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!
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!
So without a holiday or pop culture fiasco to relate to, I came into February a free man, able to write about any monster movie my secret, greasy heart desires. After months away from the Godzilla franchise I knew I needed to head back that way, but something about Rodan grabbed me first. Rodan joins up with Godzilla and Mothra Avengers-style after this one anyway, so I figure it’s close enough.
I personally tend to overlook Rodan because it’s sandwiched between Gojira and Mothra and doesn’t have any monster-on-monster action, but that’s a mistake: this beast is a joy to re-watch, and represents Toho really hitting their stride with kaiju. It’s their straightest attempt at monster horror, and it’s a blast. Rodan was the highest-grossing sci-fi movie of its time, and is still one of the most beloved icons in the genre right alongside Mothra and Godzilla. Plus the US version features voicework from everybody’s favorite Star Trek officer turned Facebook super-star George Takei! So burst out of your egg, break the sound barrier, and snack on some newlyweds, because it’s time to go-dan with Rodan!
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!