Friday, April 10, 2015

BEHOLD! The Giant Buddha Statue Comes Alive!

The thing about obscure or lesser known Kaiju (the now popular shorthand for 'Godzilla-style Giant Monsters') is their obvious lack of exposure. And although the internet has been an amazing help, in bringing many of these obscurities into light, it still pays to repeat, re-post, and re-share the information.

I might not be a Kaiju historian or scholar on the same level of the likes of Steve Ryfle, August Ragone, Stuart Galbraith IV, Keith Aiken, David Kalat, and Alien Geekon the Lonely Super BrainBut in my own small way, I can still contribute to the genre and its fan following.

And give the unloved and overlooked Kaiju a little extra exposure, even if they've been featured elsewhere beforehand.

As is the case with today's subject - a currently lost fantasy film from 1934, entitled "Daibutsu Kaikoku".


Forgive the poor photo quality...It does come from a lost film after all!

Despite the original "Godzilla" starting up the Kaiju and related Tokusatsu genre as we know them today, there were earlier Japanese produced fantasy and science fiction films, made well before the 1954 milestone. But many of these productions became lost to time, or simply didn't make enough of an impact, and were quickly forgotten.

Think of it like the 1952 re-release of "King Kong", which had a far greater impact on worldwide cinema, than its original 1933 release. Or the numerous, but largely forgotten giant monster pictures, made before said '33 debut.

Neither King Kong or Godzilla were the first giant movie monsters of their respective countries, let alone human fiction and myth in general. But both did make bigger splashes, and continuous rippling effects, than their predecessors.

Also known by the longer translated title of "The Giant Buddha Statue's Travel Through the Country""Daibutsu Kaikoku" is one such pre-Godzilla, Japanese giant monster movie.



Japanese advert poster for "Daibutsu Kaikoku" (1934)

The following selection of limited information comes from the Monster Kids Classic Horror, and Kaijuphile web-forums (Beware! The former link is filled with pop-up ads!).

And were originally posted / re-posted by forum members Bakeneko and Mattman, respectively.


DAIBUTSU KAIKOKU (1934)
This means THE GIANT BUDDHA STATUE'S TRAVEL THROUGH THE COUNTRY.
A giant Buddha statue (labeled “33 meters tall in height”) comes to life and goes on a nation-wide tour to save the people. After visiting some tourist spots in the Chūkyō region (a metropolitan area centering around Nagoya city), the Buddha statue flies away to Tokyo in the clouds. This was going to be a film franchise, but due to financial problems, they never got made. Now, it is considered lost. 
Yoshiro Edamasa said to inspire Eiji Tsuburaya to get into the special effects industry. Kind of like the way Willis O'Brien inspired Ray Harryhausen to become a stop-motion animator. Yoshiro akin to Obie had a project that never got made called THE JUDGEMENT OF THE SOULS, which is a science-fiction thriller.

Now, question. Didn’t daikaiju (giant monster) movies exist in the 1930s Japan? The answer will depend on your opinion. If you think Daimajin (1966) and its two sequels are giant monster movies, you can call Yoshiro Edamasa’s 大仏廻国 Daibutsu Kaikoku (1934) a giant monster movie, too. The title can be translated to The Giant Buddha Statue’s Travel Throughout the Country.
As the title describes itself, a giant Buddha statue (labeled “33 meters tall in height”) comes to life and goes on a nation-wide tour to save the people. After visiting some tourist spots in the Chūkyō region (a metropolitan area centering around Nagoya city), the Buddha statue flies away to Tokyo in the clouds. Originally planned as multi-part films but (possibly by financial problems) the sequels were never been made.
According to the magazine article at that time, it was a “half religious, half sensational film in the style of King Kong” and had some spectacular scenes such as the statue “strides over a train,” “rests his heads on a three-story building,” “makes geisha girls dance on his palm” etc. The “heaven and hell” sequences were filmed in color. This film was shown only in the limited area and is now considered to be LOST.
Edamasa was a cinematographer/director who worked on 145 films between 1914 and 1934. In 1928, he directed a feature length science fiction thriller called 霊の審判 Rei no Shinpan (trans: Judgement of the Souls) for Bando Tsumasaburo Productions but it has never been completed. Edamasa is also known as a man who led Eiji Tsuburaya into the film industry.



Daibutsu, or Giant Buddha statues, are somewhat common place throughout Japan. And therefore it wasn't too big of a stretch in imagination, by having one of these humanoid effigies come to life, and walk about.

Films made on the subject, however, are not as common. And "Daibutsu Kaikoku" seems to be the only focused example of a living Giant Buddha Statue in Japanese cinema.

But totally normal, completely inanimate Giant Buddha statues are used as interesting locations, throughout Japanese films and television programs. Though the only one I can confidently name at the time of this writing, is 1994's "Zeiram II".

Giant living statues (or even smaller ones for that matter) are a recurring story trope throughout worldwide fiction. So I'm not even going to attempt to name check them all, outside the usual suspects of Talos (from 1963's "Jason and the Argonauts"), or Japan's own Daimajin (from the 1966 trilogy of "Daimajin" films).

But the Giant Buddah Statue of this unaccounted film, stands apart from most of the aforementioned, by being a completely benevolent figure. Who seeks out to help us wee humans, as opposed to terrorizing us.

And as much as I try to give older fantasy and science fiction stories more credit in their construction and intelligence, it'd be impossible to deny how 'on-the-noise' this character quirk is...

Our wandering friend here is a Giant Buddha Statue, after all!

I think its safe to assume that the title hero of this film, was brought to cinematic life through basic make-up effects, and costuming. Instead of the more elaborate, full-body character suits, which are the norm for Japanese giant monsters. And similar fictional beings.

And lastly, for posterity sake, I should make mention of the film's only known actors; Hidemichi Ishikawa, Kazuyo Kojima, and Tankai Soganoya. The latter two listed, might have been playing themselves, if some online sources are to be believed.

Which begs the added question, to wither "Daibutsu Kaikoku" was a true fantasy film narrative? Or some offbeat travelogue or documentary-drama, akin to Walt Disney's "The Reluctant Dragon" (1941)?


MORE "DAIBUTSU KAIKOKU" IMAGES:





RELATED LINKS:






Monday, March 23, 2015

Waiting for Gamera - Featuring Artwork by WinterGaia

Despite several official news announcements made across 2014, it looks as if the "Gamera Revival Project" (its official placeholder title), which might have been a new movie planned for 2015, has been canceled.

And quietly swept under the proverbial rug.

Now giant monster movies are announced and ultimately cancelled all the time (looking at you two, Hollywood and Kickstarter). But with 2015 being the 50th Anniversary of Gamera, this is a very discouraging turn for fans of the fire-breathing super-turtle.


Today's subject, as seen in his successful 1995 film revival "Gamera: Guardian of the Universe"

There's still some hope that we'll be getting SOMETHING significant later this year, to commemorating Gamera's original 1965 debut. Outside some limited Japanese toy releases, and simple lip-service from 'niche-nerd' news sites.

And I also suffer from extremely terrible, awful, miserably BAD timing, which has been a major factor in why I don't update my blog that often to begin with. And knowing my luck, the greatest final trailer for the completed "Gamera Revival Project" film, will premier an hour from whenever your reading this.

But since this is Gamera we're talking about, for once my bad timing would be a good thing.

Some of my fellow fans have noted that there's still plenty of time left for a new Gamera film to begin shooting, before year's end. But unless Kadokawa Pictures has one Hell of a secret production plan in the works, this is cutting it way too damn close!


Something all turtles are known for; flying through the outer space without oxygen

After giving it some thought, I've come to realize that I actually like Gamera a little bit more than the original Kaiju King who inspired him, Godzilla.
Blasphemous, I know (nor do I really care), but the world needs more positive heroes, fictional and otherwise...Even if Gamera did start out as a berserk destroyer, in his very first film outing.

And the very idea of a gigantic, fire-breathing turtle monster from ancient Atlantis, who can pull into his armored shell, and become a flying saucer of blue flames and physics-deifying awesomeness, is just too insane for me NOT to love!

There are many fellow Gamera fans who feel the exact same way. And have taken their own paths in celebrating Gamera's 50th birthday, through endeavors like web-podcasts and fan created artwork.


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Over the course of 2015, I'll be doing several Gamera-themed articles, as well as showcasing related projects from people outside myself.

Beginning with this melancholy, but ultimately sweet nature comic strip, entitled "Cheer Up Gamera". And was written and drawn by fellow artist, Kaiju fan, and overall nice person, WinterGaia.

It captures both the negative and positive aspects of the Gamera's now overlooked legacy. In an anime-inspired, anthropomorphic, somewhat schmaltzy, kind of way.


Click HERE for An Enhanced View of Page 1

Click HERE for An Enhanced View of Page 2

Click HERE for Page 3

Click HERE for Page 4

Click HERE for Page 5

Click HERE for Page 6

Click HERE for Page 7

Click HERE for Page 8

Click HERE for Page 9

Multiple Morals of the Story:

*Cute, young anime girls are eternal angels of mercy.

*Guiron the knife-headed monster is a much nicer guy off-camera.

*The Kaiju from "Pacific Rim" really are a bunch of teenage jerks.

And the love and support of friends is always welcomed, when keeping one's spirits up. And that last sentence was diffidently NOT meant as a simple joke.

RELATED LINKS:


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Kaiju Images: Snake King

Snake King; Today's Kaiju Images Honoree
There's a lot of wonderful, and equally obscure giant monsters in fiction, who deserve more attention online. And although I am not the pop culture historian that I often wish to be, I've come to the conclusion that simply mentioning these characters and subjects, even in the most simplistic of written articles, goes a long way in public awareness.

Especially after getting some much needed words of encouragement from Kevin P, the web-master of the wonderful cult movie blog Exploder Button, along with Darkrai Titanollante, one of the founders and overseers of Wikizilla.

So even if my future blog posts are lacking hard facts or extreme details (which I will openly admit to, whenever possible), the fact that I simply sharing these lesser known characters in the 'internet aether', is a worth wild endeavor all on its own.


'Jets? Where?!? I don't see any jets?'
Another, very supportive friend, fellow artist, and giant monster fanatic EarthBaragon has also been encouraging me to do more with this blog. And has even given me a wonderful variety of screen-captures from Kaiju-related television shows and films.

And like an idiot, I've yet to do anything with these valuable gifts of otherwise silly nerd trivia. Until now, that is.

The following will be the first of many Kaiju Image galleries, featuring EarthBaragon's awesome donations, along with much needed written information that he also helped write. Good thing too, because I really can't stand my own writing, as I keep finding typos whenever I revisit this site, and its past uploads. And sadly another reason I don't do more around here.

Take it away, EarthBaragon!


'Hail Cobra!'
Behold the villainous Snake King, from episode 29 of Tsuburaya Productions’ ”Mirrorman”, entitled ”Mirrorman Annihilated” (original broadcast date: June 4th, 1972)

The Invaders from Planet X (the main recurring fish-faced villains of ”Mirrorman”) send the monster Snake King into a city, to destroy the headquarters of the Monster Attack Force (MAF); the organization that helps the inter-dimensional superhero Mirrorman in his endeavors.

Snake King actually succeeds in destroying the building, and for a while, you the audience, believe that the MAF forces are all dead. Even the hero. But it turns out that they managed to get away, and have retreated to a secluded new base that is out in the middle of nowhere, really.





Realizing their mistakes, The Invaders capture Mirrorman in his human form of Kyotaro Kagami, and send Snake King to finish up the job it started.

While in their control, the aliens place a bomb inside Mirrorman, that will detonate if he is in his giant hero form for more than a few minutes. See, up until this point, Mirrorman didn't have a time limit, like most of the Tsuburaya Production heroes. The addition of this ‘Invader Bomb’ was a way for the producers add a little bit of suspense to the fights of future episodes. 

Needless to say, Kyotato Kagami escapes and transforms into Mirroman, to battle Snake King.

Unfortunately for him, another monster shows up; the hook-handed Harigojira! The two enemy beasts tag team on Mirroman, but MAF’s super jets intervene and allow the hero to kill off Snake King.



Harigorjira flees and tunnels away. Mirrorman was going to take chase, but remembering of the time limit, he is forced to let the monster run away.

EarthBaragon's Comment:

I just love the way Snake King looks! His hands are snake heads, with his feet also being snake heads! And he has eight other snake heads all long that flat body of his. The only thing that is not a snake head is his tail. And I love his coloring too. And as you can see, he can shoot fire or scalding hot gas from the snake heads on his hands, as well as his own normal head. And he can electrify people within his grasp.

More Images of Snake King Fighting Against Mirrorman:






Snake King's Saucer-Like Flying Form:





Snake King Attempting To Kill A Whole Lot of Scarecrows:





The Less Impressive, Remaining Images for Snake King:


'Damn It! My fly was open this whole time!'




In his spare time, Snake King is a peeping-tom!
Behold! The Glove-handles of Snake King!
Behold! The BIG BUTT of Snake King!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Meet The Cinemologists

In addition to my regular posts on obscure giant monsters, and my own more obscurer artworks, I've decided to also use my not-so-regularly updated blog to showcase other creative people that I happen to like, and who deserves some much needed shout outs.

So let's start spreading the love with the following movie-minded gentlemen...After I've had a bit of a ranting tangent, via article intro.

Alex (on camera), Y2K (on microphone), and Joel (on table); The original founding members of The Cinemologists, along with their anime-style mascot heroine Sarah Grable.
The cult television series "Mystery Science Theater 3000" may have long since been cancelled. But its legacy and influence, that being the comedic riffing of films, are more than alive and well today.

Wither it be through the show's original creators going off to do worthy successors, like RiffTrax and Cinematic Titanic, or the virtual endless succession of internet 'Comedian Reviewers', who they themselves feel like the lost children of MST3K. All with varying degrees of execution and related success.

These of course include the likes of The Nostalgia Critic, The Cinema Snob, The Angry Video Game Nerd, Spoony, Honest Trailers, How It Should Have Ended, and way too many others to properly note, regardless if they were directly influenced by The Satellite of Love, or not.

The Satellite of Love being the fictional base of operations for MST3K, of course.

And although still fresh to the scene, this too includes my friend and art client Brandon Tenold, and his series "Brandon's Cult Movies Reviews". And whom I plan to feature more of at this very blog, alongside the humorous title cards that I've done for his video series.

But as fun as riffing on famous and lesser known films can be, I also fear that there's been a backlash to this aforementioned modern age, especially across the internet. And that's a lack of respect, or even willingness to give films a viewing chance, upon their own merits as individual films. Particularly in the overlooked fantasy and science fiction adventures decades passed.

In other words, that unfortunate mentality of 'everything is a guilty pleasure, ripe of mocking because it has no value'. Especially if any and all films were made well before the 1990's, if not, the new millennium.

Thankfully, there's still some true movie connoisseurs online who try to share and recommend movies, without resorting to the 'MST3K Methods'. Or far more insidious; the suggesting of alcohol and smoking weed to get through any and all entertainment (is that the real reason that Reality Television has become so popular these days?).

But the majority of these more serious-minded reviews are regulated to written articles, and not to extensive video series online.

Brandon Tenold for example, has a more straight-faced career as horror movie reviewer in written word (through horror movies sites that I cannot locate at this moment), though it's his more humorous videos that get's the most attention.

And a similar situation can even be said for the all the aforementioned Comedian Reviewers above.

ENTER THE CINEMOLOGISTS!



A small, but dedicated group of film buffs, who in addition to their more extensive written reviews and articles (their official web-site found HERE), have also started a fairy straight-faced, though no less entertaining series of video-based movie retrospectives.

And whose main focus are on the lesser known, or heavily overlooked special effects films of old. Or 'the terrifying wilderness years' before "Jurassic Park" and / or the current millennium of popular film-making began, as the young (or even the miserably unfair old) might call it.

And although they don't go overboard in the comedy and skits department (despite the video posted right below), they still have some fun and humor while revisiting said films.



Below are just three of The Cinemologists YouTube-based videos, showcasing motion pictures that I also happen to love, which I too feel they deserve a second look whenever possible. Beyond their immediate camp or 'riffing' value, of course.

Give these guys and their videos a watch. And if you really like what you see, than please support them in the links posted at the bottom of this article. OR simply spread the word about these guys, with friends and acquaintances a like (family too, I suppose).

"Starcrash" (1978) Review


"Mr. Arkadin" (1955) Review


"The War of the Worlds" (1953) Review



RELATED LINKS:

The Cinemologists Official Web-Site

The Cinemologists Facebook Page

The Cinemologists YouTube Account (more videos there!)

Thecollector1138 YouTube Account (Cinemologist Related)


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pachimon Kaiju Showcase: It Came from Africa

Something I've learned from last month; don’t make promises on a blog, where you’re the only guy working on it.

As such, I’ll do whatever updates I can muster, without trying to be too ambitious in themes, or related schedules. One could accuse me of being lazy, but it’s easier on me, the lone author. And you the readers, will be getting more updates in turn.

I’m also NOT going to let the blasted holidays, or similar events and circumstances, interrupt me from doing said updates. So forgive me if I post one of my frivolous articles, while the real-world goes to Heck, in some form or another.

Though know that I often do so in innocent ignorance.


The otherwise nameless African Pachimon, or 'Afurika' for short.

Today’s Pachimon Kaiju Showcase is a fairly easy one, in that the featured monster has no name, beyond the country it’s shown menacing above.

Oh how I love to unofficially name the nameless!

The Africa Monster, or ‘Afurika’ is another entry in the ‘globetrotting’ monster bromide cards, published by Japan’s Yokopro in the 1970’s. And of whom previous spotlights Danpuraa and Wadorisu also hail from.

The country of Africa is home to many gorgeous, spectacular waterfalls, so I cannot definitively say which one that Afurika is shown standing over. But my guess would be the famous Victoria Falls, or Mosi-oa-Tunya, located in Southern Africa on the Zambezi River.


Image courtesy of Famous Wonders

As for Afurika / The Africa Monster itself; The head / face is a fully artistic original, but the rest of its body is directly taken from Sadora, who first appeared in episode 3 of “The Return of Ultraman”, “The Evil Monster Realm of Terror” (April 16th, 1971).


Sadora, who donated his body to Pachimon science.
Known as a ‘Rock Monster’, Sadora was one of two murderous creatures that appeared in the legendary (and fictional) summit dubbed The Misty Mountains. And has since made recurring appearances in more recent Ultra sequels, such as “Ultraman Mebius” (2006-2007) and “Ultra Galaxy: Mega-Monster Battles” (2008-2009).

More information on Sadora can be found HERE.


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Kaiju, and other Giant Monsters, are more infamous to mainstream audiences for their destructive deeds against civilization.

And although The Africa Monster doesn't look at all placid, with its protruding devil horns and sharp pincer-claws, I’d like to think it’s behaving like a more peaceful, natural animal, while standing among the beautiful surroundings of Victoria Falls.

Further Reading:

Famous Wonder's Victoria Falls Gallery
Cool Ass Cinema's Review of Sadora's Debut Adventure
Club de Monstres Pachimon Gallery

Monday, December 8, 2014

That Giant Shrimp-Looking Thing

Crap…Well, I was going to publicly announce my love for a certain sphinx lady tonight, as part of my month-long salute to Obscure and Overlooked Kaiju.

But then Anime News Network had to come along, and rain on my parade, by announcing a new series of Japanese-produced Godzilla films, to be produced independently from the Legendary Pictures series.

Now, we had a similar jump-the-gun moment with this same news earlier in the year, so I'm going to wait until more confirmation comes in (UPDATE: It's for real).

And although I’m happy to hear even more Godzilla films coming (along with the Legendary Godzilla sequels, Gamera’s 50th Anniversary, ”Kaiju Gaiden”, "Hail to the King", "Skull Island", "Pacific Rim 2", "Pacific Rim: The Animated Series", "Tremors 5", Liongate’s "Power Rangers", "Attack On Titan", and "Jurassic Park 3"), I’d rather indulge in the Monster Obscurities for now.

So let’s do a Godzilla related one, shall we?


COP OUT! COP OUT! COP OUT! COP OUT!



Giant Shrimp-Looking Thing (as it's flippantly referred to, by one character), made its minor debut in the 2014 graphic novel "Godzilla: Awakening", as one of the lesser-sized mutants to hail from the same wacky age as Godzilla and the MUTOs had.

Unfortunately, the less-than-comprehensive artwork, and pretentious nature of "Godzilla: Awakening", doesn't give this new monster (along with all the other archived beasts at a secret Monarch Museum), any decent exposure.

Though unlike ’The Saber-Toothed Gorilla’ from Dark Horse’s Godzilla comics, Giant Shrimp-Looking Thing does shows up for one more panel. And by doing so, suggests that these prehistoric sea creatures were common prey for larger monsters; like the deadly cell collective dubbed The Shinomura.


Nom...nom...nom..nom...
And yeah, these Giant Shrimps may be puny, when compared to Godzilla himself, but they’re still quite big in comparison to a human. And worth mentioning like similar overlooked ‘Minor Kaiju’, such as Giant Condor (from ”Godzilla vs The Sea Monster”), and Giant Sea Snake (from ”King Kong Escapes”).

I’d include Oodako to that same list...But considering the secret history of that giant octopus, in-and-out of the main Toho-produced monster movies, one comes to the simple conclusion that...OODAKO IS THE GREATEST MONSTER TO EVER LIVE!!!

But that, dear friends...is a tale for another time.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Obscure Kaiju: Yagosu

UPDATE: Unlike some people, I'm more than open to correcting my own mistakes, and updating my blog posts if there's inaccurate information. But I hope my readers understand that we're dealing with obscure monsters from equally obscure media. So please give ME some slack, in that regard.

Thankfully, I was able to confirm with another site of Segosu's correct name and English spelling, that of Yagosu.


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The following guy is so obscure, that I only discovered him on some long defunct (and some still active) tumblrs by chance! 

"Daikaiju Yagosu" (or "Yagosu the Giant Monster") appears to be an original manga or story book from the 1960's, featuring a crustacean-type monster. And with a bulging-eyed face that only a mother could love.



And that's all I know about Yagosu, as again, it's that obscure! Of course, if more information comes in, I'll be sure to share it in a follow-up.

However, I will say that The Golden Age of Japanese Monsters, or the 'Kaiju Boom' of the 1960's, went far beyond mere films and television shows.

Resulting in original Kaiju being created for comics, books, magazines, toys, board games, bromide cards, record albums, and advertising. There was even renewed interest for Yokai mythology (Please SEE Shigeru Mizuki), and imported movie and television from America, and elsewhere!

With Yagosu here, being only a small part of this long passed decade of giant monster mania.