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!
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.
Holy shit guys, there’s a brand new Godzilla movie! Shin Godzilla, straight from Toho Studios. The first Japanese Godzilla flick in twelve years, it made a big splash in Japan critically and commercially, and it came to the States for a limited engagement.
If you’re a monster fan like me you’ve probably peeked at some production art and promotional stills, checked out the trailers, and wondered how it all fit together while trying (and in my case failing) to dance around spoilers. Godzilla himself looks particularly shocking, with an aggressively ghoulish, gruesome design that evokes charred, burning flesh and exposed bloody muscle. He looks like Burning Godzilla and Lord Zedd had a baby and then peed on it. I truly mean that as a compliment.
It’s a look that wouldn’t work for a kaiju-battling hero monster or a majestic beast meant to be an agent of natural chaos, but it works pretty perfectly for an unsettling, looming horror monster. But despite all appearances, Shin Godzilla isn’t the full-on creature-horror experience I was expecting. It’s something substantially drier and denser, with a surprising amount of wry humor.
It’s all spoilers all the time from here on in, so if you’re okay with that read on! If you’re not okay with that, I guess like… you could go play Frog Fractions. Oooh, or Wonderputt!
Just popping up with a neat little news nugget before this month’s review! This weekend I picked up a Playstation 4 and finally dug into an idea that’s been percolating for a few months:
It’s a Twitch channel! Don’t worry, this project won’t take me away from MONSTERS CONQUER THE WORLD (this month’s review is actually ahead of schedule for once!), and at the moment is actually supplementing it. I’ve been livestreaming the Godzilla PS4 game!
Sure it’s shallow and repetitive, but the Godzilla Shie is an unlockable move! 10/10, GOTY 2015.
SUPER APARTMENT FRIENDS won’t exclusively be kaiju/monster-related gaming, but it is for now! I’ll be back online Wednesday night if you want to catch me live and we can have a good cry over the fact that Minya isn’t playable. You can also watch all the past streams on the Super Apartment Friends YouTube page!
Guys, I’m fucking pumped. This month I’m reviewing one of my all-time favorite movies: Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (or GMK for short). It’s a movie as rad as its title is long. Directed by Gamera wunderkind Shūsuke Kaneko, this 2001 movie masterfully mashes together monsters, magic, and mystery. It stars a deliciously evil Godzilla, bolstered by heady themes, spectacular visuals, engrossing human characters, and slam-bang oh-shit monster wrassling insanity.
Let’s pick apart what makes it so fucking awesome, find all the juicy little Easter egg-y nuggets, talk about how we almost got Godzilla vs. The Mutated Spaceman instead, and reveal which GMK star spent the 70s shredding in a funk band! Kick over some little statues and absorb some souls, it’s time to All-Out Attack!
Earth Dayand4/20 were this month, so I had to review 1971’s oddball eco-conscious epic, Godzilla vs. Hedorah! This seems to be a love it or hate it entry in the Godzilla series. It boasts artsy weirdness, scenes of kid-friendly wackiness immediately contrasted with people-melting mass-murder, a gelatinous dookie beast from outer space, trippy cartoon segments, and I’m gonna go ahead and spoil it because it’s so fucking rad: Godzilla shoots his atomic breath at the ground to take flight. Seriously, if you haven’t seen the movie, you gotta at least watch this 30 second clip of the best thing in the universe.
If you haven’t guessed already, I fall squarely in the “love it” camp. I have good company, too! Legendary film critic Roger Ebert listed it as his favorite Godzilla film. Series producer Tomoyuki Tanaka wasn’t so pleased: upon viewing the rough cut, he fired Hedorah writer-director Yoshimitsu Banno. We’ll talk about that, how the suit actor portraying Hedorah had to get surgery–while still in the monster suit!–how Hedorah indirectly spawned 2014’s Godzilla, and all kinds of other fun insanity! Get on the floor-ah, here comes Hedorah!