The Official Portal to the Madness of Dark Fiction Author Patrick C. Greene

Posts tagged “Godzilla


If the Avengers and The Expendables franchises have taught us anything, it’s that more is better, or at least…morier. And while horror fans may enjoy the classic scenario of a small group facing a singular implacable menace, sometimes it’s fun to engage in sensory overload via a film filled to the face with a variety of menaces.

This list focuses on the over-the-top monster mashes that leave us sated like scary smorgasbords.  No ALIENS, STARSHIP TROOPERS, zombies or other multitudes of the same species here; the following focus on flicks with several different kinds of monsters.

Back in 1933, horror and monster pictures were just beginning to take hold and prove their box office worth. But Universal’s nascent house of black and white horrors must surely have paled (literally) in comparison to RKO’s monster fest KING KONG. O’Brien had worked on a silent adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s THE LOST WORLD nearly a decade earlier, but  comparatively speaking, KONG was light years ahead in the FX department, featuring stop motion special effects work by Willis O’Brien that included not only the titular monster monarch but a stegosaur, bronto(or pleisio?)saur, styracosaur, a giant lizard and the triple threat of an allosaurus, eel monster and pterosaur engaging Kong in epic battles.King Kong 1933

As if that wasn’t enough. O’Brien and crew devised an icky menagerie of smaller insect and reptile critters that attacked crew members forced off a log bridge and into a swampy pit by Kong. Reportedly, this scene was deemed too horrific by studio suits, so it wound up on the floor. Sadly, that footage is long lost.

In 2005, Universal released a fun -if overlong- remake created by The Lord of The Rings director Peter Jackson and his New Zealand effects house WETA, which featured more of everything, including the pit scene.

This would not be Jackson’s first shot at the infamous sequence though, as he lovingly recreated the lost footage based on the original script and various descriptions. See it here!

There was plenty of dino-filled matinee fare after KONG, though most were not nearly as well realized. Japanese films mostly just pitted single monsters (including Kong) against their reigning champion Godzilla until the mid-sixties, but this entry in the giant bug brigade, coming in 1957, brought back O’Brien and his creepy stop-mo aesthetic for a unique, if rather cheap effort that, aside from the titular mutants (their were actually many of the big arachnids) presented an unnerving subterranean sequence filled with spiders and worms that had all the nuclear age housewives shaking out their bouffants and sleeping with their kids’ Daisy BB repeaters for months.

Japan’s Toho Studios followed Universal’s formula of one film containing multiple monsters in 1965 by bringing their Big Three, Godzilla Rodan and Mothra, together to battle the new menace of GHIDORAH THE THREE HEADED MONSTER but it wasn’t until 1968 that they assembled no less than eleven kaiju for a proper monster party set in the far away future of 1999, when daily moon trips were/will be the norm and all the giant menaces that have so plagued the world have been corralled onto a pacific island affectionately termed Monsterland. But as we all know, the future will bring with it alien contact, and in this case the aliens are hostile. They’ve devised a method to control the monsters and promptly release them to raze the world’s capitols. Godzilla and friends, Rodan, Mothra, Anguirus, Kumonga and many more, eventually turn face and help defeat the aliens but the enemy has an ace up their silvery sleeves: King Ghidorah. The space demon, vastly outnumbered, quickly succumbs, finally dying after three films. It’s fun to see the 90s through the eyes of the 60s, but all those monsters onscreen at once is a 12-year-old sci-fi geek’s dream come true.

Exploitation studio stalwarts American International and Amicus came together for this very very 70s B pic based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs tale featuring western star Doug McClure, Peter Cushing and the irresistible Caroline Munro, in a tiny animal skin bikini no less. The plot: Victorian era scientists ride a drill machine past the earth’s upper crusts, where they find a neolithic civilization enslaved by a race of rodent men who are in turn working for telepathic flying reptiles.
But wait, there’s more. Along the way, our heroes encounter dinosaur-like beasts unseen in the above-ground fossil record, such as a giant bulldog lizard thing, two bipedal wild boars fighting over a mansnack, a beaked allosaurus, a fire breathing toad, and a creepy carnivorous plant. The same producers followed up with the equally monster-filled THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT and WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS, but neither of those carries the weird charm of this bad boy.

Just get a look at the poster art and there can be no doubt that this ALIEN-inspired Roger Corman production, despite its budget shortcomings, delivers monsters galore, and yes, a full galaxy’s worth of terror, not to mention a cast to kill for: Robert Englund, Edward Albert, Ray Walston, Erin Moran and Sid Haig. But its Taafee O’Connell who is best remembered for the dubious distinction of being raped by a giant maggot thing. So yeah, this is that kind of flick. Quite a departure from the above-mentioned films in terms of subject matter. Aside from the maggot thing, there is a tentacled brain sucker, a malevolent disembodied arm, a glowy-eyed giant demon, sentient wires, Erin Moran minus epidermis, and… okay not as much monstrage as some of the previous flicks, but just the idea of a film trying to outgun ALIEN earns it those coveted monster mash points.

The legendary sailor and adventurer began his film career in 1958 with Ray Harryhausen at the helm of spectacular stop motion effects that, for my money, are his best work. Kerwin Matthews leads a cast of white folks playing Arabs doing battle with and running from, such monstrosities as Talos The Bronze Giant, a vicious horned cyclops, a two headed vulture, (aka a ‘Roc,’) a massive fire breathing dragon and an army of unsettlingly agile skeleton warriors. Spawned a handful of sequels, but none compare to the majesty and wonder of the original.

OMG, ya’ll — a Chinese kung fu/sci-fi/monster flick? No further sales pitch needed. An ancient subterranean troupe of intelligent and malevolent monsters (hmm…kinda like NIGHTBREED, but much better at jump kicks) rises to overtake the world and install as its ruler The Princess Dragon Mahm, a seriously bad bitch with a hand that is a dragon’s head sprouting a tongue for a whip. …FUCK yeah. That’s not all she has up her sleeve — er, reptile…arm/neck. She turns into a full blown winged dragon that can re-grow its head, countless times! So, a scientist creates an implant or something that allows bad ass Danny Lee to turn into the titular hero via a series of aerial flips. Just in time too, because the princess’ horrific hordes are as brutally destructive as they are ugly. Infra-Man’s seemingly unlimited powers serve him in battle against: a reptilian bulldog/gorilla beast with one metal drill hand and one metal boxing glove! A green tentacled fellow who can plant himself like a seed and sprout to Godzillian heights as a bundle of flailing tentacles! An orange bipedal arachnid who traps dudes in web spheres! An armor plated demon with a red mustache! A chick with eyes in her hands, that, of course, shoot lasers! Infra-Man is obviously China’s answer to Ultraman, Kamen Rider and countless other Japanese heroes, but I have to admit — I’ve always liked INFRA-MAN better than any of those shows.

More MONSTER MASHES to come!


New Godzilla Teaser!!!!

A presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, Godzilla will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, except in Japan, where it will be distributed by Toho Co., Ltd. Legendary Pictures is a division of Legendary Entertainment.Slated to open on May 16, 2014, the film is expected to be presented in 3D.

via New Godzilla Teaser!!!!.

No Skinny Iguanas!

godzilla otakuAnyone who knows me will attest that, among my many and varied interests, Godzilla and other Japanese sci-fi icons (sci-ficons? Did I just invent a geek-culture term, ala Forry Ackerman?) occupy a lofty space. I’ve been a fan of the The Big G, as we “Otaku” (nerds) affectionately call him, since I was around five, and that interest has never left. It was because of Godzilla, I would say, that I came to be obsessed with Asian culture/martial arts (a Godzilla/Green Hornet double feature introduced me to Bruce Lee), weird cinema (doesn’t get much weirder than Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster) cryptozoology, and hell, probably heavy metal, if one were to make the connection between that Blue Oyster Cult song and the musical genre that grew up around BOC, Sabbath, etc.
godzilla 54
If you haven’t heard, Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers, with some help from Roy Lee, who has brokered deals leading to remakes of several Japanese properties, including The Ring, Dark Water, The Grudge, etcetera, have secured the rights to create a big budget Hollywood film featuring Godzilla, directed by Gareth Edwards of the indie hit Monsters, to star Bryan Cranston (you’ll always be Malcolm’s dad Hal to me, Bry), Ken Watanabe, Juliette Binoche and even Akira Takarada–star of the very first Godzilla film, way back in 1954.

138538-godzilla_facepalm_godzilla_facepalm_face_palm_epic_fail_demotivational_poster_1245384435_superWe’ve been down this road before of course; former tent pole movie flavors-of-the-month Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich produced their own take on the famous monster for Tri-star back in 1997, and while it can be considered a financial success, most Godzilla fans, casual and fanatical alike, were severely disappointed. as there was no real sense of it being anything other than  a generic giant monster movie. Certainly, it was not a Godzilla movie. The beast himself was represented as an awkward lizard mutation with an expressionless, blocky head sitting atop a lithe and raptor-like iguana body; pretty much the opposite of the Godzilla we’d all come to know. Worse, it (no gender can be assigned, as the monster was said to be asexual, in yet another deviation from the mythology) ran from the military, whereas the Japanese Godzilla, the real Godzilla, would never run from a fight–that’s part of who he is after all, and why we love him.
GODZILLA_ENCOUNTER_-_Quotes_-_Godzilla_Son_of_the_A-BombLast week, the annual big-ass nerd orgy known as Comic-Con came to San Diego, and while it’s doubtful that any virginities were endangered, there was much to be seen from Legendary regarding their stab at the franchise. An exhibit called Godzilla Encounter treated attendees to the experience of evacuating an elaborate noodle shop-turned-attack site, including a dramatization of G walking past an office set–then turning back, having detected the hapless evacuees.
godzilla bob egg 2014At a panel presentation promoting the upcoming film (which finished shooting a mere day prior), a teaser was shown, giving con-goers a glimpse of our hero’s feet and body–but not the head. Several early design concepts were on display, including maquettes, a bust and some drawings; accompanied by the disclaimer that none of these represented the final product.
Footage of the encounter has found its way to the internet of course, and been subsequently removed, thanks to legal action from Legendary. It’s not too hard to find grainy stills, and artist Bob Eggleton, who has created countless comic book covers and posters of Godzilla, even penciled a sketch based on the footage. 
Still, Legendary/Warner remain coy with the final design of the iconic monster; a move whose reasons can only be conjectured, in light of the massive wave of disappointment that erupted from fans when Tri-star finally revealed their misbegotten makeover. They admittedly want to avoid the mistakes of the past–yet here we the fans are, scanning poor res, clandestinely shot phone footage for the barest glimpse of the new design.Throughout his near-sixty year film career under the auspices of Toho Studios, Godzilla’s appearance changed often and at times significantly, from terrifying, to friendly to downright goofy. Still, Godzilla’s fans accepted him, as long as he maintained a handful of basic recognizable attributes.
godzilla sadThick, trunk-like legs to support his massive weight, a rough, scaly, dark grey (only rarely green!) hide, short but powerful arms held forward like a wrestler, a thick neck, a reptilian head with hints of ape-like expressiveness, and of course, three rows of roughly-leaf shaped dorsal fins along his spine were the physical attributes. But Godzilla has a certain personality as well, a steadfastness, a savage destructive drive that raises goosebumps when set in motion. Yet there is something melancholy about his isolation, his status as, more or less, the only one of his kind. Godzilla is Frankenstein writ large, a thing made by men as a mere side effect of a greater experiment, that has grown out of control and become the target of man’s own destructive instincts.
I’ll go out on a limb and say that if Legendary nails this, fans will accept virtually any reasonable variation of the basic design. No skinny iguanas, no bold new interpretations for the digital age–give us a monster king that looks like a guy could wear that suit, if need be, and make sure there’s some other beast, the ass of which Godzilla is pre-ordained to kick, and I think we’ll all see eye to menacing eye.