Destroy All Planets 2010

Destroy All Planets 2010
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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

ULTRA FATHER REIGNS OVER SHIBUYA! He Saved the Galaxy So You Can Save Your Hair!

Ultra Father hawks hair tonic in Shibuya. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Now here's something you don't see every day. Ultra Father appears on a huge (and I mean huge) advertisement for Chap Up hair tonic in Shibuya. Suffice it to say, I was surprised to see it, as Ultraman (and his extended family) rarely make appearances in Shibuya.

I don't know about you, but I feel the need to buy some hair tonic! I mean, who are we to argue with Ultra Father?!

AN AFTERNOON WITH A SHOWA STAR! Having Lunch with a Japanese Icon!

Retired Toho actor Tatsuyoshi Ehara. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I was privileged to have a great Japanese lunch with Toho actor Tatsuyoshi Ehara. Ehara-san was the guest star of episode 1 of Ultra Q (1966), but he has done so much more. He began his career as a child actor at Shochiku Studios in the late 1940s, eventually moving to Toho Studios in the '50s where his career thrived.

Ehara-san can be seen in Akira Kurosawa's Sanjuro (1962) and Red Beard (1965), and he was a fixture in Toho's Young Guy series with Yuzo Kayama. I could write several blog posts about Ehara-san's career. If Toho made it in the 1950s or '60s, there's a good chance Ehara-san is in it.

Many thanks to Ehara-san for spending the afternoon with me. He's a true gentleman in every sense of the word.

Monday, April 24, 2017

A NIGHT AT THE FLICKS! Asagaya Is the Place to Be!

Signage outside the Laputa Asagaya in Tokyo, announcing its two-month-long Toho program. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The Laputa Asagaya is running two concurrent programs of great interest to me (and readers of this blog). The main program (featured above) is the Toho Bungei Eiga ("Toho Literary Movie") program, which will feature all kinds of classic Toho films from the Showa era. No tokusatsu or genre pictures are on tap, but there are several intriguing movies that will be screened that I hope to catch.

The other program only runs at night, and it's called "Into Nightmares." As you'd expect, the focus is on horror and other strange films, covering a 20-year span (1968 through 1988). Everything from Shochiku's The Living Skeleton (1968) to Toho's Bloodthirsty trilogy will be screened in the upcoming weeks at 9:00 p.m.

My tickets for tonight's films on top of a program booklet. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Tonight, I took in two films. The first one is called Zou (Elephant, 1957). It's a Toho drama directed by the legendary Kajiro Yamamoto (who mentored Akira Kurosawa and Ishiro Honda) and helmed The War at Sea from Hawaii to Malaya (1942). A bevy of Toho regulars appear in the film, including Keiju Kobayashi, Momoko Kochi, Sachio Sakai, and several others. The setting is the Tokyo Ueno Zoo, and most of the drama centers around an elephant named Tonki (who's very popular among the locals) and an old zookeeper who's grown attached to the animal. Sadly, the animals at the zoo eventually become casualties of war. It's a real tear-jerker that would make any animal lover a little weepy. An interesting touch was that, in one scene, the elephant starts roaring like Toho's King Kong! Nice to find a tokusatsu connection in a film as far removed from fantasy as this one. Also a shout-out to the cute baby lion featured in the film named Katrina (whom some young schoolchildren repeatedly refer to by name).

The other film I watched was Kinji Fukasaku's Black Lizard (1968), a very bizarre film that almost defies description. I watched it many years ago (circa 2002), and it had such little impact on me that I hardly remembered anything of it! So it was basically like watching a brand-new movie tonight. It was certainly very stylish, perhaps the most stylish Fukasaku film I've ever seen. But it's very campy and outlandish, without being too laughable. Again, it's hard to describe. But it's an entertaining film, and I'm glad I gave it a second look. 

I'll definitely be back for more!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

TERUYOSHI NAKANO! The Great Toho SFX Director Is Back!

Teruyoshi Nakano talks SFX. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I attended a small gathering with Teruyoshi Nakano, and as usual, it was extremely entertaining. There were a variety of topics, ranging from Nakano-san's almost being hired to work on Dino De Laurentiis' King Kong (1976) to the Century II felt-tip pens that Donald Trump uses to sign his executive orders (seriously).

After Nakano-san answered questions about his career, we all had dinner for a couple of hours and continued the discussion. A good chunk of the conversation focuses on the giant octopus scene in King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962).

Believe it or not, I still had a few items for Nakano-san to sign. Even he was amazed by it. These were an Espy (1974) DVD sleeve and a Godzilla 1985 (1984) program book. I've had both for a couple of years.

And that's a wrap! I got home not too long ago, and I'm exhausted. It'll be great to get some rest after a long day.

MORE SUPER FESTIVAL 74 SHOTS! Toys Galore and More!

Sanda and Gaila -- even uglier than you remember!

Some Ultra-masks on display.

Gamera crawled a long way to make it to Super Festival on time.

Godzilla battles Hedorah again, a good 46 years later!

Takeshi Sasaki strikes a Kamen Rider pose.

Eiichi Kikuchi and yours truly strike an Ultra-pose of our own!

Ultraman Powered looks pleased at his recent Blu-ray release in Japan.

Congratulating Ultraman Powered on a job well done.

Hey, who let the Fink (or should that be "Knif"?) into the show?

Well, I guess it's no longer a "secret"!

SUPER FESTIVAL 74! The Toys Are Back in Town!

April 23 saw Super Festival 74 stomp into the Science Museum in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. As someone who has now attended this event for several years, I don't really have that much else to say about it. It was fun, but the show never seems to change that much.

Of course, many toys, models, DVDs, and various other kinds of memorabilia were offered for sale. If you look hard enough, some real bargains could be found. But I'm not much of a collector, and I certainly never touch any toys or models. Just not my bag, and I don't want to be encumbered by it all.

Ultraman Powered swoops into action! Photo by Brett Homenick.

Ultraman Powered (a.k.a. Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero) was featured at Super Festival, due to the recent release of the series on Blu-ray in Japan. Toshio Miike was on hand to talk about the series and sign autographs. 

Takeshi Sasaki (a.k.a. Kamen Rider 2) finishes his interview session at Super Festival. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The headlining guest at Super Festival was Takeshi Sasaki, the man who replaced Hiroshi Fujioka on the original Kamen Rider (1971-73) series and then teamed up with him when Fujioka recovered from his on-set injury. The autograph line for Sasaki was quite long (as to to expected), which goes to show how popular Kamen Rider remains in Japan.

 Producer Toshinori Nishida promotes LEDX at Super Festival. Photo by Brett Homenick.

While wandering around the halls, I spotted producer Toshinori Nishida, whose independent kaiju film LEDX was recently released. I met Nishida-san in March during a screening of LEDX, and we've been in touch ever since. It was certainly great to see him again.

Hey, look, it's that total performer himself, Pee-wee Herman! I remember when this doll was being sold in toy stores across America, and it was pretty funny to see it randomly for sale today. I hope no birds were around to interfere with this high-wire act this time.

Yours truly with Yuji Kaida. 

I also ran into artist Yuji Kaida again, whom I last saw in late February. He and his wife, Aya, were selling various merchandise. The Kaidas are always wonderful to see.

Ultraman Jack suit actor Eiichi Kikuchi. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

It just wouldn't be Super Festival without Eiichi Kikuchi, the Return of Ultraman (1971-72) suit actor who makes just about every show and was helping promote LEDX.

Those are about all the highlights. I'm sure the hardcore toy collectors could tell you all about what figures were on sale, who manufactured them, what kind of paint was used, etc., but I can offer no such details. I'm a fish out of water at toy shows like this, and I only come to meet guests and see friends.

Still, it's always cool to take photos of interesting figures and models, but that's all I need to take with me. You can keep the rest!

ON THE WAY TO SUPER FESTIVAL! Spring Has Sprung in Chiyoda!

While walking to Super Festival today, it was very clear that spring was in the air in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. The area around the Imperial Palace was absolutely stunning, so I took the necessary photographs.

The sky was gorgeous with nary a cloud to be seen, and the trees were coming back to life after the winter. It was truly a sight to behold.

For the first time ever, when I passed the world-famous Nippon Budokan (seen briefly in Destroy All Monsters), there was hardly any activity! Usually, there'd be a concert or some other event happening with throngs of people waiting to get in.

There were some people milling about, but it was noticeably quiet. I've never seen the Budokan like that in all the years I've walked past it. Amazing!

With that out of the way, on to Super Festival!