SciFi Japan

    Godzilla and Toho Films at the Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles

    Official Site: Silent Movie Theatre Special Thanks to Oki Miyano and Twitch Beginning this week, the newly refurbished Silent Movie Theatre in West Hollywood is screening a number of films produced and/or released by Toho Studios. First up are ONIBABA and HOUSE this Sunday, while December features five weekends of Godzilla and kaiju eiga (monster movies). Ticket prices are $10.00 per film. The Silent Movie Theatre is located at 611 North Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036. The theater phone number is (323) 655-2520.

    SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28 7:30 PM- ONIBABA (Witch, a.k.a. THE HOLE, 1965) Directed by Kaneto Shindo, Starring Nobuko Otawa, Jitsuko Yoshimura, Kei Sato, and Jukichi Uno. Deep within the wind-swept marshes of war-torn medieval Japan, an impoverished mother and her daughter-in-law eke out a lonely, desperate existence. Forced to murder lost samurai and sell their belongings for grain, they dump the corpses down a deep, dark hole and live off of their meager spoils. When a bedraggled neighbor returns from the skirmishes, lust, jealousy, and rage threaten to destroy the trio`s tenuous existence, before an ominous, ill-gotten demon mask seals their horrifying fate. Driven by primal emotions, dark eroticism, a frenzied score by Hikaru Hayashi, and stunning images both lyrical and macabre, Kaneto Shindo’s chilling folktale is a singular cinematic experience. (103 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles) 10:30 PM- HOUSE (Hausu, 1977) Directed and Special Effects by Nobuhiko Obayashi. Starring Kimiko Ikegami, Kumiko Oda, Ai Matsubara, and Miki Jinbo. Seven high school girls visit the home of one girl’s aunt. Unfortunately for the girls, the house is haunted and it picks off and devours its guests one by one in inventive and bizarre ways. Director Nobuhiko Obayashi (THE DRIFTING CLASSROOM) made his feature film debut with this Toho horror classic. Unavailable on home video in the US, Sunday’s screening at the Silent Movie Theatre gives American fans a rare opportunity to see HOUSE. (88 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles, Digitally projected) TOHO FESTIVAL: DEPLOY ALL MONSTERS

    SUNDAY, DECEMBER 2 9:30 PM- MATANGO: ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE (Matango, 1963) Directed by Ishiro Honda, Special Effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. Starring Akira Kubo, Kumi Mizuno, Hiroshi Koizumi, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Kenji Sahara, Hiroshi Tachikawa, Miki Yashiro, and Hideyo Amamoto. A wealthy businessman brings a group of friends -- a famous singer, a writer, a professor and his student/girlfriend, plus a skipper and first mate -- to take a pleasure cruise on his new yacht, but the boat is damaged a storm and washes up on an uncharted island. Exploring the deserted island, the group finds a long-abandoned ship that is covered in a strange fungus, which the ship`s journal describes as a dangerous type of mushroom called Matango. As their food supply runs out the group members begin to turn on one another and give into their desires... including their hunger for the mysterious fungi. Based on the short story "The Voice in the Night" by William Hope Hodgson, MATANGO ranks as one of Toho`s best horror tales and a personal favorite of stars Hiroshi Koizumi and Akira Kubo. The movie`s strength comes not from quick jolts or graphic violence, but in the psychological breakdown of the various characters and the slowly growing temptation that Matango represents. MATANGO was picked up for U.S. distribution by AIP, who released the film directly to television in 1965 under the exploitative -- and derided -- title ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE. (89 min, English Dub) SUNDAY, DECEMBER 9 9:30 PM- THE H-MAN (Bijo to Ekitai Ningen, 1958) Directed by Ishiro Honda, Special Effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. Starring Yumi Shirakawa, Kenji Sahara, and Akihiko Hirata. After her gangster boyfriend mysteriously disappears, a beautiful nightclub singer draws the attention of police, mobsters, a young scientist, and the Liquid People -- strange, radioactive creatures dwelling in Tokyo`s sewer system. Director Ishiro Honda, working from a screenplay by Takeshi Kimura (RODAN, THE HUMAN VAPOR, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS), creates a more adult (by 1950s standards) film than the usual Toho monster movie. A great combination of the popular sci-fi, horror and crime genres, THE H-MAN features a bit of everything sure to please moviegoers -- monsters, cops, gangsters, the stars of RODAN, a haunted ship, and musical numbers -- topped off by an amazing score by composer Masaru Sato (Akira Kurosawa`s HIGH AND LOW and YOJIMBO). (79 minutes, English Dub) SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16 9:30 PM- GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH (Gojira tai Hedora, a.k.a. GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTER, 1971) Directed by Yoshimitsu Banno. Starring Akira Yamaguchi, Hiroyuki Kawase and Keiko Mari. Special Effects by Teruyoshi Nakano. Spawned from a fallen meteor, an alien creature feeds on Japan`s industrial pollution, rapidly growing larger and stronger. Can Godzilla defeat Hedorah before it destroys the world? Released during a period of growing concern about pollution and the environment, GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH combines scenes of victims being eaten away by acid mist, surreal and psychedelic imagery and fuzz-stoked rock music into what is surely the oddest entry in the Godzilla series. Also, this is the only film where Godzilla flies. Hedorah, an inspired creation whose sludge body proves immune to Godzilla`s physical assaults, was played by Kengo Nakayama, who (under the name Kenpachiro Satsuma) took over the role of Godzilla starting with GODZILLA 1985. Child actor Hiroyuki Kawase starred in Akira Kurosawa`s DODES`KA-DEN and would return for the 1973 movie GODZILLA VS. MEGALON. (87 minutes, English Dub)

    SUNDAY, DECEMBER 23 9:30 PM- KING KONG ESCAPES (Kingu Kongu no Gyakushu, 1967) Directed by Ishiro Honda, Special Effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. Starring Rhodes Reason, Akira Takarada, Linda Miller, Mie Hama, and Hideyo Amamato. The criminal mastermind Dr Who is hired by a villainous nation looking for the Element X needed to build their nuclear arsenal. Who constructs the massive Mechani-Kong to mine the rare mineral, but radiation from Element X shorts out the robot. After the real Kong is discovered on Mondo Island by a UN research team led by Carl Nelson, Dr Who kidnaps Kong and Nelson`s team. Will the evil scientist force the strongest creature on earth to dig up Element X, or will King Kong escape? Toho`s second Kong feature had it`s origins in the American animated series KING KONG, which premiered on the ABC television network on September 10, 1966. Based on the classic film, the cartoon show was created by Rankin/Bass Productions, the studio behind such classic holiday specials as SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN, and RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER. The show followed the adventures of Professor Bond and his children Susan and Bobby, who meet and befriend the legendary giant ape on tropical Mondo Island. Over the course of 26 episodes, King Kong and the Bond family encountered a variety of threats--dinosaurs, aliens, monsters, and men -- including the recurring villains Dr Who and his robot Mechani-Kong.

    Producers Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass approached Toho Studios, who had made the hit KING KONG VS GODZILLA, about making a live-action film of the show. Toho executive producer Tomoyuki Tanaka assigned screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa (MOTHRA, GODZILLA VS THE THING, GHIDRAH THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER) to write the screenplay. After Rankin rejected the proposed "King Kong vs Ebirah: Operation Robinson Crusoe" because it did not contain enough elements from the KING KONG series, Tanaka brought in writer Takeshi Kimura (RODAN, WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS). Working under the pen name "Kaoru Mabuchi", Kimura`s KING KONG ESCAPES featured the cartoon show`s Mondo Island, Dr Who, Mechani-Kong, and even a lead female character named Susan. One popular addition to the story was the giant dinosaur Gorosaurus who battles Kong on Mondo Island, then returned the following year for the Godzilla classic DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. (96 min, English Dub) SUNDAY, DECEMBER 30 9:30 PM- DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (Kaiju Soshingeki, 1968) Directed by Ishiro Honda. Starring Akira Kubo, Yukiko Kobayashi, Jun Tazaki, Kyoko Ai, Yoshio Tsuchiya and Kenji Sahara. Special Effects by Eiji Tsuburaya and Sadamasa Arikawa. In the year 1999, all of earth`s monsters have been imprisoned on Ogasawara Island until alien invaders from the planet Kilaak release them and send them on a rampage of destruction around the world. Going all-out for their 20th kaiju eiga, Toho combined 11 giant monsters - Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, King Ghidorah, Angilas (from GIGANTIS, THE FIRE MONSTER), Varan (VARAN THE UNBELIEVABLE), Manda (ATRAGON), Baragon (FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD and the recent GMK), Gorosaurus (KING KONG ESCAPES), Minya and Kumonga (both from SON OF GODZILLA) - in one motion picture. This final collaboration by the creative team behind the original GODZILLA features several wonderful sequences: quick shots of the destruction of New York, Paris, Moscow and Beijing; four monsters attacking Tokyo; an assault on the Kilaak`s base at Mt Fuji and a battle between the earth monsters and King Ghidorah. (88 min, English dub)

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