Category Archives: Creature Features

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!!!

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

[Creature Features] ‘JAWS’ – The Birth of the Blockbuster and Galeophobia

In the banner year of 1985, 10 years after the initial blockbuster smash release of the holiest of shark films JAWS, I had seen thine shining light they call Bruce for the first time in my tiny life.

I was three.

THREE-FUCKING-YEARS-OLD.

One could argue my Dad was a sadistic fuck in showing me what I absolutely consider, one of the top three scariest films of ALL TIME. Especially given the fact I wouldn’t even set a pair of feet on any beach for close to seven years after. True story: Having family in the Long Island area, Summer Beach days were very much a thing. However, I would make my Dad carry me across the sandy threshold to a spot I felt comfortable and far enough away from the water. The answer is yes: In my youthful way of thinking, I had concluded that JAWS was smart enough to get me even in the sand. But as long as I was on a towel and far enough away from the shore, all was ok. The answer here is also YES: It makes zero sense, I realize but hey, I was a kid so don’t judge too harsh!

Now that being said, my story is just one of thousands that were scared absolutely shitless after seeing the film, inducing GALEOPHOBIA into the minds of many. Proving without a shadow of a doubt, that JAWS is indeed, one of the scariest films of all time. We define horror as something that scares us. It’s a very versatile genre as what scares one, may not necessarily frighten another. Collectively, JAWS pretty much hit the nail on the head and caused quite a bit of both panic and interest in the beautiful monsters of the deep.

The following vintage clip from NBC NEWS uploaded by Youtube user COW MISSING showcases a little snippet of what ‘The Summer of JAWS’ looked like as far as the cultural impact the film had with its audiences.

Now on the other side of the coin, JAWS ultimately caused an almost global catastrophe for the creatures of the deep in the form of fear and panic; something humanity is very much guilty of with the most recent example given is the 2020 shortage of toilet paper. We are very much guilty of acting out in emotions first, and logic later. And these poor animals have suffered immensely for it. Mind you, I don’t place this blame on the book or film itself as that’s complete BULLSHIT. Every one of us is responsible for our own actions, thoughts, and doings. I only place blame on those who have chosen to use their own fears as an excuse to execute these wonderful animals for either sport, food, or pleasure. As a matter of fact, Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel shadows the event dubbed “The Twelve Days of Terror”, that served as inspiration for what we know as Bruce today.

In 1916, a series of shark attacks were recorded over on the New Jersey coastline killing four people and injuring five others. Also, interestingly enough, during a Polio Epidemic. So of course, under the duress of a record-breaking heatwave and pandemic, the media then fueled an already stressed populous into panic mode. Reports and analysis also suggest that the nature of the attacks were by a lone shark. Later, a Great White was caught during a shark hunt that was found to have human remains in its stomach. Was this shark the culprit? Possibly. I mean, hard to argue if there’s a human limb hanging out inside the belly of the thing.

Anyways, the release of JAWS just helped to reignite a surging fear and interest in the mysterious beast. As time heals all things however, the humanoids have become much more sympathetic and educated about our friends of the deep. Regardless of how many horribly cheesy SY-FY shark attack movies have been churned out year after year, piggybacking off the back of the ultimate shark movie…. 45 years later and counting.

Now, I can’t simply talk about JAWS without mentioning the John Williams score. It is one of the most recognizable tones in cinematic history that Goddess forbid, you ever hear that shit playing somewhere on the beach while your legs are dangling in the water, I’ll place a hefty bet you’re gonna crap your swim shorts. Per the Film Music Society, Williams described the malicious two-tone theme as “so simple, insistent and driving, that it seems unstoppable, like the attack of the shark. The music could be loud and fast if he was attacking, soft and slow if he was lurking, but always menacing in tone.”

Goddamn right Mr. Williams. I mean, every time I have an anxiety/panic attack, that fucking theme song pops into my anxious mind as the perfect accompaniment as an indication of a roller coaster of impending doom.

[JAWS theme] John Williams with the Boston Pops Orchestra

While I myself, and many other 80s’ babies’ grew up in the JAWS VHS era, we were terrified as kids but evolved into adults with a healthy understanding of the nature of the beast with education along with a healthy dose of lovely Shark Week programming provided by the Discovery Channel. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I didn’t still ’til this day go to the ocean, dip in, and the thought cross my mind, “Is today the day my leg gets bit off by Sir Great White of Shark?” All thanks to one of the most horrifying scenes of all time.

Thanks for the memories and the trauma Bruce.




Also, this is totally worth picking up! You can get your 4k Ultimate JAWS experience here through Amazon!

Creature Features: The Beautiful Practical Effects of 1988’s “The Blob”

Nightmare Nostalgia Presents Creature Features: An ongoing tip of the hat to some of horror’s greatest monsters throughout the genre that don’t seem to get the recognition they wholeheartedly deserve.

I don’t care how stubborn, or pompous this may sound: Computer generate all the damn monsters you want with the world’s greatest CGI program and programmer running it. It still won’t look better than practical effects and I certainly can’t appreciate it as much. The perfect example of such splendid monster-movie-magic is of course, Chuck Russell’s vision of the 1950’s Sci-Fi B movie, The Blob jello-molding it’s way into 1988.

 Creature Features: The Beautiful Practical Effects of 1988's "The Blob"

Thinking back to my childhood years, I clearly remember my first interaction with this glorious film, that at the time, I had no idea was a remake. In a pre-internet era and films relying on physical media such as TV spots and the good old-fashioned newspaper to get the word out. The one other way to draw unsuspecting fans into a film post-theater release, was the almighty VHS box art that would stare at you from the lined-shelves of the horror section like a haunted painting. This film, like many others of that time, sold itself to a tiny Patti with the cover-art alone that both intrigued and terrified me as a child. The simple showcase of what I later learned to be Paul’s fate displayed on the front of the rental, initially scared the shit out of seven-year-old me. I’m not entirely sure why, as growing up in a horror-loving-household watching Halloween at the tender age of two, this piece of art gave me the skeevies. I can distinctly remember only a few VHS horror art covers having that sort of effect on me. For almost 2 years, that pink, gooey man screaming at me through the art cover taunted me every time the parental units and I made a family trip to our local Action Video for the weekend rentals. And it wasn’t until I was allowed to ride my bike across the busy street by my damn self I was cut loose to roam the horror shelves of that mom and pop video store and rent freely on my own. Whatever I wanted. So of course, I gravitated to that jerkoff blobby Paul who has been tormenting the hell out of me. I had to see what this was about just based on this one picture alone. And now, 30 years later, it has become one of my all-time favorites.

Creature Features: The Beautiful Practical Effects of 1988's "The Blob"

 

Which brings me to the point here: That one image from the film doused in practical effects reeled me in and like many films before this gem in the ’80s, was balls-deep with beautifully done man-made monster magic. From Paul’s tragic demise to Vicki being eaten from the inside-out, The Blob is filled to the brim with dazzling and believable imagery that STILL looks better than a lot of modern day effects. The team responsible for igniting a fear of jello-molds everywhere was that of Tony Gardner, Chet Zar, and Bill Sturgeon of Alterian Studios. Who have since released some REALLY FUCKIN’ COOL behind the scenes stills on making that “extraterrestrial” man-eating glob that every fan of the film should take a gander at.

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LONG LIVE PRACTICAL EFFECTS.

Creature Features: The Mucho-Ecological, Man-Eating Lake Blob From “Creepshow 2”

Nightmare Nostalgia Presents Creature Features: An ongoing tip of the hat to some of horror’s greatest monsters throughout the genre that don’t seem to get the recognition they wholeheartedly deserve.

Firstly, I would never bullshit you guys. Outside of a slimy little extraterrestrial asshole with an unnaturally long neck pointing his glowing fingers at everything trying to phone home, and a demon reverend with 20,000 teeth singing hymns on rainy days, and a mechanical shark, not a whole lot scared me as a kid. In fact, I grew up on horror movies and was schooled at the tender age of three with the beautiful Universal Monsters collection via my grandfather, and my father who introduced me to Halloween.  Apparently, I used to dance around to the Halloween music with poms-poms at this age- I still don’t want to believe I was that cool that early on, but I’m just going to go with that. So yeah, embracing the horror since the potty-training days making me somewhat desensitized to a lot, it took something special to get me shakin’. Aside from what I mentioned above, and to be honest here there’s probably more that I’m just not thinking of at this moment, one thing I DO recall from my youngin’ years scaring the ever-loving shit out of me, was the mucho-ecological Lake Blob from Creepshow 2‘s, The Raft.

Creature Features: The Mucho-Ecological, Man-Eating Lake Blob From

What the hell is that thing, Poncho? Well, this pre-1988 Blob of sludge is never really explained, even thirty years after its theatrical release. We know it’s hungry, (I guess) and once it nabs its carnivorous entrée, the object completely dissolves into the Lake Blob and seemingly becomes a part of it. As we can see through various shots throughout The Raft, this “oil slick”, as the four teens refer to it, has pockets of waste and I swear I’ve seen bones in this damn thing, as it moves along patiently awaiting its next meal. I’ve looked for these answers friends as to WHAT EXACTLY IT IS or WHERE IT CAME FROM. And until I have the opportunity to actually ask Stephen King himself, or anyone who worked on the film, I may never fully know for sure. However, I have my own theory…

I could just be taking this whole thing to an unnecessary level of deep-rooted fuckery, but hear me out. What if, the Lake Blob is a metaphor for Mother Nature and the havoc we have wreaked on poor Mother Earth. Let’s face it guys. We’re kind of dicks to this planet, and history and well, science has shown us those facts. Maybe this Lake Blob is Earth’s middle finger to humankind; because clearly it has a thing for humanoids with an occasional side of passerby duck. With each death via Lake Blob, the victim is engulfed by the slick creature’s globule tendons and pulled into its aura, dissolving into its sludgy mass. Thus, making the prey part of the predator now. Or for lack of a better term, back to the Earth you go you polluting Homo Sapien. With the initial meeting of the Blob and the four teens at the lake, this thing immediately comes and confronts them. Randy does point out that this thing, “doesn’t look like an accident… it looks like it’s on purpose.” Then it proceeds to consume Rachel in the most horrifying way imaginable. And for the record, is the scene that totally scared the crap out of me from wanting to swim in ANY LAKE EVER.

Although, I bet Tarman from ROLD would be into her.

Lake Blob Creepshow 2

Of course, feel free to tell me I’m completely way off base here. If that be the case, let’s hear your theories below! Until next time kiddies and in the meantime, steer clear of any isolated bodies of water.

Creature Feature: The Skeevie Inducing Norris-Thing

Nightmare Nostalgia Presents Creature Feature: An ongoing tip of the hat to some of horror’s greatest monsters throughout the genre that don’t seem to get the recognition they wholeheartedly deserve.

Last October, some friends, the better half, and myself witnessed the glorious spectacle of John Carpenter live in concert. Now, normally I never bother to leave my Gollum cave of gloom and somber for shows and concerts these days unless it’s totally worth sliding some pants on for. But hey, this was John fuckin’ Carpenter and his orchestra playing the theme songs to some of horror’s finest films- his films. I sure as shit wasn’t going to pass this up and just as I had expected, it was a night to never be forgotten. From Halloween, They Live, and of course today’s focal point The Thing, it was a perfect way to head into Devil’s Night last October.

#thething #johncarpenter #horrormovies

A post shared by Patti Pauley (@misshorrorghoul) on

With what is arguably (I guess) one of John Carpenter’s greatest pieces of cinematic art turning 36 this week, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk a little about the goddamn Norris-Thing. In the 1982 film, we see a handful of variations of this “thing” ranging from an ordinary human, a cute husky, also a not-so-cute halfway transformed husky, to well-something ungodly such as this. Which in itself, comes in three (3) count em, forms of infested Norris all in under five minutes.

Beautiful.

Nightmare Nostalgia -The Thing 1982

The poor geologist at the heart of the chaos located at Outpost 31 had suffered a heart attack, (could you really blame the guy for his life-pumper giving out under the circumstances?) His fellow comrades rushed a dying Norris to the medical ward in an attempt to jump-start his heart and holy eight-legged-fucks was that the worst idea ever.

In the case anyone here is unfamiliar haven not seen the film (for-shame), The Thing centers around a parasitic extraterrestrial life force that likes to imitate other organisms, thus ensuring an overabundant amount of paranoia in the group as everyone suspects each other as an “infected host”.

We good? Ok, back to Norris dying on the table.

Anyway, the defibrillator is shocking away and low and behold everyone, Norris was indeed a host for this otherworldly leech as the thing begins to extract himself from the ribcage of Norris and immediately defend itself. Norris’ chest transforms into a jaw trap so powerful, even Bruce the shark would be a little envious. After chomping away at what the Thing deems as an attack on itself, (stupid alien doesn’t know what a heart attack is), it mutates even further into a Norris-Snake-Thing that again, would give Freddy-Snake a run for his money. Enter the action of Kurt Russell, our epically bearded hero to the rescue and a flame-thrower to the Norris-Thing it is.  In the midst of the fire and flames, the Norris-Thing head tears away from its presently incinerating body, grows some spider-like legs and Linda Blair crab-walks it’s happy little self across the room inducing all the skeevies and dingleberries from fellow Outposters.

A few thoughts:

As I so eloquently stated above, it always sort of bothered me how this alien parasite didn’t realize he had copied a defective heart along with the rest of Norris. I guess I would just assume the alien would automatically see through that flaw with some alien-type goggles in its DNA, but we all know when you assume, you make an ass out of “u” and me. It’s just a little thing that I always thought about during that scene, not slamming it all mind you. Just sharing what goes on with hamster wheel in my head.

What makes this scene in particular so effectively terrifying above all others, (IMHO), is the “thing” shows just what lengths it will go to survive. Sure the monster magic is insanely gorgeous. I might even say, revolutionary for its time. And sure enough, induces all the skeevies inside you to come popping out to say, “Oh hello old friend!” Especially if you have a phobia of snakes, spiders, or severed heads with insect legs altogether. The point of the matter is, like a true ’80s slasher, it comes coming. It has an agenda and will stop at nothing to reach its goal. This “thing” could literally be anywhere, anyone, or any living thing. That’s the really terrifying part, my friends.

Because it takes a village to raise a child, and apparently a huge team of artists to make movie magic like this happen, I wanted to include this clip from CineFix. Which wonderfully showcases some behind the scenes action, facts, and trivia with director John Carpenter, Norris (Charles Hallahan), and crew involving this scene in particular. Also, here’s an Amazon link because right now, there’s a hot deal on the Blu-Ray for only $7.88!! If you don’t own it yet, now is a great time to snatch this classic up.

Happy Unofficial Thing Day!

Creature Feature Presents – Rabies! It Is A Silent Predator And It’s All Around Us.

Nightmare Nostalgia Presents Creature Feature: An ongoing tip of the hat to some of horror’s greatest monsters throughout the genre that don’t seem to get the recognition they wholeheartedly deserve.

Welcome back to the horror show, my nasties. Oh, do I have a good one for you this time around. What could possibly be more bone-chilling than the harsh terrors of everyday life? All it takes is one thing going horrifically wrong to find ourselves entombed within the depths of our very own private little horror show. Oh, it’s quite one thing to be reading about a good, ghastly tale from the comforts of your bed where nothing awaits in the shadows. There’s nothing stalking you in the corner, or silently waiting for you to fall asleep from its perch down the hallway, or standing patiently behind the closet door. As you read that Jack Ketchum book you know in your mind you are – for a damn good certainty – safe.

Then, out of the blue, you hear it. The lonesome howl of the neighbor’s dog, a pooch you’ve pet many times and know very well. Only now there is something unwholesome in the sound he is making under the moon. It’s not the voice you’ve known all these years. This one is feral, touched with sickness, with a disease that it now must spread, an illness dripping from a foaming maul snarling with bloodlust.

IMDB
image via IMDB

This is no demon from Hell, no ghoul from the grave, and it’s not a figment of the imagination. As the dog pounds all of its weight against your screen door, the reality of how soon life can become terrifying hits home a little too well. The thing you see on a daily basis, the friendly pet next door, has suddenly become the instrument of your vicious demise.

This is true horror. This is the genius of Stephen King when he penned the novel Cujo. It’s not about a killer dog, though that essence is there. He wrote a story about how quickly an ordinary life can turn to shit before you have a chance to wipe your ass.

Horror Freak News
image via Horror Freak News

There are a lot of killer dog movies out there actually, but Cujo brings the horror home. After all, what would happen if the neighbor’s dog got rabies? What would you do if your own pet got infected? It all began with a simple little bat bite and it all went to Hell from there.

No monster. No black magic involved.

Just pure dumb bad luck. That’s all it was.

The same can be said for the brilliant international horror, REC. Just a news reporter following firemen around to record their daily activities. And all it took was answering the wrong emergency call for all Hell to break loose. Before they knew it, this untrained newscast found themselves locked inside of an apartment complex where – one by one – the residents fall victim to a bad case of rabies.

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image via Letterboxd

This setting alone is disturbing. I used to live on the seventeenth floor of a similar apartment complex. Very alarming to imagine being locked inside during that kind of an outbreak.

Rabies is a common threat that we no longer take seriously. However, as unlikely as it is to face off against demonic entities, a pack of werewolves, or a moaning hoard of zombies, rabies is a very real possibility in our world. It’s that silent horror waiting on the outside of the mind, undetected and comfortably ignored. That is until something goes terribly wrong.

Wheres The Jump
image via Where’s The Jump?

As in the case of I Drink Your Blood and I Eat Your Skin (lovely title, am I right?), a boy very stupidly extracts some tainted blood from a dead dog he knows had rabies. The little fucking bastard then injects said blood into some meat pies that are eaten by townspeople. Yup, they now have to deal with rabid gang members, because, why not?

This is exploitation at its finest. Gritty, gross and absurd.

The infection is not though. Our bodies, our terrifying factories really. We think we’re in charge but oh how fragile that control turns out to be. Against our will, sickness and infection can turn our own bodies into a monstrosity out to do nothing less than send us to the grave.

Let’s return back to Cujo for a moment. He wasn’t a bad dog, but quite the opposite. Loving, gentle and protective of his family. However, once the sickness set in, he no longer could distinguish right from wrong or the good dog from the bad dog. He set out against anyone indiscriminately. The disease baking his doggy senses only left room for one thing to make any lick of sense – kill, kill, kill! To make the pain go away, kill until it stopped hurting.

That’s how good horror works, and may we each only experience it from the safety of our TV’s. On the screen, we watch as normal and everyday homes get turned inside out by horrific events far beyond their control. There are predatory forces out there conspiring against our well-being, and may they only ever exist within the pages of a good read or the TV.

Take care my nasties! Stay healthy.

Be sure to tune in here for more of those warm retro fuzzies, those good old fashion creepies, and for more Creature Feature to come!

I’ll be catching you later.

I DRINK YOUR BLOOD DVD

REC DVD

CUJO DVD

 

Creature Feature: Reverend Kane, the Most Underrated Villian in Horror History

Nightmare Nostalgia Presents Creature Feature: An ongoing tip of the hat to some of horror’s greatest monsters throughout the genre that don’t seem to get the recognition they wholeheartedly deserve. 

On the heels of a recent Poltergeist II movie anniversary and what would have been the 98th birthday of one Julian Beck, we won’t just tip any hat, but our oversized black felt-wool head-huggers and sing the gospel of all the “Holy Temples” to the man who gave everything, including his failing health, to a character that will forever be burned into our brains as one of the downright scariest in horror history.

Born on May 31, 1925, Julian Beck wore many hats in the entertainment business, not just the creepy pastor topper we’ve all come to associate him with via Poltergeist II. The on-screen preacher began his love affair with the arts and dabbled in painting abstract expressionist pieces in the early 1940’s until meeting his future wife, Judith Malina who had a tremendously immense passion for the theatre. The love-connection turned into theater history and the pair later founded the prestigious, and often controversial, Living Theater which focused on giving the audience an immersive and shocking experience to take home, reflect, and learn from. Beck, a self-proclaimed anarchist who on several occasions had plenty of trouble with the law, lived by the saying, “If one can experiment in theater, one can experiment in life.”  With close to 40 years of embracing these types of convictions inside and out of the theater, Beck’s finest hour came (kind of ironically), in the on-screen role as a passed-on pastor from another time who beat to his own drum as well. I’d say in a way more terrifying and psychotic manner, but you catch my drift here.

 

 

Keeping in horror franchise tradition, (although usually via accident-you never know if a sequel will follow) we normally don’t get a whole lot of backstory on the main antagonist. As a matter of fact, the name of Henry Kane was never mentioned once during the first film. Good ole’ Tangina warned of a malevolent presence in the home that she referred to as only, “the beast”. The Other Side, the follow-up four years after the original Cuesta Verde neighborhood nightmare gives us all the answers and a face to said beast with, of course, Julian Beck. And because of his creepy ass performance, I briskly walk a little bit faster past any senior living communities.

His soft-spoken demeanor could go from 0-100 real quick during his little temper tantrums, giving way to a visual about 8,000 teeth in the man’s mouth. Of course, I’m exaggerating a tad but I’d call you a liar if you didn’t think he had an extra set of chompers in there when his face twisted with anger. Besides angry dentures and walking around softly singing culty hymns, Kane’s dagger of a stare was enough on its own to make you avoid this dude walking down the street. Proving that an over-abundant amount of gore and make-up aren’t needed to give someone the skeevies. Not to take anything away from Kane’s other forms in the film including that incredibly EPIC H.R. Giger Tequila-Worm vomit monster (played by Noble Craig). But as Carol Anne said herself in Poltergeist III, “remember, less is more.”

Hr Giger

Unfortunately, however, Beck’s look of a resurrected corpse throughout the film wasn’t movie magic but due to a 1983 diagnosis of the often fatal pancreatic cancer. Beck knew his days on Earth were coming to an end and gave everything he had to the role that launched his name into horror infamy. Often in pain on set, and if you look closely into his eyes via the clip above it’s painfully obvious, Beck used his unfortunate circumstances and threw himself into the role of the nefarious cult leader. Little Heather O’Rourke herself was so frightened by his unfiltered skeletal appearance, she burst into tears upon the pair’s first meeting.

I would have run like a bitch too sweetheart.

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Today on the anniversary of the life of one Julian Beck, we appreciate his dedication to a role that was to be his last, and sadly never lived to see on screen. I can also appreciate that due to the Kane character, I’ve never wanted to open my door on a rainy day; especially to an elderly gentleman on the other end. Thanks for the eternal nightmares Reverend.