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In 1941 Curt Siodmak sat down at his desk with the intention of writing a horror story that would
draw on Greek Mythology and the belief that somehow a man could transform into an animal, a
common legend that ran through the folklore of just about every culture on Earth. Little could he
have realized that the script he was about to write, The Wolf Man, would not only have an
effect of the future of horror films, but the future of the occult as well. It has always been a
common belief that many of the concepts of lycanthropy that were portrayed in the film came from
a collection of popular folklore and witchcraft. In fact nothing is further from the truth. Siodmak
was responsible for coming up with the design of the pentagram, the werewolf’s vulnerability
to silver, and the full moon being the catalyst for the transformation from man to beast all on his
own. In fact the legendary poem “Even a man who is pure of heart, and says his prayers by night,
may become a wolf when the wolf bane blooms, and the autumn moon is bright.” is a Siodmak
Named as one of the "100 Best Films of All Time" by Time Magazine, King Kong premiered
in New York City in 1933. The film was an instant success, breaking box-office records to
become one of the top moneymakers of the 1930s. King Kong's state-of-the-art visual effects,
entertaining story and touching conclusion captivated audiences and started a worldwide love
affair with the giant ape. The film has also been included in seven of the American Film Institute's
Top 100 lists, including the "100 Years...100 Movies" list.
A film ahead of its time, King Kong defied the technological limitations of the 1930s. Special
effects pioneer Willis O'Brien's revolutionary stop-motion animation was not only technically
brilliant but also highly imaginative and continues to impress even in today's era of
In 1932 a new horror movie was put into production to capitalize on the success of Frankenstein,
and its star Boris Karloff. The initial idea was to produce a film based on the real life exploits of
the French mystic Cagliostro, who claimed that he had lived for several generations. This idea
was soon dropped for a screenplay that was penned by Nina Wilcox Putman that featured the
resurrected corpse of an ancient Egyptian prince. One has to remember that Tutankhamen’s
tomb had just recently been discovered and there was a national obsession with Egyptology.
Universal felt that the combination of Karloff and this topical theme would guarantee a hit, and
they were right..Despite the fact that a film featuring the popular Karloff would be shoe-in to be a
success, Universal didn’t want to take any chances. Karl Freund (Frankenstein, Dracula, I Love
Lucy) was hired to direct a film whose script was almost a duplicate of the script for Dracula, a
film that Freund was the cinematographer for. In fact The Mummy featured several scenes,
dialogue and even some of the same actors that were in the Bela Lugosi classic. READ MORE
Horror Express was a Spanish production directed by Eugenio Martin. It was filmed in
Madrid in the years 1971-1972, a low budget film ($300,000) with the luxury of having three
familiar genre actors in the lead: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Telly Savalas. The film was
co-produced by American filmwriter/producer Bernard Gordon, who had collaborated with
Martin on the 1972 film Pancho Villa (which also featured Savalas in the title role). The
filmmakers used both the miniature train and interior train set from Pancho Villa for Horror
Express. The challenge was that they only had one set to be used as an interior train car. All of
the scenes for each train car had to be shot at once, then the set would be rebuilt as the next car.
Securing Lee and Cushing was a coup for producer Gordon, since it lent a certain atmosphere
reminiscent of Hammer Films, many of which starred both of the actors. However, when Cushing
arrived in Madrid to begin work on the picture, he was still distraught over the recent death of his
beloved wife, and announced to Gordon that he could not do the movie READ MORE
In 1972 Charles Pierce, an ad salesman from Texarkana, borrowed $160,000 from a friend who
owned a car dealership, to make a movie about a local legend in Arkansas, that he had heard
about growing up. Armed with a hand-held camera, and the local residents, who played
themselves, Pierce set out to create a pseudo-documentary about recent encounters with a
Bigfoot-like creature in and around the small town of Fouke. Amazingly enough, Pierce,
with no experience at making movies, was able to create a very believable and scary movie. His
amateur actors, who obviously drew inspiration from their real-life encounters, display such fear,
that the viewer really gets taken in by their raw emotion. Pierce's camera work and editing really
creates a genuine feeling of terror. His wisdom in only showing the monster from a distance, and
in the shadows, adds to the mystery and the overall eerie feeling of the film. It is amazing that an
amateur film maker, like Pierce, was able to master so many truly scary film techniques in his first
attempt at making a movie READ MORE
|Godzilla Vs Hedorah
(aka Godzilla Vs The Smog Monster)(1971)(Toho)
Godzilla Vs Hedorah (1972)
It's wonderful that American home
video distributors have finally started
taking Godzilla seriously and releasing
excellent DVDs of the Big Guy's flicks.
This DVD of the 1971 "Godzilla vs.
Hedorah" (originally released in America
as "Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster")
may not offer much in the way of extras,
but it lets you see the film as you've
never been able to: in a beautiful
widescreen image (enhanced for 16:9
TVs) with the option to watch it in
Japanese with English subtitles or
dubbed into English..
Amazon - $76.46
Just about every film buff knows the stars of the classic line of horror films produced by Universal
in the 1920s', 30s' and 40s'. Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Lon Cheney, three names that will
forever be remembered in the hearts of movie fans around the world. Yet, one name always
seems to omitted from the list. True this mystery actor never played Dracula or Frankenstein's
Monster, yet his part in the history of horror is just as important as any actor who ever wore a
cape or endured hours wrapped in bandages.
I am of course talking about Conrad Veidt. Still don't know who I'm talking about? Well, I'm
certain that you have heard of some of the films he starred in. Veidt would become known for his
roles in such films as "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1920), "The Thief of Bagdad" (1940), and
"Casablanca" (1942). His likeness as Gwynplaine in "The Man Who Laughs" would serve
as the inspiration for the comic book supervillain "The Joker." READ MORE
Written By: Ken Hulsey
For anyone following the progress of the upcoming Legendary
Pictures American made "Godzilla" film, one name should stand
out above the rest in regards to the films list of producers,
Yoshimitsu Banno, a man who was responsible for helming one
of the most controversial G films of all-time, "Godzilla vs
For you see, Godzilla, and Banno, were way ahead of the
curve when it came to ecology. A full two decades before Al
Gore was causing politicians, and the general public, to loose
sleep over pollution, 'the king of monsters' was already on the
Though many critics have looked unfavorably at Banno, and
"Godzilla vs Hedorah", his film would follow a natural
progression that began in 1954 with the release of the original
"Gojira", though this time around the film maker would change
the message of Japan's most famous movie series from
anti-bomb to anti-pollution.
Granted, in the early 70s, Banno and Godzilla were not alone,
recycling, conservation and other anti-pollution buzz words
were on the lips of the younger generation who saw that man's
folly and wastefulness would eventually lead to his demise.
A message that seemed to fit in perfectly with the times.
Banno's vision of a Godzilla film was very much different from any of the films that either proceeded, or followed it. The film
maker added several elements to "Godzilla vs Hedorah", such as animation, abstract images and actual letters from Japanese
school children, that seemed a bit out of place in a movie of this type.
The film maker would also include scenes that were obviously inspired by Toho's previous sci fi film "The H-Man" and the
American 1958 cult horror, "The Blob."
Risky move s to say the least, and moves that would ultimately lead to Banno never getting a chance to direct a Godzilla movie
During the filming of "Godzilla vs Hedorah" producer Tomoyuki Tanaka was very ill in the hospital, so Banno was allowed to
direct, 'without a net', so to speak. After his release, Tanaka became furious after viewing the finished film and told Banno that,
"...he ruined the Godzilla series and that he would never direct at Toho again."
Tanaka's reaction came much to the surprise of the film maker, who believed that his film could have been the starting point for
a new and different series of Godzilla films. In fact while filming "Godzilla vs Hedorah", Banno had began to develop two other
G films, one a direct sequel and another where Godzilla would fight a giant mutant starfish. Again, the underlying message of
both films would be anti-pollution.
Hedorah, an alien lifeform, lands on Earth and begins feeding on pollution. Thanks to his toxic nature, as well as his acidic,
poisonous body, Hedorah very nearly puts an end to Godzilla in their struggle. Godzilla finally destroys Hedorah by
dehydrating him using electrical generators set up by the military and his own atomic ray. The film contains several strange
impressionistic animated scenes portraying the smog monster at his evil work.
On a side note, this was the first (and only) time we see Godzilla fly under his own power. He uses his atomic ray as jet
propulsion. Director Banno reportedly added the scene to provide a light moment in what is otherwise a fairly dark film
compared to many of those which preceded it.
As a Godzilla film, "Godzilla vs Hedorah" is a bit boring a times. The monster action seems to drag and in the end, Godzilla
needs a lot of help from the military to defeat Hedorah, constantly having to force the monster between two giant electrodes to
shock it to death.
As is the case with almost all the Toho sci fi films, post Eji Tsuburaya (the father of Japanese special effects, who had passed
away a year prior), the effects in "Godzilla vs Hedorah" are inconsistent, and not of prior quality. Though it should be noted
that Teruyoshi Nakano (a top member of Tsuburaya's staff who took over for the master) didn't use either over-the-top
pyrotechnics or stock footage, both of which became standard in the Godzilla movies of the 1970s, in this film.
On the plus side, the film is a little more hip, and artsy, than any other Godzilla film. Two points that are somewhat refreshing,
though most monster movie fans would agree that better monster action would be preffered over the films more artistic
Though I do want to give props to Banno for his excellent use of visuals. If he wanted to convey just how ugly pollution can
be, he did a perfect job.
However, the ecology issue really kinda gets old after it's been driven home over and over again.
After all is said and done, is "Godzilla vs Hedorah" a bad film? No, it's just different. It's enjoyable, entertaining and thought
provoking, which depending on your mood, could be good or bad.
There are obviously other Godzilla films that I would pull out of my video library to watch before "Godzilla vs Hedorah", but
as a change-up, it's definitely worth a the time.
As we all know, Yoshimitsu Banno tried in vein to continue on the legacy of his one and only Godzilla film with the never
produced "Godzilla 3D to the Max." In that film, Godzilla would have fought against a more modern version of Hedorah,
called "Deathla", in South America and here in North America.
Now that the film maker is attached to "Godzilla (2014)" it is unknown just how much input he will have on the film, or if any
of his unused film ideas will be included in the films story.
A Godzilla film that has an environmental message? In 2014? Seems to fit right in with current events doesn't it? We'll just
have to wait and see.
Gojira tai Hedorâ
Aka: "Godzilla vs. Hedora" & "Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster"
Director: Yoshimitsu Banno
Writers: Yoshimitsu Banno & Takeshi Kimura
Akira Yamauchi as Dr. Yano
Toshie Kimura as Toshie Yano
Hiroyuki Kawase as Ken Yano
Keiko Mari as Miki Fujiyama
Toshio Shiba as Yukio Keuchi
Yukihiko Gondô as Mean general
Eisaburo Komatsu as Fisherman
Tadashi Okabe as Scientist
Wataru Ômae as Helpless police officer
Susumu Okabe as Interviewer
Haruo Nakajima as Gojira
Kenpachiro Satsuma as Hedorah
40 Years of "Godzilla vs. Hedorah"
by Armand Vaquer
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Seven years ago, the 50th anniversary of Godzilla (1954) was celebrated.
Part of that celebration included the DVD release by Columbia-TriStar Home Entertainment of Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971),
along with several other Godzilla movies.
Suddenly, next month marks the 40th anniversary of the release of Godzilla vs. Hedorah in Japan on July 24, 1971. It was
released the following year in the United States as Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster.
This is the famous (or infamous, depending upon one's point-of-view) movie in which Godzilla curls up his tail and uses his
atomic breath as a rocket engine to fly (!) after Hedorah. Director Yoshimitsu Bannai added the flying scenes to "lighten up" an
otherwise dark movie. This was Banno's message movie on pollution.
Right, Yoshimitsu Banno at a dinner party in Roppongi, Tokyo in 2004. Photo by Armand Vaquer.
The movie is quirky in other ways besides the flying sequences. It also contains animated sequences whose intent was to drive
home the dangers of pollution along with strange music motifs and bizarre editing.
Tomoyuki Tanaka, the producer of the Godzilla series, was in the hospital at the time Hedorah was made. When he finally saw
the finished movie, he reportedly said that Banno ruined the Godzilla series and was determined to never allow Banno to direct
another Godzilla movie. This may or may not be a true story. Banno refuted this at G-FEST a few years ago.
Godzilla vs. Hedorah has risen in G-fandom's esteem over the years. The U.S. version (Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster) was
featured in the 1978 book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time.
To this day, Godzilla vs. Hedorah remains an odd entry in the entire series of Godzilla movies. At least one can't say it's dull.
Happy 40th anniversary!
Japanese Uber Geekdome - Godzilla Related
Written By: Ken Hulsey
Sources: Technabob / Kotaku
If you are anywhere near the big Japanese sci fi buff that I am, these
two stories from 'the land of the rising sun' will have you all geeked up.
Now, I imagine that just about everyone knows what Cosplay is by
now....you know, a bunch of Anime fans running around dressed like
their favorite characters.
Well, have you ever heard of a Godzilla related Cosplay costume
before? Neither had I, until now.
At the Wonder Festival, which was recently held in Japan, one young
lady did just that, dressing as Miki Fujimiya from "Godzilla vs
Hedorah" (aka Godzilla vs The Smog Monster).
If you recall, Miki was the psychedelic singer from that bar where
everyone was trying to forget that their country was being destroyed
by a monster that feeds on pollution.
You may also remember that the scene resembled a bizarre acid trip,
and in the end, everyone wound up with fish heads.
Unfortunately, I don't know the name of the young lady who designed
this costume, but props are in order anyway.
GODZILLA vs HEDORAH 40th Anniversary Poster, Lobby Card And Photo Bonanza!
Written By: Ken Hulsey
This past weekend I posted an article that was very well received about classic monster movie posters so I have decided to
turn the subject into a series of features here at Monster Island News. The only problem is .... where do I start? There are so
many awesome sci fi, horror and monster movie posters out there it is hard to pinpoint just where to begin.
That's when it hit me.
As our very own Armand Vaquer noted in a couple of great pieces a few of weeks back this month marks the 40th anniversary
of the release of "Godzilla vs Hedorah" in Japan so I figured this was as good a place to start as any.
To the left is one of the original Japanese adds for the film. As you probably have noticed the poster is rather tall and narrow.
These "skinny" posters were displayed in Japanese theaters alongside standard sized ones to promote the film. As is typical of
these posters this one contains giant sized lettering and a small graphic of the monsters at the bottom.
Here is a collection of "Godzilla vs Hedorah" posters, lobby cards, and promotional photos from around the globe:
Above are four Japanese promotional photos that would have been released to magazines and newspapers.
Here in America the film was released under the title "Godzilla
vs The Smog Monster". This is the poster that was featured in
theaters during that release.
An "add slick" for "Godzilla vs The Smog Monster" for
A promotional photo for American magazines and