Planning a PACIFIC RIM getaway “vacay”? Well, The ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE in WINCHESTER, VA–which presents great first run features such as “Pacific Rim”, is also celebrating the classic beasts and bots of Cinema and has asked MR. LOBO to come down from his secret base PA to host three amazing films that feature chaotic, cataclysmic creatures! GODZILLA at 5pm this Saturday, MOTHRA at Midnight, and on Sunday afternoon, the day after, for the Monster Kids “IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA!”
The posters and fliers were eaten up at Monster Bash. Mr. Lobo looks forward to seeing many of you there! Make a weekend out of it if you can…there is a great Hotel in the same parking lot and wonderful restaurants–And of course, The Alamo serves great food and spirits in the theater. Every row of seats has it’s own table. When was the last time you had someone bring you beer and pizza in the dark? It’s damn spiffy! It reminds Mr. Lobo of the “Thrillville” monster shows we used to do back in California!Â Â Â Â
To wet your appetite even further we asked Bob Johnson, who runs Bay Area Film Events and the Sci-Fi Japan website, to say a few things about our Saturday program. Bob has been bringing Kaiju/Tokusatsu to the bay area over the last 30 years with events like GODZILLAFEST and ULTRAMANIA–which Mr. Lobo had the honor of co-hosting on the West Coast. That’s Bob up on top of the giant larva in the photo to the right!
Take it away Bob…
GODZILLA (1954) and MOTHRA (1961) represent two very different ends of the Toho spectrum and both are classics of the kaiju eiga genre.
With Guillermo del Toro readying to make “kaiju” a household name with his new, mega block-buster film PACIFIC RIM, both of these films, which ushered in the term, deserve another look.
GODZILLA is the original Japanese creature feature, making its debut in 1954. Filmed in black and white, it was a very serious analogy for a nuclear nightmare come to life. Directed by Ishiro Honda in a documentary style, the film is dark and somber. Godzilla is a force of nature, a living natural disaster. As the US trailer would say a couple years later, the film featured “Dynamic Violence” and “Savage Action”!
MOTHRA, on the other hand, was Toho’s second color kaiju film (following 1957’s RODAN). Unlike RODAN though, MOTHRA is more fantasy. With it’s bright colors, singing fairies, exotic island locales and more light-hearted characters, MOTHRA is like the day to GODZILLA’s night.
The musical scores also emphasize the different tones of the films. GODZILLA’s music is thunderous, intense and heavy. MOTHRA’s is light and fanciful. Both soundtracks are expertly done and deserve a listen on their own. GODZILLA’s com
posed by Toho mainstay Akira Ifukube and MOTHRA’s by Yuji Koseki. Although Ifukube would go on toscore many of Toho’s monster and Sci Fi films up through 1995’s GODZILLA VS. DESTROYAH, Koseki’s MOTHRA was his only genre score.
Even when released in the US , GODZILLA was re-edited and sanitized, while MOTHRA was released with a few trims, but mostly intact.
The heavy-handed message in GODZILLA was removed. The main characters Hideto Ogata (Akira Takarada), Emiko Yamane (Momoko Kochi) and Daisuke Serizawa (Akihito Hirata) take a back seat to Raymond Burr’s US reporter Steve Martin. Although expertly edited to look like Burr really is an integral part of the movie, lost is the nuclear allegory, the emotional love triangle between Ogata, Emiko and Serizawa and even some of the monster action.
In some scenes, Burr stands to the side, listening in on meetings and discussions, while an interpreter lets him (and the audience) know what is going on. Saves time on dubbing anyway. But, as such, the US version, GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS, can actually be looked atas another perspective on the same story. In the Japanese version, you get the entire story. In the US cut, you get Steve Martin’s version of the events as he sees them unfold.
In MOTHRA, the film’s original characters, mainly Dr. Shinichi Chujo (Hiroshi Koizumi–shown above with Mr. Lobo at BAFE show GODZILLAFEST), photographer Michi Hanamura (Kyoko Kagawa) and reporter Senichiro Fukuda (Frankie Sakai) come through with their humor and chemistry intact. Actor Jerry Ito’s deliciously over the top portrayal of the film’s main villain, Clark Nelson, also remains as a highlight of the movie. In fact, it is Clark Nelson and NOT Mothra herself, who is the antagonist of the film. Mothra, though she creates a lot of collateral damage, is mainly on a mission to save the Alienas (twin fairies), which Nelson kidnapped from Infant Island to exploit in a series of stage shows.
As evil and despicable as Ito’s Nelson is, Frankie Sakai does an excellent job as reporter Fukuda, known in the US version of the film as a “Bulldog” and in the Japanese version as a “Snapping Turtle”, both metaphors for getting hold of a
story and not letting go. He is jovial throughout the movie, a perfect balancing act between the humor of the character and his reporter’s important role in rescuing the fairies.
MOTHRA was a turning point in the style of the Toho films. Gone was the dark and serious monster movies, substituted by fun amazing adventures featuring a whole roster of far east beasts.
GODZILLA and MOTHRA make for an amazing double feature and will definitely show fans two totally different ways of bringing cinematic monsters to life. And although the films are different in style, tone and feel, they are both created by director Ishiro Honda and special effects master Eiji Tsuburaya.
The July 27th Winchester screening of GODZILLAÂ and MOTHRA at The ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE WINCHESTER will be introduced live by MR. LOBO and he WILL be bringing THE TWIN FAIRIES!
As you know, Mr. LoboÂ is the host of the late night movie program CINEMA INSOMNIA–Nationally syndicated on AMGTV affiliates and now via ZOM-BEE TV on ROKU devices. Mr. Lobo presents a LIVE preshowÂ with audience participation, background on the film, comedy, and prizes.Â To purchase tickets or for more info visit the ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE website.
See you there…and don’t forget IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA! our bonus monster matinee on Sunday!