Japanese films (and TV shows!) dominate this genre that I love so goddamn much, but it started here in the good ol’ US of A with King Kong, and filmmakers around the world have chipped in with their own unique contributions (like Norway’s excellent Troll Hunter!). But before Godzilla’s classic sequels and cross-over films rightfully solidified him as King of the Monsters, Hollyweird was cranking out all kinds of mega-monster movies! 1957’s The Amazing Colossal Man is one of ’em!
It doesn’t have Eiji Tsuburaya‘s sprawling, meticulously crafted monster suits or miniatures, nor does it have Ray Harryhausen‘s astonishingly lifelike stop-motion animation. So what’s it got? Bert I. Gordon’s low budget ingenuity and a whole lotta elbow grease! Mr. B.I.G. (his actual nickname) never birthed the next Kong, Godzilla, Gamera, or even Them! but his oeuvre still left a mark on the 50’s monster moviescape. Nobody really talks that much about The Amazing Colossal Man, but it undoubtedly paved the way for the much more famous/beloved Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, was spoofed by Honey I Blew up the Kid, and was lovingly homaged (along with other atomic horror classics like The Fly) in the forgettable Monsters vs. Aliens.
All that, plus no director has been MST3k’d as much as he has! So uh… go him? AND it was his birthday last week! Dude’s still alive! Slap on your adjustable sarong and we’ll talk about his movie!
The on-going experiment of reviewing the entire original Ultraman series has been an awesome ride, but it also has the weird side effect of pushing everything else back. I didn’t even review a Godzilla movie until we were halfway through the year! When Godzilla gets pushed back, of course Gamera also gets pushed back.
But no more! This month I’m checkin’ in with everybody’s favorite turtle titan by reviewing 2006’s overlooked Gamera the Brave. It’s an incredibly heartfelt little monster movie that sidesteps the continuity of Shusuke Kaneko’s prior, terrific Gamera trilogy (I’ve reviewed parts 1 and 2!)… while still kind of paying homage to it! It’s a fresh take on the character… that also feels like a spiritual successor to old school Gamera too!
We’ll dig into all that, plus GMK Godzilla’s secret presence in the film, Optimus Prime’s audio-only sorta-cameo, how it inadvertently spawned some obnoxious clickbait, and a whole bunch of other shit! I hope you’re feeling (the) Brave friend, because it’s gonna be A BANG UP WORK (62)!
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.
How the fart have I not reviewed the original 1961 Mothra yet? I’m correcting the fuck out of that oversight in honor of “Mothra’s” Day last Sunday. Mothra is easily Toho’s biggest mon-star other than Godzilla himself, and that’s got a ton to do with how awesome and original this movie is.
This isn’t just another big bug movie, it’s a groundbreaking genre film that brought wild fantasy and colorful adventure to the kaiju formula and put the monster’s motivation and personality front and center.
It’s also a beautifully shot, well acted, tightly plotted, fun, funny piece of classic kaiju fiction with some eye-popping action setpieces and visuals. I’ll talk about all that, plus the scrapped (heh) plane crash ending (and the suicide scare it caused!), the serialized novel the movie is based on (sort of???), the fact that it’s a stealth King Kong remix, and MOOOOORRRRE!!!
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!
Welcome to Part Deux of my reveux of Gamera: Guardian of the Universe! If you haven’t read part 1, click here to massage your brain with all the appropriate words, pictures, and hyperlinks. Or don’t! It’s a free fuckin’ country, baby.
How about a little mood music to get you back in the swang of thangs?
Aw yeah, now we’re talkin’! In Part 1 I left us on a cliffhanger! Gyaos was on the verge of eating two of our leads (PLUS LITERALLY A RANDOM BABY), Gamera showed us his altruistic streak, and Asagi showed us the heavy toll she’d have to pay for that altruism! All that plus Roger Ebert’s weird-ass review and my stupid dick jokes await! What a time to be alive!
Looking back on the unmitigated diaper fire that is 2016, I noticed I’ve only done one Gamera review this year! I’ve got something ultra special planned for next month, so I had to squeeze in some more titanic turtle before the year is up! Being November, I naturally picked one where our chivalrous chelonian roasts some turkeys!
Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (or its Japanese title Gamera: Giant Monster Midair Battle) was unleashed in 1995 and successfully rebooted the Gamera series. Directed by Shusuke “GMK!” Kaneko, scored by Kow “GM-FUCKING-K!!!!” Otani, with special effects by Shinji “did the fighter jet scene in GMK!” Higuchi.
I really really like GMK, and Gammy here is what most of that dream team was doing pre-GMK. If you’re playing a drinking game where you take a shot every time you read GMK, please call 911. If you’re still conscious, great! This movie is a ton of fun, gave Gamera the second chance he always deserved, and in a lot of ways outshined Toho’s Godzilla output of the time. Keep reading to find out how!