Since its 1954 release, the Japanese fantasy Godzilla has spawned two remakes and 17 sequels, proving there's a lot of entertainment value in a man in a rubber suit stomping on miniature buildings. All this week the Music Box continues its revival of the original film, and diehards can travel out to the Holiday Inn O'Hare International in Rosemont for the G-Fest XI convention, which runs Friday through Sunday, July 9 through 11.
Memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki hang like a radioactive cloud over Godzilla (98 min.), which was dubbed, radically recut, politically neutered, and heavily augmented with new footage for its U.S. release as Godzilla, King of the Monsters. Though Hollywood pioneered the atomic-monster movie a year earlier with The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, director Ishiro Honda had served in the imperial army, witnessed the firebombing of Tokyo, and passed through the ruins of Hiroshima, which might account for the surprisingly somber and haunting sequence in the triage unit after Godzilla has flattened Tokyo. The Japanese version has been circulating for some time, but the print screening at the Music Box has been restored and resubtitled; viewed in its pristine form, it's a fascinating cultural artifact and a stomping good time.
G-Fest XI features appearances by Teruyoshi Makano, a special effects director at the Toho Studios, which produced most of the giant-monster epics; Robert Scott Field, who played Android M-11 in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991); and Brian Thomas, fearless leader of the Psychotronic Film Society and author of Videohound's Dragon: Asian Action & Cult Flicks. As part of the convention, three entries in the Godzilla cycle will be screening at the Pickwick Theatre in Park Ridge. Directed by Honda, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (1965, 92 min.) finds Godzilla and Rodan, the giant pterodactyl, battling King Ghidorah, the three-headed monster, on an alien planet. (Friday, July 9, 2 PM) In Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975, 83 min.), also directed by Honda, the giant lizard gets double-teamed by the deep-sea dinosaur Titanosaurus and the robotic Mechagodzilla. (Friday, July 9, 10 PM) The two square off again in Godzilla x Mechagodzilla (2002), one of the more recent entries in the series. (Saturday, July 10, 10 PM) For more information on the convention consult www.g-fan.com. --J.R. Jones