Or: How I Learned To Screen My Monster Flicks.
Like most little boys, I had a fascination with and a love of dinosaurs. I remember a poster I had on my wall (what seemed like 20 feet long when I was boy, but was probably more like 6-7 feet) that chronicled the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous time periods, and detailed what dinosaurs roamed the Earth during each specific time period. My son also has a love, at one point, some might have called it an obsession, of dinosaurs. Of course the T-Rex is his favorite of the Tyrannosaurs, and is the “King of the Dinosaurs!”
This obsession, eventually led to us watching almost every movie available that was remotely related to dinosaurs. These movies were great, but they were all too… kiddy? He was ready for the fights. He wanted to see the T-Rex in all of its g(l)ory; ripping other dinosaurs to shreds. We screened “Jurassic World,” and “Jurassic Park” (minus the velociraptors in the kitchen part, that still tenses me out!) and he was hooked. These hulking creatures weren’t pacifists, they were carnivores! They hunted and stalked. “Velociraptors hunt in packs so they can take down bigger prey.” He was obviously loving the more real life aspect of the “Jurassic World.”
One day, as he was thumbing through our DVD collection, he came upon the latest Godzilla movie (not the greatest movie, but it was in the bargain bin for $3 with a digital copy included and I hadn’t seen it yet, so I figured, why not?)
“What dinosaur is this?”
I’d honestly forgotten that we had the movie…
“Oh, that’s not a dinosaur. That’s Godzilla. The King of the Monsters!”
“Can we watch this? Let’s watch this.”
Being the responsible parent that I am, I watched it again that night after he had gone to bed, as it had been a while since I’d seen it. We watched parts of it together the next day; skipping past the boring talking scenes (i.e. the majority of the movie,) and fast forwarding to the best bits.
The parts where the Muto’s emerge from their EMP-emitting cocoons.
“Ooh, what’s that?”
“Um, those are called…” (Google google google) “those are called Muto’s. They are the bad monsters. They like to eat bombs.”
“Where’s…what it’s name again?
“Yeah, Godzilla, where’s he? Why doesn’t he get them?”
“Just wait buddy, he’s coming I’m sure.”
The parts where there are now two Muto’s, and one basically levels Las Vegas in search of radiation.
“Daddy! Look, watch, it’s on the TV in the building….then…hahahaha, he smashed the building! Those people inside are so surprised.”
And finally, where Godzilla catches and confronts the newcomers to the Kaiju scene.
“Oh my goodness! He smashed that Muto into the building! It’s dead, he got that one!”
“He breathes fire! Daddy! Godzilla breathes blue fire!”
“Daddy, the big Muto was chasing the boat with the guy on it, then Godzilla catched him, then he breathed fire down his mouth, then the big Muto was dead, then he ripped his head off and roared!”
This was just part of the running narrative, in case I missed those parts as I was sitting right next to him on the couch.
His Godzilla obsession had begun. He needed more. HULU to the rescue! We searced and, like any rational movie choice, based our decision off of the pictures in the search. He settled on one that was called “Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidora: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack” (and not in the title but still in the film – Baragon! “That one is almost like an Ankylosaurus, but with vampire bat ears and can dig super fast!”) How bad could it be? He couldn’t wait to see the new monsters for Godzilla to do battle with, and I wouldn’t have to worry about the typical swearing, violence and gore that come along with more mainstream movies.
Commentary from my wife:
“What is this?”
“Godzilla vs Mothra…and…some other monsters. It’s a Godzilla movie.”
“I don’t get it.”
“What’s there to get? Giant monsters doing battle!”
“Oh, I just thought he’d have better taste than this…”
“Oh look at that giant moth! Why is there pretty music for Mothra?”
While he continued watching this cinematic masterpiece, I busied myself with other parental duties; like making myself a sandwich, and browsing Reddit.
Baragon had been defeated. Mothra had died and had mutated the dragon Ghidora into King Ghidora, which also had some stone merged on his head now too.
All seemed well…until it wasn’t.
I guess I didn’t notice how much of the boring dialogue parts we had skipped as the movie had now ended, and a very sad 5 year old came into the kitchen, crying.
“Daddy, I don’t like this movie. They killed Godzilla! He died!”
Godzilla had…died? He can’t die! Godzilla doesn’t ever die! Does he?*
“What? Godzilla can’t die?!”
“Yeah, they put a bomb inside him and he got blown up by the submarine that went into his cut.”
Well, there, on the bottom of the ocean, is Godzilla’s heart. Only his heart. No spikes, no tails, no teeth, no cheap rubber suit; just his heart.
Crap. Luckily for me, I have excellent lying, um, parenting skills.
“No see, it’s still beating. He’s in a cocoon, like a butterfly.”
“It’s called a chrysalis.”
“Right, he’s in a chrysalis, like a butterfly. So if he get’s hurt, he just goes and makes a cocoon,”
“He just goes and makes a chrysalis so he can heal and be ready for the next monster.”
“He’s not dead?”
“No way. He’s just resting to be ready for the next battle. Here, let’s see his next battle against, uh… Ooh, look at this monster. Des…uh…Destroyer? Destoroyah!”
Your turn Kaiju fans. What truths have you smudged, fabricated, or altogether made up to keep you kids’ love for life alive? Or, what’s you favorite monster flick? Give a roar in the comments!
*Godzilla actually has died three** times. Once in the original, Godzilla (1954) by a weapon called the Oxygen Destroyer. Once during our movie of choice here, where technically he’s not dead, he’s just resting…in a chrysalis. And once vs Destoroyah where he wasn’t actually killed, but melts, as he is overcome with excessive radiation and is too powerful to contain (don’t worry, a new Godzilla is revealed just as the movie closes.)
** Technically, he’s died another time, if you count the abomination of the monster that is Godzilla in-name-only from the 1998 US movie. I don’t count this, because this monster is Godzilla in-name-only, and doesn’t possess any of the unique traits that encapsulate the classic King of the Monsters.