Category Archives: space giants

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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The Giant Chicken from Mars

Uchû daikaijû Girara ~ This is better known in the United States as the 1967 film The X from Outer Space. One of its more dubious recognitions is that TCM has on more one than one occasion shown this as part of its foreign film spotlights on late Sunday nights. When I see this happen I have to wonder if TCM has no other Japanese movies they could show. Granted it’s a great print of the film, but in this case that is more analogous to saying “that’s a great photo of a dog turd.” Add in the fact that it’s letterboxed and subtitled, I might go so far as to say someone gift-wrapped that turd.

When Robert Osbourne introduces the film he always notes that it is the only entry into the kaiju eiga genre by the venerable Shochiku Studios. After this I don’t wonder why. Don’t get me wrong, Uchû daikaijû Girara is by no means the worst film of the genre, but it’s definitely clinging to the bottom. It appears to have been made by someone who was told -about- giant monster films, and maybe -how- to make them, but had never seen one before.

The film does have a cult following though, probably because it was featured in It Came from Hollywood, or maybe because of its unique hokey-pokey jazz score, or maybe because it features possibly the most outlandish giant monster of all. The X, or as it is properly called, Guilala, is basically a giant mutated chicken from space. It even out-bizarres some of the most wild ideas from “Space Giants.” Yep, whoever designed this kaiju suit was definitely doing acid.

There have been a couple attempts to do a sequel, one rumored to be in the planning stages right now. About a decade ago, a crossover battle was planned between Guilala and Gappa, better known here in the States as The Monster from a Prehistoric Planet. Gee, I wonder who called off that fight?

And don’t miss the unbelievable and indescribable chase scene between Guilala and a jeep. It must be seen to be believed. Once. Then change the channel…