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.

Stairway to Heaven

It starts off innocently enough, in the middle of a flat field. There is a parking lot that can hold six or seven cars. When I pulled in, early afternoon, there was one other car already there. The first stretch of trail is nice and relaxing, meandering through high grass and wild flowers before plunging into that amazing sort of forest where you expect to see trolls and nymphs lingering about.

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.

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.

Dinosaur Land: White Post, Virginia

To our right were two more dinosaurs, one a brontosaurus, the other one of those two-legged beasts that, because no one knows exactly what it is, simply gets called an allosaurus. They were frozen in mid-menace of an Amoco gas station sign. To our left, just visible on the crest of a hill, was a giant octopus locked in mortal combat with a prehistoric shark.

From Russia with Love

Diamonds are Forever was a bit of a sightseeing vacation for our intrepid 007, a breather author Ian Fleming took in between more substantial books. From Russia with Love finds Bond and the Bond books back in top form for one of the best-loved stories in the entire franchise, films and books. From Russia with…

La Vie Parisienne

It is fashionable, and has been for some time now, for Americans to dislike France. Our one-time close ally, the country that basically bankrolled the American Revolution, that gave the world Brigitte Bardot, Sophie Marceau, and Jean Reno — you surrender early in one little world war, and suddenly the US is holding a grudge…