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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Big Monster Mayhem with Gorgo, Konga, & Reptilicus!

Former Marvel editor, Tony Isabella, joined artist, Mark Maddox, for a G-FEST XXIV panel discussion on giant monster films outside of Japan –  specifically Gorgo, Kongo, and Reptilicus. This would be the last panel I’d attend at this event and would also prove one of the most entertaining! The following are highlights from the panel…

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Shinji Higuchi & the Rise of Shine 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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“War of the Gargantuas” turns Fifty!

war of the gargantuas

Quentin Tarantino called it the “perfect giant monster movie,” Tim Burton sites it as one of his all-time favorite films, and Brad Pitt recalled at an Academy Awards Ceremony it being the first movie he ever remembers seeing. Sometimes referred to as TOHO Studio’s “Kane and Abel” story, the beast vs beast opus I’m referring to is none other than War of the Gargantuas or, as it was referred to in its native Japan, Furankenshutain no kaiju: Sanda tai Gaira. If that title conjures up images of a certain classic Universal monster, that’s no accident. This movie began as a direct sequel to TOHO’s Frankenstein Conquers the World before taking on a persona of its own. In July of 2016, exactly fifty years from its release, fans at G-FEST (Godzilla Festival) in Chicago paid homage to this often overlooked giant monster masterpiece and I wanted to share some of those highlights.

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