|KING OF MONSTERS
-- A 50th BIRTHDAY SALUTE TO GODZILLA!
Sponsored by the Japan
In the spring of 1954, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka
approached his boss, Toho executive Iwao Mori, with an idea to make a movie about "a
monster that invades Tokyo the way King Kong attacked New York." While not the most
original of concepts, it was certainly timely; a successful 1952 reissue of the original
KING KONG had launched a wave of giant monster on the loose pictures
most of which featured beasts awakened by atomic radiation. At that time, fear of the
effects of radiation was at an all-time high in Japan. Two atomic bombs had been dropped
on the country in WWII and, after a Japanese fishing boat had been covered in fallout from
a recent American H-Bomb test, there had been a massive recall of contaminated fish.
While a film of this nature had never before been attempted in Japan, Mori saw the
potential in the concept and gave his approval. Initially called G (for Giant)
Project, the film and the monster were soon named Gojira a combination of the words
gorilla and kujira (Japanese for whale).
The two men then approached Eiji Tsuburaya, head of Tohos special effects
department. KING KONG had been a major inspiration to Tsuburaya, and he leapt at the
chance to create his own monster movie. Time and budgetary constraints prevented him from
extensively utilizing KONGs stop-motion techniques to bring Gojira to cinematic
life, so Tsuburaya relied on puppetry and (primarily) a large monster suit worn by actor
Ishiro Honda, who had previously collaborated with Tsuburaya on EAGLE OF THE PACIFIC
and FAREWELL RABAUL, was chosen to direct the film. This was an inspired choice
Honda had a background in documentaries and was able to bring a sense of realism to an
outlandish premise. The director had also been a prisoner of war in WWII and had visited
the remains of Hiroshima in 1946. Honda decided that Gojira would not only be revived by
the H-Bomb, but also twisted and mutated by it into an unstoppable force in
essence, the bomb made flesh. "It was a matter of the feeling I wanted," Honda
said in an interview, "of an invisible fear that, since science had
advanced even farther beyond the atomic bomb, this technology has now even become an
environmental problem. Ever since those days I felt the atomic fear would hang
around our necks for eternity."
GOJIRA premiered on November 3, 1954 and immediately struck a chord with the Japanese
public. The film sold more than 9,691,000 tickets in its initial theatrical run and
grossed nearly $2,250,000 more than 8 times its production costs. The following
year, Tohos International department began promoting the movie under the Anglicized
name GODZILLA. It was quickly sold to a group of American investors who dubbed and
re-edited the picture with new scenes starring actor Raymond Burr and released it in the
US and abroad as GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS.
Success both in Japan and overseas prompted Toho to make more monster movies, starting
with the first Godzilla sequel GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN (a.k.a. GIGANTIS THE FIRE MONSTER) and
including such hits as RODAN and MOTHRA. By the time KING KONG VS. GODZILLA was released
in 1962, Toho began to use a lighter, family-friendly approach to their monster films
as Godzillas popularity with children grew, he became a more heroic, and
occasionally comic, figure in films like INVASION OF THE ASTRO-MONSTERS and GODZILLA VS.
HEDORAH before returning to his antagonistic roots in GODZILLA 1985.
Over the past two decades, Godzilla has generally been portrayed as either a force of
nature, destructive but not evil, or as a malevolent beast attacking everything in his
path (as in the recent films GMK and GODZILLA: TOKYO S.O.S.).
In celebration of Godzillas 50th anniversary, we are proud to present
the King of the Monsters in all his many guises destroyer, hero, father figure,
comedian and force of nature with a cross-section of some of the most popular films
in the series.
We are opening with U.S. premieres of the two latest Godzilla films, GODZILLA AGAINST
MECHAGODZILLA and GODZILLA: TOKYO S.O.S., plus no less than 8 of the first 12 Godzilla
movies, including such gems as KING KONG VS. GODZILLA, GHIDRAH: THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER,
DESTROY ALL MONSTERS and the extremely rare second movie GIGANTIS THE FIRE MONSTER (unseen
in the theaters for more than 40 years!). In addition, Tohos classic monster movies
RODAN and THE H-MAN, and Tsuburayas ULTRAMAN are also on hand.
Rounding out the celebration are Godzilla series director Masaaki Tezuka and F/X
craftsmen Yasuyuki Inoue and Akinori Takagi, who will attend the event to discuss their
work and sign autographs. This will be the first US appearance at a Godzilla event for all
Thursday, June 24 8:00 PM
GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA, 2002, Toho, 88 min.
Dir. Masaaki Tezuka. Starring Yumiko Shaku, Shin Takuma and Akira Nakao. Special Effects
by Yuichi Kikuchi. In the decades following the death of the original Godzilla in 1954,
Japan has successfully repelled numerous attacks by other giant monsters. But when a new
Godzilla appears in 1999, Japan's defenses prove useless. The only thing that could
possibly stop the monster is another Godzilla, so the government creates the "Machine
Dragon" Kiryu a cyborg built from the remains of the 1954 beast. But will this
"Mechagodzilla" follow orders, or will the original Godzilla return to its
destructive ways? In this fast-paced adventure, his second Godzilla film, director Masaaki
Tezuka brings a great new spin to a classic foe. Popular model/actress Yumiko Shaku
(PRINCESS BLADE, SKY HIGH) stars as a woman wracked with guilt over the deaths of her
comrades in a battle with Godzilla. Shin Takuma (GODZILLA 1985) returns to the series as a
scientist who helps create Kiryu. The story concludes in GODZILLA TOKYO S.O.S., screening
tomorrow. [In Japanese with English
subtitles.] Discussion following with director Masaaki Tezuka. (The discussion may
be re-scheduled as an introduction to the film).
Friday, June 25 7:00 PM
U.S. Premiere of the Newest Godzilla Film!!
GODZILLA TOKYO S.O.S., 2003, Toho, 91 min.
Directed by Masaaki Tezuka. Starring Noboru Kaneko, Miho Yoshioka, Katsuya Inozuka and
Hiroshi Koizumi. Special Effects by Eiichi Asada. Professor Shinichi Chujo is visited by
some old friends: Mothra's twin priestesses, the Shobijin. The pair announce that
Mechagodzilla is an affront to nature and the remains of the 1954 Godzilla must be
returned to the sea. If this is done, Mothra will protect Japan from Godzilla; if not, she
will become an enemy of mankind. The Japanese government is reluctant to put their trust
in a creature that attacked them 40 years ago but before a decision can be reached,
Godzilla returns to take matters into his own hands. A direct sequel to both MOTHRA (1961)
and GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA (2002), GODZILLA: TOKYO S.O.S. brings an action-packed
conclusion to the "Kiryu Saga." Godzilla is animalistic and violent in this film
as it attacks naval forces and battles Mechagodzilla, Mothra and twin Mothra larvae; the
giant turtle Kamoebas (from the 1970 Toho film YOG: MONSTER FROM SPACE) also makes a brief
appearance as an early victim of the monster. After more than four decades, actor Hiroshi
Koizumi reprises his role of Professor Chujo from in the original MOTHRA, while Yumiko
Shaku has a cameo as Akane from GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA. [In Japanese with English
subtitles.] Discussion following with director Masaaki Tezuka.
[Note: Masaaki Tezuka, Yasuyuki Inoue and Akinori Takagi will be
available prior to the screening from 5:30 6:30 PM in the Egyptian courtyard to
sign autographs and take photos.]
Friday, June 25 9:30 PM
New 35mm Print! KING KONG
VS. GODZILLA, 1962, Universal, 91 min. Directed by Ishiro Honda. Starring Tadao
Takashima, Kenji Sahara, Ichiro Arashima, Mie Hama and Yu Fujiki. Special Effects by Eiji
Tsuburaya. In 1960, legendary stop-motion artist Willis O'Brien approached producer John
Beck about doing a sequel to the original KING KONG entitled "King Kong vs.
Frankenstein." Beck promptly removed O'Brien from the project and pitched the idea to
studios in the U.S. and Italy before approaching Toho Studios in Japan. Recognizing that a
battle with the Eighth Wonder of the World would be the perfect comeback vehicle for
Godzilla, Toho replaced Kong's opponent with their own King of the Monsters. Released as
part of Toho's 30th Anniversary Celebration, KING KONG VS. GODZILLA was a
massive hit, selling more than 11 million tickets in Japan and establishing Godzilla as a
franchise character. Director Honda and screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa crafted a
light-hearted satiric romp that poked fun at the commercialism running rampant in the wake
of television. The cast includes an eclectic mix of genre stars, comedy actors and Toho
starlets including actress Mie Hama, who holds the unique honor of playing love
interests for both King Kong and James Bond (she co-starred with Sean Connery in YOU ONLY
LIVE TWICE). Before selling U.S. rights to Universal, Beck jettisoned most of the comedy
and Akira Ifukube's incredible score in favor of newly-shot scenes featuring Michael
Keith, James Yagi, and Harry Halcombe explaining the onscreen events, with music lifted
from CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. Despite constant rumors to the contrary, one thing
not changed for the U.S. release was the film's ending it is the same as in the
Japanese version. [Note: We will be screening an English-dubbed
print of the American version of the film.]
Super Rare Screening! GIGANTIS, THE FIRE MONSTER (a.k.a. GODZILLA
RAIDS AGAIN), 1955, Toho, 78 min. Directed by Motoyoshi Oda. Starring Hiroshi Koizumi
and Minoru Chiaki. Special Effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. Here, Japan must deal with both a
new Godzilla and another beast the spike-backed dinosaur Angilas. The second
Godzilla film and the first in Toho's long line of "monster vs. monster" movies,
GIGANTIS, THE FIRE MONSTER (a.k.a .GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN) premiered barely 6 months after
the release of the original GODZILLA. The U.S. rights were purchased by many of the same
investors who had Americanized the first film. For GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN, they hired voice
actors Keye Luke ("Kung Fu"), Paul Frees ("Bullwinkle") and George
Takei ("Star Trek") for a quickie dub job, renamed Godzilla "Gigantis"
in an attempt to trick the public into thinking the movie starred a brand-new monster,
then leased theatrical rights to Warner Bros. After Warners' rights lapsed in the early
1960s, GIGANTIS THE FIRE MONSTER became known as the "lost" Godzilla
movie, rarely shown on television and long out-of-print on home video. We will be hosting
the first authorized theatrical screening of GIGANTIS THE FIRE MONSTER in more than four
decades. [English dubbed version.] Introduction to screenings
by art director Yasuyuki Inoue and model mechanic Akinori Takagi.
Saturday, June 26 5:00 PM
DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, 1968, Toho, 88 min.
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
(monster movie), 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. [English dubbed
Preceded by: "ULTRAMAN
Episode 10: The Mysterious Dinosaur Base," 1966, Tsuburaya Prod., 25
min. Directed by Kazuho Mitsuda. Starring Akiji Kobayashi, Susumu Kurobe, Masanari Nihei,
Sandayu Dokumamushi and Hiroko Sakurai. Special Effects by Tohru Matoba. In 1963, Toho's
renowned special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya established his own f/x shop, Tsuburaya
Productions. Initially created to supply visual effects to Toho and other Japanese
studios, within three years Tsuburaya was also making its own original productions. The
most popular of these was the television series "ULTRAMAN" a massive hit
which launched a franchise still going strong to this day. The series followed the
adventures of the Science Patrol, a team sworn to protect Earth from alien invaders and
giant monsters. In times of great crisis they were aided by Ultraman, a 120-foot-tall
alien superhero who had merged his life force with Patrol member Hayata. Many popular
actors, crewmembers, props and monster costumes from Toho's monster films were used for
"ULTRAMAN." Episode 10 of the series is particularly famous since it features
Godzilla or, more precisely, a thinly disguised Godzilla suit playing the role of
the "Paleolithic lake monster" Jiras (renamed Keerah in the English dub and
played by Godzilla suit actor Haruo Nakajima). We are pleased to present a rare screening
of the battle between the two greatest icons of Japanese science fiction. [English dubbed
version.] Discussion following with art director Yasuyuki
Inoue and model mechanic Akinori Takagi.
Saturday, June 26 8:00 PM
INVASION OF THE ASTRO MONSTER (a.k.a.
MONSTER ZERO), 1965, Toho, 93 min. Directed by Ishiro Honda. Starring Nick
Adams, Akira Takarada, Kumi Mizuno, Jun Tazaki, Yoshio Tsuchiya and Akira Kubo. Special
Effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. Two astronauts are sent to discover the source of mysterious
signals from Planet X, a planet hidden on the far side of Jupiter. There they encounter an
alien race that asks if they can "borrow" Godzilla and Rodan in order to defend
themselves from Monster Zero better known as King Ghidorah! Introducing the
"alien invasion" theme to the Godzilla series, INVASION OF THE ASTRO-MONSTERS
features many of Toho's most popular genre actors, including Akira Takarada (GODZILLA,
GODZILLA VS. THE THING), Akira Kubo (SON OF GODZILLA, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS), Yoshio
Tsuchiya (GIGANTIS: THE FIRE MONSTER, SON OF GODZILLA, GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH) and the
stunning Kumi Mizuno (FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD) whose look in this film
became one of the iconic images of Toho's fantasy films. Another first was the inclusion
of an American actor, Nick Adams (REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, the 1950s television series
"The Rebel"), in a prominent role in a Godzilla film. Unlike Raymond Burr's
performance in GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS, which was later edited into the film for
U.S. release, Adams was part of the original Japanese production. The English-language
version is probably the most quotable Godzilla movie; Adams' voice was thankfully
untouched and nearly every line of he speaks is a gem. [English
New 35mm Print! EBIRAH, HORROR OF THE DEEP (a.k.a. GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER), 1966, Columbia, 83 min. Directed by Jun Fukuda.
Starring Akira Takarada, Kumi Mizuno, Toru Watanabe and Akihiko Hirata. Special Effects by
Eiji Tsuburaya. A bank robber and several young men wash ashore on tropical Letchi Island
where they find the secret base of a terrorist organization called "The Red
Bamboo" that uses natives kidnapped from Mothra's island home as slave labor. With
Mothra in hibernation on Infant Island and the giant crustacean Ebirah prowling the nearby
ocean depths, escape seems impossible until the castaways discover Godzilla asleep
in one of Letchi's caves! Originally written as OPERATION ROBINSON CRUSOE: KING KONG VS.
EBIRAH, a live-action adaptation of the 1966 Rankin-Bass "King Kong" cartoon
show, the story was reworked and Godzilla became a last-minute substitute for the famous
ape. As with INVASION OF THE ASTRO-MONSTERS, the human cast (led by INVASION co-stars
Akira Takarada and Kumi Mizuno) carry the story, and once again deliver an entertaining
adventure that would have been enjoyable even without the presence of giant monsters.
EBIRAH: HORROR OF THE DEEP was released directly to television in the U.S. as the English
dubbed GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER, so this is a rare opportunity to see the original
Japanese version on the big screen. [In Japanese with English subtitles.] Introduction to screenings by art director Yasuyuki Inoue and model
mechanic Akinori Takagi.
Sunday, June 27 2:00 PM
Triple Feature Toho Monster Marathon!!
RODAN, 1956, Toho, 72 min. Directed by Ishiro Honda. Starring
Kenji Sahara, Yumi Shirakawa and Akihiko Hirata. Special Effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. A
mining crew in Kyushu digs too deep and awakens monstrous insects and something
even larger and more terrifying. The team behind the original GODZILLA (including
co-writer Takeo Murata and legendary composer Akira Ifukube) reunited for Toho's first
color monster movie, which was a box office success in both Japan and the U.S. Rodan
became one of Toho's most popular creations, returning to battle against and alongside
Godzilla in films like GHIDORAH: THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER, INVASION OF THE ASTRO-MONSTERS
and DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (which are all being shown at this festival), while the giant
insects called Meganuron were revamped for 2000's GODZILLA VS. MEGAGUIRUS. RODAN also
provided the first starring role for actor Kenji Sahara, who appeared in a record 12
Godzilla movies! This is a rare-screening of an original IB Technicolor print of RODAN. [English dubbed version.] Discussion
following with voice actor on the US language version, George Takei (STAR TREK).
GHIDORAH, THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER, 1964, Toho, 85 min.
Directed by Ishiro Honda. Starring Yosuke Natsuki, Yuriko Hoshi, Hiroshi Koizumi, the
Peanuts, Hisaya Ito and Akiko Wakabayashi. Special Effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. A mysterious
prophetess makes horrifying predictions that soon prove true: Rodan and Godzilla both
return to menace mankind (and each other) while the "Monster of Monsters" King
Ghidorah emerges from a fallen meteor and proceeds to destroy all in its path. Can Mothra
convince Godzilla and Rodan to join forces against this new and greater menace? A landmark
film in the Godzilla series, GHIDORAH teamed the King of the Monsters with his two most
popular monster co-stars; introduced the golden space dragon who would become his arch
nemesis; and was the first step in Godzilla's gradual change from villain to hero. [English dubbed version with Spanish subtitles.]
THE H-MAN WILL NOT BE SHOWN
AS PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED. IN ITS PLACE WILL BE THE FOLLOWING FILM, BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE.
WE ARE SORRY FOR THE CHANGE IN SCHEDULE.
BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE
1959, Columbia, 90 min. Dir. Ishiro Honda Nations of the world unite against a massive
alien force, doing spaceship and raygun battle in space and on the Moon to thwart the
invaders' onslaught. A pretty impressive special effects display for the time period. With
Ryo Ikebe, Kyoko Anzai, Koreya Senda, Yoshio Tsuchiya
THE H-MAN, 1958, Columbia, 79 min. Directed by Ishiro Honda.
Starring Yumi Shirakawa, Kenji Sahara and Akihiko Hirata. Special Effects by Eiji
Tsuburaya. 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).
[English dubbed version.] [There will be a 10-minute break between each feature.] Introduction to screenings by art director Yasuyuki Inoue and model
mechanic Akinori Takagi.
Special Ticket Price: $12.00 General Public; $10.00
Students/Seniors; and $8.00 Cinematheque Members for this event only.
Tuesday, June 29 7:00 PM
GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH (a.k.a. GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTER), 1971, Toho, 87 min. 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.
[English dubbed version.] Discussion following with art
director Yasuyuki Inoue and model mechanic Akinori Takagi.
Tuesday, June 29 9:15 PM
GODZILLA VS. GIGAN, 1972, Toho, 89 min. Directed by Jun
Fukuda. Starring Hiroshi Ishikawa, Tomoko Umeda and Yuriko Hishimi. Special Effects by
Teruyoshi Nakano. From a secret base hidden inside a life-sized Godzilla-shaped office
building in a children's amusement park, alien cockroaches (!!) launch an assault on earth
using King Ghidorah and the cyborg monster Gigan. While a comic book artist and his
friends attempt to foil the invaders' plans, Godzilla and Angilas battle the space
monsters. Despite a remarkably low budget and lots of obviously recycled stock footage,
this entry is a high-energy slug-fest that introduces one of Toho's most colorfully
imaginative monsters: the sickle-armed evildoer Gigan. It is also your only chance to hear
Godzilla speak! This was suit actor Haruo Nakajima's final performance as Godzilla. [English dubbed version]
New 35mm Print! GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH, 1991, Columbia, 100 min. Directed by
Kazuki Omori. Starring Anna Nakagawa, Isao Toyohara, Megumi Odaka, Chuck Wilson and Yoshio
Tsuchiya. Special Effects by Koichi Kawakita. Time travelers from the 23rd
Century arrive in Japan and announce Godzilla will soon cause a nuclear accident that will
destroy the country. In order to prevent this, the Futurians offer to go back in time and
erase Godzilla from history... but their agenda is not as benevolent as it appears to be.
While a rather convoluted plot may confuse some viewers, GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH is an
entertaining Godzilla film befitting Toho's 60th Anniversary. The beautiful
Anna Nakagawa (CURE) stands out as time traveler Emi Kano, popular actress Megumi Odaka
reprises her GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE role of psychic girl Miki Saegusa and Kurosawa and
Godzilla series veteran Yoshio Tsuchiya steals the show as Shindo, a man who sees his
savior Godzilla become the destroyer of Tokyo. Tsuchiya's face-off with the King of the
Monsters ranks as one of the most memorable and touching scenes in the entire Godzilla
series. King Ghidorah returns to the big screen after an absence of 19 years to once again
bedevil Godzilla, and a new version of the monster is also introduced the
futuristic cyborg Mecha-King Ghidorah. [In Japanese with English