Friday, April 30, 2010

oh look, Gigan's come!

Godzilla vs Gigan (or as I saw it uncut (except the credits) in the theater, Godzilla on Monster Island) has never been a movie I cared for very much. released in the US 7 years after it was made (1978) I was past the gee whiz stage of loving every aspect of giant monsters.

I'd see Gigan in Famous Monsters #114 though there was scant information there on the movie.  he looks cool enough. but after finally seeing it, I was quite disappointed.

I recognized every piece of stock footage in the movie, even more than there was in Godzilla vs Megalon (1973).  seeing Mothra make an uncredited cameo screamed of sloppy editing, even to my 13 or 14 year old mind. it was really cool seeing parts of Ghidrah, Hedorah, War of the Gargantuas and Destroy All Monsters on the big screen but enough was enough.

I had read about Godzilla and Angilas talking to each other and remember discussing it with friends whether or not they would speak in English or Japanese.  they spoke in distorted English, which was pretty cool.  in the Japanese version they get words balloons, just like in a comic book.

it's amazing the difference in thought processes even a few years can make.  when I saw Megalon in the theater in 1976, I accepted everything it presented and never once thought about why Seatopia would send Megalon to destroy Japan, a nation who has no nuclear capability.  but with Gigan I saw every fault.  it just tried too hard to be an Ishiro Honda movie and failed.

nowadays I like the movie a bit more, knowing how small the budget was for these 1970s flicks.

this is atomic breath, not a damn beam weapon from his mouth!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Jason and the Argonauts to Blu-Ray Harryhausen

here's the press release for this movie.

Embark on an adventure with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment when the epic odyssey Jason and the Argonauts is released on Blu-ray Disc on July 6, 2010 for the SLP of $24.95. Special effects legend Ray Harryhausen (Clash of the Titans, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad), who turns 90 this year, solidified his mark as a stop-motion master when this movie hit theaters in 1963. Harryhausen’s use of the medium exhilarated audiences as they followed Jason on his journey, encountering behemoth bronze statues, multi-headed serpents and the iconic animated armed skeletons. Through these effects, Harryhausen gave this mythical tale new legs and a provided an enduring spectacle for audiences. Viewers can now take this journey in high definition and be blown away by the remastering of Harryhausen’s masterpiece on Blu-ray.

Ray Harryhausen’s achievements and contributions to the art of motion picture special effects are unparalleled, and his films, including The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, 20 Million Miles to Earth, Clash of the Titans, and of course, Jason and the Argonauts, have influenced legions of filmmakers and special effects designers, including Peter Jackson, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, James Cameron and Sam Raimi, to name just a few. In an era before computer generated effects were possible, Harryhausen pioneered advances in stop motion photography which brought his mythic monsters to life—and blended them so seamlessly among the actors. A towering Cyclops fighting Sinbad and his men on the beach, skeletons with swords fighting the heroes in a duel to the death, Talos, the enormous bronze statue come to life; these are only a few of the amazing creatures which Harryhausen’s hands animated with incredibly precise and vivid detail. Each individual creature is alive with realistic movement, musculature, personality and even emotion. The unique world and unmistakable style that he created forever changed the approach to fantasy and special effects filmmaking.

Bonus features include an interactive photo gallery with previously unreleased original storyboards of the famous skeleton sequence, all new commentaries with Harryhausen, Oscar®-winning Director Peter Jackson (Best Director, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2004), three time Oscar®-winner for Best Visual Effects Randall William Cook (Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, 2002; Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, 2003; Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2004), and film historian Tony Dalton, as well as an interview with Harryhausen conducted by accomplished director, John Landis (Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video, An American Werewolf in London), known for his use of special effects in comedy and horror films.

Fantastic special effects by Ray Harryhausen make this mythological adventure an exciting film for all audiences. The film follows the story of Jason (Todd Armstrong), a fearless sailor and explorer, who returns to the kingdom of Thessaly after a 20-year voyage to make his rightful claim to the throne. To do so, Jason must first find the magical Golden Fleece. He selects a crew and with the help of Hera (Honor Blackman), Queen of the Gods, sets sail in search of the Fleece. Jason and his crew must overcome incredible obstacles including a 100-foot bronze giant, the venomous Hydra creature with the heads of seven snakes, and defeating an army of skeletons.

Jason and the Argonauts was directed by Don Chaffey (TV’s “Charlie’s Angels,” Pete’s Dragon), written by Jan Read (The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone) and Beverley Cross (Clash of the Titans), produced by Charles H. Schneer (Clash of the Titans), associate produced by Ray Harryhausen (The 7th Voyage of Sinbad) and stars Todd Armstrong (TV’s “Man Hunt”), Nancy Kovack (Frankie and Johnny) and Gary Raymond (TV’s “The Rat Patrol”).

Special Features

Commentary with Peter Jackson and Visual Effects Artist Randall William Cook (New to Blu-ray)
Commentary with Ray Harryhausen and Film Historian Tony Dalton (New to Blu-ray)
Never released interactive photo gallery with original storyboards (New to Blu-ray)
BD-Live™ enabled (New to Blu-ray)
Interviews with Ray Harryhausen by John Landis
Ray Harryhausen Chronicles featurette
The Harryhausen Legacy featurette

Sunday, April 25, 2010

how to make heroes boring

and not by using too much CGIs!  even worse!

here's a piece of prog-rock that almost defies description.  I had never heard of it until I was looking for "Reflections of a Rock Superhero" (more on that, later) but while discussing that with Mr. Owari, Christopher Elam, he mentioned some sort of "progressive rock" album about the Marvel Superheroes.

naturally I was intrigued, but being no fan of prog-rock at all, I was not expecting much.

and I sure didn't get even that.  take the worst of Yes, Jethro Tull, the Moody Blues and mix 'em up and you get this, "The Marvel World of Icarus".   released in 1972, this English band manages to make listening to songs about superheroes just an excruciating experience.  when compared to the awesome theme songs the Japanese heroes got, it gets even worse.

it's apparently been re-released in an expanded (lora mercy!) edition on CD.  I would be interested in reading the just how this recording was made, but I never have to endure these songs again.

I mean, really, whoever thought the flute was a rock instrument?  and it's in every damn song!  does the Hulk make you think "flute solo"?

oh yes, Chris, you will be getting a copy of this.

now I have to listen to the 60s theme songs for Marvel heroes, since that should wash all this prog-crap out of my ears.  I'm really glad I never knew about this as a kid... it might have some nostalgic value, as I am sure I would have wanted a copy of it.  I might have liked prog-rock!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

with one magic word...


I saw this cartoon long before I ever heard of the other similar sounding word. I've often wondered if the similarity was intentional, and tend to believe it was.  Captain Marvel was very popular.

two episodes of this fun show have now been released, erroneously, on the DVD set called Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1970s Vol. 2.  Shazzan came from the same great mold that Space Ghost, the Herculoids etc all came from, and that was in the 60s.  nothing else on that DVD set is nearly as exciting as the two episodes of Shazzan presented therein.  it also has a "Powers of Shazzan" mini-doc which is not bad, though some of the people just can't seem to resist acting like a cartoon made to entertain kids is somehow supposed to live up to more "mature" expectations. but for the most part they are kind to the show.

some of Alex Toth's great artwork is presented in the doc as well.  one of the speakers seems to think he has a moustache growing from the sides of his nose.  way to pay attention there, dude!

these sets are OK, they seem to want to be a nice sampler of the shows on TV back in the time period, but I'd rather just be able to buy the actual sets of the shows presented.  or not, as who really wants to watch The Hair Bear Bunch ever again?

not me, that's for sure!

how long ago did this seem, especially back in 1972?

Friday, April 16, 2010

an open letter to Bruce Wayne

Dear Bruce,

Get over it.  you aren't the only person who has lost your parents in a tragedy.  you are a rare person who had the wherewithal to live out your childhood revenge fantasy, but by the age you are now, you should realize that you'll never eradicate crime.

you should also realize that your parents wouldn't want you to live your life like this, alone, separate from friends and relationships. and you are a loner, right?  well, except for Alfred. and Dick.  And Barbara.  and Jim Gordon. and... oh wait, not much of a real loner are you?

so really you are just a kid playing with really cool toys.  sounds like you are living out the dream you have and are really having a great time.  the whole bad boy act is just that... an act.
so get over it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dacya Clementine

I adopted her about 3 and a half years ago.  I was looking for a tortie and had seen a few already, but went to Friends of Cats and after looking for a bit, there she was, lying in the sun in a cat tree. her name was just "Clementine" then, but I knew that would change.

I asked the nice lady about her, and she told me some of her story.  "Clementine was born here, on April 11th..." which pretty much sealed the deal for me then.

pack her up, I'll take her.  she was not thrilled about the cat carrier or the car ride home (she still doesn't care for cars trips) and immediately hid under the bed for a few days.

she was a wee thing back then and had huge ears.  the vet said it would be some time before she grew into those ears, and it was.  but she had loads of energy and would play fetch almost immediately.  she's mellowed a bit, now that is has reached the old age of four.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Katango's War*

*or "how many versions of War of the Gargantuas are there?"

I know of three.  they are all mentioned somewhat on the imdb page.  we now have a nice DVD set of the US and Japanese versions, but I have also seen a 76 minute "International" version from a Greek copy called "Katango's War" in the subtitle.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

more dinosaurs

a fun educational film from many years ago.  think it might about be about 30 minutes long?  this looks to be taped off a tv screen.

Ultraman 80

a very enjoyable series! here's the link.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

go go Godzi- oh, just go somewhere else

since absolutely no one has asked me for my opinion on this, the proposed new American Godzilla movie for 2012, I figured I'd give it anyway.

I don't give a rodent's hindquarters about it.  most likely it will be a cg infused borefest with unlikable characters, if the humans have character development at all.

giddy fans have pointed to the fact that it's Legendary Pictures producing it.  that means nothing to me.  none of their movies I've seen have left much of an impression on me.  granted, that's not many, but just looking at the track record doesn't fill me with happiness at this proposed remake/sequel/whatever it is.

one of the funnier things I've seen is some of the more hardcore fans are sure LP will bend over backwards to please the "fans".  fans of Godzilla perhaps number in the thousands.  LP also won't give a rat's ass about them, either.