Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


EIJI TSUBURAYA: MASTER OF MONSTERS. August Ragone. Chronicle; 2007.

From the outset and in full disclosure I must say that with one or two exceptions, I'm not a big fan of Japanese monster movies/science fiction. I also wouldn't compare Japanese FX man Eiji Tsuburaya to the great stop-motion specialist Ray Harryhausen, especially when it comes to monsters. Harryhausen brought his creatures to life with painstaking stop-motion animation, while Tsuburaya used "suit-mation" -- a guy in, say, a Godzilla costume -- and some models. I have seen most of the films discussed in this book and have to say there is absolutely nothing to compare to the fight with the skeletons at the end of Jason and the Argonauts. To be fair, Tsuburaya did more than just work on monsters, and the book details his contributions to Japanese cinema while also examining some aspects of his private life. Master of Monsters is well-researched, and packed with loads of behind-the-scenes black and white and color photographs. An over-sized trade paperback, it is printed on thick paper stock. If you're interested in Japanese sci fi and how the films were made, this is definitely the book to get.

Verdict: For fans of Japanese monster movies -- all others beware. ***.

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