Sunday, February 26, 2023

A Heisei Ultraman Event That Was Ultra-Good!

Kazuya Konaka (left) and Keiichi Hasegawa. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On Saturday evening -- that's February 25 -- I attended an interesting event that focused on the Heisei Ultra-series. This is a subject I admittedly know very little about, but it featured not one but two guests I literally hadn't seen in years. With such a rare opportunity on offer, I couldn't pass it up.

Kazuya Konaka (left), Kiyoshi Suzuki (center), and Keiichi Hasegawa. Photo by Brett Homenick.

One of the main guests was screenwriter Keiichi Hasegawa. Hasegawa-san penned numerous episodes of Ultraman Tiga (1996-97), Ultraman Dyna (1997-98), Ultraman Gaia (1998-99), Ultraman Cosmos (2001-02), the feature film Ultraman: The Next (2004), Ultraman Nexus (2004-05), Ultraman Mebius (2006-07), Ultraseven X (2007), Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle (2007-08), Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle: Never Ending Odyssey (2008-09), and Ultraman Ginga (2013). Hasegawa-san has also written for Toei programs, such as Kamen Rider W (2009-10), Kamen Rider Fourze (2011-12), Kamen Rider Drive (2014-15), and Kamen Rider Ghost (2015-16). Godzilla fans would know him as the screenwriter for GMK (2001).

Kazuya Konaka (left), Kiyoshi Suzuki (center), and Keiichi Hasegawa. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Kazuya Konaka was the another guest of honor. Konaka-san helmed episodes of Ultraman Dyna, Ultraman Cosmos, Ultraman Nexus, Ultraman Mebius, Ultraseven X, Ultraman Ginga S (2014), and Ultraman Orb: The Origin Saga (2016-17). Konaka-san also directed the feature films: Ultraman Zearth 2 (1997), Ultraman Tiga and Ultraman Dyna (1998), Ultraman Gaia: The Battle in Hyperspace (1999), Ultraman: The NextMirrorman Reflex (2006), and Ultraman Mebius and Ultra Brothers (2006). 

Also on hand was Kiyoshi Suzuki, a veteran of Tsuburaya Productions who joined the company in 1964 and worked on Ultra Q (1966) and Ultraman (1966-67) as an assistant cameraman. From there, Suzuki-san also worked on such tokusatsu productions as: Kaiju Booska (1966-67), Ultra Seven (1967-68), Mighty Jack (1968), Return of Ultraman (1971-72), Mirrorman (1971-72), Iron King (1972-73), Ultraman Taro (1973-73), and Ultraman Leo (1974-75). Suzuki-san also worked behind the camera as a director, and in that capacity he shot episodes of Super Robot Red Baron (1973-74), Super Robot Mach Baron (1974-75), and Dinosaur Expedition Born Free (1976-77). In the Heisei era, Suzuki-san has mostly worked as a producer on various Ultraman movies that have been made since the 1990s.

Keiichi Hasegawa. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The event was quite packed with Heisei Ultraman fans, many of whom I'd never seen before. To say they were enthusiastic about the subject would be quite an understatement. In fact, it was hard to get a word in edgewise, as these fans would sometimes even interrupt each other, trying to get their questions out. 

I had a bit better luck with Hasegawa-san, who was always a lot of fun in the previous times we met. I had a chance to ask him about seeing Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (1966) as a kid, as I remember he mentioned that as his first tokusatsu movie. It certainly has a special place in his heart, as his answer to my question made clear. 

I wish I had more of an opportunity to interact with the special guests, but it was still enjoyable, especially due to Hasegawa-san, who is often the MVP of any event he attends. 

A Special Screening of 'Goke Body Snatcher from Hell' in 35mm!

Goke Body Snatcher from Hell (1968) at the Laputa Asagaya. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Earlier tonight (Sunday, February 26), I attended a screening of Goke Body Snatcher from Hell (1968) in 35mm. It's the penultimate film of the Laputa Asagaya's Science Fiction Film Festival. The film print was in good shape, though the usual specks and scratches were present throughout the movie. 

Publicity material for Goke in the theater lobby. Photo by Brett Homenick.

I've seen the film several times over the years, and it's been a favorite of mine since I saw the dubbed version on VHS in the year 2000. The movie has held up quite well, and I'd have to say that it's the screening I've enjoyed the most so far as part of the program. 

A poster for Goke in the theater lobby. Photo by Brett Homenick.

It's hard to believe there's only one film left -- that being Espy (1974). Actually, the theater put up a sign informing patrons that the film print for Espy is faded, so they are apologizing in advance for it. No worries, though -- I'm quite interested to see how it compares with the other prints they've screened. 

A poster for Romance Express (1961) in the theater lobby. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Also in the theater lobby was this poster for director Yuzo Kawashima's Romance Express (1961). It's not particularly relevant to anything, but I'm happy to photograph and share anything with the dazzling Yumi Shirakawa in it, so here you go.

A Windy Evening in the Company of a Great Performer!

Masanori Machida. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Earlier tonight (Sunday, February 26), I attended yet another dramatic reading featuring actor Masanori Machida. Actually, by the time I arrived, Machida-san had already given his performance, so I missed it, unfortunately. Interestingly, there were probably more people in attendance than I'd ever seen before, and there seemed to be mostly brand-new staff members there, too, as there were plenty of new faces and very few people I recognized.

I brought a flyer for the Laputa Asagaya's Science Fiction Film Festival for Machida-san to sign. Since The Green Slime (1968) was one of the featured films in the program, it was certainly a relevant item for him to sign. I was surprised to find out that Machida-san didn't know about the screenings. I figured he must have known about it, so I regret not giving him a heads-up about it.

After signing the flyer, Machida-san stepped away to greet other audience members and then came back to me and asked me if I wanted to take photos. Of course I did! As usual, it was quite fun. A big thanks to Machida-san for another fun evening!

Godzilla the Mission on the Seibu Shinjuku Line!

Godzilla the Mission! Photo by Brett Homenick.
While on the Seibu Shinjuku Line earlier today (Sunday, February 26), I saw this advertisement for Godzilla the Mission, the first one I've seen in the wild. I still haven't even gone on Godzilla the Ride, which I suppose I ought to do sometime in the near future.

Friday, February 24, 2023

A Brief Detour into the Dark Side of Fandom

I'll keep this as brief as possible because I don't want this individual's name or crimes associated with this blog. Those of you who are dialed into the goings-on of Western Godzilla "fandom" have almost certainly heard the news regarding what became of a certain would-be documentary filmmaker of "independent tokusatsu" who suddenly disappeared without a trace for about four and a half years. Let's just say that he was arrested and convicted of committing some of the worst crimes imaginable.

That's all I want to say about it on this blog, but, if you'd like a bit more information, I'd highly recommend checking out this link. The author of the piece appears to be anonymous (at least that's the way it seems to me after looking around for a bit), but the points he raises and the questions he asks are spot-on. I'm sure some in "fandom" will use the writer's apparent anonymity to dismiss his arguments, but those who are searching for answers and some accountability in this debacle would be wise to consider his thoughts.

I've mostly been absent from Western fandom for years, and the above-linked essay perfectly describes many of the reasons I decided to leave. I haven't looked back since, and based on what I've learned in the last week I got out just in the nick of time.

Lunchtime in Tokyo with a VIP!

Kyoko Ifukube. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today Friday, February 24), I was invited to lunch in Nakameguro with Kyoko Ifukube (the daughter of maestro Akira Ifukube) and two of her friends. The four of us had lunch at an eel restaurant right as it opened at 11:30 in the morning. 

Even though Kyoko-san's father is a true legend of Japanese cinema, the conversation centered around everyday topics and was much more casual. I asked her what her favorite Godzilla movie was, and of course the 1954 original is her favorite. After that, she cited Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), specifically mentioning that The Peanuts were in it.

When I mentioned that Yuriko Hoshi was in it, Kyoko-san pulled out a photo from her purse that looked like it was taken sometime in the early 2000s (or possibly the late '90s). It appeared to my eye that it was taken at a ceremony inside a luxurious hotel. Her father was walking in the direction of the camera with Kyoko-san behind him. In the background, you can see none other than Yuriko Hoshi looking on. I'd never seen this photo before, so it was a rare treat!

One of Kyoko-san's friends mentioned that she lived near Ofuna, so the subject of Shochiku Studios came up. We both rattled off a bunch of trivia about Shochiku movies, and I suppose she was surprised that I knew as much as I did. I've seen a few of them.

We spent a little more than an hour together, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. We talked about meeting up again, which I hope we can do. It was most definitely a fun lunch break!

Monday, February 20, 2023

'The Green Slime' Invades the Laputa Asagaya in 35mm!

Signage for The Green Slime screening at the Laputa Asagaya. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Tonight (Monday, February 20), I had the privilege of seeing The Green Slime (1968) in 35mm. I'd seen the movie projected twice before -- once in an old-timey theater way back in March 1996, and the other time in November 2009 at an L.A.-area convention. As far as I know, both screenings were from the same 16mm print owned by a private collector.

Interestingly, though, I didn't sit through the entire film either time. In 1996, I wasn't all that interested in the movie (to be perfectly honest), so I would occasionally leave my seat to check out the videos on sale in the theater lobby. In 2009, I assisted Luciana Paluzzi at her autograph table and only caught about the first third or so of the movie.

Publicity material for The Green Slime in the theater lobby. Photo by Brett Homenick.

So this screening promised to be much different, and it would be presented in the far superior 35mm format. The only drawback was that it was the inferior Japanese cut of the film, which edits out as much of the drama as possible. The runtime for this version is only 77 minutes, so you can get an idea of how much got left on the cutting room floor.

Out and about in Asagaya. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The print itself was in good condition, and none of the typical imperfection one normally gets with such prints was that distracting. It did seem to my eye, however, that the first few minutes were a bit faded, but after that the print looked great to me. 

Naturally, I enjoyed the film, and it was especially fun seeing so many people I've interviewed over the years in the movie. I finally got to get a good look at the late Tom Korzeniowski (billed here as Tom Conrad) in the film, which was the icing on the cake. I also have to give the three leads a lot of credit for giving it their all in what must have seemed like a rather silly film.

It's quite amusing to think that, just three years after The Green Slime, Richard Jaeckel would appear in the Paul Newman-directed drama Sometimes a Great Notion (1971), which would earn him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. The Green Slime helped pave the way to the Academy Awards ceremony!

All in all, it was another fun evening at the Laputa Asagaya for the theater's Science Fiction Film Festival program. Hard to believe there are only two films left before it ends. I'm really glad I finally got to see The Green Slime properly in 35mm. It's just too bad it wasn't the American version! Can't win 'em all, though.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Winter Warms Up for an Afternoon of Tokusatsu!

Kenji Suzuki. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Earlier today (Sunday, February 19), I had the good fortune to spend a couple of hours with former Toho tokusatsu director Kenji Suzuki. Suzuki-san served in that position on Rebirth of Mothra III (1998), Godzilla 2000 (1999), and Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000).

We met at Seijogakuen-mae Station and headed to a nearby cafe. Thankfully, the weather was much warmer than it had been recently, and I didn't even need to wear my winter coat. Once we sat down at the cafe, I got to hear a lot of stories from the sets of various tokusatsu shoots. It was quite enlightening!

My favorite moment, though, was when Suzuki-san was signing a couple of postcards I bought from the Godzilla Store, which were from Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992) and Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995), on which he served as chief assistant director of special effects. One of the postcards simply says, "Happy Birthday," which Suzuki-san read out loud, causing me to laugh. Maybe you had to be there.

Many thanks to Suzuki-san for the fun afternoon!

An Ultra-Cool Evening with Two Icons of Japanese Television!

Bin Furuya. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On Saturday, February 18, I was lucky to attend a special dinner party with none other than Bin Furuya, the legendary Ultraman suit actor from the original Ultraman (1966-67) series, as well as a bevy of other movie and television roles at Toho and Tsuburaya Productions throughout the 1960s. To be honest, I hadn't been expecting to attend this event due to my work schedule. But then I found out that a dinner party would be held after the event itself, which meant that I could attend after all once I'd finished work.

I last met Furuya-san briefly in December 2021, but our time at that event was so brief that it wasn't very memorable. I was a bit surprised that Furuya-san seemed so glad to see me again, as it appeared he was a bit concerned (I'm not sure that's the right word to use, but I'm having trouble coming up with something more appropriate) that he hadn't seen or heard from me in a while.

Well, I mailed him a New Year's greeting card, as I always do, as well as sending my best wishes to him for a happy New Year via email. But it's true that I've missed all his events since the end of 2021. It was really just a timing issue. Suffice it to say, though, that I was more than impressed that he genuinely seemed to care so much. 

Furuya-san was in a great mood, and his energy rubbed off on me. He introduced me to several new faces and told them about the time I escorted him and Akira Takarada around Chicago in July 2012, pitting his hands on my shoulders as he recounted his memories. For someone who has done as many events in the U.S. as Furuya-san has, it also impressed me that his first visit still holds such a prominent spot in his heart. 

With Mari Shimizu.

Also on hand was another legend -- voice actress Mari Shimizu. Shimizu-san is certainly best known as the original voice of Astro Boy in the 1963-66 anime series of the same name. I hadn't seen her in many years, and unfortunately she didn't recognize me when we met. No worries, though -- our last encounter was a long time ago. Prior to meeting her again, though, I was surprised to find that her father was actor Gen Shimizu. 

Who is Gen Shimizu? Well, it's great you asked. Gen Shimizu appears in numerous Akira Kurosawa films, including Stray Dog (1949), Seven Samurai (1954), I Live in Fear (1955), Throne of Blood (1957), The Bad Sleep Well (1960), Yojimbo (1961), Sanjuro (1962), and High and Low (1963).

Other notable films on Mr. Shimizu's resume include Gate of Hell (1953), Chushingura (1962), A Woman's Story (1963), and Rise against the Sword (1966). He even appeared in the occasional tokusatsu outing, including Ghost Man (1954), Buddha (1961), Monster Zero (1965), Ultra Q episode 8 (1966), The Space Giants (1966-67), and Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) as the commander of the Self-Defense Force. Mr. Shimizu passed away on December 20, 1972, at the age of 65, just months after Godzilla vs. Gigan was released in theaters.

I mentioned to her that her father appeared in Gigan, but she wasn't aware, pointing out that he is much better known for his Kurosawa roles, which naturally makes a lot of sense. But I can't help it if his most iconic role for me was his part in Jun Fukuda's 1972 kaiju romp. As cool as it is that she is an anime icon, her being Gen Shimizu's daughter is right up there, too.

What a fun evening! It certainly had been too long, so let's all do it again soon!

'SHIN' YAMADA: Coming Soon to a Soccer Field Near You!

Just what we needed -- another "Shin" movie! Or is it? Photo by Brett Homenick.

While leaving Musashi-Mizonokuchi Station earlier today, I was amused by this sign. It's promoting Japanese soccer star Shin Yamada, who currently plays for the Kawasaki Frontale football club. But they rendered his name in a way that should be rather familiar to those who've seen the recent "Shin" series of tokusatsu films. "Shin" Yamada -- get it?! I wonder if he'll hire Hideaki Anno as his coach. 

Ultraman Wants Your Blood!

Ultraman teams up with the Japanese Red Cross Society. Photo by Brett Homenick.

While at Seijogakuen-mae Station earlier today, I saw this poster inside the train station. Ultraman (and the Japanese Red Cross Society) want us to donate our blood. Well, you know what to do!

A Quick Trip to Toho Cinemas Hibiya!

Godzilla merchandise available at Toho Cinemas Hibiya. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On Saturday, February 18, I stopped by Toho Cinemas Hibiya and snapped a few photos. Here's what I saw. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Watching 'Terror Beneath the Sea' in 35mm!

Terror Beneath the Sea at the Laputa Asagaya. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Tonight (Tuesday, February 14), I had the privilege of attending a rare screening of Toei's Terror Beneath the Sea (1966) in 35mm at the Laputa Asagaya as part of its ongoing Science Fiction Film Festival. I hadn't seen the film in more than 20 years, and I'm not sure I'd ever seen it more than once before tonight. While several interesting scenes had been etched in my memory, in many ways it was like watching a brand-new flick.

The film print was in excellent shape, especially compared to some of the Toho prints that I've seen. The only questionable moment was when Sonny Chiba and Peggy Neal were poolside toward the beginning of the film. The screen went totally black for about 20 or so seconds while the audio from the scene could be heard. I'm not sure if that was a projection issue or what, but it was the only major problem I noticed. Otherwise, the print was extremely clear, and the images truly popped off the screen. 

Publicity material for Terror Beneath the Sea on display in the theater lobby. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The movie itself is quite entertaining, and, if you're a fan of mid-'60s tokusatsu movies, then there is a lot for you to admire. Hajime Sato's directing is rather impressive, and a lot of his shot compositions are reminiscent of Akio Jissoji's work. Even though the tokusatsu is a bit limited here, it's still a visually fascinating film.

I was also surprised at the sheer lack of Japanese characters in the movie. Aside from Sonny Chiba, none of the main characters is Japanese. It almost comes across as a practice run for The Green Slime (1968), but who knows if any such plans were in the works by then. 

Ticket, please! Photo by Brett Homenick.

All in all, it was a fun night at the movies, and I look forward to the next screenings in the upcoming weeks!

'Shin Kamen Rider' Pulls Up in Shinjuku!

Shin Kamen Rider, coming soon to Shinjuku Wald 9. Photo by Brett Homenick.

While walking to the Godzilla Store Tokyo, I noticed this massive advertisement for the upcoming Shin Kamen Rider in front of the Shinjuku Wald 9 movie theater right next door. Here it is!

Happy Valentine's Day from the Godzilla Store Tokyo!

Happy Valentine's Day. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Earlier tonight, I stopped by the Godzilla Store Tokyo to see if there was anything new, and thankfully there was! I enjoyed the shop's Valentine's Day display, but I was especially pleased to see the Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) 50th anniversary goods for sale. I couldn't resist and bought a Megalon key chain, which I've already added to my key ring. Here's what I saw -- enjoy!

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Seeing 'Pulp Fiction' on the Big Screen in Tokyo!

Pulp Fiction at the Shin Bungeiza. Photo by Brett Homenick.

I just came back from the Shin Bungeiza theater in Ikebukuro, which has been on quite a roll with the impressive lineup of movies it's been screening of late. Tonight's screening was Pulp Fiction (1994), which I hadn't seen in its entirety since the '90s. I've been thinking about checking this particular title out again, and seeing it on the big screen was the perfect opportunity. Oh, and it was a digital projection, not 35mm.

The screening was absolutely packed. I arrived about 10 minutes before the screening, and, since I didn't buy my ticket ahead of time, I had to sit in the front row, which actually didn't turn out as bad as I thought it would. 

Pulp Fiction at the Shin Bungeiza. Photo by Brett Homenick.

I guess I should point out that I was never really that big a fan of the movie. In fact, I've never been over the moon about any Quentin Tarantino movie. The only flick of his I haven't seen is Reservoir Dogs (1992), and the reason for that is, well, I just don't want to.

Quick side story: I mostly gave up going to the movies from about 2001 until 2005 because I was usually bored or disappointed by the movies I saw back then. One of the few exceptions was Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), which I saw mostly due to Sonny Chiba and the other Japanese stuff in it. If I told you that I skipped seeing Vol. 2 (2004) until a year or so after it came out on home video, would that make my opinion of the first Kill Bill clear enough?

As for Pulp Fiction, I just don't see any greatness here. I don't find the humor funny, the characters are uninteresting, and the best ideas and lines are all taken from better sources. I definitely don't think it's bad, but I wouldn't call it one of the best films of '94 -- and certainly not of all time. Some good stuff is there, but I don't think any scene is 100% successful, including the final sequence, which is probably the best one in the whole movie.

With that being said, I'm glad I got to revisit the film on the big screen, which is undoubtedly the best way to experience movies, but I'm afraid it only reconfirmed my original opinion. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Ted Thomas, Hong Kong-Based Voice Actor for Godzilla and Bruce Lee Films, Passes Away at Age 93

Ted Thomas during his younger days. Photo courtesy of Ted Thomas.

Word has come from Hong Kong voice actor Peter Boczar that Ted Thomas, the legendary dubber who lent his voice to a variety of tokusatsu productions of the 1960s and '70s, passed away in Thailand on November 26 at the age of 93. 

According to Peter:
His family spread his ashes in Hong Kong harbor a couple of weeks ago, Sunday, Jan 29 then held a small gathering of old friends and family at the Foreign Correspondents' Club where I gave a short tribute[.]
Born in England on July 11, 1929, Ted Thomas would become a cult movie icon when he started his dubbing company Axis International in Hong Kong, which provided English dubbing for a variety of Asian films, including the Godzilla series.

Among his various dubbing credits, Ted Thomas voiced such characters as Dr. Munakata in Dogora the Space Monster (1964), Kawajiri in Gamera vs. Barugon (1966), Kubota in Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972), Emperor Antonio (played by Robert Dunham) in Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973), and the narrator of Gamera Super Monster (1980). He can be seen onscreen in Mighty Peking Man (1977) as the commissioner who leads the effort to stop the titular creature's rampage. 

Not only that, but he also voiced Godzilla himself in Godzilla vs. Gigan when Godzilla is on and swimming away from Monster Island.

In June 2011, I had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Thomas over the phone, which can be found here. The day before we were scheduled to do the interview, I got sick and had to postpone the interview for a week, but fortunately Mr. Thomas was very accommodating. He gave me a great interview the following week and even did quite a bit of editing on the transcript I made. We stayed in touch for a few years after that -- both via email and telephone.

I would occasionally call him at The Hong Kong Club where he was a frequent guest. One time in particular, when he picked up the phone, he couldn't hear what I was saying due to all the noise in the background. He excused himself from our conversation for a moment and then shouted, "SHUT UP!" at the top of his voice, which shushed the folks in the background. Then he proceeded to speak with me as if that hadn't just happened. Suffice it to say, he was a unique individual.

The last time I seem to have received any correspondence from Mr. Thomas was in July 2015, after I sent him an email wishing him a happy birthday. Following that, he never answered any further emails I sent, and I couldn't get a hold of him on the phone. I found out later that he retired to Thailand, but that's all I knew. I would never again communicate with him. 

I'm saddened to hear the news of his passing, but I'll always remember his witty banter in our personal conversations, as well as his iconic voice -- probably the most distinctive voice of any voice actor from any Japanese tokusatsu production. 

Rest in peace, Ted Thomas.

Monday, February 6, 2023

MUSHROOM CLOUDS AND MUSHROOM MOVIES! Attending a Screening of 'Matango' in 35mm!

Matango at the Laputa Asagaya! Photo by Brett Homenick.

Another week, another evening at the Laputa Asagaya. Tonight's screening (Monday, February 6) was a 35mm print of Matango (1963), one of Toho's most celebrated genre pictures. To be honest, I'm not sure I would have chosen Matango to screen as part of a sci-fi film festival (it's much more of a horror flick), but I'm sure it was selected due to its popularity. In fact, the theater was pretty close to sold out, despite the fact that it was a Monday evening.

Publicity material for Matango in the theater lobby. Photo by Brett Homenick.

If I'm being completely honest, I almost decided to skip this movie. It's not that I dislike the film -- that certainly isn't true! -- but there was a point a while back when it felt like Matango was getting screened every other week somewhere in Tokyo, and I guess I just got burned out on it. Of course, the period of time I'm talking about was quite a few years ago, but I suppose a bit of the burnout remains. I largely decided to attend the screening because February is likely to be a much quieter month than January, so I ought to seize any opportunity that comes my way.

The 35mm film print looked quite good, although it came with the usual flaws. The movie is a bit of a slow burn, but, once it reaches its climax, it really packs a hefty punch. With that being said, I'm sure you've figured out that I probably don't love this one as much as some others do. But I'd still give it a high ranking, despite the fact that I still wish the filmmakers had come up with a better way to end the scene during which the first mushroom man menaces the main characters by simply having him disappear into thin air.

Overall, it was an enjoyable evening, but I have to admit that I'm looking forward to seeing the remaining films in the program a lot more.