Space Monster Numagirasu is clomping into view, though only the vibrations of his coming are being heard so far. Charming chap, isn’t he?
Space Monster Numagirasu (a title which can also be transposed from the Japanese as “Space Monster Numaguirus”) is the product of a graduation project being undertaken by students from Tokyo Kōgei University (Tokyo Polytechnic University).
With its “old school” suitmation monster and miniature sets, the film is a kaiju eiga (or monster movie) in the full daikaiju (giant monster) tradition. This is a fertile tradition that sprang into existence in the middle of last century thanks to the success of Gojira, the classic film directed by Ishirō Honda in 1954 (and later “translated” for US audiences into Godzilla, King of the Monsters, starring an interpolated Raymond Burr) — and has only recently been (mostly) superseded by CGI technologies. [See my article “Man and Super-Monster: A History of Daikaiju Eiga and its Metaphorical Undercurrents 1954-2006″ for an account of the development of the Japanese tradition in giant monster films.]
With his weirdly distorted form, Space Monster Numagirasu is suggestive of the sort of Japanese giant monster that followed in Godzilla’s wake, especially in the monstrous extravaganzas offered up in the prolific Ultraman TV series (and films) – which were originally created by Eiji Tsuburaya, Godzilla’s SFX master-craftsman. As a form of SFX, the method is very hands-on.
Produced by Hosonuma Takayuki and directed by Takayuki Hosonuma, Space Monster Numagirasu is a short film (13:20 min.) and will be translated into English for its American premiere – at a venue the Backbrain could reveal except we’ve been sworn to secrecy.
So until the details are firmed up, check out the trailer (and production pictures) below:
On-set and Behind the Scenes:
Written by Robert Hood
Sources: via Kaiju Search-Robot Avery (Guerra); YouTube; www.t-kougei.ac.jp. Translation help by Yuki Morita (Godzilla 2014).
It began when low-budget, exploitation production company, Asylum, released Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (US-2009; dir. Ace Hannah) [Backbrain review]. Back in May 2009, Undead Backbrain was the first to reveal a still of the giant shark eating the Golden Gate Bridge, and then gained an exclusive on the initial release of the trailer – and the result was internet frenzy. UB had never had so many hits before; the video itself on YouTube received over 1.5 million views in a week or so (it’s currently on about 4.2 million). The film also scored record audience figures when aired on the SyFy Channel.
Below is the Japanese DVD release cover:
The low-budget and far-from-perfect film was, in exploitation terms, a great success – having deservingly received both negative and positive reviews – and this inevitably led the Asylum to follow it up by pitting the Mega Shark against another giant monster, this time a reptilian monstrosity: Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus (US-2010; dir. Christopher Ray).
Next came the epic tale of mankind’s use of the inevitable technological solution to the problem of a gargantuan pest: Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark (US-2013; dir. Emile Edwin Smith):
Now, just when we thought there was no mega-absurdity left for the Asylum folk to exploit, evidence has arisen of the next chapter in the ongoing adventures of Mega Shark. It is titled Mega Shark vs Kolossus, and introduces a gigantic humanoid robot into the mix.
Our information on the film comes from a Japanese website, where the title is given as “Mega Shark vs the Great Titan” (bringing to mind the popular anime series Attack on Titan – a connection also suggested by the general appearance of the Kolossus itself, even if it’s metal rather than flesh and bone). That the report of the film is genuine has been confirmed by Kaiju Search-Robot Avery Guerra via contacts within the Asylum.
As for the plot, a rough translation from the site indicates that though Mega Shark was thought to have perished in the fight against Mecha Shark, a Russian fishing vessel catches a similarly huge shark, which is subsequently revealed to have been newly born from a Mega Shark egg. Simultaneously, terrorists in the Ukraine activate the “Kolossus” – a huge robotic weapon developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. No doubt chaos ensues. (Source: eiga.com) It appears Mega Shark may be the hero of this one!
Mega Shark vs Kolossus will premier at the Tokyo Shinjuku Shinemakarite Film Festival, held from May 16 to June 26, as part if the “Karite Fantastic! Cinema Collection 2015″.
Written by Robert Hood.
Update: we have official details, thanks once again to Kaiju Search-Robot Avery.
Director: Christopher Olen Ray
Producers: David Rimawi, David Michael Latt and Paul Bales
Screenplay: Edward DeRuiter
Cast: Illeana Douglas, Amy Rider, Ernest L. Thomas.
Production Company: The Global Asylum
Official release: April 2015.
Synopsis: As a mega shark threatens the global economy, Russia accidentally re-awakens a giant robotic doomsday device. The world must fight to stop both deadly creatures.
Robert Hood’s definitive collection, Peripheral Visions: The Collected Ghost Stories, is released both virtually and physically in April 2015, published by IWFG Australia Publishing.
It is available in a signed, limited edition, single volume (824 pages), deluxe hardcover edition, a two-volume trade paperback edition, and an ebook. Included is an Introduction by World-Fantasy Award winning editor, Danel Olson, a Preface and extensive notes by the author, and a full bibliography. The deluxe hardcover also includes 8 original images by prominent Australian artist Nick Stathopoulos (one for each of the six Sections, an example of which you can check out below), a frontispiece and the signature page. Read more about it here.
As a bonus, those who pre-order the deluxe edition will receive a free ebook of Robert Hood’s zombie stories, Haunted Flesh: Stories of the Living Dead (30,000 words of them) and, while they last, a copy of his now out-of-print novel, Backstreets (Hodder Headline, 2000).
Back in the dark days of 1972, Night of the Lepus (US; dir. William F. Claxton) tried to envisage a bunny apocalypse in which hordes of large mutated rabbits re-enact Hitchcock’s The Birds, to lesser effect. It’s a bit of a cult classic these days, though still not overly convincing.
Now we are privileged to have front-row seats for the new bunny apocalypse, where there may be only one bunny but it’s bigger, bloodier and even less convincing.
Yes, it’s a Easter-Day horror comedy about a giant mutated rabbit who fortuitously decides to schedule his blood-soaked rampage for Easter — which is good, as no one knows how to get through a holiday without having a thematic horror movie to vege out to.
Called Beaster Day: Here Comes Peter Cottonhell (US-2014; dir. Snygg Brothers), the film boasts pretty good poster art, a press release that emphasises gore and the sad plight faced by naked models (see Dread Central for details), and very dubious SFX. If you have any doubts about whether you’d want to see it or not, check out the trailer:
A giant bloodthirsty Easter bunny starts viciously killing the local townsfolk. When the Mayor refuses to act and the attacks grow more gruesome, the town finds its very survival in the hands of a wannabe actress and a crazy dog-catcher. (IMDB)
Scottish-born director, screenwriter and old-school FX monster obsessive Peter A. Montgomery is nothing if not determined. His latest project — his most ambitious yet — is a feature film called Dark Earth that offers up monsters, period-set science fiction/fantasy adventure and interplanetary wonder in abundance. Involved in its production is talent from Britain, the US and Australia, and a who’s who list of professional FX designers with a background in Harryhausen-style stop-motion animation and puppetry.
This is grand SF adventure of the kind represented by such classics as The Land That Time Forgot (1975), At the Earth’s Core (1976), The People That Time Forgot (1977) and Warlords of Atlantis (1978), which is rather gratifying as the director of those four films, Kevin Connor, happens to be an avid supporter of Montgomery’s project. Also supporting it via the creation and animation of an array of monstrous creatures and lots of monster action is a list of well-known industry veterans:
Norman Yeend (The Time Guardian, $9.99, Ultraman: Towards the Future)
Richard Kent Burton (Coraline, James and the Giant Peach, The Blob (1988), Ed Wood, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, Robot Chicken, Screamers, Freaked)
Ron Cole (Sinbad: the Fifth Voyage, Ghostbusters II, Monsters (TV series), Legend of the Golden Fishcake)
Nick Hilligoss (Legend of the Golden Fishcake)
Steve Koch (Jumanji, The X Files Movie, Men in Black II, Starship Troopers, TRON Legacy, Men in Black III, Hellboy: The Golden Army, Godzilla (2014), The Thing (2011), Spider-Man (2002), Beetlejuice, Evoliution, The Mist, and many more).
Lionel Ivan Orozco (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jurassic Park, Starship Troopers, The Lost World: Jurassic Park)
Jim Aupperle (as Advisor) (Planet of Dinosaurs, After Earth, Ghostbusters, Hellboy, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Tremors II: Aftershocks, Robocop 3, John Carpenter’s The Thing, to name but a few, seriously — check here)
John Dods (as Special Consultant) (Ghostbusters II, Poltergeist II, Boomerang, Monsters (TV series), The Deadly Spawn, Spookies, and many more)
That is one impressive team, I think you’ll agree!
Dark Earth will be the first movie in this genre for several decades to be made with traditional craftsmen but brought up-to-date using the best practical FX on offer today. We’re using Henson-esque puppets to represent the main aliens — cable-operated creations — and state-of-the-art stopmotion so authentic in its end result it will be like nothing you’ve seen before. The test shots from Tippett Studio I managed to get cleared to test the process on were received well with huge enthusiasm. Dark Earth is the film that many aficionados have been waiting for for decades. I’m making the kind of movie I myself have wanted to see for years. It’s no throw-away, here-today-gone-tomorrow effort like so many big budget films, but a project made with real passion by real artists, who want to give you something that’s really lacking in modern CGI-dominated cinema. It’s in the best hands it can be in, made by guys that work on big motion pictures. Put basically, it’s in the hands of artists. (Source)
So, what is this film about? First off, check out this rough test trailer:
And here’s a synopsis of the film:
Dark Earth is a period-set (Edwardian era) fantasy film. Time travellers create a rocket ship. On a test outing they manage to shoot off into space and find a world they mistake for home located several million light years from Earth.
After a very hard landing, the crew of the ship find themselves on an alien world, populated by monstrous denizens and creatures from prehistoric times, long extinct back home on Earth. Dark Earth is a tour de force of exciting conflicts, monsters and scientific marvels, and features an alien race known as the Horidens, who become the main obstacle preventing our heroic explorers of time and space from escaping the Dark Earth and returning home ….
Undead Backbrain has written about Peter A. Montgomery and his projects before, in particular a remarkable trilogy of SF/fantasy films under the title Bizarre Life Institute. This was an enormous project, done over many years without significant resources. If you want to get some idea of what drives Montgomery and where he comes from check out the two-part article Bizarre Life Institute: The Trilogy — Part 1 and Part 2 in the Backbrain’s archives.
This latest project looks like it has huge potential, but Montgomery and his amazing team need some help. Yes, you guessed it. Financing. To this end, like many other “outliers” in the film industry, Montgomery and the production studio, RIGAR UK, have set up a crowdfunding campaign on INDIEGOGO to ensure the sets constructed, such as the time machine interior and miniatures, wardrobe, puppets, and of course the stopmotion and compositing work, are all top of the line. They have also vowed to go to 4K resolution 35mm film quality with the stated budget, and that if they raise over the amount they would also add an original orchestral score, not a digital one.
Montgomery added: “I know it’s not much when you think of what we’re proposing to create, but believe me, the team ready to go can pull off something spectacular with that budget, though small in today’s world of film. Even if we don’t reach the full amount, you can be assured of a beautifully presented piece of cinema made with love for the craft / genre, and a good story.”
The goal is ambitious, but every little bit helps. If what is written above sounds like something worthwhile (and it certainly does to the Backbrain), at least pledge the small amount needed to get yourself a DVD/Blu-ray copy of the final film — think of it as a pre-order. But there are also lots of other perks.
Meanwhile, check out the team’s introductory campaign video and read about the actors and more about the state-of-play.
So Nick Stathopoulos and Ryan Cauchi’s fantastic short nasty-plant-from-outer-space film, It Grows! (see these Undead Backbrain articles) has shambled off with a slew of awards at Zed Fest.
Director Ryan Cauchi reports:
I’m speechless right now. It Grows! has just won 5 awards at Zed Fest! “Outstanding Foreign Short Direction” for Nick Stathopoulos and myself; “Outstanding Horror B Comedy Short”; “Outstanding Original Score” for Andrew Thomas Wilson; a special nod to Nick for “Creature Effects, Miniatures and Matte Paintings”; and last but not least, “Best Poster”… and apparently there are more awards to come!!
Great work, guys!
The Award-winning Best Poster:
An Example of Nick Stathopoulos’ Incredible Matte Painting (click on it to see it in all its glory):
Bugs 3D [3D食人虫, aka CHONG] (China-2014; dir. Vash Yan)
According to the East Winds Film Festival website, Bugs 3D is a “throwback to the classic Hollywood B-movies of the sixties and seventies”, while owing a debt to the likes of Korean blockbuster The Host 괴물 (2006). This latter comparison is inevitable (given the status of The Host in the genre), but a viewing of the recently released trailer below suggests that Sector 7 should get a look-in, too.
The film’s publicists go on to make reference to “a host of unsuspecting but attractive teen protagonists” lined up to get devoured by giant insects — and suggests that the film “never takes itself seriously” aiming to provide “schlocky fun and scares, with the added bonus of being shot in real 3D”. So, add the distinctively slapstick nature of the Eastern approach to humour in horror and I guess we know what to expect.
Bugs 3D‘s tagline is “Terror Crawls Fast”!
Shooting for the film began in 2012, and it had its international festival premier at the East Winds Film Festival on 3 November 2014.
In the near future, due to huge demand for protein, synthetic protein is rapidly developed around the world. Jams, a fanatic geneticist, has managed to raise super bugs that can provide high-quality protein at low-cost. But the reproduction of the bugs goes out of control because of men’s excessive greed. They break out of the tubes, devour scientists, and turn into giant monsters. Numerous monster bugs hankering after human flesh and blood swarm into the sea, threatening bring on a holocaust.
The bugs keep reproducing and eventually cause a tsunami. At a rave party going on by the beach, the participants have no idea the bugs are coming, but when the wave arrives all those hot guys and ladies enjoying the party suddenly get ripped up and eaten. The bugs turn the beautiful beaches into a sea of blood. A small group of young people are bold enough to jump onto the ship where the bug queen resides, hoping to end the war by killing it. They know if they don’t succeed, mankind will be doomed. (Source – slightly adapted)
No, it’s not the 1950s’ classic monster film Them! It’s a popular Amiga computer game that was brought out by Cinemaware in 1989 — and it’s soon to be reborn as a Finnish feature film from Nordic Genre Invasion! and Roger Pictures, directed by Marko Mäkilaakso (War of the Dead).
When asked about the proposed film version of It Came from the Desert, director Marko Mäkilaakso commented that he couldn’t say much at the moment, but shooting is planned for Almeria, Spain during spring 2015. He described the film as “a desert, motocross action, horror, comedy with giant spiders!” — the story of Brian and Lukas’ wild adventure in the desert.
But what about the ants — the Them!-inspired antagonists of the Amiga game?
Backbrain interviewer Avery Guerra queried whether the giant ants from the original were being totally replaced by giant spiders. Replied Mäkilaakso enigmatically: “Well, yes and no regarding the ants, but I will leave it at that for now!”
It Came from the Desert is to be be written by Hank Woon Jr and Marko Mäkilaakso and produced by Teemu Virta. No cast has been announced just yet. Its projected release date is late 2015 or 2016.