Category Archives: cthulhu

Monsters

Monsters ~ When I saw this line of hype in the description of this flick OnDemand, I was intrigued. It read, “Best giant monster movie I’ve seen in years.” I was sold. It’s written and directed by Gareth Edwards, who has been chosen to helm the new American Godzilla movie – so I definitely had to see it.

The story – six years ago a space probe sent to search for alien life crash lands over Mexico. It brought ‘creatures’ and the area was walled off as the “Infected Zone.” Expecting District 9 meets Cloverfield meets Toho’s Monster Island, I happily order it, no matter how high the price.

A magazine photographer is sent to collect the boss’ daughter from Mexico in the Infected Zone. After losing their passports, they have to walk. Yeah, what’s that writing rule about what’s the worst that can happen? Yeah, that’s what happens. They walk home through the Infected Zone.

The two main characters are thankfully not typical horror movie stereotypes, but we get to know them as well as we would such characters – very peripherally. They are still placeholders in the storytelling process, but just different ones. The male lead reminds a lot of a young Adam Baldwin, but that’s neither here nor there. Some of the dialogue is painful, especially most of it falls into the “What are you doing?” and “Where are all the people?” territory.

The cardboardness and predictability of the two leads is what makes the ending so unfulfilling when it comes. I wanted a monster movie with a human story as a backdrop like most traditional kaiju eiga and got was a bad human story with monsters as the backdrop. At least the monsters got one pretty intense love scene. And no, I’m not kidding.

The monsters are rarely seen clearly early on, just in fuzzy pictures and staticky news footage, and later we hear them, but when they do finally show up… hello, pretty scary. They are sorta giant squid meets preying mantis meets Martian war machine with just a bit of Cthulhu thrown into the mix for good measure. The wreckage and destroyed buildings are stunning, as they are not CGI in the traditional sense, but greenscreened in – they are real destroyed buildings from earthquakes, fires, etc., so it looks, and is, very real.

There is not as much commentary on the current US/Mexico immigration problem as one might think from the summary of this flick, but it’s in there. There’s not much, but then again, no one ever says the word ‘apartheid’ in District 9 either and that’s like a brick to the head.

This was a fairly entertaining movie though, for what it is, a little long and I would have loved more monster stuff – but all in all, Monsters did not live up to the hype. Regarding Gareth Edwards’ future with the American Godzilla franchise, I really am at a loss as to what to think. It may well be visually stunning, but I worry about the story… and the love scenes…

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Aquaman Returns

My friend Rob Kelly is a guy with a lot of passion. Whether it’s his work or his hobbies, he puts everything he has into it. Case in point – his brainchild the Aquaman Shrine. His love and respect for the Aquaman character knows no bounds and his passion to see Aquaman get the props he deserves is phenomenal.

When the sea king, in his most classic and recognizable form, was set to return in the pages of The Brave and the Bold, Rob set up a campaign to make sure as many folks as possible were both aware of and ordered the issue. Even here at Welcome to Hell I supported the effort.

Yesterday Brave and the Bold #32 came out, featuring the classic Aquaman and Jack Kirby’s The Demon, and here’s my review…

Writer J. Michael Straczynski has been rolling throughout time and space in the DC Universe with his tales in Brave and the Bold, and this issue marks the subtitle on the cover ”Lost Stories of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” to further ensure he wouldn’t be hindered by continuity. Sometimes the complicated soap opera mythology of comics gets in the way of telling stories. If you want to read good stories and worry about that tangled mess – JMS’ Brave and the Bold is for you.

This issue, illustrated by frequent collaborator Jesus Saiz, is no different. This done-in-one story brings the classic Aquaman together with The Demon to stop a decidedly Lovecraftian elder entity from entering our dimension. An excellent short story, “Night Gods” tells the tale of Whitford Crane who is trying to find out if he’s insane or not by digging up his friend’s grave. When captured he relates the story from his point of view. The first two pages have the feel of the old 1970s DC horror comics. I could almost see the Phantom Stranger appearing next, but instead it’s the rather odd pairing of Aquaman and the Demon.

The unlikely duo get together once a year to stop this invasion of an elder god into our world, and poor Whitford is stuck in the middle. While Lovecraft is more in the Demon’s field, the focus is actually more on Aquaman. As a man of the sea himself, Crane has a healthy respect for Aquaman, and his narration lovingly paints him as the dynamic hero he is. The sea king’s underwater fighting prowess and especially his telepathic powers are displayed breathtakingly.

I agree with Rob wholeheartedly that this is the Aquaman we want, and hopefully sales on this issue should tell DC Comics how much we feel this. And even if you’re not an Aquaman fan, or even a comics fan, Brave and the Bold demonstrates what good storytelling is all about. Definitely check it out. Highly recommended.

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Godzilla Meets Blair Witch


It’s 1-18-08, and Cloverfield is finally here, and my initial impression is ‘Godzilla meets Blair Witch,’ and that’s a good thing. The flick combines the best elements of each concept.

The beauty of this film was really before it even opened. The ability to keep a secret -the image of the monster, as well as the plot- such big secrets in this internet age, especially when much of the hype was generated via the internet (mostly through an ARG), is a frigging miracle.

First off, dispelling rumors that have at this point been long dispelled, at least by folks who are online. It’s not Godzilla. Like I’ve been telling everyone who’s asked, their resident G-fan, it’s not Godzilla. It’s just not. Toho has the meanest and most litigious lawyers on the planet and there’s no way they’re letting Americans near their baby any time soon.

It’s also not Cthulhu, even though most of the Lovecraftian mythos is in the public domain, and as much as I’d like to see some of those wonderful dark creatures onscreen using some CGI – it’s just not. Although, based on the hype, maybe J.J. Abrams could be convinced to do so in the future.

And thank god it’s not Godzilla, because then I can let my radar down, and not worry about what has been changed or trashed regarding one of my favorite properties. Even though it’s not Godzilla, I’m still a hardcore kaiju eiga fan so I had to see this. Been waiting on this bad boy for months, and I was not disappointed.

The film revolves around a giant monster attack on New York City and rather than take the traditional path, the tale is told using a portable hand-held camcorder in the midst of the destruction. This gives a traumatic and horrific, up close and personal edge to the events. And of course will probably be responsible for multiple cases of motion sickness in theatres on a worldwide scale, but no worries, I predict folks will be so engaged by the flick they won’t notice.

The characters are pretty simple cookie cutter fare and a subtle but simple love story lies beneath the action as Rob has to rescue Beth from monster central. Over and above that I have to pick T.J. Miller as Hud, the voice behind the camera for most of the movie, and his unrequited crush Marlena, played by Lizzy Caplan as the clear breakout stars here. The real humor, beauty and pizazz of the flick lie with them, and the monster of course.

I loved this movie, and was so glad that a film with such hype actually turned out to be worth it. Get to the theatre early for the Star Trek teaser (also by Abrams) and stay ’til the end credits to hear the luscious Akira Ifukube-inspired score by Michael Giacchino.

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The Mystery of Cloverfield

Yep, more YouTube goodness. Anyone who checked out the Transformers movie earlier this summer got to see an interesting trailer/teaser that has come to be called “Cloverfield.”

The flick, alternately called “Cloverfield” and “1-18-08,” is the brain child of J.J. Abrams. Name sound familiar? It should. Abrams is the force behind the “Lost” TV series and he will soon be helping Paramount relaunch their “Star Trek” franchise. The writer of this project is an Abrams buddy from “Lost” and the directer was seasoned on “Felicity.” I’m really not sure what that says.

“Cloverfield” appears to be about a giant monster attack on New York City, but done with a new twist. That twist would be the use of portable cameras and pone to record the action, and yes, I see the ghost of The Blair Witch Project hiding over there by the stairs too.

As a huge Godzilla fan, I should nip some major speculation in the bud right now. It’s not Godzilla. The rights to that character are held by Toho and Sony, neither of whom have anything to do with this project. Other speculation does sound intriguing however, as I’ve also heard talk of the ‘monster’ being H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu, which, unlike Godzilla, is in the public domain. Done right, that would rock.

There is also the very real possibility we wouldn’t see (or get a name for) the ‘monster’ at all. “Cloverfield” could be a human story about people coping with disaster, but of course, that would be anywhere near as much fun as a giant monster.

Well, there it is, only time will tell now. It’s set for a January 2008 release. Wait and see.