Since I’ve started MONSTERS CONQUER THE WORLD in 2014, something wonderful has happened: a new kaiju/giant monster boom in mainstream moviedom on both sides of the Pacific. Maybe “boom” is too strong a word considering that superheroes still maintain their box office dominance, but since I’ve started the blog, mon-stars have come back in a (heh) big way. There have now been three new Godzilla movies (the reviews for the other two are here and here), a new Kong flick, Ultraman is slamming out top-notch series, Pacific Rim did well enough to spawn an upcoming sequel, and we’re even getting “me-too” movies like Power Rangers, Colossal and Rampage. Maybe it’s not a full-on monster boom, but it’s certainly a hearty, bassy rumble. (One that will include Gamera sometime soonish? Please!?!)
MERRY (belated) MINYAMAS EVERYONE! Minya, the Son of Godzilla, the Prince of the Monsters turned 50 last month! I kicked off the celebration of this auspicious occasion here, but of course I knew that wouldn’t be enough!
Since I’ve already reviewed Minya’s debut film there was really only one choice for my MINYAMAS movie review: 1969’s Godzilla’s Revenge (or All Monsters Attack in Japan)! Revenge is debatably an even Minya-er movie than Son of Godzilla and it has quite a reputation within the hardcore Godzilla fan community.
Which is to say, a lot of people hate it. I’ve always disagreed with Revenge’s naysayers, but this most recent viewing has absolutely solidified it as one of my favorite entries in the entire series. That’s not me being a contrarian wiener or pimping some clickbait bullshit, I just really love the sweet goofball soul of this incredibly unique little movie.
Round up all your vacuum tubes, get ready to fight your own battles, and force yourself to fall asleep, because we’re taking a psychedelic imagination-jet to Monster Island!
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!
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!