Thursday, December 23, 2010

'Tis the Season for Nazi Dinosaurs

Humbug. I was trying to get one last review out before the Christmas break, but work has been more far demanding than accommodating over these last couple of weeks. Oh well. As this is probably my last post for 2010, I give you a trailer for an upcoming video game release that mixes a World War 2 shooter with dinosaurs because, y’know- Christmas. Happy holidays, all!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Know What Repels Sea Monsters?

I came across mention of the upcoming Irish monster movie, Grabbers, on and have to admit that I chuckled at the synopsis. From the site:

An idyllic remote Irish fishing village - replete with twinkly-eyed eccentric Waking Ned Devine characters - is invaded by enormous, tentacled creatures from the sea who are picking off the villagers one at a time. The inhabitants learn that the one thing the creatures don't like is alcohol, it makes people taste horrible, so they realize that in order to stay alive, they're going to have to get as pissed as possible.

You gotta give the filmmakers credit- drunks verses monsters is something that nobody has tackled yet. Apparently the film is wrapping up production in the next month, then plans to spend almost a year (!) on post-special effects.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mega Shark Returns

Hey look! It’s the trailer for the latest adventure of Asylum’s incorrigible, prehistoric shark monster: Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus! Mind you, if this turns out to be anything like the previous outing, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, there’s a pretty decent chance that we're seeing all the best parts in the film. No Debbie Gibson this time around, though...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Uchusen Daikaiju Art (Part 11)

Here’s a trio of Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster (a.k.a. Godzilla vs. Hedorah)-themed paintings from the fall issue of Space Magazine Uchusen. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Links of Note and What Really Killed the Dinosaurs

That’s right: giant robots. What did you think was responsible? A big meteor? Puh-lease.

Japan continues to create toys that I would have killed for as a kid. Case in point: a supah-posable, Showa-era Anguirus figure. (Tomopop)

A gallery of classic Ultraman illustrations. (Pink Tentacle)

Science being a killjoy: why giant bugs can’t exist (currently). (Science In My Fiction)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Monster Island: The Game That Never Was

Irrational Games (the studio responsible for the BioShock titles) recently posted an old, unused pitch idea for “Monster Island” on their website: an action strategy video game wherein the player could control a city-demolishing monster OR the hapless humans attempting to survive its destructive spree. Some of the proposed ideas included:

- Twenty different playable creatures as well as the option to create an original monster.

- Three different times periods/locations: Ancient Greece, Medieval Europe and 1950’s Japan.

- Resource management-based gameplay if playing on humanity's side.

- Multiplayer mode for four players.

Having read through the document (which you can download as a PDF here) and lamenting that this project never went into production, I can’t help but suspect that a significant reason as to why it never saw the light of day was due to the fact that it was too large in scope for the game systems that existed at the time of the pitch. As awesome as the outlined concepts sounded, I can't imagine a PS2 or X-Box being able to accommodate the extent of what the developers were considering.

That being said, I could totally see the current generation of game systems handling said ideas just fine. C’mon, Irrational Games- just because you passed on the opportunity ten years ago doesn’t mean you have to abandon the idea forever! I’m still waiting for something to fill the void left by the non-existent sequel to Playstation’s War of the Monsters...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Movie Review: Mega Monster Battle- Ultra Galaxy Legend The Movie

Allow me to start off this review with a quick question. Would you consider your knowledge of all things Ultraman to be:

A) Thorough

B) Casual

If you’re like me and fall into the “B” category, then Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend The Movie might be a bit of a mixed viewing experience. When it comes to the Ultraman movies, it’s been explained to me that the films (for the most part) are aimed strictly at young fans, so being only peripherally familiar with the franchise made Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend The Movie a tricky film to review.

The movie begins with the introduction of the Land of Light; home planet of the Ultramen. The inhabitants’ peaceful daily routine goes sour when Ultraman Belial, an incarcerated renegade who previously attempted to overrun the world with an army of monsters, escapes from his space prison. Belial heads straight for the Land of Light, knocks around the locals and successfully makes off with the “Plasma Spark”- the power source for the whole planet- leaving behind a frozen wasteland. Now the only hope in stopping Belial and returning things to normal lies with a powerful Ultra named Zero, who is away training in a remote galaxy.

While what I’ve explained up until this point, story-wise, seems straightforward enough, things get a little more convoluted once the cast of characters from the television series Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle appear and drop into the story with the assumption that the audience is completely up to speed with the show. That’s when I realized that I wasn’t watching a stand-alone, self-contained movie; this was a massive crossover exercise showcasing the entirety of the Ultraman franchise. To make use of a geeky analogy, imagine if Marvel Comics decided to make a film that featured Spider-Man, The X-Men AND The Incredible Hulk AND The Avengers AND Blade the Vampire Hunter as they team up against a selection of popular super villains. Would this make Marvel comic fans happy? Probably. Would there be time in the movie to explain all the details and nuances of said characters for the uninitiated viewers? Probably not.

While I couldn’t appreciate the movie on any sort of nostalgic level, Mega Monster Battle does move along at a decent pace with no shortage of rubber-suited, monster-brawling antics, so I was never bored. It is kind of weird, though, that all the various creatures from the Ultraman rogues gallery which make appearances are are mostly reduced to the level of cannon fodder; being easily knocked around with an ease that I can’t help suspect is probably contrary to the challenge that they presented in their original television appearances.

Admittedly, the film does reach a numbing point by the story’s climax, as you might expect from sitting through an hour and half of interchangeable silver and red characters punching stuff. As I had mentioned in my previous review of the original television series, Ultraman himself is a rather uninteresting individual- basically a deus ex machina plot device used to defeat the giant monster antagonist at the end of an episode. Teaming up a bunch of them together does little to solve this shortcoming but it’s not as if the movie was ever intended to be a deep character study.

Overall, Mega Monster Battle can be best summed up as a harmless “popcorn” film. You’ll probably get more out of it if you’re an Ultraman fan, but even as an outsider looking in (like myself), there’s still enough entertainment value to make for an amusing watch. Three out of five.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

City of the Gods: The Return of Quetzalcoatl

Something to look for next time you’re at a book store, City of the Gods is a newly-released novel from author Patrick Garone. The plot summary:

When an enormous UFO appears over Mexico City and begins broadcasting instructions in the ancient language of the Aztecs, anthropologist Sandra Ramirez is sent in with a team to establish contact with the ship. Instead, her assignment goes horribly wrong and she soon finds herself drawn into the invader's plans to violently transform our world and its history. Earth's only hope lies with Quetzalcoatl, a reawakened Mexican god who holds the power to either defend our planet or to assure its destruction.

Alien invasion + mexican mythology + giant monsters? I like that math!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Troll Hunter (English) Trailer

This film has been on my radar for for a while but I’ve been hesitant to post anything about it up until now, as it mostly amounted to a teaser trailer and a couple of fragmented clips. However, blog reader Benjamin brought to my attention that has posted an english-subtitled trailer. Looks pretty cool!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hava Nagilah Monster by .357 Lover

Up until today, if you had told me that the 1959 film, The Giant Gila Monster, would eventually be used as the subject of a rock song, I would have said that you were crazy. Or drunk.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Robotman vs Godzilla

Back in the 80’s, the Robotman comic strip first appeared as a tie-in to a rather saccharine mass-marketing/toy concept. While the toy failed to catch on with consumers, the strip continued to run in newspapers and was slowly re-imagined as a means to parody pop culture, films and television- particularly those of a science fiction persuasion. Below are some scans from a storyline spoofing Godzilla movies. I really can’t picture any currently-running comic strip embracing subject matter like this nowadays.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Terror of... Paul Bunyan?

If horror movies subscribe to one rule, it’s that any concept or character can be made the subject of a horror movie. No exceptions. This certainly explains Kinetic Film Works’ upcoming project, Bunyan, due out in 2011:

The movie is a dark, contemporary take on the legend of lumberjack Paul Bunyan. Kids at a first time offender's boot camp in Minnesota discover that the legend of Paul Bunyan is real, but much more horrifying than they could have imagined. They incur the wrath of the 15-foot monstrous giant, who was banished from town 100 years ago and thought dead.

I wonder how those kids end up incurring Bunyan’s wrath? Do they hit his blue ox “Babe” with their car on the way to the camp or something?


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Spooky Monsters

Check out these really cool and creepy sketches by artist John Kenn, which he does entirely on yellow post-it notes. The drawings have a nice Edward Gorey vibe to them as well as a bit of a Lovecraftian undercurrent. I really like how Kenn’s giant monsters feel very “folklorish”; they seem like dark, ancient things that have awakened from a long slumber and are encountering humans for the first time. Very awesome stuff! Check out the blog here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Eat Them!

This December will see the release of Eat Them! for the Playstation Network. Watching the trailer, I’m very much reminded of the old Movie Monster game for the Commodore 64. The “build a monster” concept could be potentially interesting, although the various creatures shown in the video seem to be kinda similar to each other, design-wise (granted, being that this is an early trailer and all, the finished game might offer more visual variety to the monster parts).

Thanks to Benjamin for the head’s up!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New “Monsters” Trailer Contains Monsters

When I had first heard about the British film, Monsters, I was a little wary about committing to posts on the subject, simply because I wasn’t certain if the film had any actual monsters in it. It’s a strange assumption to make, admittedly, but from what little that had been revealed about the story at the time (a good chunk of Mexico is quarantined after alien life forms set up shop in Central America, leaving the infected areas uninhabited by humans) I seriously wondered if the plot might contain some sort of dopey twist ending: It turns out that the aliens had died off years ago and the U.S. continued to play up them up as an active threat in order to stem the tide of illegal immigrants! NOOOOO!

Okay, so now you know why I’m not writing scripts for Hollywood. I suppose that my initial suspicions were influenced the movie’s relatively conservative production budget coupled with a slew of teaser stills mostly featuring shots of the lead characters wandering through empty, decimated areas; my cynical side figured it was going to be M.Night Shamalan’s The Village all over again. Thankfully, a new trailer for the movie has surfaced which does show fleeting glances of the aliens, thus putting my idiot theory to rest:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

How Graboids Work

Check out this cool “educational” video by creator Frank Robnik explaining the biology of the creatures from the movie Tremors. I would absolutely love to see more of these Monstrous Wildlife videos!

Monstrous Wildlife from Frank Robnik on Vimeo.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Gift of Baragon

I would have posted this much earlier but I was suffering a technological brain freeze in the form of trying to figure out how my digital camera works. Anyway, this vinyl model of Baragon, the dog/dinosaur creature from Frankenstein Conquers The World (and one of my favorite Japanese giant monsters), arrived in the mail recently from a friend of mine in Japan. I have total admiration for anyone who can paint up a model as nicely as this, especially given my personal track record of screwing up every model I have ever tried to assemble and/or paint in my lifetime. It’s nice, eh? Thanks again for your awesome gift, Koichi!


On an unrelated note, a number of people have brought this picture to my attention: it’s supposedly the proposed design for the Legendary Pictures version of Godzilla, which appeared at the recent San Diego Comic Con. The Godzilla 2012 blog has done a pretty comprehensive post on the subject, which you can read over here. Again, it’s a neat picture and if this is indeed the direction that Legendary Pictures is taking with the film, I’m certainly all for it, HOWEVER... I’m still of the opinion that it’s far too early in the game to be treating “teaser images” like this one as any sort of definitive example of what the character’s final interpretation will be in the finished film.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sym-Bionic Titan Details Emerge

IGN.Com recently posted some details about Cartoon Network’s upcoming “giant robot guy fights equally gigantic monsters” animated series Sym-Bionic Titan:

The series follows the lives of Ilana, Lance and Octus, three alien teens that crash-land on Earth while attempting to escape an evil General who has taken over their home planet, Galaluna. Ilana, princess of Galaluna, Lance, a rebellious but capable soldier, and Octus, a bio-cybernetic robot, must now blend into everyday life in Sherman, Illinois (sound familiar, John Hughes fans?). Posing as high school students, Lance and Octus work to conceal Princess Ilana from General Modula and his hideous space mutants sent to harm the sole royal heir of Galaluna. When called into battle, our Galalunians are outfitted with individual armor that provides more than ample protection. It's when the gravest of danger appears that Octus activates the sym-bionic defense program and Ilana, Lance and Octus come together to form the spectacular cyber-giant Sym-Bionic Titan. It is in this form that they battle the most evil of beasts. The voice cast includes Brian Posehn (The Sarah Silverman Program) as Octus and John DiMaggio (Futurama) as King & General Steel.

The show really seems to be aiming for an “old school”, Ultraman-ish vibe, but that’s not a bad thing by any means. The cartoon’s creator, Genndy Tartakovsky, has proven his geek worth in his previous efforts Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Sym-Bionic Titan ends up sporting a fair number of references and homages to old giant monster movies and Japanese superheroes.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sharktopus Surfaces

Here’s the recently released trailer for Roger Corman’s Sharktopus- judging by the light-hearted tone of the trailer, it looks as if the film is unapologetically embracing its B-movie roots. Will it make the finished product more watchable? Time will tell.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Uchusen Daikaiju Art (Part 10)

Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster is the theme of the summer issue's art spread of Space Magazine Uchusen. I particularly like the artist’s interpretation of the giant condor that attacks Godzilla (before he promptly obliterates it) even though its screen time in the film is pretty minimal.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Ray!

Ray Harryhausen, the man whose wonderful stop-motion creations played a significant part in shaping me into the giant monster movie-enthusiast that I am, celebrates his 90th birthday today.

Happy birthday, Mr. Harryhausen and thank you for all the awesome memories!

(Check out this little animated birthday wish by Mark Sullivan below. Very cool!)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mega Shark vs Giganotosaurus

It looks like another straight-to-DVD horror is about to be unleashed upon the unsuspecting population. A somewhat condescending report from CNN on the Cannes Film Festival made brief mention of the upcoming Mega Shark vs Giganotosaurus movie from The Asylum; a sequel (of sorts) to their Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus film. While the poster art is pretty slick, I think that I’ll just keep my enthusiasm in check for the time being. Let’s not forget that Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus was a fun, over the top, monster-filled trailer. The actual movie? Not so much.

I also find the choice of monsters more than a little odd too, given that there isn’t a mutual environment where both adversaries could actually fight each other on equal terms. So... I guess the victor will be determined by which creature mistakenly crosses over into its rival’s territory first? Did Asylum come up with this idea by haphazardly choosing two names from a list of pre-existing computer assets from all their various productions?

Perhaps a better choice of title might be Battle of the Random Pairing of Computer Generated Models from The Asylum Special Effects Library.

Source: Undead Backbrain

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Movie Review: How To Train Your Dragon

When I went to see How To Train Your Dragon, I’ll admit that wasn’t really expecting much; in the realm of computer-animated movies, my tastes sit firmly on the Pixar side of the fence than Dreamworks’ end. Even last year’s Monsters vs Aliens- a film that was practically channelling my geeky love of 50’s monster movies- did little to sway that bias, as I felt that the final product didn’t quite measure up to the sum of its core ideas. As it turned out, however, my initial assumptions were quite wrong- not only is How To Train Your Dragon a great movie, it’s arguably the strongest thing that Dreamworks studios has put out to date.

Despite being the son of a viking chieftain, teenaged Hiccup is rather lacking as a battle-hardened warrior. This shortcoming poses a bit of problem, given that his tribe has been locked in a generations-long war with fire-breathing dragons that regularly plunder the local livestock. Eager to prove his worth, Hiccup ventures out one evening during an assault on his village and manages to shoot down a fast-flying dragon with a home-made bolas cannon; unfortunately, without a body for proof, nobody believes his story. The following day, he tracks the incapacitated dragon- now unable to fly thanks to a damaged tail fin- to where it had crash landed in a nearby forest and identifies it as a member of a rare and deadly breed called a “Night Fury”. Despite what he’s been raised to believe about their dangerous nature, Hiccup takes pity on the creature and attempts to befriend it.

Slowly, a trust builds between the two and as Hiccup learns more about the dragon, he begins to realize that everything that he’s been taught about them has been filtered through fear and misunderstanding. Hiccup nicknames the Night Fury “Toothless” (because of its retractable teeth) and gives it back its means to fly by way of a prosthetic tail fin, as well as outfitting it with a saddle so as to accompany the dragon during its airborne excursions. Unfortunately, their friendship presents a new dilemma: as a dragon sympathizer in a village of people who would rather annihilate the species entirely, Hiccup is faced with the possibility that any attempt to share what he’s learned with fellow vikings would be grounds for banishment or worse.

I really enjoyed How To Train Your Dragon- while it’s not perfect by any stretch and perhaps a little formulaic, its overall charm easily paves over the shortcomings. Of particular note is that the movie actually feels like an evolutionary step for Dreamworks; it’s refreshingly free of pop-culture reference gags, blatant anachronisms or hit songs used as musical decoration, instead relying solely on straightforward storytelling for narrative and character moments for humor. The film also resists the lure of some of the more annoying oft-used animation tropes, like making the non-human characters a little too anthropomorphic. The dragons, while intelligent, are ultimately still animals and act as such: there were no smarmy cocked eyebrows or slack-jawed reactions to be seen and I was all the happier for it.

The overall aesthetic of How To Train Your Dragon is quite appealing with great designs for both the human and, particularly, the dragon characters. The movie actually throws a bit of a tease at the audience when Hiccup thumbs through an encyclopedia of dragon species, showcasing a bunch of what were possibly conceptual ideas that never made it into the finished film. Perhaps they’ll appear in a sequel, something which I definitely look forward to. Four and a half out of five.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Please Stand By...

Yeah, I’m still around. Unfortunately, just as I was on the verge of finishing a new movie review, my computer’s hard drive decided to kick the bucket. I’m still in the process of picking up the pieces but in the meantime, I figured that I needed to put up a little filler post... so here are some awesome Godzilla doodles by artist Derek Thompson that I came across recently. You can view the full-sized version plus another page of sketches (along with tons of supah-cool artwork) over at his blog, “DerekMonster.”

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Godzilla 2012 Design?

If you’ve been visiting any of the linked sites found on the right-hand margin of this blog, you’ve probably come across the above image of what is purported to be the design of the upcoming Legendary Pictures version of Godzilla that’s been making the rounds on various sites. So... could this sculpture be the genuine article?

To put things in perspective, we’re talking about the internet here... speculation has a long-standing tradition of running completely rampant online. Remember all the crazy theories flying around about Cloverfield before the movie came out in theaters? Y’know- the ones that, as it eventually turned out, were either flat-out wrong or had nothing to do with the final, finished film?

I fully admit to getting every bit as caught up in that hoopla at the time; now looking back, a little bit of restraint and common sense might have been a better path to take. As the old Proverb goes: fool me once, shame on you... fool me twice, shame on me.

This is why I really don’t have any sort of opinion about the photo in question at this point in time for a movie that has only JUST started development... other than it’s a nice sculpt. The guy (or girl) responsible is clearly talented. One thing I can say with certainty is that, given how Hollywood normally does things, whatever this new American Godzilla finally ends up looking like will probably be kept pretty confidential up until the movie’s actual release.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

"Daimajin Kannon" Photo Op

While I usually collect Space Magazine Uchusen primarily for its daikaiju art feature, the most recent issue yielded a little extra bonus in the form of a two-page spread which featured a nice, clear look at the Daimajin character from the upcoming Japanese tv series of the same name (based, it seems, somewhat loosely on the trio of films from the 60’s). The Undead Backbrain blogs have some further details about the show, as well as a trailer, which you can check out here and here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Death Kappa Trailer

Hey! Lookit!

Spry little bugger, isn't he? The DVD is slated for a North American release at the end of May (according to

Monday, April 12, 2010

Jedi vs. the Zillo Beast

Say, did you happen to catch last week’s Clone Wars episode? The one that was basically a tribute to Japanese giant monster movies? The Undead Backbrain site has an informative blog post about it over here.

If you missed it, well... I guess you’ll have to wait for a repeat. It’s not like the internet has places you could visit where a video of the full episode was available for your viewing discretion or anything. Yup, that sure would be handy...

Unassuming link.

Ahem. Speaking of videos, here’s a behind-the-scenes creator’s commentary which details some of the little peripheral homages to Godzilla films that appear in the episode:

Episode Commentary #2.18: The Zillo Beast

(Thanks to Benjamin for the promotional movie poster parody find).