A new chore kept appearing on my "to-do" list. And as a new entry was added, I pretended not to see it.
My disrespectful behavior made Mom unhappy.But this fourth-grader just didn't care about mom's emotional state. I had a date with a 40-story lizard.
It was "Godzilla" week on the Channel 7 3:30 p.m. movie, and nothing could steer my pal Mike Byrnes and I from watching the Lizard King kick the tar out of Tokyo.
Godzilla was really a way of life for these two country boys, whose greatest visceral high - so far - was seeing Shelley Winters float in "The Poseidon Adventure." Pathetic, but sadly true.
Mike and I argued constantly about "Godzilla," trying to outshine the other in 'Zilla knowledge. We even got into a fistfight over which of the fire-breathing lizard's enemies was the coolest. Mike was a Mothra man, I was for that anorexic pterodactyl Rodan.
Our love of 'Zilla was evident in everything we did. We were so blinded by Lizard Envy that we would buy models of ships, planes and anything else for the sole purpose of pulverizing them just like Godzilla did to those toy skyscrapers in the movies. A healthy attitude? Probably not, but neither of us in later years were convicted of a crime.
Even at that young age we knew that the special effects in "Godzilla" weren't much and that the stories were as dopey as they came. That didn't matter. There was just so much other stuff to like.
We both agreed that the best part of every Godzilla flick were the final 15 minutes when 'Zilla duked it out.
Even though Godzilla was one of the most destructive monsters, killing millions of bad Japanese actors in each appearance, there was something innocent about these films.
I too am swept up by the hype of the new "Godzilla," and can't wait to meet the '90s version of the "king of all monsters." But I doubt it will be as much fun as the older films, where camp preserved over scary special effects.
In preparation for the new movie, I rewatched some of the infamous lizard's early roles. Here's a quick look at some of Godzilla's early appearances:
- "GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS" (1956): What an entrance. The giant lizard's debut film, with Raymond Burr as a journalist, is hysterically bad and hysterically great. Grade: A-
- "KING KONG VS. GODZILLA" (1963): In Japan, Godzilla wins. But in the film seen in America the mighty Kong does. Massive destruction. Grade: B+
- "GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA" (1964): The big moth is Godzilla's foe; in later films they're buds. A trippy film, complete with two miniature women from the planet where Mothra dwells. Grade: B
- "GHIDRAH: THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER" (1965): Godzilla, Mothra and Rodan discover three heads are better, and tougher, than one as they take on a three-headed flying serpent. All I can say is wow! Grade: B+
- "GODZILLA VS. GIGAN" (1972): An "Odd Couple" of monster flicks as Anguiris - a porcupinelike mutant - and the mighty lizard team up to fight Ghidrah and Gigan, a silly monster with a saw in his belly. An inspirational story of friendships and the sacrifices each must make for the other. Yeah, right. First speaking part for Godzilla. Grade: C
- "GODZILLA VS. MEGALON" (1976): A giant cockroach and a silly silver robot appear in one of the lamest entries in the series. Grade: D
- "GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA" (1978): Toho Studios really ran out of steam here as Godzilla confronts himself - in robot form. The bad guys are apes disguised as humans. Reeeeaallllly bad. Grade: D
- "GODZILLA 1985": Raymond Burr stands around a lot issuing messages of doom in this 30th anniversary film that finds Godzilla returning to dine on some nuclear power. One of the most heartrending death scenes for the Big Guy. Grade: B
- "GODZILLA MEETS BAMBI": Splat! A four-minute or so short. Grade: A
Anchor Bay Entertainment has released a five-set gift pack ("Godzilla vs. Megalon," "Ghidrah: The Three-Headed Monster," "Godzilla 1985," "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla" and "Godzilla vs. Gigan") for $49.95.