Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Monsterpocalypse Movie Update

As director Guillermo del Toro continues to reveal awesome details about his giant monsters vs. giant robots movie Pacific Rim, I've been wondering more and more about the status of Monsterpocalypse.

It was announced back in 2010 that the collectible miniatures game from Privateer Press would be adapted into a 3D movie  directed by Tim Burton, from a screenplay by John August, with special effects legend Ken Ralston handling the visual design.

L to R: Burton, August, Ralston

According to Screen Rant:
The plot of the Monsterpocalypse movie begins with an early battle between humanity and giant, other-worldly monsters that attack Earth.  Although the monsters are seemingly defeated, it is eventually revealed that the creatures have instead buried deep within the layers of the Earth and sent out a distress signal to rally their allies for a future attack on the planet.
The human characters respond to this impending threat by constructing a league of skyscraper-sized robots that they control and run directly – like they would any sort of regular vehicle.  Most of the film will revolve around the fight between the mechanical warriors and their extraterrestrial opponents.
Which sounds an awful lot like Pacific Rim. Nothing much in the way of updates has been forthcoming since 2010, and on his screenwriting website, John August hasn't mentioned working on the project since October 2011. So today I decided to go to the source, and sent a couple of tweets his way:

It looks like you haven't mentioned Monsterpocalypse since October. Is it still a thing, and if so, are you still involved? Thx.

Really looking forward to Pacific Rim from Guillermo del Toro, but the world still needs Monsterpocalypse from Tim Burton and !
 To which Mr. August replied:
Your second tweet explains why the object of your first tweet hasn't progressed.
 I took that to mean:
So progress on one will depend on the box office success of the other? I'm hoping for a kaiju movie renaissance! Thanks again!
And he didn't correct me, so I'm assuming that if Pacific Rim makes a lot money, Dreamworks will get Monsterpocalypse moving again.

So it seems that essentially, just as Guillermo del Toro's adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness is held up by Ridley Scott's Prometheus, Tim Burton's Monsterpocalypse is being held up by del Toro's Pacific Rim.

Not a lot to go on, but at least we know the project isn't dead. And as a long-time reader of John August's blog, I was psyched just to get a response from him.

I'd love to see what Tim Burton's vision of a Godzilla-style film would be, and really hope that Monsterpocalypse escapes development hell (though I won't be holding my breath). In the meantime, here's a fanfilm by Team Covenant:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kingdom of Monsters: Godzilla, Lady Gaga, and the Giant Armadillo of Texas

Americans have short attention spans and bad memories, so it's hardly surprising that when Godzilla reawakened in Japan last year -- after lying dormant for a nearly a decade -- most acted as though they'd never seen a giant monster before. It also stands to reason that the first nonfiction book to cover the subsequent events, Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters by American author Eric Powell, would neglect to place the sudden return of a half-dozen kaiju into its proper historical context.

Historically speaking, this never ends well.

Nevertheless, Powell does an excellent job of recounting humanity's response to this crisis, from opportunistic Republicans' typical attempts to place all of the blame on President Obama, to the underestimation of the monsters' might by military forces the world over, to the personal tolls taken on families caught in the inexorable paths of these great beasts.

Yet the book's tight focus on the events of 2011, separated from the rich history of these monsters that have plagued mankind since the first appearance of Godzilla in 1954, weakens the narrative's overall perspective and impact. This article will attempt to fill in the gaps by exploring some of the details that were left out of Kingdom of Monsters' final draft.

1. Anguirus


It should have been no surprise when Anguirus, the second monster to burst back onto the scene in 2011, emerged from the ground in Mexico and headed for the Texas border. This 60,000-ton, fully-grown adult kaiju had been in Texas before, back in the late '70s and early '80s, when he was still a mere twelve-ton pup. The Texans didn't know his name back then, but simply referred to this scourge of the Lone Star Brewing Company as the Giant Armadillo.

Old photo and newspaper clipping from the kaiju files.

The monster was never caught on camera back then, but its targeting of Lone Star beer trucks and establishments selling Lone Star became so infamous that the beverage company eventually incorporated it into their advertising:

After thirty years of hibernation south of the border Anguirus woke up thirsty, and lost no time returning to what he remembered as the land of free beer.

Anguirus intercepts a Lone Star beer truck.

Once he'd drained every drop of Lone Star beer from all the convenience stores, diners, and delivery vehicles near the border of Mexico, Anguirus plowed through San Antonio before heading out to Los Angeles for a drunken brawl with Godzilla.

Because that's just how he rolls.

2. Lady Gaga


Kingdom of Monsters depicts "Mother Monster" Lady Gaga following up a live performance on MTV with an impassioned defense of the destructive kaiju and promoting her charity that advocates for giant monster rights. But it fails to mention that the event she was performing at was the 2011 MTV Video Music Aid Japan, which benefited the Japanese Red Cross, or that her "Pray for Japan" bracelets raised money for all the Japanese "Little Monsters" displaced by Godzilla's attack on the country.

Lady Gaga makes a gesture of monster solidarity.

Nor does the book take into account the human race's "shoot first, ask questions later" history of dealing with giant monsters, such as the 1976 incident with King Kong in New York City.

A typical poster for Lady Gaga's charity MEALS.

Miki Saegusa, a spokesperson for MEALS, is quick to point out our dismal record of dealing with these unique beings, and that any one-of-a-kind creature is by definition the ultimate endangered species. That is what Lady Gaga was trying to explain, she insists, when the pop star was talking about Anguirus' victims on MTV.

"Look, it's horrible what's happening to those people, but that's nature," Lady Gaga can be heard saying in the clip that is replayed endlessly on Fox News. "For the greater good, Texas should be destroyed." Though the entertainer has been widely criticized for her stance, most people polled admit that they wouldn't have batted an eye if she'd said the same thing about Arizona instead.

Human behavior has even been known to drive some monsters to suicide. Riddled with despair, Rodan chose to plunge into an active volcano rather than have to deal with humanity's shit.

And who could blame him, really?

"We should be putting our efforts into saving the kaiju, not destroying them," continues Miki Saegusa. "It's unfair to lump them all into one homogenous group and assume that every one of them is out to destroy everything in its path. Peaceful coexistence with giant monsters is within the realm of possibility."

And that's not even taking into account "Friend to All Children" Gamera,
 or "Saves Orphans from Burning Buildings" Mighty Joe Young.

In her interview on 60 Minutes, Lady Gaga explained that her biggest pet peeve is the hypocrisy surrounding the issue of giant monsters. "Everyone's always looking for a way to destroy Godzilla once and for all," she told Anderson Cooper. "Until alien invaders or a monster from space shows up, and then they're all, 'Godzilla, save us!' Hypocrites."

3. Godzilla, King of the Monsters

MEALS would like to see all of the government's effort and funding, currently dedicated to developing weapons of mass destruction capable of destroying the kaiju, redirected to a rehabilitation program.

Godzilla exhibiting bad behavior.

They believe that the monsters' enormous size alienates them from most life on Earth, leaving them without any direction, meaning, or purpose in their lives. All they know is violence and destruction, and they take out their frustrations by lashing out at our cities and each other.

"It's not their fault that they're born this way," Gaga told 60 Minutes. "We just need to divert their aggression and limitless energy to more social activities, like sports."

Even the most terrible and feared of the bunch, Godzilla, King of the Monsters, has shown that he isn't beyond rehabilitation.

"Back in the 1990s, when President Clinton was supporting federal programs like Midnight Basketball, the government teamed with Nike to channel Godzilla's unbridled power and competitive nature into shooting hoops," explains MEALS board member Carl Majors. "A magically-enlarged Charles Barkley was able to preempt one of Godzilla's attacks by challenging him to a pick-up game. They were then able to keep him occupied in the Grand Canyon for an extended period of time, practicing layups on a specially-designed goal."

Godzilla and Barkley in happier times.

Majors insists the Godzilla Basketball program was a great success, and that something similar could be implemented now if the government weren't focused solely on military options. Involving kaiju in sports activities not only saves their lives, but the lives of civilians who otherwise become collateral damage when the military gets involved. He cites such examples as the gas attacks against Anguirus and Rodan that backfired in Los Angeles and Germany, respectively, and of course the MechaGodzilla debacle.

Majors says that MEALS approves of synergy between the government and business when it's a corporation like Nike developing sports goggles and athletic shoes for kaiju, but when you get the military-industrial complex involved, it's a recipe for disaster. Such was the case when President Obama approved the construction of MechaGodzilla in Detroit.

President Obama unveils Operation Two Birds One Stone, designed to kill Godzilla and get the US economy back on track in one fell swoop. "After it destroys Godzilla, we're going to program it with all the terrorists' names from the drone kill list."

"As you know, that plan proved disastrous when MechaGodzilla malfunctioned in his first confrontation with Godzilla and proceeded to destroy Atlanta, Georgia."

Thereby winning a decisive victory for Pepsi in the Cola Wars.

Other monster advocates aren't so diplomatic, describing kaiju as the antibodies nature has produced to wipe out humanity, which they consider to be a cancer with a malignant impact on the Earth. Others are less harsh, claiming the giant beasts are merely nature's way of thinning out the human herd a bit in the face of overpopulation. They even say that ultimately the giant monster attacks will have a positive effect on the human race, helping to eliminate some of our worst excesses. As evidence they cite the disproportionate number of reality television stars killed by monsters so far, such as the entire cast of Jersey Shore.

Of course the loss of one of the world's great grunge bands undermines that theory.

Ultimately the book raises more questions than it answers, such as "Where did the monsters come from?" and "Where did they all go?" But for now we have plenty to ponder as we work to rebuild what is left of civilization.

At least until the monsters return again.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Godzilla & Zone Fighter: BFFs

I've been curious about Zone Fighter, Toho Studios' answer to Ultraman, ever since seeing this picture of him shaking hands with his recurring guest star Godzilla. While I've read about the series online (there's a good overview here), it wasn't until today that I stumbled across a video clip of the show:

There are more videos at Dailymotion if you're interested (they're all of the top results when I Google Zone Fighter Godzilla), but the clip above is all I've gotten around to watching so far.

I think my favorite thing about it is all the nonverbal communication going on between Godzilla and Zone Fighter. They seem to have a real... understanding between them. I almost feel like I'm missing some sort of subtext in the scene.

At least Godzilla gets more respect here than he did on Ultraman.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

King Kong Home Theater Custom Furniture Art

Tom Spina Designs

I really need this setup for the Monster Hatch.

Check out more pics and video of the project here: King Kong Themed Home Theater Furniture

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lost on Monster Island

A little background on how I got here... 

Monster Island Journal - Day One: Made the mistake of Naming My Own Price for a flight from the US to Japan. Went too low and Priceline booked me on Oceanic Airlines. Really thought these guys went bankrupt back in 2004 after the whole Flight 815/Oceanic Six debacle, but apparently they're still in business.

Monster Island Journal - Day Two: Should have known I was doomed when I boarded the plane and the Priceline Negotiator was seated in the row ahead of me. Couldn't get any service because the flight attendants spent all their time dealing with his nervous breakdown. Things only got worse when we hit turbulence and the pilot announced that it was always bumpy passing through the Twilight Zone. There was some nervous laughter from the other passengers, but the Negotiator was not amused.

Last thing I remember before waking up on my back in the jungle was him grabbing the air marshal's gun, opening an emergency exit, and blasting away at the gremlin he claimed was on the wing of the plane. I must have been sucked out during the rapid decompression.

As I watched the plane disappear through the gaps in the canopy of trees above me and realized I was now stranded on a desert island, all I could feel was relief. Not because I had survived a free fall from 30,000 feet without a parachute -- you read about that sort of thing all the time -- but that I wouldn't have to listen to any more of the conversation from the row next to me. Frank Costanza, the world's most annoying passenger, was trying to convince Gale Boetticher to open a Capital One account. Gale kept trying to explain that in his line of work he only dealt in cash, but Frank just wasn't getting it. Life as a castaway would have to be better than listening to his spiel again. For all I knew, I'd landed in a tropical paradise.

Right. So, when I finally stopped screaming and running blindly through the jungle in abject terror, I came to grips with the fact that I was marooned on Monster Island, and needed to find shelter before I ended up as something's afternoon snack.

Spent the first night in the wreckage of a ship I discovered deep in the jungle. There were two ships, actually -- the Calico and the HEAT Seeker. Not sure how they got so far inland, but they looked as though had slammed into each other in midair before crashing into the island. I can only imagine what launched them out of the water in the first place.

Monster Island Journal - Day Three: Stumbling around the island, I kept having visions of this kid and his hideous imaginary friend: 

I recognized him from the plane and tried to talk to him now that we were on the island, but whenever he opened his mouth to speak, no sound would come out (though water occasionally did). Couldn't decide which half of this pair was creepier.

It was nightfall when I emerged from the jungle onto the beach. That's when I saw my first hint of civilization: a light in the distance. Just on the other side of that mountain.

Yeah, the one behind the giant space dragon in the fashionable purple trunks. So that's fine, I'll just go around.

Further down the beach I found a rusted Sea-Doo and, half-buried in the sand, an old life preserver from a ship called the Argonautica.

Monster Island Journal - Day Four: The next morning I passed a weird three-toed statue. Beginning to think this island raises more questions than it will ever answer.

After hiking forever I finally found the source of the light I'd seen the night before: a hatch buried in the ground. From its condition it appeared that the door had been blasted off long ago by the breath weapon of some monster or other (the island had plenty to choose from). I could hear music coming from down below. Listening for a moment, I recognized it as "The Girl from Ipanema." Hoping to find food or supplies, I descended the ladder.

Turned out it led down to a self-contained scientific research station. There was a sign in the room at the bottom of the ladder that identified it as Kaiju Station, but its sole inhabitant referred to it simply as the Monster Hatch.

Kaiju Station was manned by a guy named Tooch, which I eventually figured out was short for Joey Pantucci. The former first mate of a boat captained by John Finnegan, Tooch washed up on Monster Island back in 1998 after exploring a cruise ship that had been attacked by the kaiju Octalus.

Life in the Monster Hatch ages a person.

A giant monster attack separated Tooch and Finnegan just minutes after their arrival on the island. Tooch ran until he stumbled upon Kaiju Station. The guy inside took one look at Tooch, decided he must be his long-overdue replacement, and bailed, taking nothing with him but the Dharma Initiative jumpsuit he was wearing. That was twelve years ago, and Tooch has been here ever since.

Monster Island Journal - Day Five: Tooch took off this morning. Said that now that I was here to hold down the fort, he had time to go out and look for Finnegan and some woman named Trillian. On his way out he handed me a DVD labeled "Kaiju Station Orientation - Copyright 2009 The Dharma Initiative" and said it would explain everything I needed to know about Monster Island. I'm beginning to suspect he's not coming back.

Kaiju Station Orientation Video

The video opens with a guy named Walter Bishop explaining how the island first came to the attention of the DeGroots back in 1966, when the SSSP discovered anomalous geomagnetism here while on a mission to rescue four missing Japanese meteorologists. The Meteorological Agency had been forced to abandon their observatory on the island two and a half years prior because of major seismic and volcanic activity. The four meteorologists were sent to the island to reopen it, but all communication with them was lost immediately upon their arrival. Sent to investigate a week later, the SSSP discovered that the observatory had been attacked by monsters, and that geomagnetic irregularities were disrupting all transmissions.

Of the four -- Fujita, Kawada, Matsui, and Sasaki -- Matsui was the only observer to survive. The SSSP helped him bury the bodies of his colleagues before returning him to Japan.

Matsui and the SSSP in 1966

In his statement to the SSSP, Mr. Matsui said, “The earthquakes and the volcano turned the island into madness. Two and a half years later, we came back here and we felt like we were in the prehistoric age. Monsters living in a Darwinian jungle.” The SSSP officially classified the island as a Lawless Monster Zone.

Dr. Harryhausen in 2004

A year later, in 1967, the United States Army arrived on the island to do atomic testing. After detonating four hydrogen bombs in the surrounding waters, they brought in a scientific team, led by Dr. Harryhausen, to study the effects. When giant ants were discovered on the island, the army napalmed the anthill, and the scientists went into the nest with gas guns to sterilize any survivors. The operation was successful, but the vengeful queen and her remaining soldier ants wiped out the military and most of the scientists, leaving Dr. Harryhausen as the sole survivor. He remained at the abandoned army outpost to continue his experiments until his death in 2004. The official story is that he sacrificed his life to help a group of young people rescue Carmen Electra from the giant ants after they made the mistake of choosing the island for the location to shoot "MTV's Tropical Weekend Getaway."

Worst of all, the film crew arrived on the island during Kamacuras Mating Season.

After founding the Dharma Initiative in 1970, the DeGroots sent an expedition to explore the island, and discovered another of its scientific anomalies the hard way. Because of its unique relationship to the space-time continuum, Monster Island rests in the Atlantic Ocean at some times, the Pacific Ocean at others. In order to reach the island, you must first know whether it is currently in the Bermuda Triangle or approximately six hundred miles south of Japan.

They later constructed Kaiju Station on Monster Island to study giant monsters and determine their usefulness in repelling alien invasions, a threat to mankind not covered by the Valenzetti Equation.

Godzilla strolls past Dharma Village on Monster Island

Although the Dharma Initiative no longer maintains a scientific research team on the island, the area is still monitored electronically, and interns reside in Kaiju Station year-round to keep an eye on the equipment and to observe and report on monster activity. The goal is to have the station serve as an early warning system and prevent future catastrophes like the recent Cloverfield Incident in New York.

Dharma interns are advised to avoid any contact with a group of island rebels known as the Others, who seek to subvert the Initiative's objectives and may or may not be in league with the mysterious and illusive Harvey Elder, the self-proclaimed ruler of Monster Island. No one has seen Elder, but according to island mythology he lives beneath the surface of Monster Island in a vast series of caverns that lead down to an underground kingdom called Subterranea.

Known Others include Dr. Niko Tatopoulos, Jack Prescott, and Park Nam-Joo.

Because the existence of Monster Island and its inhabitants makes the United Nations nervous, Dharma recommends that interns keep in constant contact with the outside world via the internet, blogging and tweeting as an indication that the interns are still alive and all is well. They are encouraged to make use of the station's extensive collection of comics, movies, and other media if they need something to blog and tweet about. Otherwise, should communications from Kaiju Station go dark, the UN Security Council might get twitchy and have the island carpet-bombed just to be safe.

Hmmm... carpet-bombing sounds bad. I guess it's time to start a blog. Maybe I'll watch Konga on Netflix tonight.

Monster Island Journal - Day Six: Found this map of the island taped to the back of a blast door that dropped down and sealed me in the station for a few minutes. Not sure what that was all about, but when I was able to go back outside I found a food drop near the hatch, so it's all good. Yay, generic junk food!

Monster Island Journal - Day Seven: Let's see, I'm stuck in this station with all the comics I can read and all the movies I can watch. Starting to feel like Joel or Mike from Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Which is also on Netflix.

All I need now is a robot sidekick!

Monster Island Journal - Day Eight: Apparently the metal egg sitting on the computer desk wasn't decorative after all. I started noticing cracks in it this morning, and by lunchtime it had hatched.

The birth of MechaGodzilla, Jr. I'm not even going to pretend this makes sense.

My first robot sidekick! MechaGodzilla, Jr., eh? Hey, that sounds like a good name for a blog!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Godzilla vs. the Y2K Bug

I'd never seen this 1999 Cartoon Network short before today. Enjoy!

Giant Monsters: Stringer Bell is Coming for You!

The first image of Idris Elba in Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim (July 12, 2013):

That must be the gear that the giant robot pilots wear. I guess body armor is more appropriate for kaiju fighting than a suit and tie...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Video: Godzilla Jr. vs. MechaGodzilla Jr.

Found this baby lizard chilling on the back of a chair in the break room this afternoon and let him hang out with MechaGodzilla Jr. for awhile before releasing him back into the wild.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Cast change: The part of The Real Ghostbusters' Murray the Mantis is now being played by the wicked awesome Mantacon figure from the Monsterpocalypse game, allowing Kamacuras to be displayed in his natural habitat, Monster Island:

Other changes to the New York City display include the addition of a fourth Monsterpocalypse building (which I think helps the overall layout), and Destoroyah, in the back left corner, facing off against Meltdown Godzilla and Godzilla Jr., side-by-side with his drinking buddy Cthulhu.

And because there were a few inches of undeveloped real estate left on my desk, I started a display of what lies beneath Monster Island, down in the caverns. I'll post pics of that after a few more monsters are in place.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


There's a new Ultraman-themed convenience store in Shanghai, where Ultraman is apparently known as Aoteman. I did a Google Image search on "Aoteman" and found this picture of a backpack:

Source:  benchilada on Flickr.
Man, I wish I could buy my lottery tickets and overpriced chips and soda at an Ultraman store.