Tag: guilty pleasure

The Guilty Pleasure of Godzilla Movies: A Retrospective.

by Reality’s Frank

Recently, as I progressed through the marathon of my entire DVD collection, I’ve come to the “G” section and watched every Godzilla movie in order of production with only three exceptions: “Godzilla King Of The Monsters,” “Godzilla’s Revenge,” and the 1998 American Godzilla. I skipped Godzilla KOTM because it’s just “Gojira” with a few new scenes featuring Raymond Burr added in. “Godzilla’s Revenge” was skipped because frankly it’s embarrassing to watch, being more focused on some stupid kid who fantasizes about being friends with Godzilla’s son, Manilla (pronounced “Meen-ya”). And finally the American Godzilla was skipped because if it were a food, it would be Campbell’s Cream of Asshole Soup.

Now interestingly enough, watching the entire Godzilla franchise reveals no less than four separate continuities or timelines. This is played out with time travel, re-launches, and flat-out mistakes. And so, in the interest of fun and completely wasted time, I thought I’d explore this.

The first movie, “Gojira,” was released in Japan in 1954. It was groundbreaking stuff. Naturally there were many giant monster movies in that time period, such as “King Kong” and “Earth Vs. The Spider,” but “Gojira” revolutionized the genre. Before, the monsters had always been obvious visual effects: Kong was a puppet brought to life with stop-go animation, while The Spider was literally just close-up footage of a normal spider superimposed in the movie alongside the rest of the actors and backgrounds. But “Gojira” was completely different. In “Gojira,” the monster was a guy in a rubber suit tromping around a fully detailed miniature city which ensured two things: the monster would always be in scale to his surroundings, and the monster could really interact with his environment.

Now the most important fact to take away from “Gojira” in regards to this piece is the fact that at the end of the movie, Gojira is clearly killed and completely destroyed. I mean he’s gone, wiped out, finito. Elvis has left the building. One year later, (and Toho was good at turning out a new movie on a yearly basis) Toho released a sequel called “Godzilla Raids Again.” Blah blah details, blah blah plot, and in the end Godzilla is lured into a box canyon on a glacial island and buried under hundreds of tons of ice, end of movie.

After GRA was released, Toho decided to give this particular monster a break to focus on other movies such as Mothra and Rodan. But one noteworthy thing happened during this time: “Godzilla Raids Again” was re-titled “Gigantis the Fire Monster” for the American release, even though this was clearly bullshit. The new dialogue written for the English dubbed version suggests that Gigantis is a different monster than Gojira with a completely different origin, with a bunch of crappy stock footage thrown in to back up the history of the monsters, but fortunately this was overlooked and never mentioned again.

Seven years later, Toho remembered that they really liked making money, so they decided to go back to what they knew worked and produced “King Kong Vs. Godzilla.” This movie was primarily stupid, especially considering the original script was actually supposed to be about a gigantic Frankenstein monster, but was changed at the last minute to Kong. But it did set the tone of the movies from then on. Every Godzilla movie that came out over the next thirteen years, from “King Kong Vs. Godzilla” to “Terror of Mechagodzilla,” was done according to the funky 60’s and 70’s film making style, with ridiculous music and some really idiotic camera work. However, the continuity of the series remained fairly constant, with a few slips here and there but no glaring contradictions.

After “Terror of Mechagodzilla,” Toho once again decided to put Godzilla on hiatus for another ten years until 1985, when they released a movie alternately called “Godzilla,” “Godzilla Returns,” or “Godzilla ’85.” This movie kick-started the second continuity in which every movie since the first “Gojira” was completely forgotten about, much like how “Superman Returns” disregards parts 3 and 4. In “Godzilla ’85” the new monster goes back to his roots, he’s no longer the protector of the Earth who frequently teamed up with other monsters and performed victory dances, instead he’s once again a terror who appears from the sea to destroy Tokyo and to feed on the energy from the nuclear power plants.

So now Toho had finally deleted the lasting embarrassment of the films from the 60’s and 70’s by striking them all from the record, just like pretty much everything in the “Highlander” franchise after the second movie, and yet they STILL never mention where this new Godzilla comes from as the first Gojira was still quite dead.

This new Godzilla lasted until 1991 when Toho released “Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah.” This is the movie that not only kick-starts the third continuity, but also further confuses the series. In this movie, time travelers from the 2200’s come back to present day Japan to warn of an impending attack by Godzilla that will completely destroy the entire country, so they convince the nation’s leaders to let them take a small group of scientists and journalists back in time with them to 1945 near the end of the second world war. It is here for the first time that we see Godzilla’s true origin: he was an actual T-Rex that defended the Japanese soldiers by scaring away the American troops, although he was badly injured in the process.

The Japanese soldiers were then recalled from the island, and the time travelers, now able to work unnoticed, transported the dinosaur to another island, theorizing that if the dinosaur were on a different island further from the testing site of the A-bomb, he wouldn’t be subjected to the radiation that caused him to mutate into Godzilla. The time travelers, in the process, leave behind three little monsters called Doraks that are intended to receive the radiation instead and turn into Ghidorah. Upon returning to the present, Godzilla appears to no longer exist (so how do they even remember him?) but now Japan has been terrorized by Ghidorah all this time.

It turns out the future people can control Ghidorah and intend to use him to destroy Japan because in the future, Japan has become so prosperous that they’ve bought up nearly half the countries in the world. BUT (I told you this would get confusing) the people in the present decide to try to find the dinosaur and subject him to a new dose of radiation to make a NEW Godzilla, only to discover that the dinosaur has already been irradiated by a sunken submarine and become Godzilla anyway. This is where all of the previous continuity goes to shit. According to this new timeline, this third Godzilla is actually the first Godzilla because now even the first Gojira never happened. Also, because he was mutated with modern radiation, Godzilla is even bigger and meaner than ever before.

Oh but we’re not done yet! In 1993 we got “Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla 2” where now MG is built by humans instead of aliens, and a new Manilla is introduced, although he’s now just referred to as Baby. This movie sets the stage for “Godzilla Vs. Spacegodzilla” the following year. Baby has gotten a lot bigger and the appearance of Spacegodzilla confuses the timeline even more because he’s supposed to be caused by one of two possible ways in which Godzilla DNA made it into space: either by the destruction of Biollante (a plant monster created by combining a rose with Godzilla DNA), or it was carried into space by Mothra who was on his way to deflect a meteor that would destroy the Earth in 1999, neither or which happened now because that particular Godzilla had been erased from history.

In 1995 “Godzilla Vs. Destroyah” tried to once and for all bring some closure to the whole mess by killing off the new/original Godzilla with a surprisingly brilliant idea: Godzilla’s heart, which is basically a nuclear reactor that powers his atomic breath, is starting to melt down, causing his body to glow red with the nearly 1200 degree (C) heat. The danger involved with this is that if Godzilla’s heart finally does melt down, the heat generated would be sufficient to ignite the Earth’s atmosphere and destroy the planet. Unfortunately there’s one more problem with the timeline that the writers overlooked: Destroyah is supposed to be some microorganism mutated by the oxygen destroyer used in the first Gojira, even though the timeline had been changed in “Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah” so that the oxygen destroyer was never used.

Anyway, in the end Godzilla finally does melt down, but the military manages to cool him down just enough with a new type of “0 degree laser” so he doesn’t destroy the Earth, and Godzilla jr. is now set to take over.

Four years later, “Godzilla 2000” came out with a brand new looking Godzilla which I refer to as “Beefcake Godzilla” because of his thicker, more muscular neck. This begins the fourth timeline. Nothing of any major importance happens in this movie except to establish the new monster design, which carries over to the next movie, “Godzilla Vs. Megaguirus” which again is of no major importance except to sell tickets for another monster fight.

Oddly enough the next year Toho shifted gears and gave us a movie with the long-winded title of “Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah, Giant Monsters All-out Attack.” It’s hard to understand where this movie fits in with the rest of the series because so many things have been blatantly changed. First off we have a different looking Godzilla from the last two movies, more like the classic Godzilla style except he has completely white eyes. Next they took Baragun and King Ghidorah and arbitrarily changed their origins, so now they’re guardian monsters alongside Mothra, even though in the past, Baragun was an enemy of Mothra; and Ghidorah was, of course, an enemy of the entire planet, first coming from space, and then from the future.

In the end, all three guardian monsters are defeated and Godzilla is destroyed in a very clever way with a drill missile fired from inside his body causing his atomic breath to blast through his own neck and blow up his body. I guess this must be a stand-alone story because none of it is ever mentioned again and the following movie goes back to the Beefcake Godzilla.

This time, in “Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla,” Toho puts the final nail in the coffin of the series’ continuity for anyone who was blissfully unaware of the timeline seperation (which confused the hell out of me for quite a while until I started this analysis.) A new Mechagodzilla is built with the bones of the first Godzilla that was killed with the oxygen destroyer in “Gojira.” Unfortunately, during the first confrontation, Godzilla’s roar awakens the original Gojira’s DNA that was used to make the DNA based computers in Mechagodzilla, causing him to go wild and attack the city until his power supply runs out.

This leads directly to the next movie, “Godzilla: Tokyo SOS” in which the two fairies from Infant Island come to tell the humans that Mothra is pissed that Godzilla’s bones were disturbed and that they must be returned to the bottom of the sea or else Mothra will destroy the city himself. Blah blah fighting, blah blah twin Mothra larva, blah blah Mechagodzilla becomes sentient doesn’t want to fight anymore, and Beefcake Godzilla is finally defeated and carried to the bottom of the sea tightly strapped to Mechagodzilla.

Lastly of course, until “Shin Godzilla,” the big 50th anniversary movie, was “Godzilla: Final Wars,” which is FUCKING AWESOME! Aliens from Planet X come to Earth, brainwash all the monsters and set them on a rampage, so the remaining humans have to free Godzilla from his icy prison at the South Pole and lead him around the world to defeat the entire roster of his enemies, including the American Godzilla from ’98, now called Zilla. Zilla dies like a bitch.

Finally, we have a new series of American Godzilla movies, dubbed the “Monsterverse” which in all honesty I don’t care for, and as before Toho responded with something incredible: “Shin Godzilla.”

“Shin Godzilla,” or “Godzilla Resurgence,” has an amazing premise: what if Godzilla appeared for the first time today? The new design is outstanding, Godzilla has some amazing new abilities, and the story is a cutting critique of the Japanese government being hopelessly mired in policy and red tape. SEE THIS MOVIE!

I’ve always enjoyed Godzilla movies, with the goofy monster costumes, the hokey music, the wanton destruction of innocent pagodas in nearly every movie, and the sappy morals; it’s always fun to just let myself get drawn into the story and suspend disbelief. People today are a little too cynical for their own good, myself included. There’s no shame in admitting, even to ourselves, that there’s nothing wrong with putting on a movie or a show with no intellectual value and throwing a bag of popcorn in the microwave. So go watch something stupid, it’s good for you. As I always say, when you can truly appreciate and enjoy bad movies, it allows you to more fully appreciate the good ones.

I love trains, but they always go straight to my thighs!
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The Guilty Pleasure of Bad Movies: The Star Wars Holiday Special.

by Reality’s Frank

(sigh) the things I do for you people…

You know the saying “two in the pink, one in the stink?” Well this is the one in the stink. Premiering once, and only once, in 1978, this made-for-tv special is the only thing in the Star Wars franchise worse than the new Disney sequels. And yes, that does include Rey.

The movie starts out with Han and Chewbacca fleeing from an imperial star destroyer while trying to get Chewy home for “Life Day,” the Wookie Christmas. That’s all there is to their sub-plot, trying to get Chewbacca home. After the credits, we’re treated to the first juicy slice of hell as we’re introduced to Chewy’s family: his wife, Mala; his son Lumpy; and his father Itchy (I swear I’m not making this up).

“Hang on, Chewy! They’re not making us do a variety show without a fight!

The entire scene plays out with wookie grunting serving as the only dialogue. There are no subtitles, no recognizable sign language, no hints at all about what the hell is going on. And it’s like this every time these characters are on screen. The only relief we get from this is when there are human characters interacting with them, but as the human characters are hardly less annoying, it’s small comfort.

Disney+ series pending…

What follows is a series of short skits throughout the feature (because I’m not going to dignify this by calling it a movie,) making this a kind of variety show that was rather popular during the 70’s, but the only guest stars apart from the core cast of Star Wars are Art Carney, Bea Arthur, and Harvey Corman. Prepare for horrors…

After a weird, spacey kind of Cirque du Soleil, Mala calls Luke Skywalker and R2-D2, apparently hoping for news about why Chewy is late for Life Day. Mark Hamil, heavily covered with makeup to hide the signs of his recent car accident, bravely tries to carry this conversation alone, and after being worried for a total of 8 seconds, he’ suddenly convinced that everything is fine, although this might have been a ploy to get off the phone so he could finish fixing his X-wing engine. And with that, he’s out until the end.

“Wait! I’m only getting paid HOW much for this?!”

We’re then blitzed straight into the next skit and the first appearance of Art Carney (but sadly not the last). Art plays a trader named Saun Dan, who seems to be an old friend of Chewy’s family, and he bumbles through a scene with a transparently evil imperial officer. And when I say transparently evil, I mean he speaks with a low, sinister voice, and scoffs and scorns everything in sight. The only thing missing from the picture would be if he came into the shop casually eating a baby and singing Celine Dion. It would seem the empire is recruiting former members of Slytherin House. This goes into a very brief cameo by Darth Vader, and then a commercial break.

All citizens are warned to be on the lookout for this man! He will come to your house with presents and never leave! He is considered annoying and extremely dangerous!

The commercials are by far some of the most entertaining parts of the show, because, thankfully, whoever it was that recorded this back in the day neglected to edit them out.

And now, a cooking show. Yes, that’s right, a cooking show. Mala is only NOW starting to prepare the Life Day feast, and so she tunes into a program starring (sigh) Harvey Corman, in drag, and painted silver. This scene sets the tone for all of Harvey’s appearances: long and painful. Just imagine if Rachel Ray was crossed with Julia Child and given two extra arms.

“I took a break from the Carol Burnette show for this?”

Another bit with Han and Chewie, then right back to the crap. An imperial officer sends out a broadcast announcing that the Wookie planet “Kazook,” (not “Kashyyyk” as it’s always been known) is under martial law while they investigate reports of rebel activity in the system. I wasn’t aware the empire had the man-power to police an entire planet, but oh well…

Following this ominous announcement comes an even more ominous development: Art Carney shows up at the wookie’s house bearing “Life Day presents,” the irony of which was not lost on me as Art once played Santa Claus in “The Night They Saved Christmas.” Lumpy is given a wrapped present and he (thankfully) goes to his room. Unfortunately, this leads into the first, and longest, musical interlude. Art gives Itchy a “proton pack” for a machine called the “mind evaporator,” that, despite its name, is NOT a torture device, but some kind of entertainment system that projects images directly into the brain. This would be pretty cool, except the cartridge is basically soft core porn, as the woman it features is based on his ideal sexual desire (why a wookie has a hard-on for humans, we never find out) and we can only assume that Itchy is sporting a boner in the living room.

“Make sure that this time you wipe it down after, ok?”

After this nightmare, we’re treated (or perhaps subjected) to another cameo from the core cast, this time from Princess Leia and C-3PO. This is almost a replay of the Luke Skywalker scene as Mala is looking for info on Chewbacca. The only slight change is that now Art butts into the conversation, and after the same momentary concern, Leia abruptly becomes convinced that everything is probably fine and signs off.

“3PO, call my agent. He is SO fired…”

Suddenly, a ship flies overhead, and the family is sure this is the sound of Chewbacca’s arrival. Lumpy excitedly runs to the door to be met by some storm troopers and another imperial officer, going door-to-door looking for rebels. Once again, the imperials are so transparently evil that it occurred to me that the Nazis in “Schindler’s List” were more subtle.
This goes right into the second musical number featuring the Jefferson Starship (get it? because it’s Star Wars and they ride around in star ships?). It was at this point that I began to wish I was watching “Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer.” Sure it may be goody-goody crap made for little girls in the 80’s, but at least it told a coherent story and maintained a consistent tone.

Art Carney leaves (finally) and we then get what is easily the coolest part of the whole show: the cartoon. I won’t go into it much here, but it’s done as if it’s a common, Saturday morning cartoon in this universe, strangely starring the rebel forces and Chebacca himself. How many kids get to watch cartoons starring their fathers? Then Lumpy is sent upstairs to clean his room, but instead, he starts playing with his present: a mini transmitter that includes an instructional video starring… (sigh) Harvey Corman as a robotic life form that is constantly running down and trying to fix himself. Maybe it looked funnier on paper…

Han’s embarrassing “Wolverine” phase

After this, another imperial broadcast announces that everyone has to watch the following reality program, for…reasons…

It seems that Bea Arthur replaced the guy working the bar in the Mos Eisley cantina, and she has to deal with her new stalker, played once again by Harvey Corman. This whole scene is totally pointless and uncomfortable. Somehow, the producers must have thought it would be cool or perhaps funny for Harvey Corman’s character to ingests everything through a hole in the top of his head. The empire imposes a curfew on the entire planet (again, how?) and Bea Arthur has to sing a song to convince all the violent, drunken space bums to leave. This song is, at least, kind of catchy, as it’s set to a slower, jazzy rendition of the cantina tune from the first Star Wars movie, you know the one. Also, you can play a drinking game with every time she says “friend.”

You ever wonder if he uses his head anus thingy to get freaky?

Yes, this was required viewing by the empire.

When the new guy makes the mistake of playing “Piano Man” on the juke box

Back in the “main plot,” the imperial soldiers are called back to base, but they leave one trooper behind to wait for Chewy. The trooper discovers the return orders were made by Lumpy and his transmitter, so he chases him through the house and outside, where Chewbacca and Han appear to dispatch the trooper with a glorious Wilhelm scream. Hugs and kisses all around, then Han leaves to hide the Millenium Falcon before someone finds he’s double-parked and gives him a ticket.

Art Carney comes back for one last scene, because his agent obviously insisted he get a certain amount of screen time. He bullshits the imperial officer who sent out a general summons for the dead trooper, the FINALLY leaves once and for all.

And with this, everything grinds to a halt as Chewy and Mala gaze into each other’s eyes and begin the incomprehensible rites of celebrating Life Day. This could best be described as that moment on Christmas afternoon where everyone is done thanking each other for the presents, dinner has been served, and now it’s quiet and no one really knows what to do next. You’d think the show was finally over, but no. There’s still more pain to endure.

The wookies dim the lights, hold up their glowing glass balls, put on red snuggies, and all line up to walk into a giant glowing special effect in front of the blue screen (no green screens in the 70’s). Now at last comes the grand finale, and it’s stupid. For some reason, all the wookies are now in some kind of cave and inexplicably, R2 and 3PO are there to greet them. How? Why? Huh? Then Luke, Leia, and Han run in to remind the audience that yes, this is indeed a Star Wars story. And then Leia sings. And it sucks. And it goes on WAY too long. And the tune she’s singing to is set over the Star Wars main theme, and they do not match at all.

The collective “I hope the paycheck clears” look

And that’s it. Except for a montage of random scenes from the REAL movie, there’s a couple more commercials, including one for the first line of Star Wars figures and toys, and then it ends with Chewy and his family sitting around the table. The end.

As you can imagine, this never officially went to video, and the only copies of it you can find are rough, blurry bootlegs made from the original broadcast. You can find it on youtube, or you can maybe download it from a torrent site. I recommend seeing it at least once, especially with the rifftrax, because it IS interesting, it’s certainly unique, and with enough alcohol, it could even be funny. The alternative is “Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer” because it’s…wait a minute…I used that as a positive example earlier…damn…

The Guilty Pleasure of Bad Movies

by Reality’s Frank

There’s a guilty pleasure in watching bad movies. Think of the campiest, corniest, crappiest movie you ever saw. It was pretty bad, wasn’t it? And yet you might just sit down to watch it again some day, wouldn’t you? Sure you would. How else do you think the Toxic Avenger series got to be so popular?


I myself have a pretty fair assortment of bad movies: Captain America, The Guyver, Toxic Avenger (of course), at one time, I even owned a VERY bad live action Dragon Ball movie. Trust me, it sucked.


And what is it about these cinematic abominations that people find so entertaining? Beats me. But I do have one theory. As there can be no good without evil, there can also be no masterpieces without bombs.


Why just the other night, I sat down and watched the unreleased Fantastic Four movie. Wow. That’s all I can say, because if I think about it any more, my head might explode from how bad it was. And what about all the new movies that are so full of suck that you wish you paid more to see it so you wouldn’t feel like such an ass asking for your eight bucks back? Does Cloverfield ring any bells? Blair Witch? Sure.

Then on the other side of the coin are the really good movies that got no recognition and were passed off as crappy. I would direct your attention to exhibit…oh I dunno…I guess: Mystery Men, for one. And then of course there’s the shitty movies that a lot of people liked, and you have no idea why, movies like Charlie’s Angels, Blades of Glory, Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

So I ask you now to share the last really, REALLY bad movie you saw and, be honest, how much you actually liked it. It’s okay, there’s no one else here but you and me. The lights are off, here’s the pop corn, I’ll put in Laser Hawk. What’s that? Yes it’s a Mark Hamil movie. It’s terrible, so I think you’ll like it. Press play.