Page 3 of 3 FirstFirst 123
Results 51 to 73 of 73

Thread: A Celebration of Showa Godzilla Cinema

  1. #51
    Can't stop won't stop DFA1979's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    None of your business
    Posts
    2,059
    That one is decent at best for me. I do agree that is when the series became campy. The Godzilla dance rocks.
    Blog!

    It's a luscious mix of words and tricks
    That let us bet when you know we should fold
    On rocks I dreamt of where we'd stepped
    And of the whole mess of roads we're now on

  2. #52
    Director bac0n's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Monster Island
    Posts
    6,498
    Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966)



    Turns out, Godzilla vs. Ebirah wasn't originally supposed to be a Godzie flick at all. Originally pitched to Rankin/Bass as a King Kong vehicle, it was rejected by them, I guess too much a departure from their Rudolph films, after which it wound up in the hands of Toho, who basically swapped out Kong for Godzilla and went with it. Curiously enough, this wasn't the first Godzilla film that was not originally penned for him (that honor would go to King Kong vs. Godzilla, which was originally supposed to have Kong fighting Frankenstein), and it wouldn't be the last, either.

    Aside from that, this movie also represents the largest shift in tone from previous Godzilla flicks up to this point, as it had an entirely different crew behind the camera from before. Most, notably this would be the series debut of Jun Fukuda, who would direct all but three of the remaining movies in the Showa series, and he brought with him much faster pacing, brighter cinematography, and an overall lighter, dare I say, tongue-in-cheek tone than his predecessor Ishiro Honda.

    Not only that, the special effects got a new helmsman, Sadamasa Arikawa, previously Eiji Tsuburaya's chief cameraman, now calling the shots, and bringing with him not only the knowledge he had garnered working under the master, but also a few tricks of his own that he learned from his television days. Tsuburaya was still listed as the Director of Special effects, but he was so in name only, spending most of his time on other projects and only dropping in occasionally to advise.

    Finally, and perhaps most noticeably, Akira Ifukube was gone, his thundering anthemic marches replaced by the more jazzy, surf-rock inspired music of Masaru Sato, who seems to have dreamed up the score after watching a few too many episodes of Batman. Might sound ridiculous, but, it actually works. This is a much more light hearted romp than the over the top, more-is-more approaches to the previous films, which were starting to quake under the opposing forces of shrinking budgets, coupled with the need to outdo the movies that came before them.

    In front of the camera, though, a lot of familiar faces return. Akira Takarada, star of the first Gojira film, returns as a dashing Nathan Drake type, a bank robber who finds himself stranded on an island in the middle of the sea, trying to keep himself and a few knucklehead teenagers out of the clutches of The Red Bamboo, a secret military organization who have established a secret base there where they are finishing up creating a nuclear bomb. And one can only assume that since they are using kidnapped Infant Islanders (Mothra's home) as forced labor, one can only assume that this nuclear bomb is not gonna be used for charity.

    And of course The Red Bamboo was populated by a lot of familiar faces from the Toho stable: Akihiko Hirata (Dr. Serizawa in the original Gojira) played a Red Bamboo captain with a very important looking eyepatch, the prolific Hideyo Amamoto, who played Dr. Who in King Kong Escapes, the friendly next door neighbor in Godzilla's Revenge, and a whole slew of other bit parts, played another captain; Hisaya Ito, the alien boss from Astro Monster; Jun Tazaki, always some position of authority was playing the same role he always played, almost all of the usual supporting actors were there.

    To be perfectly honest with you, it took me a LOOOOONG time to finally get to watching this film for the first time. All I knew at the time was that the film took place on a tropical island, and movies with that setting didn't exactly have a spectacular track record in my eyes, my least favorite films in the Showa era taking place on, you guessed it, tropical islands. Further, I knew then as I do now that the leading factor in choosing the tropical islands for settings was budget. Less buildings we need to blow up means less money for special effects. But of course, less buildings blowing up means, well, less buildings blowing up. And I want buildings blowing up! Coconuts blowing up just aren't the same.

    And worst of all, Godzilla's adversary in the film was basically a giant lobster. Not a three headed dragon that breathed lightning, not some huge cyborg alien creature with swords for arms, just a giant lobster. Didn't even breath any fire or shoot any lasers out of its eyeballs. In a word: BORING. The thing looked more delicious than it did threatening - if I was Godzilla, I woulda tried to lure it into a volcano, and then throw a shitton of butter on top of it, grab a bib, and, bam, you got yourself some good eats right there. In the end, what motivated me to watch Ebirah more than anything else was completionism. I watched it basically so I could say that I had finally gotten to every film in the Showa Era.

    So, imagine my surprise when I found myself quite enjoying this film, despite my initial reservations. Really, in the end, my preconceived notions on Ebirah proved correct: Ebirah is a boring AF monster, and the confrontations between him and Godzilla were, despite a silly game of volleyball involving a boulder, pretty forgettable. But here's the thing - the monsters are the backdrop to a silly, pulpy Indiana Jones meets Man from UNCLE style adventure, and that is what provides the bulk of the entertainment value, and it is only accentuated by Masaru Sato's genre-defying score, that made all the action, particularly Godzilla fighting off the Red Bamboo jets, a light-hearted frenetic dance.

    And Godzilla - a couple of things to bear in mind here are, first, that, although since Invasion of Astro-Monster, he has been leaning towards a more benevolent role, as of this film he is still very much as an unknown quantity, still played by stalwart Haruo Nakajima as a monster who could either help you or incinerate you with his atomic breath. As a result, the heros spend just as much time trying to keep away from Godzilla as they do the Red Bamboo, making for a few tenuous situations. I wouldn't go so far as to say tense, this movie doesn't take itself nearly seriously enough for that, but there are a few situations where I was wondering just how the shifty Takarada could get himself and his team out of harm's way.

    Another interesting takeaway is that, when you think about the fact that Godzilla's role was originally written for King Kong, you notice him taking on a lot of King Kong traits: throwing rocks and waving his arms around as a show of dominance - there's even a scene where he makes the moves on a lady! Well, that might be a bit exaggerating - he doesn't exactly grab some blonde and climb up a building, but he does take keen interest in an Infant Island native who finds herself stuck between a relaxing Godzilla and some pursuing evil henchmen. The henchmen of course take one look at the big green guy, promptly shit their pants and run away, but the girl, cowering against a rock, can only cower as Godzilla... leans over and stares at her, pretty much in the same way that you would look at a caterpillar.

    This is pretty much the first direct human/Godzilla interaction in film, now that I think about it, and the fact that they both got out of it unharmed would lead me to think that it could have gone a hell of a lot worse.

    And finally, the suit, which was re-used from the previous Godzilla movie, Invasion of Astro-Monster, was a bit problematic. As you could guess, a significant portion of the Godzilla parts took place in the water, which really beat the thing up, and by the end of the film, the suit, particularly Godzilla's eyes, which always seemed to be looking up as if sleep walking, was looking pretty droopy, especially in the third act where Godzilla stomped through Red Bamboo HQ with what looked like a case of cataracts. But, hey, that is small potatoes compared to the problems that would arise in films to follow, so I guess I can't complain much.

    In the final analysis, this film is much better than it has any right to be, and represents the fast-tracking of the series into more action packed, light-hearted affairs. The series won't always be this way - Honda has a few films in this series left - but Fukuda's take is definitely a shot in the arm and, dare I say, a more self-aware approach to Daikaiju Cinema, where the focus was more to entertain the audience than to challenge them.

    Next: Son of Godzilla
    Losing is like fertilizer: it stinks for a while, then you get used to it. (Tony, Hibbing)

  3. #53
    Can't stop won't stop DFA1979's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    None of your business
    Posts
    2,059
    I saw Ebirah in October for my Horrorfest and I really enjoyed it. I liked that Godzilla fought a giant lobster.
    Blog!

    It's a luscious mix of words and tricks
    That let us bet when you know we should fold
    On rocks I dreamt of where we'd stepped
    And of the whole mess of roads we're now on

  4. #54
    Director bac0n's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Monster Island
    Posts
    6,498
    Son of Godzilla (1967)



    The bad news for Toho coming out of Ebirah's release was that the box office returns for Godzilla films were on a steady decline from the heights they had achieved a few years before with the likes of King Kong vs. Godzilla and Mothra vs Godzilla. The novelty of giant monsters running amok was simply not what it used to be. I guess not everybody in Japan is exactly like me. The good news, however, was that Ebirah was made for peanuts, cheap enough that even if it were to have a marketing budget equal to its USD 1.2 million production budget (which of course it didn't), we're still looking at a 50+ percent profit margin with the box office returns. Certainly enough for Toho to greenlight another one of the films.

    However, Toho understood that the monsters themselves were no longer gonna fill seats, so they needed an angle. Problem was, though, their A-team (Director Honda, Special Effects Guy Tsuburaya, and Composer Ifukube) were busy working on King Kong Escapes (great movie, btw), so what's a fella to to? In steps Jun Fukuda, who helmed Ebirah Horror of the Deep, with an idea: these date movies are all the rage, man, why don't we make the next Godzilla film a date movie! And how ya gonna do that? Lets make Godzilla a dad, and give him a son!

    And thus, this fucking thing came into existence.


    Did someone slip some LSD in those mangos?

    The idea was, if we could make something that looked kinda like Godzilla, but also like a human child, the girls would find that adorable and yada yada yada. Call me culturally insensitive, but something inside me doubts that a thing that looks like Godzilla had sex with a potato and grunts like a donkey when it's in trouble would be the sort of thing that would result in a love connection in Japan in the late 60s, and there wasn't any sort of spike in the birth rate in Japan until the early 70s, so the data I fastidiously collected over the course of a 2 minute internet search backs up my claim.

    Just as big an offender as the design of Minya for this film, perhaps even worse, was the design of the Godzilla suit itself. In an effort to make it look more kawaii, they tried the old lets make the eyes big AF trick. Unfortunately, what they accomplished was more kowai than kawaii. Lets see if any kotakus pick up that reference. Anyway, the end result of the design had Godzilla's eyes sticking out the top of his head like ears on a corgi, with a permanent sort of squint to them that made it look like he was really, REALLY baked.


    Hey! Who wants to order dominos?!?

    And take a look at those tiny carnie hands! Are you gonna breath atomic fire at me or pick my pocket? At any rate, the end result was a Godzilla that was really hard to take seriously, but I doubt that was the intention to begin with.

    But even worse than the misbegotten aesthetics of the thing was the practicality of the suit. In order to give it its more "maternal" (their words, not mine) look, they created a suit that was much more bulky and heavy than its predecessors - so bulky, in fact, that Godzilla stalwart Huruo Nakajima was only able to shoot two scenes in the damn thing. And his replacement broke his hand while wearing it during filming. Finally, a third, much bigger and stronger suit actor was able to finish the Godzilla scenes without injury. Here's hoping that, once filming was done, they dropped the thing into the Mariana Trench, never to be seen again.

    However, not all was a total shit-show with this film. If you're able to ignore the cheesy Minya bits, there is a nice silly jungle adventure to be had here, with a team of scientists messing with nature and learning a horrible lesson. Akihiko Hirata, who by now you could be forgiven to think that he was contractually obligated to be in every Godzilla film ever made, gives his most prominent performance since his turn as Dr. Serizawa in the original, and it was nice seeing him front and center once more. On a more somber note, he's smoking in virtually all of his scenes, which given that he would years later die of lung cancer, well, you know..

    Another enjoyable performance was Akira Kubo, who shows all the pluck and spirit in this film that would make him an excellent leading man in Destroy All Monsters a few years later, a big shift from his role as a nerd in Invasion of Astro-Monster a few years before.

    Behind the camera, Jun Fukuda was at it again, speeding up the pace and brightening up the colors, with Masaru Sato again delivering a light hearted genre-defying soundtrack, something one would expect to see in a Roy Rogers Western. Hell, there were even the clip-clops of horse hooves playing, I shit thee not. On a Tropical Island. What is this, Rancho del Coconut?

    Working the special effects again was Sadamasa Arikawa, now actually credited as the Director of Special effects for the first time. And interestingly enough, it should be noted that this film stands out as the only film in the Showa Series where none of Godzilla's adversaries were men in monster suits - the giant mantises and spider were all marionettes, the spider being the most impressive feet of puppetry in the entire Showa series, requiring as many as two puppeteers for each of its eight legs. Coordinating the almost two dozen puppeteers to move that thing must have been quite the feat.

    Still, all that wasn't enough to make this film a success, its box office returns down about 30% compared to Ebirah before it. Apparently the whole idea of Minya as date movie fodder didn't quite fly with the fans. Who knew? And I agree with the fans. While the plot of the movie itself is serviceable, it is the design choices of Minya and Godzilla that really kill my enjoyment of this film. It's not Minya's existence in and of itself that bothers me - the Heisei Era Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla has a baby Godzilla, and its adorable without being obnoxious - it's just that... I mean, look at the fuckin' thing. It looks designed by committee, micromanaging the finer points of what people want without regard to how they work together. Just because I like tomatoes and I like chocolate, doesn't mean I like them together.

    Still, I got to give this film a bit of props, if for nothing else than the fact that its disappointing performance in the box office made Toho about ready to pull the plug on the whole franchise. And that, my friends, would result in my favorite Godzilla movie of all time. But that, intrepid reader, is a topic for a separate post.

    Next: Destroy All Monsters
    Last edited by bac0n; 12-30-2020 at 10:01 PM.
    Losing is like fertilizer: it stinks for a while, then you get used to it. (Tony, Hibbing)

  5. #55
    The Pan megladon8's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    29,050
    Yay!! This thread is back!!

    Love it! Son of Godzilla I was never too fond of. I think your write up is better than the film itself.

    Wasn't the son named something like Godzookie?
    "All right, that's too hot. Anything we can do about that heat?"

    "Rick...it's a flamethrower."

  6. #56
    Director bac0n's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Monster Island
    Posts
    6,498
    Quote Quoting megladon8 (view post)
    Yay!! This thread is back!!

    Love it! Son of Godzilla I was never too fond of. I think your write up is better than the film itself.

    Wasn't the son named something like Godzookie?
    Glad you're enjoying the write-up more than the movie, tho admittedly the bar is pretty low.

    In the Showa films, depending on who you ask, the name of Godzilla's kid is either Minya or Minilla.

    Gadzookie is actually a character in the 70s Hanna Barbara Godzilla Cartoon which I obsessed over every Saturday morning. And yeah, he was Godzilla's son in that cartoon.
    Losing is like fertilizer: it stinks for a while, then you get used to it. (Tony, Hibbing)

  7. #57
    "Hey! Who wants to order dominos?!?" Bwahaha

  8. #58
    The Pan Scar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    White Castle
    Posts
    8,583
    I’d have to be drugged and tied up to watch Son of Godzilla.
    “What we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, er... an eating machine. It's really a miracle of evolution. All this machine does is swim and eat and make little sharks and that's all.”

  9. #59
    The Pan Scar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    White Castle
    Posts
    8,583
    We might witness maximum Bac0n with Destroy All Monsters.
    “What we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, er... an eating machine. It's really a miracle of evolution. All this machine does is swim and eat and make little sharks and that's all.”

  10. #60
    The Pan megladon8's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    29,050
    Quote Quoting bac0n (view post)
    Glad you're enjoying the write-up more than the movie, tho admittedly the bar is pretty low.

    In the Showa films, depending on who you ask, the name of Godzilla's kid is either Minya or Minilla.

    Gadzookie is actually a character in the 70s Hanna Barbara Godzilla Cartoon which I obsessed over every Saturday morning. And yeah, he was Godzilla's son in that cartoon.
    Thar's it! Yes! Remembered the name but not that it was from the cartoon.

    I need to track that cartoon down to revisit...
    "All right, that's too hot. Anything we can do about that heat?"

    "Rick...it's a flamethrower."

  11. #61
    Can't stop won't stop DFA1979's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    None of your business
    Posts
    2,059
    Ok so I liked Son Of Godzilla
    Blog!

    It's a luscious mix of words and tricks
    That let us bet when you know we should fold
    On rocks I dreamt of where we'd stepped
    And of the whole mess of roads we're now on

  12. #62
    Director bac0n's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Monster Island
    Posts
    6,498
    Destroy All Monsters (1968)



    Back in the mid-80s when I was in junior high and going to the smallish school attached to my church, my 8th grade teacher put us in teams of four to create five-minute news broadcasts of sorts, covering the major events of the previous week. One kid would do headlines, the other local news, the other sports, the other, I dunno, celebrity news or something. I even remember the name: TW3. This, of course, was in the interest of teaching us the importance of following current events.

    Now, there just so happened to be an empty slot at the end of the TW3 unit for any four kids who wanted to team up and do a TW3 show for extra credit. Didn't have to be one of the assigned teams either. Any 4 kids could team up and do it. Me and my best friends at the time, Moorelord, Hanley, and Canoe-Man, we all had the same idea. We get to be on a team together? (there was a good reason we were all placed on separate teams) It's all for extra credit? (meaning: we could do whatever the fuck we wanted)

    WE WERE SO IN.

    Well, I am pretty sure you can guess how things went down. Without getting too much into the gory details, let it be known that we took full advantage of our carte blanche and threw together one spectacular half hour shitshow of a news broadcast that ultimately ended up with the entire school having to be evacuated due to us lighting a smoke bomb in the middle of class. It was GLORIOUS.

    Anyway, my point: this whole story serves to demonstrate how I know exactly how Tomoyuki Tanaka and the rest of the Godzilla crew must have felt after Son of Godzilla landed with a thud at the box office and Toho told them, basically, ya got one more Godzilla film and we're pulling the plug. Do whatever the fuck you want, we don't care. We're not gonna give you a ton of money to make it, but here are the keys to the entire Toho prop warehouse. Grab whatever you want. It's all going in the trash anyway.

    You mean, we can use all these monster suits? Even from non-Godzilla movies?

    Yup. Go nuts.

    Varan? Gorosaurus? Manda? How about Baragon from Frankenstein Conquers the World?

    Yup. Go nuts.

    King-Kong?

    No, not King Kong. Our license ran out on that one. Anybody but King-Kong.

    Okay, how about these flying saucers and this space ship and these ray guns and this moonbase shit?

    As I said: GO. NUTS.

    So, there they were. Didn't matter if the movie they made would make any money or not, Godzilla was hitting the dusty trail either way. They were given free reign to do whatever they wanted, and an entire treasure trove of 20+ years worth of daikaju props, set pieces, and of course, rubber suits at their disposal. But most importantly perhaps, they were possessed of a certain... shall we say, equal parts romantic and nihilistic attitude that, if Godzilla is gonna go out, he's gonna go out Klingon Style. Kinda like the final act of Animal House, but with a bunch of middle aged theatre nerds.

    I can imagine that it would have been an easy sell for the old crew, and sure enough, the dream team was on board and available: original Gojira director Ishiro Honda was back behind the camera and also working on the story. Akira Ifukube was back to work his magic on the soundtrack, and even special effects wizard Eiji Tsuburaya was back, albeit in an adisory role. His protege, the very able Sadamasa Arikawa, returned as the official director of special effects.

    In front of the camera, a whole lot of familiar faces were to be found as well, albeit notable absences abounded: Akira Takarada (the dashing young hero of Gojira and Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster), Akihiko Hirata (Dr. Serizawa in Gojira, along with prominent roles in virtually all other Godzilla flicks), and Hiroshi Koizumi (The Prof in Mothra, Ghidorah, and Invasion of Astro-Monster) were all off doing something else. Rats.

    But those lucky enough to be part of this movie, they sure made the most of what they got. Akira Kubo, in particular, went all in on his inaugural turn as the leading man in a Godzilla flick, playing Captain Yamabe of the spaceship Moonlight SY-3 with all the gusto and stalwart resolution of a man who could totally squeeze a lump of coal into a diamond between his asscheeks if he put his mind to it. I wouldn't bet against him, that's for sure. It's a long way from his turn as a nerd in Invasion of Astro-Monster. Going from receiving atomic wedgies to piloting an atomic powered rocketship is what I would call "upward career mobility".


    Traveling in the opposite direction at a speed of Mach12, however, we have Susumu Korobe, who Tokusatsu (Japanese sci-fi) nerds will immediately recognize as the one and only Shin Hayata, dashing alter-ego of the original Ultraman. How he could, in the span of just two short years, go from the giant alien defender of Japan from legions of monsters, aliens, and annoying school children, to an evil alien flunky, is, well, the mind boggles. HOW COULD YOU, MAN?


    In all seriousness, tho, DAM is not the only Showa Era daikaiju flick that Korobe-san would appear in. Off the top of my head, I know he also appeared in King Kong Escapes as, you guessed it, another evil henchman. If there is one gripe I have about the Showa Era of Daikaiju flicks, it is how underutilized this fella was. Susumu deserved better. I mean, look at him. He's almost as handsome as I am. But I digress.

    Anyway, marching orders in hand, Ishiro Honda went to work on the script, and to the surprise of precisely no-one, he went all auteur and shit, folding social commentary into the story, this time his subject being utopia, futurism, and technology's role in making everyone's lives better, imagining a world 30 years in the future (1999 to be exact, remember how futuristic that year was?) where world peace had been achieved, humanity had all come together under the benevolent banner of the United Nations, and travel to the moon was a quick hop, skip & a jump, about as pedestrian as catching a 1 hour flight to Chicago.

    Mind you, this was back during the height of the space race. Less than a year later, the US would put a man on the moon, and the cynisicm of the Vietnam war had not yet taken hold. People back then actually thought that things would be better 10, 20, 30 years out (the fools) and it reflected in their cinema. Further, they also assumed that the speed of (benevolent) technological advances would continue to accelerate - next year the moon, the following, Mars, then the stars! Shit, according to Bladerunner, we were supposed to have achieved interstellar travel 5+ years ago. Another sci-fi promise broken.

    In Honda's defense, though, it's easy to imagine how people would think that the tide of human progress would sustain itself, especially when you consider that there were people alive to watch the moon landing who were born before the advent of cars.

    Perhaps unfortunately, perhaps not, the suits at Toho put the kybosh on most of Honda's more ambitious schemes. He wanted to really get in to the details of how the technology of the time really worked, particularly with the workings of Monsterland, the Pacific island sanctuary where all the giant monsters were held in captivity, underneath which was an underground base which was used for their study.

    For their part, Toho did give Honda a little love, allowing him to show through expository dialog and narration the technology in place to keep Godzilla and the rest of daikaiju in Monsterland, and the fancy gadgetry running the science base underneath, as well as some of the advanced civil defense systems protecting some of the world's cities, such as missile launchers that folded out of the top of apartment buildings, which would probably not fly in the real world, but whatever. But that was about it - 2001: A Space Odyssey, this was not.

    Instead, the model first employed in Invasion of Astro-Monster was repeated here, albeit hopped up on steroids, the model I am calling "STFU lets blow shit up". No sooner than we found out about all these neat gadgets, then the aliens showed up and slapped those gagdets aside, and all the monsters started going apeshit, starting with the giant tyranosaurus with one mean dropkick, Gorosaurus, busting out from the ground in front of the Arc de Triumph in Paris, but joke's on him, cuz the French had likely already surrendered by then. Right after that, we saw Rodan attacking Moscow, Mothra attacking London, and Godzilla showing up in Manhattan to blow up the UN with his atomic breath. Take THAT, world peace!

    And things just got more gonzo from there. Tokyo got leveled by several daikaiju at once, those apartment launched missiles about as effective as screen doors on a submarine, followed by the space-trotting hijinks of the intrepid crew of spaceship Moonlight SY-3, as they zipped around the world and to the moon and back trying to find a way to foil the aliens' means of controlling the giant monsters who were wreaking so much havoc around the globe.

    And it all came to a head at the end when, spoiler alert, the monsters were freed of their control by the aliens, and from then it was game on motherfucker, and they all congregated at the alien base cracking their monster knuckles, with Mount Fuji as the backdrop. How's that for iconography. You could almost hear the Jets singing "here come the Jets like a bat out of hell, someone gets in our way someone don't feel so well!" playing in the background.

    And what followed is the most ambitious, and I'm gonna come right out and say it, the downright kickassest fight scene in the history of daikaiju cinema.

    Now, naturally, the aliens had an ace up their sleeves. They summoned The Planet Destoyer, King Ghidorah, to attack the monsters, with a smug look on their faces that leads me to believe that they missed the memo about ol' KG being 0 and 3 against Godzilla & pals going into that fight - and the previous fights that KG lost, he was only outnumbered at worst 3 to 1. Apparently the tactical geniuses that were the alien Kilaak thought that having KG take on four times the amount of monsters all by his lonesome was how he would finally get that first win. And not only that, lets just drop him right in the middle of all of them so he can be instantly flanked! Ooookaaaayy.....

    To put it bluntly, what immediately followed was pretty much the most severe ass-whuppin' of the Showa Era. Once Gorosaurus hit KG in the back with his flying dropkick, sending the big guy to the ground, the fight was essentially over. But it didn't stop there. The monsters then pretty much all started gleefully stomping the bastard into the ground. Even punk-ass Minya got into the act, breathing an atomic fruit loop thing which horseshoed right around one of KG's long necks.

    And, ya know, that last monster fight, particularly the crazy curb-stomping of King Ghidorah, is kind of a microcosm of the entire movie itself. Crazy, joyful mischief. While Destroy All Monsters may not be great, or even all that good by the standards set by many of the movies chatted and argued about on this very board, one thing it is, is it is delightfully self aware. It knows it is not bringing home any oscars, and, ya know what, it doesn't care. It is an homage to itself and the Godzilla movies that came before it. The last hurrah for a bunch of guys, who, at the time, thought they were putting Godzilla to pasture. All they wanted to do was to make a movie that was just a lotta fun to watch.


    The maestros, from left to right: Special Effects Director Sadamasa Arikawa, director Ishiro Honda, Special Effects Advisor Eiji Tsubaraya, and producer Tomoyuki Tanaka

    And that is what I love about Destroy All Monsters, and that's what I love about all daikaiju cinema, particularly the Showa Era, specifically the period from about 1962 to 1968, before the budgets and as a result the production values started to really tank and the film-makers started to lean too heavily on stock footage and gimmicks. Movies like DAM, King Ghidorah, Invasion of Astro-Monster, King Kong Escapes, Gamera vs. Barugon, Daimajin, all produced in these four years, all movies which I could watch again and again and again and still get a thrill, still feel like a kid again.

    But the crown jewel remains Destroy All Monsters. And why shouldn't it be? It was supposed to be the final Godzilla movie, the swansong, the final sendoff after a very respectable 14 year run. All of the people involved in the film were told it would be the last of its kind, and they poured all their love and appreciation for Godzilla into it, and it shows. They wanted the big guy to go out on top. And if it was to be the last of Godzilla's films, he would have.

    But of course, fate would have other plans. And that, my friends, is a topic for another post.
    Last edited by bac0n; 03-01-2022 at 04:39 PM.
    Losing is like fertilizer: it stinks for a while, then you get used to it. (Tony, Hibbing)

  13. #63
    Can't stop won't stop DFA1979's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    None of your business
    Posts
    2,059
    Destroy All Monsters rules. I was going through the Criterion box set and that's the last one I viewed so far. I'm gonna get back to the other ones soon as they're all rewatches at this point. The only ones I hadn't seen prior to getting the book box set was Horror of the Deep and SOG.
    Blog!

    It's a luscious mix of words and tricks
    That let us bet when you know we should fold
    On rocks I dreamt of where we'd stepped
    And of the whole mess of roads we're now on

  14. #64
    Can't stop won't stop DFA1979's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    None of your business
    Posts
    2,059
    BTW I was at my local library and I found that they had a copy of Return of Godzilla. So i could have just rented that instead of watching it on my phone via some website. Smh.
    Blog!

    It's a luscious mix of words and tricks
    That let us bet when you know we should fold
    On rocks I dreamt of where we'd stepped
    And of the whole mess of roads we're now on

  15. #65
    Director bac0n's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Monster Island
    Posts
    6,498
    Hahaha - actually a few months ago, the local Alamo Drafthouse had a Godzillathon of sorts, playing the first two Godzilla's of the Heisei series - Godzilla 1985 (Known in Japan as The Return of Godzilla) followed by Godzilla vs. Biollante. Took the whole family, and Spun Lepton too. It was glorious.

    Even better, they played the original Japanese theatrical cut of RofG, which of course omited all of Raymond Burr's scenes, but it was the first time I had seen that version of the film.

    As a side, Godzilla's Revenge (aka All Monsters Attack) writeup is currently WIP. It is slow going, as the movie is pretty painful to watch.
    Losing is like fertilizer: it stinks for a while, then you get used to it. (Tony, Hibbing)

  16. #66
    Can't stop won't stop DFA1979's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    None of your business
    Posts
    2,059
    That all sounds fantastic.

    Incidentally Godzilla's Revenge is the one in the Criterion box set I'm stuck on. I recall it being pretty bad.
    Blog!

    It's a luscious mix of words and tricks
    That let us bet when you know we should fold
    On rocks I dreamt of where we'd stepped
    And of the whole mess of roads we're now on

  17. #67
    Can't stop won't stop DFA1979's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    None of your business
    Posts
    2,059
    Also RIP to Akira Takarada.
    Blog!

    It's a luscious mix of words and tricks
    That let us bet when you know we should fold
    On rocks I dreamt of where we'd stepped
    And of the whole mess of roads we're now on

  18. #68
    Director bac0n's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Monster Island
    Posts
    6,498
    All Monsters Attack (1969)



    If you have made it this far into my self-indulgent Godzilla thread (congrats! a true test of endurance!), chances are, you are familiar with this guy.



    Yup, it's Gamera, the giant fire breathing turtle, friend of children, introduced to a lot of us on this side of The Pacific (present company included) thanks to Joel Hodgeson, Tom Servo, Crow, and the rest of the folks behind Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

    For the uninitiated, Gamera was Toho rival Daiei's entry into the daikaju genre, an initally destructive beast who rapidly transitioned to a hero in a series of progressively lower-budget affairs targeting the Saturday morning cartoon set. At the end of the day, most people think of Gamera as a knock-off of Godzilla.

    But what if I were to tell you that a strong argument can be made for the exact opposite being true?

    Still here? Allow me to explain.

    Flashback to the year 1968. The Godzilla franchise was running on fumes, and Toho had all but decided to let Godzilla ride into the sunset with Destroy All Monsters. Meanwhile, over at Daiei Studios, that same year saw the release of Gamera vs. Viras, their fourth film release featuring the monster.

    Now, everything about Gamera vs. Viras was designed to allow it to be done on the fast & cheap. The titular evil monster, a giant silver squid thing, looked like it was made by 4th graders for a school production of Little Mermaid. Also, Viras had very little actual screen time, not showing up until the final 9 minutes of the film, minimizing the need for repairs and extra suits. The battles took place in the country, so no need to spend budget on things like buildings and explosions. There were some spaceships, but any moron could see that they were just painted beach balls glued to a hula hoop. Neither a corner was not cut nor a shortcut not taken in the making of Gamera vs Viras - and boy did it show.



    Hell, even the plot itself was designed to minimize production costs: at one point in the film, the approaching aliens decide to do a threat assessment of Gamera by probing its memories of past battles - a stupid plot device designed to allow them to just replay as-is entire fight scenes from previous Gamera films. At another point in the film, Gamera was mind-controlled so they could use even more stock footage from his bad-boy days when he was trashing cities instead of saving them, shamelessly including even black and white footage from the original Gamera. Black and white stock footage stitched into an otherwise full-color film. Yeah, they actually did that.

    In the end, over fifteen minutes worth of stock footage was used. That's over 20% of the movie's entire 72 minute run time!

    Predictably, what they wound up churning out would make even the worst of the Godzilla films look like Citizen Kane by comparison. Yet, the movie still made bank. Why? Because it was firmly and squarely targeting younger audiences, who apparently gave zero fucks about the abysmal production values, insipid plot, embarrassing dialogue, and recycled footage. In case there was any doubt as to the intended audience, Daiei set the film's main human protagonists as a pair of 10 year old boy scouts who all by themselves foiled the dastardly alien plot, freed up Gamera from alien mind control, who then of course proceeded to save the day. And I'll betcha having those two kids as the heroes saved them on labor costs as well.

    I can't tell you how much money Gamera vs Viras made upon release, but I think it's a pretty safe bet that it didn't do quite as well at the box office as Destroy All Monsters. But box office revenue is not the important number anyway. The important number, and the number that got Toho's attention, was Gamera vs. Viras' production cost. At 20 million yen (roughly 460K in 2022 USD ), it cost literally one tenth as much money to make Gamera vs. Viras as it did Destroy All Monsters. In fact: for the cost it took to make Destroy All Monsters alone (200M Yen), you could have made all four Gamera movies that had been released up to that point.

    While Gamera vs. Viras likely brought in nowhere near the revenue that Destroy All Monsters did, it must have absolutely wiped the floor with DAM in terms of profit margin, which is the number that executives really pay attention to. And as a fella who's crunched numbers of the sort for CEOs on more than one occasion over the years, I can tell you from experience, that if you're able to pull off more than 30 points of margin, sales execs start foaming at the mouth, and investors start throwing money at you hand over fist.

    The reason is, a profit margin of 30 percent means that for every dollar the movie makes at the box office, 30 cents goes straight to profit. That means that with a production budget of 460K, if Gamera vs. Viras were even to pull off as little as 920K at the box office, we're talking a whopping 50 points of margin (that assumes there were no additional costs such as marketing, but you get the picture). That's INSANE. By comparison, that laptop you're viewing this post on likely pulled in the between 5 and 9 points of profit margin.

    I can only imagine the dollar signs the Toho suits had in their eyes as they pondered the kind of profits they were gonna pull by applying this formula to Godzilla. Surely, they thought that if a cheaply made kids movie starring a giant turtle with a waffle iron for a chest could make good money, just think of the kind of money they could make off a similarly cheaply-made movie, but starring a monster with the kind of name recognition and established fanbase that Godzilla had. They were gonna be rich!

    And just like that, the Toho suits decided to make a Godzilla movie which was, at its core, a Gamera movie knockoff. Tomoyoki Tanaka, who probably died a little inside when the suits told him what his assignment was going to be, was again picked to produce, and Ishiro Honda, who for reasons unbeknownst to me didn't tell them go go fuck themselves, was recruited to direct, and they were given a meager budget to work with, all but guaranteeing they would have to re-use sets, props, monster suits, and, sigh, stock footage.

    Joyless task in hand, Tanaka and Honda set about making this film. Shinichi Sekizawa, who penned the vast majority of the Showa Era Godzilla films, threw together a script that was, just like Gamera vs. Viras before it, specifically designed to recycle as many set locations and footage from previous films as possible, while at the same time zeroing in on the 5-12 year old demographic.

    The plot, such as it was, revolved around a 10 year old latch-key kid named Ichiro in a blue collar part of town, who's only friends are an elderly toymaker (played with a delightful grandfatherly charm by Hideyo Amamoto, in stark contrast to his run as the diabolical Dr. Hu in King Kong Escapes) and a young girl named Sachiko. Ichiro has a bully problem, a punk kid named Gabara and a bunch of his toadies who torment him every day on his way to and from school.

    And, ah, the formula is starting to take shape. Young protagonist: check.



    Compounding Ichiro's troubles, his parents are always working, and so he passes the time by daydreaming about Godzilla on the magical Monster Island, the place where all dreams come true. And, wow, those dreams sure do look a lot like scenes from Son of Godzilla and Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster... Yup, all of Godzilla's initial scenes were stock footage, checking off another box:

    Lifting entire fight scenes from previous films: check.



    It doesn't take long for Ichiro to get into trouble on Monster Island, and soon he finds himself being chased by some stock footage of Kamacuras the giant preying mantises. He manages to evade them, but falls into a pit, and since this is a dream, he doesn't break both his legs and split his head open. Soon after that, a vine lowers into the pit for Ichiro to climb out with, and when he gets out, dammit, it's fucking Minya, and he wants to be pals, and worse, now he talks.

    The monsters now are friends with the children: check.



    Believe it or not, this was the first time I had actually seen the Japanese subtitled version of this movie, and was relived to not be hearing Minya talking with a voice that sounded like Slim Pickins doing an impression of Goofy. However, the Japanese version was disturbing in its own right, instead sounding like an 8-year-old girl speaking through a gas mask. At any rate, turns out, Minya has bully problems of his own, as he is being hounded by a punk Kaiju named, whattaya know, that thing's name is Gabara too!

    Ridiculous looking villain monster: check.



    So, yeah, it's a giant blue cat-faced monster with a messy orange toupe, something that Maurice Sendak would possibly draw after a bar fight. And I don't think it's a huge spoiler to say that Minya eventually works up the courage to stand up to the big galoof, and learns a valuable lesson along the way - and of course Ichiro is in turn inspired to standup to his own Gabara, and even foils a pair of bumbling robbers while he's at it, checking off the final box of the Gamera formula:

    The children save the day: check.



    And there you have it: a paint by the numbers kid-centric kaiju flick, invented by Gamera, perfected by Godzilla. Well, "perfected" might be a bit strong of a word, but for all its faults, All Monsters Attack is worlds better than the latter several Gamera films, and to be honest, I must admit that my opinion of All Monsters Attack, which I grew up knowing as the equally deceptively titled "Godzilla's Revenge" (revenge for what, exactly? did someone steal his chalupa?) has softened somewhat. Now, don't get me wrong, I have no desire to see this film again any time soon mind you, but I can't say that I hate this movie with the same strident fervor as I did in my 20s, when I was under the delusion that cynicism was a virtue.

    For starters, back then, I was of the opinion that the weakest part of the film was little Ichiro. I saw him as little more than a squealing brat who's parents really needed to buy him a pair of shorts that didn't ride all the way up his butt crack. Nowadays, having had kids of my own who were introduced to Godzilla via this very movie, I view Ichiro instead as the best thing about the movie. The kid has pluck, I'll give him that. He's also quite resourceful. He has a good imagination too. Great traits for anybody to have. He's relatable, I am sure, to a lot of kids who have had bullies or similar challenges to deal with. Gods knows, I was one of them. And further, he's the only human protagonist in a Showa era Godzilla film since Dr. Serizawa in the original Gojira who was given an appreciable character arc. That's kind of a big deal!

    But still, the movie's overreliance on stock footage and recycled props and sets makes it hard for me to recommend this film for anybody over the age of 10. Which I guess is more than I can say for Gamera vs. Viras, which I wouldn't recommend to anybody with a pulse.

    In the end, the good news for the Godzilla franchise, is that they would pull back on the stock footage and blatant pandering to children thing, probably owing to the fact that this movie underperformed at the box office relative to expectations.

    On the other hand, Daiei would only double down on this shit, culminating in the laughably atrocious Gamera Super Monster, which relied exclusively on stock footage for all of Gamera's fight scenes, the only exception being the "finale" which saw what looked like a Gamera pinata colliding head on with an alien space ship, itself a blatant ripoff of an Imperial Star Destroyer. Not long after that embarrassing pile of garbage was released, Daiei went belly up.

    But not Toho! Godzilla would persevere! And get.. kinda trippy!

    But that, my friends, is a topic for another post...
    Last edited by bac0n; 03-29-2022 at 02:15 PM.
    Losing is like fertilizer: it stinks for a while, then you get used to it. (Tony, Hibbing)

  19. #69
    Can't stop won't stop DFA1979's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    None of your business
    Posts
    2,059
    That entry is godawful and the only Godzilla film from that period to get a negative rating from me. Yet I own it anyways thanks to Criterion. Yey for box sets lol!
    Blog!

    It's a luscious mix of words and tricks
    That let us bet when you know we should fold
    On rocks I dreamt of where we'd stepped
    And of the whole mess of roads we're now on

  20. #70
    Can't stop won't stop DFA1979's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    None of your business
    Posts
    2,059
    Also of course I'm reading. I may quit writing reviews here, participating in polls, not making any more threads and I've basically abandoned giving a shit. But leave behind this thread? Never!
    Blog!

    It's a luscious mix of words and tricks
    That let us bet when you know we should fold
    On rocks I dreamt of where we'd stepped
    And of the whole mess of roads we're now on

  21. #71
    collecting tapes Skitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Neo-Ohio
    Posts
    16,547
    I'm still reading for sure.

  22. #72
    Director bac0n's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Monster Island
    Posts
    6,498
    Appreciate it, hope you're enjoying!
    Losing is like fertilizer: it stinks for a while, then you get used to it. (Tony, Hibbing)

  23. #73
    The Pan megladon8's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    29,050
    You know I read every entry!! Just don't always have something to say.
    "All right, that's too hot. Anything we can do about that heat?"

    "Rick...it's a flamethrower."

Page 3 of 3 FirstFirst 123

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
An forum