Given King Kong‘s one of the most successful and popular monster movies of all time, it’s enjoyed numerous revivals over the years. Including one in the early 1950s that directly inspired the American atomic monster craze and the daikaiju eiga of Japan. Kong‘s direct sequel, Son of Kong, and its kissing cousin, Mighty Joe Young were…less than successful.
But that didn’t stop special effects wizard Wells O’Brien from conceiving yet another sequel. Something that would retain all the grandiose power of the original but do away with that slapdash, chash-in feel that made Son of Kong suck. It would be a conscious throwback to that Golden Age of Monster Movies: the 1930s, the age of O’Brien’s primes. And it would climax in a gigantic fight scene in the streets of San Francisco, with Kong squaring off against a gigantic Frankenstein monster composed of animal parts and, presumably, a constantly-beating heart, irradiated by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
By 1960, O’Brien had a treatment all worked up, but the projected cost of the stop motion animation necessary to pull all this off made Hollywood skittish. The producer O’Brien hired, John Beck, began to shop the movie around overseas. He eventually wound up at Toho, who liked the idea of a giant Frankenstein so much they sat on it for three more years…after they made this. Continue reading King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)→
Funny how many of these episodes open up with some member of the Humanitarian Environmental Analysis Team sitting on their ass, watching television. Team lead Dr. Nick Tatopoulos has “monitor duty” this week, joined by recovering Larry Cohen fan Dr. Elsie Chapman. The two watch a video from Dr. Hugh Trevor of the Pisces Research Institute…in Loch Ness, Scotland. Per the usual cryptozoology cliches, Dr. Trevor’s only managed to catch a fleeting glimpse of Nessy after the creature’s alleged attack on the Institute.
“They should’ve hired a real actor,” Dr. Nick says. “This guy’s embarrassing.” And when a 90210 vet craps on your ability, you really should go back to drama school. “And is that thing made of…rubber?” Har-dee-flippin’ har, doc. Making things even funnier, the “actor” Dr. Nick’s critiquing is played by the realest “real” actor this series has seen so far: Roddy “Cornelius” McDowall, in (no, really) his last screen role. Continue reading Godzilla the Series: An Exercise in Over-Analysis – Part XI→
…begins in an Antarctica well-known to followers of sci-fi television—the kind of Antarctica where a wool-lined parkas are all the protection you need from screaming, sixty-mile-an-hour, sub-zero winds that want for nothing more than to turn your face into an ice sculpture.
Seems an everyday, garden variety international oil company, ComOil, has dispatched a team to the southern wastes (complete with their own flag). Because if there’s one thing that would improve the hell out of Antarctica, its an oil pipeline. Everything’s going well, even their satellite video link to the home office, so it must be time for a mysterious, subterranean force to (literally) undermine their campsite, sucking many a parka-clad Redshirt down to their icy graves. (Yeah, right…raise your hand if you expect them to be miraculously found alive sometime near the end of the show. Everyone? Good. You’ve been paying attention.) Continue reading Godzilla the Series: An Exercise in Over-Analysis – Part X→
Inside the sweaty jungles of what the title card tells us is the Yucatan, a red-headed backpacker finds himself face to face with an Aztec pyramid, built into the side of a volcano. “There you are,” he says, as if greeting an old friend. Inside the pyramid, our Dollar Store Indiana Jones discovers a secret passage into the volcano’s crater, complete with sacrificial alter and emerald-eyed bird statue. Because Aztec engineers were just that cool, touching said statue makes the emerald eye glow and sets off a small eruption. A screaming, red shape escapes from the resulting blast of lava and noxious fumes. Cue credits.
Meanwhile, back at H.E.A.T. Headquarters, all’s right with the world. Godzilla’s eating fish, Dr. Nick’s making notes, and Randy continues to labor under the delusion that he’s funny. Dr. Elsie Chapman and DGSE Agent Monique Dupre are caught up in that great American pastime: watching television. (Some scientists you all turned to be.) Good thing, too. Otherwise they might never have learned about the, “mysterious wave of destruction sweeping across southern Mexico.” Continue reading Godzilla the Series: An Exercise in Over-Analysis – Part IX→
On the vaguely-Pacific island of Santa Marta, a species of enormous, animate plant disturbs a band of youthful-looking looters come to scavenge the island’s hastily-evacuated luxury resort. So, in five seconds we have a deserted island, a grumbling volcano, and plants trying to build up their Hentai street-cred. Just another day in Godzilla: The Series.
And, like any other day, H.E.A.T. arrives after the credits, and team lead Nick Tatopolus is quick to claim the moral high ground. “We’re not just here on their word,” meaning the word of those damned looters. “The resort company also asked us to check it out.” The increasingly-annoying Randy, for once, delivers some useful information with his follow-up quip. “And he asked in the universal language: moolah.”
The Series follows up (arguably) one of its better episodes with one of its silliest. But at least this is more traditional daikaiju fare than last week’s voyage to the bottom of the sea. We open in Queens, New York, where a a fifty-foot-tall, six-limbed, godawfully ugly thing interrupts an obnoxiously “Nu Yawk” couple’s spat over the electric bill by reducing their five-story walk-up to scrap.
Morning finds H.E.A.T. at the attack site (minus team-spy Monique Dupre, who must be off…I don’t know…spying on something) and they seem to be the only municipal agency at work in New York City. Seriously, I know we had a garbage strike back in Talkin Trash but where’s the Fire Department? Where are the EMTs? Isn’t this a city under the constant shadow of perpetual Godzilla “attacks”? Where rednecks with Army surplus missile launchers and giant rats terrorize the streets with regularity? Why does anyone still chose to live in this New York City, anyway? Then again, why does anyone chose to live in Metropolis? Or Marvel Comic’s version of the City That Never Sleeps? Continue reading Godzilla the Series: An Exercise in Over-Analysis – Part VII→
The first episode of The Series named after a genre in-joke begins with a stereotypical New England sea captain (complete with a little anchor on his hat) nervously checking his watch.
Far, far, far below, Drs. Prolorne, Hoffman, and Sopler explore the mysteriously-pulsating alien starship they’ve found lodged in the Atlantic seabed. “Radio carbon dating confirms my hypothesis,” Prolorne tells us. “This ship is over ten thousand years old.” Unfortunately, the ship’s security systems (which come complete with pink, wriggling tentacles that seize our Scientists and drag them, screaming, into the darkness, as if they were Japanese schoolgirls) remain functional. Continue reading Godzilla the Series: An Exercise in Over-Analysis – Part VI→
As New York City slowly but steadily recovers from the first Godzilla’s “attack” in summer, 1998, our pre-credit teaser finds an unfortunate homeless man beset by a giant, mutated rat.
Cut to…some mid-town restaurant, where Dr. Nick Tatopoulos and WIDF News Correspondent Audrey Timmonds attempt to have A Talk. You know, one of those annoying “Don’t You Think Its Time We Defined Our Relationship?” talks. Separate calls interrupt both participants before either can arrive at a conclusion, keeping the gigantic plot contrivance that is their relationship spinning for future exploitation. Because nothing says “Action-Packed Saturday Morning Cartoon” like the strained relationships of twenty-something yuppies. Continue reading Godzilla the Series: An Exercise in Over-Analysis – Part V→
We open in New York City’s seemingly endless harbor, with the World’s Number One Monster Hunting Team, H.E.A.T., in hot pursuit of their itinerant seventh member, Godzilla (Can’t really call him “a silent partner” with all those roars, now can we?) Godzilla, in turn, pursues the call of an unidentified signal beacon straight to a pile of fresh-caught fish. Whatever Godzilla’s cognitive powers, I can easily see him wandering into such an obvious trap. I expected better from Our Human Heroes, who nonetheless react with shock when a flight of ten-foot-long, mechanical insects begin to strafe the Big G, mightily pissing him off.
These “Cyber Flies” arrived courtesy of the series’ first human villain: Cameron Winter (David Newsom), described by H.E.A.T. member Elsie Chapman (channeling her inner twelve-year-old) as “the world’s richest, most-hunkiest CEO, not to mention the biggest techno-guru.” Such hunkiness is beside the point for team lead Nick Tatopoulos, who spent more than enough time with Cameron Winter at their (unnamed) mutual college. Indignant, Nick accuses Winter of “drawing Godzilla out for target practice.” Cameron owns up to his little trap, which Godzilla easily muscles free of, enjoying a fine fish dinner on Cameron’s dime after scrapping the last Cyber Fly. Continue reading Godzilla the Series: An Exercise in Over-Analysis – Part IV→
After the usual prologue/pre-credit teaser, the full strength of H.E.A.T. (including N.I.G.E.L. the Doomed Robot, whom I still refuse to talk about at this point) lands in “Costa Roja,” the first of several fictional Central and South American countries this show will exploit explore over the course of its run. “So how come I’ve never heard of this place?” Token Youth Randy Hernandez asks. Agent Dupre demonstrates why she’s my favorite character by rhetorically replying: “Because you were educated in America?” Continue reading Godzilla the Series: An Exercise in Over-Analysis – Part III→
Reviews with swear words and sociopolitical analysis from David DeMoss