Godzilla: The Planet Eater (2018) Brings the Anime Trilogy to a Dreary End

Saturday, January 12th, 2019 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

godzilla-planet-eater-japanese-posterThis whole thing has been a lot of pixels over nothing.

Interesting possibilities glimmered in the first two films of the animated Godzilla trilogy, Godzilla: The Planet of Monsters and Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle. But the final installment has arrived, premiering on Netflix this Wednesday, and now the whole enterprise reveals itself as a water-treading, self-proselytizing, character-inhibited, medium-wasting drag. This hasn’t been a bit of fun. There are no moments of elation or astonishment. In fact, Godzilla has hardly moved. I think the monster budged about ten feet the entirety of this last movie — and that includes during the climactic clash with Ghidorah, the only other kaiju to wander into the trilogy.

Godzilla fought Ghidorah — and for the first time ever, I didn’t care.

It astonishes me how static this “animated” film is. If you want your anime about a giant monster on an apocalyptic Earth to start with thirty minutes of talking heads debating the same philosophical ideas without doing anything about them, and then climax with more talking heads discussing a still-life of two monsters, Godzilla: The Planet Eater (Gojira: Hoshi o Kuu Mono) is the movie for you. I.e. it’s a movie for nobody, Godzilla fans least of all.

Godzilla: The Planet Eater ends a story that started as an intriguing concept. Not only would the trilogy bring Godzilla to anime for the first time, where budget couldn’t block the imagination of the filmmakers, but it would place Godzilla in the fresh setting of an apocalyptic science-fantasy future. When I first heard the series synopsis — the human race returns to a Godzilla-conquered Earth after an exile in the stars — it got my imagination churning. I envisioned an Edgar Rice Burroughs or Andre Norton environment with the colorful wildness of some of the Godzilla comics.

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Is Jack Reacher Today’s Tarzan?

Friday, January 4th, 2019 | Posted by Violette Malan

TarzanFor me Tarzan was always a movie, and sometimes a TV character. I knew intellectually that the stories were based on books. I even knew that the books were written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. But for me, at that time, it was all about the John Carter of Mars books. I did finally read one of the later Tarzan novels, Tarzan the Untamed, and while I liked it, it wasn’t enough to woo me away from Burroughs’ SF writing.

I’ve always been aware of Tarzan as a character icon, of course, the early 20th-century version of the noble savage. I’ve written about him before. I mention him as far back as 2014, one of my earliest posts for Black Gate, when I was looking at swords and ERB. More recently I’ve looked at him as an iconic character in the same vein as Sherlock Holmes and Robin Hood, characters which keep turning up on both big and small screens.

It’s only lately that I’ve actually started reading the books. Amazon had one of these get all 26 novels for $2.99 deals and it seemed stupid not to get them. So far I’ve read the first two, Tarzan of the Apes, and The Return of Tarzan. In general, they’re a lot of fun, and I’ve found them a lot less racist and a lot less misogynistic than I’d anticipated, given the time period of the writing. There’s definitely stuff that makes me either cringe or roll my eyes, but as I say, not as much as I expected.

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A Smattering of Sexbots

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019 | Posted by Steve Carper

sexbot vibrate pulse Liberty Antonia Sadler for Metro.co.uk

Sexbots are as ubiquitous today as Starbucks. My Google news feed overruns with stories on sexbot brothels. No modern genre, especially animated ones, can feel properly inclusive without a sexbot gumming up the moral works, which in some cases might not be a euphemism.

‘Twasn’t always so. Sexbots go back a surprisingly long way in the arts but were seldom allowed to explicitly ply their trade after a spectacular introduction. They appear for the first time, as far as I can discover, exactly where stereotypes suggest: in the France where ladies don’t wear pants, the underground world of Parisian pornography.

You’ve never heard of Alphonse Momas, and not merely because he wrote under a zillion pseudonyms, but during his free hours from his job at the Seine prefecture, he was the leading purveyor of pornography to fin de siècle France. Millenials didn’t invent sex and neither did the baby boomers. Momas’ titles are like a catalog from the modern explicit upwelling of anything goes 1970s porn: Mistress of His Son, The Notebooks of Miss Callypia, The Woman with Dogs, Bloody Buttock, Fetish Lovers, The Eater of Men, The Virgin Fall.

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Goth Chick News: The Stranger Things Kids Wrap Gifts for Stranger Things Fans

Thursday, December 27th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Stranger Things cast

This is every bit as awesome as it sounds.

As you likely are aware, we have to wait all the way until summer before getting to binge the next eight episodes of Netflix’s Stranger Things so we’ve spent quite a lot of time scrounging for clues on what to expect. Executive producer Shawn Levy already confirmed that season 3 would take place a year after season 2 during the summer of 1985. Steve has graduated from high school and is working at an ice cream shop in the Starcourt Mall, which is where we see him in the teaser trailer. Levy also indicated the romantic pairings of Eleven-Mike and Max-Lucas remained steady and also revealed this tidbit, “We ended season two with a clear signal that the Shadow Monster was not eliminated, and maybe he’s even identified his foe. And that darkness, and the battle that it requires, only grows in Season Three.”

David Harbour, who plays Sheriff Hopper, told The Hollywood Reporter that everyone on the cast was “taking a lot of risks.” These may or may not include Hopper’s new dynamic as Eleven’s adoptive father.

We also know that much like how Season 2 riffed on the release of the first Ghostbusters movie, Season 3 is aiming for something closer to traditional horror in its focus on movies from directors like John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing), David Cronenberg (The Fly, Videodrome), and George Romero (Night of the Living Dead). We can only guess what that means for the residents of Hawkins, IN.

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“The Gaze” on YouTube

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

The Gaze

It’s always nice to see a well-made short film reach an audience. A short has a different structure and feel from a feature, and a good one is a very distinct pleasure. I get to watch a number every year at the Fantasia film festival; too rarely beyond. But one of the shorts from this past summer’s Fantasia has just been made available to a wider audience. “The Gaze,” written and directed by Ida Joglar, has been selected by the multi-platform horror brand ALTER for its YouTube channel. You can watch it there now. Here’s the film’s official synopsis:

After a late night in the laboratory where she works as a research assistant, Mayra has no recollection and suspects she has been sexually assaulted by her renowned boss. When she tells her friend about the incident, she is confronted with doubts. As time passes she becomes further distressed as she discovers she may have a power she never knew about. When she once again finds herself alone in the lab with her predatory boss, her power manifests itself to an explosive end.

My review of it is here.

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Goth Chick News: Carrie White Joins Twitter and It’s Awesome

Saturday, December 15th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Carrie at the Prom

Let’s be honest, social media can be a serious bummer sometimes. If you’re active on all the various platforms then you know that for every adorable puppy video there’s at least one or more trolls who can’t help but spread negativity. Between mean-spirited memes and the general lack of empathy for fellow human beings it’s enough to make you pack it in and decide it just isn’t worth being that ‘connected’.

But then something like this happens.

Someone in the Twitterverse decided to create an account and assume the persona of Stephen King’s telekinetic, introverted teenager Carrie, made famous in his very first novel and played by Sissy Spacek in Brian De Palma’s 1976 film adaptation.

The account has only been up since December 4, but it went from having 8 followers a few days ago, to 86 as of this morning, and the goal seems to be to give voice to some of Carrie’s inner musings while reminding us all there are still fun people out there.

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Rodan, The 1956 Flying Monster Who Colorized the Godzilla-verse

Saturday, December 15th, 2018 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

rodan-2019-poster

The trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the direct sequel to the 2014 US Godzilla and the third installment in the Warner Bros. “Monsterverse” series after Kong: Skull Island, arrived earlier this week. It’s beautiful kaiju madness, even without Debussy’s dulcet tones rolling beneath it. King Ghidorah appears in all its auriferous splendor, charging into Godzilla in a jaw-dropping final shot meant to bring tears to my eyes. It succeeded. Our own Nick Ozment has some thoughts about it he put up yesterday which you should check out.

I’m tempted to proclaim the wonders of King Ghidorah, but I’ve already given the three-headed space dragon plenty of attention in a post about Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster, the 1964 film that’s essentially the template for the upcoming Godzilla movie. So as an alternate, I’m going to talk about the other monster who has money shots in the trailer: Rodan, one of the oldest of Toho Studio’s monsters. Specifically, I’m going to look at Rodan’s debut, a self-titled showstopper from 1956 and the first Toho kaiju film in color.

Sora no Daikaiju Radon (“The Giant Monster of the Sky, Rodan”), which Toho titled Rodan for US foreign sales to avoid confusion with the chemical element radon,* was released the year after the first Godzilla sequel, Godzilla Raids Again. The second go-around for Godzilla was financially successful, but not the earth-shaker of the original. Toho didn’t think there was more to mine from Godzilla and wouldn’t return to the Big G until King Kong vs. Godzilla eight years later. But Toho executives were willing to bet theatergoers would show up to see a destruction spectacle with an new type of monster … especially if was IN TECHNICOLOR! Or Eastmancolor.

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Why Godzilla is King of the Monsters

Friday, December 14th, 2018 | Posted by Nick Ozment

godzilla_aftershock_lacc_posterThe makers of the forthcoming Godzilla film get it.

None of us have seen Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) yet, of course. But based on the recent trailer — and on the precedent of Godzilla (2014) and Kong: Skull Island (2017), the previous two films in the Legendary MonsterVerse franchise — I can tell you, they get Godzilla. They understand why he is the King of the Monsters, and why he has held that title for six decades. They get why he is both terrifying and inspiring, our worst nightmare and our greatest hope.

Let’s start with a glaring example of what Godzilla is not. Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, the makers behind the misbegotten 1998 American adaptation Godzilla, clearly did not get it. That film would have been okay — or, at least, received a bit more warmly — if only they had not called the monster in it Godzilla. Because, ultimately, it was just another generic big monster in a movie with a huge budget. The single best moment was not actually in the film, but in the teaser trailer. A group of kids are on a field trip to the science museum. The guide is showing them the dinosaur skeleton exhibit. Suddenly there is a distant rumbling. The whole building begins to shake; the tremors build; is it an earthquake? Then something monstrously huge crashes through the ceiling. Impossibly, a giant, clawed foot stomps on the comparatively puny T-rex skeleton, pulverizing it. Then the tagline appears: “Size does matter.”

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Wordsmiths: Talking Horror and White Noise with Geoff Gander and Tito Ferradans

Friday, December 14th, 2018 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

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There’s been something about this past year – tons of creators I know are doing awesome things, particularly in my Ottawa backyard, nearby in Toronto and elsewhere across Canada. It sounds cliché, but watching these projects come to fruition is one of the highlights of being a creator myself, and I’ve been lucky to chat with a few people and put together interviews to share with all of you – starting today!

Recently I had the pleasure of chatting with Ottawa horror author and games writer Geoff Gander about some exciting news: the purchase of film rights to his 2014 short story “White Noise” (published in AE Sci Fi). The short film of the same name is being written and co-directed by Vancouver-based screenwriter Tito Ferradans, who joined us to discuss the process of converting from short story to film, and the horror genre in general. He also shared some screenshots from the film to give you a glimpse of what “White Noise” will look like.

Hope you all enjoy! And make sure to check out links to the White Noise Indigegogo campaign below!

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Peplum Populist: The Adventures of Hercules (1985)

Saturday, December 8th, 2018 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

adventures-of-hercules-1985-posterThis is a bit more of coloring-out-the-lines for my sword-and-sandal reviews, since The Adventures of Hercules comes from the mid-‘80s, far beyond the classic era of the Italian peplum of 1957–1965. But it is an Italian genre film about Hercules starring a bodybuilder from the US, which is the most sword-and-sandal situation imaginable. Plus, I’ve owed Black Gate a look at this film ever since 2009 when I reviewed the first of this pair of unbelievably goofy Lou Ferrigno Hercules flicks from director Luigi Cozzi. The guy who made that psychedelic version of the original Godzilla — which explains a lot about these Hercules movies.

The short version of the first part of my oration, In Facinorem Herculis: To cash-in on the success of Conan the Barbarian, Cannon Films contracted Italian filmmaker Luigi Cozzi to direct a new Hercules film starring bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno, who was at the height of his popularity after The Incredible Hulk television show. But instead of doing a standard Conan imitation — which the Italian film industry was already churning out — or trying to harken back to the classic Italian sword-and-sandal movies, Cozzi and Co. slapped Star Wars SF gimmickry over everything. According to Cozzi, it was his idea to pitch a Hercules film closer to the recent Superman films after the producers rejected a “sexy” script from director Bruno Mattei. Cozzi crammed the movie with laser blasts, lunar-based Olympians, giant robots, space travel via chariot, and plenty of beeping-and-booping synth noises. Although Cozzi had experience with riffing on Star Wars thanks to his 1979 movie Starcrash, it wasn’t any help overcoming a pinched budget, copious terrible performances, and the general misguided tone of “Who is this for?”

While Hercules ‘83 got a US theatrical release, it wasn’t a hot property in North America except as an object of jeers. But it made enough money internationally to justify Cannon moving ahead with a planned sequel, although with a trimmed budget. The Adventures of Hercules (Le avventure dell’incredibile Ercole, with a Roman numeral “II” added to some video releases) went straight to video and cable in the US and isn’t as well-known as its predecessor.

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