That’s One Big Ape – Rambling Thoughts on the Eighth Wonder of the World

So we step one step closer to the Rematch of All Rematches.   I’m excited, but then it’s a Giant Monster Movie; I tend to dig those bad boys.  Especially the ones with monsters fighting monsters.

A quick, amused thought: watching Kong go after the helicopters in the above trailer, I thought, This is Kong’s revenge for the Dino De Laurentiis flick.

I haven’t sat through the De Laurentiis Kong in years.  Decades.

The original Kong I own on DVD–it’s around my desk somewhere.  The Toho versions are there, too.  There might even be a Peter Jackson version hidden in the shadows somewhere.

No  De Laurentiis.

As a kid, we had a jigsaw puzzle that was based on the movie poster.  I had a Kong board game.  I think I even liked the movie; I know I regretted sleeping through it when Mom and Dad took Brother Eric and me out to the drive thru to see it.

And I haven’t watched it in decades.

My standard criteria for Godzilla films is “Please be better than Godzilla v. Megalon.”  If the film’s better than Godzilla v. Megalon, I’m generally happy.

I have no such criteria for Kong flicks.  Maybe I should.  King Kong Lives was wretched enough.  Maybe I should be hoping this new one is better than that.

No.  No, that’s setting the bar too low.

Anyways, enough rambling.  One step closer to Godzilla v. Kong the second.  I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating, the only way this could be better is if we were stepping closer to Godzilla v. Gamera.

Oh–dare I dream?–Kong v. Gamera

In Fact, Despite the Dearth in Postings Here On Site, I Think I Might Be a Bigger Gamera Fan Than Power Girl Fan. Which Staggers the Mind, All Things Considered

I can’t believe I never mentioned this movie’s potential existence.

I can’t believe how rarely Gamera gets mentioned on this site.

The same thing goes for Rodan.  Surely I’ve talked about my love for Rodan more than that.

Anyways.

The trailer I posted the other day has been pulled at least once.  I’ve dug up a second video, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Bigger news is that what’s shown is but a smaller part of a larger video.  One that might pop up later next week.

If so, Mr. Waters will be gleefully watching it too.  And sharing it here, natch.

Until then, here’s a video to demonstrate a small portion of my glee, using completely inappropriate Kaiju to do so:

EDITED TO ADD: I’ve read in other places that this isn’t the actual trailer, that it’s sort of a proof of concept video.  Whether this is true or not, here’s to hoping for more Kaiju fun in the near future.

Gamera: Threat or Menace?

These are the days that test a person’s heart.  So much disinformation scattered across television, the newspapers. and yes, even the ever reliable internet.  Is it any surprise that sometimes we confuse friends for enemies and, likewise, enemies for friends?  Every so often, we need to have a wake up call, to have a bit of common sense whispered in our ear.  That is what I intend to do here and now for my fellow citizens of the world on a subject that is on the minds of everyone.  A terrible threat that stands against everything right thinking people considered good and pure.  A danger that, even now, waits in the shadows, plotting, planning, hoping to do untoward things towards our cities, our friends, our families.

That’s right.  I’m here to talk about Gamera.  No other subject could have such great a bearing on life as we know it.

I know the personal risks for speaking out against this unwieldy giant.  There might be consequences, such as a fiery death, being smudged between his toe nails, or, worse, being lectured by a small boy with an annoying voice.  Nevertheless, I will take these risks for the greater good.  Too long has he been seen as a “friend to children everywhere.”  Too often has he been called a “Guardian of the Galaxy”.  It is time to take a stand, for the good of all, and now that my flying turtle fall-out shelter has finally been finished, I am reasonably prepared to make that stand.

Let’s start with what we know of our subject.

His past is a mystery, lost in the depths of history.  According to the noted Doctor Eiji Hidaka, Gamera comes from fabled Atlantis, shortly before that worthy continent vanished beneath the sea.  Whether or not he was responsible for his homeland’s sinking beneath the waves is unknown at this time, but it is in the realm of possibility.  After all, as Hidaka rightfully pointed out in his best seller Why Noted Zoologists Should Study Mythological Animals:

Plato states that Atlantis once rested in the Atlantic Ocean, between Africa and South America.  Gamera, found in the Arctic Ocean, had to have some purpose in the north when he was frozen and forgotten.

Some purpose.  And what could that purpose be?  Not basking in the summer sun, like a normal turtle.  In fact, it is well-known that turtles abhor the cold.  What other purpose could Gamera have for being there but to set up an alibi for himself against potential charges of genocide?  To this day, a satisfactory answer has yet been given.

We move ahead to more modern times.  There is no need to dwell upon the infamous US/Soviet confrontation over the Arctic Ocean that lead to an accidental detonation of a hydrogen bomb.  While the area even now shows signs of radiation contamination, a still great problem came from that fateful day.  That one blast let loose Gamera from his icy and no doubt too kind prison, and since he has plague the world.

Consider his first actions on regaining mobility.  Does he stretch his legs?  Does he head to a local bar and order some sake?  Does he even ask what day it is?  No.  Instead, he attacks and sinks a helpless ship, the Chidori Maru.  With except for three people, the crew and passengers lost their lives, either as Gamera sank the boat or after in the cold Arctic environment.  Perhaps if they were children he would have saved them, eh?

During the next few frightening months, the monster made several destructive appearances, during the course of which the world learned that he ate energy.  More to the point, he dines on fire.  No wonder he set Tokyo ablaze!  He was setting his table for a real smorgasbord, with power lines for the trimming!

Not long after this discovery, Humanity made its one and only attempt at ridding the planet of this terror.  The details of Plan Z are, of course, a matter of secrecy to this day.  As the World Leaders chose it over Plan Wiley Coyote, we can safely say it didn’t involve shooting Gamera off world with a huge sling shot, nor painting a tunnel on a mountainside for the turtle to attempt going through.  One can only hope that Plan Z had a bit more dignity and class than those foolish efforts.

But whatever Plan Z was, it failed, and Gamera went right on with his destructive rampage.  No city was safe, no town spared.

Then a curious thing happened.  A new monster appeared as if out of nowhere.  The two fought, and in the end, Gamera kills it.  Overnight, the turtle became a “hero”, a media darling.  With Toshio Sakurai’s misguided “Welcome Turtle Friends” (Or WTF) movement, he became known as a “friend to children everywhere.”   Children loved him.

From that time, the cycle has continued.  A monster appears, Gamera kills it, then another monster appeared, and another, and each time WTF returns to hype up his “heroic” nature.  Until, at last, the world believes that it is true.  That, instead of being a threat to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,  the monster was “good”.

Perhaps this would be understandable if Gamera confined his attacks to battling “threatening” monsters.  He does not.  Sometimes he goes off and attack Tokyo or some such city simply to provide himself a “fire feast,” to coin a phrase.  Members of the WTF (or WTFers) insist that each time he’s being controlled by “Space Men.”  That when every one knows that Space Men and the like seldom come to Earth more than a handful of times, such as during the Monster Island Affair and the Okinawa Gambit.  And in both instances, one would not a certain turtle being completely absent from either control or from assisting against the invaders.

No, one can not look at the actions of Gamera and think of him as anything but a threat.  Or a menace.  The love he receives baffles the sober mind.  Especially since there is another, more worthy monster for the people of Earth to accept as champion.  One of class.  Of character.  Of refined breeding.

Yes, I’m talking about that paragon of virtue, that saint, that glorious fellow, the monster for the common man:  Godzilla.

Sure, sure, there have been problems.  There have been misunderstandings.  Such as his brother’s horrible murder by the mysterious Oxygen Destroyer.  Or that tragic, tragic miscommunication between Godzilla and the original Mothra, which ended in the great moth’s untimely demise.  Or the leveling of Tokyo that continues to this very day.

These ever so slight faux pas, though, can all be traced to human error.  Godzilla himself is harmless, a curious traveler who would no more than harm you than he would a bird in the sky.  So long as we stay out of his territory, he will probably maybe possibly stay out of ours. In fact, your odds of getting away from him is far greater than it is with Gamera himself (See the world-famous essay Brief Thought on Godzilla and Gamera for insight on this matter.)

I think Godzilla said it best in his autobiography, They’re Shooting At Me? when he said:

MRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAOOOOO!

A motto to live by, my friends.  A motto to live by.

So forget Gamera!  Forget WTF and those little F-ers!  They’re deluding themselves if they think we don’t notice what that gargantuan turtle is doing to our planet!

Support Godzilla!  Monster of All Seasons!

Invite him over for coffee!  Invite him over for weddings and birthdays!  Invite him to speak at your graduation, your business meeting, your funeral!  Invite him over to watch the kids!  Invite him all you like!  Cause he’s coming to see you, whether you like it or not.  Godzilla is coming to see you soon!  He wants to see you every single day and twice on weekends!

Oh, he’s coming!  No ocean is too wide, no mountain too tall, no building too sturdy!  He’ll walk all night if he has to!  He’ll ask directions!  He’ll use GPS! He will hunt you down with sense of smell alone!

And no matter where you run, no matter where you hide, no matter how many baths you take, he’s going to find you!  He’s going to show you just what you mean to him!  And your life is gonna change WITHIN THE FIRST FIVE MINUTES!  IT’S GOING TO CHANGE FOREVER AND FOREVER!  AND THERE’S NOTHING ANYONE CAN DO TO STOP IT!

WHY IS HE DOING THIS?  WHY IS HE TRAVELING THE WORLD FROM TOKYO TO MOSCOW TO NEW YORK CITY?  WHY IS HE LOOKING FOR YOU, YES YOU, EXCLUSIVE OVER ALL OTHERS?

Because Godzilla loves you.

He thinks you’re special.

And he’s going to prove it no matter how many cities he has to destroy.

Best accept it and move on.

I know I have.

Better believe I have.  Sheesh.

Go go Godzilla.



Seems to have gotten away from me towards the end there, doesn’t it?  Oh well.  It was a silly little essay anyways.

I don’t have to point out that the above applies only to the Showa Era Godzilla and Gamera movies (the films that came out before the eighties)?  No?  Good.  I think that’s a wrap.

Is the Word Hypocrite, By Any Chance?

So here I am, working on the reviews at the sister site, making sure they are all as pretty as pretty can be.  Which no doubt proves how anal I am, as if that was ever in any doubt at all.

Now, some of this work involves making sure everything is Justified (Must… be… justified…), that things are indented right (Must… be… .49in… in), and that the color coding I do through the reviews are actually there (you don’t expect me to repeat that joke three times, do you?).  As the new theme allows customizable headers for each post, I’m doing that, too.

And it looks great, you should check it out.

But that’s not why we’re here.

Among the many, many things I’m doing is correcting grammar (as well as the obligatory confusion of HERE with HEAR – something that I can not believe I would do but have.  Repeatedly.)  When not removing long, unwieldy statements in parentheses, I’m rewriting sentences to remove the passive voice (or, to illustrate, the passive voice has been removed by me).  Which, I hope, means I’ll have a more dynamic reading review.

Fingers crossed.  Hope hope hope.

Doing all of this means that I’m rereading my reviews.  And I’m liking them.  Sometimes I don’t think I’ve been very clear in them (and I will confess to adding a word or sentence in clarification.  but no paragraphs.  Yet.) But for the most part, I think they’re good.  I’m not too ashamed of them.  In fact, I like them all a lot.

Then I come across the King Kong v. Godzilla review and I come to a realization.

In it I repeatedly make excuses for the actions of Godzilla.  It’s done for humorous intent, obviously, but it’s there.

And yet, I spend an entire review bashing a character named Toshio for doing the same thing later on in life.

There’s probably a word for what I am when I do that, but for the life of me I can’t think of what it is.

Anyway, I’m sure I must have brought it up in the Gamera review, so it’s neither here nor there.  But perhaps later on in the week, I might post an essay explaining just why Godzilla is a misunderstood monster and Gamera is an evil heartless bastard who deserves only death and/or to be launched in a rocket to the moon.

Be fun.  And better than this post, no doubt.

(Hey, I’m trying to get my writing rhythm back.  Work with me, hear here.)

Well That Took Entirely Too Long

Today at the other site, we talk about that other major monster in Japan, Godzilla’s only true rival, Giant Monster Gamera!  Join me as I have a little fun at the expense of this childhood favorite.

Please. It took me two weeks to write this.  Somebody’s gotta read it beside me or it’ll all be in vain!

Next time, we’ll look at a Fantasy flick, thus completing the Speculative Trimpvie as far as the site’s concerned.  What is it?  Don’t rush me!  I’m thinking.

Also related to that site, I might, might mind you, post non-movie anime reviews.  Might.  No promises.

“Gamera tai uchu kaijû Bairasu/Destroy All Planets” – A Review

An advanced alien civilization has journeyed to Earth with a scheme so diabolical that only a pair of children can stop it. At one point mighty Gamera finds himself mind-controlled for a while, but the kids foil this by switching a couple of control blocks. The alien’s ship crashes and the kids think its over. But from the wreckage comes a giant squid type monster. The new kaijû (Giant monster) charges Gamera and…

Yet again I return to the world of Gamera and I come back unimpressed. Like Gamera tai Shinkai kaijû Jigura/Gamera vs. Zigra, this is lowest common denominator children’s fare. You don’t want to think about stuff like how the main characters could have killed someone with one of their pranks, or how easily the U.N. caved into a threat that amounted to “Surrender or we kill these kids we picked up”, or how, after they were given what they wanted, the aliens decide to destroy everything just for the hell of it.

The entire movie is just one giant ego boost for little boys everywhere. The two protagonists do whatever mischief they want with no real consequence (the repeated threat of “No Supper!” is particularly toothless for some reason). In fact, they are often rewarded for their actions. They get to show up the (really dim) adults at every turn and, in the end, are the only ones capable of dealing with the aliens. They even get to control Gamera like the world’s largest Pokémon.

To tell the truth, I wanted both characters dead within the first five minutes of the film. Well, not really dead. I’ve seen more annoying children in movies (say, The Black Scorpion, who had a child actor that I was willing dead every time he appeared on the screen.)

This is not to say this isn’t an entertaining film. I had a better time with it than, say, Gamera tai Shinkai kaijû Jigura/Gamera vs. Zigra (which is damning it with the faintest of praise). It’s just not as good a film as any of the Godzilla movies. There’s an overall impression of killing time until it’s time to have the final kaijû battle.

This impression is reinforced by all the clips from the previous stories in the series. We get scenes from Daikaijû kûchûsen: Gamera tai Gyaosu/Return of the Giant Monsters (decent enough flick), Daikaijû kettô: Gamera tai Barugon/War of the Monsters (best of the bunch), and, almost shockingly, Daikaijû Gamera/Gammera the Invincible.1

I don’t, in principle, mind the recycled footage that much, except I had picked up a collection of Gamera films and this sucker was the first one I watched. As more and more time passed, I kept asking myself “Where is this movie in the series? Am I going to watch Gamera movies before Gamera movies? Should I stop now or risk it?”

Worse, though, is the use of Daikaijû Gamera/Gammera the Invincible. That sucker’s in black and white. Now had the film makers used the footage only in a flashback, they might have gotten away with it. Instead, they use a goodly section to depict Gamera assaulting Japan. It’s like they were making the movie for unobservant children.

In the end, if you haven’t seen Daikaijû kettô: Gamera tai Barugon/War of the Monsters or Daikaijû kûchûsen: Gamera tai Gyaosu/Return of the Giant Monsters, skip this movie. All the good parts (i.e. the kaijû battles) are more or less spoiled. And, well, both movies are better than this one.

If you have seen the aforementioned films and don’t mind re-watching them, then by all means, rewatch them instead of watching Gamera tai uchu kaijû Bairasu/Destroy All Planets. While I derived some enjoyment from this film, it’s probably because I am a warped individual (Gamera gets impaled four or five times! In a row! And not in a minor way!)

“Gamera tai Shinkai kaijû Jigura/Gamera vs. Zigra”

So I’ve got this old VHS tape in the VCR. No label on it, so I figure I’d check it out, see what marvels I might have recorded and forgotten about. Just the other day, I found a tape that I had recorded Sleepaway Camp Massacre 2: Unhappy Campers off of Showtime or some such, and here it was waiting for me to watch.

And it’s still waiting for me to watch.

It might be waiting for sometime more, actually.

Shocking, I know. I mean, after the classic Open House, how could I possible resist another slasher flick?

Back on a slightly more interesting subject, I stumbled over the tail end of this Kaijû anti-classic. Someone had “cruelly” put an episode of The X-Files over the bulk of it, thus depriving me of the opportunity of rewatching it for review. However, I can summarize the plot from memory. An advanced alien civilization has journeyed to Earth with a scheme so diabolical that only a pair of preschool children can stop it. Meanwhile, mighty Gamera gets his butt handed to him by a bizarre looking monster. Everyone thinks he’s dead until the last instant when he comes back to life, charges the monster and… Well, I wouldn’t want to ruin the end.

By this stage in the Giant Turtle’s career the stories just weren’t up to the standard of the previous movies in the series. Which is pretty damning criticism, all things considered. Even at its best (Daikaijû kessen: Gamera tai Barugon/War of the Monsters) the Showa series was a pale copy of Toho’s King of the Monsters. It would be close to a quarter of a century after this film before Gamera would ever have a film comparable to the best Godzilla movies.

This one in particular was incredibly dull. Long, long stretches of dullness that even campy remarks like “Use the flamethrower, Gamera!” can’t quite cover.

One could try and lessen the sternest of these remarks by pointing out that maybe, just maybe, I’m no longer the audience for this work. That might well be the case. Thing is, I can watch Showa Godzillas and enjoy them for what they are. I couldn’t do that with this picture.

Take this as an example: A large portion of the final battle between Zigra and Gamera takes place underwater. Zigra, a Goblin Shark type Kaijû, swims around our hero like a jet flying through air. The turtle makes his distinctive battle cry clear as a bell despite the volume of liquid around him. Even his flaming jets are undiminished by the environment.

All of which I might be able to accept. With some effort.

But there are moments were the film gives us close up of Gamera bleeding. His blood clouds out his wound, billowing in the water.

Which means someone gave a damn about those money shots and nothing for any other moment in the scene.

This shouldn’t bother me. But it does. It bothers the hell of me. It’s a “good enough” sort of thing. The whole movie reeks of it. “This is good enough for the kids. Why bother do more?”

Bottom line, if you’re in the mood for Showa Gamera, avoid this one.