#WTF!?: Keep Kaiju (Giant Monster) Movies Alive!

It’s only been a few days since my last entry in my #WTF!? column, but Sundays are always a slow news day, so I’ve decided to release this a week early. This week’s entry delves into the topic of the slow decay in kaiju (giant monster) movies. Yes, there seems to be a sparked interest in this genre again (Cloverfield, upcoming Godzilla remake), but this doesn’t change the fact that the Kaiju genre doesn’t get as much love as it used to. So, I ask… what the fuck!?

“Oh, no. They say he’s got to go! Go, go Godzilla!”

Just as history repeats itself so do films. In the 1930’s Universal dominated the world with arguably the first iconic horror icons with Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, etc. In the 70’s and 80’s the “modern horror icons” surfaced (Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorehees, Leatherface, Pinhead). These two groupings of terrifying, timeless movie characters essentially fall into the same category, but are divided by the time they were released. It’s no secret that we’ve seen the rebirth of these classics with the recent remakes of The Wolfman, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s only a matter of time before the Godzilla’s and Gamera’s of the world reemerge.

You’re telling me a giant turtle with a jetpack hasn’t caught on in America yet?

Around the 90’s, giant monsters were slowly-but-surely heading out the door. Gone are the days of men in rubber suits destroying miniature models of Tokyo. While Japan continued to flesh out Godzilla, Gamera, and Ultraman movies, they even became a dying genre there as well (Godzilla was “put to rest”) and they became an absolute rarity overseas. Even the release of these movies overseas took a plummet forcing fans to wait years for a legitimate video release. Granted, America continued to push out “Northern Kaiju” (Deep Rising, War of the Worlds) nothing compares to the king of all monsters: Godzilla.

Godzilla had his disappointing American return in a terrible American remake in 1998 which basically put the nail in the coffin for the dying genre. It wasn’t until Peter Jackson’s update of the classic King Kong and J.J. Abrams’ Cloverfield that it became obvious that the genre could continue and see a possibly resurgence. Sadly, both films didn’t exactly blow up at the box-office enough for movie companies to jump on the bandwagon and push out giant monster movies like they have with remakes, vampires, zombies, and comic book adaptations.

Cut down the first 45-minutes and this is an amazing movie.

King Kong’s downfall was the expectation and hype leading up to it’s release. Director Peter Jackson had just come off of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, so instantly King Kong had to be as great as those films, solely because of Jackson’s name. Also, for the same reason, the studios bent over backwards for Jackson, allowing him to add an unneeded 45-minutes to the final product.

Just like Kong, Cloverfield built it’s own hype from having one of the most ingenious marketing in history. Nobody even knew what they were walking into when entering the theater. Neither movies are essentially “bad”, they just had the rotten luck of building a hype that was impossible to match with the final product.

“I saw it! It’s a lion! It’s huge!”

I was the happiest person in the world when word broke that Legendary Pictures (The Dark Knight, 300) are currently working on an updated Godzilla. Yes, the chances of it being a letdown just as the first remake are extremely high, but anything Kaiju related is good news in my books. I can only hope this remake can earn enough at the box office to do what the previous films have failed at and bring the giant monsters back from the grave. The only downside to Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla being a success is that instead of making original monsters, it’s almost guaranteed that they’d simply remake already existing giant monsters.

With today’s technology you’d think we’d have already seen an uprising in giant monster-based movies. With the right mindset and the right creative team behind a project like this, Kaiju films could easily replace the comic book adaptations as the go-to summer films. So, I have to ask… what the fuck!? – Fred Lozano

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