"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Trailers Featured During Special Yamatalk Event

特別総集編「追憶の航海」について語る! 5月13日ヤマトーク開催!!

The new YAMATO: 2199 features will be the Yamatalk topic in May!

After the big news broke out of Tokyo this past Sunday, concerning the two new YAMATO: 2199 feature films coming in October and December, the official "Yamato Crew" website announced early this morning that previews for both VOYAGE OF RECOLLECTION (October 11th) and ARK OF THE STARS (December 6th) will be screened during the next "Much Yamatalk Night" event at Tokyo's Shinjuku Piccadilly Theater on Tuesday, May 13th.

Title design for YAMATO: 2199 ~ VOYAGE OF RECOLLECTION.

While the original theme of this "Yamatalk" event was dedicated to the "Battle at Rainbow Star Cluster," it was announced this past Monday, the main staff of VOYAGE OF RECOLLECTION, writer Shigeru Morita and director Takao Kato, will be in attendance to discuss the new compilation film, which will serve as a primer and a reminder of the events and characters over the 26 episodes of SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 (while ARK OF THE STARS is entirely new).

Title design for YAMATO: 2199 ~ ARK OF THE STARS.

But wait! There's more! There are currently plans afoot to unveil the advance poster for VOYAGE OF RECOLLECTION as well as screen the official trailer, at this event in mid-May. Additionally, the producers are planning on screening the first footage from the new production of ARK OF THE STARS in the form of the film's initial teaser trailer. This will be the first, exclusive public showing for those attending this special Yamatalk Night event:

YAMATALK SHINJUKU: "Decisive Battle! The Rainbow Star Cluster"

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at the Shinjuku Piccadilly Theater

9:00 PM: Episodes 18 - 20
10:15 PM: Yamatalk
10:50 PM: Event Closes

Special Guests: Screenwriter Shigeru Morita & Director Takao Kato
MC: Osamu Kobayashi

For further information on both of these exciting feature films, stay tuned to this blog and Our Star Blazers for news and updates!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Two Feature Films Will Bow Fall & Winter 2014


Main promo art for the upcoming all-new YAMATO: 2199 feature!

And the ship sailed on… As the credits faded out during the last episode of the hit series SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 aired on Japanese television this past year, a teaser promised an “All-New Feature Film” to be released in 2014. And while the production team, led by returning director Yutaka Izubuchi, have kept all of the details under tight lock and key, some surprising news came out of Tokyo, April 21st (Japan Time), during the “40th Anniversary Project Commencement Meeting” to open the “Space Battleship Yamato: 2199 Art Exhibition” at the Seibu Ikebukuro department store (which will run through May 7th). The capacity crowd were allowed to see over 100 pieces of original production art created for the YAMATO: 2199 series, as well as original lithographs by Nobuyuki Katoh and Kia Asamiya, the later of which were for purchase. But, that was just warming up the Wave Motion Engine…

The Yamato, Uchida, Sugo, and Nishizaki. Photo: Ryusuke Hikawa

In attendance at the press conference were Producer Shoji Nishizaki, the adopted son of the late maverick producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki (who created and produced the original 1974 YAMATO series), voice actors Aya Uchida (Yuria Misaki) and Takayuki Sugo (Captain Okita) appeared to announce the upcoming feature film, but then shocked everyone with the news that there will be two feature films, which will be released in October and December, respectively. The first, SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 ~ VOYAGE OF RECOLLECTION (Uchu Senkan Yamato 2199 Tsuioku-no Kokai), will be a 26-episode condensation of the YAMATO: 2199 series, following in the tradition of the original, box office-smashing 1977 feature, a digest of the 1974 teleseries. YAMATO: 2199 alumni, head writer Shigeru Morita is structuring the condensation, while director Takao Kato is supervising the overall production.

Voice Actress Aya Uchida, who plays Yuria Misaki. My Navi News

While the VOYAGE OF RECOLLECTION is being created as both a refresher and cliff notes for new viewers (playing in select Japanese theaters on October 11, 2014), the crux of this press conference was to announce details concerning the eagerly-awaited all-new feature film, SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 ~ ARK OF THE STARS (Uchu Senkan Yamato 2199 Hoshi Meguru Hakubune), opening nationwide in Japanese theaters on December 6, 2014. While details on this all-new production are still being being kept secret, wild fan speculation has projected hopes for a “Comet Empire” storyline (as seen in the 1978 feature film and the second television series or second season of STAR BLAZERS), Director Izubuchi has vehemently denied this, emphasizing that since the title is “2199,” the narrative's backdrop will indeed be taking place within the one-year voyage to Iscandar and back.

Voice Actor Takayuki Sugo, who plays Captain Okita. My Navi News

Considered the centerpiece of Yamato's 40th Anniversary, ARK OF THE STARS will feature an all-new story and all-new animation, with the general assumption that this will be a "gaiden" or "side story," but with nothing else to go on, and anticipation running high, fans are going to have to tough it out until a plot synopsis is finally made public. Director Izubuchi and his staff, many carried over from the production of YAMATO: 2199, foster a deep love for the original and have vowed to carry their passions into this completely original feature film. “40 years… It will be 40 years to the month when we encounter the Yamato again. At the time, no one could’ve imagined, 40 years later, that those whom were so impacted by YAMATO would witness such a reunion. But, it has become reality. The promise, 'We will return!' (from the original series) has now become prophetic,” said Izubuchi.

Producer Shoji Nishizaki walks in his father's footsteps. My Navi News

Proudly and gloriously hovering behind producer Nishizaki and actors Uchida and Sugo, was the brand-new, and very impressive, 1/100 scale display model of the 2199 version Yamato, which captured the attention of the standing-room mob of reporters and photographers, alike at this pivotal press conference. Closing out the event, Takayuki Sugo got into character as Captain Juzo Okita to command, “Space Battleship Yamato: 2199, 40th Anniversary Project, cast off!"

3-meter display model of the 2199 Yamato. Photo: Ryusuke Hikawa

For further information on both of these exciting feature films, stay tuned to this blog and Our Star Blazers for news and updates!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Will G's Japanese Heart Be Lost In Translation?


Fan-made poster where 2014 is seen via 1954 eyes by Ivan Griscenko.

Now, I can be pretty outspoken because I generally have a very well-informed opinion when it comes to Japanese Cinema & Pop Culture, especially in considering their Fantasy Films, and while I certainly do champion them, I also bare no outright distain for their Stateside counterparts, either (well, mostly). As I've said numerous times, both publicly and privately, the reason why I enjoy these films, is because they are Japanese to begin with. And at the core, it is their inherent Japaneseness that which appeals to me the most.

Many American Godzilla fans, but not all of them, tend to latch on to anything stamped "Godzilla" (be it a stilted animated series or some horribly sculpted hunk of plastic), because they are hungry for any and all things related to the Big G. Yes, I do realize that the Japanese have already metamorphosed and anthropomorphized the character over the years (but it's their character in the first place). The same fans, meanwhile, are seemingly intolerant when it comes to the Japanese doing the same (i.e., Toei's SPIDER-MAN series).

Recently, I have been asked, over and over, what are my thoughts on the upcoming Legendary Pictures production. Firstly, I'm reserved (or "optimistically cautious"), because I like my kaiju eiga to be Japanese productions; even if it's the godawful, unwatchable GODZILLA FINAL WARS. I have no doubt that everyone involved on this production is doing their damnedest to make the best film possible, and technically and visually, it will be phenomenal. But, the strike against it is, that once removed from being Japanese, will the beast lose the heart of what makes it tick? The 1998 disaster proved that in spades.

With all that being said, I'm not close-minded nor stodgy enough to refuse to see it. Of course, I will see it (I'm hosting an opening night screening at Big Wow! ComicFest). The only thing that matters is what's up on that big screen, and no hopes or wishes can change that. Yes, Virginia, 10,000 American Godzilla fans can be wrong. As they were 16 years ago. Gareth Edwards is a good man, and is an up and coming director of talent, of this no one one deny — but we must also remember that this is a big studio picture and he doesn't have full creative control. Hollywood kitchens today have too many cooks.

So, what about the average Joe Blows out there? Are they ready for a mega-budget Godzilla film in the first place? Or does the Emmerich & Devlin Debacle still have a stranglehold on the public's consciousness? Is it still "too soon"? One thing's for certain, the people behind this new film have not only the legacy of Ishiro Honda and Eiji Tsuburaya to uphold and respect, but also they have to supersede and remove the blemish left by the horrendous Tristar Disaster. So, the task is nothing less than monumental for all concerned.

No matter what happens, be it glorious or apocalyptic, I'm not placing all of my hopes and dreams on this one film. Would I like to behold something as creatively and spiritually successful as Guillermo del Toro's PACIFIC RIM? Yes, of course I would. Still, for better or worse, the original Japanese films continue to capture the imaginations of new generations — the world over — and will continue to do so for years to come, regardless of what future Godzillas may bring.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Linkenback's "The Art of Japanese Monsters"

 The hardcover edition of this upcoming movie poster collection! 

For over 60 years, Japan has produced an incredible array of science fiction and fantasy films to delight generations of moviegoers. From the King of the Monsters, Godzilla, and the space monster Ghidorah, to the fire-breathing turtle Gamera, and invading armies of aliens. Sean Linkenback's "The Art of Japanese Monsters," gathers them all together, a complete reference guide to Japanese Science Fiction Film Posters from 1954 to present, features 230 pages of original art and advertising materials from 75 different films, and more than 1,000 color photos of items from 20 countries around the globe.

The flip side of the hardcover edition featuring Reynold Brown art!

Independently-published, "The Art of Japanese Monsters" promises to showcase Linkenback's 30-year collection, supplemented with select, rare pieces from fellow international collectors, and boasts to be the most comprehensive compendium of promotional movie materials ever published in any language. Linkenback has also prepared two editions; a hardcover edition for avid collectors and the casual fan, alike, and a limited, deluxe leather-bound edition for the hardcore collector. Below are the details:

Hardcover Edition (1,000 copies): Available though Diamond Comic Distributors, Amazon, and select booksellers. 230 pages. Suggested Retail Price: $59.99. Shipping Date: May 1, 2014 (Amazon lists a May 13, 2014 shipping date).

Leather-bound Deluxe Edition (100 copies): Available only through the official Facebook page, each copy will be hand-bound in heirloom quality leather & 20 additional pages of posters (totaling 250 pages). Comes with an exclusive 8” x 10” print by Hugo Award-winning artist Bob Eggleton (each print autographed by Toho stars Akira Takarada & Haruo Nakajima. Retail Price: $150.00. Shipping Date: June 1, 2014.

Will this new book be the "Graven Images" for Japanese Monster fans? I, for one, am looking forward to it (and hope to review it in the near future). Hopefully, we'll have a kaiju eiga companion for Ron Borst's seminal collection of classic horror movie memorabilia. For more info on "The Art of Japanese Monsters," or to reserve your own copy, visit their official Facebook page.

Monday, April 14, 2014

August Ragone (hey, that's me) at Big Wow 2014

著者獣ラゴニは「BIG WOW!」で5月17-18日にゲストになります!

Big Wow is heaping on the Famous Monsters and Kaiju this year!

Adding to the great line-up of horror, sci-fi and fantasy guests this year at Big Wow! ComicFest, Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine will host the "Famous Monsters Pavilion," a special area inside the event on May 17th & 18th at the San Jose Convention Center. I will be participating this year to promote the release of the new and updated paperback edition of my book, "Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters" (Chronicle Books), as well as joining in with my fellow FM Grue Crew co-horts to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Big G, himself, Godzilla!

New and improved paperback edition drops May 6th: Click here!

Our special guests from Japan include Heisei Godzilla suit actor, Kenpachiro Satsuma, Original Ultraman suit actor, Satoshi Furuya, and the star of KIKAIDA, Daisuke Ban! Over the weekend, I will also be moderating their panels and presentations, to celebrate their contributions to the genre during this big celebratory year at this monstrous event in San Jose! Joining me will be multi-Hugo Award winning artist (and pal), Bob Eggelton, who has contributed all of the fantastic covers for our annual "Kaiju Issues" of FM, including four (!) amazing covers for this year's issue!

One of four Eggleton covers for FM #274 available at Big Wow 2014!

FM #274 continues our annual tradition of the wildly popular and best-selling "All Kaiju Issue" restarted in 2011 (featuring my Rondo Award-winning interview with Haruo "Godzilla" Nakajima), and each year, the response and demand has gotten bigger, and now it goes critical mass with this year's 60th Anniversary celebration! I can't say more at the moment, Mr. Eggleton's above-featured cover is the Newsstand Edition, while another of the three covers will be a Big Wow! Exclusive — and we'll unveil them all very soon!

There will be more — much more — at this year's Big Wow! x Famous Monsters event at the San Jose Convention Center... Including an all-new "Creatures Con" tribute to the legendary "Creature Features" and horror host, Bob Wilkins! Stay tuned for breaking news as it develops!

Monday, April 7, 2014

US Theatrical Screenings for the Big G's 60th!


Original Japanese theatrical release poster (1954). ©Toho Co., Ltd.

UPDATED (07/07/14): Rialto Pictures is once again rolling out the uncut Japanese version of the 1954 classic, boasting a brand-new 60th Anniversary DCP (Digital Cinema Package) Restoration (the transfer made for the Criterion Collection release) and it is now being booked in theaters around the US of A — contact your local cinema to screen it! Now, below is a quick look at the current dates and cities (those in red are newly-announced):

:: March 11: AUSTIN, TX • Alamo Ritz 1 (SXSW Film Festival)

:: April 12: HOLLYWOOD, CA • TCM Classic Film Festival

:: April 18–24: NEW YORK, NY • Film Forum

:: April 25–May 1: SANTA FE, NM • Jean Cocteau Cinema
(Absent from Rialto's current update, status unknown)

:: May 1: SAVANNAH, GA • Savannah Film Festival 

:: May 2: HOLLYWOOD, CA • American Cinematheque Egyptian Theatre

:: May 2–4 & 6: SILVER SPRING, MD • AFI Silver

:: May 2–5: PORTLAND, OR • Hollywood Theatre

:: May 2–8: SEATTLE, WA • SIFF Cinema Uptown

:: May 2–8: SOMERVILLE,  MA • Somerville Theatre

:: May 4: ASHBURN, VA • Alamo Drafthouse One Loudoun

:: May 4: LOS ANGELES,  CA • Landmark Regent Theatre

:: May 5–8: EDGEWOOD, PA • Pittsburgh Filmmakers (Regent Square)

:: May 5 & 8: KALAMAZOO, MI • Alamo Drafthouse Kalamazoo

:: May 8: AMBLER, PA • The Ambler Theater

:: May 8: KANSAS CITY, MO • Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet

:: May 9–11: NASHVILLE, TN • The Belcourt

:: May 9: DALLAS, TX • Angelika Dallas

:: May 9–15: CHICAGO, IL • Music Box Theatre

:: May 9–15: DENVER, CO • Denver Film Society

:: May 9–15: FORT COLLINS, CO • Lyric Cinema Cafe

:: May 9–15: ALBANY, NY • The Madison Theater

:: May 9–15: SAN FRANCISCO, CA • Sundance Cinemas Kabuki

:: May 9–15: MENTOR, OH • Atlas Cinemas Great Lakes Stadium 16

:: May 11–12: MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, OH • Atlas Cinemas Eastgate 10

:: May 11 & 13: LUBBOCK, TX • Alamo Drafthouse Lubbock

:: May 12–13: WICHITA, KS • Warren Theatres Old Town

:: May 12 –14: HOLLYWOOD, CA • ArcLight Cinemas Hollywood

:: May 12–13 & 15: EL SEGUNDO, CA • ArcLight Cinemas Beach Cities

:: May 12–13 & 15: PASADENA, CA • ArcLight Cinemas Pasadena

:: May 12–13 & 15: SAN DIEGO, CA • ArcLight Cinemas La Jolla

:: May 12–14: LOS ANGELES, CA • ArcLight Cinemas Sherman Oaks

:: May 13–14: ALAMEDA, CA • Alameda Theater & Cineplex

:: May 14: DOYLESTOWN,  PA • The County Theater

:: May 14: BETHLEHEM, PA • Arts Quest

:: May 15: BOISE, ID • The Flicks

:: May 15: NEW BRAUNFELS, TX • Alamo Drafthouse Marketplace

:: May 15: SAN ANTONIO, TX • Alamo Drafthouse Park North

:: May 15: JENKINTOWN,  PA • The Hiway Theater
(Missing from Rialto's current update)

:: May 23–26 HOUSTON, TX • The Museum of Fine Arts

:: May 28: LEXINGTON, KY • Kentucky Theatre

:: July 17: COLUMBUS, OH • Wexner Center for the Arts

:: July 18: BERKELEY, CA • Pacific Film Archive

:: August 10 & 12: ANN ARBOR, MI • Michigan Theater

Stay tuned for more dates... And if you don't see your city or town, contact your local theaters and ask them to book the film. Also, the new, paperback edition of my book, EIJI TSUBURAYA: MASTER OF MONSTERS on sale May 6th from Chronicle Books — and I'm available to introduce the screenings (with a visual presentation on the making of the film).

Currently, my confirmed appearance dates (as of Monday, April 7th) include May 2nd - 4th (The Hollywood Theater, Portland, OR) and May 13th & 14th (Alameda Theater, Alameda, CA). More dates to be announced — for booking contact us at august [dot] ragone [at] gmail [dot] com!

Lifelong Godzilla fan and composer, John "Dutch" DeSentis will be introducing the screening at the Arts Quest Center in Bethlehem, PA on May 14th, and will take questions after the film. For more information, click here.

More importantly, Gareth Edwards, director of Legendary Pictures' upcoming GODZILLA, hosted the screenings at SXSW in Austin and the TCM Film Festival in Hollywood!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Remake of 1972 Series Bows in Japan May 24th!

5.24公開 『キカイダーREBOOT』映像初公開!

Headshot of the all-new, updated Kikaida: your mileage may vary.

UPDATED MARCH 29th: Calling all members of Generation Kikaida! Check out this six-second blink-and-you'll-miss-it teaser trailer for the upcoming KIKAIDER: REBOOT feature film hitting Japanese cinema screens May 24th, below (and check out my report on the film from this past January). Despite the fact that Kadokawa Pictures has teamed up with Toei to bring the character back to life (even casting the original KIKAIDA star, Daisuke Ban, in a supporting role) most of Toei's recent reboots, such as SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN: THE MOVIE (2012), have been critical and financial failures — universally panned by a majority of fans for looking like made-for-television movies. So, the real question is will this be a hit or another miss for Toei?

The exciting, 90-second trailer was uploaded on March 29th.

The original six-second teaser trailer which broke on March 19th.

Stay tuned for more updates as the information becomes available!

Official KIKAIDER: REBOOT Website

Friday, March 28, 2014

Actor Daisuke Ban at Big Wow!: May 17 & 18

キカイダー=伴大介がサンノゼに登場!5月17・18日 !

Beloved KIKAIDA star Daisuke "Jiro" Ban returns to California!

This spring, Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine brings Kikaida to San Jose's Big Wow! Comic Fest on May 17th & 18th! Actor DAISUKE BAN will be joining Godzilla suit actor Kenpachiro Satsuma and Ultraman suit actor Satoshi Furuya at this year's Famous Monsters Pavilion! Mr. Ban, who played the lead role of "Jiro" in Toei's benchmark 1972 superhero series, KIKAIDA: THE ANDROID OF JUSTICE, will be meeting with fans and signing autographs all weekend! Back in 1975, KIKAIDA captured the imaginations of San Francisco Bay Area kids every Sunday night on KEMO-20 (now KOFY-20) — and we never forgot it!

Medicom backing card art for their Toei Retro Sofubi Collection!

Daisuke Ban also played the lead characters in other Henshin Hero television series for Toei Studios, such as INAZUMAN (1973), NINJA CAPTOR (1976), and BATTLE FEVER J (1979). He also had a recurring role in the RING films and is appearing in the upcoming feature film KIKAIDER: REBOOT (2014)! I will be moderating and hosting the presentations of our Japanese guests (to be announced), as well as signing the new paperback edition of my book, "Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters" (Chronicle Books) at the San Jose Convention Center! Please come down and welcome Mr. Ban back to the San Francisco Bay Area for the first time in over ten years — don't miss this event or it will be the Denji End!

Read more about Mr. Ban's career, here!

Stay tuned for more details on the show, guests, and more by checking out their website: Big Wow! Comics Fest!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Titanic Terrapin's 50th Anniversary Production


Gamera prepares to blast back onto motion picture screens next year!

SCOOP: Over the last week, there has been some English-language rumors spread about a new production, featuring Daiei Studio's answer to Godzilla, to hit cinema screens in 2015, based solely on a listing appearing on Japanese retail sites for the May 5th issue of Newtype the Live magazine. The listing mentions details on the production will be revealed as well as "image boards" (presentation art). While the listings are legitimate (the magazine in question is published by Kadokawa Shoten, which owns Kadokawa Pictures and Gamera), promising content on the upcoming film — that's only a fraction of what the Japanese already know.

This book first spilled the proverbial turtle soup on the new film.

The initial news was broken on February 8th in a completely different publication, "Heisei Gamera: Perfection," a 304-page book chronicling the post-1980s Gamera films, published by Kadokawa and Ascii Media Works. The major points dropped, which will be expanded upon in the upcoming May issue of Newtype the Live, include:
  • The pre-production tagline is "Something is out there..." (Dareka-ga aru).
  • Gamera in this production will come to life in a "(new) surprising form."
  • Producer Shigenori Takatera, is the central person at the helm. Taketera also served as a producer on KAMEN RIDER KUUGA (2000) and DAIMAJIN KANNON (2010).
  • The CEO of Kadokawa said the foundation of this production is, "What does today's audience want to see?"
  • BONUS POINT: The narrative is set in modern day and preproduction is well underway.
Stay tuned to this blog for more information as it develops!

Special thanks to Hiroshi Ban and Makoto Kobayashi.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Full Specs On All Four May 6, 2014 Releases


Blu-ray jacket art courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Following up on my breaking news of February 28th concerning the details on Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's upcoming Blu-ray releases of their Heisei and Millennium Godzilla titles, which went through several updates over following days and weeks, SPHE has finally issued their specs and cover art via their press release site. As you can see, SPHE is still sticking to their English titles, first issued on VHS and DVD back in the 1990s and early 2000s. Click on the links to go to the Amazon listings:

2 Discs, MFT (Blu-ray/UltraViolet, ST) • Closed Captioned • Screen Format(s): Anamorphic • Languages: English (US) 5.1/Japanese 5.1, English (US) DS • Subtitles: English (US), French (Parisian) • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Blu-ray jacket art courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

2 Discs, MFT (Blu-ray/UltraViolet, ST) • Closed Captioned • Screen Format(s): Anamorphic • Languages: English (US) 5.1/Japanese 5.1, English (US) DS • Subtitles: English (US), French (Parisian) • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Blu-ray jacket art courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

2 Discs, MFT (Blu-ray/UltraViolet, ST) • Closed Captioned • Screen Format(s): Anamorphic • Languages: English (US) 5.1/Japanese 5.1, English (US) DS • Subtitles: English (US), French (Parisian) • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (Destroyah) & 2.35:1 (Megaguirus)

Blu-ray jacket art courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

2 Discs, MFT (Blu-ray/UltraViolet, ST) • Closed Captioned • Screen Format(s): Anamorphic • Languages: English (US) 5.1/Japanese 5.1, English (US) DS • Subtitles: English (US), French (Parisian) • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

These specs do not mention any special features content, so one shouldn't have any expectations of such. Meanwhile, keen cinephiles and kaiju fans alike will notice the conspicuous absence of previous Sony releases of Takao Okawara's GODZILLA 2000 (1999), Shusuke Kaneko's GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK (2001), and Masaaki Tezuka's GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA (2002) from this set of releases. Curious, as Sony Pictures created a US theatrical version of GODZILLA 2000, while GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA is the first of the two-part "Kiryu Saga" which concludes in GODZILLA: TOKYO SOS. And of course, GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK is arguably the best of these latter films in both depth and execution.

Did Sony's rights elapse on some of these errant titles? Or do they have something else planned for them? Only time, and Sony, will tell. For now, stay tuned to this blog as this story develops...

Special thanks to Shawn Francis!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Upcoming Audiophile Pressing from Death Waltz


A limited-edition complete GODZILLA score on vinyl is coming soon!

Talk about radioactive wax! Could a vinyl of Akira Ifukube's complete GODZILLA score soon be hitting turntables around the world? According to an image leaked on the interwebs today (posted below), containing a list for upcoming 180 gram vinyl audiophile pressings from the UK's Death Waltz Recording Company, it looks as though this may be true. Among the titles featured, such as Angelo Badalamenti's "Twin Peaks" and Fabio Frizzi's "The Beyond," was "Godzilla." Their website acknowledged the early leak and addressed them on their front page, including detailed information on some of the forthcoming releases, sans "Godzilla." Stay tuned for more details as they develop!

A close-up of the leaked listing of upcoming titles from DWRC.

(Thanks to Bloody-Disgusting for the heads up!)
Official Death Waltz Recording Company website

Satoshi "Bin" Furuya at Big Wow!: May 17 & 18


Satoshi "Bin" Furuya, the once and future protector of the world!

SHUWATCH! Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine is proud to bring back Satoshi "Bin" Furuya to the San Francisco Bay Area to join Mr. Kenpachiro Satsuma for the Big Wow! Comic Fest on May 17th & 18th at the San Jose Convention Center! Starting at Toho Studios in the early 1960s, Mr. Furuya would become one of the greatest super heroes of all time in the visual effects series: ULTRAMAN! For 39 episodes, he captivated audiences as the silver and red alien took on hordes of giant monsters and evil aliens. The 1966 show launched a worldwide franchise spawning numerous sequels and spin-offs over the last 48 years.

Mr. Furuya also appeared from behind the mask as a regular cast member in Tsuburaya Productions' popular follow-up, ULTRA SEVEN (1967), as Agent Amagi, the Ultra Guard's computer expert. He also has small roles in such Toho classics as KING KING VS. GODZILLA (1962), GHIDRAH, THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER (1964), and THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966). He left acting in the 1970s to start a talent and stunt group, Bin Promotions, but has recently returned to make cameos in such genre films as the kaiju comedy MONSTER X STRIKES BACK: ATTACK THE G-8 SUMMIT (2008).

Appearing alongside Mr. Satsuma and Mr. Furuya, I will be hosting and moderating their presentations (to be announced), as well as signing the new paperback edition of my book, "Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters" (Chronicle Books) at the event on both days!

Stay tuned for more details on the show, guests, and more by checking out their website: Big Wow! Comics Fest!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New Book Celebrates Horror Host Bob Wilkins

A creepy cryptful of moldy Bay Area Monster Kid memories!

New book that urges you to watch horror films, keep America strong!

If you grew up in Northern California during the mid-1960s through the early 1980s, chances are high that you were aware of legendary television host, Bob Wilkins, who became best known for hosting horror film packages on KCRA-3, KTXL-40 and most notably in the San Francisco Bay Area on KTVU-2's "Creature Features" — an incredible ratings sensation which became a local institution that routinely beat all the competition in its time slot, including network programming such as "Saturday Night Live." And he meant the world to a whole generation who grew up watching him on television. He was our horror hero!

Bob Wilkins Creature Features Freak Fan Club certificate, circa 1971.

A mild-mannered, but wryly hysterical, character hailing originally from Indiana, Bob found a job in California at Sacramento's KCRA-3, quickly became known for his wit and timing, and would be asked to host company luncheons, and other social functions. Eventually, he was put before the cameras, and by 1966, was the station's own "horror host," who rejected wearing a costume or cape — he just came on the air as himself. Armed with only a cigar, a rocking chair (to mask his stage nerves), and his off-the-cuff humor, Bob would tell viewers, "Tonight's movie is so bad, it was delivered to Channel 2 in a plain brown wrapper. No return address."

Classic TV Guide ad, November 30, 1968. Courtesy of Floyd Perry.

Bob's witticism was also reflected into the humorous and iconic ads featured weekly in the pages of the local "TV Guide" magazines, and fans would clip and save them in scrapbooks, like I did. Of course, over the years, such collections were lost or thrown out, ostensibly, to the sands of time. But, coming to the rescue is Tom Wyrsch's "Bob Wilkins in TV Guide" (Garfield Park, 2014), a terrific, 80-page compendium of ads for many of the horror films Bob hosted from 1966 to 1980. Each tongue-in-cheek ad is presented with the full page from original TV Guides and presented in chronological order (measuring 5.5" x 8.5" to preserve the original magazine size).

Mid-'70s ad, which seems bland until you see the station call letters.

In short, I love it — it's a treasure trove of memories for ads I fondly remember, and others I've completely forgotten, but am happy to see again for the first time in decades (I hope that more of these ads turn up). But, beware — while long-time fans of KTVU-2's immortal horror host and "Creature Features" will find it a must-have — "Bob Wilkins in TV Guide" is a limited-edition publication, so don't sit on your claws too long! Bob was a hero and mentor to me and (for better or worse) pushed me into this business (whatever that is), thus I will always be thankful for who he was and what he did, not only for me, but many others.

Bob Wilkins shall not die! 

Order your copy, now (operators are standing by)...

Monday, March 10, 2014

GODZILLA KNOWS THE WAY TO SAN JOSE! Kenpachiro Satsuma at Big Wow!: May 17 & 18


Mr. Satsuma will be appearing in Nor Cal for the first time this May!

This spring, Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine brings Godzilla to San Jose's Big Wow! Comic Fest on May 17th & 18th! KENPACHIRO SATSUMA will be flying into the San Francisco Bay Area to meet fans and sign autographs as part of the Famous Monsters Pavilion at this year's show! One of the most famous of the "Men In Suits" actors,  Mr. Satsuma was featured in several Toshiro Mifune productions, before cutting his teen in the kaiju eiga where he played the Smog Monster in GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTER (1971) and Gigan in GODZILLA VS. GIGAN (1972), and again in GODZILLA VS. MEGALON (1973).

Taking over the reigns from Mr. Haruo Nakajima, the original Godzilla suit actor, Mr. Satsuma went on to play the titular role of the Big G in RETURN OF GODZILLA (1984) through GODZILLA VS. DESTROYAH (1995), and he even did a little suit acting on television during the '70s as well, under his former stage name — "Kengo Nakayama." Appearing alongside Mr. Satsuma, I will be moderating and hosting his presentations (to be announced), as well as signing the new paperback edition of my book, "Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters" (Chronicle Books) at the San Jose Convention Center!

Stay tuned for more details on the show, guests, and more by checking out their website: Big Wow! Comics Fest!