Manic Presents Underrated Slasher Killers – ‘Uncle Sam’

Horror takes many shapes and assumes various forms in order to affect us. Be it monsters, killers, or simple catastrophes, horror is there to incarnate both our deepest fears and our darkest sense of humor. By far, the Slasher Genre is my favorite kind of horror to watch, and there are hundreds to choose from out there. So much so that too many of them go overlooked and remain underrated. For that reason I, Manic Exorcism, gladly pull back the tattered veil to shed some sinister light upon these underrated slasher killers.

Uncle Sam (1996)

Yes, the patriotic spirit swept the nation this past week as droves of hard-working men and women piled into cars and made their ways to picnics, barbeques, beaches or to visit friends and loved ones. Bold rockets lit up the night sky and people sat back from Coast to Coast to celebrate how Colonials kicked a whole lot of ass back before any of us were ever born. So why not commemorate that victory with a shitty little slasher film a lot of people have never heard of?!

Fear Forever
image via Fear Forever

 

 

Uncle Sam is a movie that – and if – anyone has actually heard of it, they’ve never really seen it. Now, and thanks to Shudder, you can spend an evening with this star-spangled serial killer and remember freedom as the blood flows out of wounds before your eyes.

The movie is guilty fun. Let’s face it though, Slashers are not known for their acting. We know what to expect here: boobs, blood and fantastic kills. That’s the basic formula, and Uncle Sam is not above that expectation. It does have all three of those tropes here, so seasoned horror fans won’t be disappointed.

imdb
image via IMDB

That said, this movie has some of the worst acting I’ve seen since Twilight. We don’t expect anything of Hugh Jackman’s caliber here, but mother of piss is the acting terrible in this one.

Summary

So the movie is about a mean bastard of a guy named Sam Harper (David Fralick). A fucker so god-awful nasty that his fellow soldiers see him to the grave with a little ‘friendly fire.’ Back home though his now-widowed wife (Anne Tremko) is not really phased, and if anything is glad to be rid of his sadistic abuse. However, his obnoxious little nephew (Christopher Ogden) hero worships the man and can’t wait until he’s old enough to enlist himself and follow in Sam’s footsteps.

So Sam is brought back to life once a group of local morons burns a flag over his open grave, and well, this soldier ain’t staying dead for that kind of shit. His reanimated corpse comes back to inflict revenge on anyone he deems to be unpatriotic or disrespectful to the Nation. He finds some peeping-Tom dressed in an Uncle Sam costume, and after poking the perv’s eyes out (and spouting off one-liners that would make Freddy cringe, things like, “Hope you got an eyeful?” as he digs his fingers into both eye sockets) and then walks about on the 4th of July as our happy killer Uncle Sam.

horrorpedia
image via horrorpedia

It’s a fun gimmicky movie, another holiday-centered horror flick, and honestly, that’s a category all on its own, and one the slasher genre loves to infiltrate. I felt this movie missed some golden opportunities. Like I wish there had been some hilarious Star-Spangled type of deaths. I wanted Uncle Sam to walk around shoving fistfuls of bottle rockets up people’s butts and seeing them burst from the inside out like gooey fireworks. We do get a flagpole death though.

I can’t say this is anywhere near one of my favorite slasher characters/films, but it does have a goofy charm to it. If NECA ever released an Uncle Sam figure I’d be tempted to buy the damn thing. I mean I do collect horror icons, I’m even getting my own custom-made Madman figure! Whoop whoop!

I know the holiday has come and gone already, but the movie is still a perfect choice if you’re looking for a good summer screamer to enjoy.

So yes, without any doubt Sam is worth our attention. We stand and salute you, Sir. We thank you for your service to the history of horror and may you remain obscure no longer.

Manic out.

Manic Mania For the Madman – Horror’s Unsung Slasher Icon

Madman may not share the infamy of other slasher films of the era such as Sleepaway Camp, Silent Night, Deadly Night, or My Bloody Valentine, but make no mistake – this small-budget independent horror movie has proven to be a tremendous force to be reckoned with.

Madman Could Not Be Stopped

Upon its release, it received horrible coverage. According to Madman himself (Paul Ehlers) the film never found its way on the cover of any magazine of the day and there was only a tiny blurb of an article discussing its merit. That’s shameful! To top it all off, very few theaters chose to showcase the movie making its audience miserably limited. Under most usual circumstances, Madman should have been quickly forgotten in the traffic of better-known franchises. However, in spite of its challenges not only did the film find its audience but has enjoyed cult stardom that grows stronger with each new viewing.

ComingSoon
image via ComingSoon

Being a fan of Madman is like being part of an exclusive club. A fan club with members like Joe Bob Briggs and Quentin Tarantino. Yup, both of them are Madman fans. Others praise Jason, Michael, and Freddy (nothing wrong with that at all I must add), but Madman fans are a category all of their own. It’s as if knowing the movie is our own kind of secret handshake. We recognize his growl and know his theme song by heart – and damn proud of it!

Originally the movie was based on local ghost stories. That’s right, my little ghoulies, initially Madman was rooted in the infamous Cropsey legend and was always intended to be the quintessential campfire boogeyman. He is a rumor, the resident guilty secret no one dares talk about after nightfall, and a whisper that chills the blood with inescapable dread. After thirty years he is still proving to be the ultimate deep woods camp legend. All you need to know to survive is “Don’t say his name above a whisper, or pay the hideous consequences.”

Villains Wiki
image via Villains Wiki

Today we’re going to pay the Madman his dues and celebrate all the fun, screams, and gory good fun of this underrated slasher!

fangoria 2
image via Fangoria

The Madman Legend

Old man Marz was anything but a soft-spoken farmer who lived peaceably out in the woods with his family. Oh no. Marz was an ugly drunk who beat his wife to a pulp and savaged both of his kids. When he wasn’t raising Hell at home he was busy cracking skulls open at the local tavern. In one such brawl his nose had been bitten off, but Marz – being the hateful cuss that he was – didn’t feel a thing.

His was a house of pain where a bruised wife and traumatized children lived in constant fear of his violent outbursts. It was anything but a home. That same hateful abode still stands, but is now rattled by the cruel ticking away of time and is cursed with haunted whispers and frightful suspicions; for one night Marz went completely ravenous mad. Without a hint of warning or any reason the old farmer picked up his axe and walked across the creaking floor boards with only a single thought in mind: murder. One by one Marz slaughtered each member of his family with cold systematic precision. As if to celebrate the event once finished Marz strolled into town – and still sodden by his family’s blood – sat himself down and had a beer at the tavern.

Upon realizing his crime vigilantes took matters into their own hands. Fed up with the sadism of the hateful creature they dragged Marz onto the streets. Someone took the Madman’s bloodied axe and buried it deep into the farmer’s face. He was still standing though, now driven by a rage that would please the cruelties of Satan and ready to slaughter the whole town. Luckily though they strung him up to the nearest tree and hung him there, thinking all was over. The next morning though Marz was no longer at the tree. He and the bodies of his family went missing, never to be found.

Blood Soaked Horror Reviews
image via Blood Soaked Horror Reviews

Madman Marz –as he came to be known, was never mentioned among the locals for fear that he would hear his name and come running.

coming soon
image via comingsoon

Upon the anniversary of the Marz family murder our cast of heroes (victims) have decided to camp just a little too close to the old farmer’s abandoned property. What begins as a fun little camp-fire ghost story soon turns into a night of savage butchery as the Madman hunts each of them down. All too late it becomes apparent that the legends are real – that he is real – and there is no escaping him.

fangoria
image via Fangoria

As far as back stories go his is one Hell of a good one. So why in the Hell does he not get any more recognition than he does? Madman is just as equally vicious as either Jason or Leatherface. As a matter of fact, I’d love to see a crossover of Madman vs Leatherface. The hatchet vs the chainsaw. Two backwoods maniacs with a taste for blood battling it out to the death! It should at the very least be a comic book for Shoggoth’s sake!

It’s an understatement to say this is a criminally underrated 80’s slasher film. It’s beautifully filmed all at night giving it an eerie tone that makes you think the killer waits behind every shadow. Fans of the slasher genre deserve to discover this one. It’s a film that needs to be experienced, and is best experienced with a group of friends.

Rivers of Grue
image via Rivers of Grue

Fun Facts

While filming Madman there was a rumor that someone was lurking around the woods at night uninvited and wanting to interrupt the crew’s progress. The director approached our Madman star and asked him to go out in the woods at night and stalk the stalker. While in full makeup and costume by the way. No lurker was ever found though.

Gaylen Ross of Dawn of the Dead stars in the movie. However, not only does she use a fake name in the end credits but allegedly refuses to admit she was ever involved in the making of the film.

cineoutsider
image via cineoutsider

Final Thoughts

Today we have seen Jason in Manhattan and space. Hell, the fucking Leprechaun got his little ass shot up into space. Michael has survived rappers and a remake. Freddy has been in a womb, in hell, and at Crystal Lake. And we have how many Hatchet – clearly inspired from Madman’s design – movies are there now? Not to mention Leatherface, Michael, Jason and Freddy are all now video game stars. But we only have one Madman movie. No sequels or remakes. There was talk that Paul Ehlers and his son had been working on a remake, but to my knowledge it hasn’t progressed beyond that. I think it’s a travesty that this never was allowed to become a franchise in of itself.

Not to mention I’m a horror figure collector and my shelf feels empty because Marz isn’t there. I’d gladly commission a talented artist to make me a Madman figure to stand beside my McFarlane Movie Maniacs.

Wicked Horror
image via Wicked Horror

Fans have made custom masks and fake trailers in honor of Marz. There’s a high demand for the Madman out there, and the love for his lore isn’t dying down. If you’re looking for a fun movie this is one

This has been Manic Exorcism. You all be sure to stay tuned in and keep those fuzzy nostalgic feelings warm here by the campfire.  I’ll be leaving you with the iconic Madman song.

Madman [Blu-ray/DVD Combo]

Tale of three Godzillas Part II: “Godzilla ’98,” The IMPOSTOR

“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

art by Bob Eggleton

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. 

image via Super Nintendo, ‘Super Godzilla’

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.

image via Midway, ‘MKII’

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.

image via Toho, ‘Godzilla 1985’

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.

image via Toho, ‘Godzilla 1985’

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! 

image via Tristar, ‘Godzilla 1998’

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. 

image via Tristar, ‘Godzilla 1998’

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.

GODZILLA! HOW WE NEEDED (A) KING OF THE MONSTERS!
GODZILLA! HOW WE NEEDED (A) KING OF THE MONSTERS, image via Legendary, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

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.

concept art of Godzilla, image via Tristar

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. 

concept art for The Gryphon, image via Tristar

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!

Stan Winston and his beasties. We see his vision for ‘Godzilla’ behind him

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.  

image via SciFiJapan.com

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.

image via Stan Winston’s School of CharacterArts, ‘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.

Stan Winston’s ‘Godzilla’ and a very lost opportunity

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.

image via GojiPedia, Roland Emmerich

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.

image via Tristar, ‘Godzilla 1998’

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! 

image via Tristar

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.

image via Tristar

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!!!!

image via American Godzilla wiki, Taco Bell Godzilla cups. Perfect to fill with delicious booze and re-watch ‘Independence Day,’ or ‘Star Gate,’ or ‘2012’

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.

image via Tristar, ‘Godzilla 1998’ …duuuh me ist tiger! Grrrrrr!

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.

art courtesy of Bob Eggleton

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.

Final thoughts

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.

In the meantime I know what you all want.

Long Live The King!!!

Tale of Three Godzillas PArt i – Gojira (1954), A Legend Begins

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.

Boy being tested after suffering burns from Hiroshima

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.

image courtesy of History.com

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.

victim of radiation poisoning, image via newsweek

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 quickly felt the sickening effects of radiation poisoning.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

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.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

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.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

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.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

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.

image via Criterion Collection courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

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.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

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.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

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.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

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.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

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.

actor Haruo Nakajima, image via Toho

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.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

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.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

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.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

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.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

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

Godzilla! How We Needed (a) King of the Monsters!

image courtesy of Legendary, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

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.

image courtesy of Legendary, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

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. 

Image courtesy of Toho, ‘Godzilla vs the Astral Monster’

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.

courtesy of Toho, ‘Godzilla vs Megalon’

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. 

Image courtesy of Toho, ‘Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla’

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.

image courtesy of Manic Exorcism, little me in my Godzilla costume.

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! 

courtesy of Toho, ‘Godzilla vs King Kong’

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.

courtesy of Legendary, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

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. 

image courtesy of Legendary, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

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. 

image courtesy of Legendary, ‘Kong: Skull Island’

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. 

image courtesy of Legendary, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

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. 

image courtesy of Legendary, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

It’s important to let yourself be enchanted by things from childhood. For me that’s Godzilla. 

Godzilla For A New Generation

image courtesy of Legendary, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

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. 

image courtesy of Legendary, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

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.

image courtesy of Legendary, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

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 kaijuGodzilla (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. 

image courtesy of Legendary, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

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. 

image courtesy of Legendary, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

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, 

Manic Exorcism out!

LONG LIVE THE KING!

Godzilla and his timeless reign over our hearts!

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! 

image courtesy of Manic Exorcism, ‘Godzilla: Destroyer of Worlds” circa 1984

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! 

Image courtesy of Toho, ‘Godzilla vs Mothra’

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! 

Image courtesy of Toho, ‘Godzilla vs Monster Zero’

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! 

image courtesy of Manic Exorcism, circa 1989

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!!!

Image courtesy of Toho, ‘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!

Image courtesy of Toho

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. 

image courtesy of Legendary, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

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.

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Gojira’

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. 

Image courtesy of Toho, ‘Shin Godzilla’

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).

Image courtesy of Toho and Legendary, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ and ‘Godzilla vs King Ghidorah’

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. 

image courtesy of Playmates Toys, ‘Godzilla vs Kong’

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. 

image courtesy of Toho, ‘Godzilla vs the Astral Monster,’ victory dance

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.

Manic Exorcism

Underrated Slashers Presents, Frank Zito of ‘MANIAC!’

Horror takes many shapes and assumes various forms in order to affect us. Be it monsters, killers, or simple catastrophes, horror is there to incarnate both our deepest fears and our darkest sense of humor. By far, the Slasher Genre is my favorite kind of horror to watch, and there are hundreds to choose from out there. So much so that too many of them go overlooked and remain underrated. For that reason I, Manic Exorcism, gladly pull back the tattered veil to shed some sinister light upon these underrated slasher killers.

 

MANIAC (1980)

Why hello again. Come and gather around the hobo fire. Have your pick of any select hooker to scalp (they always come in plenty around this side of town), because today on Underrated Slashers we’re heading into some very sketchy places and getting extra sleazy, my little Nasties. Today we’ll be looking at one of the 80’s all-time best slasher films, William Lustig’s MANIAC!

The world of Frank Zito is a vile one indeed. One of the uncontrollable desires, lust, a cruel obsession for the flesh, and – above all else – murder. Brought to us by the larger-than-life performance of Joe Spinell , Frank Zito’s is a tale of atrocities and tragedy. A man controlled by need and ruled by his addiction. An addiction not for narcotics, no, but for something far more seductive. The addiction for perfection and beauty. The lovely victims who fall prey under his serrated knife are not innocent, at least not in his diluted sight. Afterall, they were told not to go out tonight.

The Midwest Film Journal
image via The Midwest Film Journal

The 80’s were the golden years of the Slasher Genre. Ah Hell, that decade gave birth to the genre. That was the golden age of Freddy, Jason, Leatherface and Michael Myers! When the big baddies wet the screens red with the blood of the innocent, and we fucking loved it! That’s also the decade that was pumping out slashers on nearly a weekly basis, so much so that we could barely keep up with them. Sadly, as the bigger names were given limitless sequels as their box office success rose like the smoke off a cannibal pyre, there were single films that got woefully overlooked in the great crowd of murder and mayhem. And by no means does that mean these lesser-knowns were in any way inferior. Quite the contrary, as in the case of MANIAC, often times they were either equal to or superior to the hell unleashed upon Elm Street or Crystal Lake.

rotten tomatoes
image via Rotten Tomatoes

In the case of Frank Zito, the blood was realistic and the outcome was gruesome. As a matter of fact, this may very well be one of the most unpleasant films in the genre to sit through. You can feel the humidity of this film. I swear at times you can even smell it. You get that rancid stench of neglected trash filling the undercity’s gutters, and the odor of cheap cologne mingled with heavy sweat just permeates nearly every scene. It kinda smells like Old Spice and spicy sausage with a hint of uncontrollable BO.

Make no mistake, this is a very dirty movie. Every minute of the film makes damn sure you understand that. It’s a film that makes you want to shower after watching it, and fuck it all that’s why I love it! Few movies can have that kind of an effect on an audience.

Life Between Frames
image via Life Between Frames

We do not simply watch Frank Zito’s life, we are thrust into it. We walk the darkly wet streets with him. We sit in the corner of his dingy flat, and we are up close and personal with his obscenities.

ORIGINS

Every good serial killer must have a beginning, thus keeping that ancient riddle of nature vs. nurture alive – are maniacs born or built? In Frank’s case, we learn that he was constantly abused by his prostitute mother, and honestly, there is a wide-open door left here for us to explore the psychology of a killer through studying our nasty friend, Franky.

scumcinema
image via scumcinema

So, with Freddy we have a child killer who was provoked by his alcoholic father’s sadism, in Jason, we have an innocent child who was bullied, picked on, then left to drown, but who also had an overly-loving mother who was ready and all-too-willing to kill for her beloved Jason. Frank Zito was victim to his mother’s sick perversities. Zito had no supernatural powers, but he kept New York City in a grip of scarlet terror and still proves to be just as deadly as his fellow murderers.

I’ve said it before, but really that’s the kind of killer that makes us all squirm. They live in the flat down the hall, just like Dahmer. They aren’t the type we’d want to spend an afternoon with, but we would never expect to find a hidden museum of the macabre waiting behind their locked doors.

bocadoinferno
image via bocadoinferno

And trust me – and without giving anything away – Frank has a grotesque little shrine built out of sin itself. For gorehounds, this is a film you won’t want to pass up! For slasher freaks, this is one underrated hit you have to finally see.

Recently, MANIAC has been enjoying a much-needed revival thanks to my friends over at Eibon Press. They specialize in bringing the crassness of grindhouse classics back to life with new twists and insidious depth. Their first issue of MANIAC is a must-have for any fan of the sleazy classic. And for the truest of sickies, issue 2 promises to pit Frank Zitto against the New York Ripper himself. So holy fuck! It’s a manic dream come true! To read more on the insane awesomeness of Eibon Press please click here and see what you’ve been missing in your life.

Wicked Horror
image via Wicked Horror

So there you have it, my Nasties. Frank Zito is out there in the dark corners of your world. He waits in the shadows and looks out through wild eyes of craven lust. Once he decides to strike there is no escape. So be careful when you walk away from here, and always keep your head turned towards those grimy alleyways, that parking garage you think is empty, or, if you’re really unlucky, outside your front door.

Could Both of VENOM’s Origins Be Featured in Upcoming Movie?

Hey, comic fans! True believers know the iconic badass VENOM has two origin stories. Could the upcoming movie give us both?

First off, this is only friendly speculation because nothing concrete has been announced – yet. Nevertheless, the geek in me can’t help but wonder what all might be in store for us given what we’ve already seen from the teaser.

Naturally, this is an origin story about how Eddie Brock came to inherit the symbiote and together with it became the entity we know as Venom. The interesting thing is though Venom has two different origins in the comic books, and, if I’m correct, they possibly may be in play here.

Alpha Genesis

In the beginning, there was space. That’s where Spider-Man first came in contact with the symbiote and changed to the black Spidey suit. The symbiote bonded with both Peter’s flesh and mind granting him accelerated abilities in strength and speed such as he’d never known before. He was tougher, stronger, and meaner, making him a through and through greater superhero…so we would think at least.

Hollywood Reporter
image via Hollywood Reporter

The suit proved to have a will of its own and began to slowly poison Parker’s psyche for its sinister purposes. Peter was changing due to the symbiotic influence, and became increasingly more reliant on the suit to an unhealthy degree, as though he was an addict. At last, and realizing the deadly impact the poisonous symbiote had over him now, he tore the thing from himself. And after a great struggle was released from the toxic co-existence. The suit hated Spider-Man for being rejected.

That’s the interesting thing about the symbiotes – they are in fact living entities. They have a mind and will they exercise, not to mention they have a telepathic voice that drives (intoxicates) their chosen host. That’s the other thing, they choose which vessel will better accomplish their purpose.

Meanwhile, Eddie Brock, a former employee at the Daily Bugle, had been fired and blamed his misfortune on Peter Parker. Together, one hating the Spider and the other hating the man, the symbiote untied with Brock and became Venom, Spider-Man’s most dangerous foe. Venom knew everything about his enemy and swore to kill Parker for the troubles he’d brought upon both Eddie and the symbiote. Worst of all, Venom shared Peter’s memories, and, you guessed it,  no one in Peter’s life was safe.

Greenscene
image via Greenscene

It was only after Spider-Man saved Eddie’s ex-wife that Brock finally realized perhaps Parker wasn’t entirely his villain. Now, wait: is Venom a supervillain or antihero? He has killed, but only killed those he felt were guilty and deserved to die. The Punisher does that much. The reason why Venom was so Hell-bent on killing Spider-Man was because he truly did believe Spidey was the bad guy. Anyway, a truce was made and Venom went on to star in his own mini-series where he battled other symbiotes.

Second Genesis.

In the Ultimate Spider-Man comic series the superhero enjoyed a successful reboot. In this version, Peter was still in high school and he and Eddie Brock were friends. The Venom symbiote was grown in a laboratory and was meant to be a secret weapon, that and their father’s both had something to do with its creation. Tracking the notes of his father, Peter discovered the experiment and bonded with the black suit. The outcome was very much the same as in the original storyline. The suit proved too great a threat for Peter and he shed himself ofit. The rejected symbiote bonded with the other son of the man who helped grant it life and Venom came into existence once again.

Admittedly there was a more epic tone to the original and I liked that it was from space, but getting Parker into space may be a complication for the story. And no, Infinity War is not connected to Venom according to my source, although it is somehow part of the current Spider-Man Homecoming storyline. So…???

So what can fans expect? What do we know so far?

From the trailer, we see a crashed ship, and things being extracted from the crash site. We then see Eddie (Tom Hardy) snooping into a high-security lab where he (I mean he has to) get in contact with the writhing black essence of the symbiote. The teaser perfectly shows how the symbiote whispers to Eddie’s mind and begins to meld with him into a dual entity, a fact proven in how he addresses himself at the end. “We are Venom” because the two have perfectly become one.

So I’m supposing the crashed ship carried some alien thing back to earth, a thing gets harvested and tested in shady experiments in hopes of perfecting the ultimate weapon. Already we know that Venom is set to fight other symbiotes in the movie, something like the comic miniseries aforementioned. We also know that Cletus Cassidy has been cast and Venom’s main threat will be Carnage! Fucking holy shit really?! Venom and Carnage in one cinematic explosive fight?! Listen, this is going to be intense, I just have a feeling. Fans have been waiting for this ever since Sam Raimi first directed Spider-Man. So yeah, I’d be cool with both origin stories in play here.

Weekly Planet Wikia
image via Weekly Planet Wikia

Now as for the beginning of Carnage and his dark origins, well let’s save that for next time. Until then, check out the trailer and let us know what you think.  This has been Manic Exorcism. ‘Nuff said.

That Random Car In the Title of ‘Tales From the Darkside’

One of my fondest memories from childhood was staying up late and watching the many glorious horror-themed shows late-night TV had to offer us back in the 80’s. My mom was pretty cool about that back then. I was no more than five and I still recall the greats I spent many nights watching. Twilight Zone, The Hitchhiker, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Unsolved Mysteries – just to name a few, and their themes still ring loud and clear in the shadowy halls of my memory.

One thing these spooktacular shows all shared was a riveting opening title accompanied by a haunting score. You all know what I’m talking about. The Twilight Zone sports a pivotal theme that remains timeless to this day. And who can deny the impact Danny Elfman’s immortal theme from Tales From the Crypt had on our generation? Remarkable!

All of that is to bring us to the subject at hand revolving around one of my favorite creepy shows, Tales From the Darkside!

From horror maestro himself, George Romero came this grizzly collection featuring beloved short horror tales from the mind of Clive Barker and other renowned writers of horror, Tales From the Darkside brought scary stories to life in various comeuppance morality tales.

The opening always gave me the chills as a kid. That eery as Hell music playing over visions of lovely fields, a country farmstead, a rippling brook and a covered bridge. Sights that should convey a welcoming sense of warmth and meditation, something the dark mind of Paw Paw Romero intentionally planned just so he could pull the rug out from underneath our feet. The sights change as the title is revealed and all of a sudden the pleasant world we have been introduced to is malformed into a sinister realm of shadows and dread, just like the genuine dark world which awaits behind the placid world we live in. Darkness is always just only one bad day away.

Right before the title shows, and I mean like a second or so before, we see in the bottom left corner a car that gets swallowed up in the Darkside. It never was anything I gave much of a thought to until an ex of mine mentioned the car was a blooper. Like it was a mistake and wasn’t supposed to be caught on film. Like while the studio was filming the opening shots some random car photobombed the process.

Funny, because I never once got that impression. I told her that too and explained how I always assumed the car was meant to be there. As if whatever family was in that car had just suddenly been sucked into the void. The idea startled her, because that’s how Hell works, right? One moment you’re out enjoying a lovely drive out in the countryside and the next the Darkside consumes you, your day, and possibly you’re entire life.

A flat tire lands you stranded in the middle of the shadowy woods where you can hear a distant banjo playing.

You’re out by yourself hoping to get some sun by the lake when local rapists come zooming by with oogly eyes all over your body.

The Wolfman Cometh
image via The Wolfman Cometh

You get a puzzle box and suddenly awaken the wonders of Hell.

You have a nightmare that lures the dream demon to your helpless state of mind.

That’s what horror has always been about! The normal and everyday world being consumed by the Darkside. That little car in the opening credits epitomizes what we love about horror. I don’t know who was in that car – and that’s part of the charm, it could be anyone of us in it – but I thank them for providing such a wonderful (but underrated) visual for us.

Ok my Nasties, this has been your good pal, Manic Exorcism once again. I’ll be back later to over-analyze even more things no one in their right mind would give a second thought to. But hey, that’s what we do here.

Let us know your thoughts in the comment below? Was it a simple photobomb, or perhaps there was something more sinister afoot?

 

 

 

Shout Factory Just Made My Day – ‘CREEPSHOW Collector’s Edition’ to be Released!

Welcome back my Nasties! Gather close and snuggle up with a corpse because we have some ghastly goodness to discuss. I’m your host, Manic Exorcism, and today I, once again, am being forced to bid farewell to some more hard-earned cash. That’s because our friends over at Shout Factory just gave us some of the best damn news ever, and frankly, I’m a bit shocked. Earlier today the team responsible for giving us some of the finest horror Blu-rays ever just announced that we will be getting a CREEPSHOW Collector’s Edition. It’s finally happening!

It’s about fucking time too! For the longest while, we had to settle for an inferior, bare-bones release of one of the most beloved horror titles of all time. CREEPSHOW is the pinnacle example of how a horror anthology should be done. Certainly, this movie wasn’t the very first horror anthology, but it’s certainly the favorite among many. It’s my personal favorite one.

 

amazon
image via Amazon

 

The masterminds over at Arrow Video did give us a brilliant release of CREEPSHOW 2, and I’m very happy with that edition. Nevertheless, I still wanted the set to be complete (CREEPSHOW 3 can eat shit and die because it doesn’t exist to me) and hoped to see the original movie (FINALLY) get a proper Blu-ray treatment.

The movie deserves it.

The fans deserve it.

Jordy Verrill gave his life to see this finally happen.

And by God, we’ve waited long enough!

“Romero and King have approached this movie with humor and affection, as well as an appreciation of the macabre.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

That’s the charm of this movie. It’s spooky fun, something modern horror needs to be reminded of.

No matter what kind of day you’re dealing with this movie will make you feel better.

Hollywood Reporter
image via Hollywood Reporter

It’s also something you can watch with your kids, just in case you’re wanting to raise them to be proper horror fanatics. It has everything! The dead rising from the grave,  Joe Hill getting the shit slapped out of his face, Leslie Nielsen being a dickhead to Ted Danson, and a drunk Adrienne Barbeau – this movie is fun for the whole family!

I’m curious to see what kind of Special Features we’re going to get with this one too. I’m really hoping it mirrors the UK DVD edition that came out a while ago. Regardless this is the Collector’s Edition and given Shout Factory’s past record I know we can expect some great things.

Preorders are limited right now, and they boast:

EXCLUSIVE LIMITED-EDITION OFFER FOR SHOUTFACTORY.COM – ONLY 1,500 AVAILABLE – INCLUDES:

A rolled 28.5” x 16.5” lithograph of the new slipcase art by Laz Marquez
A rolled 18” x 24” poster of an alternative art illustration by Laz Marquez
– Shoutfactory.com

 

https://www.shoutfactory.com/product/creepshow-collector-s-edition?product_id=6868