SciFi Japan

    CLASSIC DAIKAIJU SPECIAL at Fantasia Film Festival

    GEHARHA: THE DARK AND LONG HAIR MONSTER is one of three daikaiju films showing at Fantasia this Sunday. © 2009 NHK `Geharha` Project.

    MOTHRA, GEHARHA, BRINGING GODZILLA DOWN TO SIZE Triple Feature in Montreal Authors: André Dubois and Ed Godziszewski Source: 2009 Fantasia Festival The Fantasia International Film Festival, taking place now through July 29th in Montreal, Canada, will include a Japanese monster triple feature this upcoming Sunday.

    CLASSIC DAIKAIJU SPECIAL

    10:00 am July 26th, 2009 • Hall Theatre BRINGING GODZILLA DOWN TO SIZE: THE ART OF JAPANESE SPECIAL EFFECTS Canadian Premiere USA 2008 • 69 min • video • English/Japanese with English subtitles

    Director: Norman England Screenplay: Ed Godziszewski, Steve Ryfle Cast: Alex Cox, Yasuyuki Inoue, Tsutomu Kitagawa, Hiroshi Koizumi, Haruo Nakajima Producers: Ed Godziszewski, Steve Ryfle Distributor: Classic Media In the entire history of motion pictures, Japan`s giant radioactive reptile is the only monster to sustain a film franchise spanning more than 50 years while enjoying international popularity. The unique appeal of Japanese science fiction movies, and their ability to connect with fans of all ages and nationalities, is something that has never fully been explained or defined. BRINGING GODZILLA DOWN TO SIZE provides an overview of the history of the Godzilla phenomenon, with emphasis on the special-effects wizards who not only bring this alternative reality to the screen, but whose skill and passion have created a uniquely Japanese film genre. Told largely in the words of the people who made these films, this documentary explains the world in which Godzilla lives and the people who created it. Unlike King Kong, or the American atomic monsters spawned in the 1950s, Godzilla films do not attempt to put monsters into the "real world." Instead, Toho`s special-effects artists brought an amazing fantasy world to the screen, an alternate reality where fantastic creatures and invading races were a constant threat to mankind`s survival. It may not have always looked real, but that wasn`t the point. In their finest moments, Godzilla and his monster brethren stimulated the imagination of millions of fans, with fantastic images of a world any kid, young or old, would love to live in—despite the risk of being trampled by giant feet. GEHARHA: THE DARK AND LONG HAIR MONSTER (Chouhatsu Daikaiju Gehara) Canadian Premiere Japan 2009 • 17 min • video • Japanese with English subtitles

    Geharha engages in some large-scale city destruction. © 2009 NHK `Geharha` Project.

    Director: Kiyotaka Taguchi Screenplay: Miurajun Cast: Ken Osawa, Mina Fujii, Mitsuko Oka, Shiro Sano Producer: Shinji Higuchi Distributor: NHK A delightful parody of the daikaiju (giant monster) genre, GEHARHA tells the story of a giant hairy beast—strangely reminiscent of Cousin It from THE ADDAMS FAMILY—and the efforts of the Japan Self-Defense Force to stop it. Although only a part of TV special, GEHARHA is extremely funny and well made, drawing inspiration from some of the best Toho classics of the genre: WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966), THE MYSTERIANS (1957) and INVASION OF ASTRO-MONSTER (1965), to name a few. All the clichés are in there but with little twists guaranteed to bring laughter. The music is a selection of delightful rarities from the repertoire of none other than kaiju-flick maestro Akira Ifukube, who left us in February, 2006. The miniature work and cinematography are top-notch, as one would expect given the supervision of Shinji Higuchi, who gave us the magnificent GAMERA trilogy of the 1990s. In a genre that has been put on hold since GODZILLA: FINAL WARS (2004), GEHARHA is a welcome new arrival! MOTHRA (Mosura) New 35mm print! Japan 1961 • 101 min • 35mm • Japanese with English subtitles

    Director: Ishiro Honda Screenplay: Shinichi Sekizawa, from Shinichiro Nakamura, Takehiko Fukunaga and Zenei Hotta Cast: Hiroshi Koizumi, Frankie Sakai, Kyoko Kagawa, Emi and Yumi Ito (the Peanuts), Jerry Ito Producer: Tomoyuki Tanaka Distributor: Columbia Pictures MOTHRA is an landmark in the annals of giant-monster films. Unlike its predecessors, this is the first Toho monster film that is strictly fantasy—the monster is not a freak of nature or the by-product of man`s irresponsibility, and is not vanquished at the conclusion. Its origins are mysterious, but its purpose is peaceful—it causes destruction only because of its desire to rescue its human counterparts. In 1961, MOTHRA still carried an anti-nuclear message, but it signaled a shift in tone for future Toho films to more family-oriented fare. As a character, Mothra would become one of Toho’s most popular stars, appearing in a total of seven Godzilla films as well as its own series between 1996 and 1998. The 1992 feature GODZILLA AND MOTHRA: THE BATTLE FOR EARTH was Toho`s biggest money maker in the revived Godzilla series of the ’90s, and Mothra`s last appearance came in GODZILLA: FINAL WARS (2004). Mothra has always had a large following among female moviegoers in Japan because of its benevolent nature and its association with the twin fairies, portrayed by the international pop singing sensation, the Peanuts. MOTHRA also boasts a magnificent display of miniature special effects from Eiji Tsuburaya and his team of craftsmen.


    Ed Godziszewski, host of Fantasia’s CLASSIC DAIKAIJU SPECIAL, has served as the editor and publisher of Japanese Giants magazine since 1977, and is the author/publisher of the acclaimed 1995 book The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Godzilla. Ed was one of the first American fans invited to tour both Toho Studios and Tsuburaya Productions in Japan. He has visited Japan numerous times, has met and interviewed many tokusatsu filmmakers and has had the opportunity to observe special effects filming for several films and TV productions. Ed provided the DVD commentary for the British Film Institute release of GODZILLA (1954) and Classic Media`s Godzilla DVD collection, producing several extra features in addition to three commentary tracks. Together with Steve Ryfle, Ed also co-wrote and produced BRINGING GODZILLA DOWN TO SIZE: THE ART OF JAPANESE SPECIAL EFFECTS. Most recently, Ed co-produced audio commentary for Sony`s upcoming DVD release of ICONS OF SCI-FI: TOHO COLLECTION, a set featuring the Ishiro Honda/Eiji Tsuburaya classics MOTHRA, THE H-MAN, and BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE.

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