IOW: Saturday mash-up matinee

Yikes! Had a chance to thaw out, dearest readers? Clearer roads and above-freezing temperatures are helping the denizens of MICRO-FILM Country return to their normal routines, so we will do the same at C-U Blogfidential by giving you something of interest to peruse! We kick our “Images of the Week” segment back in gear with two recent videos referencing the wild and wooly Saturday viewing of your humble editor’s youth! Each comes from a series produced by Neon Harbor Entertainment of Champaign.

In the first, from their excellent DEJA VIEW program that covers international genre films with more than a passing resemblance to better-known American movies, creator and host Ed Glaser goes mind-blowing meta on us with an unique subject – the ahead-of-its-time “remix” of the original GODZILLA, itself borne from the box office wreckage laid by American hits such as KING KONG and THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS. First released in Japan in 1954, the somber 98-minute war allegory was turned into a streamlined 80-minute creature feature by American producers in 1956, losing nearly a half hour of footage from director Ishiro Honda’s epic to improve the pace and accommodate new material anchored by PERRY MASON star Raymond Burr. Two decades later, genre producer Luigi Cozzi (STARCRASH) prepared GODZILLA for an Italian re-release, stripping away even more footage from the American version and then bolstering his run time with destruction shots pulled from numerous other movies. His team would also add tie-dye color tinting to the black-and-white mélange as well as a new electronic score and sound effects in the hopes their “COZILLA” would appeal to then-modern audiences. Dig:

Far removed from the typical culprits targeted by DEJA VIEW, Cozzi’s made-over GODZILLA instead parallels the conceit behind Neon Harbor’s other series, NINJA THE MISSION FORCE, covered several times previously on CUBlog. Each segment stitches copious amounts of public domain B-material, with plots altered and dialogue rerecorded, to original comedic nonsense involving the efforts of AWOL Interpol ninja agent Gordon (Glaser) and capable replacement Cheetah Lee (Allison Pregler) to squash evil ninja mastermind Bruce (Brad Jones). In this second-to-last episode of the second series, “Treasure of Bruce,” bendy Lilliputians from the Fleischer Brothers’ landmark animated feature GULLIVER’S TRAVELS (1939) interact with Cheetah Lee and company in cartoon form, cleverly rendered in the style of Japanese children’s shows from the Sixties! (The purposeful mismatch of aesthetics and era in the material remains true to their emulation of resourceful low-rent action film producer Godfrey Ho.) As a bonus, a lesser Asian giant movie monster makes a surprise appearance! (Hint: He also appears in the above DEJA VIEW.) You’ll have to watch the finale, “Bruce the Invincible,” to understand why.

Be sure to catch up on all your NINJA THE MISSION FORCE viewing either at the Neon Harbor Web site or on the DVD released last year. Fans of live-action Japanese science fiction might take a look at two other recent DEJA VIEW reports investigating the American-Japanese production KING KONG ESCAPES (1967) and the nearly incomprehensible TIME OF THE APES (1987), a 97-minute condensation by American distributor Sandy Frank of the 26-episode program ARMY OF THE APES produced by Tsuburaya Productions (ULTRAMAN) in 1974.

~ Jason Pankoke

[Updated 1/8/17, 12:30 a.m. CST]

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