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Posts Tagged ‘Ishiro Honda’

Mothra vs. Godzilla

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

Godzilla picture #3, KING KONG VS. GODZILLA, was such a hit in 1963 that Toho realized their boy really should have an ongoing series where he battles other behemoths, so director Ishiro Honda, composer Akira Ifukube and effects genius Eiji Tsuburaya (plus Haruo Nakajima redonning the Godzilla suit) immediately got to work on the next one.

Getting the rights to another studio’s characters every time wasn’t gonna be sustainable (too bad – GODZILLA VS. CAT PEOPLE would’ve been cool), so this time they decided to pit the big guy against Mothra, the giant moth goddess from Honda’s own 1961 film. I’ve always associated Mothra with Godzilla, so it’s interesting to realize that they weren’t originally intended to cross paths or exist in the same world. In a way, MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA is like if M. Night Shyamalan had made SPLIT unconnected to UNBREAKABLE and then decided to combine them in GLASS. Or if James Cameron made AVATAR VS. THE ABYSS.

Another thing it’s easy to forget is that there was an entire decade where Godzilla was always the bad guy. Here he’s in his fourth movie and the guy is just a total dick still. Only in movie #2 could you argue he was kind of good, because the other guy was so aggressive. Otherwise he’s just causing problems for everybody. For this one he doesn’t show up until a half hour in (such a diva) so Mothra gets top billing. (read the rest of this shit…)

King Kong Escapes

Monday, April 5th, 2021

Since I dug revisiting the original 1963 version of KING KONG VS. GODZILLA I decided to watch the one other time Toho used King Kong, which I don’t think I’d ever seen before. I consider this to be Godzilla stepping aside to let his co-lead take the spotlight, but I suppose it’s possible that he just didn’t want to do another one and this is like Paul Walker doing 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS without Vin Diesel.

Like the original GOJIRA, plus KING KONG VS. GODZILLA and many other kaiju classics, KING KONG ESCAPES is directed by Ishiro Honda, with music by Akira Ifukube and effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. But it has a little different vibe, seemingly influenced by spy movies. Tsuburaya’s great model work is used to create lots of cool helicopters, hovercrafts, a submarine, and a structure to house a giant robot. There’s a colorful villain named Dr. Who (Hideyo Amamoto, YOJIMBO, THE SWORD OF DOOM) who wears a cape with a Dracula/Dr. Strange collar and he has a base at the North Pole and an army of employees in nehru suits, white Mickey Mouse gloves and construction helmets. In the American dub he’s voiced by Paul Frees, so you keep expecting him to ask “is this room actually stretching?” (read the rest of this shit…)

King Kong vs. Godzilla

Wednesday, March 31st, 2021

I can’t see the new GODZILLA VS. KONG in a theater, because we still have the pandemic here (and apparently slower vaccine distribution than some other states). But I’m excited to at least get to watch it on TV tonight. I don’t know if it will live up to my hopes, but I’m glad it inspired me to rewatch the original East-meets-West giant monster mashup, 1963’s KING KONG VS. GODZILLA.

In my mind it seems like this current GODZILLA series rushed to the KING KONG crossover pretty fast, but not really. KING KONG VS. GODZILLA was only the third film in the GODZILLA series (though it also followed the American productions KING KONG and SON OF KONG, both from 1933). As discussed in yesterday’s review, the series started with GOJIRA in 1954, and GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN six months later. It wasn’t exactly a smash, so seven years passed before they brought the big guy back. Think about that – seven years is almost as long as the gap between BATMAN & ROBIN and BATMAN BEGINS. Or FRIDAY THE 13TH and FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII. About the same as the gaps between A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE, or FREDDY VS. JASON and the ELM STREET remake.

So after that wait Toho brought back original director Ishiro Honda, composer Akira Ifukube and effects director Eiji Tsuburaya (who held KING KONG dear since it had inspired his interest in effects) to revive Godzilla in this big crossover event that marked both monsters’ first appearances in color and in widescreen. Also their first movie that opens with a quote from Hamlet (at least in the American version, which I watched because I didn’t realize the original was hidden in the supplements of the Criterion box set). (read the rest of this shit…)

Stray Dog

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

STRAY DOG is an Akira Kurosawa film from 1949 – only seven years into his directing career, but about a third of the way into his filmography. I believe it’s the first one I’ve seen by him that wasn’t a period piece. At the time he had gotten really into the Maigret books and decided to write a detective novel. It took him longer to adapt the book into a screenplay than to write the book itself. Apparently it started the genre of police procedurals and/or detective movies in Japan. Pretty impressive side-achievement to kick off an entire category of movies different from the ones he was known for.

The mystery: where the fuck is my gun? Toshiro Mifune – who I have to admit I didn’t even recognize – plays the rookie homicide detective Murakami, who’s feeling like a piece of shit because somebody swiped his Colt when he was on a crowded bus. He figures it out too late, chases a dude (assistant director Ishiro Honda, five years before directing GODZILLA) but doesn’t catch him. So he has to learn all about the local pickpocketing and gun dealing scenes, recognize someone from the bus in a mugshot, convince her to give him a hint about who she gave the gun to, then finding out that person rented the gun to somebody… (read the rest of this shit…)

Mothra

Thursday, August 8th, 2019

After this summer’s fun-if-flawed GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS I must’ve been in need of some spiritual guidance because I was thinking I should look into worshipping Mothra. See what that whole thing was all about. And then, as if by divine intervention, a slick piece of Mothran propaganda – a nice new steelbook Blu-Ray of the original MOTHRA film from 1961- caught my eye. It’s an old school Toho kaiju movie with lots of goofy human shenanigans holding off the good stuff until later, but its imagery and strangeness warm my soul a little.

The structure seems lifted from KING KONG. An expedition to a mysterious island inhabited by strange creatures and primitive, drum-thumping natives brings something exotic back to the city to be exploited in a heavily hyped stage show, but these forces can’t (and shouldn’t) be contained, so this all leads to a giant creature attack on a city. (read the rest of this shit…)