Wednesday, July 23, 2014

King of the Monsters!

I am presently in Orlando Florida, writing away. Between chapters I do a little bit of this and a little bit of that, mostly shopping related activities. One of the shops I have gone to is one named Party Central, selling supplies for various fetes. The reason I went into this establishment does not relate to the party I intend to hold for Iceland Noir in November. Those of you intending to visit can relax, the refreshments will be of a more grown up kind.

My grandson is however turning 8 in September and it was for this occasion that we took him to this esteemed Party Central boutique. He was to pick out plates, napkins and party favours for the friends and relatives he wants to invite. There were various themes to pick from, so many that he was hard pressed to choose. He ended up deciding on a Godzilla/Despicable Me blend. I must say that the indigo and greyish setting of the Godzilla stuff clashes horribly with the bright yellow of Despicable Me but this did not seem to bother my grandson so who am I to butt in. I must admit I did try to talk him out of it. More than once.

My grandson has never seen a Godzilla movie, despite being very enamoured with his image on the napkins. Honestly, what is there not to like? Fangs and claws and spiky stuff sticking out of his back. Hundreds of tons of angry dinosaur-thing. But I thought it right to get him acquainted with his theme of choice, i.e. half of it anyway and have him watch the original Godzilla movie. I have seen the new one recently out and it did not feel age appropriate for a still 7-year old. Nor was it very good.

Despite having seen all of the old Japanese Godzilla instalments as a child it turns out my memory did not do them justice. They are a bit goofy but fun. Not only the guys in monster suits beating up on each other that I recall. The best one of those we have now watched was the 1956 instalment: Godzilla King of the Monsters! (the exclamation mark is not my addition - it is part of the title)

What makes this movie interesting is the postproduction which seems to have incorporated an American character into the original Japanese movie. This must have been done for the foreign market and is today hilarious. The American actor is supposed to be a journalist and for most of the movie he is the narrator, explaining what is going on in a very dramatic voice. He is also seen in added scenes where he stands with two or three Japanese looking people – brow furrowed and always, always: pipe in hand. When he speaks to the other, original major characters these people always have their heads turned away from the screen so that we only see the backs of their heads. Obviously because these are not the actors but just some black haired people in LA used as stand-ins.

The American journalist character wears the same suit for all of the incorporated scenes: black with a white shirt and a skinny tie. Even when he is shown running up and down a mountain he is wearing the suit. And smoking the pipe. The only time the pipe is missing is when he lies on a stretcher after having been inside a house Godzilla attacked. My grandson noticed this and promptly noted that the pipe had probably been broken when the building collapsed. He somehow manages to find an open tobacco store in smashed up Tokyo as he continues smoking once he has left the hospital.

Anyway. I recommend this movie. It has everything going for it, a monster, an American that has been pasted into the storyline, a scientist with an eye patch and an oxygen bomb that is so terrible the movie’s maiden nearly faints when shown how it works in a fish tank. The final scene with the eye-patch scientist in a scuba suit that seems to date from the time of Jules Verne is not to be missed. Amazing stuff.

Finally. We have come a long way since 1956. We do not need to add English speaking characters into foreign movies in order for people to watch them world over. Not that I have anything against English, I sure understand it better than Korean for example. Bringing me to my true recommendation: if you have not familiarised yourself with South Korean movies you are missing out. They are great, being both plot and character driven and containing some extremely good acting.

In case you are interested, to start off try these: I Saw the Devil, Chaser Old Boy and Cresent Moon. You will not regret it although some of the scenes and rather tough to watch. Make that very tough to watch.

You see, Godzilla has nothing on humans when it comes to violence.

Yrsa - Wednesday


  1. I'm pretty sure that was Jeff Siger acting as the pipe-smoking American, in his college years, before he lost two-thirds of his hair and the rest turned white. It was the suit that convinced him to become a lawyer. A lot of people used to confuse him with Raymond Burr. Fortunately, that's no longer a problem.

  2. My son lived in Orlando. He had two children. And two grandchildren in Orlando=2 things for grandparents: Trips to Disney World and Party Central. I still have nightmares of being chased by a Mouse through aisles of Tim Burton outtakes paraphernalia. Arrrgghhh!

    But you have revived my interest in Godzilla, Yrsa. And I should mention there is a modern day equivalent, EvKa! Think Big Foot badly in need of rogaine.

    On "another" subject, yes, I did smoke a pipe in college and law school. What was in it I shall never tell. As for the hair, well I did at one time did wear it as shown in that photo of Raymond Burr, but these days he and I use a different hair stylist.

    1. Please. I was the runt of the litter and have always been known as Little Foot. Big Foot is often spotted in remote areas of the Pacific Northwest and has NEVER been in need of Rogaine. Little Foot, on the, is frequently spotted in more domesticated areas and feels no need for Rogaine. A sun hat, though, does come in handy at times...

  3. Yrsa, you can make even Godzilla movies sound fascinating! I have never seen one. I'll have to remedy that!
    Years ago, Channel 9 in New York used to air a Godzilla marathon on Thanksgiving Day. My brothers, father, husband and daughter would while away the hours while dinner was being prepared, laughing in the living room while I performed more productive activities in the kitchen. From time to time, one of them would show up, speaking in a bad imitation of a Japanese accent, and demand snacks. No pipes were smoked in the process.