Destroy All Planets 2010

Destroy All Planets 2010
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Sunday, October 23, 2016

MEETING MISAKO WATANABE! The Kwaidan Cast Member Recalls Her Acting Career!

Actress Misako Watanabe at a recent event. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

I just returned from a special event with actress Misako Watanabe. Debuting in 1953, Watanabe-san has enjoyed a long, award-winning acting career that extends to this day. During her career, Watanabe-san was primarily an actress at Nikkatsu Studios. Appropriately, one of her films from the studio was screened today, the stylish drama Don't Bet on Human Beings (1964).

I was interested in her mainly because of her role as the second wife in the "Black Hair" segment of Kwaidan (1964), a longtime favorite of mine. She also appears in episode 1 of Tsuburaya Productions' Unbalance (1973) and is featured in Kon Ichikawa's The Devil's Ballad (1977).

I enjoyed dinner with Watanabe-san, who sometimes threw in some English phrases into the conversation, such as, "Let's eat!" She also talked to me about the presidential election. She said that she watched the presidential debates with Japanese subtitles and even quoted (in English) Trump's repeated "Wrong!" interruptions. Suffice it to say, I never thought I'd be discussing presidential politics with a cast member from Kwaidan, but it's certainly one of the most memorable experiences of the year.

Another great evening was had by all. Let's do it again soon!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

SONNY CHIBA RETURNS! The Street Fighter Cleans Up Oimachi!

With actor Sonny Chiba. 

Tonight I attended a special event in Oimachi with actor Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba in attendance. I arrived late finishing work, but when I entered the reception area, Chiba-san was there and greeted me when he saw me. We took the above photo after he signed his book for me.

Also in attendance was Olympic wrestler Osamu Watanabe, who is a Guinness World Records holder for his unblemished record as a grappler. I first met Watanabe-san in May, and it was nice to catch up with him.

Pancho Kagami (of Pinky & Killers fame) was also on hand, and it was a lot of fun to see him again (as you can see from the above photo!).

Despite arriving late, I had an incredible time, and I hope we can all do it again soon!

SHINICHI YANAGISAWA LIVE AND IN PERSON! The Legenedary Performer Has Come Back to Asakusa!

Actor/singer Shinichi Yanagisawa in concert. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On Tuesday, October 18, I went down to Asakusa to see Shinichi Yanagisawa perform live. I've been going to his live shows for the last two years, and I enjoy it every time I go. 

Of course, regular readers of this blog know that Yanagisawa-san starred as Miyamoto in The X from Outer Space (1967), which is one of my favorite characters in any kaiju film. I also conducted an excellent (if I may say so myself) interview with him about his career.

As always, it was great to see and speak with him again. Can't wait for the next show!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

MEETING SAYOKO HAGIWARA! An Actress Whose Career Includes Ultraman and Super Sentai!

Yours truly with actress Sayoko Hagiwara.

Today I attended a special event in Tokyo and was able to meet actress Sayoko Hagiwara.

Hagiwara-san played Yullian in Ultraman 80 (1980-81) and Dyna Pink in Kagaku Sentai Dynaman (1983-84). She also later appears in Choushinsei Flashman (1986-87). Hagiwara-san spoke some English, and we were able to have a nice conversation. I found her to be extremely friendly, and she was one of the nicest people I've met in Japan. 

Hopefully, I'll have a chance to meet her again the future. I'd certainly love to have the opportunity. 

OUT AND ABOUT IN SHINJUKU! Tokyo Gets in the Halloween Spirit!

Halloween decorations of the eighth floor of the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

I made my way to Shinjuku today and photographed a few things during my trip. I went inside the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku and noticed that the Halloween deocorations were out in force. It was quite cool to see.

A nearby store advertises Shin Godzilla masks. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Godzilla fires his atomic ray (or a less destructive version of it!). Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Keeping a watchful eye over the city. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

TOKYO BLACKOUT! Teruyoshi Nakano's Birthday Blowout Features a Screening of This Obscure Sci-Fi Flick!

Teruyoshi Nakano celebrates his 81st birthday. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

October 9, 2016, marked Teruyoshi Nakano's 81st birthday (despite the persistent misinformation in the West that his birthday falls on October 1), and on his birthday, many of Nakano-san's fans gathered to take in a screening of the rather obscure sci-fi epic Tokyo Blackout (1987). 

Model maker Takashi Naganuma discusses his work. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Although it was directed by Toshio Masuda (The Last Days of Planet Earth) and based on a novel by Sakyo Komatsu (Submersion of Japan), the film remains little known outside Japan (and even within Japan!) among tokusatsu fan circles. It's not a bad film by any means, but it's a little slow and has a tendency to be a bit melodramatic. In any case, I enjoyed seeing it in 35mm. I doubt I'll ever have another chance to see it that way!

After the film, its SFX director (and the day's guest of honor) Teruyoshi Nakano discussed his work on the film, and model maker Takashi Naganuma also added his expertise to the proceedings.

After the Q&A session ended, we ate dinner with the guests, and then Nakano-san's birthday cake was brought out. As you'd expect, Nakano-san blew out the candles. No word on what he wished for.

An unexpected treat was a special showing of a TV interview from circa 1981, featuring Teruyoshi Nakano, Tomoyuki Tanaka, and Tsuburaya Productions' Koichi Takano. The trio discussed tokusatsu movies, and at one point Nakano-san was paired with an interesting Godzilla attraction suit that I've never seen before. (Eleking appeared alongside Takano-san for his scenes.) There was also some behind-the-scenes footage taken inside Tsuburaya Productions' office, and in the background was director Noriaki Yuasa, who was working on Ultraman 80. Very cool stuff!

All in all, it was a great day spent in great company. Let's do it again soon!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Bill Warren: 1943-2016

 Author Bill Warren (in the Hawaiian shirt) chats with Tim Smyth at Don Glut's house. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The news of Bill Warren's passing at age 73 was unfortunately expected, given his declining health, but it is major loss for fans of classic sci-fi and horror films. Bill wrote numerous books and articles on the genre over the decades, and his association with the Forry Ackerman and Famous Monsters (the real one, not the pale imitation of recent years) speaks for itself. Not many classic horror fans can say that they met Boris Karloff, but Bill Warren could.

I met Bill Warren once. In August 2010, I visited Don Glut's home where he was throwing a party for various local monster movie fans. Among the folks in attendance were Ted Newsom, William Winckler, Perry Martin, Tim Smyth, and of course Bill Warren. At one point, I asked Bill to tell the story about his attempt at interviewing Teri Garr on the set of a movie, which had the group in stitches. (I'd read the story before on the Classic Horror Film Board.) Among other awkward moments, when Bill asked her about Close Encounters, she retorted, "That's not science fiction, that's Steven Spielberg's VISION!"

Bill Warren, Tim Smyth, Perry Martin, Don Glut, William Winckler, and Ted Newsom talk about all things horror. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Toward the end of the afternoon, the conversation turned toward some of the drama unfolding on the CHFB. Bill, despite his reputation for being "irascible," offered a level-headed assessment of the events. I wouldn't have blamed him at all for being upset at the way he was treated, but he actually seemed unfazed by it all and took it in stride. I was impressed.

My favorite Bill Warren moment? As the party was preparing to move to a nearby pizzeria, Bill (and his wife Beverly) were planning to return home. As we were about to say our goodbyes, Bill flashed a playful smile and asked me, "So [insert egomaniac's name here] lets you be a Godzilla fan, eh?" Given that I was on somewhat friendly terms with said individual at this point, I had to play it safe, but even then I had a good laugh over Bill's question. I always enjoyed his sense of humor.

RIP, Bill.