Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) Movie Review

Image result for creature from the black lagoonI’m finally back. I know it’s been a while. I have college coming up in a few weeks and it’s been quite chaotic. With that being said, My Journey of Godzilla series will have to take a back seat for the time being. I just don’t have the time for an undertaking the size of that. I still have been watching quite a few movies sporadically and as a result, I give you my review of The Creature From the Black Lagoon.

Directed by Jack Arnold, The Creature From the Black Lagoon is one of Universals many monster films. Many consider this flick to be among the best. Not only does it drag elements from your basic monster film but also draws Sci-Fi elements as well.

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The movie follows a group of scientists trying to find the remainder of a fossil they found earlier on. While searching for this fossil in the so called “Black Lagoon”, they encounter The Creature or Gill Man.

I have to say I really enjoyed this movie. It did quite a bit of stuff many older films did not. It was quite innovative being one of the first true 3D films. I watched the film in 2D as I do not have a 3D TV (who does) and this film was definitely crafted for 3D.

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Most older horror films I don’t find quite frightening. Sure they have cool and creepy concepts but they just don’t have the same fear factor required for our overly desensitized society. I have to say this movie is quite creepy. The “Gill Man’s” costume looks really good for the time. It is hard to believe that their was a man in the Creatures suit.

This definitely deserves an 8/10 in my books. It is quite the film and definitely is a staple in the monster movie genre.

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So whats next you might ask. Well I’m planning on keeping up with the horror/monster film genre. My next review will either be of The Dawn of the Dead (1978) or of the original King Kong. So stay tuned as there will definitely be more to come.

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The Journey of Godzilla #4 – Mothra Vs. Godzilla (1964)

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We may have just reached the peak of Godzilla. I mean seriously, what an unbelievable movie.  Now its known among’st Godzilla fans that Mothra Vs. Godzilla is considered by critics and fans alike to be one of the best Godzilla films of all time but this, I was not expecting this.

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Mothra Vs. Godzilla directed by Ishiro Honda again was released in 1964. The story follows two news reporters and one professor who find out an egg of some sort has washed ashore.  A greedy land developer “buys” the egg and plans to build an amusement park around said egg. It turns out that this egg belongs to Mothra and you can believe that Mothra was not to happy that her egg had been stolen. Two “infants” are tasked to retrieve the egg. While all this is happening, Godzilla is awoken and is on a tear destroying Japan in his path. The two news reporters and the professor go to Mothra and ask for her help. She reluctantly accepts and a battle ensues between the two. I don’t want to go to much further as that will probably spoil the movie.

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So why did I like this film you may ask. The main reason I enjoyed this film is because it has all the aspects of a Godzilla film. It has a pretty good cast and a good story without the two monsters. The movie also has in my opinion, the best soundtrack out of the Godzilla movies I have watched so far. Not only is there a new theme for the newest monster Mothra, we also see the return of the original Godzilla theme song from the first movie. Though its remixed, and its slapped on to the end of the newer, more known song, Its still there none the less and it provides a nice call back to the original motion picture.

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Honestly, you may not think that a battle between Godzilla and a giant butterfly/moth could be interesting, you’re dead wrong. Holy hell is this fight entertaining. Honestly after the last movies fight between Kong and Godzilla being mostly green screened and in my opinion, underwhelming, I was expecting this one to be the same. I’m happy to say Honda went back to what made the first film a classic, miniatures. The miniatures look so much better in this film than the previous. They’re used in the right place, and are shot at the right angle.

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This movie is the first to bring back social commentary to the genre. Specifically during the scenes on “Infant Island”, the three journeymen speak about the awful atrocities humanity has committed specifically about nuclear war. Its nice to see the movie used as an outlet for Honda’s feelings on the world. We had not seen that since the first Godzilla movie and its good to see it again.

I’m going to give Mothra Vs. Godzilla a 9 out of 10 on the Godzilla scale. Its by far he best, except for the original, so far. On the regular movie scale, I give it a 7 out of 10. It’s still a popcorn movie at heart, but has a lot more to offer underneath the two monsters.

The Journey of Godzilla #3 – King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962)

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Wow, what a let down that was. How can a movie about King Kong and Godzilla be so…. Dull.

King Kong Vs. Godzilla Directed by Ishiro Honda is the third film in the Godzilla series. Afrer a 7 year hiatus, Godzilla made its way back to the silver screen and it promised to be a good one. I mean, what an idea. Put the epitome of Japanese monster movies, Godzilla against his American counterpart, King Kong. That’s what Toho did.. and that’s about all they did.

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The company must have forgot they had to include a decent story in a large budget film. Now the story isn’t awful. Its your basic evil but funny businessman story but that’s about it. In the next film (I’m writing this after I have already seen the later) there is actual character development. In this one, you really could give a shit about the characters. Now I know, I know “It’s a Godzilla movie, what did I expect” I can tell you I excepted the next movie, Mothra Vs. Godzilla to be much worse than this movie.

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Now I can’t just rip on this movie though, the fight between the two beasts is pretty cool. With that being said, how can it not be cool.

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One of the biggest problems with the cannon of this film is the sheer size of King Kong. He’s huge! In the original 1933 King Kong, he’s less than half the size than he is in this film. Who knows, maybe he grew on the island.  I added a chart above to show you the sheer magnitude of Godzilla compared to King Kong originally.

I sadly could not find the Japanese version of the film and had to settle with the American, Universal version of the film. They add this wacky American news reporter to the film and it SUCKS! I mean its awful. Its just a way to get this movie over with the American audience because the Japanese film is to “complex” somehow. The audio dubbing, except for the two exhibitionists, is also awful. Now I know that English and Japanese are two completely different language’s and it will never match up but that’s not even the problem. The problem is the awful actors they hired. They all sound so bored.

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Another technical disaster of the film was the green screen. Now I know, it was the 60’s and green screen was running a muck all over the large budget movie industry. King Kong Vs. Godzilla use green screen in the most idiotic of places. They use it in places where green screen is not even needed. It’s like they’re just rubbing the fact that they own a green screen in the faces of the audience.

So, with that being said, what do I give King Kong Vs. Godzilla. I’m going to give this film a 6 out of 10 on the Godzilla scale and a 5 out of 10 on my normal movie scale. Again, Its King Kong Vs. Godzilla so it can’t be absolutely abysmal. I mean, the fighting scenes were cool.

The Journey of Godzilla #2 – Godzilla Raids Again (1955)

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We are officially on film number 2 of 31 in my Godzilla journey. Godzilla Raids Again directed by Motoyoshi Oda is the second film in the Godzilla franchise. I found it quite interesting that Ishiro Honda gave up directing Godzilla by the second film. You can definitely tell that this film was not directed by Honda.

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Though Godzilla Raids Again is only the second Godzilla film, it already loses all aspects of social commentary. Already at this point in the franchise its completely a monster flick. In my opinion this movie does the prototypical “monster film” completely wrong. Before I dive in further on why they did the “monster film” wrong, I should probably give some more background on the film.

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In this film, two pilots crash land on an island were they find Godzilla battling  a new monster later identified as Anguirus. My biggest gripe with this film is that Anguirus is not treated like an actual villain. Now I get that in later films hes allies with Godzilla but here, there is some true hatred  between the two. The final time we see these two fight is midway through the movie. The two monsters destroy Osaka as Godzilla defeats and possibly kills Anguirus. The rest of the film follows the two pilots and one of their love interests trying to track down and kill Godzilla. Honestly, its hard to tell if the Battle in Osaka is the climax or if the climax is the pilots killing Godzilla.

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Already at this point in  the franchise we lose most if not all of the A-list cast. Takashi Shimura makes a brief appearance at the beginning of  the film. This is the last we see of him for the rest of the movie. Godzilla Raids Again throws out almost all of the character development of Shimura’s character we see in the previous movie. The once pacifist now wants to stop Godzilla with an iron fist.

It seems like I’m only talking about the bad of this film so, what was good. Honestly,  the battle between Anguirus and Godzilla is truly magnificent. At the beginning of Godzilla’s appearance in Osaka, you really believe that his attack on Tokyo cannot be topped. When Anguirus appears, this impression completely changes as the two level the city. From a distance, Osaka looks to be completely engulfed in flames.

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So with all of that being said, where does Godzilla Raids Again rank among the rest. Honestly, I was not to impressed with the film. Overall, on my normal movie scale, this film gets a 5 out of 10. On my Godzilla scale though,  I give it a 6 out of 10. The movie is clearly rushed and has a much lower budget than the first. The film also does not have the directed prowess of Ishiro Honda behind it.

So that’s my review on Godzilla Raids Again. I have decided on holding off on reviewing with reviewing Rodan, The Mysterians, Varan, The Three Treasures, and Mothra as though these films are in the Godzilla universe, they are not actually direct sequels to the original. With all that being said, up next is the grand daddy of them all, King Kong Vs. Godzilla.

The Journey of Godzilla #1 – Gojira (1954)

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As I stated in my last post on the blog, I am taking on the task of watching all 31 of the Godzilla films. I really don’t know why I decided to take this huge feet on. I do know that I want to expand my knowledge on the horror genre so why not knock one of its most important sub genres, kaiju, off my list. With that being said, here is review number 1 of 31, Gojira.

Gojira, also released as Godzilla, King of the Monsters! in the United States (though the US product was heavily edited) is the first film in the Godzilla movie franchise. Directed Ishiro Honda, Godzilla, alongside King Kong, helped pioneer the kaiju genre. The story of Godzilla is that he is a prehistoric beast that lived under the ocean until hydrogen bomb testing forced him above ground. Due to the bomb testing, Godzilla also gained many powers and grew in size.

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For 1958 Godzilla looks unbelievable. The use of miniatures along side Godzilla truly makes the monster look real. At this time, an actor played Godzilla in a rubber suit. Honestly you can barely tell that an actor controlled Godzilla at all. He truly looks like a puppet or even an animatronic.

Gojira’s best quality may be the political satire it delivers on weapons of mass destruction. Though its deeply embedded into the movie, you can certainly tell the satire is there. This satire is most visible during the seen of the children’s choir singing to the world, pleading for help.  It truly is a heart wrenching moment that fit Japan’s zeitgeist at the time.

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By far the two best cast members of this film are Akihiko Hirata (Samurai I) and Takashi Shimura (Seven Samurai, Rashomon). Shimura is truly the A-List of this film staring in many of Kurosawa’s best while Hirata, really would only go on to star in further Godzilla films. This is truly a shame as I believe Hirata stands out the most in this film.

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On my regular movie scale I give Gojira an 8 out of 10. The film is truly a classic. It defines the Kaiju genre and is a staple of sci-fi as a whole. On my Godzilla scale, Gojira gets a 10 out of 10. It defined Godzilla. Honestly, I can not think that there will be a better movie than this in the next 30. Who knows though, maybe i’ll be surprised. I will definitely keep an open mind and hope that Gojira can be topped.

State of the Blog #1

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This is the first of hopefully many “State of the Blog” addresses. I hope to do these every couple of weeks to keep everyone updated with my blog.  Without further ado, lets get this address started.

One of the biggest things I want to start on this blog is a weekly pick up series. This series would showcase that weeks comic haul, any action figures or busts i acquired, and any Blu-rays I also got that week. I am currently deciding on whether to make this a weekly post on this blog or if I am going to make this a weekly video on my YouTube channel. If I did decide to make this a weekly video I would definitely redirect this video to the blog via a blog post.

Another thing that I hope to start is a podcast with some friends of mine. The podcast would mostly be based around movies though I would hope to also include other aspects of pop culture in the podcast.

I also really want to upload the sequel to a film me and my brother directed to YouTube. I would like to talk about the process of making said film on this blog as well as keep you up to date on any other projects I undertake.

The final and possibly biggest undertaking I will be doing on this blog is watching and reviewing all 31 Godzilla films. As I write this blog, I am currently finished with the first Godzilla film, Gojira and hopefully will be watching the second film Godzilla Raids Again withing the next couple of days.

So there it is, the first “State of the Blog” address. As I said earlier on in the blog, I hope to do something like this every couple of weeks. Be on the look out for the first Godzilla review as it should be out in a couple of days.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) Movie Review

 

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This week, a video popped up on my Youtube recommended watch list. The video was titled “The day the Walking Dead Died”. It got me thinking not just about what a terrible show The Walking Dead has become, but also what a good show The Walking Dead was. It was a riveting zombie thriller that left you wanting more after every episode.

I really want to get some more horror reviews up on this site so I thought let’s start things off with arguably the greatest influence on the Walking Dead, The Night of the Living Dead.

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Directed by George Romero, The Night of the Living Dead is a masterclass in the low budget horror genre. The movie is centered around mainly two characters Barbara, who’s brother died during the initial moments of the outbreak and Ben, a man who finds Barbara and helps her survive the apocalypse. The relationship between Ben and Barbara is most interesting. At first, Ben is just taking care of Barbara because he feels that its the right thing to do but by the end of the movie, he truly cares for her almost like how a big brother cares for a little sister. Ben figuratively replaces Barbara’s brother by the end.

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What I find that makes this movie really great is how much time and research was put into it. There is a sense of realism (as real as a zombie movie can get) in this film. The response by the government is very similar to how they would respond in any other emergency. This trait helps keep you immersed in the movie. It feels as if you really are by your television set watching the news broadcasts waiting to see if you can get any more clues as to why this outbreak is occurring.

I can’t finish this review without talking about the ending to this classic. Without spoiling anything, lets just say that it may be my second favorite ending, behind Planet of the Apes of course.

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I feel that the Night of the Living Dead deserves an 8 out of 10. The Walking Dead sure did find some good source material to base its graphic novels and shows off of but, The Night of the Living Dead also explains why the show has fallen as far as it has. The Walking Dead is running out of ideas. The whole zombie genre as a whole has been running out of ideas for what feels like forever. So with that being said, we need a new director like George Romero to take the genre in a new direction.