Archive for the ‘furry film classics’ category

Original “Godzilla” Actor Dies…

August 8, 2017


He waded out of the Pacific Ocean in 1954, and into cinematic history.  He was one of the great ones, in every sense of the word.  And now it is with regret that I report that the original actor to play Godzilla has died of pneumonia at the age of 88…

Haruo Nakajima played Godzilla in twelve films, his last outing in 1972’s Godzilla vs. Gigan.  To prepare for the original role, Nakajima went to the Tokyo zoo to study the movements of elephants and bears, believing that Godzilla had to move convincingly to avoid being a farce.  The suit that he wore weighed up to 220 lbs. as it was crafted in part of ready-mixed concrete.  Stomping among miniaturized sets, Nakajima suffered for his art as wearing the suit caused him to sweat terribly.

Nakajima began his movie career in samurai and war movies before becoming a monster movie icon.  Not limited to one role, Nakajima also played Rodan, Mothra (my personal favorite), and King Kong! – – Thank you, Haruo, for bringing the King of the Monsters to life!  

Kong:  Skull Island

March 15, 2017

Magnificent, isn’t he? – – And that’s as it should be, because it’s hard to imagine an imaginary creature with the history and pedigree of King Kong.  This is not a “monster,” but rather royalty…and from his cinematic origins in the 1930’s original, Kong has spawned a variety of movies, such as the 1976 and 2005 versions.  Nothing breeds imitation like success…

While we aren’t going back to the world of 1933 in this version, it’s set in the era of 1973, and is part King Kong reboot and part homage to such Vietnam era movies as Apocalypse Now and Platoon, complete with period cultural references.  The movie runs almost two hours, and we’re introduced to the big guy after about half an hour. Most of the human characters are two dimensional stereotypes and are basically monster chow, although such notables as John Goodman appear as a “tinfoil hat” crazy theorist. There’s lots of good mayhem, with Kong not only taking on humans but also a giant octopus and Huey gunships, one of which he spikes like a volleyball.  We visit also a gigantic water buffalo and enormous ants; Kong isn’t even the baddest creature to inhabit this lost world.

Kong:  Skull Island is also a launching pad for a “MonsterVerse” of additional but related movies which will include the re-emergence of Godzilla, and of course the inevitable battle royal between these two cinematic icons.  It should be a fun ride, and it’s playing now in theaters…

 

Visions of Flying Monkeys…

February 22, 2013

flying monkey

– – In the beginning, there was the classic The Wizard of Oz in 1939, based on L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Disney had contemplated an animated film based on the first of Baum’s Oz books, but lost out the rights to MGM in 1938, and the rest became film history. Disney Productions did acquire the rights to the remaining thirteen Oz books in 1954, and in 1985, Disney produced Return to Oz, a rather dark and eerie film which was not exactly child-friendly or in the spirit of its predecessor, and so performed poorly, both critically and commercially.  The Oz franchise was then basically put into mothballs for more than a quarter century…and lo, I have waited these many years for a really good flying monkey, one with a discernible personality, not just one of the “Army of Darkness” type drones that served the Wicked Witch in the original…

…and at long last, Sam Raimi, who gave us the Spiderman trilogy, appears poised to deliver just that!  In Oz the Great and Powerful, we are given flying monkeys that not only talk, but are gentle and whimsical creatures, worthy furry sidekicks!  We are also given so much more…three witches, and the backstories to the Oz saga that fleshes out both the place, and the “Wizard” who becomes its reluctant and faltering savior.  Constructed as a “prequel” to the original 1939 classic, this film has big shoes to fill, but just might pull it off…but don’t expect to see ruby slippers, they are copyrighted to the original.  It will be so good to see the Wicked Witch again, as the better the villain, the better the tale!  And the green-hued one looks awesome!

Oz the Great and Powerful is coming to theaters March 8th…and as always, best witches to you all!

“Frankenweenie” is Coming!

September 13, 2012

– – Frankenweenie, a film directed by Tim Burton, is coming this October!  A remake of a 1984 short film by Burton, Frankenweenie is a 3D, black-and-white, stop motion-animated comedy horror film.  Like its 1984 predecessor, the film is both a parody of and an homage to the 1931 film Frankenstein as based on Mary Shelley’s classic gothic novel.  

In the film, a young Victor Frankenstein deploys the power of science to bring his beloved dog, Sparky, back to life.  Unintended and sometimes monstruous consequences ensue.  Vocal talents include Martin Short, Winona Ryder, and Martin Landau.  The art has the look of The Nightmare Before Christmas, and should be well worth a look!

Strange Furry Cinema…

September 1, 2012

– – Nearing Labor Day as this blog reaches the 300,000 hits mark, we pause to thank our readers for making this possible.  And as we consider dubious achievements, we will also make mention of possibly the worst furry-themed movie ever made…Howard the Duck! 

Widely panned by critics as being one of the worst movies ever, Howard the Duck was actually produced by George Lucas, but wasn’t exactly, ahem, a feather in his cap.  The screenplay was originally intended to be an animated film based on the Marvel comic book of the same name, but contractual obligations required Lucas to provide his then-distributor with a live action film.  The satirical and surrealist strengths of the original source material were then abandoned with a script which altered the personality of the title character.  The uneven 1986 science fiction comedy film which resulted was largely too juvenile for adults but inappropriate for children, exposing us in one scene to anthropomorphic duck breasts; yes, you heard that right!  Some have commented that the scene mentioned has alone created legions of avian furry afficionados.

So whether Howard failed due to deviating from the source material, a poor script, or from featuring a title character presented by actors in a duck suit, one fact remains…at the box office, this turkey didn’t fly!  Daffy Duck would have been a far more compelling male lead…

Some “Thing” Familiar…

October 17, 2011

 – – I saw some Thing this weekend that was both some Thing old and some Thing new…namely, the prequel to the 1982 John Carpenter classic film of the same name.  The film was basically true to the mood and feeling of Carpenter’s previous epic, and has been criticized for not striking its own identity.  Heavy on atmospherics and paranoia, the new Thing is a dark movie…as well it should be.  The grandfather of the series, The Thing From Another World (1951),  was a classic film way ahead of its time, drawing in turn from the 1938 John W. Campbell novella, Who Goes There?

While the alien monster in John Carpenter’s film went out of its way to hide its identity and avoid detection, this prequel alien is much more visible, looking like a Lovecraft-inspired horror of claws, jaws, and flailing tentacles.  When we see the full-bodied creature scrabbling about, it appears part cephalopod and part crustacean, morphing as it assimilates and mimics the cellular structure of its victims and then hiding within them until the time for its next power play. 

We are taken inside the massive starcraft of the alien when the few survivors of the decimated Antarctic Norwegian research station decide to limit the contagion by tracking the creature home, and in the closing scenes of the movie the filmmakers provide seamless transition scenes to where the Carpenter film begins.  While some of the prequel’s characters are monster kibble, Mary Elizabeth Winstead turns in a strong performance as paleontologist Kate Lloyd, a woman who like Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley knows her way around a flamethrower…

Hail, Caesar!

July 24, 2011

 – – Caesar’s back, and he’s dark and seriously miffed…Caesar of the Planet of the Apes franchise, that is!  It’s been a long time since the original 1968 Charlton Heston Apes movie introduced us to what was then revolutionary special effects make-up  and the delights of Roddy McDowall as chimpanzee archaeologist Cornelius; he would later play Cornelius’ son, Caesar, in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, and later in Battle for the Planet of the Apes.  McDowall characteristically spent close to four hours in the make-up chair for each chimpanzee transformation.  Despite wearing heavy ape prosthetic appliances, McDowall was able to effectively emote his character’s personality by exaggerating his facial expressions.

In the new Rise of the Planet of the Apes movie headed your way in August, a scientist is experimenting on a chimpanzee named Caesar to develop a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.  Caesar’s intelligence is greatly enhanced by the experiments, and well…you know the rest.  The CGI apes have amazingly intelligent-looking eyes, but it remains to be seen whether this new Apes movie will be more fun than a barrel of monkeys or will simply drive you bananas…