One of my fondest memories of growing up in the tri-state area was watching The 4:30 Movie, which aired every weekday on our local ABC affiliate. The awesome thing about it was the programming would include week-long marathons, such as “Planet of The Apes” week, “Beach Party” week, or “Vincent Price” week. But one of the most eagerly anticipated (for me, at least) of them all would be “Godzilla Week” or “Giant Monster Week.” Between those showings on The 4:30 Movie, and Saturday night broadcasts on programs like Chiller Theater, it was easy to indulge my interest in seeing the adventures of Godzilla and other giant monsters such as Rodan and Mothra on a regular basis. Author Brian Solomon has brought back a lot of great memories of those times with his excellent new book, Godzilla FAQ: All That’s Left To Know About The King Of The Monsters. It’s a fascinating look at the history of Godzilla, starting with the original Japanese film, 1954's Gojira, right up through the most recent entry in the franchise, Shin Godzilla, which was released last year.
Godzilla FAQ covers the entire saga of the The Big G, and the innovative people who brought him to life, including director Ishiro Honda, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, special effects icon Eiji Tsuburaya and composer Akira Ifukube. In addition to biographies of the talent behind the camera, there are also profiles of the actors and actresses who appeared regularly in the films, including Kenji Sahara and Kumi Mizuno. The book features comprehensive coverage of every movie featuring Godzilla, and Solomon adeptly shows how the character changed and was re-defined over the years in his various incarnations. There’s also a look at 1998's disastrous American version of Godzilla, directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Matthew Broderick, and the more successful 2014 relaunch, directed by Gareth Edwards and featuring Bryan Cranston. That film helped kick off a new series of movies in the US, which will culminate in 2020 with Godzilla facing off once again with his old rival, King Kong. The two monsters first battled in the classic King Kong vs. Godzilla. That iconic 1962 showdown gets its own delightful chapter here. Solomon also takes time to detail the changes made to the initial films in the series for American audiences, including the footage of Raymond Burr that was inserted into Gojira, which was re-worked and released here in 1956 as Godzilla, King of the Monsters. The book also covers Godzilla's appearances in other media, including comic books and animated series, and provides a peek at the Big G's fan community, as well as his lasting impact on pop culture.
There are also comments and quotes from other experts on the genre, including authors August Ragone and Stuart Galbraith IV, who provides the book’s introduction. And this wouldn’t be a proper study of Godzilla if it didn’t give us some background on his greatest battles and deadliest enemies, like Ghidorah and Mechagodzilla, and his allies (and sometime foes) like Rodan, Mothra and Anguirus, now would it? It’s all here in this wonderful book, which also features information on the history of Toho Studios (who produced the films) and their non-Godzilla monster and genre output, including The Mysterians and War of the Gargantuas. Brian Solomon is clearly a fan, and his passion for these films shines through in this thoroughly enjoyable, informative and entertaining book. Godzilla FAQ: All That’s Left To Know About The King Of The Monsters is a feast for fans of the giant monster genre. The book is now available at brick and mortar stores such as Barnes & Noble, and it can also be found online at Amazon, or over at Hal Leonard Books, the publisher's website: https://www.halleonard.com. As a force of destruction and devastation, or as a protector of the Earth (as he was in later entries) Godzilla's been a part of our lives for over 60 years, and here's hoping he'll continue to roar for a long time to come. Now I'm going to sit back, pop in my disc of Destroy All Monsters, and fire up some popcorn!