Sunday, June 24, 2018

Tohope And Change - Ghidorah The Three-Headed Monster!


If there is a monster that can rival Godzilla in sheer awesomeness it might be Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster. The alien three-headed dragon from space is unusual in the coterie of kaiju in that his small trinity of heads make his motivations obscure. He's always ferocious and dangerous but lacks any opportunity like the other monsters to become something people can identify with with. In this movie Godzilla switches sides and teams up with Mothra and Rodan to fend on Ghidorah, the deadly weapon called down from the depths of space by aliens intent on stealing the women of Earth.


This is the movie in which the kaijus become more cartoonish and even have a confab between themselves with the less aggressive Mothra attempting to get the monsters of Earth to work together against a common enemy. But always the focus is on Ghidorah, the powerful enemy. It's not a tiny jump by Ishiro Honda to the real world in which mankind must pool its resources to confront all sorts of evil and damage throughout the world. The aliens here are the ultimate enemy from beyond, who duplicitous and deceptive and deadly. Mankind must face these facts and work together just as the monsters must do for Earth as we know it to maintain. And that's no small message for all of us.

More to come.

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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Tohope And Change - Godzilla Versus The Thing!


Godzilla Against Mothra might well have been the very first Godzilla movie I ever saw. The movie is ultra strange and I will never forget the opening images of the raging storm which eventually reveals the weird giant egg that becomes the center of the drama. Through in a really good cast as good guys and bad guys as they hustle and bustle over ways to explore and exploit the egg and you have a movie that works really well. When the egg hatches and Godzilla shows up to do battle with Mothra's larvae we have a contest. The way Mothra always dies in her appearances, passing along her power and station to the next generation is a compelling aspect to nearly all of her appearances. Mothra is an elegant image of sacrifice while Godzilla is still at this stage the repugnant omen of war and murder, a monster in the truest sense.


When I saw the movie I saw it under its English title Godzilla Vs. The Thing. I always thought the title oddly compelling as manifestly inaccurate as it is. Mothra is as far from a "Thing" as any of the kaiju can be and Godzilla actually battles three "Things". In fact this is the final movie in which the popular Godzilla is the outright enemy of mankind and not just exceedingly destructive, but that will change next time. But in the offbeat dramas of the Toho monster movies arguably the greatest creations, the most impactful and their first clash is a thing to behold.

More to come.

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Friday, June 22, 2018

Tohope And Change - King Kong Versus Godzilla!


King Kong Vs. Godzilla is a weirdly wonderful movie. Godzilla exists in no small part because of the success of the re-release of the original King Kong in the early 1950's. Folks saw what an awesome monster movie could be like and they wanted more. That led to The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and then Godzilla. Also it was apparently decided that this movie was to be a comedy. Understanding that has helped me "get" the Honda kaiju movies in ways I was blind to before. In times past I have always just seen monster movies as that, monster flicks which succeed or fail according to the tropes associated with that form. But now I understand that monster flicks are from many genres and the monsters themselves are just the characters. With that insight I am free to enjoy a movie like this for what it is, a satirical romp and that allows me to accept the understandable violation of some aspects which more seriously minded movies might adhere to. Godzilla itself is best understood as a horror movie, it's first sequel is a straight monster movie, Mothra is a fantasy, and so forth.


That said, King Kong Vs. Godzilla is a romp, as Kong rises up in his most moth-eaten form ever to battle the terrible Godzilla. The movie was hugely successful and on its own allowed for many sequels which never delivered the same audience, but sure tried.

More to come.

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Tohope And Change - Mothra!


Mothra is among the strangest movies ever made. It's a pure fantasy set in the modern world in which crime and heroism and romance are abundantly evident. It also introduces us to "Roliscia", a strange place which blends together the United States and the Soviet Union into a bizarre blend of political satire. And if all that wasn't enough we get the "Small Beauties" and an enormous moth to boot. The "Small Beauties" (played in minature by a twin pop singing duo called "The Peanuts") is the voice of the monster/god "Mothra", a creature worshiped on the distant Infant Island. When all of this uncovered, a criminal kidnaps the Beauties and Mothra emerges and comes to take them home. Japan suffers as a result.


In Mothra, Ishiro Honda's aspirations of world peace become more immediately manifest as we are presented with a weird concoction of the Cold War alongside simple greed and crime. Mothra levels the playing field l(quite literally) as the enormous wings blow down the places humans live, exposing us to one another and to the world. One cannot hide in the bejeweled eyes of Mothra, a mighty god indeed. I love the move Mothra, a fantasy of a compelling nature which takes weird impossible elements and makes of them a frothy story worth experiencing time and again.

More to come.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Tohope And Change - The Mysterians!


The Mysterians is one of the great titles in all of the history of film. I immediately want to know what they are, who they are, what they want. Well it turns out that they are aliens who have come to Earth covertly to steal women to help reinvigorate their declining population. It's not a novel motivation for aliens, as we've known that Mars and other planets need women for women time. Women are certainly something that many of us want. But Ishiro Honda's The Mysterians presents this hoary theme with no small amount of imagination and vigor.

Honda's message in The Mysterians is simple. Mankind must put aside its petty differences and worth together in harmony to fend off greater threats from beyond. There's a naive elegance to the idea, but it's aspirational simplicity demands attention, at least in my eye. We fight among ourselves here, with often terrifying consequences, but we much quench those pugnacious passions to achieve greater goods as our footprints begin to spread into the depths of space. This was a real goal in the time when The Mysterians was made, though sadly the world has grown all too inward looking in past decades to really and truly reach for the stars.

More to come.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tohope And Change - Rodan!


Rodan is one of my favorite Kaiju movies. Though it doesn't star Godzilla and though Rodan himself is not the sexiest of monsters, the movie succeeds on the sheer strength of really good storytelling. Rodan does the best job since Godzilla itself of presenting strong well developed characters who are involved with one another before they are drawn into the larger melee of monster madness. The story of Rodan is brilliant in that we begin with a small mystery, a horror yarn really about killings in the depths of a wonderfully realized coal mine. This yarn spins out with great attention to detail before the threads of the larger tale become clearly seen by one and all. When Rodan appears there are still more surprises to see, not the least of which is the that there are two. This is a movie which does a fine job of keeping the watcher engaged on all levels.


Rodan holds up exceedingly well after all these years because it is so very well constructed as a story of horror and threat. Rodan's power of producing enormous winds is one aspect of the bomb which was not included in the elegantly designed Godzilla himself, the shock wave is terrifying. Since the Rodans are once again products of radiation, the sins of man come back to haunt him quite literally as the skies become havens for threats. Watching the skies is a warning about space aliens, but of course it's really a shout out to be aware of pugnacious neighbors right here are on Earth who would do us harm. The Japanese, and Honda were all too aware of the nightmare which can arrive via the air.

More to come.

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Tohope And Change - Godzilla Raids Again!


Godzilla Raids Again (called more evocatively Gigantis, the Fire Monster in the United States) is in many ways the least of the many Godzilla movies which have been made. It's certainly a dandy tale and if it had not been created in the shadow of its awesome predecessor would be considered what it in the final analysis it actually is -- a perfectly fine monster movie. Godzilla Raids Again is the most like the other monster movies which tumbled onto big screens after the enormous success of Godzilla. The movie has much more in common with Gorgo, The Giant Behemoth, Reptilicus, and suchlike. We have a giant monster which does enormous damage which is ultimately defeated by the courage and even sacrifice of brave men or women.


That's the template for a monster movie. The behemoth threat is really a cauldron in which people burn and ultimately reveal themselves. Those that rise to the challenge are deemed heroic. Those that don't are deemed somewhat less. That's what happens in this movie about a "new" Godzilla  which rises out of the ice to threaten Japan once again but who is ultimately defeated by the real hero of the story, the man we'd imagined was only the comedy relief. This is  Honda's trick in this story, them misdirection of who the story is about and it is the one real surprise in a movie which is all too commonplace.

More to come.

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