Go-Go-Godzilla Day! – an all-day movie fest at my place, showing only Godzilla movies.
So we put together a list of movies, worked out the times, allowed for a one hour dinner break where pizza would be delivered, and sent out invitations to our local friends two weeks before the planned event. Out of the 20-something invitations I sent, we got eight attendees and one friend who could not stay to watch (he was flying out of town) but was able to drop off some excellent fire-breathing salsa for folks to snack on. Before the start of each movie I played Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla through speakers attached to my iPod Nano to get everyone back into their seats and in the “proper” mindset.
We were supposed to start at 10:00 AM, but were 20 minutes late. It was OK, as I had built in some padding in the schedule and by the third movie we were back on time. That said, I realized we had forgotten to allocate time for a lunch, so we grabbed a quick meal (sandwiches) and ate while the second movie started. I also realized that I had dropped an hour from a movie’s run time. We fixed that by dropping All Monsters Attack, a kid’s movie that is an extended dream sequence and not part of the Godzilla canon. Well, not mine anyways.
We also quickly adopted the rule: “You may heckle this movie or compare it to earlier movies we watched, but you may not invoke movies not yet seen.” This made watching the movies very entertaining for everyone, including folks who had never seen any of the movies. (Shocking, I know – who knew there were people who had never seen a Godzilla movie before?) Another fun game was “Spot the recycled actor” as Toho re-used actors in different roles from movie to movie.
The final show listing was as follows:
Gojira – the original Japanese version, not the Raymond Burr version
Godzilla Raids Again
Mothra vs. Godzilla
Ghidorah: The 3-Headed Monster
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (originally scheduled to be Invasion of Astro Monster)
Terror of Mechagodzilla
Godzilla: Final Wars
All of the above were shown in their original Japanese versions, which are all slightly longer than the English versions of the same movies by 3 to 15 minutes. You will also notice (depending upon your level of fandom) that these are all early Godzilla movies except for Final Wars, which was the last one made before Toho recently retired the Godzilla franchise. Again.
Invasion of Astro Monster was switched with Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla as Terror of Mechagodzilla it up – so instead of two Ghidorah movies, we had two Mechagodzilla movies. This switch was made based on recommendations by the two Godzilla experts in attendance. After watching the two Mechagodzilla movies, it was clear that Terror of Mechagodzilla would have been harder to comprehend without first watching Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.
Final Wars was a treat. One of the actors was Don Frye of UFC fame. If you want to see a live action version of the Admiral Gloval archetype, Don Frye is your man, especially in the hat. It was also interesting to see how things changed from the early movies in the franchise, where the monsters were the main event and people moved around them, and the end of the franchise, when people were the main event and the monsters were just a plot device.
Watching seven Godzilla movies back-to-back pointed out several themes that we had not noticed before:
- There is always a mad scientist. Some times it’s a mad paleontologist, sometimes it’s a mad psychologist, but always Science! is under their control.
- The air branch of the Japanese Defense Force can’t hit the broad side of anything with rockets if it is moving. Mountains they can hit (sometimes with their plane), but moving targets are right out.
- JDF tanks, on the other hand, are darned accurate, if not very effective against giant monsters. I don’t think we ever saw a tank miss its target. Ever.
- There is a clear, upward trend in technology to deal with Godzilla.
At the end of the movie fest we were all talking and discussing the movies for another hour or so, until my wife and I kicked everyone out at 1:00 AM. Tons of fun was had and I am already planning another themed movie fest for the summer. I want to do my Day of Sevens theme, but I’m not certain I can get all of the movies (and one has a questionable tie to the theme). If that fails, we will do a second Go-Go-Godzilla Day!, starting with the Raymond Burr Godzilla movie followed by Godzilla 1985, where Raymond Burr reprises his role from the first movie. We would also include movies from the Heisei era (1984-1995), which were missing from our lineup the first time.
That’s it for now. I’ll post updates as the next movie fest starts forming up.