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Showing posts with label Toei Film Company. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Toei Film Company. Show all posts

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Green Slime

When I find something interesting on the station, I certainly do enjoy watching TCM - Turner Classic Movies on television.

It's why I watched Steve McQueen in The Magnificent Seven, an American version of Kurosawa Akira's (surname first) Seven Samurai classic... which itself was inspired by American westerns.

Preceding it that night was The Blob, an American monster movie classic that I had never seen on TV before. It also starred Steve McQueen. It was actually quite a good flick! Perhaps realizing that showing too much of the monster, owning to the cost of special effects in the 1950s, or the lack of sophistication in such effects, The Blob didn't show the creature very much.

If only such restraint had been shown in the movies following the Steve McQueen bundle on TCM, specifically The Green Slime, a 1968 monster movie.

Since I had not even heard of this movie until I saw it listed, speaks volumes... but what the heck... in for a penny, in for a pound.

The Green Slime started off quite well... decent enough science... and a plot that was eventually stolen by the sci-fi disaster flick Armageddon. In Armageddon, a group of deep-core drillers is sent to space by NASA to load explosives deep into an asteroid on a collision course with Earth.

In The Green Slime, some space jockeys ride a rocket out from a space station set that looked like it was borrowed from the British marionette TV show The Thunderbirds a few years previous, to an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. They job is to plant some explosives by digging into its surface in the hope that it blows up before striking Earth.

The plot for The Green Slime differs when the astronauts encounter a green slime that gets all over their equipment, and they inadvertently carry it back with them to the return rocket and thus to the space station. To the movie's credit, the astronauts all underwent a decontamination procedure, but said procedure did not kill the alien slime.

The slime grew, and then morphed into a really crappy-looking alien... which is when the movie falls flat on its face.

If they had only worked with a green slime monster rather than an alien that grows from the slime, it would have been a better movie... though even then I'm unsure.

So what has this to do with Japan? I've mention Steve McQueen, The Magnificent Seven and the Seven Samurai and Kurosawa... but none are directly related to The Green Slime.

The Green Slime (ガンマー第3号 宇宙大作戦, Ganmā Daisan Gō: Uchū Daisakusen was directed by Fukasaku Kinji (surname first), and produced by Walter Manley and Ivan Reiner. It was written by William Finger, Tom Rowe and Charles Sinclair based on a story by Reiner.

Wait a minute... William Finger... Bill Finger... the guy who co-created Batman??!!?? with artist Bob Kane. Yes... the very same. Sigh.

The Green Slime was filmed in Japan using the Japanese director Fukasaku, along with a Japanese film crew, but with a non-Japanese cast.

It starred Robert Horton, Richard Jaeckel (the training sarge from The Dirty Dozen), Italian actress and former Bond Girl Luciana Paluzzi (Thunderball), who despite her beautiful red hair and curvaceous fleshy parts, was quite wooden in The Green Slime.

American Robert Dunham was also in The Green Slime playing Captain Martin... he lived in Japan during the 1960s, and in the 1964 flick Dogora, he played Mark Jackson. He also played Antonio, Emperor of Seatopia in 1973's Godzilla vs. Megalon. He sometimes was billed as Dan Yuma or Danny Yuma.

The rest of the cast were mostly semi-professional or amateur actors - meaning, if you were a White dude living in Japan in the 1960s, you could have been part of this... mess.

Here... I'm taking this from Wikipedia:

The Green Slime was a co-production between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Toei Film Company. MGM provided the funding and script while Toei provided the film crew and location to shoot the film.
The original storyline for The Green Slime originated in Italy, where MGM also had dealings. Years before The Green Slime went into production, MGM had contracted Italian filmmaker Antonio Margheriti to direct what was originally intended to be a series of four television movies about the adventures of a space station called Gamma One. Margheriti's films in the series consisted of Wild, Wild Planet, War of the Planets, War Between the Planets and Snow Devils, all created over a period of three months and released in 1965. MGM was impressed with Margheriti's films and released the four films theatrically. Gamma One producers Manley and Reiner were eager to take advantage of these films and made The Green Slime as an unofficial fifth entry in the film series. The only connection the film had to Margheriti's films is the space station, retitled Gamma Three, which had a similar design as the one in Margheriti's films.


Wow... four movies made in three months...

Anyhow... a truly horrible movie was The Green Slime.

Of true historic note however, is that The Green Slime was the very first movie speared in the pilot episode of the film-mocking television series Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1988.

Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Japanese Actor Ken Takakura Dead At 83

Japanese movie actor Takakura Ken (surname first) has died at the age of 83 of lymphoma at a hospital in Tokyo on Nov 10, 2014 - meaning it took bloody eight days for us to find out.

Where are the Japanese paparazzi when you want them? Probably trying to shoot up someone's skirt.

Born as Oda Goichi on February 16, 1931 in Kita-Kyushu-shi in Japan, Takakura would probably most familiar to western audiences as the gruff coach of the Dragons baseball team in the Tom Sellick movie, Mr. Baseball.

Other western movies he might be familiar from include: Too Late the Hero (1970); The Yakuza (1975); and Black Rain (1989).

Of course, that is all just a drop in the bucket, as Takakura made a total of 205 screen appearances - his last coming in Dearest (2012).

Takakura was given the Order of Culture by Emperor Akihito in 2013 for his contribution to Japan’s arts.

Standing an imposing 1.9-meters (5'-10¾") tall  - which is my height (I stand above you all - bwa-ha-ha-ha) (LOL!), Takakura was known as the Clint Eastwood of Japan thanks to his brooding but honorable characterization he world bring to his roles.
The Drifting Avenger - 1968.
He came by this swagger honestly, as he grew up in post-WWII Fukuoka, watching the yakuza battle each other for territory and the (still) lucrative black market and racketeering industries of the underworld.

Takakura got his start as an actor in 1955, when after graduating from Meiji University in Tokyo, he heard there was an audition over at Toei Film Company, and decided to check it out.

Does anyone else think that sometimes it really was easier to get discovered in the 'old days'?

He got the role, debuting in the flick Denko Karate Uchi (Lightning Karate Blow) in 1956.

Just as America had experienced a BOOM in gangster flicks back in the 1930s when the mobster ruled the real news thanks to the hardships of the Depression, so too did Japan experience a BOOM in yakuza flicks in the 1960s, as it experienced hardships of post WWII.

Takakura's forte was being such a person who saw Japan before the yakuza era, and during its early stages and as such his characters played off both sides… a tough guy with a conscience.

Hell… you can see that even in Mr. Baseball!   
Ken Takakura in Mr. Baseball. I wouldn't mess with him.
If you think that Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller in 1986 was the beginning of the anti-hero… or maybe Wolverine in the late 1970s… Japan was already doing it in the movies… and Takakura exploited that when he played an ex-convict anti-hero in the 1965 flick Abashiri Bangaichi.

In the ensuing 11 years when he left Toei Films in 1976, he had appeared in over 180 films. Ho-ly Smokes that's a lot of celluloid!

I've seen him in plenty of movies and TV commercials and… well… he will be missed. Fortunately, in my opinion, he lives on and on and on in movies.

The king is dead. Long live the king.
Andrew Joseph