Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Grabbers & Godzilla

Grabbers is a recent Irish-British monster movie, although done with a lot of humor and tongue and cheek to keep it pretty breezy.  The film stars mostly unknown actors, at least to me, and is reminiscent of a lot of the earlier horror-SF stuff I used to watch growing up like Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, or maybe more appropriately, It Came From Beneath the Sea, etc.

A meteor crashes in the sea near a quiet fishing village, and quickly odd phenomena start happening as they tend to do in a lot of these large monster movies.  A young woman is sent to the  small coastal village from Dublin as a substitute while the chief is on vacation.  She's the outsider, and learns that a lot of the locals find a woman filling the male position, too progressive, and at the same time, she's a bit at odds with their quaint lifestyle.  Her buddy on the force is a hard drinking guy and of course they don't exactly mesh starting out, but over the course of the film, they learn to work together.  There are cliches in the film, but at the same time the film manages to also play off these cliches, to turn them around, poke fun at them, and overall, have a pretty good time with the convention.

About midway through the film we find out the best way to stop from getting eaten by the creature is to get drunk.  For whatever reason, the creature has an aversion to alcohol, but at the same time must remain in water and needs blood to survive.  So once the lone, nerdy scientist on the island finds out that booze will fend off the creature, and that the weather is predicting a huge storm headed their way, they all meet down at the local tavern to try and defend against the creature.  Mayhem ensues...

Overall it's a pretty fun watch, not to be taken too seriously.  The creature effects were done pretty well for a low budget film, and the story moved along pretty briskly.  The cinematography was handled pretty well too, and I enjoyed the aspects of the sleepy fishing village.

I've been in a big monster, kaiju mood lately.  I've yet to see the recent Godzilla film, and although I've read a few comments saying it's not the most original film, I still want to watch it and I'm looking forward to getting it on Netflix.  I actually found a copy of Godzilla vs. Biollante the other day while I was out pawn shop looking.  I buy most of my DVDs from there.  So far, most of the DVDs I've bought from pawn shops have worked out well for me, and played well.  If you check the DVD underneath the disc (which is the playing side) not the label on top, check underneath it for scratches, you'll generally not encounter any problems.  Even if it's scratched a little bit, it should play.  You can find some great stuff and add to your collection, without shelling out too much cash.  Plus I love it when I find a bargain.

Godzilla vs. Biollante is not my favorite from the Big G franchise.  I'd say so far, I'd rank them (or at least the ones I've seen so for) like this:

1. Godzilla--the original film.  I've only seen the Americanized version of the film.  I've heard the Japanese version contains ten or more minutes of running time, and has a darker mood to it.  At some point in time I'd like to watch that version.

2. Mothra vs. Godzilla--I was lucky to run across a new copy of this sequel at a Half Price book store in Dallas.  I wish I had bought some of the other ones at that time, but at least I scored a copy of it.  It's the newer packaged one from Toho master, which contains the original Japanese 1966 version, and the English dubbed version on a single disc.   It also contains a few extras with audio commentary from Ed Godziszewski and Steve Ryfle, a slide show of movie posters, and a Akira Ifukube biography.

From there it gets a bit subjective among Godzilla fans.  For me though, I think I'd pick:

3. Destroy All Monsters--It was directed by Ishiro Honda with music by Akira Ifukube, and special effects by Teisho Arikawa.  There are alien races, and all the monsters have been confined to a place called Monster Island.  We have learned to live in space and have a base on the moon.  Aliens, the Kilaaks, from the asteroid belt have taken over the minds of the scientist at Monster Island and made them into mental slaves.  They also have a base on the moon, and have set up transmitter for the mind control.  So basically they are wanting to take over the Earth using Godzilla and some of the other monsters: Rodan, Mothra, Gorosaurus, and so forth.  It features eight different monsters, and the explosions have to be coordinated to match the animated rays, wires, monster tails, wings, and so forth.  Supposedly King Ghidorah alone required twenty-two cables, operated by three to five behind-the-scenes technicians.  It's all monsters mayhem.

4. Godzilla 2000--I saw recently on Hulu, and I enjoyed it more than I would have thought I would.  It's updated and modern, although not anywhere near what the new movie is going to be like.  Still it is a fun film and worth a watch if you enjoy Godzilla.

5. I'm not so sure that I'd put Godzilla vs. Biollante here, as I really haven't seen enough of the Godzilla franchise to judge it squarely. There's, I think, somewhere near thirty Godzilla films.  GvB is okay, but personally, I was let down by it a little, though I feel like I need to re-watch hit again and give it another day in court.  The plot is pretty convoluted for a Godzilla flick, and deals with genetics, mercenaries trying to steal a cell or scale off Godzilla.  A scientist wanting to grow grain in the desert of an Arabian country fused with the Godzilla cell.  They fuse the cells together and it grows into a giant flower (Biollante). So there's some espionage terrorist, a psychic, a giant monster plant, and so forth.  It's a pretty whacked-out movie.

I thought the score was a bit weird too.  The soundtrack reminds me of something from a Christopher Reeves Superman movie, or a Star Wars movie, which was weird and for me didn't mesh.  Plus on the DVD that I found at the pawn shop, it shows owned by Miramax, but also on the back of the box I see, Echo Bridge, so they may have sold them the rights to the movie, but it's a half-ass attempt at best of transferring it to disc because at times Japanese subtitles will appear on the screen, which is distracting.  But for two bucks, I can't complain too much, plus I think this movie is already getting hard to find or deleted.  You'd think someone would want to preserve these films better, but I know, unless there's money in it, it probably won't happen.

From there I'm still renting a few more Godzilla flicks.  Some of them are getting hard to find too. Unfortunately, I see where the film, Space Amoeba or Yog, Monster From Space is already deleted and some eBay/Amazon sellers are wanting nearly a hundred bucks for the DVD, which for me, it ain't gonna happen.  I figure if you wait, maybe someone like Rhino, or Shout Factory will re-release them, so it won't hurt to wait.  Or maybe they'll show up on TCM or someplace else.

In the meantime I found that you can watch Space Amoeba/ Yog over at archive.org.  In fact you can download it over there, although it's only in the Japanese language, and without English subtitles, but I think I'm going to go ahead and get a copy that way.  At least you can watch it that way, and I'm game for that.


At 6:39 AM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

“Grabbers” was fun. (As usual, HG Wells got there first with the basic premise: see his 1896 short story “The Sea Raiders”). “Grabbers” has all the basic elements one wants in a monster movie plus a dose of humor.

I saw the original 1954 version of “Godzilla (Gojira)” on TCM a while back. I’m not inclined to disparage Americanized versions or remakes on principle as some folks seem to be (I’m just fine with “Point of No Return,” “Diabolique” and “Let Me In” as examples), but in this case the original cut really is better. In place of Raymond Burr’s unnecessary explication we get a better direct understanding of the primary characters and especially of the anguished scientist who devises the ultimate weapon. The allusions to the firebombings of less than a decade earlier and to the doubts of atomic scientists are a lot clearer. Nevertheless, the Burr version was a childhood favorite, which counts for something on a nostalgia level. I also loved the original Rodan which has impressive miniature work, as in the detail in the bridge collapse scene in the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fONQK87h1X0.

At 9:35 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

I've not read The Sea Raiders and was unaware of it. I have a collection of H. G. Wells' stories, but they are the novels rather than his short story work. I'd have to track that down, he's one of my favorite SF authors.

Yes, I'll have to watch the original Godzilla, I've heard it's better so I need to see it. The Americanization of some of these movies is fine with me too, however, if I've already seen the original I generally won't watch the American one, just because I felt like, why bother, I've seen it? Although I did watch La Femme Nikita first, I caught No Return on cable TV, and it was pretty good too. Though I did like some of the music better on Nikita.

I didn't know there was a Japanese version of Rodan, but I see it's longer as well. Thanks for the tip.


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