Godzilla-a-Go-Go

I’ve just finished reading – A Critical History and Filmography of Toho’s Godzilla Series, a historical filmography book that analyzes the Godzilla series written by David Kalat. I queue jumped this to the top of my to-read-pile, putting aside one of the books I was already reading. I really enjoy books that put things into a larger cultural context & this books nearly delivers on that level.

It was great fun to read the background story of the financial vs art struggle of the monster. Kalat is a fan but gives balanced look at the weaknesses of the films. He also gives insight into how they were marketed in japan as oppose to how they were often reconstituted for the American market. The inept bad voice choice dubbing being the prime crime against Godzilla. I’ve always wonder why they can’t hire real actors to do this work – after all Disney uses well-know actors for their animation?

But Japanese films weren’t the only one to suffer hack dubbings – try watching any of the many Italian sword & sandal epics & one realizes bad dubbing was routine. The Italian movies often suffered the same reconstitution for the US market.

But I digress.

Kalat explores the soundtracks as well & often the film were stripped of their origin soundtracks for stock sound cues when released in the US. It is no wonder they often suffered critical drubbings. Seeing them now, thanks to TCM, I am happy to read subtitles & not be distracted by dubbing. The films are Japanese originals as well not that I have even seen the crappy US versions of may of these. They didn’t make it as far as Cape Breton.

I don’t take them as seriously as Kalat though. Much like Supermarionation, one always knows this is suitmation. The scale model work is impressive but never convincing. Some things can’t be scaled: water, fire but always love scenes were boats get capsized. Back projection work improved over the years but, Let’s face it, HD TV isn’t kind to back projection.

Kalat’s filmography ends in the early 2000’s. I would like to see many of the movies later movies but the Japanese versions are unavailable on DVD – i.e. Submerging Japan. I have seen the late 90’s ‘re-boot’ set in New York with Matthew Broderick as the scientist & despite many critical quibbles I really enjoyed it. The taxi chase scene is great & the Godzilla, although not the traditional one. was pretty good cgi. Fans want suitmation. 

Of the ones I’ve seen I’ve liked Godzilla vz Hedora (The Smog Monster) – pop art meets suitmation. The psychedelic music is wondrous, nightclub scenes are on point – who cares that Hedra, at points, looks more like melting candle. Also really enjoyed ‘Ebirah, Horror of the Deep.’ 

A great book beyond the Godzilla content for its insights into the American domination of the world film industry.

The Glory of Godzilla https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3Tp 

Lock and Key

I don’t know

how many doors I’ve walk though

how many I’ve shut behind me

never to look back

how many keys I’ve had copied

how many I have lost

how many I have 

in a drawer rattling around

with forgotten doors to open

no way of finding their way home

had a book of photos of doors

doors around the world

some partially open 

some with a face peeking shyly out

most shut solid

barring me for seeing deeper

never saw a book of keys

they’re a deeper mystery for me

I have an idea where a door might lead

but a key

what lock does it match with

what could it unlock for me

the keys to the highway

the door to the unknown

could it open your heart

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

Thursday 23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March
March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

May

Richard III – Stratford Festival

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

The Glory of Godzilla

TCM has picked Godzilla as its monster of the month for October & have been showing 4 or 5 films from the cannon every Friday. Unlike past monsters of the month Godzilla has been produced solely by Toho studios. Dracula, Frankenstein etc have been produced by various studies so there’s a lack of cohesion in those picture.

Not that Godzilla has a story arc but the creature has looked pretty much the same with its oversized rubber suit, staggering walk & roar. Various performers have brought nuanced various on their monsters. Godzilla is noted for his lack of nuance 🙂 That goes for the man in the suit to the actual actors in the films. These aren’t Kurosawa, though I wonder how he would have treated Godzilla – Toshiro Mifune could be pretty scary without the rubber suit.

I have been loving these films & seeing them subtitled, as opposed to dubbed, gives them more oomph. They are from a recent Criterion boxset that covers the oeuvre from 1954 to 1975. Plus TCM has added the ‘stand-alone’ backstory films of Rodan & Mothra. So they have been restored from original Japanese releases & have new subtitles theatre more accurate. All of them had been reconstituted at one time for the American market & as a result some of humour & political stances were lost in translation.

I’m also loving Ben Mankiewicz’s introduction to the pictures as he tries to treat them with scholarly insight. Let’s face it Kill All Monsters isn’t Throne of Blood.

I’m seeing many of these pictures for the first time though I have seen Mothra repeatedly – the Christian symbolism is surprising. I do have the 1954 original in both the Japanese version & the American remix with Raymond Burr seamlessly inserted into it. The American version removes all mentions of the atomic bomb being dropped on Japan. Radioactivity plays a role in many of the films – as it did in American creature features on the time.

Of the ones I’ve seen so far my favorite has been 1966’s ‘Ebirah, Horror of the Deep.’ It has a fun teenage dance contest I watched a few times before going on with the film. A bit of James Bond, a bit of beach party, & a great sea creature. Son of Godzilla was amusing but there was no Mrs. Godzilla – not that I’m expecting a documentary about reptile reproduction. 

I have soundtrack music in my cd collection, also other music written by some those composers. I have two Godzilla action figures & at least 3 t-shirts. I guess I’m a bit of fan. Thanks to TCM I’m not shelling out the nearly $300 for the boxset though.

Arrgh – Godzilla

as a kid

I would often play at being Godzilla

stomping on my toys

kicking them over

breathing my fire breath on them

invulnerable powerful dangerous

enjoying that ants were sacred of me

as I grew up

I would pull on my Godzilla suit

when things weren’t going my way

emotionally swing out at people

stomping on their intentions

when they didn’t suit my expectations

 

I later found out that Godzilla

was a man in a rubber suit

a small Japanese man

actually men

because the suit didn’t breath properly

the actors would tire out   get sick

they couldn’t see well out of the eye holes

and have to lead to the set

pointed in the right direction

just like my loss of vision

when I pulled on my Godzilla suit

to strike out at life

refusing to let anyone 

lead me in the right direction

if the actor was in the suit too long

he’d break out in a rash

get too itchy to wear it

 

me I’d break out in rash decisions

end up with itchy resentments

that I’d take out on those around me

 

like those actors

no one knew who I was

as long as I wore the suit

every good villain has a motive

has something he wants

but it was never clear what Godzilla wanted

expect to be left the fuck alone

we never see Godzilla relaxing

beyond floating 

to the bottom of the sea to sleep

all of his energy was spent

battling the nuisances of a life 

he didn’t even want to be part of

of being a monster stuck in a normal world

that didn’t have a place for monsters

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

October

November
Thursday 7 – Hot Damn It’s Queer Slam! – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – 7 pm – featuring Wes Ryan.

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March
March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet