The year was 1990. The Hubble Space Telescope sent down its first images from space to NASA. The number one TV show was Cheers, and girl you know it’s true how embarrassed Pop duo Milli Vanilli must have felt that year.
But, arguably one of the most important events to streamline and set the tone for horror in the ’90s, was quite possibly the legendary Tim Curry slapping on a red nose; inducing a mighty fear of clowns into TV audiences everywhere for the unforeseeable future. Thanks Tim!
Beyond the television terrors of Derry, 1990 was a pretty fantastic year for horror. Tasking myself with dwindling down the list down to, what I think, are the ten best, was slightly anxiety inducing. However, I’m pretty satisfied with the results and the lineage of order. Also, if we’re gonna celebrate anything in 2020, it might as well be things from the past that live on to keep us from losing our minds!
Can we at least agree on that?
So let’s get to it! I’ve also included handy Amazon links with the best deals I could find for said features if you feel inspired by this list to add to your horror collection! Also, I won’t bore you with an in-depth analysis of each film. I feel like most of you have seen or at least know the plots of these gems- and if you haven’t FOR SHAME and click the title links to remedy that immediately.
What do you get when you cross Hulk Hogan, a Grandpa Munster impersonator, and genetic splicer lab run by Christopher Lee? Why, Gremlins 2 of course! I fondly remember seeing this in theaters when I was about eight and I got to tell you, watching the Hulkster threaten the Gremsters with a 24 inch python beating was probably the highlight of my year and deserving of a top-ten slot.
Being as how this Puppet Master installment in particular is my favorite of the franchise, I couldn’t leave it off the list! The puppets return with a very aggressive physical form of Toulon in hopes to resurrect their old puppet party days; along with a few new tricks. A new group is at castle at the puppets’ disposal to slice and dice, but it was those damn “human” puppets that gave me nightmares for weeks on end!
Fun fact: Puppet Master II is playing in the Toyland Warehouse security office in Demonic Toys.
If you weren’t afraid of spiders before the “Roseanne” era John Goodman thriller, I’ll take a million dollar bet that Arachnophobia induced that anxiety in you. Pretty impressive as this IS the first film distributed by the Walt Disney Hollywood Studios label. Way to set the bar there Mickey.
Quite possibly the greatest horror anthology since Creepshow, the Tales From the Darkside feature presentation-as well as the series– is the perfect love-child for fans of the Romero-King collaboration and the unforgettable Tales From the Crypt with a star-studded cast to boot. Steve Buscemi, Christian Slater, Debbie Harry, and a young Matthew Lawrence who serves as the stories’ introduction opposite Blondie’s Harry. We got a homicidal mummy, an even more homicidal (adorable) cat, and one fucked up gargoyle tale of love and betrayal. Need I say any more?
As wild and bewildering as it is, there’s a lot to love about a pen-written Clive Barker film about a mental patient who believes he is a serial killer by none other than, David Cronenberg. The group in the film dubbed the Nightbreed, may look wonky and in movie-terms, scary. But are actually the misfits. The outcasts. And the dreamers. A lot of things I whole-heartedly believe many horror fans can relate to. Love it or hate it- it has a place in my heart.
Ok first off: YES. I know Ghost isn’t a traditional horror film like the others listed here. However, my motto has and alsways been- “If it scares you, it’s a damn horror movie.” And I’m sticking to that. Those demon ink-blobs scared the literal piss out of me when I was a kid therefore this masterpiece gets a slot here.
Ghost has just about everything the average cinema-goer could want in a film. Also could be why it was undoubtedly one of the most popular films of that year. Love, betrayal, drama, thrills, a little comedy, and a cool cat that sees ghosts. Ok, he has a small part but it’s still one of my favorite little quirks about the movie.
The sequel to the Mancini/Holland endeavor is every bit as great as the original with Chucky really coming into his own in 1990. Sure, the Chuck had some memorable one-liners from the first film. But in the sequel, the pavement has been laid for Chucky’s homicidal yet humorous personality with a dozen or so “you can’t help but laugh” lines and actions that just makes this one so great. Worth mentioning is the opening title sequence of the burnt remains of his body being pieced back together like a fucked up Frankenstein.
BEEP BEEP! I can fondly remember watching the 2 part-miniseries that premiered on the ABC network in November of 1990. I was eight-years-old and by God, as a young brooding horror nerd, this was absolutely thrilling for me to see something so terrifying being aired on a family-friendly network! As with above’s Arachnophobia, the rise of coulrophobia went full steam ahead with audiences everywhere and I hold the magnificent Tim Curry fully responsible for his genius performance as Pennywise for inducing clown-related panic attacks for years down the line.
Humorously enough, it was during the mini-series premiere of IT where I caught my first glimpse of that cockadoody nurse Annie Wilkes and the theatrical trailer for Misery during a commercial break. The strong, and ankle-anxiety inducing story from Stephen King for me, is perfectly represented on screen with Kathy Bates. Bates IS Annie and delivers a performance that can be compared to Hopkins’ Hannibal Lector one year later. You love to hate her. That’s not an easy feat for any character.
And now that you’ve exorcised my invitation to the top ten dance, here we are at the very greatest film of 1990- THE EXORCIST III. The film, adapted from William Peter Blatty’s “Legion”, is about as aesthetically pleasing being the first person to walk on fresh snow in the morning hours. Incidentally, it’s also intellectually the one true, and finest sequel to The Exorcist. Brad Dourif (his second appearance on this list-BRAVO), clocks into his One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest days to remind us that he’s a lot more than just the voice of a killer doll for horror fans. The man is an ACTOR. And one of the damn finest alongside George C. Scott who serves as his opposite making way for a beautiful on-screen performance that compliment each other wonderfullly.
Not to mention it has THEE greatest jump scares to this day of any horror film. EVER. And since it hold’s the number one spot, let me endulge you with you possibly shitting your pants one more time with the headless nun!
One of the greatest memories of my childhood, were the multitude of horror movies that were introduced to me through my Dad and Grandfather (Pop- we called him). Pop was a passionate fan of ALL Universal Horror Monsters films, and on top of watching them endlessly by his side on the nights the grandparents would babysit, I would often admire his very complete Universal Monsters VHS Collection and the artwork embodied within it. However, my Dad, albeit a super Frankenstein himself, was more on the Slasher spectrum. And by the way, is the biggest John Carpenter’s Halloween fan I know. It sounds biased but being inside the horror community for fifteen years, I stand by that statement- and you could read more about that here.
That being said, the Halloween films were a pretty standard rotation in the ole’ VCR growing up- and hell still are. And while I’ve found this to be a pretty common list among the horror website interwebs, they sure as shit aren’t my opinion and that of the greatest Halloween fan I know! So, here we go: Nightmare Nostalgia’s official ranking of all the Halloween opening credits!
I truly feel like I’m really going to make some of you mad. BUT, just remember my opinion is not yours and we can all agree to disagree!
And no: I’m not including the Rob Zombie versions because NO.
9. Halloween: Resurrection
With many fans, Resurrection ranks dead last in pretty much all aspects; and here on this list is no exception. Following a very generic version of John Carpenter’s classic tune paired with pitch-black backgrounds and orange credit lettering, we stroll down the halls of the Grace Sanitarium Instution where we meet a seemingly docile Laurie and a pair of nurses who narrate to the audience the very bullshit story of why she’s there. It just sucks when in comparison to ALL the others . Sorry not sorry.
8. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
In my opinion, and well that’s what this all is, Curse‘s opening doesn’t fair much better than Resurrection. The only reason it’s a slot higher is because it’s a lot shorter. The messy intro here that clumsily inserts parts of the film in the damn thing, merely sets the tone for the rest of it. One big mess. However, as big as a mess as it is, it still isn’t the worst in the franchise by far. Resurrection still holds that title belt.
7. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Ahhh, here we are. The last of the original pumpkin intros in the franchise- up until 2018 of course when they resurrected it. Personally, I rather enjoy the lowkey angry tone behind this one in combination with the process of what I would call, The Wild Maniac World of Pumpkin Carving Sports here. However, compared to others’ before it, it falls short.
5. Halloween (2018)
One can certainly appreciate the return of the pumpkin intro via the 2018 franchise’s homecoming. And in such a unique form as the jack-o-lantern has fallen flat and laid dormant for many years, only to be blown up into it’s original form. Like it never missed a beat. Truly an honorable way to start the Myers madness again!
4. Halloween (1978)
Alright. This is the one that MIGHT trigger some pissed off feelings from fellow fans in regards to ranking. BUT, I feel like some of the follow-ups were just a smidge more intriguing to my senses. It’s classic, simple, and a prefect start into the Haddonfield journey whereas the original film was simplistic-yet effectively terrifying.
3. Halloween III: Season of the Witch
Love the movie or hate it (and yes its still an argument), you are very wrong if you deny the magnificence of thy Magic Pumpkin paired with a sinister synthesizer. The onset of the 80s’ included the launch of new wave and MTV and this was a perfect representation of what early 80s’ horror films looked and sounded like. It’s just a staple of an era that many have since used as inspiration- including Stranger Things.
2. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
The return of Myers meant a ditch of the recurring pumpkin intro this time around with a spine-chilling sequence of a sunset on a farm instead. The ambience of a sinister Autumn setting with the low-tone score, the winds blowing, and Halloween decorations swaying in the breeze always struck the skeevies chord with me. That Michael is still out there. Waiting- and coming soon.
1.Halloween II (1981)
There is just no way in Haddonfield Hell that anyone can convince me otherwise that the sequel to the original isn’t the greatest goddamn gift we’ve ever been given in this franchise. Well, as far as appeasing intros are concerned anyway. Opening with the events of the last film spilling over to start the continuing journey of cat and mouse between Myers and Laurie, we roll into a perplexed Loomis staggering outside of the Doyle home to the spot where Michael had dropped, and only a pool of blood remains. Garnering attention from (finally) a nosy neighbor who has ignored all the blood-curdling screams, and apparently is just NOW paying attention to what’s been going on right next door, annoyingly asks if this is a joke and that “He’s been trick or treated to death tonight.” Which leads into one of the greatest lines of this fuckin’ franchise from Loomis himself- “You don’t know what death is!” Who then scurries off around the corner in a wild state.
And then- the glorious, more angry pumpkin intro this time around. The score is more aggressive, much like in the rest of the film coinciding with an angrier Myers. The pumpkin cracks down the middle to reveal a skull. The symbol that death is coming and isn’t stopping for anyone.
What’s YOUR favorite Halloween opening sequence? Discuss below in the comments!
Candy has always been KING at Halloween, and one can’t deny remembering Halloweens’ past in our adolescent years with a great fondness. As we opened our eyes in the comfort of our cartoon character bedsheets on October 31st, we immediately thought of the glorious haul of Halloween treats we would possess that night. Pillowcases full of homemade popcorn balls, candy apples, and even the dreaded nickels and pennies were not only expected, but a Halloween staple in what seems like not so long ago.
Looking inside my child’s trick-or-treat bags these days is a far cry from what they looked like when I was a kid. Homemade treats from neighbors are strictly taboo as urban myths have pretty much put an end to that era. Long gone are the days of accidentally ingesting wax and smoking pseudo candy cigarettes. And I kind of miss it! Kids these days will never know about us giving absolute zero fucks and taking full trust in our neighbors were’t trying to poison or hide razor blades in our Snickers Bars.
However, 2020 ain’t got nothing on the very low possible risk of this EVER happening.
What’s even worse this year, and a big reason why I’m writing this is that we don’t know what Halloween in 2020 will look like for many. Of course, I think most people will make up their own minds on whether to embrace their yearly trick or treating traditions or opt for something different to cater to their own comforts and safety. Either way I feel is OK. And in regards to the current shit show, I dug up this old article I wrote for Dread Central a few years back, revised it, and brought it home to Nightmare Nostalgia for some fuzzy-good childhood-Halloween memories because we could all use some of the good stuff right now!
*Although these candies are still very much available at old-time candy shops and online, I sure do miss seeing that super cool Mr. Bones in my kid’s pumpkin pails. So let’s take a stroll down Halloween memory lane and fondly remember the Halloween candy that has become an obscure item to see in present times. So let’s do our due diligence everyone and seek out some of these fun retro candies to put a smile on everyone’s face behind that mask this October 31st!
10. Candy Cigarettes
Even with an unsavory past in regards to marketing, these were still pretty cool to get in your Halloween haul. Sitting around with friends negotiating candy trades with one of these suckers in your mouth made you feel like an adult, especially if you suckered someone out of their peanut butter cups. That one small “poof” of glory sugar smoke just made it that much more satisfying, and hey if you’re a rebel you can still pick up a few packs and hand them out to trick or treaters!
9. Whack-O-Wax Lips, Fangs, and Mustaches
These over-sized red lips and ‘stashes were such a fun addition to our candy stash, even if you ended up shitting out waxy poops the next day. As a matter of fact, I think I still have that waxy taste in my mouth from 1992. In any case, they still ruled. And you can still buy them!
8. Wonka’s Dino Sour Eggs
This sweet and sour variation of the Gobstopper was way more interesting than its plain counterpart. Depending on how long you sucked on these bad boys, they would change colors and flavors, eventually shriveling up into what looked like dino doo-doo if you got that far without spitting it out.
7. Monster Candy
Another variation of candy cigarettes was the Monster Candy that came in various tiny boxes that usually contained 2 sticks (if I can remember correctly). They weren’t the tastiest, much like the latter, but goddamnit if they weren’t one of the coolest things to find in your pile of candy. Just look at that gorgeous packaging with Karloff and Lugosi. Are you really going to disagree?
Oh man, Drac-Snax were THE TITS. Just like the Monster Candy mentioned above, this had some of the coolest packaging ever for Halloween treats. The hard fruit-flavored candies were not only good, but they completely captured the essence of what Halloween is all about. Bats, tombstones, and some poor headless sonofabitch.
5. Orange Juice Bubble Gum
I may be alone on this one; however, I really, really, miss this stuff. It was hard not to just slide all those tiny nuggets into your mouth all at once. The Topps gum had different flavors available like grape and lemon, but orange was by far the best. It was pure candy crack, I tell you.
Yes, the official name for these things was Nik-L-Lip, but we all just called them “wax juice.” You approached this in one of two ways: Either you bit the top off and sucked out all that sugary flavored syrup inside, or you just popped the fucker in your mouth, releasing an explosion of super sweet sugar-water onto your taste buds. Also, if you were like me, you chewed on the wax bottle until all the flavor was gone while, again, trying to avoid the waxy Halloween poops. Worth noting my significant other thinks I’m absolutely crazy for even including this. I say, give me my strange addiction!
3. Garbage Can-dy
Who remembers sugary fish bones?! Or perhaps the old shoes along with some old soda bottles that definitely tasted a lot better than they looked. These Pez-like candies came in a super cool toy trashcan that you could use for storage. I personally used mine for Garbage Pail Kids stickers. It just seemed fitting.
2. PB Maxx
Oh, PB Maxx, how I miss thee. The ULTIMATE chocolate-coated peanut butter bar was fuckin’ heaven. If history has taught us anything about nostalgia foods (such as the return of Ecto-Cooler, then we just might get to see it again IF our voices are strong enough. And I would be all kinds of okay with this.
1. Mr. Bones
Was there really anything more radical than Mr. Bones? I mean, you not only got some delicious tart candy, but you got to build a skeleton out of your food! Oh yes, those sneaky bastards tricked us to use our minds to put together this jigsaw puzzle of a treat, and then devour it like an animal. Brilliance. Plus it came in a cool coffin box! The ultimate Halloween treasure treat was absolutely getting multiples of these spectacular candies. I miss you, Mr. Bones. You delicious little fellow.
While it isn’t TOTALLY the same, Amazon does have a pretty close in taste Skeleton Bones candy packs on their site. No fun toy coffin but if you want to get pretty close to the nostalgia factor, it’s an option!
What is a Halloween candy you would like to see make a comeback? Gimmie your retro rant below and let’s talk about it!
“Godzilla is the son of the atomic bomb. He is a nightmare created out of the darkness of the human soul. He is the sacred beast of the apocalypse.” Tomoyuki Tanaka, Gojira
Flawlessly capturing the core essence of who Godzilla is and his irradiated roots, the above quote should be the criteria for any film maker given the task of bringing the world’s biggest monster to life cinematically.
Godzilla’s come a long way since first appearing in Tokyo to leave a radiant wave of horror and destruction in his ineradicable path. The film was handled with effulgent respect and care for it’s subject material. That’s what sets it apart from other monster movies of its time and has given a timeless quality that new generations of fans come to discover and embrace.
Gojira is a masterpiece and cinematic legend.
I covered Gojira, in Part I which you can catch up on by clicking here.
Now the movie we’re talking about today lacks both respect and talent. And even though I’m sure most of us would much rather prefer drinking a big steaming cup of nuclear waste than revisit this film ever again, we’re still going to take a look back at the Godzilla movie that enraged fans, disgusted Toho, and keeps popping up like a turd that just won’t flush.
(Sigh) let’s buckle in and just brace ourselves. Because if I have to do this I’m not doing it alone. You all are coming with me!
But wait. I’m sounding harsh. Let’s get this out of the way. “Do I hate this movie?” I know a lot of my readers are assuming I do and those of you who go way back with me and my early days of writing, you’re probably expecting this to be the newest article of me Manicing Out.
Surprisingly I don’t hate it. It genuinely feels like a ’90s blockbuster. It has that ’90s look and feel. But I’ll save my final thoughts, well, until the end. Let’s Time Warp in the meantime.
Coming of Age
It was the 1990s and us ‘80s brats were nearing adolescence which meant our world was changing. We were growing up and so were our toys as well as entertainment. We were big kids now and it felt like everything we loved was maturing right alongside us.
Thanks to McFarlane Toys our figures were going from badass and fun to badass and wicked! Our comics became darker with introductions of new anti-heroes spawned from Hell, The Killing Joke made Joker scary again, and Spidey had to deal with some Maximum Carnage due to an asylum out break in New York. Things were bloodier and more violent and we were not complaining!
Cartoons got edgier too thanks to Ren and Stimpy and Beavis and Butthead. Video games exposed us to Mortal Kombat and Doom where we bathed ourselves in blood.
So I still say the ’90s was a great time for coming to age and we were lucky enough to be part of it.
Everything we loved was getting bigger, better, and way badass(ier). But what about Godzilla? After all, you’d think this decade would have been the radioactive-rich culture for a proper Godzilla resurgence.
From 1985 to 1998
For us US fans the last time we ever saw any sign of Godzilla was back in ‘85. The movie was released theatrically in US theaters, something that seldom ever happened, and I remember getting a copy of it on VHS and wearing that poor thing out.
Godzilla 1985 was an updated take on the classic monster and the beginning of the Heisei era. It was darker, bigger, and a brilliant return to formula. Godzilla felt intimidating and, well, scary! I LOVED IT!
Humanity could do nothing against this newly risen (or resurrected) beast of the apocalypse. Godzilla was back and I couldn’t be happier. The effects were updated and the story was dead serious, perhaps to a flaw. But Hell I didn’t care. My Godzilla had returned!
And then … there was nothing!
Without a single rumor of any follow-up films it seemed as if Godzilla would just stay buried at the bottom of the volcano that swallowed him up. Godzilla might as well have been dead.
Little did I know – during this dry spell – Toho was still actively making Godzilla movies. But with no internet back then fans like me had no idea the King of the Monsters was still around.
In that time my family moved us to Russia and I was completely out of the loop. I still had a copy of Godzilla 1985 though and watched regularly, and introduced my fans to my love for kaiju.
And then dinosaurs walked the Earth!
Dino DNA and Godzilla Comes to America!
We got one helluva great movie that revived dinosaurs for all of us little brats and made kids want to go dig up dinosaur bones. And that movie was Jurassic Park!
Kids were excited about dinosaurs again and studios took note. It wasn’t long after we explored that dino-raging park that it was announced a new (NEW!!!!) Godzilla movie was being made with the same special effects that brought those dinosaurs to life!
Please keep in mind I had not seen a new Godzilla movie since the mid ’80s. So I was besides myself when I learned that not only was a new movie in the works but it would have state-of-the art special effects backing it up!
This was the first time an American studio would have the honor to interpret Japan’s greatest monster for, what would doubtlessly be, a fresh new beginning for Godzilla.
This would be the Godzilla movie to define all Godzilla movies to come. We just knew it… what little we knew though.
The Showa era had ended before many of us were even born but we grew up in the radiant shadow of those films and their greatness. The battles Godzilla had with King Kong, Monster Zero, Gigan, Megalon, and MechaGodzilla were forever branded in our minds.
We were way-passed starved to see the new era of the King of the Monsters…and now looking back it makes perfect more sense why the ’98 disasterpiece left so many of us feeling kicked right between the legs.
It was a betrayal of our innocent trust.
This was one of the most anticipated movies of the decade. Toho was thrilled by the deal and couldn’t wait to see their prized monster introduced to a larger audience. For many American viewers, Godzilla was just a rubber suit and bad dubbing so this would be the first time to prove the might and majesty of the Child of the Apocalypse.
This project was a big deal to all of us… and it tripped on its own two feet and fell face-first into a pile of rat dicks.
Actually, it didn’t trip because that would imply it was an accident. No, this thing purposefully jumped headfirst into that dick pile and then dared to try and convince us it was some misunderstood masterpiece. And we weren’t buying what it was selling.
If you really wanna get mad you should just look and see what the movie almost was. But would I put you through that? I’m Manic Exorcism, of-fuking-course I am! So come on.
The Movie That Almost Was
Tristar purchased the film rights from Toho in 1992 with an elaborate plan to make a three-part Godzilla saga. Ambitious but not unobtainable. Today we’re seeing Legendary building a successful Godzilla trilogy of their own and fans praise their efforts.
The difference is Legendary, unlike Tristar, has respect and appreciation for the colossal task of bringing Godzilla to life. Their movies feel like fan-made monsterpieces and Tristar’s movie was nothing but a cash grab. One that never saw any future after its first film.
Originally the picture was set to release in 1994 with a lore steeped in Atlantian mystery. Godzilla would have been a magical product of Atlantis, a creature created to be the protector of the Earth.
Godzilla would have battled a brand new terror to the planet, a shape-shifting beast from the depths of outer space called the Gryphon.
One can imagine the Gryphon undergoing different evolutionary stages that would challenge Godzilla’s wits and might to find a way to ultimately defeat his newest foe. It sounds like a classic Showa Era showdown.
I especially like that Godzilla would have dealt with aliens again. Some of his greatest enemies come from other planets. So far so good.
It would seem the project was in safe hands with Jan de Bont set to direct. Godzilla may have gotten away from his atomic roots but overall the movie sounded like a hit waiting to happen.
The man in charge of bringing Godzilla to life was none other than Stan Winston!
That’s right. That guy! The man who brought the Alien Queen to life in Aliens. The artist behind the menacing presence of the T-800 from Terminator. And the very guy who made dinosaurs walk in Jurassic Park.
Stan Winston was going to design Godzilla and bring him to life for Western audiences. This was a big fucking deal!
Luckily concept art and designs still exist for this lost project.
And looking at the Godzilla designs Winston had in mind, well he looks damn good. You look at this and know you’re looking at Godzilla.
This movie would have worked and most likely would have inspired a franchise. This could have been just what we all needed.
(I wish it could at least have a comicbook adaptation. I would still like to see this project come to life somehow. It just sounds cool.)
So what went wrong? It really boiled down to budgetary issues. The project cost more than the studio was willing to pay and a new director and a new story were demanded.
And that’s where it all goes to shit.
Roland Emmerich was called in as director and since he had no more ideas as to how he could rip Star Wars off anymore (at least at that particular moment) he took over the most ambitious monster movie of the decade….yaaaay….
It was later announced that Emmerich had not grown up with Godzilla and admitted he had no passion for the project.
No passion and no respect. That’s a real nice attitude to have while directing a franchise that’s adored by millions across the globe.
A studio wanted money and the director wanted the same thing. What could possibly go wrong?
The New York Lizard
Whereas the Gojira serves as a catastrophic warning of impending doom at the hands of mankind’s carelessness, the 1998 film serves more like some big-budget sitcom episode. It has no political statements to make, there’s no philosophy behind it, and the human characters aren’t facing any kind of judgement-day peril at the hands of a beast born of atomic energy.
It’s only recurring message is French people can’t find good coffee in America. That and we see a lot of tuna as if any one of us gave a shit.
Ok, so I get it. It’s not always easy (I suppose) to have a powerful message driving your movie project. It could be argued that all the best ideas have already been used up. Gojira’s message was powerful and frightening.
So if it doesn’t have a message it had better have some badass destruction, right? And…no it doesn’t. Whenever the monster is on the screen it’s not ripping a path through New York’s plenteous skyscrapers. It’s not crumbling businesses, endangering lives, or burning the city to the ground. You know, like we’ve come to expect out of Godzilla movies!
In fact, the damage that is done is caused mainly by the military as they chase the big lizard through New York. That’s right, the monster doesn’t even fight the military but runs away like a wimp!
Such wasted opportunities! Could you imagine seeing the monster wreak havoc across New York? It was a chance to bring Godzilla to the States to do what Godzilla is known for. But instead, we got a scared lizard who was too busy laying eggs than actually living up to its titanic name.
Now let’s talk about the look. Yeah, there actually was some thought put into this thing’s appearance. Like they tried extra hard to fuck this up.
So ya know how Stan Winston was originally behind the project? Yeah, they let him go and Patrick Tatopoulos was brought in. Tatopoulos says Emmerich gave him specific direction for the monster’s look too.
Firstly, the monster was to run really, really fast. You know, like Godzilla always does. I mean you look at Godzilla and just think fuck! He must run so fast! Like I always think of Godzilla as a big-time runner. Like I mean Godzilla must jog, right?
Emmerich was also adamant that this wasn’t a monster but an animal. I mean it’s not like the guy was directing a monster movie or anything. And not just a monster movie but the most famous monster of all time! But Emmerich in his brilliance decided we deserved a movie about a very big animal lost in a bigger city. OooooOOOOoooooOOOOoooh!!!!
Not only that, but the monster’s stupid looking jawline was based on the tiger’s face from Disney’s The Jungle Book.
(Moment of silence) *pouring drink*
So never mind the fact there was a rich library of films to base your Godzilla movie on. Not to mention all the creative hands behind the Toho legacy who gladly would’ve aided their advise and input to help further this big-budget project.
Oh no, Emmerich thought it much too bothersome to look into the lore, look, and temperament of Godzilla. His team chose Disney as inspiration instead.
And those assholes knew the look sucked. They kept that shit hidden as best they could before the movie was released. Even though the advertisement for this film was ridiculous they only dared to show us the monster’s eye, or foot, or hands and claws. They knew they made a big mistake and it was way too late to take it back.
A week before the movie released I remember opening a magazine and seeing the first full glimpse of ‘Godzilla’ and thinking to myself, ‘are you fucking kidding me?!’ I thought maybe I was seeing a monster the real Godzilla would fight in the movie. But oh no, I was seeing a thing Emmerich thought was Godzilla.
If you’re disappointed in the monster’s stupid look you’re not alone. Every veteran Godzilla suit actor hated the Emmerich look. Haruo Nakajima, the original suit actor, said “Its face looks like an iguana and its body and limbs look like a frog.”
Shusuke Kaneko, the Heisei Gamera director had to say about it: “it’s not Godzilla, it doesn’t have his spirit.”
Bottom line: none of the kaiju masters of the past approved of ’98.
This monster can’t even breathe fire. It doesn’t rampage across New York City. It runs away from the military. It’s just a useless kind of beast. It is not Godzilla and Japan took care of that for us.
The Final Nail in Zilla’s Coffin.
Toho, the studio who owned the rights to the Godzilla franchise, was appalled by the movie Hollywood puked out. Toho was so pissed off by this American embarrassment that they set the record straight and removed the God from Zilla.
They even went out of their way to address this.
In the movie Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), it’s mentioned that a monster attacked New York and Americans confused it for Godzilla. But the monster who hit New York was a different monster called Zilla, not Godzilla. I’m hammering this in I know, but you get the picture.
Toho further erased Zilla’s dignity by forcing it to fight the real Godzilla in Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). In that film, Zilla is straight away hit by a radiant blast of Godzilla’s atomic breath and explodes into little fried atoms. The end.
I know you want to see that. Here you go.
The worst part about this imposter film is for many this is the one and only Godzilla movie they will ever watch. This was a monumental opportunity to introduce new viewers to the world of giant monsters and it failed so fantastically.
Gone are the scenes that echo the results of atomic weapons melting a city as the Beast walks slowly along the glowing skyline. Gone is the desperation of man battling a nightmare of his own making.
Perhaps as a direct result of Emmerich’s stupid movie Toho began making all-new Godzilla films which are now known as the Millennium Era. And one of my all-time favorites is part of this section, Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla!
And thanks to Legendary we’re getting quality American-made Godzilla films in the MonsterVerse.
The ’98 film was a missed opportunity but great things have come out of it.
It makes me wonder what kind of American Gojira remake we could have had if the team behind it had taken the project seriously. You can tell they were mimicking the original movie straight away. It’s opening credits show us atomic bombs blowing the Hell out of an island and an iguana basking in the neon light. We all knew where that was going.
Then a fishing ship, reminiscent of the Lucky Dragon and the opening of Gojia, suffers a fatal collision with the monster made of radiation. The monster later arrives on land and accidentally breaks up the harbor and fishing district, kinda like when Godzilla brought a typhoon to the village when he first set foot on land.
Was this an attempt to remake Gojira? Yes, even if it was nothing more than a subconscious one. It could have been great but the damage it caused is thankfully contained. And Japan would later give us the true successor to the movie that started it all.
I don’t hate the movie. Oh it’s a helluva lot of fun to hate on it, sure. But It has a stupid kind of charm about it. I can look back on it now (and with so many newer Godzilla entries since then) and nod with nostalgia at it.
As a Godzilla movie it’s just awful. It doesn’t work at all. It sucks, it sucks, it blows donkey balls. But as a monster movie it’s not all that bad. If you can view it as only a monster movie then you’ll have fun with it.
It’s good to watch for some ’90s feels I guess. But I strongly recommend any and all of the Hesisei era Godzilla movies to this one if you want GODZILLA from that decade!
So stick with us and stay tuned for Part III as we take a look at the award-winning Shin Godzilla.
Ahh, 80s’ wrestling. Growing up in the decade of Saturday Morning cartoons, and feel good family-friendly sitcoms nestled in-between Roddy Piper cracking a coconut over Superfly’s dome was something truly special indeed. 80s’ kids, and in all honesty, many adults looked to these Superstars as McMahon called them as real-life superheroes and villains. Ambitious wrestling fans around the world mimicked these guys/gals from the way they spoke, carried themselves, and albeit dangerous, wrestling moves as they rightfully saw these athletes something inspirational. I clearly remember my early youth family pool parties where my older cousins would suplex each other into the swimming pool and myself being a much younger small girl, would do my best Jesse Ventura announcer impressions along the way.
Among the many ways to doppelganger your favorite WWF wrestler, one of the easiest, and popular ways, was to don the almighty mullet that just about EVERY DAMN Superstar had in the 80s’ and early 90s’. It was like, almost a right of passage to go through some sort of glorious mullet stage for many of these guys and we’re going to go through the 10 (of what I personally think), are the greatest ape drapes of the golden influenced era !
10. Marty Jannetty
Real talk: This guy has had a sketchy past and more recently, confirms that the once half-force of The Rockers has a few issues here. However, I can’t punish the once classic mullet he rocked for that. Exactly stated- classic business in the front, party in the back; Jannetty starts the list off with the perfect basic Kentucky Waterfall.
9. Ric Flair
WOOOOOOOOOO boy no one had a classier mullet than The Nature Boy himself! And that is precisely why I had to include him. Sleek, clean, and dapper looking, Flair made the Tennessee Tophat look elegant as fuck.
8. Jimmy Hart
Listen here baby! “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart is STILL living his best mullet life and for that reason along with his perfecting his skills with Aqua Net, he gets a spot on the King of the Chops list.
7. Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake
There’s no way in hell I could make a best of wrestling hairdo list and not include the master barber of the ring, Beefcake! Throughout the years, Brutus’ Mississippi Mud Flap varied in length starting off with a baby mullet, blossoming into a World Champion of its won right. Here’s to you Beefcake!
6. Razor Ramon
That slick back Latino essence oozing of machismo mullet was an aspiration to how just how cool you could make that look. Scott Hall took that white boy from the trailer park look and made it his very own. At one point, I didn’t even realize it was a mullet, cleverly disguising it under all the hair oil available at your local Sav-On Pharmacy. That definitely earns a spot here with me.
5. Brian Knobbs
Another Superstar that is still to this day, embracing his signature locks is Brian Knobbs from The Nasty Boys. And there ain’t nothing nasty about this magnificent mullet. The ultimate Mohawk Camero Crash Helmet will never in this lifetime be replicated as glorious as this former Tag Team Champion has done it.
4. The Undertaker
The Taker’s Alabama Waterfall didn’t last long into his career, however it’s fiery red goth waves made an impression will we never forget from his first appearance in the WWF at the Survivor Series 1990. Obviously he later opted to grow that mullet out into a beautiful manly mane of the underworld. But I’m here to remind you to never forget once was.
Hear me out now. I had to put Tatanka pretty high on this list for not just his ever-changing colors of the marvelous mullet he rocked, but for ALSO portraying an Indian Chief pulling off a hairstyle of the trashy white man. It somehow fucking worked and I gotta give the guy credit. Tatanka- breaking down all those mullet profiling stereotypes.
2. Shawn Michaels
I feel like it was pretty obvious to everyone that The Heartbreak Kid was not only going to be on this list but rank fairly high. And I just can’t defy logic or science. That is one of the goddamn prettiest mullets I’ve seen.
Oh. You think all these other guys had the greatest mullets in the squared circle? I’m sorry about how very wrong you were as I present the most gorgeous, long-flowing ape drape of all wrestling history. Crush nailed the shit out of making that thing look both manly and as cool as the breeze. From his days with Demolition to his solo career, his persona may have changed but the national treasure that donned his scalp never strayed.
Now because Crush has been declared King of the Mullet Ring, here’s one of his matches featuring one of the all-time greatest wacky heels, Doink the Clown from Superstars of Wrestling 1993!
Godzilla’s foundations are fortified beneath layers of deepest sorrow and tragedy.
March 1, 1954 A Date With Destiny
The neon haze of a new era was begun under the heated shadow of mushroom clouds. This marked a new achievement for man’s capacity to destroy his own kind and the atomic age was secured whether we wanted it to be or not. This date marked the first hydrogen bomb testing and – it would seem – Armageddon was right at Japan’s back door.
But this wasn’t the first time nukes touched down on their soil.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Previously, during WWII, a couple of bombs were dropped on two populated cities in Japan. The effects were catastrophic, although that is a puny word and pales in comparison to the trauma those unsuspecting citizens felt that day. It made history and shook the entire planet.
The homes of approximately 450, 550 people would be left in ruins due to the catastrophic effects of the bombs dropped on the unsuspecting population. When the clouds cleared, in the place where homes once stood, a wasteland had emerged where Hiroshima and Nagasaki once flourished.
The bomb had no pity. Women and children weren’t spared any more than the elderly. People melted into the sidewalk making it tough to differentiate where the people began and the cement ended.
Others who were far enough away to escape the initial blast would all-too-soon learn how cruel nature can be as they began feeling the sickly effects of radiation poisoning. Hell had been opened and there was no escape.
Now, just a few years after the a-bomb dropped on them, the same culture had hydrogen bombs being tested just a little ways off the mainland. It would seem nuclear horror inundated Japanese culture.
Some may say it was in poor taste for the US to go ahead with using Japanese land for a top secret testing ground (for nukes nonetheless). After all this was a nation already suffering the hazardous effects of radiation poisoning to last three lifetimes.
Some would also argue that this was American occupied territory and they had a right (maybe by some higher power) to do it. But the powers that be approved of the plan and the US started dropping nukes and playing like some Old Testament act of God.
The surrounding waters of the Marshal Islands were strictly off limits.
A new stroke of misfortune was on the rise though, as the crew aboard the Lucky Dragon set sail, dangerously close to the apocalyptic islands. The fishing crew hoped to make good on all the tuna just begging to be caught, and with no competition this seemed like a win win all around.
Were they simply ignoring the warnings surrounding the Marshal Islands and tempting fate or were there no real warnings laid down to begin with? It’s said that the project was so top secret that not even the Japanese government knew what the US military was doing out there.
Whatever the reason, the fishermen aboard the Lucky Dragon weren’t so lucky.
To their horror a second sun appeared before their eyes and set the sky aflame with unnatural light. A deafening boom clamored overhead like a storm and with it the crew were knocked off their feet.
The bomb had gone off and their fates were sealed under the swift lambent vapors of a very cruel destiny. Already the H-bomb was claiming its first prey and the Reaper emerged out of the smoldering air as the crew quicklyfelt the sickening effects of radiation poisoning.
This tragedy – along with the traumas of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – deeply affected the nation.
Art For Exorcism
The opening sequence of Gojira strongly echoes the terrible misfortune that befell the Lucky Dragon. Incorporating a national tragedy into the film’s prologue set audiences up for the right tone of the film and prepared them for a new kind of horror movie.
This wasn’t going to be just a giant monster film. This movie dared to tackle recent – terrifying – topics that scarred an entire nation; brazenly the film makers chose to exorcise their demons through means of art rather than hide from them.
Bold, daring, and distinctly Japanese, this was going to be one helluva’n experience.
For a lot of people when they think of Godzilla they think of the silly moments given throughout the franchise. Be it Godzilla dashing across the sky being carried by his atomic breath alone, or the tail-glide kick, or characters like little Minilla or Jet Jaguar.
Ok, there have been some fun shenanigans along the way, and that’s ok. That’s part of what’s embedded Godzilla into pop culture and made him accessible to younger audiences.
But Godzilla’s introductory film is far from campy. It is dark and very bleak, and not what many viewers expect it to be. It serves as both a metaphor for nuclear weapons and a warning against them.
Origins For Destruction
Sure there can be no denying that King Kong was also influential over the film project, as it was to all giant-monster cinema that followed it. And yet Godzilla was his own monster and became a hallmark for Japanese cinema. He rose from a fresh new Hell of mankind’s own making and stood as the devastating embodiment of humanity’s unbridled ambitions.
There’s no doubt about it. Godzilla is the monster of the atomic age.
The film opens with the iconic roar we’ve all come to love. It’s a bold statement letting us know this is a film that stands apart from any that’s come before it. In other words, it’s not ‘just another big monster movie.’
For one thing, Gojia‘s been called a Japanese ghost story and for good reason. His rampage across Tokyo does feel like a supernatural force risen up against humanity. He’s a phantasm of the deathly affects left behind from nuclear weapons and rapidly begins to repay death with more death and none are spared before him.
Others have called this a force of nature. For example: a tsunami ushers in Godzilla’s approach to land and a nearby village is completely flooded in the catastrophe, leaving survivors in a sodden ruin that was once their home.
Perhaps the planet has sent him with a mission to show mankind the dire follies of their careless handling of science and the destruction wrought thereof. The disaster Godzilla causes is no less effective than that of a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or fire. In fact, Godzilla manages to embody each of those disastrous traits as he slowly looms over the city and crushes buildings and bones with equal ease. Steal, iron, and stone are impervious against his path and prevent nothing.
Not even the army has a chance at slowing him down.
So a living force of nature, a vengeful ghost, and the atomic monster. And this is still the opening of the movie!
Once we do finally get the first glimpse of the titular kaiju we see Godzilla’s head slowly crowning over a hilltop. It’s undeniable the haunting imagery bears an uncomfortable resemblance to a mushroom cloud ascending.
Even the design of Godzilla’s skin was based on the radiation burns victims of the bomb came back with. So rather than being a green lizard covered in scales, Godzilla is a coal-black body of radiation scarring.
This is some pretty heavy stuff for a kaiju film and is nothing short of a true horror story.
After giving the film yet another re-watch I was struck by how easily this movie can stand alongside the classic horror heavyweights like Dracula and Frankenstein. But there’s something more to Godzilla that those other guys didn’t have – originality. More akin to his predecessor Kong, Godzilla didn’t have a graphic novel to inspire his lore. Gojira, like King Kong, is a work of imagination on the film makers behalf.
Audiences will sit through some uncomfortable moments. Like a recently orphaned little girl looking down upon her dead mother’s body. It leaves you with a cold sense of silent revelation. A revelation that even if humanity stumbles upon a means to rid Tokyo of Godzilla the lingering after affects of his titanic carnage will never be remedied for so many, many lives.
Everyone seems to pick up on another emotion-fueled scene as well. I’m speaking of the mother sitting in the shadow of all the destruction while encouraging her little ones that soon they’ll be with daddy again. It’s a fierce moment featuring a doomed mother who’s come to realize there’s no chance for her or her children. The only thing she has left to offer is the meager comfort that at least their family will be reunited again after death.
There’s a reason why we all focus on that scene. It pulls at the heart and brings to light just how dire everyone’s situation really is. And the film masters these sobering moments and tricks us into thinking we’re not watching a monster movie. It elevates what should be a B movie to A-list quality.
The tone and story lines of the ensuing films would lighten up significantly and Godzilla would evolve from his initial role of being mankind’s ultimate destruction to humanity’s conquering protector.
And that’s how I like my Godzilla most, as the protector. Nevertheless I admit there’s something imperially satisfying about seeing Godzilla wreck havoc across unsuspecting cities. At the end of the day, fans have a multilayered monster to adore which isn’t bad for a man in a rubber suit.
Speaking of which, actor Haruo Nakajima, the man who brought Godzilla to life (from inside the suit), said he based his movements on what he saw from bear behavior. It does give Godzilla a more natural feel, something organic and feral.
That beautiful man’s performance is what has kept Godzilla the ultimate King of the Monsters all these many decades later. Nakajima played the roll from 1954 all the way into 1972 and laid the unshakable foundations that none have strayed from as they fill his giant-monster shoes in later roles. His spirit lingers on and is felt even in 2016’s Shin Godzilla.
This master of monster art is responsible for bringing fans some of the most iconic battles seen throughout the entire franchise. His Godzilla was first to stand against the likes of King Kong, Rodan, Gigan, and his archenemy King Ghidorah! He introduced us to the gigantic world of larger-than-life fantasy! He suffered inside that hot, sweaty, bulky suit to bring us a beautiful film series to believe in and be enchanted by.
Lost in Translation
Unfortunately, many Western audiences associate the first Godzilla movie with Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956) which was – to be fair – technically the first Godzilla movie released in the US. However it suffers from a ton of re-editing.
The two films may share the initial concept story but they honestly couldn’t be further apart from each other. In terms of tone, atmosphere, and pacing Gojira wins hands down.
I’m not saying GKOTM (1956) is a bad movie but it does lack the very things that made Gojira a masterpiece. By purposely cutting out the political message and removing significant scenes of tragedy the American re-edit lacks the heart and soul of Gojira.
Because of this, the Americanized version feels more like a typical ‘50s nuclear monster movie akin to Them. And that’s not a bad thing…I love those kinds of movies. But compared to Gojira you see how malnourished the Western edit is.
So even if you’ve seen Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956), and not Gojira you’re missing out. Gojira is a cinematic achievement just as much as the original King Kong was.
Thanks to the Criterion Collection a very nice edition of Gojira has been made available to fans. Be sure to check it out here. There’s never been a better time to catch up on our favorite kaiju’s apocalyptic roots.
Sixty-six years later and still going strong, Godzilla’s adamant sovereignty is proven just as indestructible as himself! And given the success of his reintroduction to newer audiences – largely thanks to Legendary – his fame has hit an all-time high thus assuring his place in history… as if there was any doubt.
This has been Part 1 of a 3-part look into the three Godzillas. Next time we’re going to dare take a look at that, yes that, Godzilla movie that came out in 1998.
I’m Manic Exorcism and if you need to satisfy any further Godzilla goodness be sure to check out my previous articles both here and here. Don’t forget to give us a like and let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.
You can follow my shenanigans over on either Instagram or Facebook @thetruemanicexorcism
There’s just something wickedly amazing about Anjelica Huston peeling off her humanoid face in The Witches that makes you want to squirm and throw holy water all over the place. If you were a horror kid in the 90s’, chances are you’ve seen Anjelica Huston in all her genre glory as she so brilliantly took on the coveted role of a lifetime, Morticia Addams in the Addams Family movies; and nailed the shit out of it staking her claim as the modern babe in black we both wanted as a wife and mother. She was a goth goddess and we loved her for it.
However, before she was clipping off heads of rosebuds in her gothic garden, she solidified her spot in history in 1990 with her terrifying portrayal of Roald Dahl’s Grand High Witch.
Adapted from the 1983 Dahl book and sadly, the last movie the great Jim Henson produced, The Witches brought just the right amount of intensity to the screen for young viewers without going over the PG rating. That’s quite an impressive feat considering the main antagonist of the film was in so many words, the Charles Manson of the witch world ordering her disciples to get rid of every last child on Earth through what else?
Chocolate, of course.
Chocolate that turns the repulsive, dogs’ dropping smelling, little brats into mice. While the premise alone is something that could give any small kid a few nightmares at bedtime, it was Huston’s performance in The Witches that scared the literal crap out of kids back at the beginning of the ’90s decade.
So on this day, which also happens to bethe films’ 30th anniversary, we celebrate why the almighty Grand High Witch was and still is, the most horrifying witch on screen.
The Grand High Witch Revealed
As stated at the top of this jam, not sure there’s anything more horrifying to a child than watching someone as beautiful as Huston peel the skin of her mug like a Mary Kay face mask to reveal her true hideous self.
It always bugged me how she was able to mask that enormously elongated nose underneath her disguise, but I suppose The Grand High Witch has her ways and I probably shouldn’t question it otherwise I may end up a pile of ashes. Which leads us into the next example.
The Grand High Witch doesn’t like smack talk
See here’s the thing: if you’re a low-ranking witch in the same room as your superior, you should probably keep your opinions to yourself. And for fuck’s sake don’t mutter crap under your breath within ears reach of the most powerful woman in the world. Even though the comment was a mere observation and harmless, the Grand High Witch made it painfully clear even the slightest apprehension from her subordinates will cost them dearly.
Bye, Bye Bruno!
Holy hell, does the Witch Queen hate children or what?! During the little witch convention, your scabby Highness shows off her latest, and very gweatest invention- Formula 86. The very potion to be diluted into candy bars that are to be dispersed to children worldwide. So she brings in a visual demonstration of what to expect to see once the formula goes into action. Looks like Conal Cochran has some serious competition here.
She outrighttries to kill a baby!
The Grand High Witch shows no mercy even towards infants. That’s some pure evil shit right there ladies and gentlemen. Luckily our flick’s protagonist little Luke intervenes and saves the day because I’m not so sure I could deal with that kind of baby killing fuckery in a supposed family friendly film.
She’s even terrifying as a damn mouse!
The Skeksis have nothing on the Grand High Witch in pure rodent form. When plans backfire, the Witch of all witches finds herself in quite the predicament. If you didn’t have a phobia of mice and rats before, you might have one now because the Grand Highness’ rodent transformation is the ultimate in sewer rodent nightmares. And then what happens? She gets squashed by Mr. Bean.
Mr. Fucking. Bean.
This guy right here killed the Grand High Witch. I guess not even the head of the witches can compete with this kind of mojo. Hmm. Maybe Bean ole’ boy should have taken her place.
The ground beneath you cracks at the approach of an immortal titan returned from a bygone era of raw strength and savage power. The monster’s colossal might is felt in the air like electricity passing between each mote of dust falling on your face. The heavens clamor at the sound of his battle cry and nature itself is swept up in awe at his magnificence. Godzilla has returned and there is nothing that can stop the age of the King!
We have entered a brand new era, fellow believers. An era only thought possible in dreams of childhood imaginations.
As children, we didn’t see rubber suits or miniature sets. Back in those happier times of delicate innocence and sitting in front of the glow of our TV’s Godzilla was simply larger than life. We didn’t pay attention to bad dubbing or notice wires holding Monster Zero’s heads up. We believed in what we saw and to us, it was entirely realistic.
Those monsters came to life before our eyes and no matter how silly it could get at times (Yeah, I’m looking right at you Godzilla vs The Smog Monster) we never stopped believing… at least for a time that is.
And then the inevitable happened. Innocence came to an end and child-like whimsy had to be set on a shelf with the coming of age.
In other words, we had to grow up.
Do you remember how it happened? I don’t actually. I mean there was a time when I believed in fantasy: like I made my figures come to life every time I played with them. I saw a dinosaur on TV and felt how real it looked. I watched Godzilla knowing he truly existed, if nowhere else than in my heart. He was real.
And then as if overnight all of my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures were little plastic pieces sitting around gathering dust. I stopped playing. I quit running around outside pretending to be a giant monster destroying cities and battling other kaiju.
I no longer ran around in the weeds imagining myself to be the Predator hunting down prey.
I stepped out of the hazy fog of childhood and had grown up before I knew it. And that’s just nature. It’s life and how it should be. But, no matter how old I got, I never stopped believing in certain things. In fact, as I matured it dawned on me that these guys could be larger than life itself!
Just because I could suddenly see the strings and knew about an actor being in a suit didn’t make the magic any less enjoyable to me. I just started dreaming bigger.
Like what if they made a Godzilla movie that could prove the enormity of these monsters we loved so much?
Godzilla approaches his ancient enemy, a lofty golden dragon with three vicious heads. About the heads of this rival king is a crown of blistering storms shattering the blackened skies above. If Godzilla is god then this is the devil, menacing and wrathful. He has come to our world like a fallen star and will stop at nothing until all life on the planet is under his hellish command. Or eradicated. An ancient battle between old enemies is about to take place over the fate of the world.
This is what Godzilla fans expect to see. This is what we were given.
This is a love letter to the classic Showa Era we all grew up on and dreamt of seeing someday. Thanks to Legendary we are being given the films fans deserve.
And that’s how it truly feels: Legendary, through the three fantastic monster movies they’ve given us via the MonsterVerse, has written a love letter to fans of the classic movies.
The scope of imagination and attention to detail given to each project has not let us down. The people behind these movies have proven to be true fans of the genre and treat the kaiju with the titanic respect they each deserve.
It doesn’t matter if these are modern-day movies, these films embody exactly what we expect from kaiju cinema. One tiny example among hundreds: Kong. In Kong: Skull Island, fans are not given another remake of the classic King Kong story. We’re given a Kong who is truly a kaiju.
This Kong has more in common with Toho’s concept than it does the Empire State Building climber from the ‘30s. Even looking at the color of Kong’s fur, a reddish-brown hue, matches closely to the one seen in both King Kong vs Godzilla and King Kong Escapes.
Yeah, they know what they’re doing.
There’s been criticism towards GKOTM, but as an OG Godzilla fan, after seeing the movie I walked away with my expectations exceeded.
I expected a really good time but had no idea it would hit me in the feels as it did. It transported me back to my childhood, back to before I noticed the strings and rubber suits.
The film embodies both the magic and awe that the classic Showa films inspired in me. It felt like a reward for being patient and loyal to the franchise.
I think that’s something we all could use.
Sure we grow up and have responsibilities, but it’s important to not let all that adulting stuff erase the simple joy of being a kid at heart. It’s important for parents to get down on the floor and play with their kids. It’s important to just have fun sometimes.
And these movies I’m talking about are pure fun.
It’s important to let yourself be enchanted by things from childhood. For me that’s Godzilla.
Godzilla For A New Generation
The Legendary MonsterVerse is one helluva great way to introduce our loved ones to these monsters.
Just a few weeks ago I showed Godzilla: King of the Monsters to a girlfriend (who had never seen a single Godzilla film before in her life) and she loved it! That weekend we wound up watching Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla (2014), and in that order too.
A new fan was born.
Now she comes over and asks if we can watch not only KOTM again, but she wants to see all the Godzilla movies I grew up with.
Our world is changing. We’ve entered the proper age of the kaiju.
One that has its foundations laid down by pioneers like RKO and Toho. Jurassic Park furthered it and, in its own idiot way, so did Godzilla (1998). Pacific Rim introduced Western audiences to the word kaiju. Godzilla (2014) gave us our first glimpse into a big-budget Godzilla film done right with the real Godzilla and not some radioactive iguana.
The rest is history you could say.
The age of monsters is in full force and there’s no sign of slowing down in sight. They come to us from the heavens above and the depths below. All we can do is stand in awe-struck wonder and enjoy the rapturous spectacle.
For more love for Godzilla be sure to check out my previous article here. If you want those nostalgic feels be sure to check in with us and add us on all your social media fixes.
And be sure to keep checking in for even more GIANT MONSTER MANIA! We’re nowhere near being done.
So if there are any Godzilla/kaiju topics you want to see us explore be sure to leave your suggestions in the comments below. Give us a like and a share and we’ll see you in the shadow of the titans next time,
Sometimes you just get a feeling. When the teaser trailer for TERRIFIER 2 dropped on July 24, the few glimpses we were given of Lauren LaVera as Sienna left this writer with the overwhelming sense that Art had his Laurie. Or as David Howard Thornton would put it, the Batman to his Joker.
Often times horror franchises hit the pavement sprinting but over time, they simply can’t maintain the pace and step by step begin to lose steam. Rare is the franchise that starts strong only to grow stronger, but that very well be the lane TERRIFIER finds itself in, and where LaVera enters the equation.
With a resume that includes Marvel’s IRON FIST as well as a background in martial arts and dance training, LaVera is well equipped to step into the daunting role of nemesis to the already iconic Art the Clown, but it’s her internal drive that will have fans falling in love with Sienna. The badass horror heroine TERRIFIER needs to take things to the next level.
LaVera considers the role a privilege, and demonstrated that with “endless questions” about the character for writer / director Damien Leone and even wrote a character biography to understand Sienna at a molecular level.
A firm release date is yet to be announced, but when Art disciples everywhere finally get the opportunity to lay orbs on TERRIFIER 2, LaVera assures all the blood and gore and action, but also believes the sequel “will be better in every aspect. It will be better. One hundred percent better.”
Ladies and gentlemen, remember the name Lauren LaVera.
NIGHTMARE NOSTALGIA:When I spoke with David Howard Thornton last April he said that he’d told TERRIFIER writer / director Damien Leone that “Art needs his Batman, the Joker needs his Batman,” a worthy adversary. Then I saw the teaser for TERRIFIER 2 and it just vibed, you were chosen for a reason. How does it feel to be the protagonist in one of the most highly anticipated horror sequels in recent years?
LAUREN LAVERA: It feels amazing. I actually did mention in another recent interview that when I did find out I booked the part I went out to eat with Damien and Dave and that was one of the things that Dave actually said to me. He told me that Sienna is the Batman to Art’s Joker, so I don’t think I really understood the role I was taking on until he said that to me. I was like “Whoa, that’s a pretty heavy statement,” so I think in the beginning I really truly didn’t understand but I think it’s hitting me a little bit more every day, the effect that TERRIFIER has on people and what TERRIFIER 2 is going to mean in my life and both Dave and Damien’s life. If feels great, in short, after all that, it feels great.
NN: Had you seen TERRIFIER before landing the gig?
LL: Actually I knew about TERRIFIER before I auditioned, I knew of it. I had some friends, because I love horror and all of my friends know that I love horror, so I had a lot of friends and acquaintances reach out to me years and months before the audition saying “you should check out this film. You’d really appreciate it, you’d really enjoy it,” and I had every intention to watch it but I just never got around to it.
So, when I found out I had that audition I didn’t have a lot of time to watch the film before my first audition and then I received the callback. I got the callback without even watching the movie so maybe I should continue not watching the movie, I don’t want to see if and then maybe make the wrong choice in my next audition. So, I continued not to watch it until I found out I booked it, and the same day I found out I booked it I watched the film for the first time, and I watched it again a couple of times after that and I really enjoyed it.
NN:Actresses had to be lining up for the role of Sienna, so how did you land the part?
LL: Oh, God. That’s a good question. You know what? When I had received the breakdown I actually didn’t think I would be right for Sienna. So, I sent the breakdown–and for people who don’t know what a breakdown is, it’s what the casting director sends your agent and which your agent sends you, it’s basically a description of the character–and when I read it I was like “I don’t know if I’m this person, I don’t know if I can do this.”
So, I sent it to an actor friend of mine and said “you should audition for this because you would be more likely to get booked for this,” and she was real excited about it and said “yeah, I’ll do it.” I don’t know if she actually did it, but I was surprised each time I got the callback, I was like “wow, I really didn’t think I was the right fit for this,” but I guess Damien and the guys at Fuzz On The Lens saw something that maybe I didn’t. So, I’m happy I took the chance and actually went for it. I don’t know, with every role I just give it my all and hope it sticks. So, yeah, that’s how I booked it (chuckles).
NN:When TERRIFIER landed for the masses two years ago, Art the Clown became almost instantly iconic and a little indie wasn’t so little anymore. The bar was set pretty high for the first of what Leone hopes to be a trilogy, so what can we expect from its follow-up?
LL: You can definitely expect more blood, more gore, definitely more action, but also more story, which is what really drew me to it. The thing with the first TERRIFIER, the reason why people love it so much is because of the insanity that happens in the first one, it’s very gory, there’s a lot of twists and turns that people either loved or hated, so that’s what I liked about it. But it was basically a setup for Art. It was really just go give you an idea, it was supposed to be an introduction to him.
What was lacking in story for the other characters, for the final girls and just for everybody else involved, the difference and what people should really look for in the second one is that it’s very much story-driven around the character of Sienna, around her little brother Jonathan (Elliott Fullam), around her mom and also around her friends, her friends play a huge part, and there’s also some other really wonderful characters that I think people will fall in love with. But you’ll still get all of the same things that people loved about the first one–you’re still going to get that gore, you’re going to get even more action, more blood–it’s just going to be the first one times a thousand plus an interesting story.
NN:In late July, Leone appeared on The Nick Taylor Horror Show podcast and shared that you were in constant contact with “endless questions” and were journaling about your part, saying that “nobody has ever cared for a character” as much as you had, perhaps even more than he did–adding that Sienna is his favorite character that he’s ever written. Tell us about that preparation process going into TERRIFIER 2.
LL: I spent a lot of time for this, and also in general with my acting coach Bryan Fox, and he’s incredible. I was constantly reaching out to Damien and constantly reaching out to (Fox) with endless questions. I like to read scripts that I book hundreds of times, because I’m a huge fan of Anthony Hopkins and that’s what he does. He reads his scripts like 500 times or something like that, and I didn’t read (chuckles) as much as that but I read it over and over and over again to see if I could pick up little things. It’s all about subtext, so reading between the lines–what is my character really saying with each line–what is the underlying meaning. I also write biographies for my characters, so I’ll make the smallest decisions of what’s my character’s favorite color to broader concepts like what’s their sexual orientation or something like that. It’s just a a deep dive into what I believe Sienna should be.
I also asked Damien make a playlist for me. One of my favorite actors is Mahershala Ali, he’s incredible, and I heard in an interview with him once that he makes a playlist for all of the characters that he takes on because what that person listens to gives you a better idea of what kind of person they are. So, Damien made a whole playlist that I still listen to to this day because I absolutely love it, of songs that Sienna would listen to and it really gave me a better idea of who she was. If she listens to this kind of music she probably is a romantic, she’s probably a this, she’s probably a that, so there was a lot that I put into it including music choice to broader concepts. It was a lot (laughs).
NN: Can you give us a taste of the kind of music Leone thinks that Sienna would listen to?
LL: It’s funny because I’ve said this before, but I think Sienna is a lot like Damien. I mean, he wrote her, but even reading the scripts and hanging out with Damien I see a lot of similarities. One of the bands he put in the playlist a lot was Fleetwood Mac, that’s Damien’s favorite band which I love because I’m a huge Stevie Nicks fan, so when I saw that I was like “wow, that’s really great.” Also, a lot of eighties music. A lot of Fleetwood Mac, a lot of Madonna too which I loved, but also some nineties music like Gin Blossoms and Rage Against the Machine, really great music. It gives you an idea of Sienna’s more dreamy-esque fantasy, she’s very into fantasy and stuff like that, but she also has an edge to her. It’s a lot of variety between eighties synth music to hard rock.
NN:In that same Q&A, Leone also commented on a night during filming that was dingy and cold and that he was a bit down but looked over at you covered in blood, wearing a skimpy Halloween costume, suffering more than anyone, but you just smiled. Would it be fair to say that you don’t just see this film as an opportunity but a privilege?
LL: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. In all fairness I do think that every job is a privilege, I’m very grateful with every job that I had, but there was something very special about this film. There was something very special about the camaraderie that we all developed on set, with me and Damien as well, we keep in contact frequently talking about the character, talking about the entire process. We’ve all developed a great love for each other, a great respect for each other. Sometimes I would just take a step back and look at everybody on set, see how tired they all looked and how hard they were working and I was just thrilled thinking we’re all making something very special together. It was very easy for me to smile at times because I was just in awe with the people that I was working with.
NN:You also have background in martial arts and dance, so how helpful were those skill sets in what had to have been a grueling and physically demanding shoot?
LL: It was immensely helpful because through my martial arts I’ve made a lot of friends who are also martial artists and who are also stunt performers, so because of that I train with my friends who are martial artists and stunt performers. We train on mats, we train on how to fall, we train on how to take a hit, and this was a very action-heavy role to take on. Sienna gets beat up a lot and she beats up a lot, as well. If I hadn’t known how to properly fall, how to properly take a hit I could have seriously been hurt or I could have seriously hurt somebody. That experience was absolutely beneficial in the long run with this type of role.
NN:What makes David Howard Thornton so special in that clown costume?
LL: (Laughs) What he really brings to the character, his whole experience, he’s a comedian first and foremost. One thing that I truly believe is that it’s much easier for comedians to venture into more dramatic roles that dramatic actors to venture into comedic roles, because comedic roles in my opinion are much harder to take on. There’s a nuance, there’s a formula to it, and I think because he’s this hilarious guy with this wonderful personality he’s able to give Art this sadistic but also a you-can’t-help-but-love-him type of personality because of the type of person that (Thornton) is. Really, his whole essence is what makes Art so special.
NN:You touched on how funny Thornton is (as well as the character), but there’s also a switch that he can flip where it’s very menacing and unnerving, that stare with his eyes is absolutely terrifying. After all your prep, what went through your mind when you finally set up for your first scene and just before Leone yelled “action” and you’re staring at Art the Clown?
LL: Definitely terror. It was not hard for me to feel afraid of Art the Clown. Dave is a different story, I could never be afraid of Dave, but as soon as he gets into character, as soon as he manipulates his body, as soon as he manipulates his face it’s much easier to be afraid of him. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m terrified of clowns to begin with and the character that Damien created with the prosthetics that he made are truly horrifying. I felt everything. Every time I look afraid I’m truly afraid because it’s actually very scary to witness in real life. A lot of it was done with dark lighting and I felt like I was alone because of how the stage was set up, so it was definitely very scary.
NN:Speaking of Dave, we reached out to Mr. Thornton and he said that maybe we should ask you about the ghosts at Fright Factory and the house you stayed at upstate during filming.
LL: (Laughs) That’s funny. I have a very interesting relationship with my belief in ghosts because I really feel in my life that I have encountered supernatural entities. However, I’m the type of person that refuses to believe that they exist. I constantly tell that to myself because I don’t think I’d be able to sleep at night if I would give in to the things that I believe that I saw.
At the Fright Factory, yes, he told me some things but I’m the type of person who tries to stay oblivious to it, I’m like “no, that didn’t happen” just because I’m terrified of it, I”m very much a scaredy cat. (Thornton) said he saw things moving, there was a mechanical doll that went off by itself in the Fright Factory which I cannot deal with because dolls scare the hell out of me. Especially porcelain dolls, and that was a very creepy porcelain doll. I was like “okay Dave, whatever you say. I just won’t go in that room.”
And the same at the house we stayed at upstate, a priest died there and apparently he wasn’t the best person, so there was some creaking. I actually stayed in his room, so I personally could not deal with it and just tried not to listen to whatever ghost stories people told me. I was just the type of person that said “okay, whatever. I can’t listen to it,” so yeah (chuckles), that’s my take on it.
NN:Horror fans are a passionate bunch, are you ready for the fervor to come once the film drops?
LL: I cannot wait. I’ve already had my fair dosage of horror fans because there were a lot of horror fans who were on the set of TERRIFIER 2 because they donated to get the film made, they’re wonderful people. They got to hang out with us, and I still talk to them because they’re amazing. As well as online, I’ve already had people reach out to me with just so much love and so much support. I’m floored by the horror community because they’re like you said very passionate, but really wonderful people because they just want fun and want good entertainment and I really truly believe that we’re going to deliver that. I’m excited to meet every single fan.
NN: We know that you can’t give much away, but what can you share that will leave TERRIFIER fans champing at the bit until the big unveiling?
LL: (Laughs) Wow, that’s a tough question. I’m not even quite sure what I can share. What I can say is that it definitely will be bigger and better in every aspect. There will be more story and I think, again that was what was lacking in the first one and that some people were complaining about. Damien is the type of person that reads every comment and tries to listen to all of his fans. He knows that he can’t please everyone, obviously, but he puts everything into consideration. (Leone) often says “they’re either trolling or they have something of substance to say,” and he really takes all of that into consideration. He’s listened to everybody’s thoughts on the first one and how he can improve the second one. I truly believe that the second one will be better in every aspect. It will be better. One hundred percent better.
Horror fans are always asked what initially got them into the genre, and each one of us has a different answer. For some, it was Jaws, or Gremlins, or maybe Freddy. We all have that one quid essential monster that served as a gateway to the incredible world of beasties. For me, it was none other than the King of the Monsters himself, Godzilla.
Godzilla may have entered our world in 1954 but he didn’t crash into my life until 1983-84. I was just a toddler and upon seeing the radioactive behemoth my imagination was awakened!
Oh, hells yeah! The time has finally come for me to talk about Godzilla, the Monster of Monsters! I’m lucky enough to remember – all be it briefly – all the way back to some of my earliest days on this planet. I’m like 3 or something and my little Manic nose is glued to the TV screen while TOHO’s giants are tearing one another to pieces over the fate of the Earth. The earliest films I remember ever watching are firstly Godzilla vs Mothra and then soon afterward King Kong vs Godzilla. Interestingly, I was going over this with my mom and she confirmed that Godzilla vs Mothra was one of the very first movies I ever watched and began mimicking.
I’ve always loved Godzilla – as if you couldn’t tell by now. I mean just look! Look at little me romping around in my very own homemade Godzilla costume!
My Granny spent God knows how many hours at the sewing machine to make this dream come true and my Mom had one Hell of a time trying to get me out of it. Once I had that on I no longer existed. A perfectly harmonies symbiotic relationship between myself and Godzilla was formed while I had that on, the two of us became one, and woe to all who stood in our way.
Sadly I outgrew that little costume but neither my love nor passion for the King of the Monsters could be diminished. This particular fandom though was not met without its fair share of challenges. One of the chief being the sheer scarcity of these movies back then!
Things weren’t like they are today. There were no streaming services. We had three channels. Three! If you were a kaiju fan while growing up in the mythical ‘80s you were lucky AF if your local horror host aired one of Godzilla’s movies during their Saturday late-night specials. TV guides were bought primarily so kids could bug the crap out of their parents on whether or not any Godzilla or King Kong movies would be on that upcoming week. Sometimes you’d luck out and there would be a giant monster movie! It felt like some kind of reward for all our patience.
Thanks to TV special airings I was able to get Godzilla vs King Kong , Godzilla vs Megalon, and Godzilla vs Monster Zero recorded on tape to watch as many times as my psychotic little heart could handle!
And it wasn’t like you could just go to K-Mart and find copies on video. So fans could only rely on the movies they were lucky enough to record off TV. Although, I do remember one Christmas morning very vividly. So there I was greedily tearing away wrapping paper from all the goodies Santa brought me when I came across an obvious shoe box.
I remember being disappointed already before even removing the colorful wrapping paper and just sitting it to the side. What little boy wants a pair of bleeping shoes on Christmas? But my mom – being the psychotic mastermind she is – insisted I open it. Reluctantly I did, but what was awaiting me was not a boring old pair of sneakers, but 4, oh hell yeah, 4 Godzilla movies. I still own them. Among them being Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla and Godzilla vs Gigan! These videotapes were treasures to a fan like me!
This lack of movies also meant if you found a copy at your local video rental you were about to have a really good weekend. It was almost like a sacred quest and no less ambitious than any adventure Indiana Jones ever went on. We were kinda like paleontologists digging through movie shelves trying to discover just a single copy of a movie we (oh dear God, please oh please) had not already seen.
I remember my cousin and me storming through one video store to the next just trying to get a copy of one of these monstrous relics. And then one Friday it finally happened! The stars came into alignment, God was merciful, or maybe Cthulhu was having a good dream, but, whatever the reason, there it was! A mother-loving Godzilla movie we had never seen yet – Godzilla vs the Smog Monster!!!
I think we watched that movie every single chance we had. Like soon as it ended we would rewind it just to hit play again. I remember we even tried to get a video camera out and film ourselves making fun of the movie by adding our own little quips and inputs to ‘enhance’ the dialogue and greatly entertain ourselves. Yup, we had the idea for MST3K before Tom Servo or Crow ever sat front row to do what we loved them for.
Another challenge was, well, just being a fan for the sake of being a fan. Being a Godzilla fan was almost like an underground thing.
There weren’t many people back then who loved the big guy like the few of us did. As result, there just wasn’t a market for it so collecting Godzilla stuff was nearly impossible.
Today all you have to do is go to Target and you’ll find lots of amazing Godzilla stuff – mostly thanks to NECA. It’s a very different world from the one I grew up in and that’s a great thing!
People my age can now easily find copies of these incredible movies to show their own kids and there are so many toys to now collect. We may have grown up but we have every right to play Godzilla with our little ones and spread that love to the next generation. Isn’t it amazing how that turned out?
It’s a good time to be a Godzilla fan. What with the new movies being released by Legendary that gives us a faithful upgrade to the Showa Era monsters we grew up with.
The Criterion Collection just recently released the entire Showa Era Godzilla collection on Blu-ray meaning all those movies that we might have missed out on seeing are now available!
And I can’t believe that I now own a bona fide Godzilla figure from the very movie that got me into this whole giant monster craze, Godzilla vs Mothra. The details of the figure are uncanny. It’s like it was taken straight out of the classic film. I now own 6 different NECA Godzilla figures alone! It’s a new sickness that I’m convinced my loved ones will initiate a well-planned intervention for me soon.
So here we are. Nearly 40 years later and still I’m a fan of the King of the Monsters, a title he has rightfully earned over the years. The greatness of Godzilla isn’t simply found in one movie, or even in a series of movies. It is how one single idea about identifying the nuclear age in the body of a new cinematic monster has gone above and beyond TOHO’s wildest dreams.
Godzilla is a cultural phenomenon and unites people from all walks of life. He’s such a big deal in Japan that there’s a place for him at the Museum of Japanese History.
So he might not have been the first giant monster to awe audiences but ever since his appearance in ’54 he’s taken the world by storm. He’s inspired a massive franchise that is still ongoing to this day.
The latest TOHO installment was Shin Godzilla back in 2016 and returned Godzilla back to his destructive roots. He’s seen as a plague of sorts upon a world of carelessness towards nature.
This time around Godzilla appears in three evolutionary stages. The third and primary stage gives him this sickly macabre look some fans call ‘Zombie Godzilla.’ It’s a dark commentary on Japan’s politics during times of crisis and is a special effects masterpiece. A must-watch for hardcore fans!
Currently, on Netflix, there is a three-part Godzilla anime for fans to enjoy. Though there have been other animated representations of Godzilla this is in fact the first anime he’s ever had.
I already mentioned how Legendary has given the Godzilla universe a very respectful and epic American update to the King of the Monsters. There are currently 3 movies in this new MonsterVerse: Godzilla (2014), Kong: Skull Island (2017), and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019).
As someone who’s been watching Godzilla movies since before I had a fully formed vocabulary I can say I genuinely love what Legendary is doing with these big guys. We’re all waiting for the next installment, Godzilla vs Kong which was slated to show this year but with COVID19 we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Godzilla has been the representation of nuclear terror, an unstoppable force risen against all humanity, a monster without pity or compassion. He has also stood tall as a symbol of hope as he withstood the odds and protected the Earth from extraterrestrial invaders bent on destroying the planet.
Over the years he’s been our reckoning and our protection, a destroyer and a savior, two sides of the same coin. He’s starred in over 30 movies and shows no signs of slowing down.
In some cases, he is a nuclear-enhanced dinosaur. Sometimes he’s a mystery risen from the sea. And he’s even been a surviving titan come back from a prehistoric time to face the newly awakened challenges threatening our world today. He even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Ok I know, I know! I gotta stop already or this could go on forever. People familiar with my writing know how much I love Hellraiser and Dracula, but had it not been for Godzilla I have to wonder if I would have as much admiration for Pinhead or the vampiric Count? Godzilla was my gateway monster and has remained a trusted constant in my life.
Godzilla is timeless.
So hey if you crave all those warm retro feels and want more Godzilla goodness stay tuned and follow us here where nightmares and nostalgia are explored.
Have a favorite Godzilla or kaiju memory and would like to share with us? Let us know down in the comments below.