Category Archives: mothra

I Saw What You Did

I Saw What You Did ~ Back in the old days, before video rentals, before OnDemand, even before cable television, there was only one way to see a particular film – you waited and waited for it to finally show up on standard six channel television. When it was a movie you’d never seen and only heard about, it became sort of an event, and a special memory. I saw The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon this way, and also Mothra and the Matt Helm films. There was a certain mystique to the movies you had to watch and wait for each week by scouring the TV Guide.

The original 1965 (it was later a terrible telemovie in the late 1980s that is best forgotten) version of I Saw What You Did was one of those movies, and in recent times it has been made even rarer by its on-again-off-again video and DVD releasing. In an age where almost everything is available, this is indeed a rare film. It’s a lucky thing that occasionally TCM gives it a run, usually when honoring its star Joan Crawford, or its genius director William Castle.

Its full title gives a bit of a hint what it is really about. Two teenage girls on a sleepover amuse themselves by making random prank phone calls and saying to the answerer, “I Saw What You Did! And I Know Who You Are!” You can imagine the bedlam that ensues when they call the man who has just murdered his wife. There’s the set-up and trademark William Castle hilarity and horror follow. You can understand how the plot of this one can become whispered legend among those watching the TV Guide every week.

In a role originally meant to be only a cameo (although she got top billing and pay) and originally offered to Grayson Hall, later to be known as Dr. Julia Hoffman on “Dark Shadows,” Joan Crawford eats up the screen like the film goddess she was in every scene. Her appearance, dressed for flash in the middle of the night, is kinda odd, but then again she’s Joan Crawford after all. She proves without a doubt she could easily be the kooky neighbor in a sitcom from any age, and do it with pizzazz.

The two girls, and one’s little sister, are terrible, but their kids, so give them a break. John Ireland as the killer is stone-faced and fierce, his looks alone inspiring scares. Some of the shocks and the violence are a bit over the top for the time, and surprising when you think about it in hindsight. It’s not Friday the 13th, but it’s a bit much for 1965. The initial killing is an ironic turn on the shower scene from Psycho and actually quite well done.

This is, despite what others may tell you, William Castle at his best. I love this flick, and watch it whenever it presents itself. Must see for horror fans, movie fans, and camp fans – funny, scary, quirky, what more could you want? So keep a lookout, just like in the old days, for the next time I Saw What You Did airs, it’s worth it.

Galaxy of Terror

Galaxy of Terror ~ I remember this flick from years ago but had never seen it, nor had the desire to see it, until I saw it on a list of the worst movies of all time. When I saw that it was Roger Corman produced, and starred Sid Haig and Robert Englund, as well as a grown up Erin Moran, Joanie ‘Shortcake’ Cunningham from “Happy Days” – I had to see it. It’s just as bad as you might imagine.

The movie also stars Eddie Albert and Ray Walston, and roughly follows the plot of the first Alien film. They’re on a rescue ship and when they reach their destination, an unspeakable horror picks them off one by one. It’s horrible. It’s not even worth the MST3k treatment, it’s that bad. Making sure that they can rip off as many movies as possible, the monster changes into whatever you fear the most.

Sid Haig is kinda cool, for the short time he’s in it, but even he can’t save this mess. Sid Haig hated his dialogue, so he asked Corman if he could play the role as a near-mute. Corman agreed, and Haig barely says one complete line. Robert Englund is more Willie from “V” (but not as cute) than Freddy, and Erin Moran is less than a poor excuse for Ripley, no matter how hard she tries.

Both James Cameron and Bill Paxton worked behind the scenes on this flick. At least they both went on to better things later, including Aliens, the sequel to the movie Galaxy of Terror ripped off most. And if you dare watch this terrible flick – beware the Mothra rape scene. Otherwise, avoid this movie at all costs.

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Godzilla Returns to Comics

San Diego, CA (December 15, 2010) – IDW Publishing and Toho Co., Ltd. are excited to announce the return to comics for the biggest star in motion pictures! Kicking off in March, GODZILLA®: MONSTER WORLD offers fans the world over the first ongoing comic series in years. GODZILLA® will be joined by many other monsters throughout the series, including MOTHRA™, KING GHIDORAH™, RODAN™ and more that have never before been featured in an American comic book series alongside King of the Monsters™.

“Godzilla has been gone from comics for too long” said Yukio Kotaki of Toho. “And to have it return with other monsters is simply very exciting.”

Bringing these fearsome creatures back to comics is a larger-than-life creative team, led by co-writers Eric Powell (The Goon) and Tracy Marsh. Artist Phil Hester (Kevin Smith’s The Green Hornet) will capture every monster moment. The series will feature not one but two painted covers, offered on a 50/50 basis: Eric Powell will provide a gatefold wraparound cover featuring many beloved Toho monsters, and fan-favorite artist Alex Ross contributed an imposing image of Godzilla®. Powell has also painted a separate incentive cover to herald the debut issue’s launch.

“To be able to launch a Godzilla series that features many fan-favorite Toho monsters never before seen in comics is gratifying enough,” said Chris Ryall, IDW’s Chief Creative Officer. “But to do it with the guiding hand and brush of Eric Powell — as perfectly suited a creator as I could’ve hoped to come aboard here – along with Hester, Marsh, and Ross, is about as monstrous a line-up as I could’ve ever hoped for. What’s more, this is just the first series to come in the line. The next one out of the gates features multiple Eisner-nominees and winners handling the creative, so we’re well and truly just getting started here.”

In GODZILLA®: MONSTER WORLD, a full-scale apocalypse is brewing. The monsters are a force of nature whose attacks can be no more predicted or rationalized than a lightning strike. There will be no clean-cut heroes with perfectly chiseled chins and capes billowing in the wind; only ordinary human beings struggling desperately to survive in a world gone mad.

With an impressive cast of monsters both old and new, IDW’s series will treat fans to both familiar themes and original takes on the pop culture legends that have stomped, smashed, and fought their way across movie screens for over four decades.

Adding to great creators and a monster story, IDW is also offering killer retailer specials for GODZILLA®: MONSTER WORLD #1, including a one-of-a-kind, hand-drawn Eric Powell sketch cover. Plus, retailers will be eligible for their very own cover – featuring Godzilla stomping their comic store.

GODZILLA: MONSTER WORLD #1 ($3.99, 32 pages, full color) will be available in comic stores in March 2011.

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RIP Peter Fernandez

Award winning actor, voice actor, author, lyricist, writer and director Peter Fernandez passed away Thursday after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 83.

Peter Fernandez was the guiding force behind the Americanization of such anime classics as “Speed Racer,” “Gigantor,” “Astro Boy” and “Star Blazers,” and also live action imports from Japan like “Ultraman,” “Space Giants,” “Mothra” and several of the Godzilla films from the 1960s. His early career was in radio on shows like “Gangbusters,” “Mr. District Attorney” and “Superman.”

More recently he had a small part in the big screen version of Speed Racer and a featured role in the newest incarnation of the animated series. Other recent work included “Kenny the Shark” and “Courage the Cowardly Dog.”

I had the opportunity to interview the man at the New York Comic Con a few years back and it’s one of my most cherished memories. I was nervous as hell but he was a very kind and generous, and understanding interviewee. Some of that interview is available here.

I have lost another huge chunk of my childhood, but I’m glad I was able to meet Mr. Fernandez, and at least tell him how much his work meant to me. He will be missed.

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Avatar

Avatar ~ Movie fans have waited a long time for a new film from writer/director James Cameron, and I’m sure many haven’t been disappointed with his newest reputedly $280 million offering Avatar.

This is a good movie, a really good movie, but I think the hype may have killed it for me. I had friends rave when they initially saw the trailer. I read much about the money spent and the effects process involved. I was impressed, yes, but I’m unsure if the product really lives up to the hype. Based on box office (phenomenal, but surely not as phenomenal as the producers might have expected, or wanted), I have to wonder if I’m alone.

The plot has Cameron taking a pseudo-political stance, and its preachy bits are one of the places where he loses me. The human race in 2154 is strip-mining the planet Pandora where the indigenous population is psychically linked to every living thing on their world. A paraplegic takes on the role of one of the genetically created inhabitants to live among them and learn more about them – and eventually leads them against the human oppressors. I’m not giving much away, as predictability is one thing Avatar excels in. That’s not bad though, there’s a lot that makes up for it.

Other nitpicks would be that the deus ex machina at the end is a literal deus ex machina, which is a bit of a letdown. I like to see characters triumph against impossible odds on their own – after all, that’s what makes them heroes. And the prayer scenes almost made me break out in laughter as I was reminded of old kaiju eiga – the way they were chanting I kept waiting for Mothra to show up.

It’s not all bad though, by no means at all really. Visually, Avatar is stunning. The special effects of having actors shine through their CGI forms is mind-boggling. Truly alien constructs display and react as the real actors would and look like their puppet masters flawlessly while maintaining their fantasy forms. The backgrounds like the floating islands are staggering. I wouldn’t recommend not seeing this film in IMAX or 3D – it must be seen in full effect.

This is an outstanding film, a definite must-see for the eye candy alone, but the battle sequences go on much too long and my eyes really started rolling when the it got preachy. It’s no Terminator or Aliens or even Titanic. I’m glad I saw it, but in hindsight, I wish I’d seen Sherlock Holmes Christmas night instead, or maybe even The Squeakquel.

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Latitude Zero

Latitude Zero ~ The winning Toho combination of director Inoshiro Honda, composer Akira Ifukube and special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya made this scifi flick in 1969 for a million dollars. Besides Japanese superstar Akira Takarada (47 Ronin, Mothra Vs. Godzilla, Monster Zero and the original Godzilla just to name a few), this one also has, believe it or not, Joseph Cotton and Caesar Romero. This camp movie serial adventure, also known as Ido Zero Daisakusen featuring utopian underwater cities, super-submarines and even a monster or two is fun for the whole family with some amazing special effects for the time. Recommended.

It’s not in German (or Japanese for that matter), but the above trailer is.