We Call Him… Gojira!

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Garrett Stiger

Garrett is an entertainment professional living in the Los Angeles area. In his free time, he's a shark hunter, Jedi Knight, Kaiju wrangler and dog owner. He also edits and contributes to movie discussions at 3byThree.

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  1. Avatar North
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    says:

    I was aware of Godzilla only peripherally but my hubby is a huge Godzilla fan. He emerged from the ’98 film shaking with rage and quite literally wept with joy at the 2014 film.
    I try and stay sympathetic but the old Japanese Godzilla films do not work for me, it’s just so hard to manage the man in the rubber lizard suit.Report

    • Avatar Garrett Stiger in reply to North
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      says:

      The ’98 Godzilla was a negative emotional experience for a lot of us. 😉

      The actors-in-rubber-suits-with-miniature-city certainly is a distinct approach and not for everyone. I should have mentioned that the man who pioneered the technique is Eiji Tsuburaya. He wanted to do stop-motion (like in King Kong) for the original Godzilla, but they didn’t have the budget and there was no one in Japan with the expertise.

      Thanks for reading!Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Garrett Stiger
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        says:

        Yeah if I had come to Godzilla as a youngster or teenager I’m sure I’d be right on board. Since my initial direct exposure was in my mid 20’s it didn’t have the same effect on me.Report

      • Avatar rexknobus in reply to Garrett Stiger
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        says:

        Not really much of a Godzilla fan, but the original 1954 film (sans Burr) is a fascinating watch. The dark mood, the social commentary, the overall sadness make it stand out as a different sort of creature feature. As a special effects guy, I get a kick out of the many strategies they use in the film to bring the Large One to life. Man in a suit, hand puppet, and even, I swear, a short stop-motion sequence involving the tail. Even if one doesn’t care for this type of film, I would recommend it as a historical document. And you get to see things “blow up real good” to boot.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North
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      says:

      It might help if you consider old Japanese Godzilla movies camp for nerdy people. That and the old Adam West Batman TV show.Report

  2. Avatar Brandon Berg
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    says:

    Never seen the movies, but these titles are glorious:

    Godzilla vs. Mecha-Godzilla (in 1974 and again in 1993)

    Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla

    Mecha-Godzilla Strikes Back

    King Kong vs Godzilla, with a poster showing King Kong swinging Godzilla around by his tail.Report

  3. fillyjonk fillyjonk
    Ignored
    says:

    Never really watched the Godzilla movies, but my parents tell me that one of their nicknames for me as a toddler was “‘Zilla” (from Godzilla) because of the stompy way I moved when I was learning to walk. (I was their first child).

    Then again, I think Godzilla is one of those things you “know” by osmosis if you’re involved at all with American culture (or maybe American geek culture?) even without watching it.

    (My parents had seen the original Godzillas; they were young-marrieds back in the day when those things were the late-night movie on some tv channels)Report

  4. Avatar Tod Kelly
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    says:

    I’m not saying Godzilla is a stiff, but he’s no Gamera.Report

    • Avatar Garrett Stiger in reply to Tod Kelly
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      says:

      Who can forget the flying turtle! “Gamera is really neat, he is made of turtle meat…”

      Have you see the 1990s Gamera trilogy?

      Thanks for reading!Report

      • Avatar RTod in reply to Garrett Stiger
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        says:

        My experience with Gamera falls strictly within the classic Showa period. (And, of course, the MST3K send ups of the same.)

        I pretty much loved all of the 60s-70s big monster movies growing up. In a foreshadowing of my adult political views, though, I tended to prefer the ones where there was the main monster protected the humans rather than simply laying waste to their tiny model cities. So I tended to gravitate toward the Godzilla vs. alien-made monster movies, Johnnie Socko, and of course Gamera, who as you well know was a friend to all children in hot pants.Report

  5. Avatar Brandon Berg
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    says:

    Fun fact: “Gojira” is a portmanteau of gorira (gorilla) and kujira (whale), supposedly the nickname of a particularly large employee of Toho whose favorite food was whale meat. The original title was “The Monster from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” but they wanted something a bit catchier. I’m not sure whether the English name was a simple romanization error, or an intentional reference to Godzilla’s god-like scale and power.Report

  6. Avatar Roland Dodds
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    says:

    Great piece! This made me bust out my Godzilla box set and que up a few of my favorites in the series.Report

  7. Avatar Maribou
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    says:

    What a fun piece, @garrett-stiger ! My exposure to Godzilla is limited but I still appreciated him anew through your eyes.Report

  8. Avatar greginak
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    says:

    Great post. I love some Godzilla and have since i was a kid. It got imprinted on me in the 70’s and i’ve seen them all. Like a lot of genres when you are into it all the little l nuances and characters and details are rich with color and joy. I’ve seen quite a few other Kaiju flicks because a true connoisseur needs to appreciate some Ultraman. I’m really looking forward to seeing this new one.Report

  9. Avatar Glyph
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    says:

    Well, this was helpful. My 4-year old girl is currently, in her words, “a big fan of Godzilla”, having now watched 3 of the films (the Burr-ized “original”, vs. Destoroyah, and vs. Megaguirus). So now I know which ones to pick up next.

    Watched a ton of these as a kid on the local “Creature Feature”, as well as Ultraman (which was on every weekday IIRC).Report

  10. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    Did you ever dabble in either Ultraman or Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot?

    Two more shows that went all out into the whole tokusatsu thing.

    I *ADORED* these shows when I was around 7ish.

    https://youtu.be/lnczokOnWjg

    I suspect that they don’t hold up *THAT* well… but, hey, another box set for the pile for after I retire and am able to visit Manitou a little more often.Report

    • Avatar Garrett Stiger in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      I’m woefully ill-equipped when it comes to Ultraman – which is to say, I haven’t seen any episodes. Don’t think I’ve heard of Johnny Sokko. I’ll have to check them out. Thanks (and thanks for reading)!Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Garrett Stiger
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        says:

        Ultraman was a lot of fun. It’s had at least a couple of eras of shows. When i got into it , it must have been late 70’s and the shows were very much in the spirit of godzilla/kaiju. Lots of guys in giant monster suits, alien plots and noble good guys.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
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          says:

          As far as I can tell, Ultraman had much better scripts while Johnny Sokko merely had a much better (to 7 year old eyes, anyway) hook in that it had a giant robot. I also want to say that Johnny Sokko’s bad guys were much more creepy/cool than Ultraman’s… but I suppose that’s a matter of taste.

          The robot also had this little pre-doing anything dance that was absolutely awesome.

          https://youtu.be/s8kM_ps5uVo?t=40s

          Ultraman, by comparison, merely did poses *WHILE* he was doing his special moves. The giant robot was like Rob Van Dam. Took 15 minutes to do a finisher. But it was a lot cooler.

          On the gripping hand, OH MY GOSH ULTRAMAN IS COMING OUT WITH A MOVIE THIS YEAR

          https://youtu.be/IjOvth3O2VsReport

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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            says:

            This brought back a lot of memories.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL1p1iGZYb8

            Ultraman had monsters…goofy ass costumes filled with sweaty Japanese men. But boy they had some monsters and some fights.

            If you want to dip into some recent giant monster movie action from japan check out Big Man Japan ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0997147/). It’s weird, like weird weird. Not Godzilla weird but farther out than that. It’s modern and far out but a lot of fun.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
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              says:

              I started out by thinking “okay, this looks cool” but then read the user review and saw 8/10 stars and thought “okay, I’m pretty much sold” but then read the review:

              The Big Man does what he can, but ends up causing as much confusion and destruction as he prevents. Plagued by waning popularity, the erosion of his powers, and family problems, he stoically soldiers on. As a documentary, the film succeeds admirably. We see this man robbed of his destiny, and watch as he explains his half-hearted efforts to regain some sort of balance between what he was, and what he has become. However, the film’s special effects are cheesy, but actually add to the representation of a man stuck firmly in a meager existence. Daisato’s life is entirely devoid of any social support network. He visits a grandfather, but this man is suffering from dementia in a nursing home, and is in worse shape than our hero. Daisato is allowed visitation with his wife and daughter twice a year, and his ‘friendships’ are paid geisha girls with whom he drinks heavily.

              And now I’m depressed.Report

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