Tag Archives: Godzilla

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

Old School Kaiju Fans Rejoice! Newest ‘GODZILLA: King of the Monsters’ Trailer and Images Reveal Some Titanic Icons!

When I was like three or four my Granny sewed together a hand-made Godzilla suit. It was AWESOME too! It had dorsal spines and a tail that swayed back and forth with perfect balance as my unsullied imagination took me to far off places where I truly became one with the Kaiju, the very embodiment of Godzilla himself. And it was up to me to battle the three-headed terror from Outer Space, King Ghidorah.

Godzilla Wikia.jpg

Godzilla is probably my very earliest (and certainly among my fondest) memories and was my introduction to the roaring world of monsters! I couldn’t get enough. One Christmas all I asked Santa for was Godzilla movies! I squealed like a maniac when I unwrapped the colorful packaging and pulled away the shoe-box lid (because Santa back in Minford, Ohio was just that kind of classy) and saw Godzilla vs Mecha Godzilla AND Godzilla vs Monster Zero! I still own those tapes today, and they continually remind me of happier days.

Gojirapedia.jpg

 

I never thought I would get a good modernized Godzilla film. So in 1998, I had my ticket bought and my butt in a seat just dying with anticipation to see a new Godzilla movie…then walked away feeling kicked in the butt. That was not Godzilla, and fuck if we didn’t all know that.

Honestly, didn’t look like we would ever see a modern Godzilla film.

Old School Kaiju Fans Rejoice! Newest 'GODZILLA: King of the Monsters' Trailer Reveals Some Titanic Icons!
image via ComicBook

Then in 2014, Gareth Edwards (dir. Monsters) made the impossible possible! Godzilla, the true-to-life Godzilla we were waiting for, came alive! I loved the movie. Still, though, I was missing my Mothra and Rodan. However, I hoped they may show up in future movies.

You know what? Sometimes life doesn’t suck so bad. It’s those little things that make us smile, and we’re getting one of those moments next May. Michael Dougherty (dir. Trick ‘r Treat, Krampus) is giving fans what we want. He’s bringing the monsters we grew up with to the screen like we’ve never seen before. Dougherty seems like one of us. Judging by his track record I get a feeling he grew up just like we did, watching and loving the same things that made us clap and squeal. So this Godzilla sequel feels more and more like a film made by a fan for the fans of yesteryear.

ComicBook 2
image via ComicBook

Next year Godzilla will be joined by Mothra (Eeeeeeeee!), Rodan, and the4 chiefest of all Godzilla’s deadliest foes, King Ghidorah!

I can hardly believe it. Today the latest trailer dropped and we caught glimpses of these beautiful colossi.

Dark Horizons
image via Dark Horizons

All I can say is this looks like it’ll be a battle of the titans that will bring down mountains. And I can’t wait to relive a little bit of my childhood next May.

Thanks for always checking with us for those warm feelings of yesteryear as we look forward to the future.

Manic, out.

Godzilla and Friends Take Over COMET TV This Monster Summer!

Ahhh… The dog days of Summer are finally upon us. BBQ’s, trips to the beach, and countless cannonballs of glory into swimming pools are a given thanks to the scorching heat. And hey, if happen to reside in Satan’s Armpit, I mean the desert much like myself and dealing with 115 degrees plus these next few months, chances are you’re going to want to crawl into the shadiest corner of your home and live like a true desert rat. However, if you also happen to be a Godzilla fan like myself then we can now bless the rains down in Africa and COMET TV for giving us a monster of a Summer with a full three months of Toho dreams!

Godzilla and Friends Take Over Comet TV This Monster Summer!

Beginning on May 27th, COMET will be airing two double-header national treasures every Sunday through the first weekend in September. The first each night featuring the undisputed King of the Monsters and the second starring some lesser-known monsters in the Kaiju universe. From the 1954 debut of Gojira, to Destroy All Monsters, all the way to campy classics like Konga, I’m grabbing a frozen banana pop and chilling out with giant monsters this Summer.

Godzilla and Friends Take Over Comet TV This Monster Summer!