BOOTLEG FILES 623: “Cozzilla” (1977 Italian riff on “Godzilla, King of the Monsters!”).
LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Never commercially released outside of Italy.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Utterly unlikely.
In 1976, Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis unleashed a remake of “King Kong” on the moviegoing public. Inspired by the commercial success of this endeavor, Italian filmmaker Luigi Cozzi figured that he could score his box office hit with a monster film. But rather than create a new film from scratch, he sought to re-release the 1954 Japanese classic “Godzilla.” But Cozzi’s simple plan turned out to become a lot more complex than he anticipated, and what he eventually put into theaters is widely regarded as one of the most bizarre productions ever made.
This is the bash we were all waiting for: the king of the monsters from America meets the king of the monsters from Asia—by way of Toho. Really, King Kong is given something of an Asian treatment this time around, increased in size, and allowed much more of a loophole to face Godzilla for this giant monster bash. I saw the Universal International version where the producers take it upon themselves to over explain everything. In this version the head of a pharmaceuticals company wants to grab a rare berry that is found on a distant island. Said berry has narcotic properties but it non-addictive. Wanting to improve his ratings and invest in a potential product, he sends two executives to the island to find the berries and the mythical monster the villagers are said to placate with juice from the berries.
This American documentary shows what the Japanese think of the King of Kaijus, the big G, Godzilla. This documentary was shot using crowd funding to garner its budget. Director and uber Godzilla fan Kyle Yount went to Tokyo in July 2014 to film this fan love letter to his favorite monster.
Director Frank H. Woodward’s “Men in Suits” is one of the best film related documentaries ever made. It’s an insightful and entertaining look at a rarely covered corner of Hollywood that’s gone unnoticed and uncredited since the beginning of film. “Men in Suits” is a fantastic chronicle of the facet of Hollywood films revolving around men that dress up as monsters for horror, fantasy, and science fiction, and bring to life many of the most iconic and horrific monsters ever put to film. Woodward chronicles how the art form began in the golden age of filmmaking, and has become something of a rare form of performance art in the era where studios are dependent on CGI and polygons.
Warner Bros. Pictures were wise to hire Gareth Edwards to film what is essentially a reboot of the Godzilla series for American audiences. Director Edwards displays a knack for depicting giant monsters as forces of nature that affect civilization, and he carries a lot of the sensibilities from “Monsters,” over in to the reworking of “Godzilla.” His version of “Godzilla” is less monsters stomping around and fist fighting, and more of a disaster film with a slew of human beings affected by the chaos that two monsters inflict when they rise from their gestation to feed on radiation around the world and wreak pure chaos. “Godzilla” is a sterner and dramatic approach to the lore, offering a very interesting dynamic between characters, all of whom carry through the themes of family and unity among the human race. Particularly fatherhood.
You have to hand it to Roland Emmerich, his marketing for 1998’s “Godzilla” was fantastic. Before “Cloverfield” enforced not showing the monster until you had your butt planted in seats in theaters, Emmerich and Tristar applied the same marketing with just as much mystery. I fondly recall many of the early trailers for “Godzilla” being packed with questions about what the beast looked like rebooted. Hell, in 1997, I bought the movie book that explored the making of “Godzilla,” and there wasn’t a single picture in the book that gave a clear picture of the new Godzilla.
Beyond watching the movie marathons every summer on the local television stations as a child, I never really considered myself a fan of the Godzilla movies. Granted, I love the character of Godzilla, but I never actually cared about the mythos, the supporting characters, or any of the spin offs. But at one time I really cared for characters like Gamera, and Ghidorah, and Jet Jaguar, so the endless recommendations on the part of movie geeks insisting this was a very different Godzilla movie swayed me enough to want to see what “GMKG” was actually about, and surely enough it’s a very good Godzilla movie that takes all of the monsters and makes them villainous threats once again.
What do we mean by our favorite big bads? Don’t be fooled, we’re not listing our all time favorite Kaijus, because we’re not big kaiju fans. What we are fans of are giant monsters, monsters that stomp, monsters that destroy, and monsters with a point and purpose. Since “Cloverfield” is going to be stomping into theaters January 18th with incredible anticipation and mystery, we thought ringing in the anticipated film with a list of our all time favorite giant monsters would be a kick.
So we sifted through our library of movies, we googled a lot of giant monsters and we went through some of our favorites. In the end, even though we liked Gamera, and Mothra, and Mechagodzilla, and even though we passed on some like Voltron, and the beast from The Relic, we couldn’t help but feel a giant affection for these monstrous furious baddies who took a small city and made it their bitch. Some of these are commentaries on nuclear war, some of these are commentary on space travel and disrupting our oceanic settings, and some of these are just plain old mean and angry beasts who take joy from eating helpless citizens and hapless police officers.
“Cloverfield” and a mysterious giant monster wreaks pure bloody havoc on New York City soon, and we thought that it was the right time to invite some contemporaries over in hopes that JJ Abrams’ monster ends up as horrifying as these fine individuals. Lock up your children, call the army, and ready your tanks, these baddies are on the prowl!