Since the practice came about last fall, I've found that I tend to arrange roughly two and a half kinds of movie nights. Roughly. One is the impromptu, "Ho! I have the house to myself tonight!" movie night where I call up a couple friends and we hang out and watch whatever sounds good at the time. It's nothing fancy and we all get to bed early enough to make it to our respective schools and workplaces early the next morning.*
* This is the official story but God knows we're still up into the wee hours of the morning.
The "half-breed," as it were, is sort of a mix between the preceding and proceding examples - we invite a bunch of people (whether they come or not) and make an event of it but the film selection isn't limited to the antics of irate, city-destroying monsters. These include the screenings of North by Northwest, Rear Window, and Wait Until Dark that you may have read about here on LET'S WATCH MOVIES! UNTIL WE CAN'T FEEL FEELINGS ANYMORE! and if you haven't then you ought to go do that now.
And then there is is the all-powerful, ultra-absorbant dorkfest that is the Wholesale Urban Renewal Festival or W.U.R.F. for short. The tricky thing about W.U.R.F.s is that we insist that all four primary G.H.I.D.R.A.H. members be involved in their planning, plotting, and implementation and even though we're all very flexible it can get to be very confusing sometimes. This particular W.U.R.F. has been pre-planned, planned, re-planned, cancelled, reinstated, re-cancelled, had its philisophical merits debated, reinstated again, totally made-over, totally un-made-over, re-scheduled, re-re-sceduled, boiled...
...and at some point we wound up with this. I'm not sure how much it resembles its original form at this point but whatever, here we are.
But that's not actually important at this particular moment. The point is that for better or for worse it's come to be that time of the month again - that time of the month where we all gather together and watch giant monsters smash the crap out of each other while copious amounts of dazzling pyrotechnics explode around them. Oh yes.
And without further ado, here is this month's line-up, complete with a slam-bang, awesome addition that none of us saw coming! Read on to find out more!
Kaitei Gunkan (1963)
Not everyone is a huge fan of Atragon, stating that it is full of wasted potential or Manda just isn't in it enough or something. I respectfully disagree - I love Atragon. The ship itself is one of the coolest Toho vehicles ever, this side of the Maser Cannon. I mean, it's a super-submarine that not only drills underground but it freaking flies!! It's pretty damned tough to top that.
The plot concerns the forgotten undersea empire of Mu and the one man who may be the only person able to stop them from destroying all civilization on the surface. The problem is that as far as anyone knows, he's dead.
Yeah, maybe a few more sequences of wanton destruction on the Muan's part or a longer battle with Manda could have added some neat things to the film but to me it is primarily about the transformation of Captain Jinguji - played by Jun Tazaki, turning in what is possible the best performance of his career (though I still can't help but wonder what Toshiro Mifune would be like in the role). In this respect the film is about perfect and the drama plays out excellently, particularly between Jinguji and his estranged daughter.
The effects work - especially the signature destruction of Tokyo at night - is of Eiji Tsuburaya's typically high standards and the film is very well put together for having had such a short production time (only six months!). If you've never seen a classic Toho film, you could do a lot worse than to start with this one.
Written by: Shinichi Sekizawa
Music by: Akira Ifukube
Special Effects Directed by: Eiji Tsuburaya
Directed by: Ishiro Honda
Gamera 2: Advent of Legion
Gamera 2 Region Shuurai (1996)
Now let's turn the clock all the way back to G.H.I.D.R.A.H. W.U.R.F. II. As Dante had never seen Shusuke Kaneko's acclaimed 90's Gamera Trilogy we kicked off the night with Gamera Guardian of the Universe (1995), an excellent film that completely trounces Godzilla's offering for the same year, the famous Godzilla Vs. Destoroyah (1995). Now after going several months constantly postponing the second film in lieu of other selections, we're finally going to be showing the stunningly epic sequel, Gamera 2: Advent of Legion. Maybe.
No, we really are! I for one cannot wait.
Advent of Legion picks up a year after the events of the first film when a freak meteor shower brings with it a mysterious swarm of insect-like alien invaders. In a fairly unprecedented move, director Kaneko has Gamera and the military form an uneasy alliance to defend the Earth from annihilation. Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think an alliance quite like the one presented in this film had ever been shown in a kaiju movie up to this point. The story is one of the most epic in the genre and Shinji Higuchi's effects work is top-notch, putting Toho to shame once again.
Amazingly enough, Gamera 3 still managed to top it but that's another story...
Written by: Kazunori Ito
Music by: Ko Otani
Special Effects Directed by: Shinji Higuchi
Directed by: Shusuke Kaneko
BUT WAIT! There's more!
Yes! The wonderful folks over at Sci-Fi Japan tipped us off a couple of weeks ago that as part of their monthly "Silver Scream Spook Show," Atlanta's very own Plaza Theater will be showing...
Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters' All-Out Attack!
Gojira Mosura Kingu Gidora DaiKaijuu Soukougeki (2001)
No, not this GMK. I don't even know what that is.
This is the GMK that takes place in an alternate reality from the rest of the Godzilla series - where Godzilla was apparently killed by the military some fifty years before. Now there are strange occurances beginning to occur all over Japan - an earthquake with a moving epicenter, a giant cocoon appearing on the surface of a lake - and a mysterious old man says that Godzilla's return is imminent.
I cannot express how excited we are for this one. Also directed by Shusuke Kaneko, it's easy to see why he's considered one of the best directors in the genre today. Giant Monsters All-Out Attack is not without its flaws but is is a fairly solid film and easily the best Godzilla movie made in the past twenty years. Much like Gamera 2, it is an excellent blend of fun, fantasy, and serious drama, hearkening back to the best Toho films of the 1960s. Contrary to what many a fanboy might tell you, this is not the dark, end-all, be-all Godzilla film for the ages - it ranges from giddy fun to a serious commentary on Japan's ignorance of their war crimes in WWII but it never ceases to be good entertainment that practically anyone can enjoy. Effects-wise the picture scores another win and Kaneko continues to excel at combining monster action with human drama.
And guys, Baragon is adorab-b-ble.
Music by: Ko Otani
Special Effects Directed by: Makoto Kamiya
Directed by: Shusuke Kaneko
And hell, if that's still not enough for you a few of us are planning on watching a bunch of Ultraman episodes the next morning.
G.H.I.D.R.A.H. W.U.R.F. V: "For We Are Many" will be held Saturday, January 31st, with the first film starting at around 2:30 PM. Be there around 2:00 for bests results.
The main showing at my house is a private affair so I'm not going to be announcing the location of it here. However, if you are interested (and we hope you are!), live in Georgia, and can somehow get in contact with the parties involved, please feel free to drop one of us a line by instant message, private message, e-mail, comment, Facebook, MySpace, phone call, etc. because we'd love to have more people join us. Keep in mind though that space at the house is limited - even with the makeshift balcony seating we've implemented.
The Plaza Theater is not nearly so limited so you should definitely join us at the GMK showing even if you can't make it for Atragon or Gamera 2. If you're joining us for the other films, we're planning on carpooling to the theater from my place afterwards. The show starts at 10:00 PM and I think we're going to try and stop somewhere for food beforehand.
Hope to see you there!