Thrashcore ‘zine #4


This time the random ‘zine generator chose Thrashcore ‘zine,  from my neighbors in Louisiana, which mostly featured what the name described- thrash and hardcore.  The editor still does a ‘zine today called Paranoise (  The layouts in Thrashcore are pretty simple and undynamic, but there are interviews with a lot of good bands you don’t see interviewed a lot, so that’s a real draw.  It also featured a small review section with shorter ‘blurb’ type reviews by editor Bobby plus several guest reviewers (including ex-Soilent Green vocalist Glenn Rambo (R.I.P.) and EyeHateGod/ Soilent Green member Brian Patton).

Here are some pages, reproduced for your perusal:

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Final Asian Movie Month Movie: The Grandmaster (2013)

Well, Asian Movie Month (and a few days) is over.  Hopefully you enjoyed it.  I didn’t review as many films as I planned to, but I did hit on 5 of the most archetypal types of film in Asian cinema.  We started Asian Movie Month with the 30th anniversary of Bruce Lee’s death, and ended it with the domestic release of the big budget film about his kung fu master and trainer Yip Man, The Grandmaster.  During that time, Guillermo del Toro released his tribute to Asian cinema Pacific Rim (which was big and very entertaining), Marvel released their story about Wolverine’s Japanese adventures The Wolverine (which was much better than X-Men Origins- Wolverine), and I ended it by taking in The Grandmaster.  There’s been at least 5 films about Yip Man of varying degrees of accuracy (probably the most accurate (but still somewhat loosely based) is the first Ip Man movie from 2008 that featured his son Ip Chun in it, and as a consultant), but this one is the newest (released to ‘select’ theatres this weekend, and should be more widely released soon), and probably the biggest production of the story.  


I’ll have to start off this review by saying that director Kar Wai Wong wrote and directed one of the most boring movies I’ve ever sat through.  In The Mood For Love (which he put out in 2000) was incredibly critically acclaimed (I’ve never read a bad review of it), but it was a real slog.  The only thing that kept me from falling asleep was the awesome cinematography, and a few interesting scenes that were hauntingly beautiful.  His skill at creating mood and atmosphere were apparent even in a movie that made me want to slip into a coma.  The only other movie by him I’ve seen is Chungking Explress (1994) which Quinton Tarantino loved so much he cut a deal with Miramax to release it widely.  It is also a love story (yet a bit more exciting).

So, you might surmise that Wong likes love stories.  Or, to be more exact, stories of love lost and aching (both In The Mood For Love and Chungking Express had a lot of that in them).  He also likes to film in the rain.  The Grandmaster has a bit of all of this- I haven’t seen all of the other Ip Man movies out, but The Grandmaster has a strong underlying theme of ‘love that could have been’ taking a back seat to rage and revenge, and the sad fact and outcome of such choices.

It also has some damn fine kung fu.  I’ve become increasingly annoyed and impatient with ‘shaky cam’ action scenes of late- it is ok in some movies, but now it seems to be the norm and a tactic used by directors to avoid filming a coherent or well done action scene.  I enjoyed the recent movie Elysium, except for the annoying action scenes which looked like a bunch of people jumping around and grunting while someone shakes the camera.  The Grandmaster has none of this.  The action scenes are filmed with a cold eye and micro precision, which I enjoyed immensely.

The movie starts off with a kung fu fight in the rain (of course) between Ip and a bunch of other fighters, with reflections on his early training by master Chan Wah-Shun.  Tony Leung, who also played the lead in In The Mood For love (as well as one of the leads in Chungking Express), and was in a ton of other Hong Kong films (Butterfly Sword, Hero, Infernal Affairs, Hard Boiled, etc.) plays Ip Man with dignity and a restrained ferocity and grace.
When Gong Yutian, a retired martial arts master from the north arrives, he announces that the south needs it’s own master (he’s already appointed a man, Ma San, as master of the north).  Ip Man decides to take the challenge, and (after being tested by the other southern masters) takes on Gong Yutian on an exchange of philosophical ideas.  Gong Yutian declares Ip Man the winner, however his daughter Gong Er (played by super star Ziyi Zhang (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Rush Hour 2, Hero, House Of Flying Daggers, etc.) is unhappy with this outcome and challenges and defeats Ip Man in a battle in which whoever breaks a piece of furniture during the battle loses.  They part with mutual respect (and become pen pals).
During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Ip Man’s family falls on very rough times, and Ma San becomes a traitor and kills Gong Yutian.  His final wish is that Gong Er be happy and not seek revenge, however this is a kung fu movie, so you know what happens next.

This movie was released in China in January as a 130 minute opus, however the U.S. version is chopped down to 108 minutes (not sure what we lost, but some of it does seem a little rushed, and needs a little more time to breathe).  Evidently ultra-perfectionist Kar Wai Wong spent over a year editing it, so I can only imagine what he thought of this cut.
It was cool to see Meng Lo (the Toad in The Five Deadly Venoms) in a small cameo (he was also in Ip Man 2: Legend Of The Grandmaster), and as artsy and restrained as it was, good to see some kung fu on the big screen again.  It was as beautiful and visually sumptuous as I expected, a cinemaphiles wet dream.  Every frame a work of art.  Now I want to see some trashy, old school ’70s kung fu theatre type of stuff on the big screen.  Bring it on!

Asian Movie Month Movie #5: Jack and the Beanstalk (1974)

Note: Asian Movie Month began on July 19, the 30th anniversary of Bruce Lee’s death, and will end on August 23, the U.S. release date of the new movie The Grandmaster (aka Yi dai Zong Shi), the mytholized story of the Ip Man (for which there are already two Hong Kong produced movies- Ip Man (2008) and Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster (2010)) about the man who taught Bruce Lee how to fight.  Yes I know that’s a little longer than a month, but Asian Movie Month (and 4 days) doesn’t sound as catchy.


I realized that I haven’t done any Asian animation for Asian Movie Month, which is insane since that’s what whole slews of people are into about Asian culture- the anime!  I’ve been into anime since I was a kid, but really got into it back in the early ’90s, when you had to trade video tapes through the mail with people to get much of anything.  It was mostly ultra-violent stuff and hentai that was traded, stuff such as Demon City Shinjuku, Urotsukidoji, Violence Jack, Fist of the North Star, Devil Man,, etc. (and you quite often received the same movie under several different titles.  I have Wicked City under about 4 different names, but when you see a movie called Supernatural Beastie City on someone’s trade list, you just have to take the chance that it’s one you haven’t seen).
In most of the other Asian Movie Month movies, I’ve done ones that were not very obscure- most of them are pretty easily found and have been seen by most any Asian movie aficionados, but are good entry level movies for casual viewers.
With the anime I’m going a little different and more obscure, to a Japanese telling of Jack and the Beanstalk that tried incredibly hard to be charming and Disney-like, but is actually pretty creepy and offputting.

Jakku To Mame No Ki is the Japanese title, and starts off with young Jack and his dog Crosby being awakened by his mildly emotionally abusive Mother to get up and do the chores on their farm.  After some high spirited morning choring and adventures, he encounters a creepy looking obese bearded man with an eyepatch that most people would immediately identify as a sexual predator, but who Jack happily talks to because he is playing a weird, upbeat little new waveish ditty on an organ that looks like a giant typewriter.  He talks Jack into trading his horrified cow for a bag of magic beans, and howls out a terrifying laugh after Jack walks off.  Luckily the scene fades before we can see what he does with poor Bessie.

"I'll take your cow and your childhood!"

“I’ll take your cow and your childhood!”

Back home his mother verbally abuses him some more while beating the crap out of him and throws the beans out the window.
Overnight they sprout into giant Cthulhu-like tendrils that explode into the sky while a shrill voiced siren shrieks out a song on the soundtrack.  Down the beanstalk comes a mouse dressed like a princess who is attacked and almost eaten by a vicious owl, but makes it to Jack, who decides to climb up the beanstalk to see where the mouse princess came from.
At the top he finds a castle inhabited by a spaced out (obviously over medicated) young lady named Princess Margret, who tells him her parents were killed by an evil witch.  She then sings an incredibly bright and cheerful song called “No One’s Happier Than I” while floating around on clouds, her drugged out looking serene face and monotone singing voice capturing the perfect feel of someone slowly on Prozac and horse tranquilizers.  She is so happy because she will soon be married to her beautiful Prince Tulip.  It’s worth mentioning at this point that all of the scenes and people from the Earth in this are animated in a more Western style, while all of the people who live in the clouds are more Japanese anime looking.

Gentle and handsome Prince Tulip

Gentle and handsome Prince Tulip

Princess Margret takes Jack into the castle to meet Madame Hecuba, Prince Tulip’s “sweet and beautiful” mother, who turns out to be a creepy evil ice crone who force feeds him drugged soup and tries to eat him.  She is interrupted by her son, Prince Tulip, who turns out to be a giant who looks like a cross between 1980s Bruce Dickinson and an ogre.  He smells Jack and wants to eat him as well, but the mice had teamed up with Crosby to help him escape, where he finds the castle’s treasure room, including a hen that lays golden eggs and a talking harp.  He brings a bunch of the treasure home to his grouchy mother, and sings a happy song.  But Crosby sings a mournful, Sinatra-esque song about the moon in a bizarre scene interspaced with Jack’s happy song (Crosby hasn’t said a word up to this point, and can’t talk after the song is over).  Jack decides he should go back up to help the Princess and the mice.

As the movie moves closer to it’s denouement, it becomes more crazed and dark, including a weird wedding scene featuring paper cut out attendees given life with black magic and not one but two creepy wedding songs, an almost Looney Tunes like chase scene (with a punk rock (for 1974) song that I think is sung by the same shrieky voiced woman who sang the beanstalk growing song), and at least one disturbing death scene (for a cartoon).

The music in this is very eclectic, ranging from Lynch-eaque jazzy bits to ’70s disco-tinged funky rhythms and psychedellic scenes and noises.  The whole thing plays out like a fever dream, and I wouldn’t doubt if Jack was actually abducted and sexually violated and murdered by the bean guy and the whole thing from the point they met on is his mind’s way of dealing with it (to create an alternate reality).  The movie’s bittersweet and charming but creepy feel will haunt you long after you’ve seen it, and you might wake up in the middle of the night with “No One Is Happier Than I” stuck in your head.  It’s truly the most depressing sounding song about happiness you’ll hear.  Sometimes, when I’m at my lowest points of depression and hopelessness, the song crawls up out of my subconscious and begins repeating in my head.
Click if you dare

The funny thing is that I get the feeling that the people making it were trying to make a charming, funny, happy Disney-esque children’s fantasy movie and made a haunting, offbeat hodgepodge of different styles of music, mood, and animation instead.  If you’re looking for something different than the usual anime, this might just do the trick.

You can find it for big bucks on Amazon, and I think you can find it in parts on youtube (a quick look found part 1 and 5, so the rest are probably on there).

Asian Movie Month ‘zine #3: Oriental Cinema Vol. 3, Issue 5



I couldn’t find my issues of Asian Trash Cinema, but this’ll do fine.  This was a very long running magazine (I think over 20 years) that was the premiere mag for Asian cinema back then- it mainly contained reviews, more than articles, but reviews of import Asian films were hard to find back then.  This issue also had an article on director Chang Cheh (Five Deadly Venoms, Crippled Masters, etc.), and a bunch of letters.  But it’s mostly reviews, and since I haven’t done near as many reviews fro Asian Movie Month as I should have, you can just read his.  Here’s a bunch of pages from it:

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Asian Movie Month Movie #4: Infra-Man


Infra-Man (international title Super Infra-Man) is probably the best tokusatsu movie that I’ve seen.  Released in 1975, it’s loaded to the brim with goofy monsters, kung fu fighting, sci fi gizmos, and a bug-eyed crimson cyborg Superhero; it’s the Citizen Kane of tokusatsu  movies.

Wicked Dragon Mom and her skull faced henchmen

Wicked Dragon Mom and her skull faced henchmen

The Princess of a legion of evil mutants unexpectedly arrives out of the blue and attacks Earth, causing earthquakes, fire and destruction.  She then calls for the humans to surrender to her, so she can rule the world.  Little does she know that the brilliant professor Liu, who works for some sort of scientific brigade of researchers who know kung fu, has been developing a way to turn a man into a cyborg superhero with advanced strength, speed, energy, x-ray vision, and weapons.

Infra-Man rips off Ultraman's signature move

Infra-Man rips off Ultraman’s signature move

Whip wielding (and humorously dubbed) Wicked Dragon Mom calls upon her mutant monsters (including the imaginatively named Giant Flying Lizard, Giant Beetle Monster, and (my favorite) the shaggy haired wild Laser Horn Monster (you can tell the people who named these monsters in English just weren’t really into it, tho they did step out of their uninspired drudgery with the unusually enthusiastically named Emperor Of Doom, who shoots a torrent of fire out of his mouth and has a big, red Pringles guy mustache (they should have named him Fire Breathing Mustache Monster)) to help her defeat the benevolent scientists, sending the Driller Beast to kidnap one of them for brainwashing, and the Octopus Mutant to attack their base.
Meanwhile, the Professor has shown Rayma, one of his most heroic disciples, the Infra-Man program.  Rayma very excitedly volunteers to become Infra-Man (even tho it is horribly painful and he might die).

Rayma being transformed into Infra-Man

Rayma being transformed into Infra-Man

The base is attacked by the Octopus Mutant, which disrupts Rayma’s transformation into Infra-Man, so he’s not as powerful as he would be if he completed the transformation, but more than enough to defeat the Octopus Mutant.

The Octopus Mutant

The Octopus Mutant

Wicked Dragon Mom sends her skull-faced football helmeted henchmen ( who whoop like flying monkeys) with the Drill Beast to kidnap the Professor’s daughter and demands he surrender himself to her.  Can Infra-Man save the professor and his daughter and defeat the evil Wicked Dragon Mom and her monsters? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

The Drill Beast escorts the Professor to Wicked Dragon Mom's headquarters

The Drill Beast escorts the Professor to Wicked Dragon Mom’s headquarters

Infra-Man was the first superhero movie out of China, and was produced by the Shaw brothers (of course).  The story is fun and interesting and fairly sophisticated for this sort of thing (Roger Ebert even called it “classy and slick”), and the direction and acting is competent (the hero Rayma is played by Danny Lee, who went on to star in a lot of John Woo’s films including The Killer and City On Fire (which Tarantino ripped off for Reservoir Dogs).  An actor named Kin Lung Hung plays the tough sergeant of the Science headquarters, who is very good at kung fu.  Hung changed his name to Bruce Le later, and appeared in many kung fu Brucesploitation movies of the ’70s and early ’80s).

Infra-Man fights the Giant Beetle Monster

Infra-Man fights the Giant Beetle Monster

The monsters are quite goofy and entertaining, but also very imaginative looking.  A lot of tokusatsu  is rendered almost senseless by an incomprehensible plot, bad editing and a hyperactive pace and tone (which a lot of people like), but Infra-Man is more kaiju-esque in that it has a slower, more straight forward plot and everything is played seriously (except the monsters, but a lot of that is the English dub).  The music is also delightful- that old school ’70s analog Moog keyboard driven sci fi sound.  Gotta love it.  If you’re only going to watch one vintage cyborg superhero vs monsters movie, this should be the one.  It’s very charming and a lot of fun…
view the trailor HERE (note: this movie came out at the height of the popularity of the television show The Six Million Dollar Man, so the trailor trys to capitalize on that).

the Iron Fists Robots are the last monsters Infra-Man has to face

the Iron Fists Robots are the last monsters Infra-Man has to face…


Asian Movie Month Movie #3: Matango (Attack of the Mushroom People)

Asian Movie Month on PMT kicked off on Saturday July 19 (the 30th anniversary of Bruce Lee’s death)  with my article on G-Fan magazine.  Besides the anniversary of Lee’s death (who was actually born in the U.S. and moved to Hong Kong, then back to the U.S.), Guillermo del Toro’s magnificent tribute to Asian cinema Pacific Rim was also released that weekend.  Now here is movie #3 in our look at Asian cinema, a movie which came out 50 years ago today…

Matango 1

Matango (also known as Attack of the Mushroom People and Fungus of Terror) was directed by Ishirô Honda, the Godfather of Kaiju films (he directed most of the Japanese Godzilla films, as well as Rodan, Mothra, The Mysterians, Varan The Unbelieveable, Frankenstein Conquers the World, and many more).  As a matter of fact, he made it in between making King Kong Vs. Godzilla and Atragon (which featured the giant serpent Manda who would later appear in Destroy All Monsters, which he also directed), and recycled a lot of music and sound effects from his Godzilla movies.

The story is not much of a monster movie though; indeed it’s actually a psychological thriller along the lines of Lord of the Flies.  It is very slow moving, there’s almost no action or kung fu, the monsters don’t appear until the very end, and a lot of kaiju fans will become bored before the halfway mark (even I found it a bit dull in places, and I like a lot of slow movies).  However it still features some excellent cinematography and weirdly atmospheric/ otherworldly set designs (reminding me a little of At the Earth’s Core, which came out over 10 years later), and managed to hold my interest throughout.
Matango 4

It starts out in Japan where a group of doctors are speaking to a man who is being held in the psychiatric ward of a hospital.  He tells them he is not crazy, but he has a crazy story to tell…
He was part of a day trip taken on a yacht into the Pacific ocean with 4 other passengers and 2 crew members (there was a writer, a singer, a professor and his student, a rich businessman (who owns the yacht) and the skipper and his first mate).

The yacht runs into a storm that snaps the mast and sends it adrift until they reach an island, seemingly uninhabited.  They see no animal or avian life on the island (they notice that birds actually avoid flying over it), but it has a lot of plants and particularly an abundance of fungus and mushrooms.  There are signs that there was previously human life on the island- they find some man-made pools, and eventually run across a derelict ship washed up on shore.  Upon exploring it they discover that it was a research vessel that was involved in some kind of nuclear testing in the ocean, and it is covered in fungus and mold.  They also discover in the ship’s log that the mushrooms might be dangerous to eat.
Matango 3
As their food grows scarce, they begin to turn on each other and some become paranoid and  unreasonable.  Eventually they discover that they are not the only beings on the island after all, and that eating the mushrooms doesn’t kill you, it changes you.  A creepier fate than starvation or death awaits them…
Matango 2

Tho it’s not at all the fun monster movie the title may conjure images of, it’s still worth a watch (particularly if you like psychological thriller type movies); and when the monsters finally do show up they look pretty awesome.  Every main actor in this except for Hiroshi Tachikawa (who plays the treacherous mystery writer, and is an Akira Kurosawa regular) have been in multiple Godzilla (and other kaiju) movies (including a bunch of the newer ones), and most of them are still making movies now (50 years later).

Matango was never released to the theatres in America, but was a television mainstay on sci fi theatre matinee type of shows in the ’70s (under the Attack of the Mushroom People title).  It was very difficult to find for years, but it was released on DVD in 2005 by Media Blasters.  Unfortunately,  I believe that is now out of print.

This is an AWESOME 3 pack, but unfortunately, it's out of print as well...

This is an AWESOME 3 pack that included Matango, but you guessed it- it’s out of print as well…

Asian Movie Month Movie #2: Xie Mo (aka The Devil)


Made in Taiwan and released in 1981 (as The Devil in the U.S.- it actually had a small oversized box video release.  Don’t confuse it with the Shyamalan produced U.S. thriller that came out a few years ago) this was probably one of the best of the Chinese bug puking movies (such as Centipede HorrorDevil Fetus, etc.).

The story is about a wealthy Chinese family and a stranger who enters their lives.  The father runs a very successful hotel which is managed by his nerdy nephew (who’s name is Achoo), and their bellboy is a standard issue (in Asian sci fi movies) annoying little twerp with a squeaky voice named Ding Dong.  Achoo and Ding Dong.  All they need is someone named Mr. Cool and it’ll be MST3K gold.  Did I mention there’s a beautiful, single daughter (named “Shirley”) that hangs around as well?  Unto this mix comes a handsome stranger named Mr. Cool (just kidding- his name is actually Mr. Ku, tho it sounds like Mr. Cool every time someone says it), who begins charming innocent Shirley with some alternately ridiculous and aggressive come-on lines and actions that would get someone a restraining order nowadays.  Ding Dong, enamoured with him, fools Shirley into going on a date with him, and then they’re getting married (?).
At this point, you might be wondering where the bug puking comes in.  During all of this, some other men show up at the hotel on occasion looking for a bad man named Chao Chin Tsing and causing problems.  Achoo mutters under his breath to each of them “I’ll get you someday” then they are afflicted with boils and start puking worms and centipedes and green goo until their stomachs burst.  One of them is also burned alive, but not before accusing Ku of being Chao Chin Tsing and cheating his sister.  Oh, there’s also a gore faced female ghost that hangs around and terrorizes people, who got her face bashed in on the first scene of the movie.  Somewhere in there is also a scene where a benevolent witch slices a guy open and pulls worms, maggots, snakes, and leeches out of his torso to save him.  And a meat cleaver murder.  And even some ghost fu.

Is Ku the evil Chao Chin Tsing?  Is Achoo killing people who annoy him with black magic?  Will Ding Dong ever stop talking?  We don’t care because the dubbing and dialogue is terrible (in a good way), the director throws around snakes and worms like rice at a wedding, and you never know what kind of goofy thing will happen next.  Unrestrained and entertaining, it’s worth noting that the fact that things are so different over there (family life and obligations and honor and beliefs, especially over 30 years ago) that it makes things seem even more wacky.  Censorship was so tough that they could not show anyone kissing in their movies (all the scenes of Ku and Shirley making out are done slightly off camera, like gore in a PG-13 horror movie; tho the disembowelment and bug puking is shown with a cold eye and no turning away at all).  Ghosts and vengeance were a way of life (evidently they still are- I just read a story about a woman in China who got stuck between two buildings, and her calls for help were ignored for hours because people thought she was a ghost) so the comical reactions of people to the ghost isn’t really hyperbole.  The whole movie is pretty amusing, and worth a look if you can find it (I had to find it through underground VHS trading back in the early ’90s (“Ok- I’ll record you a copy  of Buio Omega and Make Them Die Slowly if you’ll send  me a recording of Xie Mo and Trap Them and Kill Them“,  Though you often got the same movie under several different names, it was still like finding buried treasure)).


UPDATE: OK, evidently someone has just recently uploaded the whole damn thing to youtbe.  Good for them!:
Xie Mo on youtube

Japanese Monster Madness Cereal Party at The Alamo Drafthouse


I have just returned from the Japanese Monster Madness Cereal Party at the Alamo Drafthouse here in Houston, and despite consuming tons of extremely sugary cereal (which is all you can eat for free), I lived to tell about it.  I’m actually swimming in kind of a sugary haze, perhaps it’s a partial sugarcome.  I didn’t know that they started putting marshmellows in Froot Loops.

It started off with an episode of the Japanese Spiderman.
adcp3I must say right now that a good amount of Japanese tokusatsu  (monster and sci fi) tv shows had no narrative flow.  A lot of them are really just a bunch of action scenes cobbled together without much rhyme or reason (even the most narrative ones tend to look like they were edited with a meat cleaver).  The Japanese Spideman takes this to a new level.  You almost can’t tell where the show’s intro ends and the show begins.  Spiderman leaps out of bed, sucks his suit on (?), and does a weird, twitchy dance, then leaps out of his window.  We’re then treated to multiple scenes of him climbing on walls- up one side of a building, and down another.  Over and over.  At some point, he leaps into a criminal’s secret hideout (?) and begins fighting masked villainous henchmen before chasing an evil villainess until she unleashes a monster.  Spiderman calls his giant Spider Mecha Robot and fights the monster in it for a couple of minutes, until it is defeated, then the episode ends.   After that we were exposed to a couple of weird Japanese commercials for some products which I had trouble discerning exactly what they were or were for.  Then a vintage commercial for Stretch Armstrong’s nemesis Stretch Monster.



Then they showed an episode of Johnny Socko and His Flying Robot.  This is a legendary but short lived late ’60s tv show which is pretty easy to find on dvd and youtube now.  It’s about a surprisingly unannoying kid who controls a giant robot (named Giant Robot) who fight an evil organization called the Gargoyle Gang.  The scenes of Giant Robot fighting the monster of the week are generally recycled in each episode (and shown in the opening credits) but the monsters are suitably wacky.  The main thing that sticks out upon this viewing is the absolutely horrendous dubbing (which the crowd found quite amusing)- they evidently gave up trying to make the words come close to matching the lip movements or even the length of time the lips move.  I never cared much for the look of Giant Robot- kind of an Egyptian look with a permanent irritated stare (including furled eyebrows).  Still this show is highly entertaining.

Shogun Warriors- worth big bucks today

Shogun Warriors- worth big bucks today

They showed a commercial for the old Shogun Warriors toys, truly some of the coolest toys of the time (and worth big bucks nowadays).  Then we launched into an episode of the early 1970’s tokusatsu  tv show Spectremen.  In this show two gorillas (one a super intelligent one with blue skin and yellow hair who excessively talks with his hands named Dr. Gori and his henchman, a bumbling regular looking (but talking) gorilla named Rah) use pollution to create mutant creatures to attack the Earth.
adcp4 A man named George, a member of a group of scientists who fight pollution and monsters,  changes into Spectreman on the orders from a consortium of aliens from the Nebula Star to combat them.  Yes it’s all a bunch of hooey thrown together to show giant monsters fighting, however Spectreman is probably the most traditionally narrative and storyline based of all the man-in-a-suit cyborg fighting giant monsters (who are also men in suits) tv shows.

Unfortunately this episode wasn’t very good, featuring a truck driver turned into a garbage eating monster who doesn’t want to be a monster.  The audience got a kick out of the bumbling Rah and Gori’s hand gestures and some of the howlers of dialogue (example: when the truck driver leaves for work his son cheerfully tells him “Bye Dad- try not to drink too much beer after work!”), but much better episodes exist.

After some more vintage commercials (including one for Micronauts) they showed an episode of the late ’70s American cartoon Godzilla (by Hanna-Barbera).  The series is similar to Johnny Quest, but with Godzilla’s son Godzooki tagging along as comic relief (instead of Bandit I suppose).  When in trouble they can summon Godzilla to help them.  Godzilla looks kind of similar to the Godzilla in the movies, but doesn’t really act much like him, have his charisma, or his distinctive scream.   Godzooki doesn’t look anything like Minilla  from the movies, and can fly.  In this episode a pyramid is discovered, but when disturbed it unleashes it’s guardians- two stone lions that can breathe icy cold breath.

Next up they show an episode of the kookiest tokusatsu yet, Super Robot Red Baron.
This one has to be seen to be believed.  I haven’t the foggiest idea what exactly was going on, however it was a lot of spastic, goofy fun.  I’m not sure if it was the whole episode, because it seemed to end rather abruptly and kind of in the middle of a storyline, but once again since this is one of those shows that doesn’t have much narrative flow (just a bunch of scenes hyperactively edited next to each other) I can’t be too sure.  It was just as entertaining (perhaps more so) as any others we saw that night (and the audience quite liked the inspector who was turned into a goose and back again who kept quacking in between his lines).

He did NOT do his signature move in the episode we watched.  The audience was crushed.

He did NOT do his signature move in the episode we watched. The audience was crushed.

Lastly, they came to the most famous of cyborg-man-in-a-suit fighting monster men in suits shows, Ultraman.  There have been so many permutations of Ultraman over the years I’m not sure which one this one was (tho I believe it was from the original 1966 series, which was actually part 2 of the overall Ultraman saga (which started with the Ultra-Q tv show)).  Once again, this was a pretty average episode, with a decent monster but nothing much to set it apart from any other episodes (he didn’t even do his signature crossed hands Spacium Ray).  But the event was still a success, and sold out (but they didn’t run out of cereal, so that’s a big plus).

They usually do cartoons at their Cereal Parties, but I’m glad they chose to do tokusatsu  for this one.  Next up: they’re doing a marathon of sword and sorcery movies (3 to be exact, including a 35 mm print of Conan the Barbarian) leading up to the debut of Zero Charisma, a movie for D & D geeks that looks to be pretty damn cool, on Sunday August 11th.  I’m excited.
UPDATE:  I’ve just discovered that the above mentioned sword and sorcery marathon has sold out.  Damn…