Monday, March 12, 2012
Miguel Rodriguez of Monster Island Resort Chats with the Cafe About Kaijueiga Cinema
Miguel Rodriguez hosts the "online radio show that goes bump in the night!" at Monster Island Resort. You can also follow him on Twitter as @MnstrIsleResort. Today, Miguel talks with Rick about his passion for Kaijueiga films.
Miguel: I will leave off the original Gojira because that goes without saying. I actually mentioned my
favorites from each era in the above question, so I will give special mentions
here. Destroy All Monsters (1968) is
a must-see for any fans of DaikaijuEiga. They brought out almost every monster
in the gallery for this one. It’s also where I get the name for my podcast The Monster Island Resort! Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla (1974)
was one of the first I saw on television. I thought it was so exciting, and I
still remember watching it fondly. It has some really cool monster battle
moments! It is firmly in the Godzilla-is-a-superhero camp of films, and should
be watched like one would watch the 60s Batman
TV show. Finally, I will mention Godzilla
Vs. Biollante (1989), which was an attempt to introduce an unfamiliar
monster in the Heisei Era. I really love this monster, but unfortunately it was
a box office disappointment so they rehashed familiar monsters for most of the
Rick: I suspect many Cafe readers are unfamiliar with the term "Kaijueiga." What does it mean and what is its origin?
Miguel: In Japanese, that would be loosely translated as “monster film,” “Kaiju” essentially meaning “monster” and “eiga”essentially meaning “film.” In the case of Godzilla and his ilk, there is also the term “Daikaijueiga,” which means “Giant monster film.”
Rick: I've heard about the different "eras" of Kaijueiga films. Can you define them for a novice like me?
Miguel: The names of the eras actually come from the reigning emperors of Japan, even if the years don’t completely fit. The Showa Era, or the reign of Emperor Hirohito, is used to describe the first 16 Godzilla films from Gojira in 1954 to Terror of MechaGodzilla in 1975. These are the films most Americans seem to remember when they think about Godzilla, since many of them were brought to the USA, care of American International Pictures. After the somber and metaphorical original film, the rest of this series increasingly became marketed to children.
Hirohito’s son Akihito succeeded the throne in 1989, thus beginning the Heisei Era of Japan. Although the first of the reboot Godzilla movies began in 1984, they are referred to as the Heisei Era for purposes of convenience, and only one of these seven films was released before 1989 anyway. The original 1954 Gojira is always the first film, but this series continues from there, completely ignoring the rest of the Showa Era. The Heisei Era has the most continuity, with recurring characters and references to events in previous films. This era began with Godzilla 1984 and ended with Godzilla Vs. Destroyah.
Finally, after the disastrous American Godzilla, the Millenium Series reboot began with Godzilla 2000and ended (so far) with Godzilla Final Wars in 2004. These six films (with only a couple of exceptions) reboot the series from the first film with almost every new release. Other than Godzilla Final Wars, this is probably the least tongue-in-cheek of the Godzilla Eras. Now, there is talk of a new American Godzilla film (cue me quaking in my boots).
Miguel: The 1954 Gojira, in its true uncut Japanese form, is a must for any era. After that, I would say Mothra Vs. Godzilla for the Showa Era, Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah for the Heisei Era, and Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack for the Millenium Era.
Rick: What was your first introduction to Kaijueiga films?
Miguel: My dad took me to see Godzilla 1985 (as it was called in the US) when it was theatrically released. I’ve been hooked ever since, getting my fix as a kid from daytime reruns and library rentals. Of course, this means growing up with butchered American versions dubbed in English. When I was old enough to get my first job, I started hunting down rare VHS copies of the films. Believe it or not, the Heisei movies are still some of the hardest to find!
Rick: What are your three favorite Kaijueiga films and why?
Thank you so much for the interview. I obviously love talking about giant monsters from Japan!