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Part of the Desk's Mystery Series

Godzilla, and friends

and (while we're at it) Dragons as well

©09 The Media Desk

[NOTE: This is another in the Desk's Ongoing Mystery Series. For this edition, we are dealing with movie monsters (and a few others) that are larger than your average Big Ten Football Offensive Lineman. Much bigger. For more human sized beings check out a Monsterous Article elsewhere on the Desk (link below). For this one we'll take the usual side trips and even look at an Incan god in a temple in Cuzco, but then, in the end, we'll wade ashore and roar at Tokyo. Thank you ]
"Monsters are born too tall, too strong, too heavy, that is their tragedy."
Director Ishiro Honda (1911 - 1993)

     The monster that was to become our hero began in Chicago during the winter of 1942 and into 1943, on East 57th Street, to be exact. In a racquetball court under the grandstands of the University of Chicago's Alonzo Stagg Football Field. It was due to a laborer's strike that Enrico Fermi (1901 - 1954. Yes he was the 'Fermi' of later 'Fermilab' fame) moved his project to the campus where they built the first nuclear reactor out of a collection of ugly grayish black bricks and timbers.
     Of course we are talking about the Manhattan Project and the first sustained nuclear reaction. Work which led directly to the Atomic Bombs that were used to end World War Two. It was the memory of that devastation after the war that writer and director Ishiro Honda (1911 - 1993) drew upon when imagining his living weapon of mass destruction from the sea.
     And it was the continuation of that research and the 1954 Bikini Atoll bomb tests that resulted in the unfortunate death of Japanese sailors aboard a tuna boat that gave Honda's monster legs, so to speak.
     Add to that a couple of millennium of dragon culture and, yes, even veneration that is innate in Japanese culture and... cue the monster.

Charles Cretors demonstrated the commercial popcorn popper in Chicago at the 1893 World's Fair.

     Of course there had been monster movies before Godzilla. And there had been dinosaur movies before. And... well, there had been movies with bad 'guys' and forces of nature and all that before as well.
     Early in the history of the Silver Screen producers drew on people's fascination with seeing their worst nightmares come to life and lumber across the screen. Some attempts were played as much for laughs, such as The Prehistoric Peeps, a 1905 animated effort about how a "dinosaur" interrupts a game of cricket at Stonehenge. By 1909 the beasties were being shown as fearsome eating machines as in The Primitive Man (also sometimes called Brute Force) and of course King Kong in 1933. It is quite likely that Honda saw these while he was in film school before the war.
     Of more immediate import to the creation of Godzilla was the release of the 1953 Ray Harryhausen vehicle The Beast From Twenty Thousand Fathoms whose storyline is remarkably similar to Godzilla, with the primary difference being that the "Beast" was a dinosaur (from a totally fictional species) with a bad attitude that bites a good chunk out of New York City after a nuclear bomb test in the Arctic wakes him up, while Godzilla's species is never clearly stated and he eats Tokyo instead.
     Now don't get all off on a tangent here about how Ishiro Honda simply stole the entire idea of the Kaiju (Japanese for, what else? "giant monster") coming ashore and kicking ass. Well, maybe not entirely.
     There is direct evidence to say that the "Beast" movie inspired Honda and his crew, as we'll discuss in a moment, but suffice it to say this now: Ray Harryhausen (born 1920) went on to create his own universe of monsters and demons with stop action animation and if Godzilla is his defacto step-child, so be it.
     Pass the popcorn.

The catfish that causes earthquakes.

     Japan is an ancient country.
     Their mythology goes back into the mists of ancient history.
     Their stories of their gods and demons and other beings are... ancient, and vary among the home islands to the point that not even the Japanese can agree on many of the details.

Tangent - Just a quick look that way.
     The Shinto religion is native to, and somewhat peculiar to, Japan. It is an animistic religion centered on nature with various entities representing every possible aspect of the natural world, including the symbol of nearly omnipotent power we call dragons. See The Kojiki, link below.
     In their creation myth, the First God emerged from a primeval flower (just where the flower came from is ignored). He then created Izanagi and Izanami, brother and sister, as well as husband and wife gods, who were charged with completing the creation of the World. After some heartbreak and a bit of flowery language the two part with Izanami staying in the underworld.
     As part of his mourning, Izanagi washes his face. From the water he washed his eyes with came the sun and moon and their associated deities. But from his nose came Susanowo, the god of the sea and the storms thereof.
     So when Honda released his movies with some aspect of the power of nature embodied in a monster, he had a ... natural (ignore the pun, please) ... audience in the islands in those that saw industrialization and all that came with it (like a World War and the Bomb) as evil. An evil that some sort of Ryu (generic dragon) or Mizuchi (water dragon) would rise up to correct.
     So if Godzilla wasn't an actual traditional demon or god, he should have been.
End tangent

     Many of the more powerful spirits in their pantheon are nature spirits, and incarnations of those spirits, and their influence and power over people which we, as lesser beings, cannot control.
     Think about it. The Japanese Islands are part of the Pacific Ring Of Fire, and sit next to and on some of the most active fault lines and tectonic plate boundaries in the world. Earthquakes, Avalanches, Volcanic Eruptions, Tsunami, Pyroclastic Flows and other natural events are just a fact of life for most of the people there.
     So naturally (ignore the pun and keep going) many of their hundreds and even thousands of gods and goddesses, dragons, demons, spirits, elementals, fairies, and assorted others of that realm are some aspect of Nature, or that represent man and his dealings with it. Such as the god entreated for good luck while fishing, Ebisu.
     There was also Akuma- a demon of flame with fiery eyes and a sword, and Umibozu- a sea monster that capsized ships, Isonade- a giant ocean catfish that enjoyed killing people on the beach, and the famous Oni who were land based ogres with clubs.
     But as the people were living on those unstable islands, much of their fortune and livelihood was derived from the sea. And it was the sea that held their Fate as well, even if you never ran into the Ikuchi (a sea serpent that did bad things to ships).

     Even while most of those living in Japan in the post war years had never seen a giant monster come stomping ashore to lay waste to Tokyo with an unbelievable power, they Had seen a giant come from over the sea that laid waste to.... well... Everything. And not only to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Although the individual atomic bombs dropped on those cities did kill hundreds of thousands and obliterate the cities, the May 1945 B-29 fire bombing raid on Toyko actually killed, injured, and displaced more people, and destroyed a large section of the city just as effectively as Namazu could.
     Oh yes, Jishin Namazu is the mythical catfish that causes earthquakes.

     It was into this environment that Godzilla landed (ignore pun, keep moving) in 1954.

Gojira (Godzilla, King of the Monsters)

     In 1954 Ishiro Honda was under contract from one of the major Japanese studios for a movie with special effects master Eiji Tsuburaya (1901 - 1970) when their original plans fell apart. The studio, the Toho Company, wanted a movie, now, any movie.
     What it was about almost didn't matter. It had to be done on deadline, with no money.
     Toho just wanted a movie. Quickly.
     They got, a phenomenon.

     From the initial idea jotted down on an airplane ride by one of Honda's associates they added details and worked it out in record time.
     Because of the short time they had, Honda elected to not even try to use the stop action animation made famous by previous films like Kong and Beast so to get by on the cheap, they used puppets and a guy in a rubber suit with some tricked up lighting and photography techniques. That coupled with the black and white film the studio told them to use to save on the budget made it an instant classic that still holds up to scrutiny today.
     For the special effects in the movie, especially the high speed filming with high intensity lighting of carefully choreographed movement to give the monster a ponderous bearing on screen, Tsuburaya won a Film Technique Award and set a standard followed by others on both sides of the Pacific which is still being used today. Aside from either drawn or computerized animation, if you don't use Harryhausen's "Dynamation", you use "Suitmation", and thank Godzilla for it.
     A very recent example is the 2009 release, Where the Wild Things Are which uses a modified suitmation technique that Haruo Nakajima (born 1929) would find very familiar. Nakajima is considered the definitive "man in the monster suit", however, during the filming of the original Godzilla movie he suffered heat stroke while wearing the costume, a problem that has, at least to some degree, been corrected.

     As for the name of the critter... that's a story in and of itself.
     Through the production of the movie its name went through almost innumerable permutations, including some that now look somewhat humorous such as when it would have been "Gozira" as they combined words and phrases, including the Japanese word for "gorilla", with one eye on the Kong legacy. In the end, the word ended up Americanized as Godzilla, and it stuck.

     Besides the twenty eight "Godzilla" movies produced by the Toho company, the last being 2004's Final War, Godzilla himself (and yes, the monster has always been male, until the nonsensical sex change for the 1994 TriStar Pictures remake set in New York which had the 'asexual' monster laying eggs) has been in innumerable comics and TV shows world wide, sometimes putting in as a cameo appearance, and sometimes as the point of the exercise. We'll stop by the list of those and look around a bit later.
     Of course you could get, at one time or another anyway, the inevitable Godzilla merchandise, toys, and gimmicks. And even now, you can find a 1970's Godzilla metal lunchbox through an online auction for about fifteen dollars.
     And then you can even become the monster in a video game and destroy the city of your choice. (See link below, the gallery has several of the other monsters in it as well!)

The Kaiju Union

     Besides Godzilla, King Kong, and the nameless beast from 20,000 fathoms (oh, just in case you were wondering, a fathom is six feet or about 1.8 meters, so 20K fathoms is just under 23 miles or 36.5 kilometers), there were tons (ignore pun ... ) of movies with giant monsters in them. Both in Japan where they became their own industry, and elsewhere, up to and including the current ...Wild Things.
     Many resembled dinosaurs, such as Anguirus, who was at first an enemy of Godzilla but then became an ally and apparently good friend. Anguirus seems to be something of a Ankylosaurus with at least some Porcupine genes in its family tree. Which would also make it something of a Yamaarashi, a supernatural porcupine of Japanese legend.
     Of course Mothra was a supersonic Moth of prodigious size, and Rodan was a pterosaur, more or less, who could also fly incredibly fast with devastating results. While there seems to be a lack of flying dinosaurs in Japanese mythology, birds and butterflies were of special significance and occur in both their mythos and art.
     Part of the fun of the entire genre of Japanese monster movies is trying to identify which god or demon or combination thereof this week's creature feature was about.
     Of course the robot version of the "King of Monsters" was simply a statement about the evils of technology run amuck, a statement that was underlined in bold when it nearly killed his organic self. As with Mechakong, who went after.... well, never mind. And Mechagodzilla had his own mechanical clone TV star... but we'll come back to the robot version in a minute.

     Of Godzilla's major enemies (or allies as things go) the ones that truly most resembled what most people think of as far as a Dragon goes were King Ghidorah and Manda. And the dragon Ghidorah most resembles was Lotan from the ancient middle east, except Lotan was depicted with as many as seven heads, King Ghidorah had three. Manda was more of a traditional serpentine Oriental dragon and behaved as some sort of constrictor snake, and many of the legendary Japanese demon entities, such as Tsuchinoko, were snakes.

"So, is Godzilla a Dragon or not? You never said either way."

     Well. Short answer first... No.
     Don't worry, we'll come back to our movie monsters in a minute....

A look at Dragons, Japanese and otherwise.

     You can, and some have, wrote dissertations and indeed whole textbooks on the anthropological significance of dragons, what they stand for, or stood for, and do it for every culture on Earth from the sky dragon in South American temples to Finland where you'll find the "salmon-snake" and on to South East Asia where the islands in Halong Bay are called the "Dragon's Teeth". We're not doing that here. This is a really quick look at a really huge subject. (ignore pun, keep rolling)

     And now the long answer. No... the way most cultures world wide have portrayed dragons, Godzilla still doesn't fit the billing. Godzilla has the body and head of a Tyrannosaur with the dorsal fins of a Stegosaurus, and the skin of... well, depends on the movie. But in any case, he is first and last, a mutated dinosaur. Except for one small problem with that statement. His size.
     From the movies you could surmise that Godzilla was something on the order of 150 to 200 feet tall, and slightly longer when you count tail, or more (especially in later movies). The biggest meat eating dinosaur ever discovered is the Spinosaurus which was on the order of 60 feet long (18 meters) at its longest, and the next biggest was the Giganotosaurus which was somewhat smaller. A big Tyrannosaurus would run about 45 feet. The most obese meat eating dinosaur would scarcely tip the scales at 12 to 15 tons. Which means the largest of them would be just a snack for the heavily bodied 25,000 ton Godzilla. And, as we've already mentioned, in some later movies, he appears larger, growing to over 300 feet tall.

[NOTE: the largest dinosaurs with reliable fossil records are collectively called Titanosaurs, many of which measured over eighty feet (25 meters) long, most of which was neck and tail, and weighed well over 100 tons. One of these is the Argentinosaurus which is one of the largest of whom multiple bones have been found, one of which was a five foot tall vertebrae.]
     So while dragons have been billed as mutated second cousins once removed by marriage to dinosaurs, they're really not.

     Most dragons have been depicted as having that serpentine neck and body that we previously mentioned. Also, as with King Ghidorah most had wings, many had spikes along their necks and backs, and some even had horns or antler like protrusions from their heads. The majority had four legs and wings, something not seen in nature, which... .... hold on.
     Yes, that's right. There are NO animals which naturally have Four separate legs and wings. Think of Pegasus, the usual image of a angels or fairies, or the standard issue dragon. Four feet (or arms and legs) and wings. Right?
     Insects have six legs and wings. Bats and birds have legs, but their arms are their wings. The 'wings' of a flying squirrel is simply skinned stretched between their front and back legs, not individual wings. Even the pterosaurs we mentioned before when we discussed Rodan had their front legs, or arms, incorporated into their wings. There are no four legged creatures with a separate set of wings. And as far as we can tell, even counting the dinosaurs, there never have been.
     Now... where were we?
     Ahh, yes. Dragons.

     Most ancient civilizations describe the powerful reptilians so described as a force of nature, the embodiment of a deity, or something ancient and terrible that would be better off just left alone. Which was probably the best advice.
     But in the world of knights and their quests, or of heroes of old looking to secure the realm of men from the demons of the old world, they were something out there somewhere to be dealt with before you went to the banquet with the king to be rewarded with a great prize and his beautiful daughter.
     Or not.
     In some cultures, Japan, as well as China and Korea, the dragon was a symbol of the royal house and even their national identity. It was a force of good fortune and protection, and occasionally divine judgment or wrath. In other cultures in the Middle East and the West, the dragon was a symbol of misfortune or downright evil. Such as the Great Dragon in the Bible, where the man in the suit was Satan.
     There are depictions of dragons in the ruins of Inca and Myan temples, painted on cave walls in Europe, and in the books found in the rubble of Babylon. They wander through the tales of India and Africa. And come to us from the Dream Time of Aborigines creation stories.
     And of course there was the Feathered Snake Quetzalcoatl of Teotihuacan from Mesoamerica in what in now Old Mexico. He is depicted more often as a serpent, or as an andromorphic (man-like) creature, but sometimes he has quite dragon like features, and modern representations make him out as a candidate for the next co-star in a Toho movie.
     There are differences between those dragons from the different cultures, but the vast majority of them look more like each other than they do Godzilla.
     Which should give you the idea, if nothing else we've talked about so far does, that "the King of Monsters" was a Monster, and not a Dragon, otherwise, he'd be the "King of Dragons", and that just doesn't have the same ring to it for a movie marquis.

     And with that, we're back to....

"Oh no, they say he's got to go
    Go go Godzilla! Yeah"
(see quote below)

Cultural References to Godzilla...
    and Kong and other big guys

     Besides the Blue Oyster Cult song just mentioned... ahhh, it's a great song, so we'll play it again. Bring up the almost bombastically heavy 'monster-ish' backbeat and guitar riff.... (not too far removed from the monster's own theme music when he emerges from the ocean in the movies)

"With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound
He pulls the spitting high tension wires down, Godzilla!

Helpless people on subway trains
Scream bug-eyed as he looks in on them, Godzilla!

He picks up a bus and he throws it back down
As he wades through the buildings toward the center of town, Godzilla

Oh no, they say he's got to go
Go go Godzilla, yeah....."

Lyrics by Buck Dharma, producer B.O.C., album Spectres, label Columbia Records, released 1977

     Godzilla, and his union brothers King Kong, and even Moby Dick have always stood on the edge of civilization as a reminder that humans may not be the dominate power of the planet. Or for that matter, even at the top of the food chain. With the given exception of the Great White Whale (albino sperm whales have been seen and photographed, and other species as well), they are all fictitious, products of an overactive imagination and a pot of strong coffee, or bottle of cheap scotch, your choice.
     They, with other Creatures that may or may not exist, such as the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot and whatever the "Cloverfield monster" is supposed to be, sit out there on the edge of consciousness and peer at us, much as their monstrous grandparents did from the edge of the circle of light from hunter-gather campfires, and wait for us to presume to be the end all be all in the Universe. Then they swoop in, or stomp in, with their all but unstoppable power and remind us that ... well, we'll let the band say it with the closing line to the song.

"History shows again and again
How nature points up the folly of men..."
Godzilla by Blue Oyster Cult (see quote above)

     In spite of the song's coda, many such cultural uses are all but devoid of any reference Mr. Honda would recognize as the reason Godzilla comes up out of the deep to thrash a bunch of puny humans for waking him, or the "Beast", either will do.
     Of course some of the uses are for laughs. During an otherwise pointless sit-com episode one of the characters would daydream about somebody in the series appearing out of the harbor and crunching through town a la Godzilla. Sometimes even with airplanes or missiles swarming around them and power lines arcing. To the accompaniment of dramatic music, a few screams, and a lot of pre-recorded laughter.
     In at least one case, the destruction of a city is broken up by somebody shouting the character's name, who takes off the suit's head and look over at who called them, while standing in the middle of model ocean smoking a cigar. It was done almost as if to show us the magic behind the monster. Or to set up a meeting in the TV series The A Team.
     Or the image would be called up as a way to transition from one plot line to another or as a stereotype of a calamity which is out of the control of the people. Or as something that could happen that would be a good excuse to miss a social event. The same is often done with a UFO landing or an invasion by zombies. In many of these cases you get the idea that the script writers have exhausted every other premise and are now themselves hoping that the studio would be overrun with monsters to put an end to the writer's pain.

     The imagery is unmistakable. A huge figure crushing buildings and cars underfoot en route to the middle of town where it will announce to one and all that it has arrived with a window shattering roar. And yes, that is a description of a scene from one of the Jurassic Park movies, which was also done in tribute to the King of Monsters.
     Even if you have never seen any of the Godzilla movies, you know that is where the sequence comes from. It has become part of the cultural backdrop of the West as much as in Japan, and anywhere else TV broadcasters needed cheap filler to run in the middle of the night or on Saturday afternoon opposite sporting events.
     Examples can be had ranging from "monster sale" events at car dealers with giant inflatable 'monsters' to TV commercials where an NBA star dunks over the creature's head. You can even find it in hand drawn animations where the character Bambi meets Godzilla, to the fawn's bad end. There have been actual animated cartoon series, and as with the movies which inspired them, some were better than others. In some the creature looks terrifying with incredible power and able to shrug off even the most robust weapons brought to bear against him, and in others, the monster becomes a buffoon who blows smoke rings and laughs at bad jokes.
     In all of these, if the point isn't obvious enough for those slow on the uptake, the character will be named somethingzilla.

     Others are in tribute to the movies instead of their environmental message, such as when the "Power Rangers" (or "Zyurangers" depending on which series you're watching) called up the Dragon Zord (Dragon Caesar). The designers of the Dragon Zord have always claimed they designed the new robot in open tribute to the King of Monsters, including his splashing grand entrance out of the ocean. And, well, OK.
     Just as with Godzilla himself the Dragon Zord was originally a bad guy in the series. Through a series of adventures the Green Ranger and his giant robotic warrior change sides and become a force for the good. However, the Zord looks a lot more like Mechagodzilla than it does the reptile. Including having missiles in his fingers and a chest plate in a somewhat curious shape. The only difference is that the Zord could open a can of beans with his tail, something Mechagodzilla couldn't do (the Zord had a large drill bit at the end of his tail!). And a case could be made that the Zord knew the "Monster Style" of Kung Fu whereas both of the others simply stomped stuff.
     In the original "rangers" series in Japan from the Toei Company, the fictional warriors were ancient guardians of the people who had special powers bestowed on them from supernatural beings, the guardian beasts. (that's a really short summarization but it'll do for now). The beasts look like robots, but they are actual huge living incarnations of their totem animal and have special powers bestowed upon them by the gods to protect Japan.
     Hmmm.... sounds familiar. No?
     And many of their foes could also have their family trees traced back to that same list of legendary creatures and demons.
     Which brings us back around that bush to the ancient mythology of the islands, which we have already discussed.

     Moving on.

So why were the Kaiju such a hit outside of Japan?

     Well, whatever they've been doing, they've been doing it for over fifty years, and are still going monstrously strong (ignore INTENTIONAL pun and keep going).
     We've already mentioned the current edition of the 'man in a suit' monster movie, in this case a children's movie, but a monster movie nonetheless. Even such TV fare as Lost had a giant monster, even though it was computer generated cloud of smoke instead of a guy in a suit. Yet early on you heard something stomping through the jungle and roaring that like it may have escaped from Jurassic Park if not Godzilla himself. How a smoke monster stomped and roared is one of those mysteries we may never get to the bottom of.
     And there is more on the horizon. You don't have to go too far into the Science Fiction or Horror genre to find fodder for yet another round of movies that can draw from the legacy left by the "Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" in the form of his kinsman, Godzilla.
     And horror still sells tickets. Today it is more likely to be of the blood-spurting gore-splattering gross-out genera than the screaming girl in the tight sweater running from the monster kind, but there's no telling what it will be next year. People like to be scared. And they'll pay for the privilege.
     They want to be frightened when they can get up and go out and get more popcorn, that kind of scared. The haunted house at the amusement park kind of fear. That's safe. You can skip out the 'chicken door' and go get a funnel cake. Real life is sometimes scary, and it's not safe, and there is no back door out. And sometimes you can't see the zipper up the back of the monster.
     No really, sometimes, the monster is real.

"Maybe because Godzilla is inside each one of us"
Scientist Yuji Shinoda, in Godzilla 2000
a Toho production, released 1999

     Technology is scary. Technology run amuck, as mentioned earlier, is even scarier. Technology run amuck that seriously ticks off some primeval force of nature that then proceeds to raise heck about it is even more so. And it doesn't have to splash up out of the harbor and step on a train be frightening to us. And we'll come back to that.
     Throughout the Golden Era of Drive Ins and those 'B' movies that filled their screens for so long, the double feature usually featured some sort of monster movie, and it's a safe bet that at least every other one would be some sort of giant monster. Be it an gargantuan spider or ant, a shapeless blob, a fifty foot tall woman, or those menacing oversized "Lepus" in the 1972 classic Night of the Lepus that were created by science.
     Well, ok, when you have to make a movie about giant man eating rabbits, you know the era of the Kaiju has about played out, in spite of the movie having Janet Leigh, Stuart Whitman, and DeForrest Kelley in it. Well, at least the rabbits were only the size of a big dog and nobody had to wear a ... (wait for it) ... Bunny Suit!

     But the point remains. There is something innate in humans that causes us to fear things that are bigger than ourselves that we do not understand and which we cannot directly control. It is almost a race memory, something from another time. From back when those eyes stared out from beyond the firelight. Remember?
     Manufacturers know this and market cars and tires and other 'safe' items to women which will protect them from a giant uncontrollable semi-truck. The truck is even shown back lit so it is dark and menacing, with smoke rolling and its headlight eyes aimed directly at you, the same as we were introduced to several of the giant monsters in the movies. Of course, if you pull out in front of an 80,000 pound tractor-trailer traveling sixty miles and hour in some little green-mobile and stop, the results will be just as unfortunate as if that truck had been....

     There are powers in the world that we cannot control at all. Hurricanes, volcanoes, large rocks from outer space, even those earthquakes that are NOT caused by supernatural catfish. And they can be, rightly, frightening. And just as the people of feudal Japan couldn't stop Namazu from causing Earthquakes then, the people of California cannot halt Plate Tectonics and stop theirs now.
     There are aspects of technology and the science behind it that are, at times anyway, outside of anybody's control. And some of those technological processes that we set in motion may result in unintended consequences, even if they don't create super-industrial-sized rabbits with bad attitudes. An undersea nuclear test may not wake up a monster, but it may release radiation that kills the crew of a fishing boat, which for them and their families, is just as bad. Jet airliners are a fantastically intricate machine, there are failsafe devices behind backup modules in multiple redundancy, all to ensure that the airplane does not fall out of the sky. And yet it happens. And when the pilot says "oh, shoot" things are probably out of control and there is nothing you can do about it from seat 15C.
     And that's not to mention something as equally out of control, and unpredictable, as a monster from the briny deep: Terrorism.
     So today, we have natural disasters that we don't have to blame on a giant monster, and our own everyday technology can turn against us and lead to our unfortunate end. And then there are fanatics of various stripes that have it in their head to blow themselves up and take a bunch of innocent people with them. And we know it.
     The monsters, the real ones, that can maim and kill in the real world, aren't men in rubber suits.
     We are fully aware that but for the grace of God we're not the people that we heard about on the news today that were involved in a terrorist bombing, or a ferry boat that capsized, or a typhoon caused flash flood, or whatever. It is much more comfortable to imagine ourselves in the bus that Godzilla picks up, either in a movie or in the Blue Oyster Cult song. We can look out the window and scream at the monster and feel frightened and then change the channel and watch an infomercial for a DVD collection of the classic monster movies.
     That we can control.

     And that, as people, is really about all we can control.

Links below

"This is Tokyo. Once a city of six million people. What has happened here was caused by a force which up until a few days ago was entirely beyond the scope of Man's imagination. Tokyo, a smoldering memorial to the unknown, an unknown which at this very moment still prevails and could at any time lash out with its terrible destruction anywhere else in the world. There were once many people here who could've told of what they saw... now there are only a few. My name is Steve Martin. I am a foreign correspondent for United World News. I was headed for an assignment in Cairo, when I stopped off in Tokyo for a social; but it turned out to be a visit to the living HELL of another world."
Opening voice over monologue by Raymond Burr in Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Toho production, released 1956

Outside links will open in new window. ranks all of the movies.

Toho Studios
They're a Japanese company, you'll see.

Bio on Mr. Honda the Director

A Toho fan site that isn't in Japanese. is Kaiju HeadQuarters

The Japanese Kojiki, creation legend and stories of the gods at has A Godzilla of a Game

A fan site.

A site devoted to all of the big guys

A big dinosaur, and more. Argentinosaurus from

And finally, the website of the original master of these things.

Related topics on the Desk:

The Monstrous Article as mentioned earlier

those that 'wear the monster suit' for fun Costuming

more Non-Fiction Articles:

[NOTE: All listed works, sites, movies, monsters, and whatevers, are owned by other entities. No disparagement or disrespect is intended. No endorsement of the Desk of them or by them of the Desk by the monsters of or for anybody or the Desk of the Monsters or by the Monsters for the Monsters.... etc... is to be inferred.
      The Desk is solely responsible for the analysis and conclusions hereby presented. If the reader has any issues with anything in the article they may contact the Desk through the usual channels.
thank you]

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