Friday, September 3, 2010

Return to G-FEST XVII: Where It All Started

The Pickwick marquee modestly declares an incredible event
Saturday afternoon and evening were filled with activity. Andy and I ducked into Damon Foster's presentation and found it to be simultaneously hilarious, bizarre, and informative. After pin-balling back and forth from Dealer's Room to Model Exhibit to Artist's Alley, we took a break for supper.
Grown-up G-pardy was next, and if memory serves, the contest came down to the final answer, just as it had in the junior division, with Skip Peel emerging as repeat champion.
The costume contest began soon after, and once again, the parade of monster characters drew an appreciative crowd. Among the many highlights was seeing J.D. Lees stomp about in his own G-Fantis costume. Andy and I happened into floor seats right where the costumes entered the hall, and, as a result, got unobstructed video of each creature's first appearance. As the parade drew to a close, we were able to speak with Ultra-fan and video purveyor Lenell Bridges about our heroes from the Land of Light.

The final event on the G-FEST calendar for Saturday was also one of the most unique. The phrase "once in a lifetime" has been dulled by overuse, but it truly applies in this case. Probability strongly suggests that your average American kaiju fan will never again have the chance to watch the original "Godzilla" on an actual movie screen in the presence of one of its lead actors. This was simply not to be missed. I happened to arrive at the Pickwick Theater just as Guest of Honor Akira Takarada was having his picture taken with the Japanese Consulate under the theater marquee.

I also was standing in the foyer when his party, including G-FEST's Brett Homenick, who looked to be having the time of his life (understandably so), entered the venue.

This famous still greeted Godzilla-goers to the Pickwick on Saturday
A festive atmosphere welcomed the special guests, and their remarks were enthusiastically received. When the opening credits rolled, many goosebumps were induced when wild cheers went up at the appearance of the names Ishiro Honda and Eiji Tsuburaya. But then an even more intense ovation was reserved for Mr. Takarada. One wonders what his thoughts and feelings were at that moment.
The film print itself was impressive, making it doubly unfortunate when it broke; thankfully, a potentially embarrasing situation was avoided by the advance planning of the convention committee, who had a backup DVD waiting for just such an eventuality.
Seeing the original "Godzilla" in an authentic theater setting was a vibrant reminder of why the genre became popular in the first place. It remains my favorite installment in the series, in part because is was not a conscious "series launch." It stands on its own as a specific story, with indelible imagery, haunting score, and excellent performances.
At the film's conclusion, another standing ovation ushered Mr. Takarada out of the Pickwick, and following the crowd out into the summer night, I savored the singular pleasure of a true once-in-a-lifetime experience.


  1. Heh heh. I'm sure I was having the time of my life! Thanks for the report!

  2. Thank you, Brett, for helping secure Mr. Takarada's visit, and for being a gracious host.