One of the highlights of the Daves Zoo Tour 2014 has been the little side trips we have been doing, exploring other interests outside of the animal kingdom. On my second day in the Chicago area we visited a store that is a dream come true, as it caters to Godzilla fans. The name of the store is Monster Island Toys and though it is kind of unassuming from the outside, the inside is chock full of eye candy for Godzilla fans and toy lovers!
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.
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!
So we all have our favorite movies and we all have our personal reasons as to why they are our favorites. We all also have movies that we can just watch over and over again, never tiring of them. That is what this list is all about. What is interesting about this list, is that some of my all time favorite films do not even fall on it. Even though a movie may be a favorite of mine, it doesn’t mean that I can watch it repeatedly and still enjoy it as much as I did the first time I watched…this aspect is actually rare in a film for me. As much as I love DAWN OF THE DEAD (1979), THE FOG (1980), THE THING (1982) and HALLOWEEN (1978), I cannot watch these movies repeatedly and usually limit them to one viewing a year. This list comprises those movies that I watch multiple times a year, sometimes more than once a month…they are THAT good to me! I have listed them in alphabetical order since I do not necessarily prefer one over another.
It’s very rare these days to have a horror host present a Japanese giant monster movie. How ironic considering that many of us were introduced to the these films via weekend Creature Features and late night hosts. For the past ten years, however, the opportunity to see these films on commercial television has become few and far between. TOHO (the Japanese studio that owns Godzilla) has made the films less accessible – their legal team hungry and eager to feed. To me this is a terrible error on the studio’s part. By making them harder to acquire, they are blocking many potential new fans from the genre.
The legendary Stan Hyde runs my favorite room at G-FEST, the model room. This room serves as both a training thread for novice model builders, while also featuring that year’s submissions for judging. The talent displayed each year is absolutely amazing and I find myself making numerous trips to this room throughout the weekend. The essence of G-FEST is not about ego but rather allowing everyone a chance to express their fan fervor.
The model room is no exception. A child’s Play-Doh Godzilla can sit at the same table as an experienced modeler’s masterpiece. One such pro is Dennis Shannon Reid, whose numerous submissions year after year gained accolades from the modeling expo, Wonderfest. One of his latest creations featured Godzilla battling the twin Mothra larva amid a Tokyo street. I could have stared at this highly detailed piece for hours and still found something new!