31 Monsters in 31 Days: Godzilla

I decided to devote the month of August paying tribute to my favorite cinematic beasties, and who better to start with than the King of the Monsters himself?

There had been giant monster movies before GOJIRA, but the 1954 Japanese production set the template for monster romps to come. Originally conceived as a massive octopus, and later reconfigured as a “gorilla whale” (which is where “Gojira” comes from, the combination of the Japanese equivalent of the two words), the final, iconic creature design was decided as dinosaur-like thanks to Ray Harryhousen’s monster for THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS. And what a wise decison that turned out to be; I doubt that a 60-year empire of sequels, cartoon spin-offs, comic books, and countless ephemera would exist without the towering, spiny-backed, fire-breathing majesty of Godzilla. (Then again, we’d have been spared one supremely shitty 1998 remake, but hey, nothing’s perfect.)

Godzilla was my gateway drug, my first monster love. When I was five WTAE in Pittsburgh used to air Godzilla and Gamera films on Sunday mornings, and I never missed them–much to my parents’ chagrin, as I invariably bawled at the end of each. (I remember being especially choked up at the end of SON OF GODZILLA, as Godzilla and Minya wander into the artic wasteland to what I just knew was their inevitable death, so much that my dad almost swore me off them for good.) Much of who I became as a person–specifically, a movie-happy freak with a weakness for rubber monsters–can be traced back to those Sunday mornings.

My sister is expecting her first child in the fall. This is fair warning that Uncle Scott will be bestowing big, scaly, green gifts come Christmas.

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