Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June 2011: A Memorable Movie Month

Thanks in large part to Turner Classic Movies, June has been a banner month for fantastic cinema around these parts!

It all started with TCM's "Toho Night," the kickoff to their Drive-in Double Feature programming. Buried way in the wee hours of Friday morning was "Valley of the Gwangi," which we recorded and watched a day or two later. This solidified Ray Harryhausen's standing in Andy's mind, having previously seen "Clash of the Titans," "Mighty Joe Young," and "Twenty Million Miles to Earth." One thing led to another--Amazon has a great deal on the Harryhausen collection pictured above--and it has been all about the stop motion (or should I say Dynamation) ever since. The book Andy is holding in the picture is a real treat, too (more like a treasure trove, in truth). Andy's favorite of the Blu-ray collection is probably "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad," which I greatly enjoy as well, but I would have to give the nod to "Twenty Million Miles to Earth," and of all the films that bear the Harryhausen stamp, my absolute favorite is "Mighty Joe Young." A long time ago, I drew a picture of MJY, sent it in to a Detroit-area "monster host" and it was shown on the air for a moment or two. But I digress...

Each Thursday night has been a little monster movie fest, an enjoyable return to the days of old when VCRs and DVRs could not help you view your creature feature of choice. We only "cheated" once, popping in our DVD of "Atragon" instead of "The Giant Claw" or some such thing. I'm very much looking forward to what, for us, will be the double bill of "The Blob" and "The H-Man" tomorrow night.

All of that would've been enough to make it a month for the record books, but then there was a true moviegoing experience to boot. We made it a point to see "The Lord of the Rings: Extended Editions" in the theater over a three week stretch. Each Tuesday night we went to a modern movie palace in Columbus, Ohio to see the trilogy in state-of-the-art picture and sound. These were very special evenings that I hope Andy recalls fondly for a long time. I have the blog to thank; without reading about this event there, we would likely have missed it altogether.

And, by the way, we saw "Kung Fu Panda 2" also, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that it is a visually breathtaking movie. It will make for a dazzling Blu-ray release. The movie earns extra cool points for getting Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) to voice the part of the Soothsayer.

June was an unforgettable movie month, where doors were opened to new worlds and old favorites were seen with new eyes. It's been quite a ride...and now we're only days away from the Pickwick and G-FEST!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

This Thursday: The H-Man on TCM

This Thursday, June 30th, Turner Classic Movies presents the H-Man at 9:30 p.m. Eastern, starring Kenji Sahara, Yumi Shirakawa and Akhiko Hirata. While there are no giant monsters to be found, this is great fun from the golden age of Toho (1958).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

One Month Until G-FEST XVIII

One month from today, G-FEST 18 kicks off with a double-double feature featuring Gamera, Mothra, and, of course, Godzilla.

It has been a year of many changes for us, so the thought of returning to Chicago for some kaiju fun with our fellow fans and friends holds a lot of appeal.

The design for this year's Fest highlights the diversity of characters that inhabit the tokasatsu universe and reflects the movies being screened. Very nice!

While last year's experience will be nigh unto impossible to top, I'm open to whatever happens this year, and just enjoying the utterly unique setting that G-FEST provides. Can't wait...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

G-FEST Movie Update

After weeks of speculation (at least in this household), the final two G-FEST movies have been announced. Thursday night's last film will be "Gamera 2: Advent of Legion," and Friday night's stand-alone will be "Ultraman Gaia: the Battle for Hyperspace." In light of this year's guests, these are perfect choices. It will be too cool to finally see an Ultraman movie at G-FEST!

Monday, June 6, 2011

G-FAN Magazine # 95: Surprises Inside

It has been too long since a G-FAN review appeared here. Time to correct that.

What one notices immediately upon opening the distinctive Daikaiju Enterprises envelope is the cover; another remarkable work of art by Rudy Gardea. Two details I really enjoy: Godzilla is about to unleash a blast and "Gardea" appears on the plane in the foreground.

The G-Force news and notes section is highlighted by a number of stills of Tom Tvrdik's next American Greetings Godzilla ornament, and Matt Frank's Mothra artwork for the IDW comic book.

Fabien Mauro, who we met briefly at G-Fest last year, checks in with two offerings, one an interview with the one-and-only Akira Takarada, and the other a meditation on Ishiro Honda's work, focusing on Matango (Attack of the Mushroom People).

Mark Justice's "Save the Earth' continues his consideration of the ecological messages embedded in Toho's monster movies, persuasively demonstrating that these films have been ahead of their time when it comes to sending a "green" message to viewers.

Brett Homenick contributes an interview with West Side Story's George Chakiris, who traveled to Japan for the filming of Flight from Ashiya in 1964. Brett once again manages to glean interesting tidbits about Japanese culture, especially the Japanese film industry, from his famous conversation partner.

G-FAN Junior returns in this issue, always a welcome addition (my eight-year-old son says). An article about monster appearances and locomotion, kid-generated artwork, a discussion of all the alternate movie titles, and a "Spot the Difference" photo game comprise this section of the mag.

Then, just when one thinks that there's not much more to be said about kaiju, G-FAN cracks open a whole new realm. Jolyon Yates files a report about giant monsters in Thai cinema--a subject about which I knew absolutely nothing before reading this article. What an excellent surprise!

Stalwart G-FAN contributors Lyle Huckins and Skip Peel each provide the type of writing for which they are known; thoughful analysis and inventive fiction, respectively.

Stan Hyde gives readers the details on the Revoltech line of extremely posable figures that feature Baragon and Gamera. The toy love continues with James Bond's "Godzilla Vinyl Market Update," a cogent description of what creature figures are going for these days and--most insightfully--why they are fetching those prices. As if that didn't set one's collector's blood a'boilin', Steve Agin throws gas on the fire with his enthusiastic toy reviews (accompanied by copious full color photographs), all of which is more than enough inspiration to pinch those last few pennies before hitting the G-FEST Dealers Room.

G-FAN continues to honor the creativity of kaiju fans, which seems to spring from an endless source. An impressive variety of fan reaction is the calling card of this publication, and articles like "Thai-ju: Giant Monsters in Thai Monsters in Thai Films" keep taking us to new places and unpacking new worlds of imagination!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cuyahoga Kaiju Club Anniversary T

As revealed on Facebook, this is the awesome Tom Tvrdik-designed T-shirt that marks the 15th anniversary of the CKC. If you think this front design is cool, wait until you see the back! Shirts should be available at this year's G-FEST. (See for info and registration.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Turner Classic Movies Toho Marathon TONIGHT

Beginning at 8:00 p.m. Eastern tonight, Turner Classic Movies will show "Godzilla: King of the Monsters," "Rodan," "Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster," and "Monster Zero" followed by "Dinosaurus" and "Valley of the Gwangi." This is old-school appointment viewing at its best! For more info go to