|2009 News Archive|
News & Updates
Wednesday, September 16: Space Monsters in Motown! Early this October, the historic Redford Theater in Detroit will show a double feature of The Blob (color, 1958, starring a gelatinous alien mass that feeds on human flesh) and Kronos (B&W, 1957, starring a giant energy-absorbing alien robot). Showtimes are: 8:00 pm on Friday, October 2; and 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm on Saturday, October 3. Tickets are only $5.00. The Redford Theater is a beautifully restored old-time movie house with very cool Japanese décor. This is one of several Halloween-themed shows at the Redford; click here for their full schedule. See you there!
Tuesday, September 15: Kappa Shock. While browsing around the Tokyo Shock section of Media Blasters' web site, I found a listing for Death Kappa. Death Kappa is a 2009 kaiju film directed by Tomoo Haraguchi, director of Sakuya and Kibakichi 1 & 2, and monster suit maker for the Heisei Gamera trilogy and Gamera the Brave. Not much is known about the film, except that Haraguchi has super-sized the popular yokai to city-smashing proportions, and it's done "old school" with suits and miniatures. No further info on MB's R1 DVD release is available; their site is kind of wonky in that their listing for it brings up a release date of November 17, but the cover art for Zebraman (which is getting a new 2-disc SE come November 10), while their listing for Blade of the Immortal brings up Death Kappa with a release date of April 1 (earliest April Fool's joke ever?). Catch it in their banner and the product page just says "Coming Soon!". In any case, their mentioning of it at all indicates that they have plans for it. (Media Blasters have also released The Machine Girl and Tokyo Gore Police from the same production company). Stay tuned for more details as they become available!
Monday, September 14: Gojira Stumbles onto Blu. Longtime friend of the site Matt Paprocki dropped me an advance email warning about Classic Media's upcoming (September 22) release of Gojira on Blu-ray. He writes: "...I thought readers might want to know before ordering. ... This is a botched release, sloppy and cheap. It is a disappointment to say the least." You can read his full review at DoBlu.com for all the gory details. More info (and screen comparisons) can be found at DVD Beaver.
Thursday, August 6: Up from the Depths (of Obscurity). The latest batch of titles from the Warner Archive Collection DVD-on-demand service includes the long-sought-after The Bermuda Depths. This 1978 TV movie features Carl Weathers, Connie Sellecca, and Burl Ives in a story involving a ghost girl and a giant sea turtle that menaces ocean researchers. It's one of several English-language monster films made by Rankin / Bass that utilized Japanese directors and FX crews (the others being The Last Dinosaur and The Ivory Ape). The disc is 1.33:1 fullscreen, DVD-R, and there are no extras. The price is $14.95. For more info on the Warner Archive Collection, see the 3/24 update. Other new releases of interest include the 1957 killer tree movie From Hell It Came, and Razorback, a 1983 Australian killer boar movie from Highlander director Russell Mulcahy. All 3 of these titles are also part of a "Buy 5 for $49.95" limited-time special offer. (Thanks to Garo S.) UPDATE 8/18: According to SciFi Japan, The Bermuda Depths is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, presumably its theatrical aspect ratio. (Like many genre TV movies, it played theatrically in other countries.)
Thursday, July 23: RIP, Gidget. Gidget, the Chihuahua famous for the late '90s "Yo quiero Taco Bell" ad campaign, has died. She was 15. Gidget will be fondly remembered by kaiju fans for a 1998 commercial (tied in with the release of Tristar's Godzilla) in which she baits the elusive Zilla with Taco Bell food, calling out (in her distinctive dubbed male Mexican accent), "Here, leezard leezard leezard." She later concludes, "I think I need a bigger box." Here is a story on her passing from Yahoo! News. Buenas noches, perro encantador.
Friday, July 10: Something Old and Something Blu. According to Amazon.com, Universal is re-releasing King Kong vs. Godzilla and King Kong Escapes on September 15. They were previously available bundled together in a two-pack; these appear to be the same discs being made available individually. Both films are the American versions, in anamorphic widescreen, dubbed in English, and with no extras. Also, Sony's Godzilla (1998) is coming to Blu-ray on November 3 (Godzilla's 55th birthday!). More details will be posted here on that release when available. (Thanks to Ryan C. for the G'98 news.)
Monday, June 29: Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra: All-Out HD Attack! Not to be outdone by Daimajin and Gamera (see the 4/21 update), Toho Video is bringing their kaiju heavy-hitters to Blu-ray Disc in Japan. On September 18, the original 1954 Gojira makes his Blu debut, along with two later entries in the series: Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). On the same date, the Big G will be joined by two more trend-setting Showa originals: Rodan (1956) and Mothra (1961). Here's what to expect from each disc (new special features, and those presented in HD, are noted; click the titles to preorder):
Gojira: Fullscreen video (1.33:1 OAR). Audio: Japanese mono, music & sound FX track (mono). Extras: Audio commentary w/ actor Akira Takarada, Akira Ifukube interview, a new version of Godzilla's theme (HD / new), picture-in-picture storyboards (new), filming location snapshots (HD / new), Oxygen Destroyer featurette (HD / new), and theatrical trailer (HD).
Godzilla vs. Biollante: Widescreen video (1.85:1 OAR). Audio (Japanese): Dolby Surround (original), Dolby 5.1 (remix). Extras: Audio commentary w/ director Kazuki Omori and FX director Koichi Kawakita, making-of featurette, sets & props, teaser trailers, and theatrical trailer (HD).
Godzilla: Final Wars: Widescreen video (2.35:1 OAR). Audio: Japanese / English Dolby 6.1 (original), Japanese Dolby 6.1 (dub). Extras: Audio commentary w/ director Ryuhei Kitamura and FX director Eiichi Asada, making-of featurette, interviews w/ the director and title designer Kyle Cooper, FX wokshop (Rodan attacks NYC), extended TV debate scene, promo videos, theater manners announcement, TV spots, teaser and theatrical trailers (HD).
Rodan: Fullscreen video (1.33:1 OAR). Audio: Japanese mono, isolated score (mono), music & sound FX track (mono). Extras: Audio commentary w/ FX cameraman Sadamasa Arikawa, 8mm version, location hunting featurette (HD / new), picture book (stills & audio) (HD), and theatrical trailer (HD).
Mothra: Widescreen video (2.35:1 OAR). Audio (Japanese): Mono (original), 4.0 stereo. Extras: Audio commentary w/ actor Hiroshi Koizumi, "Champion Festival" version (HD), and "Mothra Document" featurette (HD / new).
Once again, the Japanese street date is 9/18. MSRP is ¥5,700 (+/- $59 USD) each. The discs are region-free, and include Japanese subtitles, but do not include English subtitles. This is still good news for English-speaking fans, because in the past Toho has rarely allowed U.S. companies to release material that they haven't made available in Japan first. This clears the way for these films to be released internationally in HD, and increases the chance that Classic Media's upcoming Gojira Blu-ray will include the restored Japanese version (see the 5/8 update). (Source: CD Japan; additional translations by James Ballard.)
Wednesday, June 24: Motor City Monster Mayhem! From the Detroit Film Theater website: "Big Man Japan audience members are invited to bring their most fearsome daikaiju figures to do battle on the DFT’s vibrating board of destruction! Matches will be projected onto the DFT’s giant screen prior to the 9:30 p.m. screening on Saturday July 11th, and the monstrosity that pushes at least three opponents off the board will win a season pass for two to the Fall 2009 DFT. All contenders must be less than 10 inches tall, and sign a waiver releasing the Detroit Film Theatre from responsibility in event of their total annihilation." Big Man Japan is playing at the DFT on June 26, 27, and 28; and July 10, 11, and 12. The monster figure battle takes place the evening of July 11 only. Will your Bandai be a contender, a champion, or just a joberoni?
Tuesday, June 23: First Look at Monster X. Wayne B. reports via email on the new daikaiju parody DVD: "I just got the new Monster X Strikes Back DVD from Tokyo Shock / Media Blasters. The following as it goes:
Audio: Japanese 2.0
Extras: Photo Gallery and Tokyo Shock Trailers.
That's all. Pretty much bare bones."
The official street date for Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit is June 30. MSRP is $19.99, but as usual it can be ordered for less online at Amazon.com, HK Flix, and other retailers.
Tuesday, June 16: Icons Update. Steve Ryfle (whose Japan's Favorite Mon-star is still the best English-language book on Godzilla) sends the following message regarding the upcoming Icons of Sci-Fi: Toho Collection: "Thank you for running the recent blurb about the upcoming Icons of Sci-Fi: Toho Collection DVD set, for which Ed Godziszewski and I indeed do provide audio commentaries for 2 of the 3 films. I wanted to point out that these three films are not simply remastered, but they have all been digitally restored by Sony Pictures' asset management and restoration staff. This is quite significant, as no other Toho genre film has received this treatment previously in the U.S. Sony's restoration team includes some of the leaders in the field, and they did quite a fantastic job of restoring these films. I am confident everyone will be pleased with the excellent video and audio quality." Street date for the set is August 18. MSRP is $24.96, but it can be preordered for less online.
Saturday, June 6: RIP, Han. Another great martial arts star is no longer with us: Hong Kong actor Shih Kien died Wednesday of kidney failure. He was 96. Shih was best known in the West for playing Han, the lead villain (and Bruce Lee's ultimate opponent) in the 1973 martial arts masterpiece Enter the Dragon. Here is a story on his passing from Yahoo! News, and here is his filmography from the IMDb.
Thursday, June 4: Bill... Killed. Some shocking news out of Bangkok, Thailand: Actor David Carradine has been found dead in his hotel room, an apparent suicide. He was 72. Son of the late prolific actor John Carradine, David was the star of the classic 1970s television series Kung-Fu and its sequels. In more recent years, he became known worldwide for playing the charismatic title character in Quentin Tarantino's two-part Kill Bill saga. Those films were a tremendous homage to the martial arts, spaghetti western, and other grindhouse cinema genres Carradine often worked in. (He will also be fondly remembered as "Frankenstein" in the original Death Race 2000. He reprised the role, via voice-over, in last year's remake.) Carradine could add a touch of coolness to most anything he appeared in, most recently the action sequel Crank: High Voltage. He will be sorely missed by genre fans. Here is a story on his passing from Yahoo! News, and here is his filmography from the IMDb. RIP, Bill. UPDATE 6/16: His funeral took place Saturday, 6/13. Here is coverage from E! Online and Yahoo! News. His death is still being investigated.
Monday, June 1: Bringing Home the Big Man. While it's still making its way around the country in limited theatrical release (see the 5/15 update), Magnolia has announced plans for Big Man Japan on DVD. It's coming home July 28. The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen. Extras will include: Audio commentary by director / co-writer / star Hitoshi Matsumo, behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes, and a photo gallery. MSRP is $26.98. (Source: Fangoria.)
Friday, May 15: Look out for the Big Man on the Big Screen. Today is the U.S. theatrical release date for Big Man Japan, a bizarre parody of Japanese giant heroes and their city-smashing kaiju foes. It's being unleashed by Magnolia Pictures, the folks who brought us the excellent Korean kaiju flick The Host two years back. It's a road show, so be sure to check the Play Dates to see when it's coming to an art house or specialty theater in your area. (For me, it's playing at the Detroit Film Theater June 26, 27, 28 and July 10, 11, 12.) For more info on the movie, check out SciFi Japan and the official movie site.
Tuesday, May 12: Iconic Tokusatsu. Icons of Sci-Fi: Toho Collection is the latest in Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's "Icons" series of remastered classic sci-fi, horror, and monster films. Included are three from the heyday of Japan's Toho Studios, directed by legendary Godzilla series helmer Ishiro Honda: The H-Man (1958), Battle in Outer Space (1959), and Mothra (1961). Unfortunately, 1998's Rebirth of Mothra III has been dropped from the set. Both the complete Japanese and U.S. release versions of The H-Man and Mothra will be included. Since Battle in Outer Space wasn't edited for U.S. release, that one will be dual-language. The films will be remastered and presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1 OAR). Expect a mid-October release date (like Sony's Sam Katzman and Hammer Films Icons sets in previous years). MSRP is $24.96 for the 3-disc set. As a nice pre-release bonus, customers can vote on the set's cover art here. As for extras, Ryan C. reports, "Ed Godziszewski and Steve Ryfle told me last week at Godzilla & Friends IV that they've recorded commentaries for Mothra and Battle in Outer Space, which will be on the DVDs." (For more info on Godzilla & Friends, see Ryan's report on last year's event in G-Fan #86, pg. 16.) Click here for pics. UPDATE 5/15: Wal-Mart and The Video Collection list the release date as August 18. (Thanks R.M.)
Friday, May 8: Gojira in HD! This fall, you can watch Tokyo fall in high-definition when Classic Media unleashes the original Godzilla on Blu-ray Disc! Their new Gojira Blu-ray will include all of the features of their widely-acclaimed DVD release: Both versions of the movie (the uncut 1954 original, in Japanese w/ English subtitles; and the 1956 American version, Godzilla: King of the Monsters), commentary on both versions by Steve Ryfle (author of Japan's Favorite Mon-star) and Ed Godziszewski (editor of Japanese Giants), featurettes on story development and the Godzilla suit (13 min. each), and the original theatrical trailers for each version. The release date is September 22 and MSRP is $29.93. (Source: Fangoria.) Note: One thing that isn't clear yet is what source masters CM will use. Reportedly, they remastered all of their Godzilla titles (at least the American versions acquired from UPA) in HD in 2004 / 2005 (see the 1/25/05 update). In 2008, Toho oversaw the restoration and hi-def remastering of the Godzilla films for HD broadcast in Japan (see the 8/10/08 and 1/10/09 updates). Will CM use the fully restored Japanese HD version, or have they / will they remaster Gojira '54 themselves? As always, stay tuned for updates! UPDATE 5/10: The Fangoria article has been updated with the puzzling and disappointing news that the Blu-ray will include the Japanese version of Gojira only, and not the Americanized Godzilla: KOTM (or the accompanying commentary). Fans are encouraged to head over to GodzillaonDVD.com and ClassicMedia.tv and politely express their preference for a definitive set that includes both versions of the movie in the highest quality HD presentation possible. There's plenty of time between now and September 22 for CM to get their first Blu-ray completely right.
Tuesday, April 21: HD Summer. Japan's Kadokawa Entertainment is diving into HD in a big way by bringing their classic kaiju franchises to Blu-ray Disc this summer. Things start June 26 with the release of the Daimajin Trilogy (1966). Daimajin (aka Majin: Monster of Terror), Wrath of Daimajin (aka Return of the Giant Majin), and Return of Daimajin will all be available individually, with an MSRP of ¥4,700 (+/- $50 USD) each. Extras on each disc will include interviews, trailers, cast & crew profiles, behind-the-scenes and promotional footage, and image galleries. Each will also come with a replica of the original Daiei press kit. A 3-disc box set including all the films will also be available, with some kind of special packaging for the initial pressing. MSRP for the box set is ¥12,000 (+/- $120 USD). All of the discs are region-free, 2.35:1 widescreen (OAR), with Japanese audio only and no English subtitles. UPDATE 5/8: After many false starts over many years, Daimajin is finally returning! The stone avenger is making his comeback in a new Japanese television series, Daimajin Kannon. For more info, check out this post on August Ragone's blog. Hopefully, these new Blu-rays may include a preview of some sort.
Then, the original Gamera and his menagerie of monsterous opponents provide the fireworks for July. July 24 brings the release of the titanic terrapin's eight Showa-era adventures. Gamera (1965, aka Gammera the Invincible), Gamera vs. Barugon (1966, aka War of the Monsters), Gamera vs. Gyaos (1967, aka Return of the Giant Monsters), and Gamera vs. Viras (1968, aka Destroy All Planets) will be available individually (MSRP ¥4,700 each), or collected in a 4-disc box set (MSRP ¥16,000; +/- $166 USD). Gamera vs. Guiron (1969, aka Attack of the Monsters), Gamera vs. Jiger (1970, aka Gamera vs. Monster X), Gamera vs. Zigra (1971), and Gamera: Super Monster (1980) will also be released separately (MSRP ¥4,700 each) and together in another 4-disc box set (MSRP ¥16,000).
Finally, Kaneko and crew end the summer with a bang on August 28 with the Blu-ray release of the Heisei Gamera Trilogy. Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995), Gamera 2: Attack of Legion (1996), and Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999) will also be available individually (MSRP ¥4,700 each), or collected in a 3-disc box set (MSRP ¥12,000). No info on disc specs or extras is available yet for any of the Gamera titles, so watch this space for updates!
Saturday, April 18: Monster X Returns! No, it's not Jiger or the badass alien critter from GFW. It's Guilala, the mon-star of 1967's The X from Outer Space. Tokyo Shock is releasing his 2008 comeback vehicle Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit on DVD June 30. It's a kaiju comedy directed by Minoru Kawasaki, and features an opponent for the invading alien Guilala that's a cross between Daimajin and Takeshi Kitano! No details on the disc are available yet, but it's available for preorder on Amazon.com and HK Flix. UPDATE 5/8: The film will be presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen (OAR). Audio options will include both the original Japanese, and English dubbed, language tracks in 2.0. Optional English subtitles will be included. Still no word on extras.
Sunday, March 29: The Kaiju Queen in HD! Following the success of the HD presentations of the restored and remastered Godzilla films late last year, Toho's Mothra films are getting a hi-def upgrade as well. All four films (1961's Mothra and the '90s Rebirth of Mothra Trilogy), and their theatrical trailers, recently had their HD broadcast debut, and will continue to be shown through mid-April. Then, the Japanese Movie Speciality Channel will continue to show other kaiju and tokusatsu movies in HD! This is great news for fans outside of Japan, as the HD remastering could lead to releasing the films on Blu-ray. (Source: SciFi Japan.)
Tuesday, March 24: WB Opens the Archives! Warner Bros. Studios has some great news for fans who’ve been pining for older and odder films on DVD: The Warner Archive Collection. This on-demand service allows consumers to order custom DVDs of unreleased films directly from the studio. Plans call for the initial slate of 150 titles to grow every month, until eventually all of the studio’s 6,800 feature films are available. Archive DVDs are $19.95 each, shipped in keepcases with cover art, and should arrive in about a week. Extras will be limited to original theatrical trailers. Digital downloads will also be available. As of right now, there isn’t much of interest for monster movie fans (except perhaps 1963’s Captain Sindbad and 1969’s Captain Nemo and the Underwater City), but keep checking back, as who knows what might awaken from hibernation! (Sources: USA Today and Ain’t it Cool News.)
Tuesday, March 24: "L" Saves Theaters! Following up the 2/10 update: The final, unwritten chapter of the Death Note saga will be beamed into select theaters next month, for two nights only, by Fathom Events. L: Change the World is a sequel / spin-off of Shusuke Kaneko’s two popular live-action Death Note movies. Directed by Hideo Nakata (Ringu, Dark Water), this film chronicles the last 23 days in the life of the brilliant, eccentric detective “L” as he tries to stop a deadly biological weapon. The film will be shown in the original Japanese, with English subtitles, on Wednesday, April 29. An English-dubbed version will be shown on Thursday, April 30 (with “L” voice actor Alessandro Juliani reprising the role from the previous films and the anime series). All shows start at 7:30 pm local time. Tickets are available for preorder; see Fathom’s event page for a list of participating theaters. A DVD release from VIZ Pictures should be coming this summer.
Tuesday, March 24: Monsters Attack... Again. The first crappy copy alert of 2009: Somebody called CreateSpace is now offering Attack of the Monsters (aka Gamera vs. Guiron) on Amazon.com. Judging by the sharp and colorful cover art (wink wink), this is the same public domain AIP version that everyone sells. At least they're honest and upfront about it being a DVD-R copy. $14.99 is ridiculously overpriced for it, though. (Thanks to Mike D. for the tip.) UPDATE 4/1: Several readers have since reported a similar DVD-R version of Destroy All Planets. The seller is NetFilmMusic.com, but it has the same style of cover art as AotM. If you want to be an April Fool and order it, it'll set you back $14.95. Here are more P.D. titles offered on DVD-R by NetFilmMusic / CreateSpace: http://www.netfilmmusic.com/film-movie-releases.asp.
Sunday, March 1: A Beastly Collection! This spring, Image Entertainment will thaw out a bunch of creature features previously released by Retromedia and put them all together in an 11 Movie / 4 Disc set: The Beast Collection! Included are:
Bigfoot Terror: Shriek of the Mutilated (1974), the mockumentary The Legend of Bigfoot (1976), Bill Rebane's The Capture of Bigfoot (1979), and the surprisingly recent Search for the Beast (1997).
Sasquatch Horror: The Snow Creature (1954), another mockumentary, Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot (1977), and the 1977 TV movie Snowbeast, starring Bo Svenson and Yvette Mimieux.
The Giant Majin Collection: 1968's Majin: Monster of Terror (aka Daimajin) and Return of the Giant Majin (aka Wrath of Daimajin). These are English-dubbed, fullscreen TV prints from AIP.
And finally, a double feature of Larry Buchanan's The Eye Creatures (1965, riffed on MST3K) and Zontar: The Thing from Venus (1966). If you own the previous sets, there's nothing new here. If not, all this craptacular creature carnage can be yours for the MSRP of $19.98. (Source: Foywonder.)
Tuesday, February 10: "L" Changes the World this Summer. According to an insert in the just-released Death Note II: The Last Name DVD, the third film in the series, L: Change the World, is coming from Viz Pictures in summer 2009. Whether this is a DVD release, or theatrical showings by Fathom Events like the first two films, remains to be seen. Stay tuned!
Friday, February 6: DMI 666. Today is Digital Monster Island's 6-Year Anniversary. Mad props, as always, to those who contribute to the ongoing success of this site: Jen (best girlfriend ever), loyal readers (like Ryan C. and Mike D.) who send in news and product info, and my friends at G-Fan / G-Fest. Thanks again!
Saturday, January 10: Restoring the King. From The Digital Bits: "In news around the Net today, the excellent SciFi Japan website has a good piece up on the recent HD restoration of all 28 Godzilla films by Toho Studios. Sources are telling us that we're likely to see the films begin appearing on Blu-ray Disc later in 2009." Matt Paprocki (who regularly reviews movies on Blu-ray for Blogcritics) adds: "Wish they knew which. I assume it would be the Sony-released titles as those are the most logical. I don't think Classic Media does Blu yet."
Wednesday, January 7: Tirano Update. Mike D. has received the Dinosaurs vs. the Cavemen (aka Tirano's Claw) DVD from Amazon.com (see the 11/30/08 update). Here’s his report: “First the bad news: As we suspected it is a DVD-R copy and not a factory-pressed disc by PR Studios. It is also presented in full screen as most of the DVD-R copies are. The cover appears to be printed on a regular home printer on glossy paper and the disc itself has a label that appears to be home-printed. ... Now for a little good news: Although the full screen picture is short of perfect with mild occasional grain and an occasional line, the picture and sound are far superior to the "Ghidra" bootleg that was once sold on Amazon. This movie was at least watchable and very enjoyable. It was almost like watching a humorous version of One Million Years B.C. More comparable to Ringo Starr's Caveman. It even had two cavemen falling out of a tree after the one climbing above them passed gas (I'm not making this up!). The quality was good enough ... as it's not available anywhere else. It had me laughing all the way through and it even had a few little extras. Those extras were trailers that included ... The Deadly Mantis, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, 20 Million Miles to Earth, and the comedy Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla. Although I don't like the idea of seeing a bootleg on Amazon, this is one of those very rare cases that I would recommend ordering this 'diamond in the rough,' especially for laughs. ... At this point, I don't think a better quality print would be available.”
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