If you’ve been here before, you know I have bad taste. Music, clothes, hairstyle. It’s pretty evident.
But nowhere is my lack of refinement more apparent than in my love of cheesy, giant-rubber-monster movies. Give me Gamera vs. Gaos, and I’m a quivering, drooling, fan-boy.
When Cloverfield came out, I couldn’t wait to see it because here was an attempt to do a creature-feature with a straight face. I wasn’t disappointed. After I saw it, I had to see it again.
Well, that is after I finished throwing up from motion sickness. Despite its lack of a coherent script, rife with more plot holes than an episode of the Simpsons, and its stupid “realistic” cinematography, it still managed to check all of my monster boxes.
- Incredibly huge creature. Check
- Loud, blood-curdling bellow. Check
- Bad tempered. Check
- Weird, unexplained origin. Check
- Impossible to defeat. Check
- Can’t get a good look at it. Check
- Sense of dread. Check
It’s the last two points I think filmmakers usually get wrong when they try to play it straight. It’s not gore, or the hideousness of the monster that gets you, its the suggestion of it.
In Cloverfield, you don’t ever get a good look at the creature, only fleeting glimpses of a tail, a claw, or the destruction left in its wake. It’s literally only in the last seconds of the movie, that you see it face to face. In a good monster movie, it really is the scarcity of the monster that adds to the dread.
The Japanese rubber-monster franchise is different though.
These movies succeed—for me and other fans of the genre—because of their over-the-top campiness. Silly special effects coupled with stilted, badly-dubbed, English dialogue are what give the movies their charm. While you’re watching, you can’t get enough of the monster.
In fact, the monster is the only character who seems to know what the hell he/she is doing. You also get the feeling that the monster is really pretty embarrassed about doing the movie in the first place, and is seriously considering firing his agent. You find yourself rooting for Rodan to quickly dispatch the jet fighters sent to destroy him.
But what happens when someone decides to take the Japanese version of the rubber monster seriously? In 1998,Roland Emmerich took a stab at it with his remake of Godzilla. It kind of worked, because the screenplay kept its tongue in its cheek. The actors he cast—Mathew Broderick in the lead, with Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer in supporting roles—added to the movie’s sense of humor.
Now someone else wants to take a crack at the King of Monsters…
Seems like it might be a blend of what’s best in the Japanese versions with a darker, more serious vibe. While I detect a whiff of hippie, Greenpeacey message layered over the top of it, I find the casting of Brian Cranston as a Raymond Burr type character intriguing.
So will I see it? Yes. In a theater? Maybe. Depends if I want my ears to bleed.
Hey, I watched Sharknado remember?