Saw a Takashi Miike picture called The Great Yokai War. "Yokai" is a Japanese term for monsters from folklore, as opposed to the more familiar kaiju. It's a kids' picture, about a young boy from Tokyo sent out to live in the countryside with his older sister and his intermittently senile grandfather. When a vengeful spirit appears, the boy gets caught up in a war between warring groups of yokai and must find his courage to become the "Kirin Rider", the hero who will set everything to rights. It's not a bad picture - nothing deep, but an amusing story. Some of the yokai are really trippy, Japanese folklore can get pretty "out there", apparently.

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Watched the director's cut of Battle Royale last night - fun stuff.

Any movie that has Beat Takeshi and a host of Japanese schoolgirls using machine guns can't go too far wrong.


Have you seen any other Beat Takeshi films, Baron? 

Can't say as I have - I've seen one or two with him in the movie section at Books Kinokuniya, but haven't gotten around to picking any of them up.

Any of them are well worth alook.  Especially the ones he wrote and directed himself.

I was going to draw a comparison between watching the (many) filmed versions of Dracula and the (many) filmed versions of Hamlet, but forgot. Both stories are so familiar that it's often interesting to watch a bad movie version just to see what was kept in, ahat was left out, and what directorial choices were made.

Tarzan the Fearless (1933), starring Buster Crabbe.

Much to MGM's chagrin, producer Sol Lesser had competing film rights for Tarzan, and pushed out this production a year after MGM's Tarzan the Ape Man.  (Lesser even cast his own Olympic swimmer, Buster Crabbe, to compete with MGM's Johnny Weissmuller.)  Lesser actually produced this as a 12-part serial, then edited the first 4 chapters into film form and released them to promote the serial.  That plan didn't work so well, as few moviegoers apparently caught on that they were supposed to keep coming back to the theater for more installments.

Wikipedia quotes a contemporary critic, William Tray, as writing:

"If Mr Burroughs' Tarzan books are not beyond the reach of an eight-year-old mind, the movie versions of them may be said to reduce the age limit by three or four years. In fact, even an intelligent child may find something embarrassing in the manner in which an unfortunate young athlete named Buster Crabbe is required to jump from tree to tree, caress synthetic Hollywood apes, and make hideously inhuman noises."

I don't disagree with the tone of that review -- it's not a good film -- but I would note that (a) Crabbe isn't too bad in what is, I believe, his first film role, and the vine-swinging -- I assume it's not really Crabbe in the long shots -- is pretty good, and (b) it was Weissmuller, not Crabbe, who got stuck with "synthetic" apes**.  (He was also saddled with Indian elephants disguised as their bigger African cousins by the least convincing ear prosthetics in the history of cinema.  Seriously -- elephant ear prosthetics.)

** "Tarzan and the Synthetic Apes" would make a perfectly believable ERB title, though. 

I caught Space Cowboys late last night on ION tv. 

SPOILER ALERT:  at the end of the movie, there's an iconic shot of an austronaut laying against a  rock boulder on the moon.  I've been told this is a recreation of a "famous" sci fi book cover from the 60s. Does anyone know what book, or where I can find an image of the cover?  Thanks.

As I've learned over the years, So Lesser took over the "official" TARZAN series when MGM stopped after 6 Weismullers.  So Lesser did 6 more Weismullers, 5 Lex Barkers, and 4 Gordon Scotts (one of those a TV pilot) before retiring.

Then Sy Weintraub took over, and continued with Scott in 2 more films, but with Tarzan finally educated (and it's amazing how much TOUGHER Scott looked in those last 2 films!). For some reason, despite increased success, Weintraub decided he wanted a "new look" (after 2 films with Scott, why didn't he switch actors at the start?) and so we got 2 with Jock Mahoney, who's actually one of my favorites. But a tropical disease cut short HIS run, and so we got Mike Henry, with a physique right out of a Frank Frazetta painting, but who seemed somehow much less intelligent than Mahoney. HE quickly got fed up (after 3 films shot back-to-back), so when the long-intended TV series finally happened, we got Ron Ely instead. Good thing... HE's my FAVORITE Tarzan!! Especially in the 2nd season. He got a lot tougher as he went (just like Scott).

It's really strange how all 3 of Mike Henry's films were "held back" 2 years before release. "...CITY OF GOLD" (which I just watched again this weekend) was made in '64 but released in '66, just before the TV series. My understanding is, the intention was to do 3 films to "bracket" the TV series, the films being released during summer rerun seasons.  But because Henry was replace by Ely, you had 2 DIFFERENT Tarzans instead of the same one! (What must have added to the confusion was young Manuel Padilla Jr., who played 3 different roles between the first 2 films and the TV series. I can picture TV fans seeing the films and thinking, "Oh, look, it's Jai! Oh wait, no it's not...")   : D

So the 3rd Mike Henry film was released after the TV show actually ended, even though it was shot before it started. I saw the promo in a theatre, and said outloud, "THAT's not the REAL Tarzan!"  (That's probably how UK fans felt when the Peter Cushing DR. WHO films came out.) Naturally, I prefer to watch them in the order they were made.

I just read yesterday that there's a possibility that "...CITY OF GOLD" may have started life as a DOC SAVAGE film (which might have starred Chuck Connors). The DS paperbacks had started around '64. "THE THOUSAND-HEADED MAN" was also apparently being tossed around as a possible film... which would explain the one-shot Gold Key comic!!

In case you're interested, TCM is circling back around to some older and lesser-seen Tarzan flicks for the next few Saturdays.  That's how we got Fearless this weekend.

For the next two weeks, we get Herman Brix -- The New Adventures of Tazan and Tarzan and the Green Goddess -- followed by Tarzan's Revenge with Glenn Morris.

Meanwhile, I'm working my way through the Weissmuller collection(s) that I picked up some time ago.


We just saw A Separation -- the Iranian movie that won the Best Foreign Language Picture oscar this year. And man, it was good. It's a harrowing domestic drama that takes a number of unexpected turns. A really great movie.

Haven't had cable for 4 years. I mostly miss TCM.

TARZAN'S REVENGE could be seen as Sol Lesser's follow-up to TARZAN THE FEARLESS.  Tarzan is still, just like Johnny Weismuller, illiterate.  The funny thing is, the plot of the film is probably closer in style to an actual ERB story than most anything MGM did in their 6 films.  More "imagination". Some of the Lex Barkers were also like this.

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF TARZAN is a whole other matter, though.  ERB was directly involved with this, and it features what book fans would describe as "THE REAL TARZAN".  He's actually referred to as "Lord Greystoke" at least once, has an estate in England, and speaks better English than the bad guys. The climax of the 1st (of the 2) feature-film compilations also reaches TARZAN AND HIS MATE levels of VIOLENCE!! I could see they just barely slipped it in before The Hayes Office started to enforce the Production Code.

For many years, I assumed that, like the FLASH GORDON and BUCK ROGERS compilation films, NEW ADVENTURES... essentially split the serial in half for the two films.  Turns out I was wrong.  It seems the first chapter of the serial was around an HOUR long, and so the movie version only contains chapters 1-2!  The 2nd film picks up from there, and presumably, skips about 75% of the middle of the serial.  Crazy, hmm?

Apparently, the serial was re-written extensively while it was being shot, so there are instances of sub-plots that go nowhere, and at least one chapter whose title does not relate to anything in the entire storyline.

But from what I was reading a few months back, the behind-the-scenes real-life story that went on during the making of the serial is even more outlandish than the movie itself. The director ran off with his leading lady, his wife divorced him, and SHE wound up marrying ERB!

Further, for no reason anyone has been able to come up with, about 20 years after the film was released, a distributor in England had much of it RE-DUBBED-- and very badly.  As a result, while Tarzan's voice was very good (even if the sound quality of the film wasn't), in the re-dubbed version, the king of the apes winds up with an incredibly annoying nasal drone. (But, as far as I can tell, only in certain episodes.)

Physically, Brix is often a favorite Tarzan. Also, I know a couple of ERBites who rank him as their favorite.

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