Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gabara vs Godzilla

just to start out with something really cool, this is a very nice shot of Manda, the monster from Atragon (1963). but the rest of the post is about Gabara.
the bully monster
he's such a cool looking monster, being one of the more unusual critters in the Toho pantheon of kaiju.  he just doesn't quite belong to any one group of creatures, he really is a nightmare monster.
judo throw!
of course, he's no match for even Minya, as bullies always cave when confronted.  but he then makes the mistake of attacking Godzilla.  and we know how that goes!

how about that Marine Boy

what a schedule of great shows
this blog was ostensibly started to track the progress of the Marine Boy book.

then I got sidetracked by a real job and life and all that fun stuff that goes along with things.  but I have not forgotten, and I do have all the writing nearly done.  I do not know exactly how it will be published, either as a Xenorama imprint or on it's own, but at least I have the body of the work done.

and thank God I got to talk to the late Peter Fernandez about Marine Boy.  he was a great gentleman and had some really cool information for me.  I feel like I owe it to his memory to get the information out now.

to the left here is an example of how the early morning line ups used to look on television.  this sort of programming will never happen again.  I used to get up early just to watch the cool shows that were never aired in Colorado at the time.  not knowing anything about how shows were chosen, I just thought tv in Colorado was really poor at the time.  still do, actually!  we did get a lot of cool monster movies though.
boomerang throw!

I know that Marine Boy did get shown in CO in the late 60s, as I remember seeing the opening when I was about four years old.

so stay tuned, as things are starting to move again with this project!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

18 Jade Arhats

seems I'm on a kung fu kick these days. The Eighteen Jade Arhats!
pick a title, darn it!
this is a DVD from Tai Seng, who for years was the place to go (unless you wanted Shaw Brothers, then you were outta luck) to get kung fu movies. now, these older titles are kind of frustrating, as they are poorly transferred and mostly fullscreen versions of these movies.
who said that?
and too damn dark on occasion!  this movie suffers from hard to discern night scenes.  a new transfer would be really nice.

this is a good movie, full of fights and action.  the plot is a little convoluted, revenge, mystery, theft and double crosses- and two men fake their own deaths- but it's not too hard to follow.  Polly Kwan is looking for the man who stole the titular Arhats and then there's some frame ups as well.
our heroes walk away

Golden Arm! pt 2

this is a great title
here's a couple screen caps from the new Tokyo Shock release of this fine movie.  it looks great and while lacking many extras, the DVD is well worth owning.  in fact, even if it was JUST THE MOVIE it would be worth owning, as we used to love fullscreen VHS tapes with nothing else added at all.  people have gotten way too spoiled these days about such things.
the final battle
there is a lot of fighting in this, and it's all very inventive.  we get to see an unusual style of drunken kung fu from Philip Kwok as he battles Meng Lo at the end of the movie. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Avengers

not the first Avenger by a longshot
I can't believe I've had this blog for over four years and this is the first time I've mentioned the Avengers, who were the first superhero group I ever read.

more on that issue later, suffice it to say this issue to the left was not it.

the Avengers was almost always my first buy when it came to choosing comics.  I had several issues, but my first real "series" of actually finding one issue after the other was Avengers #101-108, which is still one of my favorite story arcs to this day.

it was very Vision/Scarlet Witch-centric, who at the time captivated my imagination.  it did also introduce me, albeit unknowingly to Harlan Ellison, which was pretty cool.  as well as Hawkeye in his odd costume that lasted all of those ten or eleven issues.
an awesome cover

there were some great comic book stories back then, I gotta say.  I highly recommend reading these stories, and they have been reprinted in the Essential Avengers v. 5, for a really good price.

I hope this is one of many Avengers posts to come.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Monster Attack Team #8

132 pages of awesome
one of the highlights of the con was getting my copy of MAT #8.  I contributed the Kikaida 01 episode guide and appreciation, so there's full disclosure for ya.

but the rest of the magazine (and at 132 pages, more than one person has told editor Mike Keller it's more book than magazine) is just as great as my article.  there's a Kamen Rider overview by August Ragone, a nice article about Kinji Fukasaku and the movies he has directed, which include one of my favorites, the cool Green Slime (1968).  there is a lot more, but you should order the issue yourself and find out.  the color version is great, but the info will be the same whether the pictures are in color or not.

I never read any of the original run of the zine.  always wanted to, and probably could have traded them a few issues of Xenorama for a copy of two, but just never got around to it.  I do owe Mike and Ed a note of thanks, since they have inspired me to put out a new issue of Xenorama after an 8 year hiatus.  now I just have to find someone who can make a great cover like this one.

Friday, July 23, 2010

"Media" Con 2010 day 2

my first thought is how do kids carry around heavy backpacks full of books?  that is an unpleasant experience! perhaps I am not quite as young as I used to be.

anyway, the second day was about the same as the first, though I ventured down to the 2000+ numbers and that's where the mass media crap was- movies, tv shows and video games that had little or nothing to do with any fantastic elements, even by the loosest definition.  I mean, really, Showtime is a sponsor so we get "Nurse Jackie" and "Californication" posters all around (and on the buses, with their "biff", "bam" and "pow" slogan that went out in the late 60s, get with the times people)?

yes, that is a glommer
but there were cool things all around in the less crowded section- that being the comic books.  saying "less crowded" might make it seem like there was no one there, but the place was still full.  perhaps "quieter" part might be a better term.

I looked at toys and movies- still lots of bootlegs out there, by the way- and some books.  working at my pal's place I got two Essentials for $10, which was quite nice.  and since he lives in SD, I can go down to his place and get more later on.  yay!  send me your orders!

overall I really don't miss going to the Con.  in years past the last day was usually quite melancholy for me, as I knew it would be another year until I was back with "my people".  well, some of them are still my people, but I bet 80% aren't these days.

the best part was seeing old friends, and also getting my copy of MAT #8.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

DC's 75th Anniversary

the BIG Three
according to all accounts, this year is DC Comics 75th anniversary of publishing comic books.  yes, three years before Superman showed up DC was producing periodical reading material.

so at "Media" Con this year, it's all over the place.  and since there were no superheroes (per se) in 1935, we get a slew of drawings of the Big 3 helping DC celebrate.

and some interesting essays about the impact of comics and such over 3/4 of a century.  the one I found most interesting was the question asked to the readers about their favorite DC moments.

the answers ranged all over the place from things I agreed with to pure WTF moments (I mean, "Identity Crisis"?  really?).  it did get me thinking about what my favorite DC moment was though.

it really wasn't too hard to figure out, and I'll blog about it in the near future.  anyone else got a thought about it?

"Media" Con 2010 day 1

I went to the Con for the first time in 3 years, helping a friend out with his booth.  I also got to see my pal August Ragone's "Gamera The Invincible" Visual Tribute, and it was pretty darn great.  he covered the creation of the monster right up to Zigra in great pictures, many were behind the scenes photos showing the amazing amount of detail in the miniatures in the first two movies.

great stuff.

the rest of the time I helped my friend out and walked about 1/5 of the dealer's room floor.  there is an amazing amount of cool and useless junk out there being hawked. there will be pictures at some point in the near future of useless junk and maybe some other cool things.

it was nice to be where there were a lot less people- the comics part of the Con.

alternate Herculoids intro

this is the one I remember the most as a kid-
however, it's not the original.  I think I saw it in the late 70s when the show aired again.  but before the "Space Stars" episodes were created.

this won't show up on FB, so go here to view!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

dream team ups

while watching the old Hulk tv show, I had a thought.  there were three main characters on the show, Banner/Hulk and Jack McGee, ably played by Jack Colvin.  while I believe a larger supporting cast could have helped the show, there's no denying it's success over 5 seasons.

but it seems to me that McGee might have eventually come across another reporter who had dealings with weird and unusual creatures and phenomena at some point.  perhaps this older reporter could have helped him out at first, trying to find the Hulk.

the older reporter would of course be Carl Kolchak, The Night Stalker.  how cool would that have been? perhaps the Hulk could have battled some supernatural menace which would have brought McGee into Kolchak's world.

Monday, July 19, 2010

kung fu apes

they sure are!
 this is a rather infamous kung fu movie.  I will show give some examples here in a few sentences, but some of you will already know why.

it's a standard kung fu revenge story with some good fighters (Carter Wong, Tao-liang Tan, and Judy Lee).  the families of two girls get murdered by the Ching Emperor.  the two girls are saved by a Shaolin priest.  twelve years later they set out for revenge.

all of this is explained in the prologue in both English and Chinese.  really helpful they did it that way for us!

however, there are some fantasy elements that make this one a bit weirder, and then there are these that make it wilder.
kung fu gorilla
yep, that's a "gorilla" doing kung fu.  or something that is similar.  you can't see it, but the costume is not very good.  well, yes, you can see that.
stomach of steel
they can't be stabbed, so how will our heroines defeat them?  and it looks like he's wearing furry flaired trousers.  how square can you get?

man's favorite stooge

nuff said.  if not, this will help.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

don't make him angry, don't make him shake...

I have always thought Alice Cooper's song "Nuclear Infected" from 1980s "Flush the Fashion" was an ode to the Hulk.
montage from part 1
anyway, I am watching the fourth season of "The Incredible Hulk" and am really enjoying it, for what it is.  as a kid I liked the show but was always a bit put out that there were no superpowered foes for our hero to fight.

being older, I realize the reasons now (budget, the damned "realism" thing, etc) so I can appreciate it for what it is.

so this "Prometheus" is the first episode of of the fourth season. a meteor lands and the radiation affects Banner- he only changes back halfway to himself.  there's a lot of money spent on this episode, lots of extras, machinery, helicopters, you name it, even an asteroid special effect (which is very nicely done).

the recent movie sure seems to have taken a lot of cues from this tv show.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


started this page as a test to see if anyone is interested in a new issue of Xenorama. I am sure the world is holding it's collective breath for the answer!

Friday, July 16, 2010

here's to you and me

AKA "The Curse of Capistrano"
I've been a big Zorro fan my entire life, seen many different versions of him on the big and small screens.  but I have never read the original classic adventure until I got it recently.

it's pretty great. the writing is smooth and flowing, the characters are well written and the action is easy to follow.  one might really believe there was a Zorro in 1822 California, in the days of decadence of the missions.

this book comes with a nice prefix talking about the actual mish mash McCulley made of old California when he wrote the story in 1919.  which works for the story quite well.  applying real world history to such things is the way to madness, to quote an old wizard.

I really have enjoyed this book!

the navy vs some "monsters"

watch the trailer here, it's quite exciting!
what, indeed?

here's an interesting, and kind of fun (in the can't believe it is actually a real movie sort of way).  an expedition to the Antarctic brings back some prehistoric plants, which turn out to be mobile and bloodthirsty. they also have acid in their... er, veins, years before the "aliens" franchise made that sort of thing very popular.

sounds great, huh?  it also has Mamie Van Doren as the lead actress, and make of that what you will. the entire cast is decent enough, and there's the standard comic relief mechanic present as well.

I like it, but that may be because I saw the last most exciting part as a kid in the middle of the night.
looks promising, huh?
too bad the DVD print is not great.  it's a bit dark and murky.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Santo Y Blue Demon in the Land of the Midnight Sun..

what will our heroes do?
just got back from the MOPA at Balboa Park (here in San Diego) where they screened this wild luchador vs monster movie. having never seen one of these films on the big screen, it was quite a treat.

I do believe it actually was a DVD presentation.  it was subtitled in English and looks just like the copy I have. it also contained the same linguistic typos.

there were maybe 20-30 people in the audience.  a few of the people laughed at some of the more, er, interesting shots, but there were no mst-style morons trying to be funny, or no idiots trying to force a laugh at every little thing they possibly could.

the movie itself... well, it suffers from what most of them do, a lack of budget.  the ideas are good, but they just couldn't quite execute them very well. there is also woeful day for night shooting.  it's like they didn't even TRY to do it properly and just gave up 10 minutes into the script.  when the mad scientist says "come back, it's nearly dawn" and it's full on DAY, well, that does make people laugh. 

anyway, it was a lot of fun to see the movie on the big screen.  I hope they will do more such "mini-series" in the future.

it means "from the rock"

Atlas in the Land of the Cyclops is a pretty decent peplum, which was shown on TV a lot in the 70s.  it's now available just about everywhere on PD collections or singly.
Maciste is properly pumped

however, when viewed in it's original aspect ratio, as some kind fan provided here (along with the English dub) it's a much better viewing experience than with the pan and scan 16mm version that is floating about.

like I mentioned, it's one of the better peplum movies out there, some nice action sequences and some great scenery.  our hero, Maciste, played by Gordon Mitchell, is not the best actor (he improved in The Giant of Metropolis), but he looks the part.  the "bad" queen, Capys (Chelo Alonso) gets a better role and one feels sorry for her early on in the movie.
super scary!

the cyclops in this movie is also pretty good, and there's some inventive use of trick photography showing Maciste and the man monster in the same shot (I think I child is used). we all know what's gonna happen to the beast, it always does with a cyclops.  Ulysses paved the way for that to happen!

East/West presents the Return of the King...?

 it seems like the dollar DVDs have started to disappear from the dollar stores these days.  I look every time I go to one, and I see fewer and fewer now.

however, today I was in a 99 Cent store, and EastWest Entertainment had released this Rankin-Bass version of the final book in the trilogy.

this seems very odd to me, since I think it's been released on by Warner Home Video.  of course, knowing EastWest's rep, this should come as no surprise to anyone at all.  there were lots of other dubious titles as well from EastWest.

in case we didn't know...
the movie itself is not that great.  it looks decent enough, but it suffers from condensing a very long book into about 100 minutes, which necessitated cutting a huge amount of stuff out of the movie.

fortunately, there was a lot of the marching cut, which is a good thing (as evidenced by the Jackson movies).

it was worth a buck to find this, I wonder how long it will be available?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Astro #15

Gangor the Monster
locals dance in Trinidad

Astro Boy and Mr Pompous are returning from Trinidad. "Patch" is also on the atomic ocean liner.  he has a new robot to sell to any crooks that want it.  it's a one man gang robot.
Mr Pompous in some kind of trouble
turns out the robot, Gangor, is based on a centipede.  it steals jewels from the passengers. Gangor is 47 robots in one!
the crooks try to double cross Patch, who seems to be surprised when he's blasted by the crooks. Gangor takes care of them, but Patch loses consciousness and Gangor goes out of control.

a school of sharks rescues Astro Boy.  how about that, sharks as heroes!

a good episode, and some funny sight gags here as well.  cool monster.

my appreciation of Gamera

(this intro originally was written for a full Gamera movie series review for Scary Monsters magazine that I never was sent in.  it did end up being used for the VHS release of Gamera vs Guillon, AKA Attack of the Monsters in 2000.  Yuasa-san shook my hand and thanked me for writing it.  

I have updated this a bit, and for those of you wondering why I don't use the term "kaiju" at all, well, in the mid-70s most kids in America would never have heard that term.)

By the time I was 8 years old, I had watched every movie that had aired on local tv.  I had also seen one or two in the theater and several other monsters movies, both Japanese and American.  I knew their names, origins and major battles.  I'm sure most of this knowledge took up valuable space in my brain that should have been used for useful thinks like math, but how important was that?  I was well on my way to becoming an expert on giant monsters.

So imagine my chagrin, when visiting some cousins in West Virginia, one of them asked me if I liked Gamera.  "Who?" was my reply. He found it difficult to believe that I, self-professed monsterologist, didn't know who "the friend of children" was.  Not only did I not know who Gamera was, I didn't know what he looked like, what his powers were or even what he was!  what kind of monster professor was I?  well, Fate (and the glorious Channel 3) came to my rescue a few months later.

during my usual scouring of the TV Guide for any movie remotely monster related, I found a listing for a film called Attack of the Monsters.  I was showing on Sunday about 11 AM.  there was no blurb, so I had no idea what to expect.  After getting home late from church (it is rather hard to convince grown ups to hurry and leave because one needs to get home and watch a monster movie- I should have old them the Broncos were playing!), I turned on the set in time to see a silver flying monster fighting a knife-headed monster on an alien planet while two lucky boys looked on.  WOW! this was cool!  and not five minutes later either Tom Akio invoked the name "Gamera"... and he appeared! now I had three new giant monsters to add to my list.

evil beast Guiron!
I watched the rest of the film in rapture.  by the time Gamera had defeated the awful beast Guiron and the evil space women, I was a fan.  Back in the pre-VCR days you had to absorb as much of a movie as you could in one setting, as a particular movie may never be shown again.  the images in this movie were quite indelible: the monsters, the spaceship, even the futuristic buildings of Terra were etched into my brain. I even remembered the name of the kids, even though the movie was never shown in my area again.

(since this was written over ten years ago, many things have changed, including being able to own Gamera movies complete and uncut, some with dual languages.  who knew back in 1974 this would be possible?)