Book Review: ‘Terror of the Lost Tokusatsu Films!’ by John LeMay

by Nathan Marchand

You may remember John LeMay from our interview with him several weeks ago. He’s the author of multiple books, most notably The Big Book of Japanese Giant Monster Movies (Vol. 1 and 2) and The Big Book of Japanese Giant Monster Movies: The Lost Films. His newest book, Terror of the Lost Tokusatsu Films! (props for the Terror of Mechagodzilla-style title), is a sequel to The Lost Films. This one details the many unmade, mostly non-kaiju films from Toho, Daiei, and Toei, among others.

The book is comprised of two parts—“unmade films” and “rare films”—and multiple appendices. The films in each section are listed in chronological order, making it easy to see where they fit into Japanese film history and how they often fed into each other. In part one, readers will learn about the strange crossover film Frankenstein vs. the Human Vapor that probably led to Frankenstein Conquers the World and a pseudo-sequel to Atragon called The Flying Battleship. Heck, there was even a planned sequel to Toho’s 1973 mega-hit Submersion of Japan called After Japan Sinks. (The author of the novel that inspired the film wrote two sequels, by the way).

As fascinating as it is to see what could’ve been, part two is a treasure trove of rare gems that will make tokusatsu film hunters say, “Challenge accepted!” You’ll learn about Kaijuvision Radio favorite screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa’s 1956 passion project Fearful Attack of the Flying Saucers, a film not unlike The Day the Earth Stood Still that Sekizawa wrote and directed(!). There’s also entries on the various Invisible Man films produced by Toho and other Japanese studios. I’d no idea that book (and film) was that popular in Japan.

Starting with part two, the book includes guest essays by several other authors. They’re connected in some way to whatever film LeMay just detailed. The best one, in my opinion, is Peter H. Brothers’ piece, “The Horror Films of Ishiro Honda,” where he analyzes The H-Man, The Human Vapor, and Matango. This is followed by a pair of essays pertaining to “A Voice in the Night,” the short story by William Hope Hodgson that inspired Matango.

Finally, the appendices are packed with even more information and great supplements. My favorite was the one that included synopses of several of the unmade films, including translations of the original story treatments. It was great reading text penned by Sekizawa and others.

The book is well-organized. Each entry flows into the next, making for quick and easy reading. There’s a bibliography and index for speedy referencing.

The biggest improvement over LeMay’s previous books is actually the presentation. In the forward by Colin McMahon, he talks about going to local video stores and discovering new Godzilla and kaiju movies and how that same sort of thrill now comes from learning about these lost films. To that end, the book is designed to resemble a video tape—complete with “VHS” printed on the spine and the sentence, “Superior Quality Video Tape Recorded in LP Mode” on the back cover. Each film entry is designed like the title of a VHS cassette, often sporting the FBI copyright warning or hyperbolic taglines. It adds some great nostalgic flavoring. I rarely see such a creatively designed book.

If you’re looking to continue a journey into lost film, read this. If you’re looking to expand your horizons, read this. Heck, if you’re a tokusatsu fan, you owe it to yourself to read this!

G-Fest XXV (2018): Daniel DiManna Interview

I must say this interview is an immensely impressive accomplishment of film appreciation!

At G-Fest XXV, Nate and Brian recorded an interview with Daniel DiManna of the Godzilla Novelization Project.  His goal is to complete novelizations of every Japanese Godzilla movie.  We discuss putting oneself in the minds of the many great characters in the movies, which films will be the most challenging to novelize, and what other challenges emerge when undertaking this long-term project.  We had an enjoyable time and you will too when you listen to this.

You can visit the Godzilla Novelization Project homepage here.

We’d like to send a shout-out to our patron Sean Stiff for pledging at the Kaiju Visionary level. Thank you for your support! We really appreciate it.

Brian Scherschel (Left), Daniel DiManna (Center), Nathan Marchand (Right)

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Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

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G-Fest XXV (2018): John LeMay Interview

At G-Fest XXV, Brian and Nate interviewed kaiju author John LeMay.  His latest book is called “Terror of the Lost Tokusatsu Films!”.  We address a few lost Godzilla films, his research process, why some of these lost films didn’t get made, and how some elements of these films could still end up in newer movies.  Some titles we discuss include “Bride of Godzilla”, “Batman Meets Godzilla”, “Tokyo S.O.S.: Godzilla’s Suicide Strategy”, and “Godzilla: Legend of the Asuka Fortress.”  Check out all of John’s books on his Amazon site here.

Nathan Marchand (Left), John LeMay (Center), Brian Scherschel (Right)

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Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved

What the Podcast Taught Me about Japan

by Nathan Marchand

Image by geralt. Courtesy of www.Pixabay.com.

Many listeners have told Brian and I that the podcast has been educational for them. Not only did they learn things about Godzilla films they didn’t know, but they also learned much about Japan (which is just as important). It was a goal we set early in our planning process, and I’m happy to see that we’ve succeeded. It’s one of the things that sets us apart from other Godzilla/kaiju podcasts.

However, listeners weren’t the only ones who learned new things—I did as well.

That might seem like an unusual thing to admit. I’m podcasting about this, after all, which makes me something of an expert, right? In many regards, that’s true. I’ve been a Godzilla fan since I was a teen, and I’ve absorbed a lot of knowledge about the franchise over the years. But in researching for Kaijuvision Radio, I feel like I’ve more than doubled my knowledge about these films.

One of my favorite “discoveries” was learning about screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa. Being a writer myself, I normally pay attention to screenwriter credits in films, but I never bothered to look up anything about him. I wish there was more information on him because he’s easily the most underappreciated member of Toho’s Showa era creative team. That’s why we take every opportunity to mention Sekizawa and the huge contributions he made to the franchise. He really did help make Godzilla the kaiju the fandom knows and loves.

More importantly, though, I learned much about the country that created Godzilla: Japan. Before this podcast, much of what I knew about the country was part of “Cool Japan.” I grew up watching G-films and anime and playing Japanese video games, among the country’s other exports. I learned things about the “real” Japan, but I still only knew the country in a pedestrian sort of way.

Now thanks to Brian and my research, I’ve become acquainted with the Japanese national spirit, which is one of the trademark subjects of our podcast. I’d heard a few things related to Japanese history—the Meiji Restoration, WWII, the Occupation, etc.—but not in detail. Things like the Japanese Economic Miracle, the Lost Decade, and the Yasukuni Shrine I didn’t know. One of the most eye-opening shows for me was episode 19 (Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla) when I dove deep into the rabbit hole that is Okinawa. If I once knew the island had been returned to Japan in the early 1970s, I’d forgotten, so I didn’t realize Toho made that Godzilla film for a people with a long history of animosity toward the mainland. It gave greater significance to a movie that’d long been just a fun romp.

It wasn’t just that film, though. The entire franchise has been enhanced by my new knowledge. Kaijuvision Radio is a film appreciation podcast, and part of that is understanding the original context for a movie’s creation. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I, like most people, am separated by time and culture with these films. I needed to be educated in order to more fully appreciate them. Without that, I was missing part of the story. How was I to know that the Xiliens were an expression of how the Japanese felt about foreigners? (See episode 11 for all the details). To me it was just a cool alien invasion film. Now it’s much, much more. Even something as recent as Shin Godzilla (episode 37) I wouldn’t have understood nearly as much if not for everything I’d learned in planning the podcast.

So, listeners, what was the most educational episode of Kaijuvision Radio for you? What did you learn from us that you didn’t know before?

If you’d like to help us continue creating podcasts that are both entertaining and enlightening, please support us on Patreon. We just added a new membership level with some great rewards, so don’t miss out!

Episode 19: Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)

The first Mechagodzilla film is roughly a spoof of James Bond and a twist on The Planet of the Apes, only the apes are alien invaders! The soundtrack fits like a glove to this gloriously campy and fun movie, made to celebrate Godzilla’s 20th anniversary.  Because this movie features an Okinawan kaiju, King Caesar, our related topic is the history and culture of Okinawa. Join Nate and Brian as they continue on with 70s Month – every 70s movie in the series in just one month. This episode is dedicated to Shinichi Sekizawa.

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 1:49

Part 1 – Film Description: 1:49 – 6:38

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 6:38 – 51:43

Part 3 – Related Topic: 51:43 – 1:25:09

Closing: 1:25:09 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Lindenwood Cemetery, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved

 

Episode 17: Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)

For this week’s episode, we present Brian’s favorite Godzilla movie! Though it’s an underrated movie, it sold the most tickets of any of the late Showa series movies (after 1968). It’s also filmed well, full of action, yet also cerebral. The movie contains a story with multi-layered symbolism, yet it has lots of fire, explosions, and monster fights. Plus it’s infused with the Japanese National Spirit. Listen to Nate and Brian synthesize everything fascinating about this movie. Our related topics are the symbolism of Godzilla vs. Gigan and the 1972 Sapporo Winter Olympics. Our 4k video for this episode was made at a location much farther away from home than usual: New York state.

We’d like to send a shout-out to our patrons Kyoei Toshi and Sean Stiff for pledging at the Kaiju Visionary level. Thank you for your support! We really appreciate it.

This episode is dedicated to Haruo Nakajima.

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 1:40

Part 1 – Film Description: 1:40 – 6:33

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 6:33 – 45:42

Part 3 – Related Topic: 45:42 – 1:19:36

Closing: 1:19:36 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Donahue Memorial Park, Cornwall-On-Hudson, New York

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved

Episode 13: Son of Godzilla (1967)

Believe it or not, this was intended to be a date movie. We have a cute monster that resembles a human baby. Japan experienced a huge drop in the birth rate in the year before this movie was released, so maybe this date movie was intended to get couples in the mood? Listen to Nate and Brian discuss this challenging and extremely different kind of Godzilla movie.  Our related topics are weather control, extreme weather, and the Three Non-nuclear principles.

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 1:45

Part 1 – Film Description: 1:45 – 7:03

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 7:03 – 39:36

Part 3 – Related Topic: 39:36 – 1:07:52

Closing: 1:07:52 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Bryan, Ohio

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved

Episode 12: Ebirah – Horror of the Deep! (1966)

City slicker Brian and country boy Nate discuss the Godzilla film for young people with a South Seas adventure flavor.  Though it’s featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000, we conclude that this a considerably underestimated film.  Our related topic is how kaiju film audiences changed during this decade.

We’d like to send a shout-out to our patrons Kyoei Toshi and Sean Stiff for pledging at the Kaiju Visionary level.  Thank you for your support!  We really appreciate it.

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 1:41

Part 1 – Film Description: 1:41 – 6:53

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 6:53 – 48:00

Part 3 – Related Topic: 48:00 – 1:09:59

Closing: 1:09:59 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Historic Old Fort, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved

Episode 11: Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)

Nate and Brian analyze a big fan favorite, and it has major sci-fi flavor. It’s our first alien invasion movie, and features the return of King Ghidorah! Our related topic is the international affairs dimension of the alien invasion.

This episode is dedicated to Yoshio Tsuchiya.

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 1:32

Part 1 – Film Description: 1:32 – 7:26

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 7:26 – 52:20

Part 3 – Related Topic: 52:20 – 1:15:33

Closing: 1:15:33 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Lakeside Park, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved

Episode 10: Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)

The franchise reaches a turning point with some James Bondian flair. Brian and Nate discuss Godzilla turning into a hero and the introduction of Godzilla’s archenemy King Ghidorah! Our related topics are China’s first nuclear test, Japan during the Vietnam War, and Japan joining the OECD. (Hail Ghidrah!)

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 1:40

Part 1 – Film Description: 1:40 – 7:18

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 7:18 – 56:19

Part 3 – Related Topic: 56:19 – 1:15:47

Closing: 1:15:47 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Clinton Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

All Rights Reserved