Sunday, February 10, 2019

WONDER FESTIVAL! Seeing Some Cool Models on This Cold Winter Day!

Earlier today, I attended the winter edition of Wonder Festival 2019. There were lots of interesting models and even a new Legendary Godzilla statue. Anyway, a picture's worth a thousand words, so here ya go!

"Permission to come aboard?" "You have my permission to come aboard." Photo by Brett Homenick. 

 Oh, no! The Great Buddha has arrived! Photo by Brett Homenick.

Minoru Kujirai. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

MOTHRA REBORN! Toho SFX Alums Gather to Celebrate Mothra's 1990s Rebirth!

Suit actor Mizuho Yoshida (right) poses with Death Ghidorah (a.k.a. Desghidorah) next to assistant SFX director Yoshiaki Konndo. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I was pleased to take in a screening of a 35mm print of Rebirth of Mothra (1996). I was never that much a fan of the movie, and I don't believe I'd seen it in its entirety since the late '90s. Other than catching bits and pieces of it on the Sci-Fi Channel in the early 2000s, it'd probably been at least 15 years since I'd seen so much as a frame of it. 

Mizuho Yoshida. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Despite not having seen it in such a long time, there were a few specific scenes I remembered quite well (which surprised me). But after about the first 30 minutes, I pretty much had no memory of anything that happened. Overall, I can't say the movie was all that bad, but I found the action repetitive the story line (to the extent there is one) paper-thin. I've seen worse, but I've seen much, much better.

The guest of honor for the screening was suit actor Mizuho Yoshida. Yoshida-san portrays Zeiram in both Zeiram (1991) and Zeiram 2 (1994). Legion in Gamera 2 (1996), Death Ghidorah (a.k.a. Desghidorah) in Rebirth of Mothra, Dagahra in Rebirth of Mothra 2 (1997), and Godzilla in GMK: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), among other suit-acting roles.

Yoshiaki Konndo worked as an assistant director on Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991), Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992), Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993), Orochi the Eight-Headed Dragon (1994), Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (1994), Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995), Rebirth of Mothra, and Godzilla 2000 (1999).

It was nice to see Rebirth of Mothra again after so many years (even if the film itself isn't so hot), and it was a blast meeting Yoshida-san for the first time. He's incredibly friendly and loves mugging for the camera. His Godzilla might be among the meanest, but the suit actor is among the nicest!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Look Who's Back!

Godzilla on the side of the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building. Photo by Brett Homenick.

In Godzilla 1985 (1984), Godzilla collapses into the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building after losing his initial battle with the Super X. Now, Godzilla has returned to the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building, but this time in chibi form. Take a look!

Meeting Godzilla's Millennium SFX Director!

Yuichi Kikuchi. Photo by Brett Homenick.

As soon as I finished work, I made a beeline to Suginami to attend a stage play directed by Yuichi Kikuchi. Kikuchi-san is best known for serving as SFX director on Godzilla against Mechagodzilla (2002), as well as working as assistant SFX director on such movies as Gamera 3 (1999) and Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000). 

The Tokusatsu DNA staff sent its congratulations to Kikuchi-san. Photo by Brett Homenick

Following his work on the kaiju genre, Kikuchi-san returned to the Ultra-series, working as SFX director on Ultraman (2004), Ultraman Nexus (2004-05), Ultraman Max (2005-06), Ultraman Mebius (2006-07), among others.

Following the performance, Kikuchi-san greeted attendees in the lobby. Kikuchi-san knew who I was based on the message I wrote him, and I guess I'm pretty easy to spot in a Japanese crowd, anyway. We had a nice chat and talked a bit tokusatsu.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

RIP, Julie Adams

With Julie Adams in 2010.

Word has circulated that Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) star Julie Adams has passed away. I had the privilege of meeting her twice at L.A.-area conventions. The first time (in May 2009) wasn't very memorable; it was a just brief encounter. The second time (in April 2010) was much better, as I got to spend quite a bit of time at her table and talk to her about a variety of subjects, most of which had nothing to do with Creature. (Confession time: I'm not a big fan of the movie.) She was enormously friendly, and even though I met a lot of guests at that convention, she essentially tied with Son of Frankenstein's Donnie Dunagan as my favorite. I'll always appreciate the kindness she showed me.

Rest in peace, Ms. Adams.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Nikkatsu Night with Actress Masako Izumi!

Masako Izumi: Then and now! Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Tonight, I attended a dinner event with former Nikkatsu star Masako Izumi. There's usually such an event with Izumi-san around this time of year, and I've been attending since 2015.

Izumi-san began her acting career in 1958 and quickly became a star when she signed with Nikkatsu Studios in the early 1960s. At Nikkatsu, she starred in such films as Toshio Masuda's tragic World War II drama Monument to the Girls' Corps (1968) and Seijun Suzuki's Tattooed Life (1965). Naturally, she has many other roles to her credit.

Izumi-san is always a lot of fun to hang out with. She is completely approachable and more than friendly with her fans. I look forward to attending the next one next year!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

SUKAPIN WALK, DON'T RUN! Director Omori Discusses His Mid-'80s Opus!

Producer Shiro Sasaki (left) and director Kazuki Omori. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I attended a screening of one of director Kazuki Omori's pre-Godzilla films. The film was Sukanpin Walk (1984), a sort of Japanese A Star Is Born, headlined by Koji Kikkawa. The movie was enjoyable, though I prefer You Gotta Chance (1985), which is a much more fun and energetic movie, with the same director and star.

Kazuki Omori. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On hand for the event was director Kazuki Omori, best known in the West for his directing Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991). Naturally, I'm quite familiar with his Heisei Godzilla films, but I've long been interested in his other works. So today was an opportunity I was eager to seize.

With producer Shiro Sasaki.

The other guest of honor was producer Shiro Sasaki. He not only produced today's film but You Gotta Chance, as well. For genre fans, his biggest credit is producing the final film of director Nobuo Nakagawa, The Living Koheji (1982). 

All in all, it was another enjoyable evening. I spent a great deal of the time speaking with Sasaki-san's daughter, who assisted him at the event. Otherwise, it was great to see so many other familiar faces. Can't wait to do it all over again!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Secrets of The Manster Revealed on Vantage Point Interviews!

Terri Zimmern in the clutches of The Manster.

Vantage Point Interviews is proud to present an interview with Terri Zimmern, the actress who played the beautiful lab assistant, Tara, in The Manster (1959). What does she have to say about her work on the film? Check out the interview to find out!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Taking in a '70s Actioner, Shochiku-Style!

Yoko Takahashi. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On Monday. January 14, I was able to attend another interesting film screening.

The movie was Hangyaku no Tabi (1976), produced by Shochiku Studios. The movie is a hard-boiled actioner -- at least by Shochiku standards, which is the studio that bought us the films of Yasujiro Ozu and the Tora-san series. The flick opens with a brutal killing, and things only get more violent from there. It's certainly not wall-to-wall action, and the violence was depicted in a realistic way. Of particular interest to me was the giant poster for King Kong (1976) that could be seen briefly in the background of an outdoor location. 

Two notable actresses who appear in the film were guests at the event.

The main guest was Yoko Takahashi. Takahashi-san's best-known work in the West is the Oscar-nominated Sandakan 8 (1974). She also can be seen in Kon Ichikawa's The Devil's Ballad (1977).

Also in attendance was Rie Yokoyama. Yokoyama-san appears in Nagisa Oshima's Diary of a Shinjuku Burglar (1969), Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (1972), episode 10 of Horror Theater Unbalance (1973), Zatoichi's Conspiracy (1973), and Kinji Fukasaku's New Battles without Honor and Humanity: Last Days of the Boss (1976).

I've met Takahashi-san several times over the years, but this was my first time to meet Yokoyama-san. Due to my work schedule, I had to leave shortly after the movie ended, but I was happy to see it in 35mm.

Three Toho Alumni: The Greatest Battle on Earth!

Teruyoshi Nakano. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Sunday, January 13, saw a great Toho SFX event with three alumni from the Showa era: Teruyoshi Nakano, Keiko Suzuki, and Takashi Naganuma.

All three guests were a lot of fun to hang out with. Naganuma-san brought his trademark humor to the proceedings and kept me laughing most of the time I was around him.

I was grateful for the opportunity to ask SFX script supervisor Keiko Suzuki a few questions about her Toho work. I learned quite a bit of new details about the making of a few Godzilla and other Showa-era SFX films. Quite enlightening!

Last but not least was Teruyoshi Nakano. What else can I say about the Toho SFX legend that hasn't been already said? Let's do it again soon!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

VIVA CHIBA! Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba Appears at a Showa Hero Event!

Sonny Chiba. Photo by Brett Homenick.

 Today, I was able to attend a special Showa Hero event headlined by none other than Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba, one of Japan's most famous action stars of all time. Chiba-san is set to turn 80 years old this month, but you'd never know it by looking at him. Chiba-san is still in incredible shape!

While waiting in line, I spoke with a Japanese fan who'd been waiting a long time to get his Kill Bill posters signed by Chiba-san. Another fan got nearly nearly 10 shikishi boards signed by Chiba-san. Suffice it to say, a lot of fans were eager to meet him.

When it was my turn, Chiba-san saw me and said thanked me for my continuous support. I was quite pleased he recognized me, even though I hadn't seen him for about a year. Chiba-san is always cool with his fans, and he certainly made this afternoon one for the scrapbook.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Toshiro Aoki, Toho SFX Art Director, Passes Away

Toho SFX art director Toshiro Aoki in November 2016. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Toho SFX art director Toshiro Aoki passed away on December 31, following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 82.

Mr. Aoki was born in Gunma Prefecture in 1936. Beginning his career at Toho as an art assistant in 1959, Mr. Aoki lent his considerable talents to productions like The Three Treasures (1959), Mothra (1961), Gorath (1962), King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), Godzilla vs. the Thing (1964), among many other titles.

In the 1970s, Mr. Aoki followed in the footsteps of Yasuyuki Inoue and became SFX art director for films like Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972), Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973), Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974), and Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975). 

I was pleased to meet Mr. Aoki in November 2016 at a special event in Yokohama. I found him to be extremely friendly and always hoped I would have another chance to meet him and possibly interview him.

Rest in peace, Mr. Aoki.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New Content on Vantage Point Interviews!

With Ryuhei Kitamura.

Just in time for the New Year, Vantage Point Interviews has posted not one, not two, but three new interviews. First up is my August 2018 interview with director Ryuhei Kitamura in which he discusses his work on Godzilla: Final Wars. That interview can be read here.

With Masanori Machida.

Next up is my October 2018 conversation with former child actor Masanori Machida, who played the island native Saki in Gappa the Triphibian Monster (a.k.a. Monster from a Prehistoric Planet, 1967). There are also quite a few surprises in there, as well. That interview can be read here

With Akihide Tsuzawa.

Last but not least, my October 2018 interview with another former child actor, Akihide Tsuzawa, can be read here. Tsuzawa-san played Hoshino on Tsuburaya Productions' Ultraman (1966-67), and he's got quite a few things to say about the experience!

Stay tuned for more interviews coming soon!