Godzilla vs G-FEST!

Imagine if you spent the the last twenty years meeting annually with a group of like-minded friends for a weekend of fun. Sure, these gatherings were comparitively small, but that was the beauty of it. The atmosphere was relaxed and everyone had an opportunity to participate in the numerous activities provided. Each year you’d see the same faces and even if you didn’t know their names, they somehow felt like family.

Now imagine your intimate group suddenly becomes four times larger. The comfortable venue you’ve always used swiftly becomes claustrophobic and overheated. Navigating the dealer’s becomes a frustrating fight for survival and finding an empty seat at a popular panel a luxury. Where once you’d stay the entire weekend and feel sad when it ended, now you’re anxious to leave. Such is the plight of my beloved G-FEST (Godzilla Festival); an event that appears to have fallen victim to the Legendary Godzilla, himself.

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Hollywood’s Thanksgiving Turkey, “The Giant Claw!”

The Daves would like to wish our fellow American monster fans a very Happy Thanksgiving while also giving them the bird! No, not just any bird, mind you, but a “battleship” sized fowl from another dimension! I’m referring, of course, to the 1957 quintessential “turkey,” The Giant Claw. This film’s not only achieved cult status for all the wrong reasons but has since gone on to become something of a Thanksgiving movie tradition (for fun people who hate football). In fact, about seven years ago I included it as part of my list of Thanksgiving-related genre films. I remember at the time wondering if I wasn’t reaching a bit by having it on there but those doubts were all erased last July during a “Hollywood Kaiju Strikes Back” panel at G-FEST XXIV. Although the Godzilla Festival revolves around Japanese monsters, Martin Arlt and Archie Waugh gave an entire hour to some of their American contemporaries. This included such atomic menaces as The Deadly Mantis and The Beginning of the End while saving the best of the worst for last. Our moderators introduced the film by informing is it was their Thanksgiving movie tradition. So I not only walked away feeling validated regarding my list, but also with enough tidbits to offer YOU this special Turkey Day blog. And if that isn’t a reason to feel thankful, then we just don’t know what is!

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Shinji Higuchi & the Rise of Shin Godzilla!

Shinji Higuchi is a talented anime’ & SPFX artist who began his career with giant Japanese monsters as an uncredited assistant in Godzilla 1985. He’d later prove himself a master at his profession in the Gamera trilogy as well as a host of other projects before finally returning to Godzilla in 2014. After the success of Legendary’s Godzilla a contractual loophole meant TOHO Studios had a small window to legally create another film with their prized monster. Higuchi would helm the new Shin Godzilla’s design as well as the films SPFX, garnering him the Japanese equivalent of an Academy Award. Shin Godzilla (Godzilla Resurgence) would prove a critical and box office success in Japan while receiving mixed reactions from Godzilla fans in the United States. Higuchi was the guest of honor at G-FEST XXIV where he participated in an interview panel that Saturday. The following photos and narrative were taken from that event…

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Exploring G-FEST XXIV!

Artists Alley is an entire room at G-FEST dedicated to selling original works created by some incredible talents. My son, Luke, and I both commented how much its evolved over the years, going from a handful of artists to filling out an old restaurant at the Crowne Plaza. Since my other son, Alex, was in the military I wanted to pick up a print for his apartment. I had no idea how tough it would be settling on just one! I picked up a Shin Godzilla drawing done by Eric Schuster who was happy to also sign it for him.

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Model Monsters at G-FEST XXIV!

On the morning of Saturday July 15th, my son, Luke, and I arrived at the Crowne Plaza in Rosemont, Illinois wondering what to do first. This was the 24th G-FEST (Godzilla Festival) and my 15th. For me, it’s never been just a convention but more a family tradition. Luke’s been to just about every one since he was born (he’s 13 now) and my four kids together have participated in every G-FEST activity imaginable. We’ve submitted models, participated in the costume contest, Luke won first place in the video game room last year and Alex (my eldest) got the blue ribbon in a Kaiju poetry contest when he was six. My kids and I were so entwined with G-FEST that it was actually painful covering it for this site during the years Alex had outgrown Godzilla, as indicative of the three-hanky sob-fest I posted HERE. Apparently my kids, themselves, weren’t immune to it either. My daughter, Jade, who was more or less dragged to these events growing up said that when she saw the end credit scene of Skull Island (where the existence of Rodan, King Ghidorah, and Mothra were revealed) she was flooded with nostalgia over G-FEST.

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