22 December, 2008

BEST OF 2008

Best 怪獣映画 double bill of 2008

Rodan does the Tokyo Stomp...

I'll be counting down my favorite DVD presentations of 2008 over the next few weeks including what I considered the best Jess Franco disc and the overall best DVD of the year. A lot of titles you may have seen on other Best lists, like the CRITERION presentation of VAMPYR or the HAMMER box set, won't be here simply because I haven't yet caught up with them. This has been a rather downmarket year for me personally, in terms of DVD purchases. I haven't yet made the leap into Blu-ray and won't anytime soon. I also find the news that the BCI Eclipse label is being shut down by Navarre due to both the current recession and lack of sales performance has left a somewhat bitter taste at the end of the year. I was particularly pleased with some of their Paul Naschy/Spanish horror presentations, more about them in the future. Some of the my favorite DVD companies, including NOSHAME, CASA NEGRA among others already wound down before that for various reasons. I don't know where this is all headed and I'll have much more to say about this state of affairs in future blogs. Look for mention of at least one BCI presentation as one my 2008 favorites.

In terms of anticipation and personal pleasure one of the best DVDs of 2008 was the rousing Media Classics 2-disc set of RODAN (Sora no daikaiju Radon, 1956) and WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (Furankenshutain no Kaiju: Sanda tai Gaira, 1966), two favorite non-Godzilla Daikaiju Eiga. I have been a TOHO science fiction fan since seeing my first one theatrically in 1960. A long, long time ago...

RODAN and WAR... are presented in both their original Japanese versions with English subtitles available and their English dubbed cuts. RODAN looks and plays best in its Japanese version, sans the rather patronizing and nonstop narration and with a reel of footage not seen in the US version. Seen it its original version is has a severity of tone and tragic resonance not unlike the original GOJIRA (1954), the Ishiro Honda classic which kicked Japanese giant monster craze off. RODAN is presented in 1.33:1 format.

Furankenshutain no Kaiju: Sanda tai Gaira is just dumb fun, but delirious and memorable fun with a bewildered Russ Tamblyn and the mesmerizing Kumi Mizuno trying to explain the unjolly green and brown giants to a world which just doesn't get it. And you won't forget Kipp Hamiton singing (if you can call it that) "The Words Get Stuck In My Throat"! This was planned as a sequel to Honda's FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD (1965), but, shall we say, took on a life of its own. WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS is presented in its 2.35:1 Tohoscope OAR. Both the US and Japanese versions are transferred from the most colorful and clean available Toho original elements. especially considering that they were made in the middle of the last century. Some reviews have noted that the US print is brighter than the Japanese. That may be but they both look fine to me (especially considering that they were made in the middle of the last century) and I'm glad to have them both for comparative Kaiju Eiga contemplation. A must have for Japanese science fiction collectors, especially since it costs under $15.00!

An original documentary BRINGING GODZILLA DOWN TO SIZE is also included in this package. Recommended to even non Kaiju Eiga fans. You just may find yourself addicted. Even in the midst of a recession you can't go wrong with this one.

No comments: