Saturday, May 22, 2010

I May Have to Start Watching Yo Gabba Gabba!

Last Friday night, I went to the Silent Movie Theater to see part of the series currated by the creators of Yo Gabba Gabba! I've never seen the show, although I've seen plenty of clips on the web that make it look pretty great (I don't even know what channel it's on). But after this night of movies, I might try to seek it out.

Before the show, DJ Lance Rock, the star of Gabba, was spinning records (pretty cool stuff, mostly of the peppy, sampledelic dance variety. The only thing I really remember was a slick cover of The Cramps' "Human Fly" with a female singer.) while a loop of credit sequences from Japanese TV shows played on the screen. This was my favorite:

I would love to watch this show! There were lots of others, too, like one where the hero is a guy who turns into a white lion with a sword riding a horse, and another where the hero is some kind of tiger riding a motorcycle. The only one I recognized was Spectreman. The stage was lined with an impressive collection of Japanese monster toys (including one battery-powered Mechagodzilla wandering around in back), and there were large Gabba cardboard standups on either side.

But let's talk about the movie itself: Inframan. Inframan is the Shaw Bros. rip-off of Ultraman. I had never seen it, but I had seen the trailer at the Egyptian Theater a few years ago during their Sci Fi Festival, and it's just about the best trailer I've ever seen.

Can the movie possibly be as crazy as this trailer promises? YES. Like I said, this is from Shaw Bros. Studios, so when Inframan is fighting a bunch of rubber creatures, they fight with some actual kung fu moves, but that's not really what makes it. Inframan is the most insane monster mash you have ever seen. There is, and I mean this quite literally, something utterly nuts going on every single second of the movie. There are rubber suit monsters that look more like Sid & Marty Kroft's creations than Eiji Tsuburaya's. There are sexy science witches. There are scientists who throw out all kinds of bizarre pseudoscientific dialogue. For a monster movie fan, Inframan is a dream come true.

The second feature was one of my favorite Godzilla movies, Godzilla vs. Megalon. It's not one of the best Godzilla films, for sure, but it's a childhood favorite (I saw it broadcast in primetime on NBC, introduced by John Belushi in a Godzilla suit), and definitely one of the craziest of the series. I'm not sure it was a good idea to put it after Inframan, which makes almost any movie seem slow-paced, but I enjoyed watching it for the first time in over a decade. I know a lot of people who really dig Flash Gordon (1980), as do I, but I get the feeling some people think that film's campy, candy-colored scifi is unique. It wasn't. If you watch Megalon (or The Wiz, which was shown yesterday as part of the same series), you see that there was a lot of this nutty stuff in the late 70's. Megalon begins with a kid riding some weird floatation toy in a lake. It looks like a big, cartoon fish, with two smaller fish on either side acting as paddles. It was years between my first viewing and my second, and I remember thinking that I must have imagined or dreamed this device. It just didn't seem like a real memory. But sure enough, there it is. And there's a weird little dance number among the Atlantis villains that I didn't even remember. And some weird mod-hippy murals painted on the side of the good guys' house. What strange shit to watch as a kid. I'm glad that Yo Gabba! is continuing the tradition of warping kids' brains with fucked up imagery.


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