Tuesday, August 31, 2021

New Content on Vantage Point Interviews!

With Yoshimitsu Banno in July 2005.

I'm very pleased to share that my July 2005 interview with Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (1971) director Yoshimitsu Banno has been updated with improved translations from the original recording. This interview in particular was a tough one to get translated properly due to the fact that Mr. Banno answered in Japanese directly to the original interpreter, away from the microphone. Thankfully, though, his answers were just audible enough to be understood. This new version does a much better job of conveying Mr. Banno's answers than the previous version, so I'd encourage anyone interested in Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster to check it out!

With Masamitsu Tayama in April 2021.

Also available is my new interview with former child actor Masamitsu Tayama, who played Shinji Chujo in the original Mothra (1961). Mr. Tayama shares quite a few anecdotes about the making of the film never before published in English, so it is well worth a look for any tokusatsu fan!

Vantage Point Interviews proves once again that content is king!

Saturday, August 28, 2021

'The Bride from Hades' at Kadokawa Cinema Yurakucho!

I just got back from seeing the Daiei horror film The Bride from Hades (1968) at Kadokawa Cinema Yurakucho. It was quite moody and effective, and I enjoyed seeing it. The film stars Kojiro Hongo, Takashi Shimura, and Miyoko Akaza as the titular bride, whom I was lucky enough to meet at a couple of events. Overall, an enjoyable afternoon!

Thursday, August 26, 2021

'Along with Ghosts' at Kadokawa Cinema Yurakucho!

The tokusatsu and yokai film festival at Kadokawa Cinema Yurakucho continues, and today I took in a screening of Along with Ghosts (1969), the final entry in Daiei's celebrated yokai trilogy. 

I first saw Along with Ghosts almost exactly 20 years ago, and (to the best of my recollection) that was the only time I'd ever watched the whole thing before today. I thought it was pretty boring at the time and considered it easily the weakest of the trilogy.

Well, I have to say that my opinion really hasn't changed very much in the last 20 years. I still consider it the weakest of the three. There's great stuff in it, of course -- Kojiro Hongo is always good, the yokai are effectively spooky (even if they are less memorable this time around), and Chumei Watanabe's score is fabulous. So there's a lot to praise. But I just think the story drags when the yokai aren't onscreen. 

Overall, the other two yokai flicks are more entertaining. That said, I'd still recommend Along with Ghosts over any yokai movie that's come after it. I stopped watching the 2005 remake (or whatever it was) halfway through and never looked back, and the one in current release looks even shabbier (if that's even possible). Thanks, but no thanks, guys. I'll stick with the classics.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

'Ultraman's' Masanari Nihei Passes Away at 80

Masanari Nihei in August 2015. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Actor Masanari Nihei passed away on August 21 of aspiration pneumonia at age 80. A private funeral has already been held.

Mr. Nihei was born on December 4, 1940, in Nagatacho, Tokyo. He was selected as a member of the 15th Toho New Face class in 1960 and made his film debut in 1961. He was often featured in the Young Guy series with Yuzo Kayama and various Crazy Cats flicks throughout the decade. He even turned up in several tokusatsu productions at Toho, most notably Gorath (1962). 

Masanari Nihei (right) poses with fellow Ultra-series luminary Koji Moritsugu. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Mr. Nihei would get his big break in 1966 when Ultraman (1966-67) was launched on Japanese television. Playing Science Patrol member Ito (Ide in the Japanese version), he would ultimately become one of the most recognizable characters in the Ultra-franchise.

I was privileged to meet Mr. Niehei just once. It was an event held in August 2015 with Ultra Seven’s Koji Moritsugu. Mr. Nihei was very friendly and full of energy. He was really enjoying himself at the event, so I was surprised that it seemed he never turned up anywhere else. But I’ll always remember that fun afternoon with Nihei-san.

Rest in peace, Nihei-san.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba Passes Away at 82

Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba in January 2019. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The Japanese media have reported that legendary Toei star Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba has passed away at age 82 after becoming infected with the coronavirus. According to the reports, he was infected at the end of July and was hospitalized on August 8. He ultimately passed away at 5:26 p.m. on August 19.

Sonny Chiba in action in December 2012. Photo by Brett Homenick.

I was fortunate enough to meet Chiba-san at various events in Japan, beginning in December 2012. In 2016, I saw him several times at several events he guested and got to know members of his entourage a bit well. Chiba-san was always very kind to me and remembered me whenever I attended. At one event in 2016, I sat next to Chiba-san the whole evening, and he showed me various photos of himself with Hollywood stars like Samuel L. Jackson on his smartphone.

At a special event honoring his career in April 2013, I had the good fortune of interviewing him about his career. I was only able to get a few minutes of his time, but I certainly appreciated the opportunity. The interview can be read here.

While Chiba-san is best known internationally for his roles in '70s actioners like The Street Fighter (1974), he is better known internationally for his tokusatsu roles, such as Invasion of the Neptune Men (1961), Terror Beneath the Sea (1966), and Message from Space (1978).

Rest in peace, Chiba-san. Thanks for the memories.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Gamera Stomps into the Kadokawa Cinema Yurakucho!

The Gamera/Daimajin display at Kadokawa Cinema Yurakucho. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On August 11, I returned to the Kadokawa Cinema Yurakucho for a wonderful double feature of Gamera vs. Guiron (1969) followed by Gamera vs. Zigra (1971). Seeing these titles on the big screen is exceedingly rare, but the digital transfers were fantastic. I had a great time with both films.

Last night, I was able to take in a showing of Gamera vs. Barugon (1966), and its elaborate SFX were a marvel to see on the silver screen. I've never seen the film look any better.

Screenings at the Kadokawa Cinema Yurakucho will continue, but that's about it for Gamera. The remaining showings will focus on Daiei's other tokusatsu and genre pictures, including ghosts and yokai. I hope to be checking out a few more before the festival ends.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Godzilla Speaks on Vantage Point Interviews!

With Haruo Nakajima in March 2015.

I'm very pleased to share that my 2008 interview with the original Godzilla suit actor, Haruo Nakajima, has been updated on Vantage Point Interviews with a new translation, which contains more details than the previous version. It also includes Mr. Nakajima's responses to audience questions, which was not included in the earlier version at all.

Content truly is king on Vantage Point Interviews!