Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Retro Reprint: The Legend of Boggy Creek

This article first appeared in Martin Arlt's fanzine "Mad Scientist" #22, which is now sold out. Inspired by the season premiere of Finding Bigfoot, I have reproduced my salute to Boggy Creek here.

On the Track of the Ultimate Bigfoot Movie:

“The Legend of Boggy Creek”
 
 
             Bigfoot and I go way back. I owe my introduction to the hairy hominid to Sid and Marty Krofft, whose “Krofft Supershow” (1976) featured fifteen-minute episodes of “Bigfoot and Wildboy.” Needless to say, my four-year-old self envied Wildboy’s friendship with the big biped, and the show inspired many imaginary adventures played out in the wilderness of my basement. The same year saw Steve Austin tangling with Bigfoot (as played by both wrestler Andre the Giant and actor Ted Cassidy) on “The Six Million Dollar Man.” Sasquatch ruled the small screen in 1976, much to my delight.

            Over the next couple of years, I could not help but dig deeper into Bigfoot lore, and since my research took place during the “Bigfoot Boom” of the 1970s, my local library yielded no shortage of Sasquatchiana. Marian T. Place’s “On the Track of Bigfoot” became my primary text. While comprehensive and readable, it gave the distinct impression that Bigfoot was exclusively ensconced in the Pacific Northwest. It wasn’t until I got my hands on works such as Elwood Baumann’s “Monsters of North America” and Place’s subsequent “Bigfoot All Over the Country” that I learned that reports of giant man-apes were far more widespread than I had been led to believe. What is more, Baumann’s book devoted three whole chapters to a series of sightings in Fouke, Arkansas—sightings that had evidently inspired an honest-to-goodness Bigfoot docudrama called “The Legend of Boggy Creek,” made in 1972. It became a fervent hope of mine to see this movie, although the chances of catching it on television seemed about as good as seeing a seven-foot-tall hairy primate in my own backyard.

            For years, Baumann’s description of “The Legend of Boggy Creek” fired my imagination, and I had come to accept that the images it produced in the theater of my mind would probably have to suffice. My hopes for seeing the film would rise, however, whenever it was mentioned in books such as Janet and Colin Bord’s “The Bigfoot Casebook”—at the very least, I could take comfort in knowing the movie really existed, and that someone, somewhere had seen it.

            And then one day, in my early teens, it appeared. There, in the television listings, which I habitually scoured for monsters of all persuasions, was the title: “The Legend of Boggy Creek.” It was scheduled to run far too late for me to stay up and watch, but fortunately, my family had purchased our first Video Cassette Recorder. With the precision of a surgeon I set the timer, double-checking my work, and then it was done--all I could do was wait and hope.

            The next morning I rewound the tape, took a deep breath, and pushed play. These orange words appeared against a plain black background: “THIS IS A TRUE STORY. Some of the people in this motion picture portray themselves—in many cases on actual locations.” After years of waiting, the legendary Bigfoot was in my possession.

            When I finally had the long-awaited pleasure of watching “The Legend of Boggy Creek,” I was not disappointed—if anything, it was more absorbing than I had hoped. Moreover, it felt plausible, and some of the vignettes were genuinely unnerving, beginning with a sequence in which a young boy runs from the sound of a howling Bigfoot, admitting in voiceover that “I was seven years old when I first heard him scream. It scared me them, and it scares me now.”

            After quickly establishing the geography and general culture of Fouke (which is to say, the Deep South of the early 70s), two eyewitnesses report their experiences on location in a matter-of-fact tone that roots the proceedings in reality. One of the men eerily relates the tale of his two-hundred pound show hogs being carried away—by something—over a barbed wire fence.

            Two re-enactments follow, in which hunters run across the creature ambling through the woods. These scenes avoid sensationalism and give the viewer a sense of what seeing an unknown creature must be like. The costume used for these scenes is effective, in that it is never glimpsed in much detail, and the suit actor moves about naturally, giving the impression of something large and hairy yet not abnormal.

            Next, three women and a baby living in a back-country shack are terrorized by a nighttime visit from the creature. The monster’s appearance is only hinted at, yet the sequence is gripping. It also concludes with a mildly disturbing image of a cat that had been “scared to death” by its close encounter with the cryptid.

            That is followed by an intense segment in which an adolescent hunter brings the hominid to its knees with a couple of rifle shots. The young actor in this segment is convincingly spooked, and the viewer is, too.

            The film offers a slight breather at this point, showing hunting parties and tracking dogs searching in vain for Bigfoot. More unpredictably, a musical montage begins! The plaintive “Ballad of Boggy Creek,” written by Earl E. Smith (and probably sung by Charles B Pierce), is set to shots of both the natural beauty of the Sulphur River bottoms and the lonely Fouke Monster trudging along the creek bed. The lyrics ask:

            “Here the Sulfur River flows, Rising when the storm cloud blows, This is where the creature goes, Lurking in the land he knows. Perhaps he dimly wonders why, Is there no other such as I? To love, to touch before I die, To listen to my lonely cry.”

As one musical interlude ends, another takes its place. This one is dedicated to Travis Crabtree, a teenage trapper and outdoorsman. We learn that Travis, in his forays up and down the river, occasionally visits Herb Jones, a man who lives in seclusion deep in the swamps. Jones, who seems like someone who should know, steadfastly declares that “there ain’t no such thing” as the Fouke Monster.

            Jones’ denial notwithstanding, evidence is presented in the form of large, three-toed footprints, discovered in a bean field. This serves a transition to another recreated sighting. Three young children lead their aunt to the place where they claim they saw “a wild man”—and right on cue, he appears upon their return. It is a simple set-up, made effective by the panicked reaction of the woman, who paradoxically screams “Don’t run!” as the group flees in horror.

            The scene that follows is one of my favorites, because it depicts a staple of Bigfoot sighting lore: the old “road crossing” scenario. It happens quickly—in less than five seconds, the thing has crossed the road and hidden in the woods. This is a situation I had read about and visualized for years, and to see it captured on film was oddly thrilling.

            Another creepy vignette portrays the monster stalking a trailer full of teenage girls. Their fear is palpable as they pull out Daddy’s gun and fumble for bullets on the kitchen floor. When one of the girls musters up the courage to peek out the window, the viewer knows what is coming, yet it is hair-raising all the same.

            The final portion of the movie is its longest set piece; an account of the events experienced by the Ford family as something Big tries to enter their homestead. The most dramatic elements of the real-life Ford encounter (as documented in Baumann’s book) are brought to life, such as a hairy hand reaching in through an open window, and Bobby Ford crashing in through the screen door in an effort to escape the creature’s clutches.

            Unfortunately, this sequence features both the most and least convincing monster appearances in the film. When the shadow of the creature slinks across the porch, and the boards creak under its weight, the effect is chilling. However, when Bobby Ford finally collides with the creature in the front yard, an ill-fitting gorilla mask, complete with loose eyeholes, is easily glimpsed by the viewer, and the spell of suspense is broken. That is the only misstep that the movie makes in portraying the monster, and it is a shame that it takes place during what is effectively the climax of the film.

            “Boggy Creek’s” denouement is a moody shot of a man (the narrator and grown-up version of the boy in the prologue) inspecting an old cabin while reflecting, in voice-over, on the mystery of the Fouke sightings. The viewer almost expects one last shock to occur, but it never does, and the movie seems to coast to a stop, like the funhouse ride it is.

 

            Charles B. Pierce caught lightning in a bottle with “The Legend of Boggy Creek,” managing not only to bring the Fouke Phenomena to light, but also to preserve a snapshot of Southern culture in a way that does not feel exploitative. Whether by design or budgetary necessity, “Boggy Creek” is a study in understatement, which is perhaps a strange thing to say about a Bigfoot movie. What is far stranger is that Pierce would take precisely the opposite approach in filming “Boggy Creek II: And The Legend Continues…” in 1985, employing crude Southern caricature, mild lasciviousness, and much monstrous melodrama. It is a film custom-made for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment, which it received in 2004. (At one point, host Mike Nelson quips, “With a degree in Boggy Creek studies you can pretty much write your own ticket.”) While it makes for a fantastic MST3K episode, “Boggy Creek II” raises questions about Pierce’s true feelings for the subject matter, illustrating that there is a fine line between cult classic and B-movie embarrassment.

            In addition to Pierce’s own ill-conceived “sequel,” “The Legend of Boggy Creek” inspired a wave of Sasquatch cinema, such as 1975’s “The Mysterious Monsters,” a straightforward documentary narrated by Peter Graves; 1976’s “The Creature from Black Lake,” an affable tale featuring the menacing talent of Jack Elam; and 1978’s “Sasquatch: the Legend of Bigfoot,” which seems consciously patterned after “Boggy Creek’s” docudrama structure. Bigfoot stomped his way onto the small screen as well, in the aforementioned “Bigfoot and Wildboy” and “Six Million Dollar Man” series, as well as more sober fare such as the Leonard Nimoy-narrated “In Search Of…” Pierce, who died on March 5, 2010, helped make Bigfoot a household name in the 1970s, and in the process enjoyed modest financial success.

            The peculiar, haunting quality of “The Legend of Boggy Creek” gave some viewers not just a few moments of escapist entertainment, but a calling to pursue. In his book “Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America,” renowned cryptozoologist Loren Coleman names no less than ten prominent individuals whose participation in current Bigfoot research is a direct result of seeing the “Boggy Creek” movie. One of those named by Coleman is Chester Moore, Jr., the author of “Bigfoot South.” His comments are fairly typical of those whom Coleman profiles: “Seeing “The Legend of Boggy Creek” lit my interest in the Bigfoot phenomenon into a full-blown passion. While the Pacific Northwest seemed a world away to me, Arkansas did not…The impact it had on me as a youngster was immense.”

            Moore’s statement helps explain “Boggy Creek’s” enduring appeal. The picture suggests, especially to younger viewers, that deep mystery might lurk closer to home than anyone expects. While hardly told from a skeptical viewpoint, the film is earnest in its presentation of regular people grappling with inexplicable events, with the documentary style heightening the sense of “extreme possibility.” Pierce’s film is nothing less than a great American campfire story: scary, fun, and just believable enough to make you reconsider your next woodland hike. My hunt for this elusive quarry was well worth it.

 


Bibliography

 

Bauman, Elwood (1978). Monsters of North America. Xerox Education Publications. U.S.A.

 

Bord, Janet and Colin (1982). The Bigfoot Casebook. Stackpole Books. Harrisburg, PA.

 

Coleman, Loren (2003). Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America. Paraview Pocket Books. New York, NY.

 

Place, Marian T (1974). On the Track of Bigfoot. Dodd, Mead & Company. New York, NY.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Finding Bigfoot on November 10th

Ranae Holland and Andy at Deerasic Park

Excitement and loud howling fills the air as we get ready for the season premiere of Animal Planet's unlikely success story, Finding Bigfoot, which airs Sunday, November 10th at 10 p.m. Readers of this blog are well aware that we had the pleasure of being part of the taping of an episode at Deerasic Park, just outside of the main entrance to Salt Fork State Park.

Animal Planet has been showing repeats of the show in preparation for the season premiere. Some of them are done in the entertaining "Further Evidence" format, which is reminiscent of VH1's "Pop-Up Video," for those of you who remember such things.

We wish Ranae, Cliff, Matt and Bobo all the luck in the world as they continue their quest!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

 
 
 
It's time for tricks, treats, and things that go bump in the night. A person who has greatly enhanced my enjoyment of all things spooky and unexplained is Loren Coleman, pictured above with Andy. I have read almost everything he has written, and many of his books, such as "Mysterious America," are in my annual reading rotation. We had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Coleman this year at Salt Fork State Park and were impressed by his kindness, not to mention his baseball knowledge. Getting to talk to him about the Toho movie "Half Human" was a distinct treat, too, and will be a memory I will savor this All Hallows' Eve.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Imperial Find


 
Some of the best collectible finds happen when you aren't really looking. We were in a Goodwill store in Coschocton, Ohio when Andy spotted this 1985 Imperial Godzilla. He wasn't all that thrilled about going in the store to begin with, but his attitude quickly changed when he saw this figure and its $2.00 price tag!

Monday, September 30, 2013

G-FAN & Pacific Rim


G-FAN 103 has been released and has found its way to most mailboxes. I'm pleased to have written one of three articles reviewing "Pacific Rim" in this issue. The other two were composed by G-FAN stalwarts Mike Bogue and Lyle Huckins. It was pretty cool to see the movie from their perspective, and to note that all three reviews were quite favorable. I'm not aware of any news regarding a PR sequel, although the worldwide box office take suggests that one ought to be made.

Issue 103's incredible cover was done by Ohio's own Matt Harris. This portrait of Godzilla was on display at G-FEST XX.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Kaiju Club Discovers Zilla's Remains



The above photo is the only evidence that exists of a clandestine meeting of the Cuyahoga Kaiju Club held nearly two weeks ago. The body of Zilla, pictured here, was obtained in Chicago this summer and transported to an undisclosed location in the Buckeye State, where the CKC has engaged in a thorough examination.

A kaiju campout was held in conjunction with this development over Labor Day weekend. Participants enjoyed swimming, good food, kaiju collectibles, and (of course) monster movies. Viewed on the BIG screen were: Gamera vs. Viras/Destroy All Planets (with Carl Craig commentary track); Cloverfield; Godzilla vs. Biollante bonus features; and last but not least (OK, maybe least), The Creeping Terror, which was mercilessly (or mercifully, perhaps) riffed by the CKC. Joel and the 'bots would've been proud. The writers of this blog are very fortunate to have become connected to the CKC and its outstanding members, whom we also consider our friends.

Search for the Cuyahoga Kaiju Club on Facebook and join in the fun-

 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Postcards from G-FEST XX: It's Pigmon!


Thursday's double-double feature is always a great start to G-FEST. What could be better than watching four kaiju flicks knowing that the whole weekend is ahead of you? This year there were a few sweet surprises at the evening showing. One was a Pacific Rim trailer, and the other was an entire episode of the original Ultraman, "The Small Hero," which features Pigmon and the feather-wielding Geronimon. The Science Patrol on the big Pickwick screen was an unexpected treat.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Total Kaos at Packrat Comics

Bryan "Stratos" Borgman begins his intro to Kaiju Kaos
 
 Bryan Borgman, creator of the tabletop game "Kaiju Kaos," invited us to a demonstration of his game at Packrat Comics in Hilliard, Ohio, and we are glad he did. It is a testimony to Bryan's game engineering and patient teaching ability that in less than a half an hour, our kaiju were duking it out, and we were having a lot of fun.

Kaos is about to strike!
 
Packrat Comics hosted this event, and this was our first time visiting. Quite frankly, we were blown away by this store. Behind its unassuming door lies a vast array of comics, gaming supplies, and collectibles. G-fans take note: S.H. Monster Arts and X-Plus are both represented here; a careful sweep through both floors (!) will yield some treats. I don't want to say too much, as we intend to return in the near future, and we don't want to see the walls bare!
 
"How do you double-punch again? When can I throw my rock?"
 
 The version of the game we learned was a streamlined, one-on-one battle simulation. Once you get into the basic flow of the game, there is a satisfying give and take that occurs, like a kaiju fight that you would see in a movie. Your monster can advance, parry blows, evade attack, and, of course, fight, using claws, rocks, beam weapons and more. Depending on what you roll, you can miss a punch, or decimate your opponent. There is strategy, imagination, and big helpings of over-the-top monster fun to be had. We were absolute newbies coming in to this experience, and still were able to pick this up relatively quickly. Once we get past being self conscious about rules and scoring formulas, the rhythm of the battles will become more natural and it should be even more fun to play. Even if you don't consider yourself a "gamer," Godzilla fans owe it to themselves to give this a try. You will be amazed at how the action mimics the combat portrayed in your favorite films, and you just might gain a new perspective on your favorite hobby!

Bigfoot vs. Earwig: a conflict you will only see in Kaiju Kaos
 
For more information about Kaiju Kaos, go here. Bryan maintains a Facebook presence for the game here. And visit Packrat Comics here, but go in person if you can!
 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Postcards from G-FEST XX: The Pickwick and Park Ridge

A happy sign of summer

This year, the G-FEST experience began more abruptly than in years past. We drove from home to the Chicago area in one day, and were up and at 'em on Thursday, itching to get to Park Ridge.

(When I say we were itching, I mean that literally...we woke up Thursday morning peppered with very itchy bites. Sue got the worst of it. We had obvious concerns about bed bugs (which we brought home once from a Columbus, Ohio hotel), but the bites didn't fit the profile. I'm fairly certain that we had gotten nailed by a biting fly that was buzzing around home just before we left. It wasn't a big deal, but it was a deal. These really hurt. Fortunately, the immersive experience that is G-FEST took our minds off of the discomfort most of the time.)

As I was saying, we got to Park Ridge early, in order to hit Trader Joes and to take in the annual "Taste of Park Ridge" sidewalk sale that has coincided with G-FEST for a number of years running. (It makes for some minor parking headaches, but we've got our "secret" spots that are almost always available.) I'm glad we arrived when we did, because the Pickwick Theater had a stack of two-sided movie posters on a table, and Andy and I were able to score this Pacific Rim poster for the whopping price of $4.00. It'll cost 6 times that much to get it framed, but it will be worth every penny, and more importantly, it was one of those cool "lucky" moments that G-FEST memories are made of.

Our $4 Pickwick Pacific Rim Poster



From the Pickwick Box Office
They weren't kidding about the projector.
More on that later.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Kaiju Kaos Demo Day: August 10

 
Our friend Bryan Borgman will be running free demos of his game Kaiju Kaos: Smackdown at Packrat Comics on Saturday, August 10th beginning at Noon. All materials will be provided so just show up and learn how to play.
 
 Bryan recommends ages 8 and up but younger can work with adult help/supervision. Once learned, the game can be played in 15 minutes or less! If you like what you see, minifigures and rules will be available for purchase.

3864 Lattimer StreetHilliard, Ohio 43026
 

Dr. AC's G-FEST XX


We've met a number of great people thanks to this hobby/fandom/mutual Godzilla geekery. One who is a real kindred spirit is Aaron Christensen, writer for HorrorHound magazine. He offers a comprehensive retrospective of G-FEST XX at his blog, which you can access here. Until next year, it was great to see you, Dr. AC!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

G-FEST XX: Gone Too Soon

One week ago, G-FEST was in full swing--actually, it was more than half over. Godzilla vs. Megaguirus was just beginning to screen. We had decided to stay in and watch the latest Ultraman movie on "G-TV." It had been a briskly paced, adrenaline-fueled day, as G-FEST days generally are. Those who were there are already looking back wistfully at the twentieth Godzilla get-together--and looking forward to the next. Over the next several weeks we will share our memories with you of our family's fifth journey to the heart of kaiju fandom. It more than lived up to expectations--it's not every day you get to shake hands with Godzilla, after all!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

G-FEST XX Box Office Flyer


Thursday, June 20, 2013

G-FEST Junior: A Look Back

This heretofore unpublished article looks back at last year's G-FEST Kid's Thread. This year's thread will have nearly three times as many offerings for young participants!


 
 
G-FEST is an event that nurtures the child in each participant; at the same time, a growing number of the participants are actually still children. With that in mind, G-FEST XIX featured coursework aimed right at our youngest students. The half hour sessions informed and entertained kaiju kids and their families in a classroom filled to capacity.
 
First up, the Dean of Kaiju U., J.D. Lees, gave a crash course in Japanese language, with an emphasis on monster nomenclature. Students spoke the names of their favorite creatures, and Mr. Lees explained their Japanese roots. One fact that delighted the class was the revelation that "Hedorah" can mean "to vomit." It was an enlightening way to start the school day.
 
Next, Tom Tvrdik, whose work has repeatedly graced the pages of G-FAN, delighted each aspiring artist with the gift of a Far East Monsters coloring poster and turned them loose. The Crowne Plaza's Haneda room became a makeshift studio, as kids and parents alike unleashed their creativity. Mr. Tvrdik actively shared tips for coloring and shading, but also let each artist experiment for him or herself. His generosity made for a very memorable session.




 
Doctor of Ultraman Studies Tim Bean began his presentation with many students still engaged in activity, but he quickly commanded attention with a video presentation of Ultraman toys. The classroom was soon transfixed by images from Japan's Bandai Museum and Mr. Bean's own extensive collection. The discussion took an even more interactive turn when he produced an authentic Beta Capsule and ray pistol. The questions and answers were flying--our instructor successfully fanned the flame of interest in Ultra collecting!



 
 
Finally, associate professor of kaiju history Mark Matzke provided the ambitious "Diary of a Kaiju: All of Godzilla's Films in Thirty Minutes." Accompanied by a slide for each movie, Mr. Matzke filled the air with fun facts about the entire Godzilla series, only occasionally stopping to breathe. Students had the chance to remember favorite flicks or look for new movies to view. 

 
 
Then, all too quickly, school was out. Nevertheless, it was great to witness the proficiency and enthusiasm of the students in attendance. Many thanks to the faculty of Kaiju University for sharing their expertise with a new generation of G-Fans!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pickwick Preview

This photo, taken at the Pickwick Theater box office in Park Ridge, IL, surfaced on Facebook yesterday. Can't wait!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

G-FEST XX Countdown Begins



Artist Tom Tvrdik shares his knowledge at last year's Kids' Thread

 
One month from today, G-FEST XX will be in full swing, and we have begun to prepare for it in earnest. For the second year in a row, the "brains" (and I use that term loosely) behind this blog are overseeing the G-FEST Kid's Thread, which is informally being referred to as "G-FEST Junior" (as a tip of the cap to the G-FAN Junior insert in recent issues and the Godzilla Junior character from "G. vs. Destoroyah"). We are somewhat stunned to report that there will be almost three times as many sectionals as last year, jumping from four to eleven, with an influx of new volunteer presenters to complement the veterans returning to the lineup. All of last year's "Kaiju U." faculty will be back, including J.D. Lees, Tom Tvrdik, and Tim Bean.
 
This year, sectional titles include "How to Draw Kaiju," "Ultraman 101,""Gamera: A Friend to All Children,""Godzilla Story Time," and "Intro to Kaiju Kaos: Smackdown," a game demonstration run by its creator, Bryan Borgman. Also this year we are introducing "Kaiju Kids Quiz Show," which, as the title suggests, is an interactive game show experience that will yield special prizes for lucky participants. (Prizes include Godzilla comics, issues of G-FAN, and, yes, perhaps, even toys.) If you are attending G-FEST XX, please stop by G-FEST Junior (we'll probably be downstairs again) and say hello. We'll have lots of fun and giveaways aplenty!
 
Artist Matt H. with Andy

 
Looking forward to this year's films ramps up the excitement even more. Thursday's first feature is "Twenty Million Miles to Earth," Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion tour-de-force. Meant as a salute to the late special effects titan, "TMME" also happens to be a atmospheric, well-paced story, and the Ymir creature is instantly recognizable by sci-fi fans. Not surprisingly, Harryhausen imbues the space monster with a depth of feeling that is the hallmark of his work, making the reptilian a sympathetic character.

Next up will be Shusuke Kaneko's epic "Gamera 3: Awakening of Iris." At the risk of waxing hyperbolic, there are moments of transcendent awe in this movie, such as the flight and graceful (?) touchdown of final-form Iris. It's a serious film, yet completely fun and engrossing.

After a break for supper, it's on to a pair of pictures from 1967, the first being "Gamera vs. Gyaos." I remember as a kid being fascinated by Gyaos' beam and its ability to pierce Gamera's exterior. I also appreciate the angular and vicious quality of the Gyaos suit. He seems irredeemably mean, which makes him the perfect foil for the friendly turtle Gamera.

Last but not least, we will be treated to "The X from Outer Space," and I am very excited because I have somehow never seen this movie before. I've seen its satirical sequel, "Monster X Strikes Back" (and even reviewed it for G-FAN), but the original has escaped me, until this summer. The G-FAN website describes it as "weird" with a "peculiar charm," and that's good enough for me. It's not often one sees a "new" movie at G-FEST, so when it happens, it's memorable.

Friday night will see the screening of "Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla," an ambitious G-flick that wants to tell a dynamic story and succeeds, some of the time. There are a lot of elements to "G. vs. SG" that are clearly meant to appeal to children, and do--kids seem to love MOGERA a lot and Little Godzilla a little bit less. Many of the Birth Island scenes are top notch. Unfortunately, some of the space scenes, as well as portions of the final face-off, are embarrassingly bad from a spfx standpoint, straining the suspension of disbelief to the breaking point of even the most ardent fan. Overall, though, "Spacegodzilla" has a sort of 70's vibe to it that I can't help but enjoy.

Saturday night's entry is "Godzilla vs. Megaguirus," one of the best Millenium series films, in which it truly seems that the big G faces insurmountable odds, as human technology and its unforeseen consequences align to pose serious threats to his survival. Every time I watch it, it's always better than I remember it being, so I have modest hope that seeing in the G-FEST context will bring out the film's best qualities. We can't wait to walk through the doors of the venerable Pickwick Theater again!



Our G-friend from FL, Chris, and Andy






 
Finally, we're looking forward to seeing a special group of people that we are privileged to now consider our friends. G-FEST has become for us a reunion of sorts, as well as an opportunity to meet others who "get it," who share a sense of wonder and camaraderie over this specific imaginative world. It's a very unique bond, one that we build our summers around, and here we are, less than a month away from enjoying it once more. We'll be counting the days to G-FEST XX!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Big Fun Columbus!


Vintage Star Wars fans, get your drool cups out starting...now

Our friend Jason F. Williams has opened a new toy shop in Columbus, Ohio. It's called Big Fun Columbus. The Short North District will never be the same!

Ultraman and Jesus...welcome to my internal world...

BFC applies the formula of the Big Fun stores in Cleveland (not to mention Jason's Spaceman Floyd's Cosmic Toys, formerly of Madison, Ohio) to central Ohio in a fantastic location, right on North High Street.

An interior shot of Big Fun...note the vintage lunchboxes

It will be intriguing to watch the "collection" change over time as Columbus toy geeks get acclimated to the place. Hopefully it will bring strange and unusual stuff to the surface.

Some "scores" from BFC: a Bigfoot Air Freshener and Little Godzilla!

At this point in time,  kaiju-related goods are a little thin; we walked out with our first Little Godzilla action figure. (The large Ultraman isn't for sale. There were a few Mothras, a small Red King figure, and some American Bandais to be found.) I'm sure that will change over time as word-of-mouth takes hold.

 If you are ever in downtown Columbus, Ohio, you have to have some Big Fun.

Big Fun is located at 672 North High Street, Columbus, OH 43215

 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Monster Memory

The Monsterland crew with Loren Coleman

A couple weeks ago we had the distinct pleasure of meeting someone whose writing has fired the imagination of numerous readers. His name is Loren Coleman, and if the name sounds familiar to you, it is because he is the foremost cryptozoologist in North America and quite probably the world. Mr. Coleman has earned that distinction not only through the publication of many thought-provoking books, but also by making quite a few television appearances on shows such as MonsterQuest. His main project these days involves serving as curator of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine. For more about the museum, go here.

Coleman's book "Mysterious America" was a landmark book for me; up until then I was primarily interested in Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, but "Mysterious America" unfolded a far stranger picture of reality that was far closer to home than I ever expected. Of great interest to me still is the "name game," as Coleman refers to it, which is a way of describing the link between strange phenomena and the name of the place where it is experienced. For example, the word "devil" in a place name (Devil's Lake, Devil's Pass, and so on) is often a signal that weird things have long been connected with a given location. "Mysterious America" was also my introduction to the name Charles Fort and the adjective "fortean." (If you want more on Fort go here. ) I have fond memories of repeatedly checking the book out from my local library, and can still see its black and white cover in my mind's eye. (That was, I believe, the first edition.) In writing an article about "The Legend of Boggy Creek" for Mad Scientist #22, I relied on Coleman's "Bigfoot: The True Story of Apes in America" for information and inspiration, and was happy to learn that at least one person got a big kick out of the retrospective (Letters, MS #24).

Getting to speak with Loren Coleman was a dream come true for me, but what was even better was finding out that he was a genuinely kind and decent man who took the time to remember Andy's name and encourage him in his studies. It was also great fun to talk with him about Toho's "Half Human," which was his childhood entry point into the world of the unexplained. (This link takes you to a previous post here at M.O., which serves as a reminder that Mr. Coleman was interviewed by Brett Homenick in G-FAN #69 specifically about "Half Human." All these connections boggle the mind.)

And did I mention it was Andy's tenth birthday? It was one we will never, ever forget.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

G-FEST XX Updates


G-FEST XX is on the horizon, and plans are rounding into shape. This year's guests are suitmaker Shinichi Wakasa and suit actor Tsutomu Kitagawa, both of whom were involved in the Millennium Series. G-FEST stalwart Robert Scott Field (Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah) will also be on hand. Another intriguing guest will be filmmaker Shizuo Nakajima, whose "Wolfman, the Legendary Colossal Beast vs. Godzilla" made quite a stir when it was shown in part at last year's G-FEST.

On the movie front, "Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla," "Gamera vs. Gaos" and "Gamera 3: Awakening of Irys" have been announced, but no times have been set as of this writing. The Thursday double-double feature is happening again this year for those who enjoy the "full immersion" experience. (I most certainly do.)

The programming this year will include the return of the G-FEST Kid's Thread, which offers children of all ages lots of Godzilla goodness. We here at Monsterland Ohio have the privilege of organizing this portion of G-FEST. If you will be at G-FEST XX and would be willing to lead a 20-30 minute session for a bunch of kaiju kids, please drop us a line at matzkemark@hotmail.com.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Stunning Godzilla News!




The good folks at Legendary Pictures have released this photograph, announcing that Akira Takarada has indeed filmed a cameo for Legendary's "Godzilla." He is pictured here with director Gareth Edwards.

Super-fan Tim Bean has been leading the charge for a couple years to persuade the folks at Legendary to cast Takarada in the film. A few rumors were circulating that the distinguished actor had been spotted in Vancouver, but nothing had been substantiated...until now.

It is difficult to overstate how much goodwill this news will create among hardcore Godzilla fans. It sends the message that Legendary "gets it" and will not squander this opportunity to bring Godzilla to a worldwide audience.

Friday, February 15, 2013

G-FAN: Final Poll


Issue 102 of G-FAN is putting out the call to all kaiju fans--it is time to have your opinion duly noted! G-FAN: Final Poll is your chance to sound off on all things giant and Japanese. Although having a copy of G-FAN in hand is always preferable, anyone with internet access can participate. Go here to get started.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

MSN Godzilla


Not exactly sure why, but MSN Nerdcore is running a minute-and-a-half, somewhat arbitrary "Godzilla's Best Movies" slideshow. Whatever--it's Godzilla, right? Is this a preview of the cultural ripples that Legendary's Godzilla will be making? Watch for yourself here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

One of a Kind



Our "Invasion of Astro-Monster" poster signed by Akira Takarada

We just received G-FAN #102 in the mail. Included in this issue is the earlybird registration form for G-FEST, which always inspires a little daydreaming around these parts. Readers of this blog will know that G-FEST is a big deal for our family and has become a centerpiece of our summers. It provides fans of Japanese monsters and fantasy with opportunities that are exceedingly rare, such as the chance to come face to face with stars of the genre. Above you see the autograph that was given to us by Akira Takarada this past year, and it is hard to put into words what it is like to have met and thanked people like him. It certainly adds a new dimension to these films to know that you have shaken hands with the actors, and they now have a sense of how much Western fans enjoy their work. All of which is to say that if you have never been to a G-FEST before but have an interest in going, you need to find a way to get there, at least once. I think you will be amazed by the creativity and comraderie you will discover.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tweet Godzilla to Death!


G-FEST and G-FAN are now represented on twitter! To become a follower, go here.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mad Scientist Shipping Soon

 
The most excellent fanzine Mad Scientist (Issue # 26) is ready for pre-order and should be shipping soon. Just look at that cover! To secure your own copy, please go here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ultraman's Scrapbook

Looking back on G-FEST 19, one moment that stands out was a Sunday panel with Bin Furuya. While answering questions about his career, he also brought a few tangible items from his personal collection that were pretty impressive. One of those items was his own photo scrapbook, which he freely shared with us participants. It was a rare opportunity for Western fans to flip through the pages of Ultraman's scrapbook!
In this still from Monster Zero, Nick Adams and Akira Takarada are in the orange flight suits. Mr. Furuya is one of the black and grey Xians.


This is a great shot of Bin Furuya and his alter ego.



A gathering of Ultra-heroes: Kohji Moritsugu (Dan Moroboshi from Ultraseven); Susumu Kurobe (Shin Hayata from Ultraman) and Bin Furuya (Ultraman's man in the suit).


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Sayonara 2012




The Monsterland Ohio Boys meet Ultraman, Bin Furuya
2012 is in the books, and here at Monsterland Ohio it's time to look back on a pretty huge year. Those who care to check this blog out from time to time no doubt noticed a big fat chunk of no posts from September until now. Suffice it to say that my vocation demanded a great deal of my energy and attention over that stretch. The time is right to get back in the game, especially with big kaiju-related treats on the horizon.

The year began with a bang: we had the rare opportunity to attend a filming of Animal Planet's hit series "Finding Bigfoot" and meet the cast. The questions we were given to ask ended up being included, and ever since the episode aired we have had people mention the fact that they had seen us on TV. Although the "best-of" show never ended up on iTunes, I'm hopeful that it will be included on future DVD releases. We were expecially pleased that cast member Ranae Holland visited the blog and gave it a glowing review on her Facebook fan page.

Another highlight of 2012 was having articles included in G-FAN issues 98 and 100. By strange serendipity, my transcript of a panel called "Discovering the Daikaiju Genre" appeared in the milestone hundredth issue, and seemed to fit perfectly from a thematic standpoint. (I have Martin Arlt to thank, so thank you, Martin!)

G-FEST XIX lived up to the hype (and then some). The dynamic duo of Akira Takarada and Bin Furuya helped attract an unprecedented number of fans. We were happy to contribute to the festivities with a Kid's Thread that went very well, and I had the fun of being invited to participate in a panel at the last minute. On a personal note, having my mom and dad on hand made this a very special occasion, in addition to renewing friendships with our kaiju friends from across the globe. The unique fellowship among G-FESTers is one of the main reasons this gathering has become an annual event for us, and we hope to bring more family and friends along for G-FEST XX.


with Robert Scott Field at G-FEST XIX


It was a good year for home video releases. Chief among them was Criterion's Blu-ray release of "Godzilla," featuring David Kalat's commentary track. The Blu-ray release of "Godzilla vs. Biollante" was a pleasant surprise. Christmas additions to our collection were the UltraSeven series and Daimajin trilogy. There should be plenty to watch and review in 2013.

The end of the year was puntcuated by a meeting of the Cuyahoga Kaiju Club. We were able to get together to enjoy some "traditional monster violence." S.H. MonsterArts figures have become very popular with some in the club, and it was cool to see figures like Mechagodzilla up close. Hopes are pretty high for "Pacific Rim" and what it might mean for the impending Legendary Godzilla film. Even though we were there very briefly, it was great to see everyone in the CKC, and it sounds like our group is going to be well represented at G-FEST XX.

We wish you monster fun in 2013!