Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Discovered Under the Christmas Tree Pt. Two

Bandai Mechagodzilla and Godzilla 1954

Monday, December 28, 2009

Discovered Under the Christmas Tree Pt. One

West Kenji Super-Deformed Minya and Godzilla

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Godzilla on Vinyl

Here's a photo of the Wonderland L.P. that I have enjoyed for years and years. It still plays great and is a imaginative slice of the 70's. I've submitted an article about it to G-FAN. If anyone has any insights about its development, please post a comment here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Our Very Own Daikaiju

Things have slowed down considerably here at Monsterland Ohio with the adoption of Theo, our five-year-old Newfoundland. He's our gentle giant and a wonderful companion. He's also received almost all our waking attention! Postings here will be more infrequent for a while, but please check back occasionally. Thanks for your ongoing interest.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Play-Dough Godzilla!

Inspired by our visit with Matt E. (a.k.a. Kaiju Modeler), Andy and I cooked up a Play-Dough Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah diorama. King Ghidorah's heads kept drooping so we had to take this picture fast!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Perry Library Patron of the Month

Andy was honored as Perry Library "Patron of the Month" for December 2009. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see what was on the library website (and his "G-Mazing Collection" in the background)!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Give You...Kong!

Here at Monsterland Ohio it has become a tradition to watch the original King Kong on Thanksgiving night. This is part homage to UHF station traditions of the past; part recollection of seeing Kong at my grandparents' house as a kid; and part making new memories as a family today. At any rate, it is as good an excuse as any for a viewing of the standard-setting, granddaddy giant monster epic.

The story of Kong needs no synopsis, so here are a few full-bellied impressions of the classic creature feature.

I was struck by the casting this time around. Each character is embodied by the perfect actor for the task. Everyone seems tailor-made for their role. I especially like Robert Armstrong's cocksure Carl Denham. Fay Wray's Ann Darrow is more than just a "scream queen," yet with none of the "I-think-I'm-falling-for-the-big-guy" sentimentality of the Peter Jackson version.

I have come to appreciate the Max Steiner score (the opening theme of descending notes is almost as hair-raising as Ifukube's regal Godzilla marches), but what really stood out during this viewing were the moments when the score drops out completely, heightening the drama of the on-screen action (such as the time when the poor lug (who inexplicably climbs the tree) becomes a carnivorous dino snack).

Then there's Kong. What makes people want to watch him is that he is not merely a special effect. Willis O'Brien succeeded in creating a character, one frame of film at a time. There's no question Kong is a monster, stomping, chewing and killing the relatively innocent with wild abandon--and yet most viewers hate to see the big gorilla take that final, loose-limbed plunge off the Empire State. Garnering such sympathy would be a pretty nifty piece of acting--but we're talking about an immobile wire-and-fur figure given the illusion of life and movement through a painstaking photographic process. The result is an instantly recognizable personality, and the technique used to render that character enhances his singularity and eccentricities. While some might decry stop-motion as antiquated, I am of the opinion that the method only adds to the particularity of Kong as a unique creature.

Entire books have been written about the subtext(s) of King Kong and what allegories may or may not present themselves in the story. The beauty of Kong is that, for all such philosophising (intriguing as it is), the film is still enjoyable on its own terms--as a rip-roaring, exotic action picture that seeks simply to astound, and does so, royally.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from Mark, Sue and Andy here at Monsterland Ohio. We're thankful for our fellow G-FANs and everyone who has shared the kaiju experience with us!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Visit with Kaiju Modeler

We recently had the pleasure of spending some time with Ohio's own Kaiju Modeler, Matt Evangelista. We invited him via e-mail to come check out Andy's G-Mazing Collection at the Perry Public Library, and he accepted! What added to the fun was that Matt offered to bring in some of his completed models for inclusion in the G-Mazing Collection. He brought an awesome "Son of Godzilla" diorama, a menacing Godzilla 1954 (complete with train in mouth--see below) and a exceptional Godzilla 1984. Andy eagerly made room for them in the display case.

We spent the better part of an hour talking about all things Godzilla. Matt gave us a crash course in model-building technique and he's got us pretty much hooked on the idea of trying our hand at it (plus now we've got an expert to consult!). We had such a good time that later the comment was made that it was like our own mini-G-FEST. (Interestingly, we had to meet Matt at G-FEST 16 (in Chicago) in order to find out he lives less than twenty miles away from us in Northeast Ohio!)
Not only was Matt generous with his time and personal collection, but he also brought Andy some extraordinary G-gifts, including two copies of Hobby Japan magazine that have become quickly absorbed and have given new meaning to the phrase, "Christmas Wish List." We'd like to sincerely thank Matt for his unexpected kindness. Like Andy said, "We've got a new G-friend." You couldn't ask for a cooler Thanksgiving gift.
More great photos of Matt's work will be submitted to G-FAN magazine along with an article about the G-Mazing Collection's November run at the library. Those shots will eventually surface here, too.
Click the "Kaiju Modeler" link in the right-hand column for a look at some great models Matt has to offer.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Budding Kaiju Artist Presents: Megalon!

Rise, Megalon! Straight from Andy's sketchpad, here is Seatopia's mighty avenger, ready to right the undersea kingdom's wrongs.

Keep watching Monsterland Ohio for some exciting news regarding our "G-Mazing Collection" display at the Perry Library!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Marvel Comics' "Godzilla" Issue # 3 "A Tale of Two Saviors"

Synopsis: Godzilla surfaces in San Francisco, threatening the Golden Gate Bridge. The L.A.-based superhero squad "The Champions" are alerted to Godzilla's appearance, and speed to the rescue in the "Champscraft," landing on the Golden Gate Bridge itself. In the meantime, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s helicarrier is also heading for Godzilla, setting up a clash not only between man and monster, but competing "first responder" teams. Their efforts do nothing to prevent the destruction of the bridge, and Godzilla once again heads back out to sea.

High Point: The destruction of the Golden Gate Bridge deserved a bigger panel, but it remains the payoff moment of this issue.

Low Point: The Champions' Hercules (yes, that Hercules--even though in the Marvel universe Hercules speaks in Elizabethan English...and I quote: "Dost thou know to whom thou speakest, mortal?") "succeeds in the impossible" by straining, Altas-style, under one of Godzilla's feet until he flips Godzilla on his back. I mean, come on.

Hmmm Moment: The theme of "Godzilla as a friend to good-hearted humans" is expanded, ever so slightly, as he "almost playfully" crushes the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier's dorsal fin. Again I quote: "Later one of the crew will liken the curious gesture to that of a wistful uncle tweaking his cute nephew's button nose. The crewman, it should be mentioned, is far more perceptive than anyone suspects...including himself."

Bottom Line: The same story arc has now been repeated three times: Godzilla attacks; defense forces engage him; they are ineffectual in stopping the Big G; and he rides off into the sunset. The most promising storyline--the construction of the anti-Godzilla weapon--is dangled for one page to make sure the reader is still hanging around. The introduction of true comic book superheroes marks a change in tone, taking the series out of the realm of science fiction and into the universe of comic fantasy. There is something fun about that, yet the mix of kaiju and superhero seems uneasy at best--and at worst (i.e. Herc's flip move) it lapses into absurdity. For better or for worse, the series is about to take an even stranger turn...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

More "G-Mazing" Photos

Here's another shelf from the Perry Library set-up, with one of my favorite G-FAN covers in the background. Thanks to our friends and family who have stopped by to check it out!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Five Fantastic Features of War of the Gargantuas

A recent viewing of War of the Gargantuas inspired me to jot down a few things that make this film completely awesome.

1. The Green Gargantua. Call him Gaila, Gaira, or just "the green one," this is one of Toho's most irredeemably evil monsters. He eats people and spits out their clothes; he turns on his "brother" who is just trying to help; he's mad at the world. The flashback scene where Gaila is swimming after the sailors is really unsettling. It sets the tone that this is one malevolent (and unforgettable) being.

2. The Plot and Pacing. Going in, you know there are two Gargantuas, but everything is set up in such a way that there is still a sense of surprise when Sanda shows up. The film never goes for long without showing a Gargantua in action, which is a plus.

3. Really Special Effects. This is a no-brainer, of course, but the effects are so good in War of the Gargantuas that they deserve special mention. Part of the quality has to do with the fact that the Gargantuas are not, in fact, gargantuan, which means that the models they destroy are larger and more richly detailed than most. The Gargantua costumes are weirdly anthropomorphic and enhanced by the visible eyes of the actors, which adds tremendously to their realism. I also love the scene where the maser tanks are mowing down the forest as they attack Gaila, and the trees fall over in a laser-straight line. Perfect!

4. Mizuno, Sahara, and Tamblyn. It would easy to pan Russ Tamblyn's performance as the world's most non-committal scientist, but I say it takes hard work to project such ambivalence. OK, I'm kidding. But there is this ambiguity between him and Kumi Mizuno that is just barely resolved near the end, all done very tastefully. And while Tamblyn and Mizuno are out taking walks in the woods, Sahara's character stoically does all the real research and fieldwork. Poor guy.

5. The Words Get Stuck In My Throat. The only way this scene could have been improved is if Gaila had actually eaten Kipp Hamilton, thereby becoming stuck in his throat.

Monday, November 9, 2009

G-Mazing Collection @ PPL

Here's a close-up of one of the display shelves. The figure third from the right is the Prometheus robot from the Ultraman Tiga & Ultraman Dyna movie.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Perry Library "Project G" is a Go (Go Godzilla!)

On Godzilla's 55th birthday, Andy and I descended upon the Perry Public Library ready to unveil the "G-Mazing Collection." We had a great time putting everything in place and watching the reaction of kids who happened to be wandering by at the time (not to mention their parents).

Our first step was to remove the former collection's background, which didn't take long. Then we posted carefully selected G-FAN covers and artwork as the background. The effect was quite striking and would be a great display all on its own!

Then Andy began placing his figures on the glass shelves. With only a few hints from Dad, he did a great job with spacing and balance, and got things looking just right. We also agreed on a high visibility spot for our Kenji Sahara photograph and signature.

We had so many leftover copies of G-FAN covers and artwork that we gave the rest to Ms. Kara Cervelli, the children's librarian--so if you stop by the exhibit, ask for your own mini-poster souvenir!

We plan to do a full write-up of our experience and submit it, along with some great photos, to G-FAN Magazine. We will post some more shots of the finished display in the near future, too. If you have the opportunity, please stop by and take a look, and let us know what you think by leaving us a comment here!
The Perry Public Library is located at 3753 Main Street, Perry, Ohio 44081.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Preparations Completed for Perry Public Library "Project G"

The Perry Public Library in Perry, Ohio has a large display case in its children's section that houses various collections on a monthly basis. Andy reserved the case for the month of November and is going to share his Godzilla collection with Lake County!
Our preparation began by going through issues of G-FAN magazine and selecting artwork that we wanted to include as the backdrop of the collection. That activity was fun in and of itself!
Next, Andy chose which figures and memorabilia he was going to include in the display case. He decided to include Kenji Sahara's autograph that he got at this summer's G-FEST, with a note describing Mr. Sahara's career.
We are all set. Tonight we get to go to the library and set everything up. We both hope that people enjoy what they see. We also hope that they might want to find out more about Godzilla and G-FAN magazine!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Big Fun at...Big Fun!

A couple Sundays ago we very literally stumbled across an amazing toy store appropriately named "Big Fun."

At this location (we would soon learn there is more than one) you are greeted by a silver robot that plays James Brown hits nonstop! And while that is undeniably cool, it can't begin to rival the sensation of walking into Big Fun for the first time and experiencing sensory overload unlike anything since the G-FEST Dealer's Room. Big Fun specializes in vintage toys--and by "vintage" I mean Kenner Star Wars, original Transformers, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe-era toys. I mean Fraggle Rock and E.T. plush. It is a time machine of epic proportions. Elvis and the Beatles memorabilia blends with Michael Jackson and Wham! paraphernalia. Old library card catalogs house countless plastic trinkets, erasers, pencil toppers, and the like. The Wizard of Oz, Popeye, Marvel and D.C. comic heroes--all are represented in one form or another.

While visiting the store pictured here (near Lakewood, Ohio) we learned there was another Big Fun--the original Big Fun--in Cleveland Heights, so we visited there recently too. Of course, it was not quite the same "wow" factor upon entering, but their selection was even better!

What I mean is that the original Big Fun had far more in the way of Japanese superheroes and robots. There were Shogun Warriors, Kamen Rider, and Macross toys all carefully stored in glass cases. But my son really hit the jackpot when he spotted five loose Super Deformed Ultraman figures that became ours for an insanely reasonable price. You see them pictured here, along with the only Godzilla figures to be found--a series of Imperial-like monsters in variable hues. Inexpensive to begin with, the nice guys at Big Fun knocked a dollar apiece off our big G's. Maybe our enthusiasm will lead to more Godzilla merch in the future!

If you're ever in the Cleveland area, you owe it to yourself to experience Big Fun's nostalgic head rush. It is one of the hidden gems of the North Coast--we've been here for eleven years and had no idea it existed! Now that we know, it is destined to become an old haunt. Let us know if we can go and look for something for you--that would give us a reason to go back sooner than later!

For more info about Big Fun, including store locations and hours, visit http://bigfunbigfun.com/

Thursday, October 29, 2009

G-FAN Magazine # 81 "No Tricks, Just Treats"

A blog posting by Brett Homenick led me back to issue #81 of G-FAN, and I am glad it did. This may have been the second issue I received via subscription, and it was a fun one to revisit.
Things get off to a solid start with "Singing for the Smog Monster," Homenick's interview with Adryan Russ, the co-writer and singer of "Save the Earth." Her memories of writing and recording the song are vivid, and she seemed genuinely pleased to have been contacted about it. That is followed by Homenick's discussion with Don Frye of Godzilla: Final Wars, who wins the reader over with his humility (he describes himself as "a giraffe on roller skates on an ice pond" in relation to other actors). Mike Bogue salutes It Came from Beneath the Sea, noting that Eiji Tsuburaya seemed to have a thing for octopi.
"Godzilla's Most Embarrasing Moments" comes next. Ken Bockelman does a fine job pointing out Godzy's goofiest gaffes (led by "The Neverending Drop Kick" from Godzilla vs. Megalon).
Don Jolly's "Growing Up with G-FAN" is a heartfelt tribute to the 'zine itself. Most Godzilla lovers will find it easy to relate to Jolly's enthusiasm and his description of the sometimes solitary nature of G-fandom.
Homenick returns with interviews of George Touliatos and Michael Lennick, both of whom worked on Virus.
Mark Justice's "Shinto Symbolism in Toho's Daikaiju Eiga" helps provide subtext for the films' prevalent images. One minor quibble I have with the article is that it neglects to mention the Christian symbolism especially evident in the Japanese version of Mothra--although that admittedly falls outside its stated scope.
Brett Homenick talks to Godzilla: Final Wars' Jonathan Legg, who shares an amusing anecdote about Don Frye's arm wrestling prowess.
John Le May's "Up From the Depths" is a kaiju-inspired sampling of real-life lake monster reports, drawing on the works of cryptozoologists such as Loren Coleman and Karl Shuker. I am always happy to see such articles in G-FAN, as I think there is a natural cross-over between an enjoyment of giant cinematic monsters and an open-mindedness regarding the potential existence of such creatures in our world.
Mike Bogue's "Alternate Monsterverse" is a testament to his own creativity and imagination, growing up, as he did, with nary a Bandai figure (or even a Shogun Warriors Godzilla) with which to play.
Armand Vaquer contributes an interview with genre historian August Ragone, who talks about the path his Tsuburaya biography took to publication, along with sharing his memories of his first exposures to Godzilla and Ultraman. Vaquer then reviews Ragone's "Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters," rightly describing it as a "labor of love" and "one of the most important, if not the most important, movie books on Japanese science-fiction to come out in years." I couldn't agree more.
Ragone himself checks in with a remembrance of the life and personality of the multi-talented Jerry Ito. Included is a moving description of Ito's 2004 reunion with Mothra co-star Hiroshi Koizumi.
Brett Homenick presents a conversation with Luciana Paluzzi (the article that sent me back to this issue) and the star of The Green Slime speaks with candor about her surprise at the cult movie's enduring appeal and her experiences during filming.
David McRobie's "The Globe Meter" reviews a variety of treats, such as Ultraman Mebius and the Ultra Brothers and The Host (which gets a thorough and thoughtful review later in the issue).
Armand Vaquer returns with an informative look at the Fukuoka Dome, a 48,000-seat arena that is central to the action in Gamera, Guardian of the Universe. It is nice to know that the issue of "naming rights" is not purely American (the structure is now known as "The Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome)!
Also included is a highly illustrated retrospective of G-FEST XIV, which featured guests Shelley Sweeney and Rhodes Reason, and Steve Agin's traditional toyfest summary.
Issue #81 is highly informative. The spotlight on Ragone's book was especially warranted and was done well. The sheer volume and quality of Brett Homenick's interviews should not be overlooked, either. He seems to be able to bring out the best in those with whom he speaks and presents them in the best possible light. The variety of writing styles, subjects, and visuals (beginning with the ominous cover) makes this issue one that stands up to repeated, satisfying reading.

Countdown to Halloween: Day Twenty-nine

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Toybox Treasure: American Greetings Godzilla

This is my favorite American Greetings Godzilla ornament. Not only is the screen behind Godzilla lenticular, allowing for a number of images of Godzy's friends and foes, but it also has a great "soundtrack" of monster roars, culminating in the most famous roar of them all. The pose that Godzilla is in is also great fun; he's ready to launch an all-out attack if you don't wish him a Merry Christmas!

Countdown to Halloween: Day Twenty-seven

Friday, October 23, 2009

Countdown to Halloween: Day Twenty-three--Weirdly Wonderful Book Club

The Richard Gere film The Mothman Prophecies only scratches the surface of the oddities that plagued Point Pleasant, West Virginia (and the surrounding Ohio River Valley) during the original Mothman "flap." John A. Keel tells the whole unnerving story in the book that inspired the film and put Point Pleasant on the paranormal map. Keel writes about his investigation into the Mothman phenomena, which ultimately would include Men in Black, UFOs that responded to flashlight signals, inexplicable technological tampering and, of course, the all-too-real collapse of the Silver Bridge. By any standard, Keel's "The Mothman Prophecies" is a page-turner--it just happens to be a page-turner that will make you want to leave the lights on when you go to bed.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Marvel Comics' "Godzilla" Issue #2 "Seattle Under Siege/Thunder in the Darkness"

Synopsis: Godzilla comes ashore in Seattle, destroying everything in his path. Meanwhile, aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, Dum Dum Dugan confers with the Takiguchi contingent about the nature of Godzilla, and young Rob Takiguchi reveals himself to be a G-sympathizer. Godzilla approaches Seattle's Space Needle, but is diverted when S.H.I.E.L.D. first blows up the city's power plant (the city council was waiting too long to decide to turn off the grid), then lures the monster away with a chain of flashing lights (in a possible homage to Godzilla Raids Again). S.H.I.E.L.D.'s block-busters knock Godzilla into the ocean, and he swims away.

High Point: It's not a good sign when the best part of the story is another flashback--this time showing Godzilla battling non-Toho 'kaiju' and crushing Tokyo. The inclusion of the Diet Building is a nice touch, but the rest of that particular panel is marred by a very unusual perspective that makes it appear that Godzilla has tripped and is crawling along on all fours. Weird.

Low Point: Godzilla gets "bonked" off a cliff by giant S.H.I.E.L.D. sling-shot blocks. Yes, you read that right.

"Hmmm" Moment: The cover shows Godzilla effortlessly gnawing on the Space Needle, which is approximately 180 meters tall, making Marvel G almost twice as big as his largest Toho screen incarnation. Another "hmmm": the cover scene never takes place in the story (the Big G never snaps the Space Needle in two; it is clearly still intact when he is mesmerized by the S.H.I.E.L.D. light show).

Bottom Line: For the second time in two issues, S.H.I.E.L.D. battles Godzilla to a draw--not exactly an exciting pattern. A few interesting tidbits emerge (Tony Stark is named as a key player in the construction of the secret anti-G weapon; Rob Takiguchi claims (in his thoughts) to "understand Godzilla"), but they are not enough to add momentum to the plot. If anything, "Seattle Under Siege" seems like the second half of the first issue (or maybe issue #1.5) because nothing different really happens.

Countdown to Halloween: Day Twenty-two--Weirdly Wonderful Book Club

Loren Coleman's "Mysterious America" is, simply put, a Fortean classic. There's a little bit of everything here: cryptozoology; modern folklore and urban legend; an insightful study of American place names; and a host of incidents that defy easy classification. And if you have something against clowns, you will really be uncomfortable with them after reading the "Phantom Clown" chapter. All the while, Coleman reminds us that episodes of high strangeness can and do happen right in our own backyards. If you only read one "speculation" book, make it "Mysterious America."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Countdown to Halloween: Day Twenty-one--Weirdly Wonderful Book Club

Like most speculative non-fiction, Kelleher and Knapp's "Hunt For the Skinwalker" raises more questions than it answers. But oh, what creepy questions they are. Just what was going on at "Skinwalker Ranch" in Utah in the mid-to-late 90s will probably never be explained, but it appeared to involve five-foot-tall ravenous wolves; glowing orbs; UFOs of nearly every description (including classic saucers, sombrero-shaped craft, triangles and RV-sized vehicles gliding silently through the air); Native American folklore; cattle mutilation; Bigfoot; dimensional "tunnels"; and highly strange tricksterism, such as some unknown force shoving four prize-winning bulls inside a tiny trailer. "Hunt For the Skinwalker" is engrossing, well-written, and not for the easily unsettled.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Marvel Comics' "Godzilla" Issue #1 "The Coming"

Andy and I are reading our way through Marvel's "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" Essentials Collection, and I thought it would be fun to chart our progress here. For more on this eclectic series, see G-FAN issues #53 and #54 which feature in-depth interviews with writer Doug Moench and artist Herb Trimpe and more analysis.

"The Coming" begins with Godzilla laying waste to the Alaskan Pipeline. S.H.I.E.L.D. (Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law Enforcement Division), commanded by agent "Dum Dum" Dugan, arrives to battle the rampaging creature. Meanwhile, Nick Fury is shuttling Dr. Yuriko Takiguchi, his assistant Tamara Hashioka, and his grandson Rob to a rendezvous with the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, as the doctor has plans for a secret anti-G weapon. S.H.I.E.L.D. zaps Godzilla with a laser cannon, which only succeeds in infuriating the monster, and soon he has destroyed both cannon and oil camp with his radioactive fire. Godzilla lumbers away as Dum Dum is introduced to Dr. Takiguchi and crew.

High Point: The flashback sequence that "explains" Godzilla's origins. The "Destruction of Japan" panel offers the most realistic Godzilla in the issue--tellingly, it is a view of Godzy's backside.

Low Point: A toss-up between Godzilla using the Alaskan Pipeline as a giant whip and S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Operation Mosquito, which is as effective (and silly) as it sounds.

"Hmmm" Moment: Godzilla's "birth year" is reported in flashback as 1956. Evidently this is based on the release of the Americanized "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" and not the original Japanese "Godzilla" which premiered in 1954.

Bottom Line: Godzilla gets off to a decent (if abrupt) start, as long as one accepts that this story takes place in the "Marvel universe."

Countdown to Halloween: Day Twenty--Weirdly Wonderful Book Club

"Bigfoot" by B. Ann Slate and Alan Berry is one of the most bizarre studies of the subject ever written, and that's saying something. It eschews Bigfoot cliches and over-reported incidents in favor of exceedingly strange original encounters, some of which directly involve co-author Alan Berry. Published in 1976, there is an "anything goes" quality to this book: nothing is too odd to be included, whether it is a psychic conversation with Sasquatch, Bigfoot-as-UFO-occupant speculation, reports of a twelve-foot-tall (!) truck-chasing monster, suspicious "men in black" appearances at cabin doors or subterranean "factory sounds" in the Sierra Nevadas. Entertaining and often genuinely eerie, "Bigfoot" is a unique entry in the annals of Sasquatch literature.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Budding Kaiju Artist Presents: (Not) Orga!

Andy created his latest kaiju artwork waiting for our Steak and Shake order to arrive. He is insistent that this drawing does NOT depict Orga from Godzilla 2000 (perhaps he is worried about legal ramifications!). So as not to offend the artist, I present to you this drawing which in no way, shape or form is meant to represent G2K's Orga, and I'm sure you see no resemblance whatsoever.

Countdown to Halloween: Day Nineteen

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Countdown to Halloween: Day Eighteen

Mount Frightmore--Lake FarmPark

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Now Playing: Prince of Space (MST3K Edition)

For various reasons, the Mike Nelson years of Mystery Science Theater 3000 are "lost years" for me, so it was with some surprise that I discovered the film Prince of Space in one of MST3K's DVD sets. It turned out to be pretty doggone enjoyable, both on its own terms and in the MST3K context.

According to the Internet Movie Database, Prince of Space was released in 1959 by Toei studio, orginally as a mini-serial and then as an edited one-shot version in the U.S. The story centers around the Prince of Space defending Earth from the Phantom of Krankor. The Prince of Space disguises himself as a shoe-shine boy who takes care of children in his spare time and evidently is teaching them the trade! The Phantom of Krankor is one of the most hilarious villains I have ever seen, with an appropriately flamboyant "heh-heh-heh-heh" chortle that goes way over the top. Then there's the giant that guards the Krankor base...you really need to see this movie. The production values are relatively high and the print the Best Brains guys got their hands on is a beauty.

The MST3K "layer" is fun too--although towards the beginning, even they seem to be caught up in the on-screen shenanigans, to the extent that no riffing takes place for long stretches. The host segments are all take-offs on "worm-hole" sci-fi alternate realities. One of them features a brain-twisting, out-of-order conversation; in another, Mike Nelson becomes a ventriloquist-dummy-sized robot version of himself (this bit is particularly amusing, as the robot Mike joins the 'bots in the theater for a segment); and in yet another, Mike, Crow, and Tom Servo are actually filmed outside in the woods somewhere, which, to the long-time fan, is a somewhat jarring image!

The jokes are enjoyable--the film itself lobs softball after softball across the plate for the guys to hit. My laugh-out-loud moment came when the camera panned across a Japanese cityscape accompanied by the comment: "Ah, a rare Godzilla-free day." Mike and company also make passing reference to Gamera and their infamous Gamera song.

Prince of Space is worth a watch, whether you go with the MST version or not. Be forewarned, however, you will not soon forget the Phantom of Krankor's evil laugh (or his costume)!

Countdown to Halloween: Day Fifteen

Graveyard Ann