Category Archives: Creature Features

FRANKENSTEIN! The Imperial Legacy of Mary Shelley’s Immortal Monster

“I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.” – Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

The limping Phantasm of a new horror bristled across the dreamscape of a young woman’s darkest imagination. The misshapen Thing beckoned to her, demanding concession for its own hideous sentience; demanding to be recognized, the Creature rapped its corded fist of scars and confused tissues against the smoky glass that separates our waking world from the shadow realm of sleep, shattering the delicate veil, and roaring to be brought through to us. From nightmares, the Thing of death called out to to be brought to life and she granted it entrance. 

image via TriStar, ‘Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’

Much like her obsessed titular character, Mary Shelley was on her own quest to bring life to things wrought from fretful dreams. She admits to having seen a terrible shadow pass along her room one night, a thing shown but only briefly by a searing flash of blistering light. Her Monster, her own very personal demon, was brought to life before her eyes by the lightning. 

That nightmare left an imprint on her soul.

A fitting origin to what would become her horrific masterpiece! 

Bernie Wrightson, ‘Frankenstein’

How I, then a young girl, came to think of, and to dilate upon, so very hideous an idea? – Mary Shelley

A marvelous question, but asked by a writer of titanic skill. Be warned, dear reader, when a writer has a marvelous question many dark little horrors can be given shape from it. 

Example: a young father had moved his small family to a new home, a home just a little too (precariously) close to a busy road. This father just barely caught hold of his young boy who, as little boys do, run very quickly and take little heed to the dangerous world around them. The toddler’s quest to cross the road was stopped and the father held the lad to his chest as a truck, all eighteen wheels roaring, flashed down the road before his eyes. A truck that surely would have made quick and gruesome work of a tiny boy such as his son. 

The father thought, “What would have happened if I hadn’t been quick enough?” Oh, did I mention there was a pet cemetery out in the woods behind their house? 

You see, those are the questions that keep us writers up at night. The only way to expel them is to share them, and I believe that’s exactly why gods and devils disturb our thoughts and rest. We are unwilling ambassadors of the dark world. What scares us shall surely frighten you too. 

It takes a marvelous question and then, with time, a whole lot of obsession. 

The Art of Obsession 

Perhaps it’s the curse of our times but few truly understand the need for wild obsessions. I mean the pang of desperation. I want writers to have a deep-rooted passion for their craft, not to make money (though who can bitch about monetary gain?) but to release demons, horrors beyond time and space, and to break taboos without ever feeling the need to apologize for the black miracles they’ve unleashed upon the world. 

image via dmdave

That’s the kind of obsessions I mean. The kind we’d all be locked up for if we should ever dare explore them in real life, but, vicariously lived through the monsters and madmen we unlock while writing. 

“I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.” Frankenstein, Mary Shelley 

image via frankensteiniablogspot

Each word is poetry begotten of the macabre, stitched together in such eloquence that we cannot turn our eyes away. Imagine not knowing the story! Imagine the sickening thrill of the slightest twitch of the creation’s finger. Readers howled and screamed upon first reading Shelley’s gothic horror masterpiece. 

A masterpiece about death but brimming with, although nefarious as it may be, life! It’s been told and retold across the generations as new horror fans come to know the name of Frankenstein, a man who dared to play as God. 

Inspirational Evil

Mary Shelley was not ignorant of the questionable practices, or shall we say, abominations committed all in the name of science of her day. It was a well-known secret that educated men blatantly combined alchemy with the practice of medicine, and, most importantly, the Occult was often employed to further their maddening pursuits. Doctors were driven by the devil himself to unravel the mysteries of life by invading the taboo of death. 

Graves were robbed. Cadavers were stolen. Experiments to envy the lectures of Hell were practiced. Such things were not unheard of and became haunted gossip among social gatherings. It all boiled down to this: Could a man create after his own image?

art by Bernie Wrightson, ‘Frankenstein’

Reality and fiction are very thinly divided and sometimes the two cross over. 

So what if it could really be accomplished? Among these bodily pieces of dead men’s tissues, organs, limbs, and bones, what if, out of a thousand efforts, one single man proved more driven than his peers? What if one manic student reached into the shadow of death and pulled something out? 

“If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!” Frankenstein, Marry Shelley

Shelley dared explore this phantasmal taboo and wisely included her own personal trauma to weave together an immortal tale that will outlive us all.

There’s a reason the story stands the test of time.

Shelley’s Grim Philosophy

Another inspiration for Frankenstein came from one of Mary Shelley’s favorite tales, John Milton’s Paradise Lost, an epic depiction of the Genesis account and Fall of Lucifer. Hints to the poem’s immediate influence over her thoughts can be spotted across her own epic tale.

art by Gustove Dore, John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’

God made Man in His image and that image turned to Sin, brother murdered brother, and, in time, wars left corpses outside the guarded gates of Paradise. 

That was the result of a created being made after the image of God. So, what tremendous malevolence can be expected from a thing made after the image of (fallen) Man? 

“I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel…”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

art by Bernie Wrightson, ‘Frankenstein

Victor Frankenstein stood to lose everything for the sake of his creation. The story is a tragic narrative of a weary man whose wick has not long for this sad world. His youth was eaten up by the sorrow gleaned by his own hands. He dared to play God and so finds himself utterly God-forsaken and damned at the story’s end. He is pursued by his Creation to the very end of the world where nothing but ice and barren landscapes are found. 

Frankenstein’s story is a brutal cautionary tale for the ages. Grave robber, thief of death, madman, scientist, and creator of monsters. But who is the true monster in the story? The Creation did not beg to be a new Lazarus. The Creation was given life unwillingly and then abandoned by his own father. 

gettys images, ‘Frankenstein’ by Universal

True, it was the Monster’s hands that ripped, tore, strangled, and left a trail of carnage and tears. But it’s to be argued that such an abomination would never had the chance to lay a single finger against anyone had Frankenstein not created him. 

“It is true, we shall be monsters, cut off from all the world; but on that account we shall be more attached to one another.”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

The Creation does go on a glorious rampage to punish Victor Frankenstein for the unwanted curse of life. The Monster, as we call it, kills everyone Victor loves until only the graying husk of a man is left of the bright student from Geneva. 

image via McFarlane Toys, ‘Frankenstein’

So it is a story of Ouroboros, the snake ever eating its own tail. And in like manner, Frankenstein is an eternal story that will outlive us all. Even as the worms devour this flesh the Creation of the madman will continue to haunt the world. 

Creating Monsters!

Dear reader, let’s talk about now. If Shelley teaches us anything from her personal life it is to never ignore the germ of an idea. Oh but especially a hideous idea; a creeping, howling, malignant idea birthed out of nightmares! 

How many horror stories are being ignored right now? How many good scares are we being robbed of just because you haven’t written it? Mary Shelley didn’t set out to make a world-wide phenomenon. She just wanted to scare her friends. So that’s a really good starting place. Scare the people closest to you. And never, ever give up.

image via Universal, ‘Frankenstein’

Your idea could happen while you’re on a walk. It could make itself known while you look out the window, or pick up a coffee. You might have to put aside the internet a little bit because writing demands time and attention just like Frankenstein’s Creation. 

Hunchbacks in bell towers, Ghosts haunting Opera Houses, Vampires in Transylvania, men who go invisible, a masked horror that rises from Crystal Lake, a dream demon who haunts nightmares, a puzzle box that opens Hell, a psychopath who invents torture traps and leaves his victims to make the ultimate choice to live or die. 

Monsters are out there, and there are so many of them, but guess what? There’s even more not yet discovered. Are you willing to be possessed by a need to tell a story? I for one would love to read it.

What are your fears and nightmares? What monstrosity might you end up stitching together? Piece by piece, stitch by stitch, nightmares tied to social anxieties, and powered by the engine of your own dark influences what great terror might we expect from you?

Creature Features: Celebrating 35 Years Of Practical Effects Werewolves Via STEPHEN KING’S SILVER BULLET

CREATURE FEATURES: CELEBRATING 35 YEARS OF  PRACTICAL EFFECTS WEREWOLVES VIA STEPHEN KING'S SILVER BULLET

Halloween 2020 for many, is looking different this year. Some will go about their own business, and celebrate as per usual. Some will opt to stay home for a family-fun night of horror flicks instead; of which both are perfectly ok mind you! However this year, I have one fantastic selection to add to the typical go-to movies such as Halloween and Trick ‘R’ Treat. A film so perfect that it almost supersedes the novella it was derived from. Piss on Rob Zombie’s Halloween! Piss on the Nightmare on Elm Street remake! This Halloween that coincides with a rare Blue Full Moon- I invite you to hunt up a little private justice with Stephen King’s Silver Bullet!

It’s been a while since we’ve done any Creature Features pieces celebrating our favorite monsters and glorious practical effects; and we’re LONG OVERDUE for a Silver Bullet article. Of which none has been done on this website and being the huge fan I am of this film in particular and this month marks the 35th anniversary of its release, I better get my ass in gear before my Tarker’s Mills card is revoked.

When I say I’m a fan, there’s my commitment status. I don’t fuck around like a virgin on prom night.

Anyway, let’s start with the obvious. I understand a lot of people disregard the Reverend Werewolf final reveal look; comparing it to something that of a dog-bear, (and honestly you aren’t wrong about that). However, it is meant as an insult rather than a critique and I think a lot of these people have An American Werewolf on London on the brain. I will argue till the day I die that THIS look, (not transformation but LOOK) in particular, is far more scary and that is my personal, and firm opinion on the matter.

And I will fucking die on that hill.

Special effects master Carlo Rambaldi, whose notable works include creating the works behind King Kong (1976), Alien, and E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, was tasked as the special and make-up effects head to complete the werewolf looks in Stephen King’s novella turned featured film. The realistic style suit was one piece that was topped with a mask that was operated by a variety of mechanics operated by the crew. Twelve levers to be exact, like that of a bicycle, that could manipulate the wolf’s facial expressions. For long-distance shots, there was a more simple mask that didn’t require all the fancy, tech wires.

However, Rambaldi was only given five executive weeks to pull of this sorcery. Hey, if the master of Queen Alien could do it, anyone can! Still, shooting had commenced even before the final suit and mask were ready. So those little snips of the werewolf leading up to the big reveal, were done with another purpose behind it.

“Ultimately, it looked like a bear,” confesses Attias. “The werewolf was very late in being designed, and Carlo (Rambaldi) was given very little time or money to work on it. In fact, it was so late that we had already started filming before we had the suit, so we starting shooting scenes without it. I tried to make sure the audience would see it as little as possible. – Excerpt from interview with the The Master Cylinder.

Everett McGill wore the suit for most of shooting, who spent a considerable amount of time figuring out the perfect walk for something that was neither man, nor beast. But a man that has been trapped inside an animal who eventually accepted his fate and embraced this dark shadow within him. Resulting in the werewolf quenching his thirst for blood on the “sinners” of the town- as McGill puts it speaking to the Shadow Nation podcast. However, he wasn’t even the first choice! Attias had hired a dancer to wear the suit, but apparently it didn’t work out, resulting McGill to go hairy balls deep in the role playing both the wolf and his not-so-holy counterpart. More demanding stunts in the costume, required a double; which was taken on by Julius Le Flore, the stunt coordinator for the film.

Now. We certainly can’t talk about the effects without mentioning the greatest scene in the movie that brought together a record FORTY werewolves on screen together; the most in any film to date. In lieu of Rambaldi, makeup artist Michael McCracken, Jr. was in charge of the dream sequence that involved a few actors already in the film, and the rest were made of up of Julius Le Flore’s friends of gymnasts and dancers. Clearly distinguishing themselves as different from Lowe’s wolf persona, but were taught the “werewolf walk” McGill had been practicing by the good ol’ Reverend himself.

The congregation of wolves were broken down into three groups. One group had radio transmitting facial features providing movement in the ears, forehead, and mouth. The second bunch had a “tongue device”; allowing the performing to snarl with simply moving the device around with well, their tongue. The third had no special effects at all other than makeup and served as the background werewolves.

And since it’s such a wonderful sequence, let’s give it a watch.

In conclusion, there was a lot of pain-staking elements involved in the productions of these creatures. And while some may mock Rambaldi’s werewolf concept, including that of Producer Dino De Laurentiis, it was the only one that gave me nightmares when I was a kid. That has to account for something!

Silver Bullet [Blu-ray]


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!!!