiger!
It’s a whole new year, homies! I want to kick this one off with something a little different. Looking back at my last five reviews, three of them star established franchise monsters (my personal unholy trinity of Godzilla, King Kong, and Gamera), four were made in Japan, three were made in the glory days of the 1960s monster boom, and four were high-flying monster-mashing battle royales.
For real, at the rate I write these, I could probably review nothing but 1960s Japanese kaiju films and be flush with content for years. I would also be flush with fun, because those are the best movies in the universe. BUT that’s not the sole point of MONSTERS CONQUER THE WORLD! I like to sweep the greater giant monster moviescape and yak about shit from different regions and time periods. In addition to perusing Japan’s kaiju collection, I’ve also sampled monster fare from the good ol’ US of A, jolly old England, and even mother-fucking real-life Mordor North Korea! So this month I’m reviewing another really unique entry in the colossal creature canon: The Iron Giant. It’s an American movie from 1999 that focuses more on heartwarming, unusual friendships than city-shattering mayhem. It’s a little more E.T. than Godzilla. And even weirder: it’s animated!
So grab your vintage Superman comics, chew on some scrap metal, and get ready to duck and cover with the Iron Giant!
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.
Gamera’s first feature is the only one to cast him as the villain, the only one in black and white, and the only one that doesn’t have the Gamster taking on an opposing monster. It’s the poster child for early installment weirdness, even more so than the straight-laced Gamera vs. Barugon. Even though O.G. Gamera is a city-smashing, crowd-roasting terror, that somehow doesn’t stop him from being crowned “The Friend of Children” which means this movie is populated with some seriously fucked-up human characters. It’s great!
We’ll talk about all that, plus how this movie started out as a failed attempt at a rat-attack horror movie. Load up on freeze bombs, eat some fire, sign off on Plan Z, and get ready to slam-era with Gamera!
Happy Halloween month! It’s my favorite time of year: the crisp cool air, the beautiful colors of changing leaves, dark nights perfect for horror movie marathons, candy, pumpkin spice everything, apple pie, costumes, Halloween parties, all that shit! Last year I had a perfectly Halloweenish kaiju movie, the delightfully bizarre Frankenstein Conquers the World. This year I just have to follow up with its superior sequel, 1966’s terrific War of the Gargantuas!
Of course, just how much of a sequel it is will depend on what cut you’re watching, but we’ll get to that later. What’s important to know right now is that in spite of its wet-fart of a leading man, Gargantuas delivers a simple and satisfying sci-fi story and some of the absolute best monster mayhem committed to film. It’s a cult favorite in an already cult genre that’s secretly influenced some of the heaviest hitters in Hollywood. So put down that giant octopus, spit out those shredded shirts, and get the words unstuck from your throat, because we’re going to war with the Gargantuas!
I’ve been cranking out Monsters Conquer the World for a little over a year now, and I noticed two glaring omissions in my output so far: I have yet to cover a “Heisei” era movie, and more importantly, I haven’t yet covered a Mechagodzilla movie. Obviously Godzilla’s robot doppelganger is a big deal, but what the hell does the current emperor of Japan have to do with kaiju movies? I’ll answer that by picking apart 1993’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II! Which confusingly enough is not a direct sequel to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, nor is it even the second film to feature Mechagodzilla, it’s the third.
Plus, it’s Godzilla’s official 40th anniversary movie (despite being off by a year)! We’ll blast through a primer on the Godzilla series in the late 80s and early 90s, talk about some of Toho’s crazy unused ideas for the movie, psychics, deliciously bad CGI, singing plants, butt-brains, and more, so strap in! Mechagodzilla is go for launch!
G-Fest has come and gone, so it’s time to dig back in with movie reviews! I’m gonna keep the G-Fest hype train rolling (sort of), with this month’s review: Pacific Rim. I got to see it opening night at G-Fest back in 2013, and watching it for the first time in a lavish movie palace packed with monster fans was one of my all-time favorite moviegoing experiences. It definitely doesn’t hurt that Pacific Rim is a big, crazy, fun, slam-bang, gee-whiz, pants-shitter of a spectacle film either. The movie definitely has some issues that hold it back from being a full-on classic (genre or otherwise), but don’t let the flashy visual effects, bonkers premise, or broad characters fool you: this is 100% a labor of love from director Guillermo del Toro, and it shows in virtually every single frame of the movie.
I’m gonna dissect this mo-fo and see what makes a modern monster movie tick! I also have a (mostly) baseless theory that Pacific Rim beat a similar movie to the punch and straight into development hell! So connect your brain to a monster’s, strap into a giant robot, and get ready to cancel the apocalypse!
We’re at the end of June! A whole month of dads and grads! Toho was kind enough to create a Godzilla film that revolves around themes of fatherhood (dads), coming of age (grads), and general summery fun (glads). 1967’s Son of Godzilla is this month’s movie, and if my constant championing of my main man Minya didn’t tip you off, this is legit one of my favorite Godzilla movies. Son of Godzilla represents a couple important turning points for the franchise. This is the series’ hard left into kid country, and also the movie that finally completes Godzilla’s transformation from villain to (grouchy) hero: likely in response to the enormous success of TV’s Ultraman, which started the year prior. But even with a greater emphasis on colorful comedy and kid appeal, SoG has a really solid sci-fi story, and some of the coolest monster action in the early series. And also the absolutely, hilariously worst Godzilla suit ever. So bust out your lead umbrella, because a radioactive typhoon is brewing on Sollgel Island!
Gorgo is truly a rare beast, a British kaiju movie! With its monster-mom mayhem, the 1961 film also happens to be a perfect thematic tie to Mother’s Day (which was earlier this month… dude go call your mom). I initially had low expectations for Gorgo mostly due to jolly ol’ England’s other 1961 creature feature, Konga. While Konga is a surprisingly limp King Kong clone, Gorgo is derivative in much more endearing ways, efficiently and entertainingly leading up to an extremely effective third act. Gorgo actually fits right in with Toho’s monster output too: the beasts are sympathetic creatures with their own motives and the real villains are human greed and hubris. Gorgo sadly never drinks a giant cup of tea or chews on a truckload of crumpets, but the movie still manages to be deliciously British. Pretty much every other line out of these characters’ mouths is a wry, dry Britticism.
So finish your call with your ma’, tell her I said “‘ello guv-nah!” and get ready to Gor-go for Gorgo!