Saturday, October 13, 2012

Horrible Hairy Horrors of India, part 2


Hairy monsters have always been the rage in Indian cinema. I mean from the very beginning (from what I can find) to the mid-2000s. After that time monster-oriented horror or supernatural films have become a rare species with only a few bits and pieces of fluff like RAAZ 3 popping up now and then. But hairy monsters. Yea, with monkeys abundant in India, its no wonder they are so often the villians in their cinema.

An early example of a hairy monster appeared in unofficial Indian Tarzan film from 1934 called TOOFANI TARZAN (तुफानी टार्सन). Tarzan is thrown into a pit with a crazy hairy humanoid that is just about to munch down on Jane. Trazan gets his butt kicked until he gets the one up on the monster and demolishes the creature.

In an earlier post I discussed the hairy giants that appeared in JAANI DUSHMAN and AJOOBA KUDRAT KAA. Both of these monsters where fairly detailed creatures. Costumes that were very advance and populated two films that had fairly large budgets (for an Indian film). This time around I'm going to jump into the lower end of their film making.

There have always been films made on shoestring in India. In fact, since there so many movies made every year in that country it's hard not to have a slew of bottom of the barrel productions. And in India that barrel is nearly full.

For the past year I've been wading through a lot of these films. If you want you can pick up a copy of my magazine Weng's Chop and I cover Indian cinema in every issue. I suggest visiting amazon.com for Special Issue Zero or Weng's Chop #1

SAU SAAL BAAD – 1989, Director: Mohan Bhakri; Cast: Hemant Birje, Amjad Khan, Jonginder, Sahila Chadha, Sunil Dhawak, and Yash Sharma

One of the first of the cheapie horror films to be made after the Ramsay Family began the boom in the late 70s. SAUL SAAL BAAD is a tantric horror film. That is, all the problems caused in the film come from a sex-crazy magic hoodoo man and his monstrous hairy side kick.

The film opens a hundred years or so ago when an evil tantric woos and then captures the heart (by magic of course) of a royal maiden. The wizard brings the girl back to his cave and is about to consummate their unholy union when the local raja brings his holy man to the party. The woman is turned into a statue and the bad guy is killed. After disposing of the evil tantric his lair is sealed up and Shiva's trident is used as a seal.

Decades later a group of folks manage to unleash the tanrtic from his tomb and he uses his magic to conjure up his hairy henchman:

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After running rampant and killing random people, the hairy monster kidnaps a woman who is the splitting image of the woman the tantric once desired. The monster brings back the woman but unfortunately also runs afoul of a male Naag (snake) demon who is out to destroy the monster and his master. The final ten minutes is a wild throw down between good and evil.

videoSAU SAAL BAAD is not a bad film, although it does foreshadow the dreadful stuff to come from some of the same people who worked on it. The utter cheapness almost ruins the film, but, luckily, the plot is rather old skool and doesn't rely heavily on sleaze to push the envelope. Sure there are some wet sari sequences to keep the ramble in the theatres fixed to the screen, BUT it isn't as skuzzy as later films by Kanti Shah...
Now we move directly to a film that, while as cheap as SAU SAAL BAAD, it manages to take what budget it had and run with it.

HAIWAN – 199?, Director: V Prabhakar; Cast: Silk Smitha, Gowthami, Chitra, and Disco Shanthi

Our next entry is a film that is a total mysyery to me. HAIWAN is yet another low-budget horror film with a furry beast, but it does have a few good... no great (!) aspects to its production. But first the mystery.

First off, the date of release that I can find anywhere for HAIWAN is 1998. The film bills Silk Smitha, even though the real star oif the film is the actress Gowthami. Former “adult” film star Smitha died under mysterious circumstances in 1996 during negotiations that would have seen her return to Indian cinema as a producer rather than stat. Plus, her appearance in the film is very brief. My guess is that this film was partially in the can when she died and it sat around until Gowthami was found to replace the dead starlet. Or, since Smithna's role is pretty vague, her scenes maybe inserts from a previously unfinished film (something that is not uncommon, as there are a few post-1996 films which “star” Silk Smitha in musical numbers).

However, upon closer examination of the film other factor shave helped me come to the conclusion that the 1998 release date is just plain wrong. While the film is mentioned as one of the few Hindi productions on Gowthami's bio, it doesn't appear on her official filmography and was “made” in 1998, a time period where she took time off from film to start a family. There is little info on this film other than the same incorrect info regurgitated over and over no matter what site I visited (I did correct some of Wikipdia's data).

But enough of those oddball facts, on with the monster movie.

The film opens as a group of scientist inject some sort of serum into the body of a corpse. The dead body is revived and goes on a killing spree. Nothing can stop this giant crazy dead man as the serum that awakened the deadman also made him indestructible. The monster chases a young woman and even after being shot repeatedly and burned to a crisp (he regenerates) the thing is unstoppable. It isn;t until a police officer uses his unique kung fu to catapult the giant into an abandoned well.

Roll the title credits. Yep, all that action happened within the first five minutes of the film! Which leads me to believing that HAIWAN is a sequel of sorts to a previously unknown film. One could say that the intro is a direct rip-off of the 1982 Chuck Norris film SILENT RAGE wherein Norris, as a small town sheriff, battles and indestructible madman played by the awesome Ron Silver. There are more than a few visual references to that film in that short prelude just to keep you scratching your head in wonder. (and Carpenter's HALLOWEEN, which you could consider SILENT RAGE ripped off). Was there an Indian SILENT RAGE? That would not be uncommon as the Indian cinema is full of such rip-offs.

Cut to years later (I assume), and the old well, overgrown with weeds and vines, becomes disturbed during a violent thunderstorm. And wouldn't you know it: the giant emerges from the pit, this time instead of the human-looking indestructible man it's a hairy creature with fangs and claws. The monster crawls from the well, bellows and screams, then ambles into the darkness not be seen again in the film for about 40 minutes. In the meantime we have a few musical numbers and then the monster reappears to kill a few guys and snack on their bones before the next song and dance interlude.
video

Just as the film begins to get bogged down in the typical miasma that is Indian cinema (i.e. insufferable comedy and convoluted sub-plots) things begin to pick up. There are a few additional random killings, a musical number and then the fun begins.

The monster begins a non-stop killing spree the last 25 minutes of the film, annihilating out a few folks (including the comic relief, thank god) before turning its attention to our heroine (played by the lovely Telugu actress Gowthami). She flees in terror as the furry fiend stalks her. This is where the fun begins which includes some fairly decent action sequences including this scene where Gowthami is fleeing from the monster through her house:

video
The creature chases her out of her house and eventually into an abandoned gas station. There she manages to lure the monster into the building and then sets the station on fire. The resulting explosion catches the creature setting it a blaze. The crispy critter falls to the feet of the terrified woman only to rise again and the chase is on once again.

videoShe flees to a nearby factory where the monster follows and stalks her (TERMINATOR style) throughout the building. In the end the monster is finally vanquished (spoiler) when a police officer shows up with special bullets that blow the seemingly indestructible monster away.

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Oh, this could have been a doozy of a film if only the producers weren't so occupied with the comic relief and half-baked musical numbers. Money was spent on the look of the creature, but its appearance in the film wasn't properly exploited. Sources around the Web say that this was a "made-for-video" release. But it just doesn't look like it. The film is nowhere near the abysmal quality of something made by Kanti Shah and the fellow filmmakers he ran with from 1994 to the late 2000s.

DANGEROUS NIGHTS – 2003, Director: Muneer Khan; Cast: Sapna, Amit Pachori
Here's snap from a no-budget thriller with one of the worst moth-eaten monster suits EVER. And, yes, it has something to do with Kanti Shah other than star his boobalicious bombshell of a wife Sapna Tanveer...

who just so happens to be in another hairy monster film, and one that is a remake of a 1979 monster mash...

DUPLICATE JAANI DUSHMAN - 2003, Director: J Neelam; Cast: Shabnam, Sapna

I bought this film - went out of my way to purchase it from an even more obscure website that I usually frequent - just because it was a "duplicate" of JAANI DUSHMAN. Oh, and it also stars Sapna playing one of her tough-as-nails female hellions. 

If you have seen (and you should) the original film, then you know the plot. A hairy werewolf-cum-bigfoot monster terrorizes a village of brides-to-be, murdering the women. Well, this "duplicate" version sort of follows JAANI DUSHMAN ... kinda... sorts.  There is more of Sapna and her amazing breasts than a hirsute critter. But this is a film produced by... yep... an associate of Kanti Shah (or maybe Shah himself under some pseudonym).

The sad thing about this film is that I was hoping that the monster would be more than just a guy in a gorilla suit with fake hair glued to his face. The director,  J Neelam, a man responsible or three other atrocities, does flaunt some few okay musical numbers and does let Sapna ham it up. 
video

The monster transfers its essence from man to man turning its host into a hairy horror. Um.... see the original. It has a better monster AND a better soundtrack. 

I think I've covered enough Indian monsters for a while. Next time something different. Unless I uncover more wonderful treasures like HAIWAN


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stop Naaging Me, preview

Just to keep up with what I promised (which would have been a posting every two weeks), this week's post is a bit on the fluffy side. Part two of my Indian Snake Goddess Films retrospect will eventually happen. Seems like I keep unearthing more and more obscure titles that I want to include in the filmography.

It's an addiction.

Ssssssssssso.... in the meantime, here are some scans of DVDs, VCDs, and poster art for some of the film I'll be covering.

Eventually.

Pretty soon.

In about two weeks.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Very Late Edition

Better late than never...

I had rightfully assumed that I would make bi-weekly installments into this blog, not unlike my Monster! fanzine of old. A bold statement indeed, and one that I failed to follow through with. Times are not what they were when I first published MONSTER! in 1988. Back then MONSTER! was a bi-weekly single sheet 'zine that was free (postage donations appreciated). I did all the writing for most of the first ten or so issues.  After a review in Factsheet Five other faithful monster-addicts donated their time and talents. The rest was a minor (or major, depending on who you talk to) publication in the bustling Silver Age of Fanzines (1985-1995) before the implosion of distribution.  The Internet made-self publishing a heck of lot easier ... albeit electronically.

With David Todarello (left) on the set of our 1988 TV movie cable show.
Now back to 2012...
and trying to get back to a schedule. When a zine (eventually) paying subscribers like I did with MONSTER! I had to get the zine out on a regular basis. This web-based version does lend itself to sloppiness as I have no subscribers that pay for what they read. I do have electronic followers (hey!!!), but this blog is free. I don't feel all that bad when I'm late with an article or whathaveyou; even when I'm a month over due (like today). Back in the 80s and 90s folks expected an exciting zine  chockfull of reviews and articles.

This is 2012 and time for some filler.

For those of you that may have missed out on my paper-zine, here are some photos to peak your interest. One of these days I'll get around to scanning in what I have of my MONSTER! fanzine and make them available as Print On Demand. But... that's a project for later this year or next (if at all, depending on if I get okays from various authors of some of the important articles and reviews by folks in the know).

Two 90s Movie Zine classicks can be your for only $10!
MONSTER! had something like 50 issues.. well, kind of. I cheated with some double issues when longer articles from folks like Horacio Higuchi became regular contributors. These lead to a 1990 ( or 91?) over-sized yearbook of reprints (which I have no copies of), a limited edition MONSTER! ZERO and eventually the magazine MONSTER! INTERNATIONAL (see photo to your right) which ran for four issues.

For those interested, copies of MONSTER! INTERNATIONAL #3 and 4 are available for $10 ppd in the USA. For folks over 18, please.  Interested? My PayPal address is "orlof@oberlin.net". Overseas or Canadian orders contact me first for S&H rates. I will even throw in a copy of PHOTO FIENDS #3, a zine I published while I was in High School -- if you promise not to laugh. It was 1978 and my composition skills were even worse than they are now! However, I did score with a Paul Blaisdell interview.

Yes, I admit it, this was a blatant attempt at unloading some of my old magazines.

This weekend (fer sure) I'll have something with a little more BITE. In the meantime, here are some additional MONSTER! related images. Caio.


Badly scanned page from MONSTER! ZERO special edition

Assorted beat-up issues of the digest-sized 'zine MONSTER!







































COMING SOON: Print On Demand....

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Literate Monster; Part 1: Ancient History



MONSTER! Isn't just about film or tv shows that feature creatures... first and foremost it should to be the written word. No chicken and the egg argument here. Films a can be such an easy fix, a quick cerebral shot of visual stimuli.  Sitting down and reading a good book (or a bad book for that matter, will tend to engage me on a wholly different level  as much as the thought-provoking ones do) is hardcore monster-loving. Growing up as I did, with a home full of weird shit (I kid you not) getting hooked on all things rooted in the supernatural was not an option. My mother, bless her current state of insanity, read to us as kids and filled my noggin with tales of Oz (from the original large hardcover editions), Blue and Green and yellow and Purple fairies, Hercules and The Greek Gods, Madeleine L'Engle, Wind in the Willows, Uncle Wiggly, Raggedy Anne and Andy, and all the creatures that came with those stories. Mom was also good at letting us watch any monster movies or TV shows that came on, just as long as we did our homework and played outside with the other kids from time to time. Early memories of family get-togethers crowded around the small TV set to watch “Dark Shadows” during the week and monster movies on the weekends are still the most vivid parts of my childhood.

There have always been movies, and there have always been books.
Monsters have always been with me where ever I look.
The Screaming Skull and The Outer Limits furor,
The spectral unease of cinematic horror.
But the thing under the bed
Was always there after I read
High strangeness with Bradbury, Lovecraft, and dread.

Okay, dumb one-off improvisational bit of poetry there. Just popped into my head as I jotted the first sprawling two paragraphs on my iBook G4. But it was added to make a point that, as benign as they may be, Monsters have always been a very important part of my life. And this was true no matter how much I was terrified of them. You would think growing up down the street from Oberlin's graveyard would have steeled me for such encounters. Nope. was scared  shitless of ghoulies and ghosties, and there are times in my adulthood where I still get the willies when I'm out and about, at night... in the graveyard (or my creepy basement). Never seen a ghost or anything I would call supernatural; so why am I obsessed with the monsters and their seemingly important aspect of my well being? To my way of thinking, such improbable entities are essential for me to keep this waffer thin grasp on what I consider sanity.

Series of 1970s hardback books available by subscription.
Monsters in all their variety forms and manifestations are my religion. Seemingly the only one that I can relate to. They are my faith. I have faith that there maybe some such critters out there... be they mummies shuffling after folks, piecemeal Frankenstein monsters forever looking for solace in their sole existence, giant kaiju stomping cities, or Naag and demons from Hindu mythology that attempt to co-exist with humanity. These are all my wants and desires. To see these things. To experience them. All forms both literately and cinematic.

Most of what I have written about in my magazines and on this blog has been movie oriented. Which is not a bad thing. The visual element of accepting monsters into my life has been there since I was a toddler. I have posted a few entries about books that influenced me, one about “The Monster Times”and another about Vernon Grant's “A Monster Is Loose In Tokyo”. Both made me what I am today. Recently, though, I have had the pleasure of purchasing a few tomes of knowledge that I have found immensely entertaining.

Let me share one with you.

I was in the middle of authoring another installment about the Indian/West Bengali Nag “Snake Goddesses” movies when I happened to dump coffee all over the VCD and DVDs. In the past I would have immediately cursed my bad luck and stomped around my office bellowing and getting all shades of pissed off. Instead, I shrugged my shoulders, cleaned up the mess and set the soaked VCD and DVD sleeves aside to dry. They're just movies. Now had I done that with one of my new books, that would have sucked. Especially David D. Gilmore's “Monsters, Evil Beings, Mythical Beasts, and all Manner of Imaginary Terrors”.

I had only recently discovered Gilmore's 2003 tome, published by University of Pennsylvania Press, whilst researching an article on Indian horror films. The review I read so intrigued me that I had to order it (thank you, half.com). Upon pouring through this wonderfully breezy yet scholarly work I am glad that I had only begun to write something very similar earlier this year. Gilmore successfully put my take on the idea and importance of monsters in culture to bed with a glass of water and a pat on the head. It's that good.

Apparently a huge fan of the cinematic approach to monsters, Gilmore delves far deeper into mankind's psyche than mere fiction. With a delight I can totally relate to, he gleefully discusses the dark places of the human psyche as well many of the historical “facts” of a variety of monsters. As a reader I was lead through ten chapters of information-laden but thoroughly entertaining chapters covering all aspects of monsterdom the world over. In particular, chapters “The Ritual Monster” and “Our Monsters, Ourselves” struck me as being both very personal for the author as well as the reader (me).

My only regret is the sparsity of plates illustrating the book. If Gilmore ever thought of expanding this work, it would make an enthralling coffee table edition.

Not my photo: my copy of this essential kids book no long has its dust jacket.
As an endnote, may I suggest a few other books that fall into this Monsters as Myths and Monsters as Entities. Early in my life as a tot, I was fascinated with sea, and especially the Jacques Cousteau/Rod Serling TV specials were my fantasy fodder as a kid in the 60s.  I KNEW sea serpents where down THERE in the ocean. Sure, cinema and TV gave me Godzilla, The Creature, Gorgo, and the rest of the gang.  But it was books that helped fill my imaginative void …. and scare the crap out of me at the same time.

When I was five my mother bought me Lois and Louis Darling''s “The Sea Serpents Around Us”.  A children's book that covered the life and times of sea and lake (and loch) monsters that I knew where out there. The book, written and illustrated by the Darlings, filled me with wonder and dread.

I also read copious editions of Famous Monster of Filmland, Castle of Frankenstein, and just about any other magazine I could get my hands on. Luckily we Paxton's are a literary lot and always had stacks of books and magazines piled everywhere. TV wasn't always encouraged, even tho movies have always been a big deal in our family, we had to find other way to entertain ourselves when the "idiot box" was showing non-monstrous material.  I grew up in the 1960's and 70's:  prehistoric days of before the video tape boom, cable TV (at least in Oberlin) and our town only had one movie house. The public library did have 8mm movies we could borrow … which we did A LOT … but as kids we had to make due with what was on the tube and what we read in magazines and books. Comics were fine for us and I devoured Charlton ghost titles, as well as Marvel's Frankenstein series (well, the Mike Ploog classics) and the reprints of early creature features in series like  “Where Monsters Dwell”. 

In fourth grade I stumbled across the 1959 book of famous ghost and goblin tales called “The Thing At The Foot Of The Bed and Other Scary Tales”. I bought it at a “discarded” book sale at the local library. Already unnerved by the prospect of seeing a ghost by watching films such as THE SCREAMING SKULL, THE HAUNTING, TURN OF THE SCREW, and even Bert I. Gordon's TORMENTED, I was introduced to additional  imagined terrors from being able to see a ghost by “peering at them from between a dog's ears”. The book is long out of print and was originally a collection of tales from various sources such as “The California Folklore Quarterly”, Stith Thompson's “Motif Index of Folk Literature”, and so forth.

By the time I was in Junior High School I had acquired a “real job” of delivering newspapers and had money to buy more books and magazines. I was very eager to read fictional and as well as account of “real” monsters. Oberlin had a wonderful college bookstore, and as a mail order junkie (John Smith Catalog, Littleton Stamp and Coin Approvals, and others), I also ordered discounted books by the bulk thru the post (currently Edward R. Hamilton offers such a service), and was part of the Science Fiction Book Club. I loaded up on Bradbury, Lovecraft, Burrough's Mars series, the Jim Wynorski edited “They Came From Outer Space”, and more. Fiction was fairly easy to obtain.

I wanted the “fact” stuff. The hard stuff. Monster porn.

The scary books on monsters was harder to come by cheaply, at least at a paper boys “salary”.

Still, I did have my sources of discounted hardback books thru the mail. We Paxtons love our catalogs.  In the 70's I indulged myself with editions of Montague Summers “The Werewolf” as well as the appallingly gruesome “The Book of Werewolves” by the 19th Century author Sabine Baring-Gould, the fascinating “The Mystery and Lore of Monsters” by C.J.S. Thompson, Jeffrey Burton Russell treaties on The Devil; Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity”, “The Supernatural” by Douglas Hill and Pat Williams, and even pulpier material like Robert and Frances Guenette's “The Mysterious Monsters”, and Roy P. Mackal's “The Monster of Loch Ness”.

Oh, I bought a good deal more, but lost a few boxes of books in two dreadful floods the past ten years. Nevertheless, you get the idea of what I was searching for. I wanted to know what monsters were. I had never seen one, but I wanted to. I dearly desired the chill, no the THRILL of seeing something not the norm. I even subscribed to a book service called "Out Of This World" which was my first exposure to the writing of Charles Forte. Wow, there was some guy like me. And he wrote about the unexplained. Not monsters per say, but the unusual, the unexplained or unusual aspects of our world. Monsters were hinted at in Forte's world.

As fiction was never far from my shelves and I read all the pulpy novelizations of the DR. WHO series. Loved those Brit monsters. Other horrors were read in vital collections such as “The Monster Book of Monsters” edited by Michael O'Shaughnessy. Collecting the Pan or Arrow horror anthologies that were published annually was also a treat.

As the 80s progressed I entered the “zine” scene with my magazines “Video Voice”, “Naked! Screaming! Terror!” and, of course, “Monster!” and in the 90s with “Monster! International”. The advent of the internet exposed me to even more monster films and TV shows. As readers of this blog knows I buy A LOT of unknown creature features from the world over. Anything with the slight chance of being something I've never seen or experienced holds a spell over me. It could be a crap from from West Bengali, but if there's a monster in it I AM THERE!

Which brings me back to David D. Gilmore's book “Monsters”. Reading it pretty much confirmed what I have always suspected, monsters are an essential aspect of human development. Some saw my fascination for things creature-filled as alarming (after my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Ebihara, saw me drawing nothing but monsters, she apparently was very adamant that my parents take me to a therapist). Little did folks know that was normal. Hell, most of my family was into the supernatural in one form or another. My sister Kathryn.... she was obsessed with mice. That I just couldn't wrap my head around.

In conclusion, all I have to say is: Monsters have always been an important element in my life,and without their presence I would never have turned into the man I am now.

Be that for good or not-so-good.



The Devil, Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity; Jeffery Burton Russell, Cornwell Univeristy Press, 1977, 277 pages.


The Mystery and Lore of Monsters; C.J.S. Thompson, The Bell Publishing Company, 1973, 255 pages.


The Monster Book of Monsters, Michael O'Shaughnessy, Bonanza Books, 1988, 352 pages.


The Monsters of Loch Ness, Roy P. Mackal, The Swallow Press, 1976, 401 pages.


The Supernatural, Douglas Hill and Pat Williams, Hawthorn Books, 1965, 351 pages.


The Book of Werewolves, The Classic Work On This Dreadful Subject, Sabine Baring-Gould, Causway Books, 1973, 266 pages.


The Werewolf, Montague Summers, The Bell Publishing Company, 1975, 307 pages.


They Came From Outer Space, Jim Wynorski, editor, Double Day & Company, 1980, 363 pages.


Supernatural Horror in Literature, H.P. Lovecraft, Dover Publications, Inc., 1973, 112 pages.


The Thing At The Foot of the Bed and Other Scary Tales, Maria Leach, The World Publishing Company, 1959, 124 pages (? my edition is missing some of last pages).


Monsters, Evil Beings, Mythical Beasts, and all manner of Imaginary Terrors, David D. Gilemore, Univeristy of Pennsylvania Press, 2003, 210 pages.







Thursday, May 3, 2012

Growing Up Monstrous

My sister Heather and me. As with most of the kids in my family we grew up loving monsters... all monsters. We have no bias towards any supernatural entities whatsoever. For us, Monsters are the norm.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Intermission Time

For those of you who are eager to read some paper, and by paper I mean a REAL magazine, I am involved with producing one with Brian Harris of Wildside Cinema. Besides my article on Bollywood Horror films (an extension of a blog post from February), I am designing the magazine. More about it when you can order this baby!


By the way, Brian is looking for contributors... contact him at the blog linked above. Deadline for articles, reviews, even comic art (!) for WENG'S CHOP #0 is April 20th. Short notice, I know, but I know some of you must have stuff sitting on your computer or desk or nigh stand or in the dark cobwebby recesses of your brain...

Cheers,

Tim

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Indian Collection, Part 6: DANCE, NAAGDEVI, DANCE

It has been over a month since my last entry and I really have no excuse as to my tardiness other than I have been busy. Too caught up in my life outside of the blog to make a simple entry. Yea, I know: lame. So, to make up for my very late return I will have something fun for MONSTER! fans out there.

But there won't be any of the usual suspects this time around. Nope. No zombies or giant monsters or yetis or anything like that. The monsters presented for this page will be the sexy kind. I present to you the bodacious and curvacious Hindu Snake Goddess Naag in some of her various supple forms. You know, slinky snake ladies from Indian films.

What, you've never seen any of these lovely cobra maidens strut their stuff? How many of you have seen Ken Russel's 1988 film THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM? In that fun film we have the sexy Amanda Donohoe as Lady Sylvia Marsh, a English/Roman pagan snake goddess (in part, sort of like the Naag, which isn't really a full-fledged goddess, more of a demi-god or demon) and her rather nasty habit of biting folks, and either turning them into snake monsters or offering them up to her god as a meal. To make a long story short, there is a segment in the film where she is coaxed out of her lair by using a record of old Indian snake charmer's music. I'm sure that Russel had seen some of the Nagin or Naag films prior to making his film.
video
Vinyl LP soundtrack from the film.
Okay, kinda sultry, but nothing when compared to the following list of snake ladies (not presented in chronological order of any kind):

In the 1986 film NAGINA we are presented with the writhing loveliness of actress Sridevi as the snake goddess/demoness/whathaveyou (and the musical talents of Laxmikant Shantaram Kudalkar and Pyarelal Ramprasad Sharma. In the film Rajni is a snake woman who has married a human to live a normal life. She is then tracked by Bhairo Nnath a religious man, who is capable of controlling snakes. The holy man want only one thing: the Cobra Jewel, and with it he can become very powerful. This plot element, the Cobra Jewel, is very popular in Naag cinema. In this scene Rajni confronts her tormentor and proceeds to perform a Naag Dance of Death...
 
The horn which Bhairo Nnath  and his minions play is the traditional snake charmer's instrument, and the melody that Laxmikant-Pyarelal created fot he scene above is based on a traditional "Naag" theme use din numerous films since the late 1940's. The earliest film I've seen someone play this melody was from 1951 entitled NAGIN. In that very entertaining (and hugely popular mainstream film), and while there was no overtly supernatural elements in the production's storyline, the film's leading lady was always entranced by the sound of the horn.

SIDE NOTE: A possible source for the popularity of the horn-playing snake charmer may have its roots in the mythological traditions that Lord Krishna subdued the river snake god Kaliya Naag with his flute. Seen to the left is a Mogul-era painting from the 1600's depicting Krishna and the defeated Naag and the snake god's many Nagin or snake wives.

History lesson aside, I am attracted to these types of films for various reasons. The obvious one is that the monster in these films is a very beautiful woman, and I admit I have fallen for her charms... no matter how deadly she may be. Actually, in most of these films the Naag is rarely an evil creature. Most of the time she is just trying to live her life with any hassles from humans, and is either hunted by a Cobra Jewel-hungry holy man or is threatened by some ruthless hunters. In any case, she has to defend herself and if she happens to kill some annoying "hairless apes" (my apologies to Lord Hanuman and Howard the Duck) then so be it.

In the 1976 film NAGIN (not to be confused the with 1951 film of the same name) a pair of courting naags are assaulted by some idiotic humans. During a particularly sexy dance number by the female naag in human form with that of her male partner in cobra form, the ignorant hunters kill the male thinking it was  a deadly snake about to put the moves on a hapless woman. Sadly, their rash actions bring down down upon them, as the Naag kills off the offending humans one by one. In the scene to your right one of the last remaining humans comes to realizes the mistake they made by killing the female naag's mate. Ooops!

Naag films are still as immensely popular today as films like Jennifer Chambers Lynch's 2010 film HISSS. Lynch, who wrote the film as well, also made the 1993 film BOXING HELENA and is the daughter of director David Lynch. This India/USA co-production thankfully varies slightly off the traditional Naag tales of vengeance. In this film a scientist learns that he has brain cancer and plans on using the supernatural powers of the snake gods to cure him of his disease and make him immortal. Of course, nothing goes as planned and everything ends horribly for all involved.

While I found HISSS to be mildly diverting, I miss the more fantastic elements of the older films. Nevertheless, Lynch does a good job translating some of the phantasmagorical elements of the naag demon to the English-speaking world. HISSS is easy to find if you are interested in this unusual hybrid. But the sexy just wasn't there for me.

I'm so jaded. I've seen over 20 of these snake goddess films. Most are fairly high budget in their production values, and some have even pack their films with top name Bollywood actors. SHESHNAAG is a fine example of made-to-order runaway hit. This 1990 films features a lush soundtrack by Laxmikant-Pyarelal and the acting talents of stars Jeetendra, Rishi Kapoor, and the super-sexy Telugu actress Rekha as the leading Naag.

Nothing sez hot snake love like two naag gods in heat... dancing up a storm in what looks like the foothills of the Himalayas.

My favourite film of this genre has to be the 1996 film DEVI that stars yet another hot Indian actress Prema as the snake goddess. But before we get to see her we are introduced to some dancing naags in their snake form. These snake are visiting our plane of existence on a day trip from Shiva's domain. In this scene they are worshiping the phallic idol associated with Shiva.  After this bit of praise they all return to the land of the gods, except for one which is trapped here by an evil wizard.
The stranded snake goddess must protect a naag-worshiping woman from her evil family as well as dodge the unwanted advances of the evil power-hungry sorcerer who is hell-bent (literally) on destroying Devi's reputation with Shiva. The film is full of some pretty cool special effects, great dance numbers by Devi Sri Prasad, and very beautiful snake ladies.

But not of the films I've seen concerning the world of the snake gods and goddesses have top-billing actors, wonderful soundtrack, or even a budget to speak of. For every DEVI or NAGIN or SHESHNAAG -- or HISSS for that matter -- we have two dozen films like NAAGLOK, JAI MAA NAAGDEVI, JUNGLE KI NAGIN, NAAG MOHINI, and NAAG MERE SAATHI.

But more about those films in my next blog entry!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Interimitus

Articles on the way; in the meantime here are a select bits of video and such to keep you occupied until I get around to writing something. Which is due Saturday. Which I haven't started. Which I'm sure all of you are waiting for....


I feel another obsession coming on... first MONSTER! Blog covered Indian horror, then Taiwanese fantasy... now Japanese animal demon films that include cat ghosts and now Dog Gods! Of course, I need to finish entries on those thoughts, but in the meantime here's a trailer from the 1977 film CURSE OF THE DOG GOD:

May I present a spooky cat-ghost sequence from the 1953 Japanese horror film "Kaidan Saga yashiki" aka GHOST OF SAGA MANSION. Sadly no subtitles... P.S. despite what you think,this is NOT a spoiler if you ever want to see the film:
 

A trailer for one of my favourite hot and sassy Hong Kong horror films... THE EVIL CAT. A film that, sadly, not too many folks know about:



A snippet from THE LADY VAMPIRE (1959); directed by Nobuo Nakagawa.


Another recent (post blog!) Taiwanese fantasy find: 白蛇大鬧天宮 "Snake Woman's Marriage" (1975); thrilling battle sequence between a monk and a large white snake with sound effects lifted from Hammer's QUATERMAS AND THE PIT! On a quick and casual viewing the film appears to be from the same legend that Tsui Hark's farmed for his very entertaining GREEN SNAKE (青蛇) from 1993 (starring my HK heartthrob Joey Wong), and the more recent HK 3D flick THE SORCERER AND THE WHITE SNAKE (白蛇傳說) which wasn't half bad despite an over abundance of CG. However, in this scene was have good old fashion rubber monster action!  

Oh, if you EVER think of fucking with Hindu The Goddess Durga or one of her devotees... don't. This dude did, and he had a very bad night (from the Telugu film AMMORU)






Rockin' Indian giant monster action from the 1991 fantasy film AJOOBA. Starring Amitabh Bachchan (DON) and director Shashi Kapoor and the Soviet filmmaker Gennadi Vasilyev:  









SHIP OF MONSTERS -- what a cool film! When I was a kid I drooled over all the photos that appeared in Famous Monsters whenever they would run their "South of the Border Horrors" or something like that. Watched this film numerous times without subtitles, and recently acquired a .srt file and after some dabbling with time signatures I was able to make my own Spanish language copy with English subs... with some delays. Oh well. And now for one of the best scenes in the movie: 


In the meantime here's a snippet from one of those fascinating (for me at least) Japanese "Cat Ghost/Demon" movies; from 1954 it's director Bin Kato's GHOST CAT OF THE OKAZAKI UPHEAVAL (KAIBYO OKAZAKI-SODO). In this nail-biting scene we are witness to the possession of a young woman by a Cat Ghost! No subs and so-so quality, I must apologize:  

Miserable day out: too cold, windy with wet snow. To get into the mood I'll put on this WTF film of the day. A 1960's Indian film called SHIKARI... and wait for it... oh yea! —  







Back in the day I used to watch anything... really, almost any kind of film I could get my mits on. Korean Ghost comedies, any version of the tale of the Monkey King, any odd foreign flick by Franco or anything with even a brief nod to something the supernatural or monstrous. TOOTHLESS VAMPIRES was a favourite, and I sat thru it a coupla times even when the film lacked any subtitles...  



 




Vampire Bride (花嫁吸血魔, Hanayome kyūketsuma) is a very entertaining horror film; short and sweet with a fairly decent monster... but I can understand why it may not have been opted for export. It would have been too weird (ie: too Japanese) for 1960s mainstream U.S. consumption. Plus the creature is a bat-like monster/human hybrid and tends to flap its "wings" in a very modern-dance sorta way.



AND why am I not getting this blog done???  Probably because I've been watchin'' MAJIN MONSTER OF TERROR before I hit the sack for the night...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Courting the Fantastic: Taiwanese Monster Movies


A Dramatic rescue from THE BOY AND A MAGIC BOX
PART 2

What is it about weird Chinese fantasy films that strikes a resounding chord deep within me? Just what is that particular reverberation that sends my head spinning? My heart pounding? The hairs on my the back of my neck to raise? Sure as hell isn't the production values, as most of the films I have already discussed, along with those to follow, were never large budget efforts. 

It's got to be the magic in them. Yes, seriously, despite their lack-luster, low-budget productions, almost every film covered in MONSTER! has, for me, moments of utter amazement, excitement, insanity or sheer other-worldliness. It's these exciting blink of my unbelieving eyes that I find so thrilling. The effects may be cheap, and the creature creations absurd, but those very facts it what make these films some of my current favourites.

Then there is the household in which I grew up. Surrounded by various deities (of Western and Eastern realms), Saturday afternoon monster movie shows, 60's kids programs, and a mother who encouraged the consumption of comics, movies, and fantastic literature. I was pretty much destined to fall in love with anything monstrous. But that is for another entry altogether.

Actor, producer, director Lo Lieh
At this point you may as well ask me: what the hell is so different between fantasy films made in Hong Kong in the 60s-90's and those made in Taiwan? As far as I can suss out, the primary reason is reflected in their budgets. Both countries have a lot of the same mythos and tales that have been filmed over and over. There is also the universal acceptance of the unreal as real. For Hong Kong, their productions had all of the heavy hitters behind them with established studios, top billed actors and so forth. Mammoth studios such as Golden Harvest, Shaw Brothers, Cinema City, D&B Film Co., and others dominated the Asian market (almost to the point of demolishing the Taiwanese studios altogether in the late 90's). Film companies from Taiwan were (and still are) smaller and less financed. They didn't have the big named stars, altho some famous actors of the day did show up in the 70s. Some famous HK names did produced, direct and star in Taiwanese productions. Famed action director Chang Cheh -張徹- bailed on The Shaw Brothers and lived in Taiwan (and Mainland China after the 1990's) to make the horror film NINE DEMONS and the very Peking Opera influenced Monkey King film THE FANTASTIC MAGIC BABY.  My favourite actor that turned his back on the HK film industry in the 80's would be the incredibly prolific  Lo Lieh -羅烈- whose horror films and wild acrobatic comedies are incredible!

When you have next to no money to work with, you gotta make up the magic with pure moxie. 

So, on to point two then: why do I find these low-budget films fun to watch? Aren't those cheap rubber monster suits and wire-stunts all so fake? Well, yes... but NO. Huh? Okay, consider this: when was the last time you saw a monster rampaging or a human take flight unaided?  Never.  That moment is when you suspend belief. That is the essence of fantasy. Since I gather most of you, like myself, have never seen a space alien outside of those of you who have been "abducted",  I doubt all of the creatures resemble the slathering, slithering ALIEN from Ridley Scott's 1979 classic.  H. R. Giger design of the monster and the suite fabricated by Carlo Rambaldi, as fantastic and unnerving as it,  has since soiled the imagination of a generation of movie monster makers. Why can't a deadly creature from the stars look, well, like a clown (as in the Chiodo Brothers' highly amusing KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE from 1988) or stalks of celery with googly eyes or even a post-cubist variation on an alien invader (see KRONOS, 1957).
The totally alien monster from BOY AND A MAGIC BOX.

Cripes, even a Hello Kitty alien could possible be out there somewhere... waiting to strike at any second.

So, in that frame of existence, a monster resembling a man in a baggy rubber suit can, and will for all intents and purposes for me is REAL.  In fact, I would say that the three-headed, six-armed critter that appears in THE BOY AND A MAGIC BOX is just as unsettling as any computer-graphic ALIENesque fabrication. I don't care if you're a hardened gore/alien/monster/film buff... if you saw this thing screeching towards you in real life you would shit your pants. It's that weird!

Carrying this out even further, the Godzilla series features everyday people living along side monsters as tall as a skyscrapers, and there are alternate cinematic realities that, given 80's ROGER RABBIT or the recent Disney film ENCHANTED, will blow your mind if they were real. So, it's the fact that these "things" shouldn't exist at all in our reality which fill me with such joy. It's utterly insane that these beings so REAL to the characters in these fantasy films that sells the product.

Chinese fantasy film, be they mythos or horror filled with magic and monsters, will always hold me transfixed. Possibly it's my lack of any kind faith whatsoever that draws me into their spell. Taoist monks, the Shens, The 8 Immortals,  the variants on Buddhism, peasant folk magic, and numerous mythologies have beguiled me as a child well into... well, into the present. The dualistic nature of these varied faiths fascinate me. And then there are the monsters....

The Four Auspicious Aspects of Taiwanese Fantasy

First of all, lets lay down the major rule for any MONSTER! article: I don't count myself as a scholar of any film director, actor or genre.  I'll leave that to other folks in those fields. Prime examples are the films of Jess Franco, or the numerous samurai and Japanese ghost films I watch on a regular basis. There are other critics and scholars whose work speak for those subjects quite elegantly.

To borrow from a Gahan Wilson cartoon: "I paint what a see, child"  ... you know, just substitute the word paint for write. You get the picture. Some folks see a crappy, "kitschy" or cheesy ham-fisted attempt at wonder, while for me it's a attempt to fashion darn good-looking purse out of a sow's ear.  It's the same feeling I hold for the film of Ed Wood... but that's better left for another article I'll never get around to writing.

And so it comes to categorizing these films. I really  shouldn't have to, but it will make for writing about them quicker and easy for me. I am not getting paid for this blog, so you'll have to digest what I feed you.  And little bites are usually best.

I can break it all down to four basic sub-genres:  The Martial Arts & Mytho Madness of Wu Xai Pian, The Horror Films, The Hopping Jiangshi and other Fantastic Critters, and The Supers. Each of these categories work, altho, more times than not, their motifs and themes are often blended. What makes this a frustrating entry into my blog is that as the days go by I find more and more films from the 70's and 80's that were once thought lost.  While there are still films like DEVIL FIGHTER that have yet to surface, oddballs like THE DEMONS IN FLAME MOUNTAIN (1978), SAVIOUR MONK (1975), and RETURN OF THE KUNG FU DRAGON (1976) have recently mushroomed around my house.

Seems like I'd never get this article done if I don' t start now.


THE MARTIAL ARTS & MYTHOS MADNESS OF WU XAI PIAN
I will make this brief. For those of you who would love to delve deep into the territory of Wu Xai Pian films, may I suggest Googling it. I did, and found this entry.  In the meantime I am going to crib Wikipedia for the next few paragraphs:

"Wuxia (simplified Chinese: 武侠; traditional Chinese: 武俠; pinyin: wǔxiá [ùɕjǎ]) is a broad genre of Chinese fiction concerning the adventures of martial artists. Although wuxia is traditionally a form of literature, its popularity has caused it to spread to diverse art forms like Chinese opera, manhua (Chinese comics), films, television series, and video games. Wuxia is a component of popular culture for many Chinese-speaking communities worldwide.

The word "wuxia" is a compound word composed of the words wu (武), which means "martial", "military", or "armed" and xia (俠), meaning "honorable", "chivalrous", or "hero". A martial artist who follows the code of Xia is often referred to as a xiake (俠客, lit: "follower of xia", "hiệp khách") or youxia (游俠, "wandering xia", "du hiệp"). In some translated works of wuxia, the martial artist is sometimes termed as a "swordsman" although he may not necessarily wield a sword.

Typically, the heroes in Chinese wuxia fiction do not serve a lord, wield military power or belong to the aristocratic class. They are often from the lower social classes of ancient Chinese society. Wuxia heroes are usually bound by a code of chivalry that requires them to right wrongs, especially when the helpless or the poor are oppressed. The wuxia hero fights for righteousness and seeks to remove an oppressor, redress wrongs, or to bring retribution for past misdeeds. The Chinese xia traditions can be contrasted with martial codes from other countries, such as the Japanese samurai's bushido tradition, the chivalry of medieval European knights and the gunslingers of America's Westerns."
 

I even dedicate entire months to Chinese Fantasy films on my cable access program "Late Night Video Double Feature" which has been on and off the air since 1989. Just listen to me blab away about some film in this opening clip from one of my shows:

THE MAGIC OF SPELL, 1986
There are a few prime examples of this popular genre, the most dear to me being the brilliant 1983 Hong Kong film ZU: WARRIORS OF MAGIC MOUNTAIN by Tsui Hark. This film set the standard for all hyper-kinetic swordplay and flying people action. The Taiwanese equivalent is Chung-Hsing Chao's  equally energetic 1986 THE MAGIC OF SPELL.  As much as I love that film and speak of it often, I will not cover it in this entry, saving it and other films that fall into the category of "The Varied And Exciting Dynamic Adventures of The Boys of the Peach". Expect that installment sometime in April (ha!).

I stumbled across THE BOX AND A MAGIC BOX and would have dismissed the film altogethr except for the fact that the very hint of "magic" drew me to it. That and the date. This is a 1976 Taiwanese film that meant there was a chance of seeing early pre-ZU Chinese fantasy action.

Within the first minutes we have a sky spirit (Zhū Qiǎo - the Phoenix 朱雀 ??) that descends to Earth to announce something before being driven off by a white-bearded old wizard (see clip below). I assume that's what happened because my copy of the film had English subtitles for the first five minutes and then some jerk adjusted the framing for this VHS full frame 4:3 copy of this movie and all of that vital info was lost to me.

What follows is 45minutes of confusion as the tale has something to do with the pairing of two individuals for an auspicious night of love making so that a "special" boy would be born. Or at least two with the third on the way. The timeline is somewhat skewed, but this is a fantasy film and the early appearance of who I think is Erlang Shen (二郎神) - a three-eyed Immortal - and The Monkey King - 孫悟空 does add some hope for additional zaniness to follow.

Our hero, a young boy, faces death when his father, a high court official, wants nothing to do with him once is mother is found to be pregnant AGAIN even those she has been chosen to be married off to the Monkey King.  I think. The rightfully worried young boy's mother is imprisoned in a stone cell and her two sons are set up to be executed.  Our Boy Hero and his younger brother are set upon my palace guards and become separated once they are chased into a forest. As our hero tumbles off a cliff to meet certain death, he is saved by a fairy (aka flying folk, not a tinker-bell type of spirit) and given a magic box that he must protect. Our young hero must battle his way to the Palace in Heaven where the 8 Immortals and the Monkey King dwell to rescue his mother.


I checked my watch: 45 long minutes wherein only three fantastic beings and some goofy wizards have made their appearence. Hmmm... then out of the blue our Young Hero is attacked by a three-headed dragon. All Hell breaks loose for the rest of the film. The dragon snaps up the boy in it jaws and carries him, high up into the sky.  Luckily for us, the magic box produces a sword for the boy to use against the monster.

After some frantic action the flying horror is dispatched mid-air and the boy floats to earth seemingly unfazed by his epic confrontation. The dragon on the other hand falls to earth and causes a volcano to explode. Our lad has about two minutes to dodge falling trees and so forth to catch his breath before a Lion Dog (石獅 -?) attacks him.  The creature gouges and tears into the child and even the helpful fairy, who saved the boy from his previous appointment with death, is stomped on.

videoAs luck would have it, just as the Lion Dog is getting the best of the two humans, the magic box produces a fierce two-legged dragon that defends his master and chases off after the lion. In the meantime a three-headed and six armed giant come out of nowhere and, sword in hand, confronts the Boy. The magic box is again helpful in producing a another sword for the young warrior as well as giving him the ability to become non-corporeal to the monster's spastic attacks.

The Dragon dispatches the lion the same time the boy mortally wounds the giant. Phew! Okay, time for a breather as our heroic dragon helps his master to his feet (see photo at the beginning of this entry) and then vanishes back into the magic box. With those fearsome critters out of the way what's to stop the Boy from rescuing his mother? Well, Monkey that's who!

video

More action ensues!

And since we're on the subject of The Monkey King (which could well be another future entry), I should point out the famous literary character of "Monkey" has been immortalized in animation (from the 1940's to the present), as well as film and TV shows produced in numerous countries (I might add that in Great Britain you had a chance to see "Monkey Magic" in the 80's as a Japanese TV show badly dubbed. It was very popular and has sold a lot of VHS tapes [which I bought in the 90's], DVDs, and I'm sure a complete set of BluRays are available. Again, why this crazy TV show was never exported to the USA is beyond me.)  As for the Taiwanese film market in the 70's, we had MONKEY WITH 72 MAGIC, as well as the insane MONKEY WAR (1985, Ds: Ling Chang, Leung Chung) which is another crazy film to add to your list you need to see. It's co-directed by Pearl Cheung (aka Ling Chang) the sexy mastermind behind still more crazy cinema like the astounding WOLF DEVIL WOMAN films, THE DARK LADY OF THE BUTTERY (KUNG FU), anda few other films.


I am left to wonder just why THE BOY AND A MAGIC BOX was never released Stateside. If it had been made in the 1960's there could have been a chance I would have seen it on a Saturday afternoon on one of Cleveland's numerous UHF monster movie shows. But with a production release of 1975, it came too late for proper distribution in the USA. Two well-informed and respected film historians weighted in:

"By the 1970s, the TV market for import fare had dried up; AIP was no longer AIP (here comes METEOR!), late-night TV had abandoned movies for the most part in most markets, and the distribution/syndication companies that had made the 1960s such rich movies-on-TV viewing had either been absorbed, expanded into theatrical (Seven Arts, etc.), or dissolved." [Stephen Bissette, 2011]

"There were no distributors negotiating with Hong Kong or Taiwanese film companies for tv syndication packages. Could be wrong, but AIP never acquired any Chinese fims. I’ve read there was an effort in the 1970s to keep kung fu films off television because they were “too violent” and this problem would have extended to Chinese fantasy films as well. World Northal broke the barrier when they brought the Black Belt Theater packages to tv in 1981, and others followed." [John Grace, 2011]

The popularity of kung fu films made it doubly hard to see these films released in the States in a dubbed format. Possibly the closest film to fall within the definition of Wu Xai Pian that I personally know (that was released in the late 70's) was THE STORY OF RED TEMPLE LILY. In this film there is high drama, some nice fight scenes, and a young boy makes friends with a giant eagle. Not much in the way of fantasy, but kind of close.

videoWAR OF THE WIZARDS is another film that comes to mind. It is a  mildly entertaining Japanese/Taiwanese co-production from 1983 and starred American actor Richard "Jaws" Kiel.  Not purely a Chinese production, it was released over here by 21st Century Films to cash in on Ray Harryhausen's  CLASH OF THE TITANS as well as playing up Kiel's fading popularity. WAR OF THE WIZARDS features a "Phoenix", a giant rock monster, and various demons and, well, Richard Kiel.

THRILLING BLOODY SWORD

High adventure also drives
Hsin Yi Chang's 1981 film THRILLING BLOODY SWORD, a film that is crazier than the better known KUNG FU WONDER CHILD for which he wrote the screenplay. As with most of the Wu Xai Pian genre, it a twisted fairy tale that begins when a young queen who is impregnated by a beam of heavenly light. She gives birth to a gooey pulsating egg, which is disposed by her servants by tossing it in a river.  A group of "dwarves" discover the fleshy vessel and upon quarreling over how to eat it, the egg shakes violently. The container splits open and within the pile of post-natal goo they find a young godling. The child soon grows into a handsome young man, and when fitted with a skimpy set of armor and a magic sword he ventures into the fantastic world. Giants, demons, fairies, and other entities are there to greet him. Highly recommended!

Other films include:
FAIRY AND THE DEVIL (1989?) - features giant kaiju action lifted from an earlier film (something not uncommon in these films).

IN THE BEGINNING (1979) - Chinese immortals vs Bad ol' people-crushing Devils!

RETURN OF THE KUNG FU DRAGON(1976) - featuring pagoda-crushing kaiju action!
video



That's it for this installment. As per all my blog entries I will no doubt do some post-publication editing as I see fit. Never consider one of my published works as finished. I am always monkeying around with it (corrections, alterations, etc.).  That's the beauty of electronic over paper publishing.

As one final note: my observations and knowledge of these films come from watching them, making assumptions, and reading up on what I can find out them. DO not in any way think I really know what I am talking about.

Back in two weeks.