You know Gamera and Mothra and Rodan and Kumonga, Hedora and Megalon and Destoroyah and Gigan, but do you recall the most famous Kaiju of them all. GODZILLA! ( I certainly hope you sang that in your head to the tune of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer!) Lets talk Kaiju!
I discussed in the post The Happening...No not that one! about Godzilla a bit, and Godzilla is the most famous of them all. He was my introduction into the world of Kaiju as a young child. While most kids were searching for cartoons on Saturday mornings, I was watching Godzilla destroy Tokoyo and save Tokoyo. I discussed in the Happening post how Godzilla went from the villain to the hero back to the villain and back, in the most current iteration, to the hero. Godzilla is not only huge which in my opinion is his most important ability. You can bet your pretty pink knickers if I were that huge, I would be doing what I want and squishing a few cities on my way! But Godzilla also had Atomic Breath. We have seen this shown over the years as different from the focused stream of angry yellow flames to the white hot energy zapping ray. Godzilla was originally a representation of atomic power, and the fears that brought with it. I have discussed previously that horror often deals with our fears, and Kaiju are not different in that respect. As we see the world become more comfortable with atomic power, we see Godzilla take on a more friendly and protective, yet potentially destructive role. And again in 1984 in Return of Godzilla at the height of the cold war, we see Godzilla become again a fearful monster of destruction, and now we are seeing in the newest iteration of Godzilla both the fear and the hope because Godzilla is both destructive and the savior from more destructive beasts. Even if you are not interested in the political ramification of Godzilla, we can all agree that Godzilla is AWESOME!!
But Godzilla is not the only Kaiju, there are many others, and some not even originating in Japan! Sing with me! Every Country Has A Monster! MST3K, you NEVER fail me! I love you!
We have seen Kaiju from other cultures. King Kong for example, is also a Kaiju, but he first appeared in 1933 King Kong from RKO pictures. (predated Godzilla who didn't show up until 1954!) Although in 1962 American King Kong met with Japanese Godzilla in an awesome match-up in King Kong vs. Godzilla . In King Kong we see the interference of modern man in the world. Because in the original King Kong, the beast lived in peace on his remote island, and was even the protector of the people who worshiped him, but move him to New York, and the disruption has him destroying New York city, kidnapping Fay Wray, and swatting airplanes from the top of the Empire State Building. In this we can see the fear of trampling the unknown, forcing our ways on to others and the rape and pillage of the natural world. We see these themes repeated in the modern iterations Kong: Skull Island. Like Godzilla, King Kong's role has changed over time from rampaging monster to tragic anti-hero. Although I would argue that King Kong ultimately is the victim. Torn from his home and made a spectacle. I wold be pissed too, and no tall building would be safe from me! When I was 7 or 8, the local theater showed the original King Kong. I remember my feet sticking to the floor as I made my way to the red velvet seat, then staring in awe at Kong on the big screen. Even then, I felt bad for Kong.
Speaking of Kaiju I love, I gotta talk about Mothra! I SOOOOOO wanted to ride Mothra as a child. It seemed the coolest thing in the world to me. Maybe that is where I get my well known catch phrase in RPG games of "I'm gonna RIDE it!". Anyway, giant fuzzy moth, little tiny women living in a lantern on its back, what could be more awesome? Am I right or am I right? Mothra made her first appearance in 1961 in the eponymous Mothra. Mothra, unlike Godzilla, made her appearance as a protector . We see the changes in times, we were moving into the era of love, and the idea of a protective, fuzzy creature seems great. Mothra, like King Kong, started out as the protector of her island home. Even in 1992 Godzilla vs. Mothra, Mothra is trying to protect the world. Godzilla's appearance in this movie was just so they can have Godzilla in the movie. He added little to the movie, but we did get to see a match-up between Godzilla and Mothra.
Well I can go on and on, but this post would be a novel and take me 10 years to write. So, go check out some Kaiju. Enjoy the majesty and the silliness of it all.
The picture at the top of the page is from a book called How to Train Your Kaiju. Both the Kindle and the audio version can be found on Amazon.
- The One With the Hump
Yes, I am reusing a picture I have already used, so there!
Many years ago, someone I knew on a newsgroup (Yes, I am OLD. I get it. move on.) was shocked that I had never read any Terry Pratchett, and the newest Terry Pratchett Discworld novel had been released in the United Kingdom, but not available yet in the United States, so out of the goodness of his heart, he sent me a copy of Hog Father, which introduced me to Discworld's version of Death. BTW, Hog Father was done as a miniseries, and it really well done. Highly recommend it.
Side note on Death - he is an amazing character. I mentioned it in theOrcs and Elves and Dwarves, OH MY! post how much I loved Discworld's interpretation of Death. Unlike the usual visage of Death put forward as cold, uncaring, terrifying soul, and despite the usual trappings of Death as a skeleton in a black cloak, Death is a caring and considerate individual who does he job not only out of duty, but respect and love for people. (Yes, yes, I am getting to the whole Good Omens thing! Geez!)
In that package, along with Hog Father, was also a copy of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I devoured Good Omens, and I have read and listened to it many times over the years. It is literally laugh out loud funny! And like Death in the Discworld Novels, Crowley and Aziraphale are more nuanced than we usually see of Demons and Angels. Here is a good demon and a bad angel. Here is an angel and demon who are on the side of humanity, not on the side of God and Satan. They like the world. They like what the created. They don't necessarily like their jobs, but they do them. And over the millennia, they have developed a strong friendship. Their collusion to stop the End of Times is absolutely hilarious!
Over the years, there have been rumors of a Good Omens movie, but nothing. I have heard this director or that director had picked it up, but nothing. I was THRILLED when Amazon Prime decided to do it. I am very excited to see the final product. I feel some of the casting is inspired. David Tennant as Crowley? FANTASTIC! Oh sorry, wrong doctor*. ALLONS-Y! (There, all is now right with the world) I admit that I was a little skeptical about Michael Sheen being cast as Aziraphale, but from the trailers I have seen, he seems to be perfect. The cast from what I can see is AMAZING!!! Michael McKean, who I always think of as Lenny from Lavern and Shirley (yes, again, I KNOW that I am old) will be playing Witch Finder Sargent Shadwell, and he is also an excellent choice!
I am so thrilled and anxious for this to come out. May 31st can't get here soon enough! (Shut up, I know it will just make me older!).
So, set your calendars because on May 31, 2019, The END is coming, and Good Omens will be premiering on Amazon Prime! I am as giddy as a school girl with her first pony! No, I take that back! I am as giddy as a 50 year old woman who has befriended a freaking Dragon!
*Fantastic was the 9th Doctor Who catch phrase played by Christopher Eccelston. The 10th Doctor was played by David Tennant, and his catch phrase was Allons-y! If you haven't watched the new iteration of Doctor Who, do so, do it now! And DO NOT SKIP 9! He was only around for one season, but he was FANTASTIC!
- The One With The Hump
Horror comes in many sub-genres. Wikipedia has a list of categories, but I think horror can be broken down into fewer categories, and one such category is the serious horror such as The Shining, the Others, and Get Out. These movies take themselves seriously and are usually well received by both audiences and critics alike. They tend to explore parts of our psyches that actually terrify many people, being alone, being dead, being used and treated like an object as opposed to a human being. These issues are explored through horror and monsters be those monsters actual beasts, humans, or just the unknown.
Take the Shining for example, here are a couple who seem happy as the take on a job in an isolated lodge that they are unable to leave. No break for many months, not even a trip to the grocery store. The only faces they see are each other's and a caretaker who brings supplies occasionally on a snow mobile. The area is scenic, they have warmth, plenty of room, and the people they love, but that isn't enough to save them. It is the loneliness that starts to tear at Jack's mind, and the ghosts feed upon that, but maybe the ghosts were his loneliness the whole time? It brings out psychotic behavior in a man who at first was a loving husband and father and a dedicated writer, but then he becomes a man who breaks down doors with fire axes and chases his wife and child in an attempt to murder them, and in the end, he is consumed by the ghosts. The symbolism is obvious in the end, and Jack shows up as a party guest in a picture taken in the 1920s. He has ultimately lost himself to his loneliness.
The Others also to some extent explores loneliness, and fear. In this iteration it is a mother dealing with her disabled children alone. The constant fear about her children's well being, but also her frustration. She has no help. We see this in society frequently, women who are the sole carers for their children, and how it wears on them no matter how much they love their children, and there are few outlets for that. Grace's fear for her children, her fierce love, and ultimately her breaking are the themes of the movies. ***SPOILER*** If you have not seen the movie, move to the next paragraph. In the end, she takes her children's and her own life, and the whole movie actually is about her regret, her anger, her frustration, and her unwillingness to confront this horrible act, and ultimately forgiveness. Her children forgive her, and then the fog that surrounded the manner through the whole movie is lifted and the children and she are able to enjoy the sun.
Get Out explores racism, and what happens to people who are not the predominate skin color or of European extraction. It explores how a person with a life, friends, pets, lovers is turned into an object to be used. His life wasn't important to the people in the movie, and often, we can be duped by the ones we are closest to, in this case his girl friend. It also explores how people stay in situations that are uncomfortable and attempt to put a good face on it even though it is unpleasant. How you ignore the digs, in this movies the racism, both subtle and overt, that are thrown at the protagonist. He smiles, accepts the behavior, and doesn't run although we, the audience, can see him squirm through his smiles and his attempts to fit in. Get Out explores what happens when those subtle racist behavior is allowed to slide. The horror, the terror, the utter feelings of helplessness. Although in the end of the movie, we see the protagonist, Chris, drive away safe with his friend. In the alternative ending, Chris ends up arrested and spending his life in jail.
Ultimately, in these types of movies the real monster is our fears and ignoring those fears until they take over your life. In The Shining Jack ignored his loneliness; in The Others, Grace ignored her frustration and loneliness; in Get Out, Chris ignored his discomfort and fear. The only one of the three movies that had a resolution to the actual problem in the movie, is The Others. Grace find forgiveness and happiness again with her children. While Jack disappeared into a fantasy world were he would never be alone, and we don't know how Chris dealt with his issues as he rode off into the sunset.
Other sub-genre's explore other themes, and I am hoping to discuss those in other posts. It is a interesting thing, this post is not the post I started writing, but within a few sentences my whole thesis changed. I realized that what I meant to discuss as part of a larger post turned into the post.
- The One With the Hump.
Let's talk about Godzilla for a moment. Godzilla premiered in 1954 as a bad monster who destroyed Tokyo and its surrounds, but sometime about 1964 with the release of Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Godzilla made the change from villain to hero. RM and I have discussed this change, and we both agree it was due to the change of the times - the monster monster movie had been done. We had seen the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, where else can you go? Okay, one correction, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes did not come out until 1978, so lets replace that with, oh, this little lovely, The Horror of Party Beach. Also, the movies were gearing more towards children. In addition, by 1965, Godzilla had Kaiju competition in the form of Gamera (Gamera is really neat. Gamera is full of turtle meat. We all love you, Gamera! Credit MST3K) who was child friendly from day one. Godzilla stayed the hero until 1984, and the Return of Godzilla, where Godzilla returned to his city crunching ways. We see in the new iteration of Godzilla, that he is back to being the hero who ALSO happens to crush cities. I will miss San Francisco. The point of all this, is change happens (also I got to talk about Godzilla AND throw in an MST3K quote! How awesome is that!!!!).
That being said, we are going through some changes here at 52 Bad Stories and More, and that change is that I, The One With The Hump, will be taking over the blog posts. And, if you are unlucky enough, I may throw in a story here or there. Hey, the website IS called 52 BAD stories and More. I'm just sayin'.
Hopefully this will allow RM to focus on what he does best, which is writing stories. The number of stories per month maybe reduced as RM is now a very busy boy, but despite that I still nag him!
BTW, I am The One With the Hump, or as some call me....Chani???? Yes, yes I did steal from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Watch it, love it, memorize it! We will have a quote off! BTW, don't ask me about the hump or you will get a quote from Young Frankenstein, ("It's I - Gor"....no, not that one! "Hump? What Hump?"), but sadly I am no Marty Feldman.
- The One With the Hump.
Another post from the One with the Hump.
I have a long lasting love of horror. I grew up on classic horror such as Night of the Living Dead, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, All the classic Hammer Horror movies. My sister was horrified, and not in a good way about my love of horror, but that was okay, as I watched much of the horror I loved so much on Creature Features after she went to bed. So when RM mentioned that Jo Bob Briggs was doing a new show, I was excited. I love good schlocky horror! Schlocky horror every Friday night? I'm in! BTW, I think it always surprises RM that I love horror. I seem to surprise RM a lot when it comes to genres he never thought I would like. A few years ago a friend would come over on the Saturday nights and we would watch old Samurai movies such as Lone Wolf and Cub and the Blind Swordsman movies. RM thought I was just humoring him, and was genuinely surprised when he found out I REALLY like Samurai movies. Any way I digress.
Jo Bob featured the movie C.H.U.D. A surprising horror movie because it had star studded cast known for anything but horror movies. According to Jo Bob the movie was an attempt by a group of New York theater people to make a horror movie. So how did they do? Not well, not well at all. C.H.U.D. should never be viewed without the benefit of robots and a person in an orange jumpsuit stranded in space by his evil bosses. The movie made no sense, the special effects were particularly bad even for a horror movie that is not known for amazing special effects, the acting was weird. The movie seemed to desperately want to be some high brow movie about a fashion photographer who was tired of the scene, and snobby at best and his fashion model girlfriend , but kept being derailed by the Soup Kitchen Preacher and cannibals who live in sewers. It was like 3 movies from different genres were badly edited and scrunched into one movie.
I agree with Jo Bob's opinion on C.H.U.D. He did not like the movie, not even as the fun schlocky horror. The reason is that C.H.U.D. was made as an art house movie, but did not succeed as either an art house movie nor as a schlocky horror. It was made by people who do not have a love of horror and it shows. They missed the humor, the tongue in cheek feel of good schlocky horror and the movie and the actors took itself WAY too seriously.
As the Last Drive-In does as the classic drive in did a double feature, the second in this nights offering was Castle Freak. Castle Freak is a Full Moon offering. A married American couple, and their blind daughter take possession of an Italian castle the man inherited. Turns out in the basement of said Castle is the tortured soul who is unbeknownst to our hapless protagonists the the son of the duchess and the husband's brother! The Freak is for some odd reason both sexually rapacious, and a bit of a sexual cannibal (note this is why we need sex education, people! One must learn the right way to eat pussy! I'm just sayin'. Key and Peele has a really good instructional video for this: Cunnilingus Class.) Anyway, this installment in the Last Drive-In was typical fun, schlocky horror.
Castle Freak unlike C.H.U.D. was made by people who obviously love the schlocky horror genre and it shows. No this will never win an Academy Award, but that was never the intention. The movie is fun because of the type of movie it is and the pure joy people had in making it.
So in closing, check out Jo Bob Brigg's Last Drive-In. You can find it on Shudder. BTW, Shudder is worth the $5 a month fee if you like bad horror.
- The One With the Hump