Godzilla: A Look Back

Posted on May 30, 2019 at 12:11 pm

“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” opens this week, so it’s time for a look back.

Godzilla, known as Gojira first appeared in a Japanese film in 1954. The film was recut for US release, retitled “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” with scenes of “Perry Mason” star Raymond Burr added in. It was inspired in part by King Kong and in part by the shock of the atomic age.  Godzilla is such a, well, towering figure in world culture that the name has been adapted for terms like Bridezilla.

Godzilla can stomp on skyscrapers.  He has grown a lot through the years.

Here’s some history:

Copyright 1960 Toho Studios

And then there is the gigantic insect goddess Mothra.

And the flying monster Rodan.

And the three-headed lightning-spitting dragon Ghidorah.

American-made versions of the Godzilla story include the 2014 version with Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche, which was pretty good and the Matthew Broderick version of 1992, which has a truly dumb ending.

For more information: David Kalat’s comprehensive history and Memories from Monster Island by Travis Kirkland and Luca Saitta.

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List: Godzilla Movies

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 8:00 am

One of the most famous movie monsters of all time, Godzilla, returns to the screen this week in a big-budget film starring Bryan Cranston.  It’s a good time to take a look at all the various versions of Godzilla that have trashed cities and terrified the populace since the monster’s first appearance in 1954’s “Godzilla” from Japan, directed by Ishirō Honda.MCDGODZ EC052

In Japanese, the monster is called “Gojira,” based on combining the words for whale and gorilla.  The original idea was inspired by the fears following the onset of the atomic age.  But in his many following incarnations, Godzilla was sometimes the hero as well as the threat.  Godzilla has appeared in games, comic books, television, and big and small budget films.  The name has become a concept so embedded in our vocabulary that it shows up in terms like “Bridezilla.”

Highlights include the 1956 Godzilla: King of the Monsters, with Raymond Burr and dual-monster battles Godzilla vs. Mothra and King Kong vs. Godzilla.

It is generally agreed that the low point was 1992’s Godzilla with Matthew Broderick.  It isn’t that bad — until it goes completely off the rails in the last half hour.  Here’s hoping this one is worthy of the name.

Image @drjames at Imgur
Image @drjames at Imgur
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Universal Classic Monsters

Posted on October 31, 2012 at 3:48 pm

What could be better for Halloween than the new Blu-Ray release of Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection , with deluxe editions of eight classics:  “Dracula” (1931, 75 min.), “Frankenstein” (1931, 71 min.), “The Mummy” (1932, 74 min.), “The Invisible Man” (1933, 71 min.), “The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935, 75 min.), “The Wolf Man” (1941, 70 min.), “The Phantom of the Opera” (1943, 93 min.), and “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” (1954, 79 min.).

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Based on a book Classic Fantasy Horror

Monster Lessons from Paul Asay

Posted on October 24, 2009 at 8:00 am

Paul Asay has a terrific gallery list of life lessons from movie monsters. It is witty, erudite, and very insightful. Indeed, I think he has done a good job of setting out the reasons that monster movies are among the most enduring and beloved genres. Like the ancient myths, they help us process and better understand hubris, fear, and even intimacy.

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