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Archive for the ‘Monster’ Category

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

Thursday, April 4th, 2024

GODZILLA x KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE is the fifth of the “Monsterverse” movies, and to me the best one. Don’t get me wrong, I kinda liked the attempt at a serious Spielbergian approach in GODZILLA, and the more fun and colorful (but weirdly nostalgic for Vietnam War imagery?) take of KONG: SKULL ISLAND, and the Hesei nightmare atmosphere of GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS, but my previous favorite was GODZILLA VS. KONG, because it finally went headlong into having cool giant monster fights where you’re still in awe but you get to see what’s going on.

GxK is the first one with a returning director (Adam Wingard, YOU’RE NEXT) and he’s able to hit the ground running and improve on GvK with a crazier mythology and a better-integrated human story. I had a big smile on my face pretty much the whole time, without having to say “Well, too bad they were just traveling in that tunnel for a third of the movie.” My only real complaint is that the great Brian Tyree Henry (WIDOWS) still has a dumb one-joke character to play – a Roland Emmerich type “funny conspiracy guy” updated to have a podcast and a Discord – but he not only gets some laughs but gets to be around the actual monsters this time instead of trapped in a needless b-plot. (read the rest of this shit…)

Gamera vs. Barugon

Monday, March 11th, 2024

GAMERA VS. BARUGON (1966) – or GREAT MONSTER DUEL: GAMERA VS. BARUGON according to the subtitles on the Arrow blu-ray – is the second Gamera movie, and the first one in color. That makes it extra cool when they recap part 1 at the beginning, because the flashbacks are in black and white. They remind us that mankind’s “Z Plan” sealed the giant turtle Gamera into a rocket and shot him to Mars.

Or so we thought last time! What we didn’t know then was that a meteorite would hit the rocket (in full color), Gamera would escape and fly right back in that cool way he does, spinning like a flying saucer, blue flames spewing from his shell holes. It reminds me of FRIDAY THE 13TH 3D, how they show the ending of part 2 in 2D but suddenly Jason comes back to life and gets back up in three dimensions. (read the rest of this shit…)

Godzilla Minus One

Thursday, December 7th, 2023

My friends, I would be perfectly happy with just another cool Godzilla movie. That’s what I want to see. But it turns out the new one, GODZILLA MINUS ONE, is an actual masterpiece. I think you could say the same of 2016’s SHIN GODZILLA, a visionary take on the big guy. This one, from writer/director/special effects supervisor Takashi Yamazaki (RETURNER, SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO), is more of a sweeping emotional one. Set between 1945 and 1947, it’s a serious and very involving post-war melodrama about the opposite of a war hero.

As WWII is winding down, kamikaze pilot Koichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki, RUROUNI KENSHIN: KYOTO INFERNO) lands on Odo Island with engine troubles. Or so he says. The mechanics all give him a look as their boss, Tachibana (Munetaka Aoki, BATTLE ROYALE II, HARA-KIRI: DEATH OF A SAMURAI, SAMURAI MARATHON) tells him they couldn’t find anything wrong with it. “What are you implying?” Koichi cries, and storms off.

Tachibana catches up with him and says that, for what it’s worth, he’s on his side. The government treats life as cheap. It makes no sense to give your life for a war that’s already lost. Yeah, we agree, but that’s not gonna wipe the shame off of Koichi. So you see, this is a movie about about a guy who chose to live, and feels tremendous guilt about it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Invasion of Astro-Monster

Wednesday, November 29th, 2023

INVASION OF ASTRO-MONSTER (1965) is Godzilla movie #6, once again from director Ishiro Honda. Weirdly it’s a co-production between Toho and the American animation studio UPA – a collaboration that began that year with FRANKENSTEIN VS. BARAGON (the one that WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS is a sequel to).

According to the opening text, ASTRO-MONSTER takes place in the year 196X (which you may remember from the Bryan Adams song “Summer of ‘6X”). World Space Agency astronauts Kazuo Fuji (Akira Takarada, GLORY TO THE FILMMAKER!) and Glenn (Nick Adams, REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE) are flying the P-1 rocket on a mission to the mysterious Planet X. Fuji’s sister Haruno Fuji (Keiko Sawai) also works at the agency, and he’s so controlling of her that during lift off he asks them to relay a message to her to “not rush into things” with her new boyfriend Tetsuo, inventor of “The Ladyguard Portable Alarm” (kind of an electronic rape whistle). (read the rest of this shit…)

Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles

Wednesday, November 15th, 2023

TIKTIK: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES is a Filipino monster movie I came across on the medium of digital video disc. The box also calls it THE MONSTER CHRONICLES: TIKTIK. I had to watch it because I noticed it was written and directed by Erik Matti, whose 2018 action movie BUYBUST I loved (it’s the closest thing to a “Filipino THE RAID” that I know of) and then I watched his excellent crime drama ON THE JOB (2013).

TIKTIK came out the year before ON THE JOB, but it was well into Matti’s career – looks like it’s his twelfth film. Though it’s not nearly as broad, it reminds me a little of some of the Hong Kong horror comedies I’ve seen, because it’s about a relationship problem and a family and then a bunch of monster shit happens at the same time.

Makoy (Dingdong Dantes) is a cocky young man from Manila who comes to the boonies of Pulupandan wearing sunglasses, smoking cigarettes, talking abrasively, offending everybody. He came to try to make up with his pregnant girlfriend Sonia (Lovi Poe) after a fight. She went to stay with her parents, who he’s never met, and when he shows up Sonia’s mother Fely (Janice de Belen) hits him with a pan and chases him off. But he later runs into her father, Nestor (Joey Marquez, ON THE JOB), who is more welcoming and brings him along to buy a pig to roast for Sonia’s birthday party the next day. (read the rest of this shit…)

Meg 2: The Trench

Monday, November 13th, 2023

MEG 2: THE TRENCH is the silly followup to the silly first movie I casually enjoyed in 2018. Neither seems interested in reaching the status of “actual good movie,” which would be preferable, but both involve Jason Statham battling giant prehistoric sharks, among other dumb pleasures, so of course there is gonna be some amusement involved. And maybe it’s good to keep this kind of bullshit alive on a big screen budget. To me that’s way more fun than the SyFy Channel version.

In the first movie Statham’s character Jonas Taylor was an elite rescue diver, but this one opens with him infiltrating a boat to try to bust people for dumping radioactive waste (?). He fights some people and says some funny things to them and jumps off the boat (Statham trademark). I’m unclear what he was trying to accomplish, or if he succeeded, and I don’t believe this mission is connected to anything else in the movie. But I’m not complaining. I’m always up for a gratuitous action tangent. (read the rest of this shit…)

Cobweb (2023 American film)

Monday, October 23rd, 2023

COBWEB (2023 American film) is not to be confused with COBWEB (2023 South Korean film directed by Kim Jee-woon). Totally different thing. This is a new horror movie that wafted briefly through theaters during the OppBarbenheimerie era, came out on disc a few weeks ago, now is on Hulu. I knew nothing about it except that some people had said it was good, and that served me well. It’s a pretty simple story that benefits from a sense of unfolding mystery, so I’ll try to tread lightly for a bit and then warn you when it’s time to start stomping.

One reason to review it right away: it’s a Halloween movie. It’s set in the week leading up to the holiday, there’s a field of pumpkins outside the house that most of it takes place in, there’s a crucial pumpkin-smashing incident. So it’s good for the season. (read the rest of this shit…)

Love and Monsters

Wednesday, September 20th, 2023

LOVE AND MONSTERS is pretty much what the title says – the story of a lovestruck young man in a world of monsters. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic California, after 95% of the world’s population of humans has died off and the survivors live in small colonies hiding from giant bugs and reptiles. The filmmakers are wise enough to know that explaining that too thoroughly is for assholes, so it gets brushed over in a couple minutes of introductory narration from our protagonist, Joel (Dylan O’Brien, AMERICAN ASSASSIN). Something about an asteroid that we shot with missiles but then the missiles rained chemicals down that mutated cold blooded creatures. The after effects are depicted in news footage, Joel’s drawings, plus some clippings, such as the front page newspaper story “WHITE HOUSE IN CRISIS: PRESIDENT KILLED BY GIANT MOTH.”

When the shit pops off in his home town of Fairfield, Joel is at the make out spot, just crawling into the back seat with his adorable girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick, “Bugs” from THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS). Tragic and also convenient for us to get a wide shot of the chaos. The two have to hurriedly say goodbye before Joel evacuates with his parents (Andrew Buchanan [DRIVE HARD] and Tandi Wright [PEARL]). The pain of teen romance cut short by a move (in this case due to monster attacks rather than starting college or a parent having a career change) is palpable. (read the rest of this shit…)

Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster

Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

“The earth doesn’t belong to humans alone. It’s ours too, and we should defend it.” —Mothra


GHIDORAH, THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER is Godzilla movie #5, released in 1964, 8 months after MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA. Like numbers 1,3, and 4 it’s directed by Ishiro Honda. And by now he’s getting cocky, so he uses cool freeze frame credits of Godzilla and his co-stars Rodan and Mothra #2 (one of the two larva of the previous Mothra. Godzilla killed the original Mothra and the other larva died of unknown causes between installments.)

The movie opens on the roof of a clock tower where a gathering of the UFO Society (who wear lab coats like legit scientists – they’re not kooks) try to receive a transmission from space. When they fail they blame the attendance of skeptical TV reporter Naoko Shindo (Yuriko Hoshi, KILL!). “They sensed your mistrust through your brain waves.”

They’re desperate for help from beyond, because shit is getting crazy. We hear about a heat wave in January, constant sirens, an encephalitis outbreak. “Everything has gone haywire,” we’re told, and “It’s getting strange out there. The Earth has gone mad.” Yeah, I know the feeling. I’ve lived through some times that feel like that. Also, “Strange things have been happening beyond our galaxy too,” whatever that means. There are meteor showers happening all around the world. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Munsters’ Scary Little Christmas

Thursday, December 22nd, 2022

I really enjoyed Rob Zombie’s love letter to THE MUNSTERS earlier this year, and it even got me to check out the o.g. Munsters movie MUNSTER GO HOME!. But Zombie’s movie did not go over well with or cause much of a splash among the general public, and now there’s this Netflix show Wednesday, based on Munsters rival The Addams Family, which is actually a huge streaming hit (and which I have to admit I like even more than THE MUNSTERS). So it kinda looks like a Photon Warrior to Lazer Tag situation for ol’ Herman and Lily. Or Gobots to Transformers. Or IRON EAGLE to TOP GUN.

Still, I am making this The Year of the Munsters by watching a Munsters Christmas special as part of my holiday festivities. THE MUNSTERS’ SCARY LITTLE CHRISTMAS (not to be confused with the weird New Zealand Christmas special THE MONSTER’S CHRISTMAS) is a 1996 Fox TV movie. The Munsters are entirely recast from the 1995 Fox movie HERE COME THE MUNSTERS, but they carried over an uptight neighbor character named Edna Dimwitty, played by Mary Woronov (DEATH RACE 2000), so I guess they’re connected. (read the rest of this shit…)