Monday, July 27, 2009

Colossal Kappas and Kong Continuation

I stumbled across a couple of giant monster movie announcements today while visiting my usual internet haunts: the first is a film adaptation of Kong: King of Skull Island, an illustrated novel which details the events of Skull Island before the events in the original film as uncovered by Carl Denham’s son, Vincent . The meat of the backstory involves an ongoing rivalry between the giant apes of Skull Island and a species of intelligent, carnivorous dinosaur called “death runners”. Admittedly, I’m not much of a fan of prequels, but hey: giant apes verses dinosaurs. I’m willing to put aside my personal bias just on that alone. The weird thing with this movie though, is that Spirit Pictures (the company producing the film) is planning to go the CGI motion-capture route in the same way that The Polar Express and Beowulf were handled. Hard to say how that might go, considering the aforementioned approach sometimes comes off a little cold and uncanny valley-ish in the final product, but at this early stage of things, there’s not much point in fussing over it.

Source: Dread Central

Switching from digital effects to rubber suits and miniature sets, we have the upcoming movie Death Kappa from director Tomoo Haraguchi. Haraguchi, a veteran effects artist who (among other things) handled the creature work on the first two 90’s-era Gamera entries, is approaching this pet project from a very nostalgic angle: his plan is to use only traditional  effects to create a tribute of sorts to the “old school” style of Japanese giant monster films. has posted a video where Haraguchi not only discusses his thoughts behind the movie but you also get a sneak peak of some miniature sets and the design of the kappa monster itself (as well as a drawing of a second daikaiju that also makes an appearance in the film as the kappa’s opponent). I hope this turns out to be a lot of fun as it’s certainly sparked my interest. 

And for those of you not versed in Japanese folklore, the kappa is a mischievous water spirit that makes its home in rivers and ponds and preys on unsuspecting passers-by that get too close to water’s edge. Sometimes it merely plays innocent pranks on its intended victims but the creature can also be murderous; dragging people underwater to drown them (one theory is that the legend of the kappa was created as a way to make children wary of playing near water). The most particular feature of the kappa is the top of its head which is indented like a bowl and filled with water. Said water is vital to the monster’s ability to exist on dry land- should it be spilled, the creature becomes helpless. This can be achieved by simply bowing to the kappa and exploiting its etiquette to return the gesture. I wonder if the Death Kappa will have a similar Achilles’ Heel? Hmmm. I can already imagine the movie's ending narration:

"In the end, Kappa’s undoing was not because of the bombs or artillery but, rather, its own stubborn insistence on being polite..." 

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