Destroy All Planets 2010

Destroy All Planets 2010
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Friday, April 24, 2015

SHINJUKU'S GODZILLA: Up Close and Personal!

Signage in the Shinjuku Toho Building points visitors in the direction of the massive Godzilla head overlooking Kabuki-cho. Photo by Brett Homenick.

April 24 marked the opening of the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku, which is most notable to readers of this blog for its 12-meter Godzilla head on the 8th-floor terrace and for the specialized Godzilla rooms it offers its guests. I was able to get an advance look at the enormous Godzilla head on the 8th floor and snap take some photos, which are below. A picture is worth a thousand words, so let's get to the good stuff!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

CATCHING UP: Random Updates from Japan's Capital!

Returning to the special Godzilla-themed set-up outside Shinjuku Station's East Exit, touting the opening of Kabuki-cho's brand-new Toho Cinemas. 

I'd like to share a couple of random photos and updates, the first of which is at the top of the screen. On Tuesday, April 21, I went to the HUB in Asakusa to see Shinchi Yanagisawa perform live jazz, as I usually do every other month.

Actor/singer Shinichi Yanagisawa entertains the audience at the HUB in Asakusa. Photo by Brett Homenick.

It's always a treat to see Yanagisawa-san perform live. Regular readers of this blog no doubt are aware that I interviewed Yanagisawa-san a few months ago, and the interview can be read here. It also contains some exclusive photos that you just won't see anywhere else!

Yanagisawa-san was one of the stars of the cult classic The X from Outer Space (1967). Photo by Brett Homenick.

Some big events are coming soon, so watch this space for some rather interesting news and photos!

JAPAN MUMMY MYSTERY! The American Star of a Japanese Mummy Series IDed!

Flipping through a book on obscure Japanese hero programs that I bought today, I found a show called Kyofu no Miira (1961), which was a short-lived horror drama about a mummy.

What really caught my eye, though, was that the mummy was played by an American! His name (which was rendered in katakana) is Bob Strickland, and once I realized that I could actually speak to the Kharis' Japanese counterpart directly, I made a mad dash to try to find him.

It turns out he owned a rather famous steakhouse in Kyoto with his Japanese wife, and once I got the number, I gave the restaurant a call. I spoke with his wife Tokiko who informed me that Bob died last year.

While I was cetainly let down by the news, Tokiko was a sweet lady, and I enjoyed speaking with her. But it looks like the mystery of the Japanese mummy will live on forever...

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Former Toho SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano signs a shikishi board for a lucky fan. Photo by Brett Homenick.

I just returned from a movie event in Yokohama with famed special effects director Teruyoshi Nakano. It was a small and intimate gathering hosted by Cinema Novecento, and the theme of the event was the Toho action film Espy (1974).

A 35mm print of Espy was screened, and while it was very enjoyable, I have to say that the most interesting part of the screening happened right at the beginning. Instead of the Espy theme music playing during Toho's production logo, Isao Tomita's opening music from The Last Days of Planet Earth (1974) suddenly blared from the speakers! Suffice it to say, I was surprised and wondered if we were going to be treated to a secret screening of this "banned" film.

After the production logo, however, there was an abrupt cut, and Espy began. I mentioned this to the group after the screening, but no one -- not even Nakano-san himself, who watched the film with us -- noticed anything different. However, my friend Yasushi and I asked the projectionist to look at the actual film, and sure enough there was a splice after the Toho production logo. Not only that, but the projectionist noticed that there was a sudden change in the soundtrack by comparing the film before and after the splice. Moreover, everyone in our group noticed that some of the more "risque" scenes were trimmed from the film.

So what happened? Our group hypothesized that, during the film's initial run, perhaps there was damage to the film print during the production logo, and Toho decided to slap on the logo from The Last Days of Planet Earth, which had already finished its theatrical run, to replace it. As for the other trims, perhaps they were done by an overly cautious theater manager. In any case, the differences were fascinating to see!

Nakano-san was in great spirits, as usual. He told the story of how author Sakyo Komatsu wanted actress Kaoru Yumi to star in Submersion of Japan (1973) but was unsuccessful. Afterward, he got her cast in the spin-off TV series.

Overall, it was a great event, and another one will take place next week. I look forward to attending it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

TOHO CINEMAS OPENS IN SHINJUKU! Godzilla Stomps Kabuki-cho!

Godzilla stands guard against enemy monsters in Shinjuku's Kabuki-cho district. Photo by Brett Homenick.

April 17 marks the opening of the Toho Cinemas in Shinjuku's Kabuki-cho district (just outside the station's East Exit), and I paid a visit to the theater to take some snapshots. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to see the terrace and view the Godzilla head up close, but I hope to do so soon.

"Hasta la vista, Goji!" The Terminator was on hand for the opening of the new theater. Photo by Brett Homenick.

I did manage to look around the crowded theater lobby, and while the outside has a decided Godzilla theme, indoors it was all about the upcoming Terminator movie. Suffice it to say, what was going on outside was more to my taste, as you can see in the photo below.

There was also an interactive Godzilla setup outside the East Exit of Shinjuku Station, heralding the opening of Toho Cinemas. If you pressed the button, a recording plays that features Godzilla's stomps and trademark roar and an announcement of the new theater. Steam billows out from the exhibit. See the embedded YouTube link below for the video.

I look forward to visiting the 8th floor terrace sometime in the near future, but for now today's experience was satisfying. It was very easy to get caught up in the fun and excitement of today, and seeing the full-size Godzilla head up close will be something to look forward to. I can't wait to do it!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

IT'S ULTRA-GOOD! Hanging Out with Ultraman Ace Stars!

Spending time with retired actress Keiko Nishi, one of the stars of Ultraman Ace.

Today I got a few autographs for a friend of mine who's a big fan of the Showa Ultra-series. Specifically, I got him the signatures of two Ultraman Ace (1972-73) stars. The first was Keiko Nishi, who played TAC member Noriko Mikawa. It was great to see Nishi-san again after the event with Koji Moritsugu. We talked about that and several other topics in her cafe.

With Ultraman Ace regular Shunichi Okita at his bar in Futako-Tamagawa. 

After that, I got the signature of Shunichi Okita, who portrayed TAC member Ichiro Yamanaka on the show. It had been a few months since I last saw Okita-san, but I was happy to catch up with him. I'm sure my friend will be quite excited to receive his Japanese-style shikishi board with the signatures in the mail!


Heisei and Millennium Godzilla series screenwriter Wataru Mimura poses for a photo in Shibuya. Photo by Brett Homenick.

I have posted my interview with Wataru Mimura on Vantage Point Interviews, so be sure to stop by and give it a look! It was conducted in 2008, but it provides a rare glimpse into the creative process of making Godzilla movies.

I had coffee with Mimura-san today, and we discussed posting his interview on my site. He readily agreed. To read the interview, follow this link.