Monday, April 27, 2015

ANGILAS STOMPS INTO YOKOHAMA! A Kaiju Suit Actor Makes a Rare Appearance!

Toho SFX technician and Angilas suit actor Tadaaki Watanabe holds a copy of a production still from the set of Destroy All Monsters (1968), as he emerges from the Angilas suit. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Just a week after its successful event focusing on Espy (1974), Cinema Novecento returned to the mid-'70s with a screening of Conflagration (1975). Joining the event again was SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano.

SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano poses with posters of some of his most famous works. Photo by Brett Homenick.

As an aside, I actually met Nakano-san on the way to the event. As I boarded the Keikyu Line at Yokohama Station, I noticed Nakano-san standing in the same train car just a few feet away! When we got off at Tobe Station, I greeted him. We spent the next 10 minutes walking to the venue. In the best Japanese I could muster, I asked him questions about his career and his thoughts on a few movies. It was a rare opportunity to have a one-on-one audience with a Showa-era SFX director, and one that I certainly appreciate.

Watanabe-san and Nakano-san tell the audience what it was like to blow Toho Studios up during the 1970s. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The other guest at the event was longtime SFX technician Tadaaki Watanabe, who joined Toho in the 1950s and worked on films into the 2000s. In 1968, Watanabe-san was asked to play Angilas in Destroy All Monsters for some of the scenes, making this a rare public appearance of a Showa-era suit actor not named Nakajima or Satsuma! It was quite exciting to meet Angilas in the flesh.

Meeting Angilas for the first time. He was just as good-hearted as he is portrayed in the movies.

It was enjoyable to see a 35mm print of Conflagration, even if it was showing signs of wear. After the film, Nakano-san and Watanabe-san shared their memories of the movie, as well as their respective Toho careers.

It's always great to hang with Teruyoshi Nakano, one of the true masters.

At one point, Nakano-san pointed me out in the audience and told the story (written elsewhere on this blog) about how I caught that the Toho production logo for the print of Espy was actually taken from The Last Days of Planet Earth (1974), which nobody else in the group noticed. Naturally, it was an honor to be recognized by the master.

Afterward, obligatory photos were taken and autographs signed. We all had a delicious dinner together, over which many Toho tales were told. I'll be returning to Cinema Novecento this Saturday for yet another event, this one Godzilla-centric. Watch this space for a report.

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