If you are familiar either with me or with my work on this site, it probably comes as no shock that I rank Gymkata as one of the most valuable players on an amazing and occasionally sparkly team. I’ve been pushing this movie on people for decades, armed at first with little more than my…
In 1958, Dracula would return in name but not with the familiar face of cinema’s best-known and most beloved Dracula, Bela Lugosi. Bela would return to the screen several times as a vampire, but never again as Dracula. So Dracula returned in Return of Dracula without Bela, and Bela returned in Return of the Vampire,…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.