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Friday, September 24:  Azumi 2:  Death to English?! Just a quick warning:  I received Azumi 2:  Death or Love today (see the July 4 update).  Contrary to what pre-release information indicated, this disc does not include English subtitles.  So adjust your purchase plans accordingly.

Thursday, August 18:  GFW in the USA? This flyer from last month's San Diego Comic Con confirms that Sony has acquired Godzilla:  Final Wars, and that a DVD release is in the works.  No release date or other details are available yet.  Stay tuned for future updates!  (Thanks to Bill G. for the scan.)

Monday, July 4:  Another Gamera Vet Returns. September 22 is the Japanese DVD release date for Gamera and GMK director Shusuke Kaneko's Azumi 2:  Death or Love.  The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen, with Japanese Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio.  It will include English subtitles, and the first pressing comes in collectible packaging with a full-color book.  A limited edition Azumi Twin Pack will also be available, which pairs Kaneko's sequel with Ryuhei Kitamura's (Godzilla:  Final Wars) original Azumi (which also has English subtitles).  A Making of Azumi 2 DVD is also available (in Japanese only).  All of these discs are region 2.  For pictures and behind-the-scenes info on Azumi 2:  Death or Love, check out Shusuke Kaneko's official info website.

Saturday, June 25:  Gamera Vets Return. A couple of upcoming DVD releases showcase the directoral efforts of two veterans of the Heisei Gamera series.  First, Tomoo Haraguchi's Kibakichi will be released in region 1 on June 28 by MTI Home Video.  (Haraguchi made the Gamera suits for the trilogy, as well as for the upcoming Gamera the Brave.)  It's the story of a wandering samurai who is, in fact, a werewolf-like yokai!  Sounds cool.  The disc is dual-language, and includes a good selection of extras.  For more info, check out MTI's product page, and the official Japanese site.  FYI, a sequel is coming out soon in Japan.

Coming to DVD in Japan in August is Shinji Higuchi's
Lorelei:  The Witch of the Pacific.  (Higuchi was special effects director for the Gamera trilogy.)  This WWII submarine film will be available in regular and limited editions.  Both present the film in anamorphic widescreen, with Dolby Digital and DTS 6.1 audio, and English subtitles.  The regular edition 2-disc set includes a bonus disc of extras.  The limited edition is a 3-disc set.  The third disc is the film on UMD, a small-disc format used by the Sony PSP handheld video game system.  It's region 2, and comes out August 19.  The UMD will probably only play on Japanese systems as well.

Sunday, June 12:  Crappy Copy Alert! Gamera may be a turtle, but cheap-o DVDs of his movies multiply like bunny rabbits.  The latest set to appear is Gamera:  The Ultimate Collection from Vintage Movie Classics.  This "ultimate" line-up includes 3 movies:  Gammera the Invincible, War of the Monsters, and Destroy All Planets.  It retails for around $7.00, and judging by the screen shots on the back cover, it's just more dupes of the Alpha Video versions.  Click here for the Amazon.com listing, and check out the hilarious cover art!  (Thanks to "lcri" aka "Patman" for the update!)

Saturday, June 11:  More MB Monster Madness. Media Blasters continues blasting away at the Toho monster catalog with two more upcoming releases from their Tokyo Shock label.  First up, more detailed specs have been announced for their July 12 release of Dogora.  While MB has used Toho's own R2 DVD transfers for their earlier releases, they have prepared a new anamorphic widescreen transfer for Dogora.  (Dogora has yet to be released on DVD in Japan.)  Audio options include both the original Japanese language, and English dubbing, in both mono and 5.1, with optional English subtitles.  Extras include trailers, photo and art galleries, and a commentary track (participants TBA).  Secondly, MB have finally fessed up and revealed that they do in fact have the R1 rights to Space Amoeba (aka Yog:  Monster from Space in the U.S.).  They plan to unleash this three-way monster-fest on October 11.  No details on specs or features are available yet, but judging by MB's track record, the film is in good hands.  Meanwhile, Toho's own R2 DVD comes out in Japan later this month.

Monday, May 30:  Ultra-fans Rejoice! For their Japanese Ultraman DVD releases, Tsuburaya Productions have followed the lead taken by Toho with Godzilla:  Japanese language only, with no English-language options.  Fortunately for Ultra-fans in the West, their upcoming release of Ultraman:  The Next will include English subtitles! Entitled simply Ultraman in Japan, this 2004 film is a stand-alone story, not connected to the current Ultraman Nexus TV series.  It has won acclaim (and comparisons to the Heisei Gamera trilogy) for its more mature approach and excellent special effects.  (For more information on the film, check out the Henshin! Online 2005 archive, 1/13 update.)  Ultraman:  The Next will be released on DVD in Japan on July 22.  The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen, with Japanese 5.1 audio.  Both Japanese and English subtitles will be included.  Extras include a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, and trailers.  It is unknown (but doubtful) whether or not the supplements will include English subtitles.  Finally, the first pressing of the disc comes in a metallic slipcover.  MSRP is 3,800 yen (about $35), and as always is available at a discount from Amazon.co.jp.  It's still region 2 of course, so be sure your DVD player can handle the Ultra-action!

Monday, May 30:  The Yokai Rise Again. In addition to Godzilla:  Final Wars, July 29 will also be the release date for The Great Yokai War Summer Movie Preview DVD (Yokai Daisenso Aru Nasu no Bokenki).  The new The Great Yokai War is a remake of the 1969 film Spook Warfare (which is available on region 1 DVD from ADV Films), and is directed by cult action / horror director Takashi Miike.  (Be afraid, be very afraid.)  The DVD preview will include 40 minutes of behind-the-scenes and making-of footage from the upcoming movie.  No English subtitles are expected, and the disc is region 2.  With new Yokai on the way, and plans for a new Gamera film taking shape, it's good to see Kadokawa (Daiei) getting back into the monster business.  Perhaps Daimajin will follow suit?

Monday, April 18:  Daimajin Demolished. With their recent (April 12) re-release of Wrath of Daimajin, ADV Films has accomplished what numerous feudal warlords and evil samurai could not:  They have chopped Daimajin down to size.  The big selling point of their new stand-alone Daimajin discs is that the films have been remastered and are presented in anamorphic widescreen.  (ADV's previous 3-disc Daimajin set was non-anamorphic.)  This was all well and good with Daimajin, but ADV has apparently dropped the ball with Wrath.  The word on the street is that Wrath, despite being remastered and anamorphically enhanced, has also been cropped from its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, down to 1.85:1!  This completely defeats the purpose of remastering and releasing a new version!  It's unfortunate that a 'real' DVD company like ADV has earned the latest DMI crappy copy alert, but that's the way it is.  All Daimajin faithful are encouraged to contact ADV Films' customer service to politely request a re-pressing of Wrath in its correct aspect ratio, and to make sure that the May 3 release of Return of Daimajin does not suffer the same fate.

Saturday, April 9:  Godzilla Final DVDs. The latest last Godzilla movie will be released on DVD in Japan on July 29.  Two versions of Godzilla:  Final Wars will be available:  A standard (single-disc) edition, and a 3-disc special edition.  Disc 1 of the SE includes the film, in anamorphic widescreen, with two audio options:  The "international" version (with Don Frye and the other English-speaking actors' original English dialogue), and the theatrical version (completely dubbed in Japanese), in Dolby Digital 6.1 EX.  The only extras will be trailers, and the only subtitles will be Japanese.  Disc 2 includes a making-of featurette, TV spots, promotional footage, storyboards, and designs.  Disc 3 includes a retrospective documentary on Godzilla's 50-year career.  It's not known yet whether footage from the film's Hollywood premiere will be included.  Two color booklets (8 and 16 pages) round out the set.  The discs are packaged in a digipak with a metallic slipcase.  MSRP is 8,400 yen.  The standard edition is identical to disc 1 of the SE, and includes the booklets but no other special features.  MSRP is 5,040 yen.  Presumably, this is the version that will fit in the Godzilla Final Box DVD mega-set.  Click here for a look at Toho's GFW DVD page, which includes cover art and the design of the SE package.  Remember, these are region 2 NTSC, and include no English dubbing or subtitles.

Saturday, April 9:  MB Update. Here's some more info on new and upcoming releases from Media Blasters:  Their recent release of Sky High is a 2-disc set.  It includes both the theatrical version, and the longer director's cut.  Both versions are presented in anamorphic widescreen, with Japanese 2.0 and 5.1 audio, and optional English subtitles.  The theatrical version also has English dubbing in both 2.0 and 5.1, and a subtitled audio commentary with director Ryuhei Kitamura (Godzilla:  Final Wars), star Yumiko Shaku (The Princess Blade), and others.  Extras include a making-of featurette, trailers, TV spots, a still gallery, and MB previews.  MB's 5/10 release of Varan the Unbelieveable will include the uncut Japanese version of the movie, in anamorphic widescreen.  Audio options include Japanese mono, 2.0, and 5.1, with English subtitles.  Extras include:  An edited Japanese TV version of the movie, both audio commentary and an interview with creature designer Keizo Murase, and trailers.  Neither English dubbing nor the U.S. version (with Myron Healey) will be included.  Their 7/12 Dogora disc will also be in anamorphic widescreen, with Japanese audio, English subtitles, and the original English dub.  More detailed specs (including special features) haven't been announced yet.

Friday, March 25:  A Classic Autumn? Some very interesting product listings have appeared at DVD Planet.  They have the following titles scheduled for release on 10/11:  Godzilla:  King of the Monsters, Godzilla vs. Mothra, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Godzilla's Revenge, Terror of Mechagodzilla, and a Godzilla 5-disc box set with no titles listed, but presumably containing all of the others.  Are these the Classic Media re-releases hinted at earlier this year?  (Scroll down to the 1/25 update.)  The distributor listed is "Sony Music," and Sony is the distributor of CM products.  Also, the UPC codes listed are very similar to the ones for CM's previous releases.  For example, the UPC for CM's Ultimate Godzilla Collection is 074645429090, and the UPC for the new 5-disc set is 074645484396.  Many questions remain:  Will Godzilla KOTM be the uncut Japanese version, as reported in USA Today, or include both versions?  Will the discs live up to the expectations of fans fueled by the earlier reports?  Will more Toho titles (like Frankenstein Conquers the World and War of the Gargantuas) follow?  October is still pretty far off, and only time will tell!

Friday, March 25:  More New & Upcoming Stuff. In addition to the Godzilla titles listed above, DVD Planet also has a listing for a King Kong cartoon 4-disc set for 11/15.  Whether this is the '60s cartoon series on which the Toho film King Kong Escapes was based, or the more recent one about a young man who could summon / turn into the giant ape, is unknown.  If the Sony Music label again means Classic Media, then bet on the former, as CM specializes in vintage animation.  Amazon.com now has listings for two super-cheap double features:  Gammera the Invincible / Attack of the Monsters from Digital 1-Stop, and Monster from a Prehistoric Planet / Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet from DVD Cult Classics.  In both cases, expect public domain prints copied from Alpha Video, which seems to be the trend for cheap-o DVD companies nowadays.  ADV Films continues their anamorphic Daimajin re-releases with Wrath of Daimajin on 4/12 and Return of Daimajin on 5/3.  Finally, Fangoria lists Media Blasters' 3/29 release of Sky High as a 2-disc special edition.  It may include both the theatrical version and the longer director's cut, as the region 2 special edition did.  For more info on the R2 SE, check out the 4/1 update in the 2004 News Archive.  MB is sure to subtitle everything, unlike the R2.

Tuesday, March 8:  Upcoming Disc Specs. Media Blasters has announced specs for the classic Toho DVD releases coming this month from their Tokyo Shock label.  Matango:  Attack of the Mushroom People (3/15):  Anamorphic widescreen video; audio options include the original Japanese mono, Toho international English dub in both 2.0 and 5.1, and a new Spanish mono dub.  Optional English subtitles.  Extras:  Subtitled audio commentary by star Akira Kubo, interview with assistant FX director Teruyoshi Nakano, text from screenwriter Masami Fukushima, the original theatrical trailer, and trailers for other Tokyo Shock releases.  The Mysterians (3/22):  Anamorphic widescreen video; audio options include the original Japanese in mono and 5.1, and new English 5.1 and Spanish mono dub tracks.  Optional English subtitles.  Extras:  Subtitled audio commentary by Heisei-era FX directors Koichi Kawakita (Heisei Godzilla series) and Shinji Higuchi (Heisei Gamera trilogy), music-only audio track, photo and storyboard galleries, the original theatrical trailer, and trailers for other Tokyo Shock releases.  These discs look like the best R1 showa tokusatsu releases yet!  Let's hope MB's upcoming Varan (5/10) and Dogora (7/12) DVDs continue the trend.  (Thanks to Henshin! Online, who have also posted some background info on the films.)

Saturday, February 19:  Another Crappy Copy Alert! Blade Galentine has thrown himself on another grenade for us kaiju fans.  A company called St. Clair Vision has released a set of kaiju movies, and the result isn't pretty.  Simply entitled Giant Monsters, the set includes 9 movies on 3 discs:  Gammera the Invincible, War of the Monsters, Gamera vs. Gaos, Destroy All Planets, Gamera vs. Monster X, The Giant Gila Monster, Monster from a Prehistoric Planet (again!), Warning from Space, and Yongary:  Monster from the Deep.  According to Blade:  "…The worst quality copies of Gamera titles I've seen; even worse than the Diamond Entertainment versions!  Quality of all are like bad DVD copies from Alpha Video prints ... Includes trailers I'm sure are stolen from All Day Entertainment!"  It sells for under $10.00, "...and it shows.  Even the DVD case is bad.  Region 0 and who cares? …there is no web address and no telephone number on the back, no doubt to avoid a lynch mob."  Click here for cover art (an altered pic from The Giant Behemoth), which also promises a poster gallery and "A History of Monster Movies."  Here is Amazon's product page.

Thursday, February 10:  Tokusatsu April. This April is shaping up to be quite the month for Japanese toku releases.  April 22 is of course the ship date for Godzilla Final Box.  On April 21, Toei Video will release the live-action Devilman movie.  Both a standard (single disc) edition and a 2-disc special edition will be available.  On the same day, they will also release Golden Bat (a superhero movie with Sonny Chiba), Invasion of the Neptune Men (an MST3K favorite, also with Chiba), and the silly Legend of the Dinosaurs (brought to the States years ago by Sandy Frank).  Finally, April 29 will see the release of Tsuburaya's complete original 1966 Ultraman series in a limited edition box setAll of these releases are region 2, and none include any English-language options.

Sunday, February 6:  DMI is 2! 2 cool?  2 sweet?  2 much?  Maybe, but it's definitely 2 years old!  That's right, today marks the second anniversary of Digital Monster Island.  Many thanks to all of the giant monster fans who visit the site on a regular basis.  I'm looking forward to many more years of DMI being one of the best kaiju sites on the 'net.  It wouldn't be a special event here at DMI without Jen making some goodies for the occasion.  Check out her Gamera-inspired cake:  It's a white cake with veins of green "blood" inside (green Jell-O, actually).  Gamera is still neat, but he's not filled with turtle meat any more!  Click for images:  Side view, top view, close-up.  Thanks again for two years of reading DMI!

Saturday, January 29:  Release Date Update. Media Blasters' 2005 release plans have been posted by Fangoria.  Here are updated dates on their Toho monster films:  Matango:  Attack of the Mushroom People and The Mysterians are still listed as 3/15 and 3/22 respectively.  Varan the Unbelievable has been moved up to 5/10; Dogora is scheduled for 7/12.

Tuesday, January 25:  HUGE Classic Media News. Last year, Classic Media (makers of the infamous Ultimate Godzilla Collection Box Set) hinted that they were preparing their Godzilla films and other Toho properties for "special edition" release.  Since then, little has been heard of their plans (save for this USA Today snippet) until now.  Some of CM's progress and plans has been posted in multiple online forums (including Tokyo Monsters and Toho Kingdom) by Ian Friedman, aka "gfanikf."  Some important points:  All previously-released titles have been remastered in high definition; CM is working on making the new releases uncut, OAR, and dual-language; and they hope to release the titles by the end of the year.  It has been rumored for several weeks now that CM had acquired the U.S. rights to Godzilla Raids Again and Ghidorah:  The Three-Headed Monster, and that appears to be true.  Perhaps the best omen of all is that CM realizes the bar for R1 Godzilla releases has been raised by Sony's recent efforts, and they intend to meet those expectations.  This is truly great news.  Head on over to one of the forum links above for the full story.

Friday, January 21:  New Release News. It appears that the Tokyo Shock release of The Mysterians, originally scheduled for 1/25, has been delayed.  Retailers such as The Right Stuf and FYE are now listing it as a 3/22 release.  Additionally, The Right Stuf has a 5/31 release date for Tokyo Shock's Varan the Unbelievable.  They list Varan as a hybrid (dual-language) disc.  Since Varan was made before Toho started producing their own international English dubs, this would indicate that both the original Japanese version, and the substantially altered American release, will be included.  Excellent!  As for the Mysterians delay, look at it this way:  It's more time for your wallet to recover from the holidays, and there's now something else to look forward to after the steady stream of Godzilla releases from Sony.  (Thanks to MaserCity's Jim Gange for his detective work.)

In other release news,
Amazon.com is listing a 2/1 release date for Daimajin from ADV Films.  According to ADV's product page, this is a solo release of the first Daimajin film, in Japanese 2.0 with English subtitles.  The big improvement over the version included in ADV's previous Complete Daimajin is a new anamorphic widescreen transfer.  Extras include the "original Daimajin trailer" (Japanese theatrical trailer?) and the usual ADV previews.  It's good to see ADV improving their films for re-release.

Finally, Carl Craig (who played boy scout Jim Morgan in 1968's
Gamera vs. Viras) has a new website, Destroy All Planets.com.  There, you can buy autographed photos and DVDs.  So, for only a few dollars more than it costs elsewhere (but still under $10), you can get a personalized, signed copy of the Alpha Video version of Destroy All Planets.  Cool!

Friday, January 21:  Crappy Copy Alert! A Canadian company called DigitalDisc has released a double feature DVD of Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (AIP dubbed version) and Godzilla vs. Megalon.  Here's what DMI reader Blade Galantine has to say about it:  "Both are full screen ... Quality-wise, the Smog Monster title is not the best print I've seen ... the Megalon print is the same damn copy once sold by Alpha Video.  I see no web site on the back (cover) or anywhere.  This is not a purple or blue DVD-R, but a silver disc so this is a factory-pressed 'real' DVD."  It is available (usually for under $10) on eBay.  Additionally, there is a Smog Monster bootleg on Amazon.com, from an outfit called "Cheezy Flicks."  It actually appeared last month, and Amazon has yet to remove it.  I don't have any details on it, but expect a fullscreen DVD-R and possible CineVu-quality.  In both cases, buyer be aware.

Wednesday, January 12:  Tribute to the Master. On February 1, Sparkhill DVD will release Ray Harryhausen:  The Early Years Collection.  This 2-disc set is a virtual treasure trove of material from and relating to the legendary animator.  It includes:  Early films, Mother Goose Stories and Fairy Tales animated by Harryhausen, tests and experiments, featurettes, tributes, image galleries, and more.  There's literally too much stuff to list here; check out the official site for more details.  This looks like the mother lode for Harryhausen and stop-motion fans.


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