11/24/20

Monster Zero and Biollante VCD's (Video CD's)

 

Around here, we talk quite a bit about the formats that Godzilla movies have been released on.  My primary interest is in releases from the USA, but today we have a couple of examples of Video CD's (commonly just called VCD's), a format which really didn't take off in the United States.  

VCD's were really what they sounded like.  Without getting too technical, they were CD's that utilized MPEG-1 encoding to present video and audio.  They were playable on computers and DVD players alike, and tended to match their audio cousins in capacity:  the old 74-minute blanks held 74 minutes of VCD content, and 80 minutes for the, well, 80-minute discs.  The main draw was that they were easy to record/encode and could be copied as easily as an audio disc. They were huge in Asian countries, and were quickly eclipsed by the higher quality (and, for the manufacturers, copy protection restraints) of DVD.

Here we have Video CD releases for GODZILLA vs. MONSTER ZERO and GODZILLA vs. BIOLLANTE.  The former is interesting because it utilizes the title, artwork, and design of the 1998 Simitar release here in the USA, which here was obviously licensed to Progress Video for the release in Hong Kong.  Interestingly enough, while this item wasn't sold in America, a very similar one still was (though very sparsely):


There isn't much difference between a VCD and a "DVD-ROM."  Other than that the PC version comes with a launcher or program of some kind.  (If you are keeping score at home, it's not even clear that Simitar released all five of their Godzilla titles this way.  I personally have seen DVD-ROM releases for both MONSTER ZERO and GODZILLA vs. THE THING only.)


This BIOLLANTE disc is completely unique, though, and made by the Mei Ah Laser Disc company in Hong Kong. (Apologies for the slight blur--these came to me sealed, and the shrink plus the slight distance from the scanner glass causes some fuzziness.)


On the back, we have the moment that resulted in what was recently called "Biollante Bile" Godzilla in a NECA action figure release.  

VCD's were/are an interesting part of the history of video technology.   For completeness, I should include mention of the Phillips CD-I (which survives in infamy among game historians, since it gave us HOTEL MARIO and a couple of meme-tastic Zelda games) because VCD movies were available for that system...but like their larger relative, the laserdiscs, long movies still meant multiple discs, and interruptions.

For the record, I will admit that around 2001-2002, I dove into the format with full force.  I even purchased a recorder called a "Terapin" and began dumping VHS onto discs by the score, determined this was the successor to tapes.   Bad move.

11/11/20

GODZILLA 2000 Original Ending Card (Tristar VHS Demo, 2000)

 


Say, remember GODZILLA 2000? No, it's not one that I go back to and watch either, really.  It was fun to get another Godzilla movie to appear in American theaters (woah, that was 20 years ago...it wouldn't happen again until SHIN GODZILLA!), but even at the time, the CGI seemed behind the curve.  I'm sure it hasn't aged too well, but it gave us a great Godzilla design, as well as an interesting and fun villain monster in Orga.  I remember really liking the battles, and the part where Orga attempts to swallow Godzilla is unforgettable.

If you were like me, and got to see the film in theaters, you would remember a completely different thing happening at the ending, other than what you can see on VHS/DVD/Blu-Ray/TV airings.  In fact, here is a commenter from IMDB explaining it better than I could:



A year or so ago, I lucked into a demo copy of the U.S. VHS version of the film, made by VDI Multimedia.  The entire demo is time-coded, as below:


Years ago, there had been a YouTube video (not sure if it's still up***) showing the original ending card of the film, and I remembered that it, too, was time-coded. This video was just somebody filming their TV, so it wasn't great quality, but it struck me suddenly that they must have also had a similar demo tape...so, it was time to dig out the VCR that I keep in my garage for emergency purposes, such as this!


And there it was.  Obviously, Toho's request to remove the ending card came after some sample VHS tapes had been made, but there was still time to remove it for the finished product. 

So there you have it.  Not a crucial part of Godzilla history, but an interesting footnote, nonetheless!

***NOTE:  The video is gone, but now there is a much better one, by the great SpaceHunterM (I should've known):


11/6/20

STAR WORN: CASHING IN (Leaping Fox)

 

In the early years of this blog, we attempted to publish a compilation of songs that came out around the time of the original STAR WARS, which were trying very hard to capitalize on its success...you know, jump on the bandwagon...pick up some of the pennies that fell on the floor as Lucas walked by...that sort of thing.  Unfortunately, there wasn't enough material, and in the end the collection couldn't decide what to be.  So it disappeared.

This problem has been corrected!  A hard-core dive into the time period--and lots of research--has resulted in two solid discs presenting over two hours of rip-offs, clever allusions, and general spaciness, all from a time when every form of media imaginable assumed a veneer of science fiction. It's hard to imagine, but if you were there, it was pretty much everywhere.  (I mean, you couldn't even buy a cassette recorder...see the second disc's artwork and it will become clear.)   

We adhered very hard to the time period of the original film, and before the sequel; in fact, there's nothing from 1980 at all.  Also, being the late 70's, there is lots of funk, proto-new-wave, disco, and synth goodness that you may actually enjoy.  (Personally, a couple of unknown tracks ended up being quite rewarding. Many remain unavailable on disc and come from vinyl sources.)


Not to say that you will leave your Cringe Factor at the door.  Oh no, good listeners, there are some moments, because once again...it was the 70's. In fact, you will hear one of the dumbest country songs ever, and that's saying something.  (TWO, come to think of it.  The second is so weak, I keep forgetting it even exists.)

So get ready, because this is a good one.  The next time we visit Star Wars for another volume in this series, we are going to be biting off more than can be chewed.  But more on that later, since at the moment, we are waiting for a few items to show up courtesy of the pathetically slow U.S. Postal Service...

STAR WORN: CASHING IN

11/2/20

The Unused "Monsters of the Movies" Godzilla Model Kit That Shouldn't Exist

 

As we have discussed here (for a full history of Aurora's Godzilla model kits, containing everything you need to know, see this comprehensive article at Sean Linkenback's Showcase Daikaiju!), Aurora produced a "Monsters of the Movies" series in 1975.  

These kits were designed by the late, legendary Marvel artist Dave Cockrum.  However, another of the designs he submitted was for a Godzilla (you can see a photo of the prototype, now in the hands of a private collector, at the aforementioned link).  This went as far as being sculpted by Ray Meyers, but, for reasons unknown, never saw the light of day.  

But then, a couple of years ago, as my Ebay seller wrote, "someone got a hold of [the] Aurora patterns...took the resin kit to make styrene plastic kits." My understanding is that a limited run of 100 were produced, and quietly sold online for a short time.  It's my belief that the leftovers of this run are what has recently been sold off on Ebay.  

At 7" tall, the kit shows Godzilla in a dynamic action pose, with one foot plantarflexed behind him as he steps forward to lean over a destroyed Tokyo Tower.  What's even cooler is, he holds remnants of the tower in both hands! This would've been a strong addition to the line of models, and, honestly, would've offered a huge amount of star power.  The closest Aurora Godzilla to the M.O.M. line was the 1972 glow kit reissue, and it didn't match Ghidrah and Rodan nearly as well as this design would've.  

The kit is without instructions or box, since it never got any farther in the design stages.  However, I can only thank "someone" for making it possible to see what this part of Godzilla history would've looked like, in three dimensions!