- Written by Daniel Livingston
In Syracuse, NY in the late 60's-early 70's, the place to get your Sci-Fi fix was on Saturday afternoon TV watching the "Monster Movie Matinee". A local favorite among the kids because of the two hosts Dr. Witty and his sidekick Epal. Each week they would introduce a different monster movie to their audience. The opening sequence used a camera shot moving across a foggy bog approaching a haunted house up on a hill. It was a classic.
More often than not, the movie introduced was one of the many Godzilla movies. Watching a Godzilla movie was like watching a 3-year-old throwing a temper tantrum. Godzilla would stroll into a city and thrash his arms and tail around wreaking havoc on everything in his path. Sparks would fly as he crashed through the power lines that were always in his way. Even cooler were the tanks and rockets he battled that were always over matched. Even as young as we were, we knew the special effects were done using a guy in a rubber suit stomping through a miniature city. Being a lover of model building, it fascinated me that they would create an entire scaled down city full of army tanks and planes, just so they could be destroyed.
The original Japan release of the first Godzilla (Gojira) movie, was quite violent. As they continued to make follow-on Godzilla movies, he became more lovable, to the point where you wanted him to win. The Godzilla movies got more involved and started including other monsters like the three-headed fire breathing Ghidorah and Mothra, a giant moth, of course. Now you could legitimately root for Godzilla to "win" and save Tokyo from the other monsters. Next came Mecha-Godzilla, Baby Godzilla, King Kong and even a giant Frankenstein monster. All great fun to watch.
My love for Godzilla continued into my adulthood where I purchased many Godzilla related models and figures. I found many of the movies at local comic book conventions, most of them never released in the US. Back then they were traded from "collector to collector" with the understanding that I had to trade money for the video tape.
I was amazed at the number of Godzilla movies that were released over the years. I must have had 30 different movies. Some never even had the closed captioning, but you could pretty much follow along. Once my son was old enough I started showing him all the movies. He loved them and we enjoyed watching them together, talking about them to no end. Then I pulled out the classic 1977 Blue Oyster Cult song Godzilla. He thought it was so cool. We'd play the song at high volume while he stomped around the living room roaring like Godzilla and singing "Oh no. There goes Tokyo. Go Go Godzilla". I think I've got that on video around here somewhere.
One year my son wanted a Godzilla themed birthday party. Everything was Godzilla related from the treats for the guests to the full scale "Skittle-Godzilla" we set up on the pool table. You may recall Skittle-Bowl, a toy from the 70's whose commercials featured Don Adams of Get Smart fame. The game had a ball suspended on a string attached to a pole. You had to swing the ball around the pole into the pins, knocking them over. Not as easy as you would think. Well, we took that game to the next level. We suspended a 8 inch plastic articulated Godzilla figure on a long string attached to the ceiling above the pool table. We set up our version of Tokyo on the pool table. The city was made from milk cartons and other small boxes we painted to look like buildings. We had each kid swing the Godzilla into the city and counted the total number of buildings each knocked down. The winner got a Godzilla themed prize. The kids (and Dad) loved it.
more to come....