The 50′s will go down in history as the greatest decade of all time for science fiction films. During this 10 year period we were introduced to Godzilla, Rodan, giant insects and arachnids and of course every type of alien being bent on invading Earth imaginable. It truly was a great time to be a fan of not only movies, but of science fiction. Some of these films were great; some not so great. The one thing they all had in common though was great imaginations at a time where Hollywood was chock full of original ideas.
This is part four of my ongoing series covering the alien invasion films of the nineteen fifties. In the past I have reviewed THE MAN FROM PLANET X (see HERE), THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (see HERE) and one of my all time favorites, THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (see HERE). Now I am here to review another great addition, INVADERS FROM MARS.
Some more shots of G-FEST XX’s Monster Model entries!
2013 marked G-FEST (Godzilla Festival’s) 20th gathering and I’d attended faithfully the last ten. Of all the conventions I’ve gone to, this one always has a special place in my heart because it gave me so many happy memories with my kids (as I tearfully explained once HERE). Not to mention, Godzilla fans are really more like family than just fellow enthusiasts which makes it more like an annual reunion as opposed to Expo. Unfortunately, the July weekend it took place this year couldn’t have presented more of a challenge for me as my Friday & Saturday was booked solid with events I was locked into attending.
Since I was a kid I have been a fan of kaiju films. Every Saturday afternoon I would sit in front of the television set watching that week’s installment of the Creature Double Feature, as they showed such great films as Rodan, War Of The Gargantuas, Frankenstein Conquers The World and a whole variety of Godzilla and Gamera films. Yes they were cheesy but they were also a lot of fun and they are one of my fondest memories growing up.
I have been a Godzilla fan for as long as I can remember. Weekends were always a treat for me growing up as there was almost always a Godzilla or Gamera movie to be found and I would watch these films over and over again, never growing bored with them. As an adult I still very much enjoy these films, perhaps because they do in fact bring me back to a simpler time in my life. I am a Godzilla completist, which means I must own every film in its best possible form. To date all movies are now available officially on DVD or Blu-Ray, with the exception of THE RETURN OF GODZILLA, aka GODZILLA 1985. The sequel to this film, GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE finally just got its official release on Blu-Ray and though I was hesitant with this release, I must say, after viewing it, it is a must have for any Godzilla collection.
G-FEST (Godzilla Festival) is the quintessential celebration of Godzilla and all his fellow Kaiju (Japanese Monsters). I’ve been a fan of Godzilla and Gamera ever since I was a kid. Growing up in the 1970′s, it was via shows like Creature Features or The Son of Svengoolie to bring those movies to me. People who did not grow up with a horror host usually have a hard time understanding why some of us adult fans get so weepy with adulation at the mere mention of our childhood ghoul. Well, when you’re a “monster kid,” surrounded by more “normal” kids who want to play baseball or watch The Dukes of Hazard, the person faithfully delivering your favorite films becomes more than just a TV star, he becomes your idol…one of Godzilla proportions. In my case it also helped that I found my host’s corny humor hilarious and his less than stellar singing voice pitch perfect.
There is no question that one of the most enduring and influential Horror Hosts of all time was the late Bob Wilkins from the San Francisco Bay area. Less garish than that of many hosts, Wilkin’s style was about as simple as one could get; Just your average guy wearing glasses and sitting in a chair while smoking his cigar. Yet through his dry wit and demeanor was a charm that was undeniable.
Just prior to Svengoolie’s first appearance at G-FEST (Godzilla Festival which we covered HERE), the National Horror Host who was tantamount in cultivating my own love of the Big G, agreed to an interview specifically geared to Japan’s greatest export…
G-FEST, the quintessential Godzilla event, is known for bringing rare and wonderful stars of the Japanese Kaiju genre to the unlikely venue of my sweet home, Chicago. This year was no exception with the return of Akira Takarada & also the original Ultraman, Bin Furuya. Before I delve into that, I feel like I should mention that while I have illustrated in previous posts much of what G-FEST has to offer, there is no way that I can truly convey its essence. Yes, like other fan-based conventions, it offers celebrities, dealer rooms, and eager fans. These are incidental, however, to what really makes it unique. For lack of better words, G-FEST has heart!
Behold some of the great Kaiju-inspired works of art on display in the G-FEST XIX Artist’s Gallery…
Without question, the MOST popular facet of G-FEST is the costume thread! Fans who spend the better part of the previous year creating their own Kaiju inspired costumes head to Chicago to each July to partake in one of the most unique contest contests around. This was my ninth G-FEST and it amazes me just how much its grown since I tried my hand at costume making and entered my own kids in the contest years ago.
When I say that it was a dream come true for National Horror Host, Svengoolie, to be a guest at the quintessential Godzilla event, G-FEST, I am really not kidding! I rediscovered that Sven was back on TV in 2003 and went to my first G-FEST in 2004 – wondering for the last 8 years why the two had never joined forces. After all, this was the Horror Host who helped cultivate my love of these films back in his “Son of Svengoolie” days. He’s also family & fan friendly, and there are few other events that capture that spirit like G-FEST does.
I have to confess that my favorite part of G-Fest is checking out the amazing models created by fans and put on display during the weekend. I had tried my hand at it a couple of years too but found out that I am better off sticking to writing as opposed to model-making. This stigma, however, is a personal issue, as ALL ages and skill levels are not only welcomed but encouraged here.
I was thrilled when I heard the news that Svengoolie will be appearing at this year’s G-FEST in Chicago! For those less savvy in the Godzilla world, “G-FEST” is short for Godzilla Festival and for fans of Godzilla, Gamera, Ultraman, or any other facet of Kaiju (Japanese giant monster) cinema, this is the event for which we revolve our calendar around. As a life long fan of Godzilla, I was happy when my 6 year old son, Alex, took to the Big G. We attended our first G-FEST in 2004 and I haven’t missed one since!
It is unlikely that any regular reader of this blog has not, in some way, been touched by the work of the great American writer, Ray Bradbury. The Science Fiction/Horror/Fantasy writer was truly one of us; someone who never outgrew his childhood love of dinosaurs, monsters, and aliens all the way until his death, yesterday, at the age of 91. The Internet is now rife with tributes and retrospectives of his amazing life and I have enjoyed reading a few. In that regard, I don’t feel that there is anything I can add. Instead, I am going to go all “Oprah” on you and list my Five Favorite things that he did. And, no, I will not be giving away free cars and merchandise, so you can remain seated and relatively calm. Also, this is not to suggest that in the course of Bradbury’s prolific career and multitude of accomplishments, that I ONLY like five of them. To go through them all would be like creating another Horror Host Report and this blog has only room for one of those epic posts per week. Here it goes…