And the theme weeks at B&S About Movies collide once again—with our review of the currently in pre-production of Karn Evil 9 for our “Radio Week,” and Sam’s insatiable appetite for all strange beasts from beyond the lands of the rising sun.
Welcome to “Kaiju Week.”
Huh? What, pray tell, does the 29th film in the Godzilla franchise and the sixth and final film in the franchise’s Millennium period, as well as the 28th Godzilla film produced by Toho Studios overall, have to do with Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s fifth album, 1973’s Brain Salad Surgery?
Please, don’t say “who” when I say, “Keith Emerson,” ye youthful movie and music fan.
As result of today’s classic rock FM radio eliminating the ELP catalog from their playlists (come on, even “Lucky Man”?), all you horror hounds most likely know Emerson through his Italian giallo soundtrack work for Dario Argento’s Inferno (1980), Lucio Fulci’s Murder Rock (1984), and Michele Soavi’s The Church (1989). In addition to Sylvester Stallone’s Nighthawks (1981), Emerson also composed the soundtrack for Toho Studios’ Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)—which serves as his final work as a film composer.
And that musician analogy continues as director Ryuhei Kitamura (Clive Barker’s 2008 The Midnight Meat Train starring Bradley Cooper; 2012’s No One Lives) compares his contribution to the Godzilla cycle to that of a musician’s “best of” album; Kitamura picked what he felt were the best elements from the past Godzilla movies that he loved. He chose that approach as result of his being unsatisfied with the Godzilla films of the ’80s, ’90s and 2000s and he wanted to bring back the messages and themes of the times those films reflected in their plots.
And “greatest hits” he gave us . . . and then some!
In addition to the big guy, Kitamura brought back Angurius, Ebriah, Gigan, Hedorah, Kamacuras, King Ceasar, Kumonga, Manda, Minilla, Monster X/Keizer Ghidorah, and Mothra—along with a slew of others monsters via stock footage and toy placements throughout the film. And the alien Shobijin twins—from 1961’s Mothra—and the Xiliens—from 1965’s Invasion of the Astro-Monster—are back. Then there are the ships! Yeeeessss! The Gotengo from 1963’s Atragon (and 1977’s War in Space) is back—along with the all-new kaiju-battling weapons: the Earth Defense Force’s Éclair, the Karya, and the Rumbling. Then there are the new, reversed winged Dogfighter jets, and the good ‘ol Heisei and Millennium-era Type 90 Tanks and Type 90 Maser Cannons are back.
Mada watashi no kokorodearu: I am in Kaiju Tengoku.
So film kazu 29 picks up where the initial attack on Tokyo in 1964’s Godzilla left off: the green guy trapped under the Antarctic ice after losing the fight against the original Gotengo battle ship. As the years pass, the Earth’s environmental changes (yes, the “message” is back) results in the mutations of more giant monsters and superhumans, aka “the mutants,” the genetic off-spring of humans and the Xiliens.
One of those returning classic monsters, the Manda, from 1963’s Atragon (aka, Destroy All Monsters in the U.S.), goes up against the Gotengo once again, and the drilling battleship, piloted by Captain Doug Gordon (MMA and UFC, and New Japan Pro-Wresting champion Donald Frye!?)—loses the battle and Gordon is stripped of his command.
Helping in the battle are the mutant solider Shinichi Ozaki (Japanese musician Masahiro Matsuoka of top-selling pop-rockers Tokio), who protects U.N biologist Dr. Miyuki Otonashi (Rei Kikukawa, the lead in the awesome action flick, Crazy Gun: 2 Beyond the Law; You Tube clip), as she studies a mummified monster.
And a deus ex machina teleportation device zaps them to Mothra’s planet and the Shobijin twins warn of a coming battle of good and evil. Then the Haisetsu-mono wa fan ni atarimasu and all manner of monsters and aliens attack.
I’m on Kitamura’s side: I’m an Old Milwaukee or Miller Beer guy; get away from me with that fancy imported swill. I want the Godzilla monsters of my youth and not so much the ones from the ‘80s or ‘90s.
So, Keith Emerson brought me here . . . but Ryuhei Kitamura made me stay to see the show. It’s a sushi-splashing kitchen sink of craziness that rivals the hard to beat insanity that was the pseudo Planet of the Apes romps Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) and Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)—my favorites of the franchise (Kitamara cites the first as his favorite of the franchise as well)—that I watched in the darkened duplex all those years ago. The kaiju special effects—all shot in-camera with no CGI assists—combined with the present-day Mission: Impossible and The Matrix-inspired live action sequences, only enhances the film’s awesome retro-throw back qualities . . . and you get a ripping Sum 41 tune, “We’re All to Blame,” too?
Wow! What a way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Godzilla franchise!
Looks like a Kitamura marathon night! Life does not suck.
Hey! Don’t stomp off yet, green guy!
If you jump on Netflix, you can check out the Reiwa-era trio of the latest animated Godzilla flicks: 2017’s Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, and 2018’s Godzilla: The Planet Eater and Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle. The first Reiwa-era film, 2016’s live action Shin Godzilla, is available on Amazon Prime and Vudu.
Of course, the whole reason for this “Kaiju Week” blowout is Warner Bros. Studio’s Godzilla vs. Kong coming in 2020 that, if you’re nuts for the green guy and keeping track, is the fourth film in Legendary Studio’s (made their debut with 2005’s Batman Begins and 2006’s Superman Returns) “MonsterVerse” and serves as a sequel to Hollywood’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) and Kong: Skull Island (2017).
Here’s some of the other Kaijus (and sort of Kaiju) that we’ve reviewed. For the rest that we’ve recently reviewed to commemorate the March 2021 release of Godzilla vs. Kong, enter “Kaiju Day Marathon” in our search box to the left to populate that list of films (you may see a few reposted Godzilla reviews, but many new film reviews concerning Godzilla, Kong, and other creatures from the Lands of the Rising Sun).
Gamera vs. Barugon
Gamera vs. Gyaos
Gamera: Guaridan of the Universe
Gamera vs. Guiron
Gamera vs. Jiger
Gamera 2: Legion
Gamera 3: The Revenge of Iris
Gamera Super Monster
Gamera vs. Viras
Gamera vs. Zigra
Godzilla: Final Wars
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla
Terror of Mechagodzilla
Bakko Yokaiden Kibakichi
The Beast of Hollow Mountain
Gakidama: The Demon Within
Gappa: The Triphibian Monster
The Iron Superman
The Great Gila Monster
Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon
Planet of Dinosaurs
War of the Gargantuas
Yokai Monsters: 100 Monsters
Yokai Monsters: Along with Ghosts
Yokai Monsters: Spook Warfare