Giant Asian Monsters on the Big Screen in January
Giant Asian monsters return to movie theaters in North America this month with the Canadian premiere of the infamous PULGASARI (1985) and a screening of the popular GODZILLA, MOTHRA AND KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK (Gojira, Mosura, Kingughidora: Daikaiju Soshingeki, 2001) in Atlanta.
At 9:30pm on January 30, the Bloor Cinema in Toronto, Canada will open their “Workers Paradise!—The North Korean Film Series” with PULGASARI. The film series is being presented by Koryo Canada— a group specializing in tourism and goodwill exchanges with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Reminiscent of Germany’s Golem and Japan’s Daimajin, the monster Pulgasari first appears to help the people destroy the chains of the feudal Choson dynasty but soon grows out of control.
PULGASARI was produced under the direct supervision of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il, and directed under duress by South Korean filmmaker Shin Sang-ok, who had been kidnapped by North Korean forces in 1978. Kim intended that PULGASARI be an allegory for the dangers of unfettered capitalism and the strength of the collective, but Shin instead made a film that slyly mocked the North Korean leader.
The legally employed staff of PULGASARI included Teruyoshi Nakano— special effects director of Toho’s Godzilla series from GODZILLA VS HEDORAH (1971) to THE RETURN OF GODZILLA (1984)— cameraman Kenji Eguchi, and Kenpachiro Satsuma, the man in the Godzilla suit from 1984 to 1995. Satsuma later wrote about his experiences playing Pulgasari in a book called North Korea as Seen by Godzilla.
In 1986, Shin Sang-ok and his wife escaped their captors and were given asylum in the United States. In response, Kim Jong-Il removed Shin’s directorial credit from PULGASARI and replaced it with the name of filmmaker Jo Chong-gon. Shin’s account of his kidnapping and work on PULGASARI were published by the British newspaper The Guardian in 2003.
PULGASARI was not distributed outside of North Korea for many years. In 1998 it was given a limited theatrical run in Japan and in July, 2000 it was shown for the first time in South Korea. PULGASARI was released on American VHS in 2001 and had its US theatrical premiere at the Japanese culture center at Columbia, New York in 2005. The movie has never before screened in Canada.
The Bloor Cinema is located at 506 Bloor St West, Toronto, Ontario, M55 1Y3, Canada. Additional information can be found on the theater hotline at 416-516-2330.
One day after PULGASARI makes his Canadian debut, Japan’s King of the Monsters returns to Atlanta, GA for a screening of GODZILLA, MOTHRA AND KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK at the Plaza Theatre.
With GMK, director Shusuke Kaneko (1990s GAMERA trilogy, DEATH NOTE) 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.
GODZILLA, MOTHRA AND KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK will be shown January 31 as part of the latest Silver Scream Spook Show, a monthly event featuring live stage shows and 35mm prints of classic monster movies. Previous Shows have featured such movies as KING KONG, MOTHRA, BRIDE OF THE MONSTER, IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA, GODZILLA VS THE SEA MONSTER, and INFRA-MAN so SciFi Japan recommends that readers in the Atlanta area keep an eye on Silver Scream Spook Show’s MySpace page for announcements of future screenings.
The 1:00pm Kids Matinee of GMK has free admission for everyone 12 and under, with Adult tickets for $7.00. Tickets to the 10:00pm evening show are $10.00 each.
The Plaza Theatre is located at 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave, Atlanta, GA 30306. Check the theater’s official site or call 404-873-1939 for more information.