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Toei Movieland Studio

Toei Movieland Studio hadn’t been on our official itinerary, but I convinced people to give it a try even though I was the only big Japanese movie fan in the bunch. Toei had given some of my absolute favorite sci-fi superhero shows, and the chance to see one of their studios was too good for me to pass up.

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The Return of Dracula

Released in 1958, Return of Dracula comes many years after the Dracula craze in particular and the Universal monsters in general had been relegated to the past in favor of atomic terrors and science fiction. Long enough, I suppose, that someone was thinking it was time for a revival, or that they were feeling nostalgic about the old films.

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War God

One of the most legendary of Taiwanese films, something glimpsed only in shoddy scans of old lobby cards and newspaper ads and long thought to be nothing more than a clever hoax with a dash of wishful thinking, was War God, a Taiwanese monster movie that pitted giant bug-eyed aliens against a gigantic general Guan Yu.

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Macao

Macao starring one of our favorite half-asleep actors, Robert Mitchum, is an exceptionally good thriller, not exactly a noir film but a solid old school crime thriller with good pacing, cool characters, and a great twist. Despite the exotic setting, it doesn’t bank too heavily on the “shadowy Chinatown” style of filmmaking, and there are…

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A Drink Before Dying

It was a good plan for as long as it was working. You’d managed to sneak into the sprawling underground lair disguised as a member of an exotic dance troupe hired to entertain the madman’s private army. The dance number was opulent, and you managed to maneuver yourself close to your target while still maintaining…

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China Seas

“It’s bad enough to have a ship that looks like this and a captain who looks like me without having a chief officer who looks like you.” — Captain Alan Gaskell When the winds roar and the rain whips at the streaked windows of my abode on tumultuous Saturday nights, plunging the world into an…

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Shanghai Gesture

If you ever want to see a scene that perfectly captures a heady air of decadence and mania without going all over the top and Caligula on you, look no further than the scene in Josef von Sternberg’s The Shanghai Gesture that introduces us to the opulent gambling parlor operated by the enigmatic Mother Gin…