It's not often that we get to add a "new" vintage item to our Chronological List of American Godzilla Items, but here is one I had overlooked until now.  STARLOG magazine put out many all-poster issues over the years, but the first was in 1983, and featured Godzilla as one of the double-sided, pull-out posters.

Inside was a one-page feature on each of the posters.  This Godzilla article starts strong, but ends up repeating the legendary goof that there were two different endings to KING KONG VS. GODZILLA, which was often stated over the years in American publications.  They do a good job pointing out that the Godzilla poster included features the art used in the Italian colorized edit that fans now refer to as "Cozilla":

A version of which was also included with the first-ever issue of FANGORIA, in 1979.

The folded posters stapled into the magazine, and as you flip though, you will see some unintentional horrors, such as below!



VARAN THE UNBELIEVABLE Pressbook ("Showmanship Manual") [Crown Int'l, 1962]


Today, we look at a real rarity.  VARAN THE UNBELIEVABLE had a troubled history, was cut to ribbons for the US, and is often overlooked.  It's funny; I own quite a few pressbooks, but this one is the most difficultly-sized that I've seen.  It measures 16 & 3/4" by a bizarre 16 & 3/32" which actually works out more evenly to centimeters, which was strange for the times. It's going to be a nightmare to store properly. 

But, let's walk through it together.  First, the usual: movie synopsis, yadda yadda.

Next, the usual fodder for things that look like newspaper articles, but are really paid spots bought by local theatres in local newspapers.  Did you know the lead actress cooked knishes for the cast? I wonder if she knew that.  My favorite part of this entire page is where they give you the text to take out an article saying that the events in this film could really happen, because people have seen the Loch Ness Monster.  Huh.

The second-best part of any vintage pressbook, though, is where you got to see the vintage ads and artwork. This film was lucky to have poster art that is simultaneously great and eye-catching (the upper half), and also rather ridiculous (the lower half) at the same time. I had more to say about that, but I looked too long at the fleeing crowd that's too stupid to know how to run away, and forgot it.

And now we come to the very best part of all, and also my favorite:  the BALLYHOO.  What is the point of booking a monster movie, specifically an Americanized Toho kaiju movie, if you can't promote it insanely? "But wait, we (the recipients of this book) are too dumb to do that.  Thinking is hard...give us the ideas!" Well, you asked for it:

So, let's run down some of their suggestions:
1) "Why not arrange a window" that's made of the contents of your local toy store.  I wasn't even there in 1962, and I know that would've been next to impossible, especially in Smallville, USA.  Also, they expect you to have "blowups and stills from the picture" made to decorate your "window." Which would've been outrageously expensive (these pressbooks never give a thought to the budget of what they are suggesting)...it also just struck me that your average theatre didn't have a giant, Macy's-style display window, because that defeats the purpose of keeping it dark inside, to actually watch movies.

2) Go to your local museum that is filled with "pre-historic animals" and get them, and fill up the lobby with them.  You are also given permission here to use their "pre-historic artifacts."  I mean, why didn't I think of that? Oh, because it has almost nothing to do with the film we are trying to promote, and also involves lots of crimes.  And again, your average town wouldn't have anything remotely like that, anyhow.  I always ask this question here, but:  did anybody actually try any of these suggestions???? It's not as insane as the part where one of the previous pressbooks we have looked at tells you to get live weapons and munitions from the local armory (which one was that, FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD, maybe?)...but still entertaining.

3) Run a "You Won't Believe It Contest."  What is that? They don't know either.  "Just as the experiences of the people in 'VARAN' make for an incredible story, so it is true that many people have unbelievable experiences in their lifetimes." Let's hear for the millionth time about how Grandpa shot down a UFO in World War I that was filled with pink fairies who somehow sang all of the Billboard Singles Chart from June 13, 1967. That will then make us want to see VARAN THE UNBELIEVABLE, for sure.

4) Finally, and the laziest of all, you are encouraged to talk a local store into slashing their prices so much, it would be an UNBELIEVABLE sale.  Now, points for actually giving us an idea that wouldn't cost the theatre a fortune...but, simply put, nobody did this.  Ever.

To collectors like me, who are not rational human beings, the most valuable part of a pressbook is on this page as well, because this is  where you find out what non-poster promotional items were produced for this film.  Here we are given a nugget of pure gold, because they tell us a record of radio spots exists--somewhere--for this film.  It has never surfaced in all of these years [what I mean is that it hasn't been digitized and shared by anyone, which is what we would do here on this blog], but, like Varan himself, it's at the bottom of a lake somewhere.  We are also told that the following items exist:  a TV slide, TV spots of 2 lengths, a theatrical trailer, and a teaser trailer.  But let's not overlook the most exciting part of this great page:

The Varan Coloring Contest! I am sure you agree that this is completely and totally awesome, and probably the best thing you've seen all day.  I would have to look back in my past pressbook reviews, but I don't remember too many coloring contests from Toho films.  GIGANTIS THE FIRE MONSTER had one, I recall.  It's hard to put into words how great this concept is.  We can laugh at the ridiculous ballyhoo suggestions, but a Varan Coloring Contest with movie tickets as prizes is a top-notch idea that is actually worth doing.

When it comes to making your list of what items were actually produced for a film, the rest of the story is usually found on the back cover of the pressbook, where you find out about poster sizes and lobby cards, and then imagine owning them all.

I should mention here that VARAN THE UNBELIEVABLE is still a rare film, even in this modern day.  There is an out-of-print Tokyo Shock DVD from 2005 with 2 cuts of the Japanese original, but it does not contain this American version.  VARAN was put out on home video a couple of times in the VHS days (a Beta tape also exists), but it stopped there.  The good news is, there is a very inexpensive DVD available on Amazon that pretends to be authentic, but it's obviously sourced from one of the old VHS versions.  But, it's better than nothing, and will have to do, because I can tell you that preserving American dubs (never mind American recuts) is not on Toho's "to-do list."


KING KONG vs GODZILLA BATTLE OF THE BEASTS (Movie Viewer Cassette A008, Fascinations, 1988)


A few years ago, a random auction turned up on Ebay that included several loose cartridges for a movie viewer of some kind.  It included this KING KONG vs GODZILLA one, which was really strange.  I tried my best to research it, but very little information could be found at the time, and it appeared this item was never sold in the United States...which has turned out to be false!  Here is the history I have pieced together since then:  at some point in the late 1970's, a movie-viewer toy appeared. It was battery-powered, and was the descendant of the old hand-cranked kind from the earlier 1970's (such as famously made Fisher-Price, and fondly remembered by many a former tyke).  This first powered product was called "Mini Movi," and was made by a company called Apollo and sold around Europe.  Apollo's cartridges included cartoons, animation of Marvel superheroes, and, somehow, this KING KONG vs GODZILLA BATTLE OF THE BEASTS title.  Packaged photos of Apollo's Godzilla title are nowhere to be found, unfortunately, but here is what their product looked like, below.

Next, Galoob steps in, and buys the product outright, to offer in the United States as "SNEAK PREVIEWS" (terrible name) in 1983-84:

Apologies, but you will note the front and back examples don't match, and are from different cartridges! But you get the point.

It does NOT appear that the Godzilla cartridge was part of the Galoob line, which is interesting.  This toy came and went, and the product next appeared as the "Micro Movie Viewer," made by a company called Fascinations, from Seattle, Washington, in 1988.  This, too was offered in the United States, but now the Godzilla cassette was back in the lineup! And finally, a carded example has surfaced at last, which I was fortunate enough to pounce upon like a rabid lioness!  For completeness, here is what the Fascinations viewer looked like (which came in several colors):
Fascinations continued to make the product for several years, but eventually, of course, it would no longer be cool for kids to carry around a bunch of short films to watch on a pocket viewer that burned up AA batteries, and the idea seems to have finally died out.

As you can see from Fascination's list of other titles available, the makers intended to have more than public-domain cartoon clips (badly misspelling "Popeye"), and even included some "educational" titles such as a bridge collapsing (wait, what?).  

One thing I should point out is, these things are much smaller in person than you would think! The backing card for this is 3x5 inches!

Getting back to our subject at hand, what was the contents of this Kong and Godzilla cassette, exactly? A logical guess would be, perhaps, the American trailer for the film? Let's see, the U.S. release would've been 25 years old by that time.  Movie trailers always seem to fall through the cracks when it comes to public domain, but I guess that would be a question for Universal.  Or, it could be that the makers of the original cassette (which I guess goes back to the first manufacturers, according to a list of titles I found) just didn't care.  

What probably needs to happen is, a trustworthy blog with a historical bent needs to get hold of a lot of these cartridges that includes a loose Godzilla one, and make it available somehow for posterity!  Kenner's Star Wars viewer (that was based on the Fisher-Price hand-cranked one) turned out to use 8mm film inside their cartridges, which made those films possible to convert...so who knows.  I will add that project to my list, because that one may take a while!


Huck-Yogi and Quick Draw's MAGIC RECORD (Mark 56, 1961)


Here is a rarity I've had on my want list for a long time, and until now, there had been ONE copy on Discogs, that being the one used to add it to the database, and NONE had ever sold.  When one suddenly surfaced, I jumped on it.

First, a little backstory:  I've always been fascinated with the fact that records with multiple, concentric grooves actually exist, enabling you to get seemingly random results by dropping the needle.  The first time I ever ran into this, like many collectors, was the famous Monty Python MATCHING TIE AND HANDKERCHIEF album, which I still have.  It turns out the trick was much older than that, and actually goes way back.  (We posted another album that utilizes it during Halloween; see John Zacherley's SCARY TALES for another example that doesn't tell the buyer what's going on!) This 45, however, does let you in on the action.

All over this record--front, back, and labels--the title is strangely written as "HUCK[hyphen]YOGI AND QUICK DRAW'S MAGIC RECORD" and I can't make that make any grammatical sense, no matter how hard I try.

First, the good news.  The "Magic Side" of this 45 gives you three possibilities for what you will hear:  Yogi Bear singing his theme song, Quick Draw McGraw singing his theme song, or...somebody singing Huckleberry Hound's (who may be trying to sound like Gabby Hayes).  Each of these tracks is less than a minute long, and provided kids with a cool parlor trick to show their friends.  The flip side is actually better than the Magic Side, as Yogi demonstrates his piano skills, and Huck won't stop playing the drums ("How do I unplug the drums?!" Yogi wonders.)

However, the bad news is, Daws Butler is nowhere to be heard.  It's instead a sound-alike who shows up for our record.  Now, he's not totally terrible, and spends the majority of his time doing his Art Carney to sound like Yogi, which is passable.  And Huck never speaks at all, which is probably for the best.  

Which leads me to something that I'm wondering about...my copy looks exactly like the one above, the one used for the database entry.  I mean, down to the exact label in the upper corner, which, by the way, says:  "Compliments of ORANGEFAIR SHOPPING CENTER."  Was this record only promotional, and not sold in stores? Was it only given out by the Orangefair Shopping Center? If so, perhaps this explains the use of a sound-alike, and the fact that it's on the Mark 56 label instead of Colpix or Golden or something else Hanna-Barbera would've been on at that time.  Maybe this wasn't intended for retail release, at all.  I hope one day, we will know for sure.  Until then, enjoy this very rare record.  From my searches, you won't hear it ANYWHERE else!

LINK:  Huck-Yogi and Quick Draw's MAGIC RECORD


Nu-Card "Horror Monster Series" - #74, The Mysterians (1961)


Today, here is another in the beloved Nu-Card "Horror Monster Series" from 1961, featuring a cool painting of Moguera from THE MYSTERIANS.  You can see more of the artwork (and in color) on one of the American lobby cards for the film:

Incidentally, the robot's name did not originally have the "U" in it.  You started to see this more in the Heisei era, when the robot's name became an acronym that used the letter.  As it turns out, "Mogera" is a genus of mammals in the mole family, which further highlights his digging capabilities, I guess! [NOTE: I am told that the Japanese word for "mole" is also Mogera, so there you go.]

And now, the dreaded terrible joke on the back of the card:

I started to apologize in advance, but decided to go with "better to ask for forgiveness than permission."  Let's bring this back to the subject: I think that's supposed to be Mogera in the artwork on the back of the card...kinda sorta.


Harry Lorayne's INSTANT MEMORY COURSE (Pickwick International, 1961)


In the beginning of the 1960's, giant floating head was visual shorthand that you were about to learn something.  I think it had something to do with the target audience having seen THE WIZARD OF OZ a lot as kids.  For my generation, it was a glowing airbrushed grid that receded into the distance, which was on the front of most schoolbooks, Trapper Keepers, and anywhere else it could possibly be crammed.

But I'm way off the subject already.  This blog often has quite an educational--no, let's use the word useful--component to it, and here is yet another thing that will be practical to your everyday lives.  Behold:  the INSTANT MEMORY COURSE.

Sometimes, I find these things, intending to joke about them or use them as samples, and upon further investigation, completely change my mind.  I mean, I'm not passing up a record like this when I flip past it...however, it's actually very good.  I have a book from this era on this very same subject (probably even written by Mr. Lorayne, come to think of it), and I can tell you that these tactics work, and work well.  I was very lucky that the booklet was also included with my copy, which of course I've included here in the download.  Unfortunately--and this time, I really am not intending to make a bad pun here--I kind of "forgot" about these principles over time.  Listening to this record made me think I need to start using them again.  Try it for yourself, and see.