Friday, December 30, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
Merry Kaiju Christmas Pt. One
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Gigan!
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
More G-FEST Memories
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
Troll Hunting with the Cuyahoga Kaiju Club
Comparisons with "The Blair Witch Project," and "Cloverfield" are inevitable and understandable. The "found footage" approach is definitely in effect. Yet it fits the subject matter well, and a few quick establishing shots sneak into the film in an unobtrusive manner.
All that is secondary to the real attraction: big, mean, trolls. The creatures look ridiculous--like huge, storybook trolls--but within the context if the story, this only enhances their believability. If they're going to be real in the first place, why wouldn't they look exceedingly strange, almost goofy? That's not to say that the effects are lacking; on the contrary, the monsters fit seamlessly into their surroundings, and the final act, featuring a Kaiju-sized troll, is truly gripping.
"Troll Hunter" is a fascinating collision of ancient and modern folklore. On one hand, you have trolls literally lurking beneath bridges, who can smell Christian blood. On the other hand, you have secret government agencies and conspiracies working to hide the truth about such entities. "Troll Hunter" is presented with subtitles, but the real soundtrack was hilarious, good natured riffing provided by the CKC.
Next up was "Godzilla 1985," which is, to put it fairly, not the most action-packed entry in the series. The American scenes, which star Raymond Burr, reprising his role as "Mr. Martin," are almost self-consciously campy. In short, it is a Godzilla movie ripe to be riffed on, which the CKC did in grand style. Having watched it in this setting, I'm not sure I need to see it again--it could not be nearly as entertaining as the treatment it received here!
Other highlights of the evening included getting to see Tom's prototype for next year's Godzilla ornament and an archive of CKC newsletters, photos, and artwork.
The next day, we went to the Lego KidsFest in Cleveland with our friends. It is still amazing to think that a combination of Godzilla and this blog has brought such great, cool people into our lives!
Here's a shot of Lego Harrison Ford with the CKC's own Don Kaiju...
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Phantom Film Festival: The Nightmare Before Christmas
Tim Burton's stop-motion extravaganza has become a Halloween staple for us, and has been on constant rotation for the past couple days. While it is a technical masterpiece, the music and characters raise it to a greater level. The song "This is Halloween" has become a holiday anthem, and I really enjoy the Cab Calloway-esque "Oogie Boogie Man" number.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Phantom Film Festival: Matango
The movie tells a deceptively simple story of a group of Tokyo natives who are shipwrecked on a desolate island. When their rations run low, loyalties shift and civility wanes. However, there are plenty of mushrooms to eat...at a horrific cost.
There are no cheap scares here; instead, a sense of unrelenting dread builds throughout the story. Neither is there a marauding monster to be found, despite the "attack" of the anglicized title; instead, the evil strikes from within, as lust, greed, and despair drives the course of action taken by the castaways.
"Matango" is ultimately a merciless meditation on human nature, and for that reason, it just may be the scariest movie we'll watch during our film fest.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Phantom Film Festival: Werewolf of London
Henry Hull stars as a botanist-turned-lycanthrope in tonight's chiller. "Werewolf of London" feels more like a stage play than a film in some respects; there is quite a bit of dialogue in the film, along with scenes that would be more at home on the stage than they are on the screen. In that regard, it bears somewhat of a resemblance to Universal's "Dracula."
Be that as it may, this is an enjoyable werewolf movie--the transformation sequences (which really are the drawing card of such pictures) are good enough to make my 8-year-old son say "cool." It must be said, though, that the titular monster is more than a little Mr. Hyde-esque. That's not a complaint, merely an observation. I enjoyed the plot point involving Tibet, which implicitly brought together werewolf and yeti legends, if only in the imagination of the viewer.
While too civilized to be terrifying, "Werewolf of London" is atmospheric and effective, with a few moments of authentic creepiness. Hull's lycanthropy serves as a thinly veiled symbol of his workaholic tendencies, both of which wreak disastrous consequences on his marriage. Werner Oland also appears in a pivotal supporting role.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Phantom Film Festival: The Creature from Black Lake
TCFBL is different in style and tone from its thematic cousin, "The Legend of Boggy Creek." Where "Boggy" takes a docudrama approach, "Black Lake" is purely melodramatic, resulting in a less haunting but more purely entertaining viewing experience. Many scenes are played purely for laughs, a nice counterbalance to the final act, which is mostly suspenseful.
TCFBL is the story of two college students from Chicago who take it upon themselves to investigate Bigfoot reports in Louisiana. They eventually find what they're looking for, despite running afoul of local law enforcement and offending the locals. This Sasquatch rather aggressively makes it clear that he'd rather not be found, and minor mayhem ensues.
"Black Lake" benefits from a number of good ingredients: an authentic sense of place, filmed, as it was, on location in Louisiana; plenty of pitch-perfect, scenery-chewing performances from the likes of Elam and Taylor; a believable "buddy" relationship that carries the story and the wisdom to never really show the cryptid in question. Earnest, specific, and totally unheralded, this movie is a personal favorite of mine.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Phantom Film Festival Kicks Off
Lon Chaney's performance and appearance in "Phantom" leave an indelible impression, as he manages to make Erik a horrifying-- yet somehow sympathetic-- character. Despite the conventions of silent film, there are plenty of unsettling moments and images to behold. It was a fittingly creepy start to our monstrous marathon!
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Postcards from G-Fest 18: More Models
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
G-FEST XIX Dates Released
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Kaiju Modeler
Monday, September 12, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Kaiju Kindness
As the Awards Luncheon was wrapping up, we said a tentative good-bye to our guests. Here's Noriko Higuchi and Andy.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Lucky Winners
Monday, September 5, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Shinji Speaks
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Awards Luncheon
This year's Awards Luncheon was highlighted by the presence of our friends Jake and Tom. The luncheon is a nice part of the weekend--a chance to relax, enjoy a little more standard dinner fare and to let our special guests know how much they are appreciated.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Android M-11
Friday, September 2, 2011
Now Playing: Gamera the Brave
Monday, August 29, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Kaiju Kids
If you are a Godzilla fan, you either are young or young at heart. It is pretty gratifying to see the "next generation" get excited about Japanese monsters and superheroes. It's even better when friendships develop around said movies and characters. Here's Jake, Jadon, and Andy, also known as the Cuyahoga Kaiju Kids, enjoying a moment in the Dealer's Room.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Toybox Treasures
Ever since seeing an Eiji Tsuburaya vinyl figure in the book "So Crazy Japanese Toys," I've wanted to add one to the collection, but never really thought I'd see one in person, much less get my hands on one. Leave it to Linda at Chibi Goji Toys to come through for us! This is far and away my favorite purchase from this year's Dealer's Room--the Eiji Project Bset, featuring Mr. Tsuburaya and Godzilla, Gomess and Jiras. Truly spectacular!
Friday, August 26, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Mothra!
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Silent Auction
One unheralded element of G-FEST is the chance to give charitably to good causes. "G-Fans helping G-Fans" collects funds to help families dealing with autism, and this year there was a special collection for Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief. One exciting way this works is through a silent auction, through which we won two really cool items. Kudos to our friend Dave Nunes, who coordinates this part of the Fest!
G-Fans raised nearly $5000 for Japan and over $2700 for North American families this year.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Tokasatsu Room
"Tokasatsu" is Japanese for "special effects," and G-FEST now has an entire "thread" devoted to creating self-produced special effects films. This portion of the G-FEST experience evolved naturally from the Costume Contest thread, and now short films have been produced by G-FEST attendees that can be located on You Tube.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Model Room IV
Biollante takes on Godzilla in this incredible diorama. If I'm not mistaken, this was voted the "People's Choice" award winner.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Kaiju Quilt!
The creativity one encounters at G-FEST is sometimes downright jaw-dropping. Take, for instance, this Godzilla quilt. I stood up on a chair to take this picture, looking down at the quilt that was resting on a table. Wouldn't you love a whole bedroom set like this? Well, I would.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Andy got this Ultraman bank on eBay from a seller in Hong Kong. Since returning from G-FEST, our Ultraman viewing has gotten a somewhat predictable "bump." We've watched the latest Ultraman Zero movie, the Ultraman Gaia movie shown at G-FEST, and episodes of Ultraman Ace, UltraSeven X and Ultraman Mebius.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Model Room III
This wondrous piece captures the conflict at the heart of the very first Ultraman episode. Bemular has risen from the lake, and Ultraman has saved Hayata's life. Now the battle is about to begin.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Video Postcard from G-18 Dealer's Room
This GMK Godzilla was on display at the Chibi Goji Toys Booth. I don't know if anyone purchased it, but it received a great reaction from everyone who saw it in action.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: The Dealer's Room
The Dealer's Room continues to be a great draw for us. Walking into it still overwhelms the senses; it's a monster kid's lucid dream. What is really neat is that we've become familiar faces to many of the dealers, and many of them have gone out of their way to be kind to us. Sue spent her volunteer hours this year being the Dealer's Room gatekeeper, and was able to see quite a few people get their "first ever" looks at the place.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Model Room II
Another great selection from the model room: Gorgo with the diving bell. I'll never forget watching "Gorgo" under the stars with my Cuyahoga Kaiju Club friends.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Coloring Contest
This was Andy's entry in the Minya's Place coloring contest. Rodan was a popular pick among young artists. It was fun to encourage the kids to give it a try.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Mad About Monsters
On Saturday, I had the privilege of sitting on a panel called "Humor in Godzilla Films" with a number of super G-fans, including Martin Arlt, who edits and publishes Mad Scientist magazine. I was able to mention my favorite humorous scene ("I'll take a picture, and then we'll run" from GMK), so I considered it a success. It was lots of fun; all the different perspectives expressed were fascinating. Pictured here are Pam and Martin Arlt with Andy and me.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Model Room
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Minya's Place
Saturday morning is always a happy time at G-FEST; lots of fun has been had and there's lots more on the way. This year I volunteered in Minya's Place on Saturday morning. Minya's Place is an arts-and-crafts Sollgel Island paradise, with all the designs by kaiju artist Ron Lipecky. Here's Andy with just a couple creations available to young crafters. Part of my job was to encourage youngsters to enter the coloring contest, some examples of which will be appear here soon.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: What a Day!
Monday, August 8, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Allow Me to Introduce...
Friday evening is traditionally the time when the special guests are introduced at G-FEST. Here you see G-FAN's J.D. Lees (far left) making opening remarks, as (left to right) Robert Scott Field, Shinji Higuchi, and Hiroyuki Watanabe look on. At this point, we were still sort of stunned that we had spent part of our day with the guests of the Fest!
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: CKC in the Place to Be
Tom and Don were on hand in the Dealer's Room, offering new CKC and Android M-11 T-shirts (and other kaiju goodies) to Fest-goers. It is really cool to go to G-FEST knowing that you'll see people you consider your friends there.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Hiroyuki Watanabe on the Drums
Mr. Watanabe and Mr. Matzke had a little hands-on fun at the Field Museum.
Friday, August 5, 2011
Postcards from G-FEST 18: Backseat Buddy
This photo, taken with Hiroyuki Watanabe's cell phone, is a fun reminder of the whirlwind Friday we spent with the guests of G-FEST 18. Andy brought out the "Dad" in Mr. Watanabe; one of my penultimate memories of this experience will be the two of them doing Donald Duck voices on the way back to the Crowne Plaza. I'll always be grateful to G-FAN and G-FEST for making this special day possible.