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Monday, March 31, 2014


Next from the big list (HERE) is another space film that my son is sitting out: Message from Space (1978).

My take on it:
Oddly named aliens throw glowing walnuts into space to find heroes who will fight against their kabuki samurai overlords. 
An oversimplification, but that's how it starts. 
From there, it stays rather goofy.  Sailing ships flying in space.  (Man, the Japanese like that image, don't they?)  Drag racing spaceship pilots.  The "Space Patrol," complete with a trooper wearing a motorcycle helmet straight outta CHiPs.  Annoying princess.  Vic Morrow as a booze-swilling general.  Guys in suits as "robots."  Space night club!  Chasing fireflies during a horribly composited spacewalk.  A subplot about a witch trying to marry her ugly son to the empress. 
Other than that, it's not so much goofy as just plain boring. 
Look.  I'll get to the point.  The model work and visual effects are top notch as far as these films have gone so far.  (I read later that this was the most expensive Japanese film produced up to this point.  I can believe it.)  It feels more epic and grand than many other tokusatsu films.  Unfortunately, it's burdened by ill-conceived humor, over-the-top acting, a lack of cultural imagination*, and an expected but ultimately misguided attempt to copy Star Wars.
The music is better than War in Space ... but the walnut cue sounds suspiciously like Princess Leia's theme from THAT OTHER MOVIE.  I mean, really.  HERE is Leia's theme.  HERE is part of the walnut theme.  C'mon.  Elsewhere, the score feels like a direct lift from John Williams' efforts (especially at the beginning of the attack post-firefly chase). 
Bad guy ship flyover?  Yes, it's lengthy, making the vessel feel very large.  Well, it would if the rest of the scene were better assembled and structured.  (Not everyone is ILM.) 
* - What did I mean by "lack of cultural imagination?"  In Star Wars, there wasn't an identifiable Earth culture, especially not among the aliens.  Here, though, despite being who-knows-how-far into the future, the bad guy aliens are evil samurai with kabuki theater makeup.  The good guys speak in '70s slang and wear clothes similar to the youth of that decade.  There's a disco feel in the night club and in a party scene.  It's just so dated.  Elements are so easily pinpointed.  That's not the case with (most of) Star Wars and other successful films like it.  ...  All of that said, it's entirely possible that my own perspective is skewed since I'm not of the origin culture myself. 
These sins could be forgiven if the movie was exciting and enjoyable.  Yes, there are some entertaining scenes ... but on the whole, it drags.  Hard. 
Message from Space ... in copying Star Wars, it forgot to be interesting or good.  2 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's the trailer:

Next, Gamera: The Super Monster.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Review: THE WAR IN SPACE (1977)

We're nearing the end of the Shōwa era of our list (HERE) and it just so happens to correspond with the release of a certain film ...

Today's movie is War in Space (1977).

I was going to have my son, James, go first.  The following exchange happened instead:
"Are there any monsters in it?" 
"Then I don't think it should be on our list."
Well.  True, we've been sticking with kaiju movies, predominantly, but I included tokusatsu films (that's "special effects" films) on the list because the early films were important in the development of Toho.  And ... because some of them included monsters.

So.  I'll go ahead and review it by myself:
Knowing the year of this film's release, coupled with the title, I thought I could guess how it would go.  Truly, though, the only thing it has in common with Star Wars is that it, too, came out in 1977. 
So-called "Roman" aliens invade the Earth, forcing the military to rush an advanced battleship-airship-spaceship (with a giant drill on the front) to be finished up. 
Yes.  Replace aliens with the Mu Empire and much of the movie feels like a retread of Atragon.  Why they felt the need to stick so close to the distinctive design of that earlier film is beyond me.  It's distracting and unnecessary ... unless we're supposed to think the films are connected.  I don't believe so, though. 
The special effects are nothing to write home about.  The alien vessels feel more toy-like than usual and the montagey assaults on world cities don't do anything to increase the tension or tragedy of what we're (supposed to be) seeing. 
And the score ... oof.  Whereas John Williams' Star Wars score is timeless and orchestral, War in Space's score feels straight outta the late '70s.  It's painful. 
Other than redoing so much of Atragon, what other missteps were made?  Well, there's "Commander Hell," the Roman emperor-like alien leader of the galaxy (according to him, anyway).  The American fighter pilot known only as Jimmy.  The revolver-like means of launching shuttles.  Oh, and there's this guy: 
Some sort of horned Wookiee-beast holding the female lead captive.  (To be fair, this was several years before "Slave Leia" entered our collective nerd lexicons.) 
I nearly forgot.  The movie ends when our heroes blow up the planet Venus. 
The War in Space ... maybe it's for the best that James sat this one out.  1 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's the trailer:

Up next, another space tokusatsu, Message from Space.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Still trucking along through the big list of movies (HERE) to watch before Godzilla (2014) opens.

Terror of MechaGodzilla (1975) is up now.

My son, James, will go first:
Well, this is part 2 of our MechaGodzilla Marathon, and it's the last of the first era of Godzilla and it's starring Titanosaurus, Cygirl, and The Humanity Hater. And the end was awesome! we thought that it was positioned exactly right when they were walking and everything was exploding in their path! But, Godzilla ripped the new Mecha's head off, but it didn't help. 
So, rating wise, i'll say 3.7 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!! 
This is the last film of the first era of Godzilla films ... and it's directed by Ishiro Honda with a hefty helping of Akira Ifukube's music. 
Basically, the aliens from the previous film are back (but they never revert to ape form) and they've repaired MechaGodzilla with the help of a human-hating scientist.  Yes, the scientist is himself human.  Oh, and he found a large "dinosaur" underwater which he aims to control to destroy mankind. 
The American version of the film includes a fairly pointless seven-minute prologue that tells us who Godzilla is.  Then, after a brief Titanosaurus attack, there's a full thirty-odd minutes of spy shenanigans and scientific wrangling.  It drags a bit, especially after the more cracking pace of the last movie. 
There's more spy stuff and quite a bit of time spent with the human-hating scientist -- who is played by Akihiko Hirata, aka Dr. Serizawa, who was in the last film as a different character.  And we learn a bit more about his daughter who turns out to be a fembot. 
Blah-blah-blah.  The fun kicks in about an hour and change into the film.  Yes.  It's a long haul to get to the excitement. 
The last twenty-odd minutes are nearly full with monster fighting.  There's some really good stuff in here, particularly when MechaG destroys the city: 
My favorite shot has him firing his Lee Press-On Nails of Death at a city block, causing the whole thing to rise and crash.  It's pretty spectacular.

Titanosaurus whips some wind up with his tail and cackles with glee at times.  MechaG has lasers a'blazin' and Godzilla himself fights the good fight.  Fun to watch. 
Honda gives us several shots from a low angle, showing the monsters towering over the camera with the actual blue sky (and clouds) overhead.  It's a rare shot in these early films that attempts to give some scale to the kaiju.  The quick movement of the actors, though, detracts from the effect. 
The music isn't the odd '40s swing music from the previous movie.  It's often an Ifukube recycle or something new and more orchestral.  More fitting but not as memorable. 
I'm sad to see this era of Godzilla come to an end ... but I dearly love the Heisei series. 
Terror of MechaGodzilla ... Good, but it lacks the fun and pacing of its predecessor.  3.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's the trailer:

Next, we encounter some Star Wars knockoffs, beginning with War in Space.

(GIFs from DestructionMode)

Friday, March 28, 2014


A few times each week, my eleven-year-old son and I watch one of several dozen kaiju/tokusatsu films from a big list I compiled (HERE) ... all in preparation for the new Godzilla movie.

Today's is Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla (1974).

I'll go first:
There's only two Godzilla films left in the Shōwa period and both of them are enjoyable.  This one is loaded with action and takes us away from the child-centric mood of the previous handful. 
An ancient statue is uncovered, along with a prophecy.  Godzilla shows up and begins attacking cities and even his "friend," Anguirus.  But then another Godzilla shows up and they fight.   
Soon after, one of them sheds the disguise and we see the mecha for the first time in its shiny glory.  Godzilla alone can't beat it, and as the prophecy pieces fall into place, an ancient Okinawan kaiju named King Caesar is awakened and they defeat the bionic intruder. 
Tidbits: The faux reporter, when he's introduced, reminds me of Anton Chigurh, Javier Bardem's creepy character from No Country for Old Men.  ...  The aliens controlling MechaG are nothing more than damn dirty apes in disguise!  (And likely inspired by the Planet of the Apes series.)  ...  I won "Spot Serizawa" this time.  ...  Lots of monster blood again with a real gusher on Godzilla's throat, and Anguirus' jaw cracking may be an homage to the original King Kong.  ...  The musical score is jazzy and offbeat.  I like it, but I don't really think it fits this movie.  ...  Anguirus' burrowing smells of Baragon and the woman's King Caesar song reminds me of Mothra.  Turns out, I'm not far off.  Both Baragon and Mothra featured in early story concepts.  ...  What's up with Godzilla's lightning/magnetic powers?  That's nice, I guess, but it looked like he was using the Force for a good five minutes there. 
Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla ... Good action and fun returns.  4 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's my son:
We had a MechaGodzilla marathon and watched this one and the next one. This one is about an old legend and Godzilla was a disguised alien robot that was stopped by Godzilla, and it also included a new Kaiju, King Caesar.  The gorilla aliens were creepy when they transformed but the battles were amazing!! 
So, rating wise, i'll say 3.99999 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!! 
Here's the trailer:

Next, the sequel, Terror of MechaGodzilla.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


My son and I are still watching movies from THIS list before the new Godzilla film opens in May.  (We've got some work to do if we're going to make it.)

Today's is Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973).

James goes first:
Well this was a funny one, because in one moment, Godzilla and a robot named Jet Jaguar were surrounded by a ring of fire and Gigan's expression when they fly away was amazing and hilarious.

 anyways, this movie got a record for funnest moment in the first era but it has a shrill Ewok kid. 
So, rating wise, i'll say 3.9087 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!!
My turn:
I feel like I've seen this one a hundred times, thanks to its use on Mystery Science Theater 3000.  It doesn't get better with repeated viewings, in case you're wondering. 
Keeping it simple, here's the plot: the undersea realm of Seatopia (see what they did there?) decides to unleash their beetle deity Megalon on mankind because they're pissed at all the nuclear testing.  An inventor has built a robot named Jet Jaguar and the Seatopians want to use it to control Megalon.  Jet is instead sent to Monster Island to retrieve Godzilla so he can fight off Megalon.  Oh, and Gigan shows up, too. 
Some may claim that this movie is aimed at kids, but my son's unnatural hatred for the screechy kid in this one would seem to be that theory's undoing.  It's goofy.  No question.  But there's enough of the "good" kind of goofy in it to prevent this film from falling into the same camp as the horrific Daigoro vs. Goliath
In reading up on it, I see that this movie was made in three weeks.  I can believe that.  There's hardly anyone in it at all.  Seriously, there's like six speaking roles.  In scenes where there should be people, someone said, "I guess everyone was evacuated."  Yeah, I guess so. 
Megalon may have his name in the title, but he's not the "star" of this film.  Let's talk about Jet Jaguar.  He's in here thanks to a contest won by a kid who wanted a robot man in the films.  And thanks to the Ultraman craze of the era, boom goes the dynamite. 
There's a great deal of weirdness here.  Jet Jaguar's self-programmed ability to change sizes.  His communication with Godzilla (and G's obvious understanding).  Megalon's hoppity-hoppity means of locomotion.  Godzilla's entry to the fighting area wherein he pumps himself up like an OG WWF champ.  The "slice and dice" motions of both Gigan and Megalon (I said, "slice and dice," aloud when I saw this, not unlike the Mutants from The Dark Knight Returns and now my son says it in the same creepy way).  The red grenade goobers that Megalon spits.  The unintentionally hilarious mannerisms of Gigan when Jet flies G out of the ring of fire.   
And, of course, how can anyone forget this: 
Yeah.  You can't beat that. 
Because of the way it was distributed, this movie did very well in the US.  In fact, it aired on NBC.  In primetime.  I have vague memories of this, watching it with my dad.  What I don't remember, though, is John Belushi hosting the premiere ... while wearing a Godzilla suit not unlike this one: 
Godzilla vs. Megalon ... Maybe I'm nostalgic.  2.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's a "best of" video of moments from MST3K:

Here's the trailer:

Next, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.

(GIF by DestructionMode)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review: DAIGORO VS. GOLIATH (1972)

Last year, my son and I decided to watch as many kaiju-style monster movies as we could before the new Godzilla movie opens.  We ended up with a list (HERE) of more than seventy films.

Movies like Daigoro vs. Goliath (1972) make us think we've made a terrible mistake.

I'll review it first:
You know, when the title card appears and it reads "Tsuburaya Productions," it's enough to inspire a little bit of hope, as Eiji Tsuburaya was the effects master behind most of Toho's great films. 
There are bad movies.  There are movies that are goofy.  There are movies that combine both bad and goofy.  Daigoro is one such movie, but unlike other films on our list, there is nothing enjoyable or redeeming about its goofiness or badness.  At all. 
The basic story is this: a monster attacked Japan some years ago and was killed.  Its baby was found and then raised by some guy.  Feeding the child kaiju was growing expensive so there were fundraisers being held to help pay for it.  Then another monster attacked and the baby fought the bad guy monster and beat it.  Having won the hearts of Japan, the government decides to go ahead and feed the child kaiju after all. 
OK.  The story seems fine.  The execution is atrocious. 
Whereas in painful movies like Gamera vs. Zigra the children are insufferable and the adults are typically stupid, in this film, everyone is insufferable.  There's the drunk who tries to give up drinking so he can help feed Daigoro.  There's the inventor who has a five minute imaginary scene about magic red shoes.  ...  It's all so very painful. 
Usually in an otherwise painful movie, the monster scenes are a saving grace to some degree. 
 Not here.  Nope. 
The mother kaiju flashback is OK but brief ... though she has wind-blown hair straight out of a Herbal Essence commercial.  Daigoro himself looks like a giant hippo with accordion-folds for arms (and with the expected wonky musical accompaniment).  "Goliath" looks like an even fakier Baragon, minus the ears.  At the end, they take a page out of Gamera's book and launch it into space. 
Look.  I could spend several paragraphs more telling you what's wrong with this film and the crazy stuff in it, but, instead, I'll point out something at the bottom of the poster. 
You see that?  That's Daigoro in a giant (five-story tall, I'm guessing) toilet stall.  We see it at the beginning of the movie and I looked askance at it.  At the end, we see it again.  In use.  And Daigoro pulls the chain to flush it.  That should tell you something. 
Daigoro vs. Goliath ... If only I could flush the memory of this film away.  0 out of five atomic breath blasts.
My son, James, goes next:
Well, this movie was so horrible, it's not worth a full review. Check it out if you like to watch really really bad movies. So, rating wise i'll say 4.999999 out of 5 Atomic Farts of Foulness!! 
That's like 0.000001 out of 5 Atomic Breath Blasts of Awesomeness! 
Yeah, it's that bad.
Here's the trailer:

Up next, Godzilla vs. Megalon.  (Jet Jaguar!)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review: GODZILLA VS. GIGAN (1972)

Carrying on, here's the next movie on our big list of monster movies (HERE), Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972).

I'll go first:
I had a realization watching this movie this time around: the main human characters are the Scooby-Doo gang (minus the dog).  There's Fred, the handsome but often oblivious leader.  There's Shaggy, the stoner hippie who's munching on things.  There's Daphne and Velma, one of whom is smarter than the other; one who happens to know karate (I don't know if Daphne knew karate or not, but I'll stand by this).  Scooby gang, I'm telling you. 
So Fred is a cartoonist who creates monsters for kids (like a homework monster and a strict mother monster).  He gets somehow entangled with a group of alien cockroaches who take the form of recently deceased folks and are trying to create a Godzilla theme park.  Godzilla hears an alien signal tape being played and converses with Anguirus, sending him off to investigate. 
No joke. 
It doesn't get much goofier than Godzilla and Anguirus chatting with one another in these strange, inhaling-while-talking, fifty-year-smoker voices.  Thankfully, these are brief scenes. 
The first third drags as the Scooby gang gets wise to shenanigans by the cockroach aliens, but things get turned up a bit when Ghidorah and Gigan get called in. 
Unfortunately, most of Ghidorah's Tokyo destruction is rehashed footage from earlier films.  They've clumsily turned down the brightness to make it seem like it's night, which is when the Gigan scenes are set.   
(Also being reused?  Many, many bits of score by Akira Ifukube.  It's great to hear again and you can't top Ifukube in these films, but ... c'mon.) 
Eventually, Godzilla and Anguirus come to town and face off against Ghidorah and Gigan.  Their fight is lengthy and enjoyable, but, again, there are a few reused bits (including one shot that even includes the Mothra larva).  Gigan does what no other beast has done before: makes Godzilla bleed.  (He makes Anguirus bleed, too.)  If nothing else, it establishes Gigan as a dangerous threat, one that can hurt Big G.  (And he makes bits of Godzilla's suit go flying off.)
Odd thing, though.  At no point does he use his laser eye blast.  This, despite a shot where a flash bulb above his eye goes off.  Did they decide not to animate it for some reason? 
Except for getting slammed by Godzilla three times (or once, over and over), Ghidorah doesn't put in much of an appearance.  Most of his action is from earlier films and half the time, he's just loitering in the background while Gigan slices up the good guys.  (Maybe KG's suit was faring poorly, too?) 
In the end, the Scooby gang are victorious and they destroy the laser cannon in the Godzilla theme park building while the monsters get rid of their opponents.  Done and done. 
Godzilla vs. Gigan ... pretty goofy but fun.  3 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's my son, James:
Well  this one is about when cockroaches try to rule the world, but Godzilla and Anguirus fight King Ghidorah and Gigan and they wreck the place while they do so.  I don't like bugs so the roach people were really gross.  I like Gigan and his belly blade but Anguirus was stupid for running face first into it.  BLOOD SPLASH!!!!  And the talking monster scenes?  DUMB!!!!!
So, rating wise, i'll say 2.899 out of five Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!! 
Here's the trailer:

Up next, Daigoro vs. Goliath.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Review: GAMERA VS. ZIGRA (1971)

You know the drill: I made a big list of movies (seen HERE) for my son and me to watch before the new Godzilla film and we're reviewing them.

Today's is Gamera vs. Zigra (1971).

My son will go first:
Well, this is about a lizard crossed with a fish mixed with a shark crossed with a hawk mixed with a alien ship, and mixed with a xylophone, (a.k.a. Zigra) V.S. Gamera, there's a kid advertising Coke, and Gamera graduates from music class.  The people in this movie are so stupid, I said maybe Zigra should rule them. 
So, rating wise, i'll say 2.001 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!!
My turn:
After the modest improvement we got in Gamera vs. Jiger, it's back to crappy form for the series.  
The year is 1985, though everything seems like it's still 1971.  Small, shrill children rule the world and inform leaders, scientists and generals how to fight the aliens.  They argue over whose mother is prettiest and whine for a Coke (even though, in the Japanese version, she just asks for juice).  There's hide-and-seek with an alien lackey around Kamogawa Seaworld after a brief struggle in which stuffed animals were the primary weapons. 
It's a kids' movie.  No question.  As I've said before, though, other kids' movies have been able to appeal to adults, too.  This one does not. 
There's so much extraneous stuff, too.  Not just the kids.  For example, the dolphin trainer ... there are entire scenes with him that are utterly pointless, such as his haggling over fish with a hotel manager. 
The alien, Zigra, looks like a bladed shark and possesses hypnotic powers.  He incapacitates Gamera for a stretch, as happens in every movie of his.  Their fight is brief, though Zigra manages to slice up the shell a bit for a game of tic-tac-toe.  Spongebob rules of thermodynamics apply as Gamera shoots his fire breath underwater.  In the end, it is that same fire breath that incinerates Zigra.  Gee, if only Gamera had done that earlier in the film.  It'd be much shorter. 
Gamera vs. Zigra ... it's no wonder the franchise took a nine-year break.  1 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's a compilation of funny bits from the film's appearance on MST3K:

Here's the trailer:

Up next, Godzilla vs. Gigan.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


We've entered the '70s on our big list of movies to watch before the new Godzilla film (list is HERE).
Today's is Godzilla vs. Hedorah (aka Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster; 1971).

I'll go first:
We've seen this before and I remember thinking it was odd.  I read afterward how some of the producers felt that the director, Yoshimitsu Banno, had "ruined Godzilla."  I didn't really see how. 
Then we watched it again. 
I still wouldn't go so far as to say Banno "ruined" anything.  He directs like he thinks he's an auteur ... but he's not.  Putting weird stuff on screen for little reason doesn't make you an avant garde filmmaker.   
Look!  A mannequin floating in gunk!  It represents humanity.  Look!  A broken clock floating in the same gunk!  That means we're running out of time.  Here's a trippy music video!  Here's another!  Here's a bunch of people wearing fish masks!  Here's a split-screen scene with dozens of images, including a baby in sewage! 
It's all ... not terribly good.  But that's just the direction.  What about the rest of it? 
Storywise, I think it's fairly solid and in line with much of Godzilla-verse goings-on.  Pollution gets so bad that alien microbes are able to feed on it and form a giant beast to tear stuff up.   
The monster itself, Hedorah, is certainly gross and formidable.  It changes forms as needed and can spray sulfuric acid mist or great globs of it at will. 
The fights between it and Godzilla are good ... I am a bit confused by some of the mannerisms Godzilla exhibits but I love the suit.  The fights get gross(er) when Big G reaches into the nearly dead enemy and pulls out two large balls.  Eyeballs?  Something else?  I don't know.  Anyway, he roasts them and then Hedorah flies away.  G fights H again and this time shreds the thing, flinging bits everywhere before drying them up. 
How does his atomic breath energize the plates instead of destroy them?  What if it rains on the dried up bits of Hedorah?  I dunno. 
Musically speaking, it's my least favorite soundtrack in the series so far.  It makes it all sound and feel stupid, even when there's nothing goofy happening. 
Godzilla vs. Hedorah ... pretty good despite the (attempts at) arty bits and the lousy score.  3 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's my eleven-year-old son, James:
Well, there's animation scenes out of nowhere, Godzilla gets thrown into a pit and Hedorah takes a weird megapoop on him, he has some eyeball-like things, and Godzilla goes flying in the dumbest way ever.  A pretty unusual kaiju movie. 
So, rating wise, i'll say 2.345 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!
Here's the trailer:

Up next, Gamera vs. Zigra.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Review: GAMERA VS. JIGER (1970)

A few months ago, I decided that my son and I should watch as many kaiju movies as we could before the new Godzilla film opens in May, 2014.  The list (HERE) I compiled contains nearly eighty films.  Today's movie is just about the halfway done mark.

It's Gamera vs. Jiger (aka Gamera vs. Monster X; 1970).

My son, James, will go first:
Well, this one is almost indescribable. it shoots horns, it comes from a line of rainbow gods, he's Jiger!!! There was worm surgery GROSS! Needle horns STAB! and Gamera goes hardcore and stabs the whistle statue in jiger's face. 
So, rating wise, i'll say 2.5 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!!
My turn:
I'll say it up front: this is easily the best of the Gamera series since the first one.  The second (Gamera vs. Barugon) was pretty good, but it got too bogged down on the people side of things. 
What has killed this franchise for me since film three is the bewildering reliance on children as central characters and as heroes to the plot.  The last film, Gamera vs. Guiron, is the worst offender thus far. 
Jiger does the same thing, but the children in question are older than in previous films.  By having the protagonists be young teens, it somehow makes their self-insinuation in these events more acceptable.  It's a small change, but a welcome one.  (They're not shrill, either.  Bonus.) 
Here's the basic plot: in preparation for the 1970 World's Fair in Osaka, workers have uncovered an ancient statue from a Pacific island and brought it to Japan.  Natives call it "Devil's Whistle" and by removing it, the crews have unwittingly unleashed an ancient monster named Jiger.  (The "Whistle" emitted a frequency that kept the beast dormant.) 
Jiger looks like a sort of bear-dog-thing ...  It's a quadruped with a small fin on its back.  It has multiple horns, most of which can be fired like quills powerfully enough to pierce Gamera's limbs.  In its tail, there's an ovipositor which it uses to stab Gamera's shoulder and leave baby Jigers.  It also has a glowing wart or something on its nose that can vaporize a wide area.  Oh, I almost forgot the rockets embedded in its jowls. 
Sounds f-ing ridiculous, huh?  It pretty much is.  For some reason, though, it works for me.  There's a break in the standard Gamera plot formula when the kids go into Gamera's body (a la Fantastic Voyage) to remove the Jiger babies ... it was new enough for me to like it. 
Battle-wise, everything's cool.  Jiger's barbs wreck Gamera's day for a stretch, but in the end, the turtle takes the Devil's Whistle and stabs Jiger through the head with it.  Hardcore, indeed. 
Gamera vs. Jiger ... better than most of the series.  3 out of five atomic breath blasts.
(This is one of the few Gamera films not riffed on by MST3K back in the day, so there's no video of that to share.)

Here's the trailer:

Up next, Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Review: SPACE AMOEBA (1970)

Here's the next entry from our big list of movies to watch before the new Godzilla movie (see it HERE), Space Amoeba (aka Yog: Monster from Space; 1970).

I'll go first:
Toho hits again with a multi-monster affair, this time caused by blue glowy things from space.  The titular aliens cause sea creatures to mutate ... giving us three new kaiju for the canon. 
First and most prominently, we see Gezora, a giant cuttlefish (not octopus, as said in our dubbed version).  The betentacled beast shuffles across the island, looking very much like a reject from the '70s Sid and Marty Krofft show, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters
The next mutant beast we see is called Ganimes, a kind of crab.  Honestly, the only thing worth remembering Ganimes for is that his eyes get shot out, rather gruesomely. 
Finally, we get Kamoebas, a rock turtle.  Easily the best looking of the three, Kamoebas looks like a battle version of Gamera.  Ganimes and Kamoebas fight, but if you're hoping for a three-way brawl with Gezora, too, you'll be disappointed. 
Human-wise, there's nothing to see here.  Well, Godzilla veteran Akira Kubo's photographer character is pretty cool, but everyone else is straight out of the late '60s monster movie character molds.  Kenji Sahara reappears, though ... Sahara, moreso even than Dr. Serizawa, is the actor who has appeared in the most Godzilla movies.  He gets taken over by the Space Amoeba, too. 
Space Amoeba ... it's OK, I guess.  2.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's my son, James:
Well, it was pretty bad, there was a squid that took up half the movie, a cool turtle, a crab that got shot in the eyes, and it all was from a big lump of blue space glitter 
so, rating wise, i'll say 1.998 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness 
Here's the trailer:

Up next, Gamera vs. Jiger.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: GAMERA VS. GUIRON (1969)

I (James) am controlling this time!!!

Gamera vs. Guiron (1969)

well, it's stupid. one kid was talking about traffic accidents too much and when they are flying out of the solar system, the kid says "Well, this ship is out of the ordinary." No kidding.  The knifehead kaiju shoots ninja stars and laughs when he cuts up space gyaos.  The alien women want to eat brains and Gamera welds a ship back together with his fire breath. just plain stupid 
So, rating wise, i'll say 1.995 out of 5!!!!
Now, my dad:
It's hard to separate the movie from its treatment at the hands of Mystery Science Theater 3000 ... 
In the end, it doesn't matter much.  Like James said, so much of this film is just plain stupid.  Annoying kids out the wazoo, goofy aliens, tedious dialogue, Cornjob/Corndog, ridiculous confusion between stars and planets, a monster that's among the dumbest looking in film history ... 
I guess Guiron dicing up Gyaos was pretty cool in a goofy gory way.  That's about it. 
I know it's aimed at kids, but I kids aren't dumb.  (Well, most of them aren't).  I don't see how they could like it. 
Gamera vs. Guiron ... if Guiron's the sharpest thing in your film, you're not doing well.  1 out of five atomic breath blasts.
No "best of" video that I could find.  Here's the entire episode as seen on MST3K:

Here's the trailer:

Up next, Space Amoeba.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review: LATITUDE ZERO (1969)

If you're just tuning in, my eleven-year-old son, James, and I compiled a list of about seventy kaiju/tokusatsu/monster films to watch before the new Godzilla movie opens in May.  (You can read the big list HERE.)

We're about halfway through as we reach today's movie, Latitude Zero (1969).

I'll go first:
When we first watched this a couple of years ago, it just seemed bat-shit insane and I didn't think much of it at all.  Watching it now ... it's still bat-shit insane, but for whatever reason, I really liked it. 
It is a film complete with work by the Toho Triple Threat (Honda, Ifukube, Tsubuarya), but it was filmed in English.  This means we get to hear Akira Takarada (whose career stretches from '54's Godzilla to '14's Godzilla) and Akihiko Hirata (Dr. Serizawa ... James won "Spot Serizawa this time) speaking English. 
CItizen Kane actor Joseph Cotten plays good guy Captain MacKenzie while Cesar Romero plays bad guy Dr. Malic. 
Yes.  That Cesar Romero. 
Essentially, it's a take on the Captain Nemo mythology but expanded to include an underground Utopia where the world's leading scientists and peacemakers go to make life better, live for centuries and wear clothes made of gold fabric. 
If MacKenzie is Nemo, Malic is Dr. Moreau.  He has made giant rats to patrol his island's tunnels and giant bat-men as his servants. 
Yes.  The Joker made bat-men. 
He also makes a kind of griffin by grafting a condor's wings onto a lion and by transplanting the brain of his submarine captain into it.   
When the good guys storm the island, they wear the usual gold suits but with gloves that shoot poison gas, flames and lasers.  No joke. 
Like I said, bat-shit insane, but fun.  There's also some good model work and some submarine action, too. 
Latitude Zero ... if you like to get high and watch movies, here you go.  3.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Now it's James' turn:
Well, it was a pretty almost average movie, starring, the Joker, and the guy from the Godzilla suit as three monsters. 
Other info: this is about when a old probe crashes in latitude zero, and find weird stuff, like diamonds and gold aren't rare down there, the Black Shark submarine, and more!!! 
So, rating wise, i'll say 2.5 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!!
Here's the trailer:

Next time, Gamera vs. Guiron.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014



The next movie from our big list of films to watch (HERE) before the new Godzilla movie opens is All Monsters Attack (aka Godzilla's Revenge; 1969).

I'll go first.  I guess:
We have here a film in which Godzilla does not actually appear.  Instead, we're treated to the imagination of a bullied boy and the vast majority of Godzilla we get is actually recycled footage. 
Like Gamera vs. Viras before it, they use clips of fights from earlier films (primarily Son of Godzilla and Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster) to beef up the action.  Because of that Ebirah, Kumonga, Kamacuras, that big condor and Minya all show up.   
There are some new scenes with Big G and Minya, plus a new monster, thankfully, never seen again.  Gabara is a personification of the lead kid's bully, complete with bad skin and goofy laugh. 
Look.  I'm not the audience for this film.  I get that.  But I've seen plenty of films aimed at kids that entertained me, too.  This isn't one of them. 
All Monsters Attack ... no point in discussing the subplot with the thieves.  0.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Now here's my son, James.  He's ten, and therefore part of the target demo:
well this one is stupid!! there's a new monster, Gabara with his laugh and electricity attack
It's almost a copy of Gamera V.S. Viras, Stupid flashbacks and goofy kid-stuff!  There's a kid who imagines Minya as his friend, while bullies and robbers try to mess with him. The worst part is he gets away from the stupid thevies!  And Minya talks!!! It's the dumbest thing ever. 
So, rating wise, i'll say 1.006 out of five Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!
Here's the trailer:

Here's the goofy theme song:

Up next, Latitude Zero.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Review: GAMERA VS. VIRAS (1968)

Ah, Gamera.  He's really neat.  He's filled with turtle meat.  We all love you, Gamera.

But not this movie.  Gamera vs. Viras (1968), next on our big list of movies (HERE).

My son James goes first:
Well, I thought this one was plain stupid, with the power squids, and the boy scout submarines thing, all stupid!!! They even "wasted" 18 minutes of flashback, like, why?!! Even the kids are stronger and smarter than Gamera and the Aliens!!!! 
so, rating wise, i'll say 1.67 (Yes, it's that stupid....)
My turn:
I'm pretty much with my kid on this one.   
Very standard '60s monster movie stuff and aimed directly at the children.  I tried for a time to watch the movie with that mindset ... I just couldn't do it.  My son, as you can tell from his review, couldn't get into it that way, either. 
The children in this film are smarter than anyone in the world, apparently.  They reprogrammed an experimental submarine and then were allowed by scientists to pilot it on a joy ride.  The whole scene is ridiculous. 
Then the flashbacks.  The aliens probe Gamera's memory and we get to watch about twelve or thirteen minutes of fights from the previous films.  (This movie was never used by MST3K, but this would have been prime stuff to snip out for time constraints.) 
The aliens take the two boys and they outsmart them on their own ship, but not before they attach a control device on Gamera.  Then the intruders dispatch the giant turtle to attack Earth.  This is how we're treated to a further five or so minutes of footage from previous films ... attacks on cities from the first film (even though the footage is black-and-white), an attack on a dam from the second film ...  It's tedious. 
The height of stupidity comes near the end when the world decides to surrender because the aliens captured the boys and threaten them.  Sacrificing billions for two ... ? 
Then the squids merge like Voltron or something and become a giant squid alien.  The fight is brief and not terribly satisfying, as the thing gets carried into high altitude, freezes and then gets dropped in the ocean.   
What's good?  Well, the film breaks with the formula of having Gamera fight the monster, getting injured, waiting and then fighting again at the end.  Unfortunately, it gets around this with old footage.  Also, we get the jaunty Gamera theme for the first time.  That's nice.
Gamera vs. Viras ... I'm beginning to hate kids.  1 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's the trailer:

Up next ... ugh.  More kids.  Godzilla's Revenge.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


Finally, after all this time on our big list of movies (seen HERE), we get to the monster rally movie to end them all: Destroy All Monsters (1968).

I'll go first:
After some of the craptastic films we got in 1967, Destroy All Monsters looks like friggin' Gone With The Wind.  
The fact that the Toho Triple Threat is back really, really helps.  Film director Ishiro Honda, composer Akira Ifukube and special effects supervisor Eiji Tsuburaya are just kaiju MVPs, as far as I'm concerned. 
It handles the disparate elements just right.  The human side of things is given just enough weight to keep us interested but not enough to make us bored.  There's some fun tokusatsu scifi model work to add that element but not enough to bore us (the SY-3 rocket is one of the coolest Toho has made ... ever).  And then there's the monster stuff.  Loads of it and most of it is fun to watch. 
For whatever reason, the film is set in the year 1999.  More importantly to the plot, by this time, they've gathered the world's monsters onto Monster Island (aka Monster Land).  Aliens, the Kilaaks, invade and send the monsters around the world to wreak havoc. 
We get some brief scenes of destruction, but I'll make note of one in particular.  Gorosaurus is seen attacking Paris, and he arrives by burrowing under the Arc de Triomphe.  Most definitely not typical Gorosaurus behavior.  As a matter of fact, Paris was supposed to be Baragon's target.  This is backed up by the fact that they used Baragon's roar for Gorosaurus in that scene and a news anchor actually said Baragon was attacking Paris a few moments later.  Baragon's suit was apparently too damaged for use in the big attack scene.  That's why he's barely in the film.  (Same goes for Varan.  I like Varan a bunch, but we only see him briefly a couple of times.)  You can see that the trailer below has Gorosaurus labeled as Baragon, too. 
A real highlight is the attack on Tokyo.  Godzilla, Manda, Mothra and Rodan all go to town, wrecking models while the military launches rocket attacks to the tune of Ifukube's great marches.   
The humans manage to take over the systems the aliens are using to control the monsters and they have them converge near the alien base. Big fun follows as the Kilaaks call on King Ghidorah to protect them against the assembled kaiju forces.  Godzilla, Minya, Rodan, Anguirus, Gorosaurus, Mothra (larva), Kumonga all take active part in the battle, with a few other monsters in the background not really doing anything ... mostly because the suits were being held together with tape.  There are some really fun moments in the fight.  Keep your eye on Godzilla once Ghidorah is down.  It's one of my favorite things to watch Godzilla pick up one of the three limp heads, look at it and shake it furiously and then drop it, disinterested.   
Another oddity, one guy rips mind-control earrings out of a woman's ears, leaving her a bloody whimpering mess on the floor.  Yeah, aliens were controlling her mind, but, dude.  You didn't have to wreck her lobes. 
(Gareth Edwards, director of the upcoming Godzilla film, has said that Destroy All Monsters is one of his favorites and he hopes to base a sequel to his Godzilla film on it.) 
Destroy All Monsters ... Godzilla films at their most fun.  4.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's my son's take:
Well in my top three Godzilla movies this one is #2 because 11 monster V.S. 1 monster , King Ghidorah! Baragon was replaced by Gorosaurus, but Goro has a kangaroo kick. It was a awesome fight. Also,these are one of the many movies where new york is assaulted, I mean, come on! New York is awesome!!!! 
so, rating wise, i'll say 4.99999977769 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!
Here's the trailer:

Up next, the return of the turtle ... Gamera vs. Viras.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Oh, brother.

Continuing our way down the big list (seen HERE), we've come to the South Korean monster film, Yonggary: Monster from the Deep (aka Yongary; 1967).

James goes first:
So, a kid named itchy attacks things with a itching gun, and that's not even in the top 5 ridiculous moments list. it's that bad. #5. random car crash, #4. "ummm.... just say action sir" (man in the suit just standing around.) .......  #3. whoo!! pouring beer on someones head while everyone's drunk is awesome!!!! #2. Pull the flowerpot!!!! #1!!!! Dancing in a small spot light!!!!! 
Rating wise, i'll say 3.0000000000001 out of 5!!  Its so bad it's almost good.
My turn:
Yikes.  The first twenty-five minutes are as dull as dog crap.  I mean, really.  Someone detonates a nuke in the Middle East so South Korea sends a space capsule to investigate ... huh?  Yes.  It's snooze inducing to say the least. 
Then the wackiness begins.  Lame special effect after lame effect.  The guy in the Yonggary suit at one point lounges around the set apparently waiting for lunch.  Model tanks are hopelessly out of scale with the cars and buildings they roll past.  One general sees the giant reptile and immediately recognizes it as Yonggary, though we're never told how or why he knows this or why everyone in the room goes along with it.  After a soothsayer implores the people to repent, we're shown gluttons and drunkards who refuse to leave a restaurant and we're also shown the stereotypical partying teens who continue to spaz out and get high (I'm guessing) despite the danger. 
And the acting.  When it's not over-the-top ridiculous, it's so laid back it'll induce comas.
And an annoying kid who, of course, helps defeat the monster. 
The monster is an upright version of Barugon (Gamera's opponent).  In fact, the copying of Gamera vs. Barugon continues with the missile battery.  It's set in a hillside, just like in that earlier film.  The only thing missing was a rainbow beam to destroy them. 

And then, after shining his itching light (not a typo) on the monster, the kid, somehow, makes the thing dance.  I'm not kidding.  There's a late '60s surf rock song to go along with it.  It's too stupid to be funny. 
Yonggary ... South Korea just wanted to play in the kaiju toybox, too.  0.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's the trailer ... from Germany (couldn't find a Japanese or American one):

Up next, the king returns: Destroy All Monsters!

Friday, March 14, 2014


Next up from the big list (HERE) is the hard-to-find The X from Outer Space (aka Giant Space Monster Guilala; 1967).

I'll go first:
Boy, 1967 was the year of the monster movie, huh? 
Again, not from either Toho or Daiei, X from Outer Space begins like several tokusatsu films from the former studio.  Astronauts and rocket ships, cool model work, forced humor and interaction between the characters ... 
It all goes rather predictably, especially if you've been watching these movies with us, though the details sound unique enough.  Astronauts go up, find UFOs near Mars, something attaches to the rocket ship and then one of the spores grows into a giant monster once they get back to Earth. 
The astronaut stuff is tedious, though the UFO looks like a glowing pie (minus the whipped cream).  When the spore grows, though, things take off.  Guilala himself looks very interesting and, compared to many other kaiju we've seen so far, he's very powerful.  He spits fireballs, and that's neat.  Most interestingly, he can transform into a glowing sphere for quick movement while destroying everything around the ball as it goes.  Also, he can absorb nuclear energy ... something that reminded me of the Hesei Godzilla films to come.  In the end, the scientists shrink it back into spore form by coating it with the tongue-twisting element guilalalium.
Musically speaking, the score is very jazzy.  I liked it quite a bit. 
The X from Outer Space ... Swingin' score, cool monster, but they can't combat the majority of the movie, which is just plain boring.  3 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's my son's review:
I thought it was horrible.  Boring, super cheesy effects, a cookie flying saucer.  So yeah,there's a monster who eats steel and whatever it touches, the object explodes! 
so,rating wise, i'll say 1.00000000909 out of 5!!!
The trailer:

Up next, the South Korean monster movie attempt Yongary: Monster from the Deep.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review: GAPPA (1967)

The next film on our big list of kaiju movies (see it HERE) ... Gappa (1967), also known as Gappa: The Triphibian Monster and Monster from a Prehistoric Planet.

My ten-year-old son, James, goes first:
Well, it's about surviving dinosaurs (i think) finding their baby, and there are some island natives, a boy who travels places in seconds, lizard flying classes, and more! But I didn't like it much because everything is cheesy! costumes, scenes, everything!!! 
So, rating wise, i'll say 2.005 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!!
My turn:
Not from one of the usual movie studios, Gappa is a Japanese kaiju film that follows many of the tropes of the genre to this point.  
A greedy publisher/industrialist, brave and eager scientists, natives on an island ...  Natives on an island.  My son and I tried to remember all the kaiju films so far in which this particular trait appeared.  We came up with seven.  I think we can blame the 1933 classic King Kong for this. 
A baby bird-lizard hatches from an egg and the scientists take it home.  Like the Brit kaiju film Gorgo, the parents come a'lookin'.  They stomp about for a while until the military and scientists get the baby away from the greedy industrialist guy so the parents can take it away. 
As for the monsters, they look like featherless birds.  They fly without really flapping their wings.  They have some sort of heat blast breath.  They're fairly unremarkable, except that they have expressive faces, particularly the child. 
The humans are generally as bland as wallpaper paste.  The greedy guy is the usual caricature, making inexplicable choices.  There's some gender talk about one of the female scientists quitting to do the dishes ... which may lead into something I discovered after the film was over. 
Gappa was, apparently, intended as a parody of the genre.  Well, that would explain the use of so many tropes ... but it wasn't very funny.  At all.  Maybe the humor was lost in translation.  I did notice that the mother had an octopus in her mouth when they started to rampage.  Maybe she was bringing the baby some food?  
Gappa ... It exists.  2.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's the end of the film along with the amusing "Gappa the Colossal Beast" song:

And here's the trailer:

Next up, the hard-to-find X from Outer Space.

James: ...With a U.F.C!!!  (unidentified flying cookie!)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Review: GAMERA VS. GYAOS (1967)

My son and I are about a third of the way through the big list (HERE) of kaiju movies to watch before the new Godzilla film next year.

Today's movie is Gamera vs. Gyaos (1967).

I'll go first:
The Gamera franchise continues by introducing its most enduring foe: the vampiric, Rodan-esque Gyaos.   
This movie continues the Gamera formula.  Monster appears, brief encounter with Gamera, Gamera gets wounded and goes off to recover before coming back to end it.  Sprinkle liberally with annoying kids, and viola.  (Yes, Gamera vs. Barugon had this formula, too, but no kids.)
Also, we have construction workers and farmers being involved at every stage of the military's operation to fight Gyaos.  Kids making crucial suggestions.  Goofy characters. 
Gyaos has the potential to get dark, what with the monster's taste for human blood.  But it never goes there.  Instead, we get Itchy the kid and some unfunny construction workers ... I was going to call them the Two Stooges, but that would be insulting to my beloved Stooges (yes, even Joe Besser). 
Like the first Gamera film, the ending is rather batshit insane (ha, "bat").  Let's have a giant fountain of artificial blood on a platform that can rotate a monster that weighs hundreds of tons until it's dizzy.   
Keeping track of monster blood ... Gamera's is still mint green.  Barugon was purple.  Gyaos is bright pink.  It spurts quite liberally for a kids flick. 
There are some fun moments, like when Gyaos' beam splits the helicopter in half and one guy jumps out, inexplicably.  That reminds me ... Gyaos' internal arrangement is like a giant tuning fork?  And his sonic blast comes out as a visible beam?  Okee-dokee.  Oh, and I can't neglect to mention Gyaos' armpit smoke.  I'm not kidding. 
Gamera vs. Gyaos ... not that bad; not that good.  2.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
My son's turn:
Well, it didn't make sense with cars and hellies  splitting in half and they made gamera, through out the whole series , gets hurt, heals for 1/3 of the movie, fights the enemy, and wins. It's too predictable. 
Gyaos gets gross a few times with his yellow arm pit spray and his foot that grows again when it got torn off. (and then a rock hit it and it was supposed to be funny.  It wasn't.) 
so, rating wise, i'll say 2.008 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!
I couldn't find a good "best of" compilation of jokes from its appearance on Mystery Science Theater 3000, so here's the whole thing:

Here's the trailer:

Next up: Gappa. James: WWWWHHHHAAAAAAAATTTTTT!!!!!!!!...LOL!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Review: KING KONG ESCAPES (1967)

My son and I are trying to watch 70+ kaiju/tokusatsu films before the new Godzilla movie opens in May.  (Here's the list of films.)  We're about a third of the way in.

Today's movie is Toho's King Kong Escapes (1967).  I'll go first:
Even though it's a sequel to King Kong vs. Godzilla, the characters still seem to regard Kong as a fairy tale, despite his very public fight with Godzilla a few years before.  Continuity is a fickle thing. 
Bad guys want Kong because they're trying to mine Unobtanium.  I mean, Element X.  The radiation of it rendered their MechaniKong inactive ... 
Rhodes Reason stars as the dashing lead.  Star Trek fans will remember him as the gladiator Flavius from the episode "Bread and Circuses."  Akira Takarada is back, yet again.  Toho veteran and dude with a messed-up grill Eisei Amamoto stars as the villainous Dr. Hu.  Yes, Doctor Hu. 
Effects stuff.  The models look especially "toy boat, toy boat."  There is a funny moment, though, as the hovercraft leaves the island and Kong chucks a boulder at a passing sea serpent.  Just strange. 
Speaking of the monsters, Kong looks as rough as he did four years before.  MechaniKong, though, is very cool.  The trilling beep gets annoying after a while.  Plus, we're introduced to the Gorosaurus.  While he gets a good flying Kirk kick ... 
... (and Kong's quick recovery was equally laughable), Gorosaurus was really there to evoke memories of King Kong's fight with a large carnivore in the 1933 classic, complete with the dame being placed in a tree to watch and Kong's pummeling of the beast, complete with the spreading of its jaw. 
Back to MechaniKong.  The fight between it and Kong is good even though the ramp up to it seems to take forever.  (I swear, I can go without that woman screaming, "Kong!" for the rest of my days.) 
Interesting sidebar:  In the 1980s or '90s, Toho wanted to remake King Kong vs. Godzilla, as that was one of their most popular films ever.  Rights issues, though, prevented that.  Toho's solution was to have Godzilla fight MechaniKong instead.  Unfortunately, as the giant robot was based on King Kong's likeness to start with, the same rights issues prevented anything from happening.  (I think when this is done, I'll make a post on all the films that almost got made.) 
King Kong Escapes ... pretty good; shame it was Kong's last Toho gig, though.  3.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's my son, James:
well, this is a typical kaiju movie, and the worst part is, Dr.Hu is stuck with no T.A.R.D.I.S.!! AAHHHHHHH!!!!! Anyways, the evils made a Kong and tried to do something , but failed epically, they tried to con"troll" Kong to do things and failed epically, and they failed so much, the evils died. 
So, rating wise, I would say 3.5 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!! 
The trailer:

Next, Gamera vs. Gyaos.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Review: SON OF GODZILLA (1967)

This will be a short one.

Next up on the big list (see it HERE) is Son of Godzilla (1967).
James goes first:
WwwwwwwweeeeeeeeeeeellllLLLL.... I thought this movie made the Godzilla franchise look 45% less good and through out the Godzilla series, Minilla lives to make godzilla bad, so, so very bad! 
so, we have a mutant spider and some mutant praying mantises. this is the mutant special here! 
so, rating wise, i'll say 1.009 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!! 
My turn:
Here we go.  Truly aimed at kids, you're not going to like this too awful much if you've gone through puberty. 
While we get introduced to Kamacuras (aka Gimantis) and Kumonga (aka Speiga), we also see a pretty dopey Godzilla suit.  Oh.  And we're introduced to baby Godzilla, Minya or Minilla.
The suit action is OK.  Godzilla lights up the Kamacuras with a quickness early on, but, for some reason, his fire ain't so hot later on.  Odd.  Minya is, at first, a barely functioning mechanical figure that hatched from an egg ... where that egg came from, though, I haven't a clue.  Anyway, from the beginning, he's getting clocked in the face repeatedly.  It starts funny, then gets annoying and swings around to being funny again. 
I almost forgot.  There's people in the movie, too.  (I won "Spot Serizawa.")  The plot though is utterly forgettable.  Scientists on an island; annoyingly intrepid reporter comes ashore; lovely native lady; something, something, credits. 
Son of Godzilla ... So, what's next?  1.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's the trailer:

Next up, Kong returns in King Kong Escapes.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Review: WRATH OF DAIMAJIN (1966)

If you're just joining me, my son and I have compiled a list (check it out HERE) of about 70 films, primarily Japanese, in the kaiju/tokusatsu genres for us to watch and review before the new Godzilla movie comes out next May.

Today's movie is the last in Daiei's "god monster statue Daimajin" trilogy.  Released like the first two in 1966, this one's title is very confusing.  Like the second film, it depends on where you see it and a couple of the variations are the same as the second film: Wrath of Daimajin, Return of Daimajin, Revenge of Daimajin and Daimajin Strikes Again are but a few.

I'll kick it off this time:
I don't get the poster for this one.  Obviously, someone in the art department confused elements of film two (parted waters, exploding island) and film three (snow, hawk, sword). 
 Understandable considering the way they cranked these out in a single year. 
I'm happy to report that this film is not a carbon copy of film one.  Film two suffered mightily for that. 
Unfortunately, the formula has been replaced with four annoying kids on a quest.  Ugh.  Daiei really seems to love annoying kids (see Gamera franchise). 
The film opens with a mostly unseen Daimajin wrecking stuff, but there's no rhyme or reason to it.  Later we learn that some men from a small village had been caught by an evil warlord and put to work.  The kids decide to hike across a mountain to get them.  Ridiculously, as we've seen so often of kids in this era of films, they end up being more resourceful than the adults in pursuit.  There's prayers to Maijin, the bad guys kill the heretofore unseen messenger of Maijin, the hawk, and the statue awakens. 
I will say that most of the Maijin's attack is great, again.  Fantastic model and suit work, loaded with menace and Akira Ifukube's score.  And, as my son will gladly report, he finally pulled out his sword and used it to great effect. 
I had hoped that, perhaps, the third film would have featured Maijin versus another statue god.  I mean, not everyone in Japan worshipped the same statues, so why not have a couple of them fight?  That would have been cool.  Alas. 
Daimajin Strikes Again ... gains a bit for not recycling film one's plot; loses a bit for using annoying kids.  3.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Now here's James:
Well, describing wise, these kids were trying to save their dads, so they had a huge adventure to save them, but finally, ffiinnnaaallllllyyyy, he used the sword, and it was the best way to show the sword, too!! 
So, rating wise, i'll say,...5 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness! 
The trailer:

Next time, Son of Godzilla.  (Yes, Minya.)

Friday, March 7, 2014


Slowly but surely, we're making our way through the big list of movies to watch before Godzilla (2014).

We're in the middle of the Daimajin trilogy ... movie two (1966) is called Return of Daimajin or Wrath of Daimajin, depending on where the movie was released.

We both loved the first film.  What about the second?

My ten-year-old son, James, goes first:
Well I liked the first better because 1) Daimajin's in a cave on an island instead of on a mountain, 2) the first appearance in the first movie was too awesome to beat at being cool, 3) this shouldn't be a series because how did the statue come back, you saw it get reduced to rubble, right?!!) 
so, i give this one 4.003 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!
hash tags: #ABOA! & #TheFirstWasBetter !
My turn:
(I'll say this right off the bat: I love those back banners that they wear in Kurosawa samurai movies.  Seeing them here made me smile.) 
Unfortunately, the plot of this one is almost exactly the same of the first film. 
The first film had a coup with the good guy's kids escaping, only to come back later with the aid of the angry statue god, Maijin.  Just desserts were served. 
This time, it's a neighboring nation that seeks to overrun the good guys.  The same castle set from the first film is attacked by samurai this time, shown sometimes in the same camera angles ... having watched the first movie a few days before, it was very obvious. 
The Maijin statue is on an island this time and the bad guys, again, attempt to destroy it.  Using gunpowder, the statue is blown to bits and the people are disheartened and enslaved.  There's a lot prayer and then Maijin awakens to kick butt. 
It's exactly the same as the first movie.  Truly.  Don't get me wrong; it looks great.  The parting of the lake that the Maijin does to get to shore is very cool and the attack on the castle is nice ... except they reuse some shots from the first movie. 
In the logic of the trilogy, I'm a little confused.  The people seem to have been revering the Maijin for generations ... is this the same statue from the first movie?  Are there several different Maijin around Japan?  Just wonderin'. 
And Akira Ifukube is back with the music.  Sounds great, as usual.  The mournful "Daimaijin prayer theme" is here again ... but I could swear that the opening musical blasts of the film are straight out of a certain Toho franchise's theme. 
Another note: there seems to be a lot of religious imagery here.  The parting of the lake (Moses), loads of crosses, people strung up on crucifixes ... I don't know what the aim was, but there you go. 
Look.  This movie is done very well and it looks great.  It's just recycled on so many levels that it's distracting.  (I'd love to know the full story behind why they made and released all three films in such a short span of time.  That explains the reuse of sets and locations, for sure.) 
The Return of Daimajin ... good, but it feels like we just saw this.  3.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's the trailer:

Up next, the finale of the Daimajin trilogy.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review: DAIMAJIN (1966)

Next on the big list of movies to watch, Daimajin (1966).

I'll go first:
This is one of those films we'd heard about but never watched before the list.  I found the Blu-rays of the trilogy for super-cheap and bought it.  Just like that. 
From Daiei, the people who give us the flying turtle, we get a relatively surprising movie.  Why surprising?  (Well, again, it's relative to a flying turtle that's a friend to kids.)  It is restrained.  It is serious.  It feels adult. 
Set in feudal Japan (samurai times) ... I'm going to guess the 1800s, thanks to the presence of rifles ... there's a coup against a feudal lord and his two small children are taken into the woods where they are aided by a priestess.  The kids are then secreted in a mountain temple where only the priestesses had been allowed to go.  The mountain seems to have engulfed a large statue, of which only the head and shoulders are visible.   
Years later, the usurper has enslaved the population and the lord's children are grown.  They descend to try and help the people but are captured.  In their desperation, they pray that the "maijin," the statue being held by the mountain, be freed so that the tyranny will end.  Their prayers are answered. 
The first hour of the movie is all setup.  We see the grace of the lord, the scheming of his usurper, the brutality of the coup, the hardships of enslavement, the goodness of the displaced children ... It's all a well-presented foundation for the last part of the movie. 
In a final act of the evil lord's tyranny, his men go to the mountain and to the statue.  They place a metal spike on the head and drive it in ... causing blood to spill from the wound.  (\m/ Metal \m/)  A quake and storm comes and the men are destroyed.  Another prayer and Maijin awakens. 
He puts on his angry face: 
... and stomps toward the palace, tearing stuff up.  It looks great.  Well done on it all.  And finally, there's a moment so terribly badass, my son stood up and said, "Awww, yeah!"  (James: No I didn't!!!) 
He caught the usurper, pulled the spike from his head and drove it through the guy and into a post.   
I love Akira Kurosawa's films and this put me in that mindset with the added coolness of a dude in a suit tearing it up. 
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Godzilla composer Akira Ifukube did the music for this film.  While perfectly enjoyable, it wasn't nearly as memorable as the work he did for Toho's films.  The somewhat mournful "Daimajin prayer" theme works well, though. 
Daimajin.  Very good; very enjoyable.  4.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Now my son's turn:
Jumanji!  I mean Daimajin! I love this movie! The basics: an hour of boring stuff, then it gets cooler.  They try destroying the god's statue, but when they put a spike through the head, the statue starts bleeding, gets a face, makes a apocalypse rage quit, and he kills everything.  He has a sword, but he doesn't use it.  But he still is O.P. 
So  I give this one 10 trillion Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!!
Here's the trailer:

Up next, released just a few months later in 1966, Return of Daimajin.

(James: please use the sword,pretty please?!!!)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Review: GAMERA VS. BARUGON (1966)

The next one from our big list of movies to watch is Gamera vs. Barugon (1966), second in the turtle franchise.

As I've had to do before, I'll try to forget the ribbing it took from MST3K (though I'll post a "best of" video at the end).

James goes first:
Well I thought this would be boring, but it's not.  Gamera attacks the dam for his hot tub, get grape jelly from Barugon, The God of Rainbows, and then gets ice from Barugon's coolness (literally), And now, his chores are done, and his treat is going swimming with Barugon, and going to his funeral too! 
So movie rating wise, i'll say 3.006 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!
My turn:
Behold Barugon: the only monster born because some guy had athlete's foot. 
And what's with the name, Daiei?  Obviously, you were trying to capitalize on the previous year's movie monster, Bar*A*gon.  I mean, look at the poster from Frankenstein Conquers the World:

Same.  What the Zigra? 
To the movie itself ... it's pretty damn dark for this stretch of Gamera films.  No cutesy (annoying) kids ... no humor whatsoever.   
Other than being dark, the human side of things drags on far too long.  You get a recap of Gamera at the beginning, followed by a quick attack on a dam by the turtle.  Then it's 35 minutes of guys looking for an opal and one bad guy scheming to get it.  Then, thanks to the aforementioned dude's athlete's foot infrared treatment lamp, the opal hatches Barugon. 
His initial attack looks great.  There's a grittiness, almost, to the way it's shot.  It's dark and well done.   And then he unleashes his weapons. 
When the Gamera people want to get goofy, brother, they get goofy.  There's his super extend-o-tongue which somehow also emits a freezing vapor cloud.  But that's not sufficiently silly.  No.  "Let's have him shoot a giant energy rainbow from his back."  So they did. 
There's something kinda funny about this dark movie having a monster that shoots rainbows in it. 
This movie also starts the traditional structure of how the monster fights go. 1) Antagonist monster appears and attacks, 2) Gamera confronts and is wounded/incapacitated, 3) antagonist continues attack after humans wring their hands, 4) Gamera recovers and defeats foe.  We also get the first spouting of kaiju blood, too.  Gamera will bleed gallons of mint green paint in films to come, but Barugon oozes first here.  Purple, of course. 
Then there's some plans about using shiny things to attract Barugon and using helicopters to make it rain (but not with singles) ... It gets even more dull than the first stretch of the film with that murderous fungal-footed thief.  The only highlight, really, is when that thief is snatched up by the monster's surprisingly dexterous tongue.  Then they build Archimedes Death Ray to give him blistery, purple-bloodied wounds.  Gamera wakes up, natch, and drowns him.  Ta-da. 
Gamera vs. Baragon ... "God of Rainbows," indeed.  3 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's the trailer:

Here are some of best moments from its appearance on MST3K:

Up next, the first film in the Daimajin trilogy.  We've never seen it before, so we're excited.