"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Remake of 1972 Series Bows in Japan May 24th!

5.24公開 『キカイダーREBOOT』映像初公開!

Headshot of the all-new, updated Kikaida: your mileage may vary.

UPDATED MARCH 29th: Calling all members of Generation Kikaida! Check out this six-second blink-and-you'll-miss-it teaser trailer for the upcoming KIKAIDER: REBOOT feature film hitting Japanese cinema screens May 24th, below (and check out my report on the film from this past January). Despite the fact that Kadokawa Pictures has teamed up with Toei to bring the character back to life (even casting the original KIKAIDA star, Daisuke Ban, in a supporting role) most of Toei's recent reboots, such as SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN: THE MOVIE (2012), have been critical and financial failures — universally panned by a majority of fans for looking like made-for-television movies. So, the real question is will this be a hit or another miss for Toei?

The exciting, 90-second trailer was uploaded on March 29th.

The original six-second teaser trailer which broke on March 19th.

Stay tuned for more updates as the information becomes available!

Official KIKAIDER: REBOOT Website

Friday, March 28, 2014

Actor Daisuke Ban at Big Wow!: May 17 & 18

キカイダー=伴大介がサンノゼに登場!5月17・18日 !

Beloved KIKAIDA star Daisuke "Jiro" Ban returns to California!

This spring, Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine brings Kikaida to San Jose's Big Wow! Comic Fest on May 17th & 18th! Actor DAISUKE BAN will be joining Godzilla suit actor Kenpachiro Satsuma and Ultraman suit actor Satoshi Furuya at this year's Famous Monsters Pavilion! Mr. Ban, who played the lead role of "Jiro" in Toei's benchmark 1972 superhero series, KIKAIDA: THE ANDROID OF JUSTICE, will be meeting with fans and signing autographs all weekend! Back in 1975, KIKAIDA captured the imaginations of San Francisco Bay Area kids every Sunday night on KEMO-20 (now KOFY-20) — and we never forgot it!

Medicom backing card art for their Toei Retro Sofubi Collection!

Daisuke Ban also played the lead characters in other Henshin Hero television series for Toei Studios, such as INAZUMAN (1973), NINJA CAPTOR (1976), and BATTLE FEVER J (1979). He also had a recurring role in the RING films and is appearing in the upcoming feature film KIKAIDER: REBOOT (2014)! I will be moderating and hosting the presentations of our Japanese guests (to be announced), as well as signing the new paperback edition of my book, "Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters" (Chronicle Books) at the San Jose Convention Center! Please come down and welcome Mr. Ban back to the San Francisco Bay Area for the first time in over ten years — don't miss this event or it will be the Denji End!

Read more about Mr. Ban's career, here!

Stay tuned for more details on the show, guests, and more by checking out their website: Big Wow! Comics Fest!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Titanic Terrapin's 50th Anniversary Production


Gamera prepares to blast back onto motion picture screens next year!

SCOOP: Over the last week, there has been some English-language rumors spread about a new production, featuring Daiei Studio's answer to Godzilla, to hit cinema screens in 2015, based solely on a listing appearing on Japanese retail sites for the May 5th issue of Newtype the Live magazine. The listing mentions details on the production will be revealed as well as "image boards" (presentation art). While the listings are legitimate (the magazine in question is published by Kadokawa Shoten, which owns Kadokawa Pictures and Gamera), promising content on the upcoming film — that's only a fraction of what the Japanese already know.

This book first spilled the proverbial turtle soup on the new film.

The initial news was broken on February 8th in a completely different publication, "Heisei Gamera: Perfection," a 304-page book chronicling the post-1980s Gamera films, published by Kadokawa and Ascii Media Works. The major points dropped, which will be expanded upon in the upcoming May issue of Newtype the Live, include:
  • The pre-production tagline is "Something is out there..." (Dareka-ga aru).
  • Gamera in this production will come to life in a "(new) surprising form."
  • Producer Shigenori Takatera, is the central person at the helm. Taketera also served as a producer on KAMEN RIDER KUUGA (2000) and DAIMAJIN KANNON (2010).
  • The CEO of Kadokawa said the foundation of this production is, "What does today's audience want to see?"
  • BONUS POINT: The narrative is set in modern day and preproduction is well underway.
Stay tuned to this blog for more information as it develops!

(Special thanks to Hiroshi Ban and Makoto Kobayashi.)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Full Specs On All Four May 6, 2014 Releases


Blu-ray jacket art courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Following up on my breaking news of February 28th concerning the details on Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's upcoming Blu-ray releases of their Heisei and Millennium Godzilla titles, which went through several updates over following days and weeks, SPHE has finally issued their specs and cover art via their press release site. As you can see, SPHE is still sticking to their English titles, first issued on VHS and DVD back in the 1990s and early 2000s. Click on the links to go to the Amazon listings:

2 Discs, MFT (Blu-ray/UltraViolet, ST) • Closed Captioned • Screen Format(s): Anamorphic • Languages: English (US) 5.1/Japanese 5.1, English (US) DS • Subtitles: English (US), French (Parisian) • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Blu-ray jacket art courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

2 Discs, MFT (Blu-ray/UltraViolet, ST) • Closed Captioned • Screen Format(s): Anamorphic • Languages: English (US) 5.1/Japanese 5.1, English (US) DS • Subtitles: English (US), French (Parisian) • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Blu-ray jacket art courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

2 Discs, MFT (Blu-ray/UltraViolet, ST) • Closed Captioned • Screen Format(s): Anamorphic • Languages: English (US) 5.1/Japanese 5.1, English (US) DS • Subtitles: English (US), French (Parisian) • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (Destroyah) & 2.35:1 (Megaguirus)

Blu-ray jacket art courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

2 Discs, MFT (Blu-ray/UltraViolet, ST) • Closed Captioned • Screen Format(s): Anamorphic • Languages: English (US) 5.1/Japanese 5.1, English (US) DS • Subtitles: English (US), French (Parisian) • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

These specs do not mention any special features content, so one shouldn't have any expectations of such. Meanwhile, keen cinephiles and kaiju fans alike will notice the conspicuous absence of previous Sony releases of Takao Okawara's GODZILLA 2000 (1999), Shusuke Kaneko's GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK (2001), and Masaaki Tezuka's GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA (2002) from this set of releases. Curious, as Sony Pictures created a US theatrical version of GODZILLA 2000, while GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA is the first of the two-part "Kiryu Saga" which concludes in GODZILLA: TOKYO SOS. And of course, GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK is arguably the best of these latter films in both depth and execution.

Did Sony's rights elapse on some of these errant titles? Or do they have something else planned for them? Only time, and Sony, will tell. For now, stay tuned to this blog as this story develops...

Special thanks to Shawn Francis!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Upcoming Audiophile Pressing from Death Waltz


A limited-edition complete GODZILLA score on vinyl is coming soon!

Talk about radioactive wax! Could a vinyl of Akira Ifukube's complete GODZILLA score soon be hitting turntables around the world? According to an image leaked on the interwebs today (posted below), containing a list for upcoming 180 gram vinyl audiophile pressings from the UK's Death Waltz Recording Company, it looks as though this may be true. Among the titles featured, such as Angelo Badalamenti's "Twin Peaks" and Fabio Frizzi's "The Beyond," was "Godzilla." Their website acknowledged the early leak and addressed them on their front page, including detailed information on some of the forthcoming releases, sans "Godzilla." Stay tuned for more details as they develop!

A close-up of the leaked listing of upcoming titles from DWRC.

(Thanks to Bloody-Disgusting for the heads up!)
Official Death Waltz Recording Company website

Satoshi "Bin" Furuya at Big Wow!: May 17 & 18


Satoshi "Bin" Furuya, the once and future protector of the world!

SHUWATCH! Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine is proud to bring back Satoshi "Bin" Furuya to the San Francisco Bay Area to join Mr. Kenpachiro Satsuma for the Big Wow! Comic Fest on May 17th & 18th at the San Jose Convention Center! Starting at Toho Studios in the early 1960s, Mr. Furuya would become one of the greatest super heroes of all time in the visual effects series: ULTRAMAN! For 39 episodes, he captivated audiences as the silver and red alien took on hordes of giant monsters and evil aliens. The 1966 show launched a worldwide franchise spawning numerous sequels and spin-offs over the last 48 years.

Mr. Furuya also appeared from behind the mask as a regular cast member in Tsuburaya Productions' popular follow-up, ULTRA SEVEN (1967), as Agent Amagi, the Ultra Guard's computer expert. He also has small roles in such Toho classics as KING KING VS. GODZILLA (1962), GHIDRAH, THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER (1964), and THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966). He left acting in the 1970s to start a talent and stunt group, Bin Promotions, but has recently returned to make cameos in such genre films as the kaiju comedy MONSTER X STRIKES BACK: ATTACK THE G-8 SUMMIT (2008).

Appearing alongside Mr. Satsuma and Mr. Furuya, I will be hosting and moderating their presentations (to be announced), as well as signing the new paperback edition of my book, "Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters" (Chronicle Books) at the event on both days!

Stay tuned for more details on the show, guests, and more by checking out their website: Big Wow! Comics Fest!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New Book Celebrates Horror Host Bob Wilkins

A creepy cryptful of moldy Bay Area Monster Kid memories!

New book that urges you to watch horror films, keep America strong!

If you grew up in Northern California during the mid-1960s through the early 1980s, chances are high that you were aware of legendary television host, Bob Wilkins, who became best known for hosting horror film packages on KCRA-3, KTXL-40 and most notably in the San Francisco Bay Area on KTVU-2's "Creature Features" — an incredible ratings sensation which became a local institution that routinely beat all the competition in its time slot, including network programming such as "Saturday Night Live." And he meant the world to a whole generation who grew up watching him on television. He was our horror hero!

Bob Wilkins Creature Features Freak Fan Club certificate, circa 1971.

A mild-mannered, but wryly hysterical, character hailing originally from Indiana, Bob found a job in California at Sacramento's KCRA-3, quickly became known for his wit and timing, and would be asked to host company luncheons, and other social functions. Eventually, he was put before the cameras, and by 1966, was the station's own "horror host," who rejected wearing a costume or cape — he just came on the air as himself. Armed with only a cigar, a rocking chair (to mask his stage nerves), and his off-the-cuff humor, Bob would tell viewers, "Tonight's movie is so bad, it was delivered to Channel 2 in a plain brown wrapper. No return address."

Classic TV Guide ad, November 30, 1968. Courtesy of Floyd Perry.

Bob's witticism was also reflected into the humorous and iconic ads featured weekly in the pages of the local "TV Guide" magazines, and fans would clip and save them in scrapbooks, like I did. Of course, over the years, such collections were lost or thrown out, ostensibly, to the sands of time. But, coming to the rescue is Tom Wyrsch's "Bob Wilkins in TV Guide" (Garfield Park, 2014), a terrific, 80-page compendium of ads for many of the horror films Bob hosted from 1966 to 1980. Each tongue-in-cheek ad is presented with the full page from original TV Guides and presented in chronological order (measuring 5.5" x 8.5" to preserve the original magazine size).

Mid-'70s ad, which seems bland until you see the station call letters.

In short, I love it — it's a treasure trove of memories for ads I fondly remember, and others I've completely forgotten, but am happy to see again for the first time in decades (I hope that more of these ads turn up). But, beware — while long-time fans of KTVU-2's immortal horror host and "Creature Features" will find it a must-have — "Bob Wilkins in TV Guide" is a limited-edition publication, so don't sit on your claws too long! Bob was a hero and mentor to me and (for better or worse) pushed me into this business (whatever that is), thus I will always be thankful for who he was and what he did, not only for me, but many others.

Bob Wilkins shall not die! 

Order your copy, now (operators are standing by)...

Monday, March 10, 2014

GODZILLA KNOWS THE WAY TO SAN JOSE! Kenpachiro Satsuma at Big Wow!: May 17 & 18


Mr. Satsuma will be appearing in Nor Cal for the first time this May!

This spring, Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine brings Godzilla to San Jose's Big Wow! Comic Fest on May 17th & 18th! KENPACHIRO SATSUMA will be flying into the San Francisco Bay Area to meet fans and sign autographs as part of the Famous Monsters Pavilion at this year's show! One of the most famous of the "Men In Suits" actors,  Mr. Satsuma was featured in several Toshiro Mifune productions, before cutting his teen in the kaiju eiga where he played the Smog Monster in GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTER (1971) and Gigan in GODZILLA VS. GIGAN (1972), and again in GODZILLA VS. MEGALON (1973).

Taking over the reigns from Mr. Haruo Nakajima, the original Godzilla suit actor, Mr. Satsuma went on to play the titular role of the Big G in RETURN OF GODZILLA (1984) through GODZILLA VS. DESTROYAH (1995), and he even did a little suit acting on television during the '70s as well, under his former stage name — "Kengo Nakayama." Appearing alongside Mr. Satsuma, I will be moderating and hosting his presentations (to be announced), as well as signing the new paperback edition of my book, "Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters" (Chronicle Books) at the San Jose Convention Center!

Stay tuned for more details on the show, guests, and more by checking out their website: Big Wow! Comics Fest!

Friday, March 7, 2014

"Ultra Hawaii" Promotes Vacations for Japanese


Shaka Taro and Jessica Michibata at launch event. Tokyo Pop Online

TOKYO: On March 6th, Ultraman Taro appeared on stage with Jessica Michibata, a Argentine-Japanese fashion model, to promote the launch of the "Ultra Hawaii" campaign of travel packages to the five islands — with a decidedly superheroic sense — by the Hawai‘i Tourism Japan Authority, and with the cooperation of twelve major travel companies. The campaign features Ultraman Taro, and his parents, Father of Ultra and Mother of Ultra, as well as Ultra Monsters, Baltan and Pygmon, acting as tourists and extolling the beauty and romance of Hawai'i.

This is Ultra Hawaii promotion video. ©Tsuburaya Productions

"Ultra Hawaii" has been organized to bring more tourism to the islands, as well as to get more Japanese to take their vacations in these special roadshow packages aimed at families, as well as couples who want to have a second honeymoon, renew their marriage vows, or celebrate wedding anniversaries. The Hawai‘i Tourism Japan Authority was established in January of last year, and is launching these special "Ultra Hawaii" packages starting in April 2014. A full-blown website went online March 5th, featuring the famous Tsuburaya Productions' characters.

Waikiki Surf Lesson in O'ahu. ©Tsuburaya Productions

The website not only features photos of the Ultra Family enjoying the beauty of Hawai'i, but also a series of humorous videos of the Ultra Family (as well as Baltan and Pygmon) dramatizing what you can also do on one's dream vacation to the six major islands: O'ahu, Hawai'i, Maui, Kaua'i, Lānaʻi, and Molokaʻi — each island available in separate and roadshow packages. The great Ultra Family and Ultra Monster suits were created by master monster maker Fuyuki Shinada (GMK: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack).

Shore Bird Restaurant & Beach Bar. ©Tsuburaya Productions

Interestingly, the 1974 Ultra Series, ULTRAMAN LEO, is currently airing ever Friday night in Hawai'i on Honolulu's KIKU-20 (and ULTRA SEVEN was broadcast on KHON-2 back in 1975). Please visit the "Ultra Hawaii" website to see the great photos, check out the promotion videos, and download some beautiful desktop and screen savers — and join them on Facebook (Japanese only) — Mahalo, Ultraman!

Poolside Yoga at the Embassy Suites. ©Tsuburaya Productions

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Double Feature Blu-rays Are "Go" for May 6th


 photo godzilla_vs_king_ghidorah_zps90537c93.jpg
Original theatrical poster for GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH (1991).

UPDATED (Tuesday, March 4th): The "rumor" I posted on Friday, February 28th, that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will be issuing four double-feature Blu-ray releases of their Heisei and Millennium Godzilla titles on May 6th is spot-on! All of the titles, below, have now appeared on Amazon.com on March 1st. SPHE is taking advantage of the frenzy created by the release of the upcoming Gareth Edwards re-imagining of the original creature feature opening on May 16th.

On Monday, March 3rd, the first Amazon.com listings were changed from DVD (as reported on March 1st), to Blu-ray — as per the original story I posted on February 28th, according to an industry insider. Also intimated by an insider at SHPE that these will be a significant upgrade from previous, barebones DVD releases (Amazon, as of today, is currently listing specs as "AC-3, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen"). No doubt that these will be subject to change.

And now, they have:

On Tuesday, March 4th, these specs appeared on the listing for the double feature of GODZILLA FINAL WARS & GODZILLA: TOKYO SOS at Movies Unlimited, indicating (as per my original informant) that this will be a two-disc set. The specs listed include Widescreen, Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English (SDH) and French Subtitles. All of the details originally leaked to me have now been confirmed, so I am now posting it (but we'll have to wait and see if the originally-reported UltraViolent Digital Copies also materialize).

The unchanging MSRP for each of these double features is $19.95. According to an anonymous source this past Friday, these are the titles dropping, which are all still currently listed on Amazon:


Conspicuously missing are GODZILLA 2000 (1999), GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK (2001), and GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA (2002). It's unknown at this time if these will follow — I'll keep checking on sources... Stay tuned! But for now, in the words of the immortal Henry Silva, "NOT bullshit!"

 photo Henry_Silva_zpse493ede0.jpg
Henry Silva says, "I can safely say that this story is NOT bullshit!"