Monday, January 12, 2015

Giant Monster Movies and Childhood

There was a time during my early childhood when my family would gather and watch a large assortment of bizarre science fiction and monster movies. To this day I still can't recall how my uncle acquired copies of some of those movies, whether through some unknown cable channel or a video source. Regardless of how we were able to view them, we watched all kinds of films and classic series, some of which I can't easily find today. It was during that period that I learned of Godzilla, Rodan, and several other amazing Japanese giant monsters. Come to think of it, that was probably also when I watched my first Ray Harryhausen films, as we would occasionally throw old black and white American monster films into the mix. No offense to the great Harryhausen, but I found and still find the Japanese monsters to be the best.

Over the years since that time I've been fortunate to discover so many other giant monster-related wonders such as the Ultraman and Gamera series. I was that kid who took part in one those typical and silly discussions with classmates about which was the stronger monster, Godzilla or Gamera. I even attempted to draw the great daikaiju legends from time to time, never quite to my satisfaction.

These days I find that I keep returning to those old films. Maybe it's my subconscious reaching out for a connection with my childhood. Perhaps it's just the nerd in me flexing itself in a different direction for a change. Whatever the reason, I have to say that I can't help but dismiss the poor effects, the floopy storylines, and the overacting. I feel compelled to embrace the "Suit-mation" created and perfected by the mighty Eiji Tsuburaya. Kaiju Eiga (Japanese monster movies) was and remains a genre which knows itself, and it's that confidence and the continued honoring of that approach to movie-making which makes it so endearing.

So, join me when you can. Pop in Destroy All Monsters or Gamera vs. Barugon. Sit back and enjoy the high sci-fi look into a world where giant monsters walk the Earth!

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