Posts tagged "Haruo Nakajima"

Son of Godzilla (Review)

Son of Godzilla

aka Monster Island’s Decisive Battle: Godzilla’s Son aka Kaiju-shima no Kessen Gojira no Musuko

1967

Directed by Jun Fukuda

Hey, what the hell are you doing in my shower??

Son of Godzilla is a damn awesome film, but it is also a film that you pretty much need to see as a kid. Looking back on the film as an adult, there are plenty of things wrong, but there are plenty of things right. And as the waves of nostalgia wash over you, even the few problems you see melt away into the bliss of Minya. I can imagine people viewing this for the first times as adults, and much of the magic will be gone.

I still have the VHS tape of Son of Godzilla I bought with my own money as a small kid. I didn’t want to wait for the film to pop up on TBS’s Super Scary Saturday or the local station KLJB-TV which would sometimes show Godzilla movies during their Sunday “we gotta air SOMETHING!” programming. I watched that tape like crazy, it getting just as much play as Godzilla’s Revenge, Ghidrah, and a few other Godzilla flicks I watched religiously.

That’s right, baby. Not ten minutes old and chicks are lining up to serve me!

Minya was designed to appeal to kids, and it worked beautifully. He’s the ultimate lure to get kids even more excited to watch the monster films. It’s the same old gimmick as masked crimefighters having young kid sidekicks. Minya isn’t even the first monster kid, Kong had a son decades before Godzilla was even a reality. But Minya has stood the test of time and even survived a brief attempt to usurp him of his role as Godzilla’s son. Suck it, Godzilla Junior, you’re just a second rate extra from Dinosaurs!

Son of Godzilla features two other new monsters, Kumonga and Kamacuras, aka Speiga and Gimantis. Both are creepy bug monsters, preventing anyone becoming attached to them instead of Minya or Godzilla as the heroes. Sure, there are people who are into spiders and insects, and even Mothra is a hero, but the gut reaction of the bugs vs. the cute kid is obviously what they were going for.

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!

Just FYI, I’m calling them Minya, Speiga, and Gimantis through the plot section. None of that Minilla, Kumonga, or Kamacuras crap. That’s because these are the names I grew up with. And this is my review, so I can do what I want! Nyeh nyeh nyeh!

The remote island location with the small science crew allows for some lower budget action. They realize they need a character to have everything explained to, so in airdrops the standard reporter character. Godzilla films need reporter and scientist characters, it is the peanut butter and chocolate on the kaiju bread. Despite many of the characters getting no lines and just wandering around in the background, some of them are pretty heavy hitters.

LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLadies!

So I did my best with the cast list, several of the researchers don’t really get names or personalities, so I played mix and match.

Maki Goro (Akira Kubo) – Goro has a stomach for news! He also has a stomach for picking up hot island chicks and getting in the middle of giant monster fights. I’ve meet Akira Kubo in real life because I’m awesome like that. Akira Kubo was also in such classics as Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Matango, and Gorath
Reiko/Saeko Matsumiya (Bibari/Beverly Maeda) – Island girl Reiko has been alone on the island since her father, archeologist Tadashi Matsumiya, died years ago. She instantly takes a liking to Goro and about five minutes later has moved from jungle girl clothes to wearing Hawaiian shirts, white pants, and even a cute mod-inspired snow suit. Reiko is the English dub name and Saeko is the Japanese dub name.
Professor Kusumi (Tadao Takashima) – Professor likes his pipe, which would get him an R-rating in modern film. Dr. Kusumi is working on a plan to control the weather to help in food production. Tadao Takashima also appeared in 1993’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, Frankenstein Conquers the World, Atragon, and King Kong vs. Godzilla.
Dr. Fujisaki (Akihiko Hirata) – Dr. Fujisaki is 2nd in command and Professor Kusumi’s friend. He comes up with most of the escape plans and fixes the radio. Akihiko Hirata has a history with Godzilla films all the way back to being Dr. Serizawa in the original Gojira. See him here in Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, Ghidrah, Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, and Cozzilla
Furukawa (Yoshio Tsuchiya) – Furukawa is an angry guy who hates the island they are on, hates the hot weather, and hates everything ever that ever was or will be. He’s grumpier than Grumpy Smurf. Furukawa is also mentally unstable due to all the heat and later fevers he gets, which makes it odd that he’s running around armed most of the time. Yoshio Tsuchiya can be seen here in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, and Gigantis the Fire Monster.
Morio (Kenji Sahara) – Scientist who usually wears sunglasses and sees some of the important monster developments in the film. You can see Kenji Sahara in G History all the way back to the original Gojira to Godzilla Final Wars. See him on TarsTarkas.NET in Godzilla vs. The Thing, Ultra Q, Godzilla’s Revenge, Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, and Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla.
Ozawa (Kenichiro Maruyama) – Kenichiro Maruyama is barely there in several films, including brief appearances as an islander in Godzilla vs the Sea Monster and as a Moon base employee in Destroy All Monsters.
Tashiro (Seishiro Kuno) – Tashiro has a brown shirt and shines a light on Reiko. That’s about it for his character. Seishiro Kuno is so barely in Godzilla vs. The Thing, you would think I am lying to you. But I am not and he is in it. Somewhere…
Suzuki (Yasuhiko Saijo) – Suzuki is another island member who did little and said less. Yasuhiko Saijo was Ippei in Ultra Q, also a henchman in Godzilla vs. Gigan. Isn’t it weird how 2/3rd of Ultra Q is trapped on this island? I’m just going to declare that Ultra Q takes place in the Godzillaverse.

Kaiju Roll Call!

Godzilla (Haruo Nakajima and Seiji Onaka) – Godzilla is the king of all monsters and the king of parental responsibility. When he isn’t taking a nap. Haruo Nakajima, who played Godzilla for years, was Big G during the first scenes done in the water, but later taller actor Seiji Onaka took over so Godzilla would look bigger than his son.
Minya (“Little Man” Machan) – Minya is the son of Godzilla who counts, unlike that other guy who sucks and we’re not going to mention his name ever again. But you know who you are. Try as I might, I can’t find any pictures of “Little Man” Machan, a little person wrestler who played Minya in all three movie appearances.
Gimantis/Kamacuras – Giant mantis who is mutated to be even gianter. Picks fights with Minya, Godzilla, and Speiga. Gets sucked bone dry.
Speiga/Kumonga – Spider monster that spends most of the film sleeping, the rest trying to eat the other monsters and people. Eventually learns no one messes with Godzilla.
Gimantis 2/Kamacuras 2 – Second Gimantis added for completeness sake. Gets burnt to a crisp.
Gimantis 3/Kamacuras 3 – Third Gimantis added for completeness sake. Gets fried to ashes.
I’m totally gonna Serve you, Gimantis! I see some haters grillin’ I see some ladies chillin’ I see that girlie I’ve been plottin’ to get She can hop in the whip And we can Pump p p Pump Pump it up

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - March 13, 2011 at 12:14 am

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Cozzilla (Review)

Cozzilla

aka Godzilla, il re dei mostri

1977

Directed by Ishiro Honda and Terry O. Morse (USA)
Italian rearrangement and direction by Luigi Cozzi

cozzilla
Godzilla, il re dei mostri (hence after known as Cozzilla) began life long ago as 1954’s Gojira. After becoming a box office hit in Japan, the film was recut for America with scenes added starring Raymond Burr (at that time relatively unknown.) Godzilla, King of the Monsters proved to be a hit in America as well. Sequels were spawned, a franchise was born, and new Godzilla films were being produced 50 years later. The US cut of Gojira is not the only overseas modified version. Another one has gained some fame for the many odd alterations done to it. Writer/director Luigi Cozzi is a big fan of Godzilla, wrote a book about Big G, and is even nicknamed Cozzilla by his friends. Cozzi is best known here for being the director/Writer of Star Crash, Contamination, and the Lou Ferrigno Hercules movies, as well as the writer of Devil Fish (featured on MST3K.) None of those films are known for their stellar plots or special effects, but instead their cheese and terribleness. Here, one finds that even with a great movie base to work off of, you can ruin a final product.

Cozzi set out to share with Italy the great monster film, but he knew he would have to alter it for Italian audiences. In 1977, no one went to black and white films, thus Cozzi set up an elaborate colorization process known as Spectrorama 70. Colored gels were set behind frames of the film, oversaw by Armando Valcauda. New music cues were put together by Alberto Moro to go with the altered length of the film. Scenes were chopped out, and much new footage was added, but mostly World War II stock shots of bombed cities, weapons firing, and dead bodies. Yes, actual dead bodies. Also, a shark fights an octopus from The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms towards the end.

The only known copy of this film is a VHS tape that had direct footage from a 16mm print (complete with reel announces.) As the tape was old, parts of it are choppy, and it appears to cut off abruptly at the end. wtfFILM got a hold of a copy of the tape and helped allow the world to see it, first by providing DVDRs and then uploading the film to Google Video. You can see the film here with their review. Some of the background information mentioned here was revealed there, and they even subtitled the movie themselves! As of this writing the store is closed, but hopefully it will be open soon, he has some other neat stuff around (including a trailer I saw for a restored version of Cozilla, which looks like it might be re-color-altered from Godzilla KOTM DVDs! Maybe that will get compelted soon and we can have a real treat!)

cozzilla
Godzilla has always been an allegory about the dangers of the atomic bomb, even when he was dashing out of a cave to save TV hero Zone Fighter (okay, maybe not then) but this version of the film takes that to an extreme level. It is so extreme, I was expecting the film to be chugging Mt. Dew and snowboarding out of airplanes into a volcano. It is a depressing kind of extreme, as Godzilla turns into an indictment of war and the human race in general. Thanks to the ample WW2 stock footage, we see far too many real dead bodies for anyone’s taste. Sure, the original film was about the horrors of the atomic bomb, but they didn’t make you want to go curl up in a hole and cry. Talk about brushing your teeth with a shotgun! Thankfully, the VHS quality and the Spectorama 70 color bleed takes the wind out of the sails on some of the images’ graphic details.

The overall use of the color does some nice work setting the atmosphere of the film at times. Godzilla’s attack and the Tokyo destruction are shown as bright red, and makes it violent, chaotic, and tragic at the same time. I enjoyed that choice of color, but at other times the random blues, greens, and yellows seemed to be chosen haphazardly. Some of the screenshots will just look odd because of that. I tried to make many of the shots identical to the ones in the Godzilla, King of the Monsters review, so you can flip between them and see how the color made them different (ignoring the obvious difference in video quality.) In addition, I threw in new shots of the older altered movie and the new inserted footage. As we go along the plot, I’ll point out what differs, and copy over some of the similarities, as the basic story is the same.

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 24, 2007 at 1:57 am

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Gigantis, the Fire Monster (Review)

Gigantis, the Fire Monster

aka Godzilla Raids Again aka Gojira no gyakushuu

1955

We start out the second March of Godzilla with the second Godzilla movie, Godzilla Raids Again! Or Gigantis, the Fire Monster, as it is known in the US. What a mess the American version of this film is. A complete an utter destruction of cinema. The Japanese version suffering from some of the faults of films of the time, but the American distributors just completely butcher the entire film. Most noticeably, Godzilla is not called Godzilla, but instead Gigantis. Now, he is technically not the original Godzilla, they make reference to the fact Godzilla Number One was disintegrated in Tokyo Bay. This new Godzilla is his brother, Marvin Godzilla, and he is actually the Godzilla that the next several movies in the series follow, as they are loosely connected. But in America, they just called him “Gigantis” because of reasons mentioned later. Joining Godzilla is the first fellow daikaiju, a creature named Anguirus. He’s loosely based on Ankylosaurs, and has a shell armored with many spikes all over his back. Crawling on four legs, Anguirus was stylistically different from Godzilla and made a good contrast for a first foe. Later monsters would get beam weapons, wings, multiple forms, but Anguirus fights with just one thing: guts!

There are some familiar faces in this film as well. Most notably, main character Shoichi Tsukioka is played by Hiroshi Koizumi, who has been previously seen here in Godzilla vs. Mothra and Ghidrah, playing Dr. Miura. I’ve met Hiroshi Koizumi, which I also mention each time he pops up in a Godzilla movie. Another big name is Takashi Shimura, playing Dr. Yemane, who he also played in the original Godzilla. He is probably best known for Seven Samurai or other Kurosawa films. Another Kurosawa veteran is Minoru Chiaki, who was another of the Seven Samurai, and here plays fellow pilot Kobayashi. All Godzilla movies need a girl, and actress Setsuko Wakayama makes her only Godzilla series appearance as Hidemi Yamaji. Directing this time is Motoyoshi Oda, who is also making his only appearance in G-history.

Both the US and Japanese versions will get reviewed simultaneously here. This is made possible because the US version is not chopped out of order, but follows the same pathway. They both deviate from the set path, as the US distributors added and removed footage, sometimes seemingly at random. The most obvious aspect aside from the Gigantis name is that the US version has narration. Lots of narration. The entire film is narrated. Every second someone is not speaking, the narrator has to talk. The Japanese version has no narrator, so is full of long moments of no dialogue, and little to no sound as the score only drops in randomly. We will note that the US version was produced by Paul Schreibman, who has expressed regrets for ruining the movie so badly. He claims responsibility for renaming Godzilla, as it was his desire to make Americans think they were getting a new monster. Other problems we will experience along the way, including the education film that makes me think Paul Schreibman must be insane.
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - March 1, 2007 at 3:01 am

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