Sunday, July 26, 2020

New Interviews at Vantage Point Interviews!

Hong Kong voice actor Peter Boczar.

Several new interviews have been posted at Vantage Point Interviews, and as always, they are quite fascinating. Peter Boczar discusses dubbing in Hong Kong in the late 1970s under the direction of Ted Thomas. He goes into detail about the process of dubbing back then. If you enjoy HK dubbing, this is the interview for you!

Also on tap are interviews with Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero writer Todd Gilbert and cast member Sandra Guibord, who played Theresa Beck on the show. They reveal details about the program here for the very first time anywhere!

More content will continue to be posted, so please keep an eye out for what's next on Vantage Point Interviews!

Going Behind the Scenes with Toho Staff!

Takao Okawara. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On Friday, July 24, I attended another event related to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) -- this time attended by director Takao Okawara and assistant SX director Yoshiaki Kondo.  

Compared to a few others guests, Okawara-san is a bit more reserved and laid-back, but he freely mingled with attendees, answered their questions, and signed their stuff.

 Yoshiaki Kondo. Photo by Brett Homenick.

I've met Kondo-san at several other events, and suffice it to say, he's more on the outgoing side. I always enjoy meeting both guests whenever they turn up at events.

The mask rule was certainly in effect, but an exception was made for picture-taking. Everything went smoothly, and it was another successful event. Which is nice, because it's probably has to last me a while!

Two Toho Suit Actors Raid Again!

 Kenpachiro Satsuma. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On Thursday, July 23, I had the opportunity take in a screening of a 35mm print of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993), which I've now seen a few times in Japan. It's always been a Heisei film I've enjoyed, and seeing again 25 years after first watching it was certainly nostalgic for me.

Two guests were on hand for the screening: Kenpachiro Satsuma and Hurricane Ryu. I'd imagine Satsuma-san needs no introduction. He played the Heisei-era Godzilla from 1984-1995. He has a well-deserved reputation for fan-friendliness, and this event was no exception.

 Hurricane Ryu. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The other guest was the versatile Hurricane Ryu, another monster suit actor. He played Baby in the day's movie. While not as prolific at events as Satsuma-san, he's another approachable fellow who's happy to meet and mingle.

The event was quite fun, as always. I spent the evening seated across from Satsuma-san, who talked about the difficulty of acting as Hedorah in Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (1971), how much he liked playing Gigan, and some of the challenges filming Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995).

 It's Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah in real life! Photo by Brett Homenick.

Toward the end of the evening, the two suit actors, who squared off in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) as the titular kaiju, gave us a reenactment.

I'm very glad the event was still held, despite the pandemic. There have been comparatively very few events this year, so you have to take every opportunity you can to experience one.

A Return to the Stage!

On Saturday, July 25, I immediately left work to watch a small stage performance with Yumi Mizusawa, an actress whom I've come to know. The show was interesting and even featured yokai!

I didn't have much of a chance to speak with Mizusawa-san after the show, but it was certainly nice to see her again. Since these gatherings continue to be few and far between, you have to take the opportunities as they come.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Ben Goto, Author of the Book 'Prophecies of Nostradamus,' Dies at 90

Author Ben Goto. Photo © Jiji Press.

Author Ben Goto, whose book Prophecies of Nostradamus was loosely adapted into a controversial disaster film at Toho Studios in 1974, died on June 16. He was 90 years old.

Born Tsutomu Goto on November 17, 1929, in Hakodate, Hokkaido, the author better known around the world as Ben Goto graduated from Tohoku University's School of Law and launched his award-winning writing and journalism career in 1953 after moving to Tokyo. 

On November 25, 1973, the Japanese publishing company Shodensha released Goto's groundbreaking Prophecies of Nostradamus, which quickly became a bestseller, with more than 2.5 million copies sold. Its central warning that the world was likely to end in July 1999 resonated with Japanese readers at the time, particularly due to the country's rampant pollution problems. Toho released its film adaptation of the book on August 3, 1974.

According to an article in the Japan Times, Goto was quoted in a recent interview as saying, "When I published that book in 1973, the possibility existed of World War III between the United States and the Soviet Union. An end-of-the-world scenario by 1999 seemed fully imaginable.”

A total of 10 volumes of Nostradamus books were eventually published by Shodensha throughout the years, the last one being published in July 1998. Each book in the series sold reasonably well, but none of the other entries matched the impact of the first release.

In the same Japan Times article, Goto also asserts, "Nostradamus accurately predicted the moon landing and credit card loans." So Nostradamus predicted credit card loans, too? All that's missing is Jack Ryland bombastically intoning, "And it came to pass."

Rest in peace, Ben Goto.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Gene Bua's Gammera Recollections!

 Gene Bua (left) as he appears in Gammera the Invincible. 

In February 2008, I reached out to actor Gene Bua (1940-2012) about his role in the American version of Gammera the Invincible (1966). I intended to do a proper interview with him, but his wife, Toni Bull Bua (1946-2016), eventually replied to me with a summary of his Gammera memories. I really couldn't do much with it at the time (especially since Mr. Bua himself didn't write the response), but I recently gave her email another look and realized it would do just fine as a blog post. So Ms. Bua's message to me is reprinted below.

On February 20, 2008, Toni Bull Bua wrote:
Hi Brett-Finally got Gene cornered for a minute. I wish I had more exciting things to share but its been so long he doesn't remember that much. Just that he had fun. His agent at William Morris sent him up for it. He wasn't aware of the Japanese version of Gammera before filming. He commented that the director, Sandy Howard, did a fine job, for the that kind of film. The filming for his scenes took place in the heart of Manhattan, in two days time. He wishes to tell your [...] readers "Find your passion and joy in what you love to do most. Live your Dream." Thanks Brett, many blessings. Toni Bua for Gene Bua
And there you have it.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Seeing Submersion of Japan in 35mm!

Toshio Miike, keepin' it safe! Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Today, I attended a screening of a 35mm print of Submersion of Japan (1973), a landmark Toho SFX film. It was my first time to see the movie in 35mm. However, the print was a bit faded and scratchy at several points. Still, it was a revelation to see the film theatrically. Seeing the disaster scenes in such detail was a true joy.

On hand for the event was Heisei-era production designer and art director Toshio Miike. As before, the masks came off just long enough to snap a photo.

I've always enjoyed Submersion, and I'm still surprised it doesn't get much attention in the West. (But a lack of monsters will do that to any SFX film.) It certainly deserves another look.

Keepin' Cool in the Summer Heat with Tokusatsu!

Teruyoshi Nakano. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Although they are a lot more rare these days, last night was a Saturday evening like many others in previous months and years. Former Toho SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano attended a similar event to those he has guested in the past. I think we have to give him a lot of credit for returning, given the current situation.

Naturally, the requisite safety precautions were taken. And my mask only came off long enough for the above photo to be taken. Of course, it was another fun evening, and I had the chance to ask Nakano-san a question, even though I knew there was little chance he'd know the answer.

In my second interview with Shigeo Kato, Kato-san described a scene in Submersion of Japan (1973) that doesn't appear to be in the film at all. He described a scene in a house in which fireballs were dropped on the actors in a fairly dangerous stunt. As predicted, Nakano-san didn't recall it, but since it was filmed on the drama side of the production, it wouldn't have been under his supervision, anyway. Well, it was worth a shot.

Suffice it to say, another great time was had by all. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Ted Newsom: 1952-2020

Yours truly with Ted Newsom in August 2010.

Word has been circulating online that writer-director Ted Newsom has passed away at age 67. No details seem to be available, but he's had a myriad of health problems in recent years, so news of his passing isn't all that surprising. But the world of Monster Kid fandom will be a lot less interesting without his unique voice.

A day at Don Glut's house, with Ted Newsom, Bill Warren, and others. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

I met Ted only once -- in August 2010. When I went to visit Donald F. Glut at his home in Burbank, Don took it upon himself to invite several fandom luminaries to join us. Naturally, Ted Newsom was among them. I was especially pleased to meet him, as I always enjoyed reading his perspective on things, even when I disagreed with him.

Actually, out of all of the folks who attended that day, I'd have to say that I gravitated toward Ted the most. I appreciated his wit (which was just as quick and amusing in person), and he was a friendly fellow. I had a great time picking his brain about a variety of topics.

From left to right: Ted Newsom, me, William Winckler, Sid Terror, Don Glut, and Tim Smyth. 

I'd hoped to meet Ted right before I left for Japan, but it wasn't to be. I lost touch with him over the years and thought about reestablishing contact (especially after my friend Jacob hung out with him in California). Unfortunately, life got in the way, and I never got around to it. I'll just have to hang on to the memories I have.

RIP, Ted.

UPDATE (7/9): Given the general theme of this blog, I thought this story that Ted shared on Facebook on May 4, 2019, ought to be preserved for posterity.
I had a CSUN teacher named Al C. Ward. He had been writing for films and TV since the early 1950s, first for the Brian Donlevy series Dangerous Assignment (Bela Lugosi's wife Lillian worked on that; she married Donlevy 10 years later) then shows like Ben Casey and The Fugitive and finally as writer-producer of UMC Medical Center. I had a potential gig writing a dubbed comedy version of the two Steve Reeves Hercules films ("Hercules Recycled"), and I asked Al about it. He said "When I first started out, I had a job like that. They had this Japanese film with a lot of special effects and they needed an American version. I wrote the thing, and they said 'Y'know, if you take a little less money, you can have a piece of this.' I said 'Oh, no, give me the cash.' That was a movie called 'Godzilla.' Brilliant." 
He won have been 100 this year. Poor laddie passed away in the prime of his youth ten years ago.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

A Great Day with a Former Toho SFX AD!

Yosuke Nakano. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, despite heavy rains and winds, I took a long train ride out to the Nerima area to have a visit with former Toho SFX assistant director Yosuke Nakano. Nakano-san began working in that capacity on Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) an continued on through Rebirth of Mothra II (1997). But he continues to be involved in tokusatsu and animation to this day.

It was great to hear many stories from his career. I'll have more to say about Nakano-san in the near future. Keep your eyes peeled on my other website!

Revisiting Another Megalon Location!

Tsukushino Park Road. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On July 29, I made a return visit to a filming location from Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) -- Tsukushino Park Road. Its relevance as a filming location ought to be obvious to anyone who remembers the film at all. It's where Yutaka Hayashi and Hiroyuki Kawase "borrow" the model jet. The area isn't very active these days, and most of the shops there seem to be permanently closed. But it looks remarkably similar to the way it did in 1973. Here are a few of the photos I took.