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Monster movies? Some more cowbell please
Not going to lie, I’ve been dying to see the new Godzilla movie since I saw the first trailer.
And not because parts of south Vancouver Island — including Shawnigan Lake and Ladysmith — were used as locations for scenes, but because I love me a monster movie (or what’s referred to as a “creature feature.”)
Ridley Scott’s Alien punched me right in the gut with both fists when I saw it. Pure terror.
And John Carpenter’s The Thing re-defined what a monster movie really is by turning a sci-fi concept into a horror film of epic proportions. YouTube search, “The Thing CPR scene” and try to disagree with me (warning: extremely NSFW/NSFL).
But for whatever reason, when I was young I gravitated toward all the classic films that Ray Harryhausen did the stop-motion creature animation for: The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, It Came From Beneath the Sea. All that stuff was unreal.
It has — to this day — exceptional charm, because Harryhausen’s hands were all over every manipulation of the miniatures, and he personally pushed the button to expose every single frame of film while creating those iconic scenes.
So it was easy for me to accept the crudeness of all the original Godzilla films. The fact that I knew it was a guy dressed in a rubber suit stomping on model cities meant nothing to me.
That had a charm all its own.
I was more enamoured with the possibility there really could be a “Monster Island.” Or that two tiny Japanese girls could summon a giant moth to get some serious work done when it was needed.
As a child, I was fascinated by dinosaurs - and this is way before Jurassic Park.
T-Rex, pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, brontosaurus — I can rattle off names still.
The creators of Godzilla took some of those dinosaurs, and made amazing characters out of them. All the while commenting on the nuclear age.
I know some people — maybe a lot of them — don’t see the appeal, and wonder why Hollywood continues to re-hash old stuff.
In this case, it’s easy.
Giant monsters are cool.
Some people buy in because they just love the mass destruction. Others identify with the what-if/what-would-I-do aspect.
For me, a Kaiju film — literally “strange creature” in Japanese, but now widely accepted as “monster” — takes me back to when I was a kid.
That’s where I would sit with wide-eyed wonderment at both the possibilities of our existence on this planet, and the creativity of the people who were showing me this vision of exactly that.
Truth be told, there’s a cammed copy of the new Godzilla online. I watched the opening scenes.
I had to force myself to stop watching, knowing that I was missing so much detail. And how is a cammed version on my laptop ever going to equal the experience of a full Godzilla roar in the theatre?
So today’s the day when I’ve got a movie date with one of film’s most bad-ass monsters.
Jay Siska writes monthly in the News Leader Pictorial. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.