Destroy All Planets 2010

Destroy All Planets 2010
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Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Look familiar? The name of this place probably won't ring any bells, but a few of these pictures should! Photo by Brett Homenick.

Tsukishino Park Road (near Tsukishino Station) in Machida, Tokyo, is not a familiar location to most Godzilla fans, but that might be about to change. It was the location of the scene in Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) in which actors Yutaka Hayashi and Hiroyuki Kawase ride up on their motorcycle in search of a model fighter plane.

Well, the specific shop they entered may no longer exist, but the rest of the location does! It's called Tsukishino Park Road, and it's about a three-minute walk from Tsukishino Station. It looks more or less as it does in the film more than 40 years later, though there are a few differences. All in all, I was surprised by how little it had changed in all that time.

I'm more more such excursions in the future, exploring some rarely discussed locations used in some Showa-era films (instead of the usual haunts, like Tokyo Tower, that you can read all about by doing a simple Google search). Watch this space for further entries!

BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS CONTINUE! Catching Up with Another Old Friend!

Ulf Otsuki poses in front of some mini sakura. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today I paid a visit to Ulf Otsuki's home and spent the day with him. Ulf is an actor who has appeared in numerous tokusatsu films and TV programs, including Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) and, most recently, episode 17 of Kamen Rider Drive (2014-15). 

Ulf showed me one of his more obscure movie roles, that of a Russian military officer in Toshio Masuda's all-star war film 203 Kochi (1980), produced by Toei Studios. This was most certainly a highlight of the day!

Afterward, we enjoyed a great Italian dinner at a nearby restaurant. Suffice it to say, fun times were had by all. Plans for the future are being cooked up as I type this, so stay tuned for further developments!

Monday, March 30, 2015

KING KONG APPEARS IN KAMAKURA! A Rare Japanese Kong Photo Surfaces!

On the way back to Skull Island, King Kong took a little-known vacation in Japan in the mid-1930s. Photo © Shigeo Kato.

One of the birthday gifts actor Shigeo Kato (IkiruSeven Samurai, Godzilla vs. the Thing, etc.) gave me was this photo of a 14-meter King Kong statue in Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan. The date listed on the back of the photo is July 8, 1934, and it was built just after the original King Kong was released in Japan.

Naturally, this Kong statue no longer exists in Kamakura, but given the mystery surrounding the lost Japanese Kong films of the 1930s, it is an interesting curiosity. Japan truly went Kong Crazy in the wake of RKO's 1933 classic!

HANAMI IN KAMAKURA! Viewing the Cherry Blossoms with Shigeo Kato!

Retired actor Shigeo Kato poses with sakura in Kamakura. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Today I had the distinct privilege of doing some hanami (flower viewing) with retired actor Shigeo Kato in Kamakura. Since yesterday was my birthday, Kato-san presented me with a few gifts, which were mostly Japanese treats, but an intriguing photo was among presents. More on that in the next blog post.

Kato-san and I walked quite a distance around Kamakura, and while the cherry blossoms were not quite in full bloom, there was a lot to take in. The cherry blossoms that had come out were quite beautiful, and it was my first time to see them in Kamakura. Despite turning 90 this year, Kato-san showed no signs of tiring, and seemed to hold up better than I did during our walk!

When we finished walking around, Kato-san and I went to a Cafe Renoir near Kamakura Station, and we talked all things Toho. We bounced around names of actors and directors, and Kato-san reminisced about them. It's something we've done a few times before, but every time I learn something new.

After that, we said our goodbyes, and I returned to Tokyo. However, I'm already looking forward to our next visit.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, YOU TWO! Celebrating Our Birthdays, Japanese-Style!

With writer-director Yoshimitsu Banno at a Japanese restaurant in Kawasaki, Kanagawa.

Earlier tonight, I came back from a dinner with Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (1971) director Yoshimitsu Banno. Today is my birthday, and tomorrow is Banno-san's, so it was a joint birthday celebration for both of us.

Lots of great times were had and interesting stories were told. Today was most certainly a birthday to remember!

A DAM GOOD REUNION! Destroy All Monsters Actors Reunite in Tokyo!

Yours truly in between the two stars of Destroy All Monsters (1968): Akira Kubo and Yukiko Kobayashi.

I was lucky to attend a special event on Saturday March 28, in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, at the Toshima Public Hall. The event hosted a reunion of three Destroy All Monsters (1968) cast members: Akira Kubo (Katsuo Yamabe), Yukiko Kobayashi (Kyoko Manabe), and Haruo Nakajima (Godzilla). Other special guests from the superhero genre were on hand, but the meat and potatoes of the event was most certainly Toho's monster romp.

Ultraman Jack suit actor Eiichi Kikuchi talks about everything from James Bond to Ultra Seven. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The event kicked off with Return of Ultraman (1971-72) suit actor Eiichi Kikuchi taking the stage and talking about his work in the Ultraman Jack suit. He also discussed appearing in a fight scene in the James Bond thriller You Only Live Twice (1967) as well as playing Ultra Seven for a couple of episodes in the 1967-68 series of the same name.

Actress Yukiko Kobayashi listens intently as Haruo Nakajima talks shop. Photo by Brett Homenick.

After Kikuchi-san finished talking about all things Ultraman, it was time for the three Toho favorites to make their appearance and reminisce about Destroy All Monsters. Two tables were quickly set up for the guests, with Kubo-san and Kobayashi-san sitting next to each other, and Nakajima-san and Kiuchi-san paired off together.

Actor Akira Kubo was in great spirits for the reunion of his most celebrated movie role (at least to kaiju fans in the West). Photo by Brett Homenick.

The most interesting story (for me) happened when the moderator asked the guests if they had seen the new American Godzilla movie. Kubo-san said that he didn't like it very much, and while I share Kubo-san's sentiments, I must admit that it was Kobayashi-san's answer that really made me take notice.

Godzilla suit actor Haruo Nakajima shares his memories inside the latex Godzilla costume. Photo by Brett Homenick.

When asked if she had seen the new movie, she answered no, but that she likes dinosaurs (especially T-rexes) and that she is a fan of Jurassic Park (1993). Her answer was surprising to me, but entirely delightful. I never would have guessed her to be a dinosaur buff!

Space Sheriff Gavan himself (Kenji Ohba) made a surprise appearance onstage. Photo by Brett Homenick.

After the Q&A wrapped, a surprise guest came onstage and addressed everyone in the auditorium. It was none other than Kenji Ohba, the star of Space Sheriff Gavan (1982-83) and other Toei Metal Hero shows.

It's all smiles whenever Haruo Nakajima and I get a chance to meet!

Following that, the autograph session began, and I was able to get numerous items signed by the guests. the show's organizer and promoter (Dr. Abbey) cheerfully introduced me to Kubo-san and Kobayashi-san, but Kubo-san recognized me from the Kyoto event from December 2011.

One of the items Kobayashi-san signed for me was a booklet from a 1969 Konto 55 comedy she appeared in. At first, Kobayashi-san didn't seem to remember she was in it until I pointed out her photo inside the booklet. Then she remembered. She was truly a wonderful lady!

Nakajima-san was great, as usual. His daughter, Sonoe, was assisting him, as she always does at these shows. When I was getting my items signed by Kobayashi-san, Nakajima-san greeted me by name! I was so surprised that went over to him and greeted him back, but I wasn't even finished with Kobayashi-san yet! Nakajima-san is always very friendly and kind, and I hope I have many more chances to see him.

That's a wrap! The principal guests take the stage for a group photo op. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Overall, it was a fantastic event, and it was organized by people who wanted to let the fans have a great time. I must give credit to Dr. Abbey and the others for putting on a great event and giving the fans so much access to the guests. I look forward to the next events in the future!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

GODZILLA VS. GAMERA! How You Can Make the Long-Awaited Showdown Happen!

John DeSentis and friends (including the late Koichi Kawakita) at G-FEST last summer. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Composer/Godzilla fan John DeSentis plans to do it again, and in true kaiju eiga spirit, his plans are even bigger than before! John has launched a new Kickstarter campaign to bring Godzilla and Gamera music to the Pickwick Theater this July!

John DeSentis, Erik Homenick, and Chris Oglio celebrate after a successful concert in 2014.

Entitled "Symphonic Fury! The Music of Japanese Monsters," Akira Ifukube's classic Symphonic Fantasia will join the first-ever live concert of Ko Otani's Gamera trilogy score. If enough funds are raised, Otani-san himself plans to attend the concert live and in person!

Donate to the Kickstarter and help make music (and kaiju) history!