JAPANESE GIANT MONSTERS FILM FESTIVAL IN HOLLYWOOD
GAMERA THE BRAVE, MIRROR MAN, GREAT YOKAI WAR, NEGADON, ULTRAMAN MAX and GODZILLA at the Egyptian Theatre!
Author: Keith Aiken
Source: American Cinematheque
What better way is there to celebrate the 4th of July weekend than watching Japanese monsters rampaging on the big screen? From June 30-July 2, the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood will host “Giant Monsters On the Loose”, the third annual kaiju eiga film festival from the prestigious American Cinematheque.
In June 2004, the Cinematheque held the “Godzilla 50th Anniversary Tribute”, a Toho-themed film festival that screened 14 movies and shorts. Audiences were treated to such classics as RODAN, KING KONG VS GODZILLA, MONSTER ZERO, GODZILLA VS THE SEA MONSTER, and DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, plus the US theatrical premieres of GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA and GODZILLA: TOKYO SOS. The following year the “Japanese Giant Monsters Festival” was expanded to include programming from Tsuburaya Productions. The 2005 festival featured rarely seen Toho movies like MATANGO and KING KONG ESCAPES, the US premiere of ULTRAMAN: THE NEXT, and seven different Godzilla films (including six screenings of GODZILLA: FINAL WARS).
The American Cinematheque’s kaiju festivals have been big hits, so this year comes “Giant Monsters On the Loose”. Once again, the Egyptian Theatre brings audiences the latest and most requested movies from Japan… the 2006 lineup includes the US premieres of Kadokawa Pictures’ brand-new GAMERA THE BRAVE and Tsuburaya Productions’ MIRROR MAN: REFLEX (the new film from the director of last year’s festival hit ULTRAMAN: THE NEXT) plus the Los Angeles premieres for Takashi Miike’s THE GREAT YOKAI WAR, the award-winning CG kaiju film NEGADON: THE MONSTER FROM MARS, and episodes of the popular ULTRAMAN MAX directed by Miike and Shusuke Kaneko.
Of special note is that 2006 marks the 50th anniversary of the release of GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS, which also makes this year the 50th anniversary of the kaiju eiga in America. To celebrate that milestone, Saturday July 1 will be a special Godzilla night focusing on GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS and GODZILLA 2000 — the first and last Godzilla movies to be given wide theatrical distribution in the United States. Both films were “Americanized” for their US releases, so these screenings will be accompanied by special presentations and discussions with guests Terry Morse Jr, Michael Schlesinger, and others who created the American versions of these movies. Fans will have a rare opportunity to learn exactly how and why these films were altered for the US, direct from the people who made those changes.
Another great addition to “Giant Monsters On the Loose” is the involvement of Classic Media, the company that will be releasing seven Godzilla films on DVD this September. Classic Media is sponsoring the GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS screening, and will give fans a sneak preview of their upcoming DVDs. The company will also be providing Godzilla giveaways and prizes for the festival.
As with previous kaiju festivals, attendees will also be able to shop for kaiju merchandise at the Anime Jungle booth.
The Egyptian Theatre is located at 6712 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood CA. Ticket prices to the theater are $9.00 general, $7.00 students and seniors, and $6.00 for American Cinematheque members. Double features are two films for one ticket price. Tickets can be purchased at the theater box office, and by fax at 323-467-0163. Complete ordering instructions, parking info, and directions are available on the Egyptian Theatre website.
GIANT MONSTERS ON THE LOOSE
Series compiled by Keith Aiken and Chris D.
Presented in association with Giant Robot
Special Thanks: Carl Morano/MEDIA BLASTERS; Peter Tatara/CENTRAL PARK MEDIA; Michael Schlesinger/SONY REPERTORY; Brad Warner/TSUBURAYA PRODUCTIONS; Lisa Bull/CLASSIC MEDIA; Eric di Bernardo/RIALTO PICTURES; Golan Ramras/KADOKAWA PICTURES; Ed Godziszewski and Steve Ryfle.
Friday, June 30- Premiere Night!
Los Angeles Premiere! NEGADON: THE MONSTER FROM MARS (Wakusei Daikaiju Negadon, 2005) Directed by Jun Awazu- The world’s first 100% computer generated kaiju film is a loving homage to the classic Japanese monster movies of the 1950s and 60s. In the year 2025, the Earth’s population has swelled beyond 10 billion people, and the planet’s resources are nearly exhausted. The nations of the world have united to form the IMDO (International Mars Development Organization) to execute the Mars Terraforming Project in the hopes of making the red planet a habitable world.
While investigating ancient ruins buried beneath the surface of Mars, the crew of the MTP spaceship Izanami comes across a mysterious artifact. The team decides to transport the object back to Earth for further study. Something goes terribly wrong during re-entry, and the Izanami crashes back to Earth, unleashing its destructive passenger in the heart of Tokyo.
NEGADON: THE MONSTER FROM MARS is the directorial debut of Jun Awazu, whose previous credits include MASKED RIDER 555 and the Godzilla film GMK (also playing during this festival). Following the world premiere last October at the Tokyo International Film Festival, the film went on to win the Outstanding Production Award at the 20th Digital Contents Grand Prix, and the Jury Recommended Work at the 9th Japan Media Arts Festival. (Central Park Media, 26 min., Japanese with English Subtitles)
An Evening with Kadokawa Pictures: Premiere Double-Feature!
Los Angeles Premiere! THE GREAT YOKAI WAR (Yokai Daisenso, 2005) Directed by Takashi Miike, Starring Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mai Takahashi, Hiroyuki Miyasako, Masaomi Kondo, Chiaki Kuriyama, Sadawo Abe, Etsushi Toyokawa, and Bunta Sugawara- While attending a festival at an ancient shrine, a timid young boy named Tadashi is suddenly chosen to be the next Kirin Rider, a warrior of peace who must defend the world in times of darkness. According to legend, the Kirin Rider must scale a nearby mountain and claim the legendary Goblin Sword guarded by the Great Goblin. When his grandfather is abducted and children from all over Japan begin to disappear, Tadashi decides he must fulfill his destiny. As he heads towards the mountain he encounters all kinds of yokai… strange mystical beings that come in a variety of bizarre forms— some hideous, some cute— and have incredible supernatural powers. The disappearances are the work of the evil Lord Yasunori Kato and his henchwoman Agi the Bird-Catching Sprite (Chiaki Kuriyma). The pair have been capturing yokai and merging them with discarded items to make an army of mechanical monsters called Kikai. Tadashi must unite the good yokai to oppose Lord Kato, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.
Director Takashi Miike has a reputation as one of the most prolific, talented, and controversial filmmakers in the world with credits such as AUDITION, ICHI THE KILLER, GOZU, ONE MISSED CALL, ZEBRAMAN, IZO, ULTRAMAN MAX (showing July 2), and the “banned” episode of Showtime’s MASTERS OF HORROR. With THE GREAT YOKAI WAR, Miike turns his unique storytelling and visual skills towards a big budget update of the classic Daiei films of the late 1960s. The result is great entertainment; a wonderful blend of adventure, horror, and comedy featuring hundreds of bizarre creatures. The film also boasts a stand out performance from fan favorite actress Chiaki Kuriyama, best known as Takako Chigusa in BATTLE ROYALE and Go Go Yubari in KILL BILL VOL 1. (Media Blasters, 124 min., Japanese with English Subtitles)
US Premiere! GAMERA THE BRAVE (Chiisaki Yusha-tachi Gamera, 2006) Directed by Ryuta Tazaki, Special Effects by Kenji Suzuki, Starring Ryo Tomioka , Kousuke Aizawa, Kaho, Shingo Ishikawa, and Shogo Narita- Thirty years ago, the giant fire-breathing turtle Gamera disappeared during a battle against the flying monsters called Gyaos. In 2006, a young boy named Toru Aizawa discovers a turtle egg on a beach. The egg hatches in his hand, and Toru decides to keep the tiny newborn as a pet. The little turtle grows quickly and soon displays some very unusual behavior such as flying and breathing fire. Toru realizes that he has found a baby Gamera!
A giant sea monster called Zedus comes ashore to feast on human beings, and the new Gamera comes to the rescue of Toru and his friends. But the little monster is no match for his bigger, stronger, and faster opponent. Gamera is severely wounded, and Zedus turns its attention to the city of Nagoya. Can the young Gamera recover from his injuries, and will he be able to find a way to stop the threat of Zedus?
A new creative team led by director Ryuta Tazaki (KAMEN RIDER AGITO, SHIBUYA 15) and special effects director Isao Kaneko (GODZILLA VS BIOLLANTE, TETSUJIN 28) brings a fresh start to the Gamera series, completely unconnected to the previous films. GAMERA THE BRAVE opened in Japan on April 29 and makes its US debut at this festival. (Kadowkawa Pictures, 97 min., Japanese with English Subtitles)
Saturday, July 1- Celebrating 50 Years of Godzilla in America!
Ultra-Rare Screening! GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS! (Gojira 1954/1956) Directors Ishiro Honda and Terry Morse, Special Effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, Starring Raymond Burr, Akira Takarada, Akihiko Hirata, Momoko Koichi, Takashi Shimura, and Haruo Nakajima- During a layover in Japan, United World News reporter Steve Martin (Raymond Burr) stumbles on the story of the century… Godzilla’s first raid on Tokyo!
In 1954 Toho released GODZILLA, a blockbuster hit that spawned 27 sequels, a big-budget US remake, and dozens of Japanese monster movies. Late the following year, US rights to the film were acquired by a group of independent distributors who combined to form Trans World Releasing Corp. In order to increase the appeal of an all-Japanese production barely a decade after World War II, Trans World decided to recut GODZILLA and give it an American perspective. Director Terry Morse was hired to supervise the process and direct new scenes with actor Raymond Burr (REAR WINDOW, PERRY MASON). This new version, entitled GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS!, was released on April 4, 1956. It became the first Japanese film to receive a wide theatrical release in America and helped launch Godzilla as an international icon.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Godzilla’s American debut, and in anticipation of the upcoming DVD release of both the US and Japanese versions of this film, the Egyptian Theatre and Classic Media present an extremely rare theatrical screening of GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS! (Rialto Pictures, 80 min., English Dub) Following the film will be a presentation on the making of GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS! and a discussion with Terry Morse Jr. Morse worked as an editor on the film, and is the son of the director of the American sequences. Sponsored by Classic Media’s Godzilla DVD collection, coming in September 2006.
Saturday, July 1
8:30 PM – Double Feature!
GODZILLA 2000 (Gojira Ni-sen Mireniamu, 1999) Directed by Takao Okawara, Special Effects by Kenji Suzuki, Starring Takehiro Murata, Naomi Nishida, Hiroshi Abe, Shiro Sano, Maya Suzuki, and Tsutomu Kitagawa- Following TriStar Pictures’ poorly received American remake of GODZILLA, Toho brought back the original Japanese Godzilla for his first film in four years. A government team salvages a spaceship that had crashed into the ocean millions of years ago. Unfortunately the craft still houses the consciousness of the alien crew, who begin looking for the means to recreate their long-decayed bodies. They soon discover that Godzilla’s unique genetic structure is exactly what they need, and the aliens set in motion their plans to conquer the world. But the King of the Monsters has other ideas and takes on the spaceship and the alien beast Orga for a duel to the death in Tokyo.
GODZILLA 2000 launched the third wave of Godzilla films that recently ended with GODZILLA: FINAL WARS. It was quickly picked up by Sony Pictures and became the first Toho-produced Godzilla movie to receive a wide stateside release in 15 years. It was also the last (to date) Godzilla film to be “Americanized”; executive producer and dialogue director Michael Schlesinger supervised the team that handled the editing, dubbing, music, and sound effects for the US theatrical release. Toho was so pleased with the end result that they used the American version for their international sales of GODZILLA 2000. (Sony Repertory, 99 min., English Dub) Following the film, Producer Michael Schlesinger and the American voice cast and crew take part in a discussion revealing how GODZILLA 2000 was prepared and dubbed for its US release.
GODZILLA, MOTHRA AND KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK (Gojira, Mosura, Kingughidora: Daikaiju Soshingeki, 2001) Directed by Shusuke Kaneko, Special Effects by Makoto Kamiya, Starring Chiharu Niiyama, Ryudo Uzaki, Masahiro Kobayashi, Shiro Sano, Hideo Amamoto, Mizuho Yoshida, Rie Ota, and Akira Ohashi- After 50 years, Godzilla returns as a terrifying specter of war bent on destroying Japan as vengeance for the restless souls of World War II victims. Standing in his way are the Sacred Guardian Beasts Mothra, King Ghidorah, and Baragon… but are they any match for the true King of the Monsters?
Following his incredible work on the 1990s GAMERA trilogy, director Shusuke Kaneko was given the opportunity to write and direct a Godzilla film. He delivered the biggest critical and commercial success of the third cycle of Godzilla films (1999-2004), a movie that was internationally hailed as one of the best since Godzilla’s heyday in the 1960’s. As with the original GODZILLA, GMK focuses on current issues in Japan… in this case the denial over the country’s actions during WWII. Kaneko brings Godzilla back to his roots, and the devastating affects of the monster’s attacks are clearly shown for the first time in many years. (Sony Repertory, 105 min., Japanese with English Subtitles)
Sunday, July 2 – Tsuburaya Productions Night! 4 Hours of Giant Superheroes and Monsters!
Los Angeles Premiere! ULTRAMAN MAX (Urutoraman Makkusu, 2005) Directed by Shusuke Kaneko and Takashi Miike- In 1963, Toho’s renowned special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya (the genius behind such hits as GODZILLA, RODAN, and MOTHRA) established his own special effects shop, Tsuburaya Productions. Three years later, the company introduced two classic television shows; the massive hit ULTRA Q and the even more successful ULTRAMAN.
As the Ultra franchise celebrates its 40th Anniversary, Tsuburaya Productions presents three episodes from their 2005-06 series ULTRAMAN MAX, a popular show that brought back several classic monsters as well as original ULTRAMAN stars Susumu Kurobe (Hayata) and Hiroko Sakurai (Fuji). Many of Japan’s top filmmakers grew up with the Ultraman shows, and were all too happy to take a rare turn at directing television with ULTRAMAN MAX. This festival screens a trio of shows from two popular directors; Takashi Miike (AUDITION, GREAT YOKAI WAR) and Shusuke Kaneko (the Gamera trilogy, GMK):
Ep. 1: ULTRAMAN MAX IS BORN– The lava monster Grangon and the freezing monster Ragorath are ravaging Japan, and only the defense force Team DASH and a brave but reckless young man named Kaito Toma stand in their way. As the tide of battle turns against the defenders, a powerful alien being from Nebula M78 arrives on earth. Shusuke Kaneko directs the pilot episode that establishes the cast and premise of ULTRAMAN MAX.
Ep. 15: MIRACLE ON PLANET NUMBER THREE– Max and Team DASH battle a giant monster that feeds off the energy of their attacks. What is the creature’s connection to a young blind musician? This episode is a rather dark commentary on the escalating nature of violence and war by Takashi Miike.
Ep. 16: WHO AM I?– Miike totally changes gears with this silly, slapstick parody of the Ultraman series. Three bizarre monsters cause everyone on earth to lose their memories. When Ultraman Max shows up to save the day, he forgets what he is supposed to do. (Tsuburaya Productions, Approx 90 min., Japanese with English Subtitles)
MIRROR MAN (Miraaman, 1971) Introduced in 1971, MIRROR MAN featured a young newspaper photographer who would switch places with his mirror dimension alter-ego to defend the earth from aliens and monsters. While Mirror Man was a giant, monster-fighting superhero in the style of Ultraman, the series was a different type of program… darker, more menacing, and altogether stranger. The first episode of the original series will be presented as the lead-in for the US premiere of the new MIRROR MAN: REFLEX.
Ep. 1: MIRROR MAN IS BORN– In the 1980’s, the Earth comes under attack by the mysterious forces of the Invaders, nefarious beings from an unknown world bent on conquest and destruction. Professor Mitarai forms the Science Guard Members (SGM), a high-tech fighting force whose task it is to protect our world. Meanwhile, newspaper photographer Kyotaro Kagami discovers that he is actually a member of a race of super powered beings from the Second Dimension. When the Invaders send a gigantic beast to devastate the city, Kyotaro uses his newfound power and transforms into Mirror Man, a towering superhero. But is even Mirror Man strong enough to defeat this terrible foe? (Tsuburaya Pro, 24 min., Japanese with English Subtitles)
US Premiere! MIRROR MAN: REFLEX (Miraaman Reflex, 2006) Directed by Kazuya Konaka, Starring Ryo Karato, Yuko Ito, Miku Itaji, Noboyuki Itaji, and Hitomi Miwa- In 2004 director Kazuya Konaka (ULTRAMAN ZEARTH 2, ULTRAMAN GAIA: THE BATTLE IN HYPERSPACE) helmed the critically acclaimed ULTRAMAN: THE NEXT, a film that presented a darker, more mature take on the classic hero. This year, he teamed up with writer- and brother- Chiaki Konaka (SERIAL EXPERIMENTS: LAIN and ARMITAGE III) to do the same with another of Tsuburaya’s heroes.
In the film MIRROR MAN: REFLEX, the premise of the original show has been updated for the new millennium. The story revolves around a troubled young man, a strange girl who possesses incredible powers, a beautiful scientist with an unforgettable trauma in her past, giant city-smashing monsters, and a mysterious being from a parallel universe that exists beyond the looking glass.
Bringing life to the compelling storyline are an excellent cast, stunning special effects, moody velvet-dark photography, and the classic MIRROR MAN monsters Aian, Darklon, and Golden Satan. MIRROR MAN: REFLEX will shred your expectations of Japanese science fiction. (Tsuburaya Pro, 93 min., Japanese with English Subtitles)