Throwback Thursday: Vintage Godzilla!!!

This is just a smattering of the early “Godzilla” movies that thrilled me as a kid.  They played on television in the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s.  Hot damn, was I happy when these came on.  It was the next best thing to a holiday.

The first trailer that you see (and the photo below) is for the original “Godzilla” in 1954.  That scene where he tears through the high-tension powerlines made a big impression on me as a little boy.  I never forgot it.  I should point out that I (like most of the world) saw the Americanized version of the movie, which was heavily re-edited and released in 1956.  (That is indeed Raymond Burr that you see in the trailer.)

“Godzilla vs. Megalon” (1976) is another that I remember well — probably because I saw it as an older child.

Am I crazy, or does the “Son of Godzilla” trailer from 1969 mention “Frankenstein” for some reason?  Something got lost in translation.

 

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Throwback Thursday: WOR-TV Channel 9’s “Million Dollar Movie” intro!

This will probably be a pretty obscure Throwback Thursday post, but the segment below should be recognized by people who grew up in the New York metropolitan area in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  It’s none other than the intro for WOR-TV Channel 9’s “Million Dollar Movie.”  (That music you hear is a particularly brassy rendition of Max Steiner’s “Tara’s Theme” from 1939’s “Gone With the Wind.”)

If you were in the New York area at that time, it ought to bring back memories of the old days of broadcast television.  (It’s actually surprising how much nostalgia people online report at seeing this 44-second clip.  And it’s amazing what you can find on the Internet.)  A few commenters note sardonically that the clip makes Manhattan look like a nighttime paradise — while The Big Apple in the 1970’s was not always an easy place to be.  (The city if far cleaner and safer today.)

Some of the comments I read were befuddling.  There is one blogger who wrote that he remembers this intro from as far back as the 1950’s.  (Had they really used it for more than two decades?)  And a populous minority of commenters remember being unsettled by the clip.  (They describe it as ominous, and the music as creepy, which mystifies the rest of us who remember “Million Dollar Movie.”)

This intro had an indelible effect on me.  While it recalls monster movies like “King Kong” (1939) and “Godzilla” (1954) for a lot of others, it will always remind me of my father watching war films and cowboy movies on his days off — along with the occasional Charles Bronson flick.   “The Great Escape” (1963), “A Bridge Too Far” (1977) and “Shane” (1953) all spring to mind.

When I was in the first or second grade, I habitually enhanced my Dad’s enjoyment of the “Million Dollar Movie” by peppering him endlessly with questions about whatever was playing — even if I had only wandered into the room for a few minutes.  “Why did they call it ‘a bridge too far?'” “Why did they fight World War II?” “The British and French were good guys in the war, right?” “Why did the cowboy drop his gun on purpose?”  “Why did the guy fake his death?”  (Bear in mind, folks, this was broadcast television — long before the days of Netflix and DVD’s.)

If any kid did that to me when I was watching my favorite movies, I’d go nuts — even if I had a pause button.  My father was a saint.

 

Throwback Thursday: the Monogram (?) glow-in-the-dark Godzilla model!

Now here is a treasure from my 1980’s boyhood — the glow-in-the-dark Godzilla model.  When I sat down to pull up some background on this, I first thought that this was one of the Aurora model kits.  It indeed started out as one.  But I think it’s more likely that I had the one produced from the same mold by Monogram, which was released in 1978.  (Mine was a Christmas or birthday present around 1980 or so.)

This was a sturdy model, as it survived just fine amid the debris of that disastrous desk I kept as a second grader.  And its glow-in-the-dark head and hands were damn cool.

Dear God, did I love this thing.

 

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Oh! Just one more Thing tonight!!

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You’re glad I reminded you, aren’t you?

I told Pete Harrison the other night that I watched the 2011 prequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 masterpiece, “The Thing.”

He simply responded, “Why?”

To me and undoubtedly many others, the 80’s classic will always be the paradigmatic horror – science fiction movie.  Because I admire a well made house as much as anyone, but AIN’T NO CARPENTER LIKE JOHN CARPENTER.  (Nobody repeat that, I want to copyright it and sell bumper stickers at horror conventions.)

Yes, the recent prequel inexplicably has the exact same title as the 1982 movie, and I have no frikkin’ idea why.  That just seems … deliberately stupid.  Nor is that the 2011 film’s only flaw … it’s universally maligned.

Does the 2011 outing really deserve all its bad press?  I say no.  Among other things, it delivered some fine goopity-gloppity monster goodness, delivered by an archetypal flying saucer, no less.  That’s something that I find refreshing in a horror movie marketplace that just seems inundated with demons and ghosts.  (I loved “Insidious,” but enough already.)

C’mon, Hollywood.  There are plenty of horror fans out there who grew up loving giant ants, Marine-baiting “Aliens,” werewolves, swarms of spiders troubling William Shatner, and the adversaries of Godzilla.  It’s why I gave a positive review to this year’s “Jurassic World,” despite a script of the same quality as that of “Gilligan’s Island.”  I want to see velociraptors chase a speeding truck.  I will ALWAYS want to see velociraptors chase a speeding truck.

And … I liked the 2011 movie’s protagonist!  Trying to mimic MacReady’s cunning anti-hero would have redundant!  This story featured a smart, young lady scientist who turned out to be tough under pressure.  That kinda worked for me.

I actually have seen 1951’s “The Thing From Another World,” but that was 30 years ago on VHS, with my “Movie Uncle,” John Muth.  I have NOT read “Who Goes There?,” John W. Campbell, Jr.’s 1938 novella upon which all of these films were based.  But I’m planning to.  (Last time I checked, it was floating around online somewhere.)

I’m just waiting for the first big blizzard to hit next winter.  Because ATMOSPHERE.

A brief review of “Godzilla” (2014)

I liked it!  It’s no “Blade Runner,” but it’s a fun way to escape a rainy Saturday.

There is a lot of fun fan service for those who remember the original movies.  For one, the creature design isn’t “Jurassic Park” — it deliberately recalls the man-in-the-rubber-suit effects of the Japanese films.  And they made sure to include that impossible to forget (or write) REEEEEEEIIIIAAAAAAARRRGH.

I might be imagining things, but I’m pretty sure the baddies here are deliberately reminiscent of “Cloverfield” (2008).  That was funny.

There is a long and overwrought subplot monopolizing the first half of the film, involving a bereaved Bryan Cranston.  Whatever this was meant to achieve in terms of character motivations, it kinda wasn’t worth it to delay the arrival of giant monsters.  I’m pretty sure that people don’t go to a Godzilla movie to see Bryan Cranston.

Actually … I take that back.  That dude is so popular that it’s entirely possible that people do go to a Godzilla movie to see Bryan Cranston.

 

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