Kaiju Memoir: Silver Scream Spook Show Presents... GMK

This is an edited version of the report.

Coppola, Kurosawa, Scorsese - these are all names that are recognized by people who take pride into wanting only the best out of the best films to watch. Another name comes to mind which should be on the list: Kaneko. Shusuke Kaneko is a great director, from making great drama films like Cross Fire (Pyrokenesis) and the Death Note duology to creating films which challenge what were the greatest giant monster films of all "Gamera 3: Incomplete Struggle". Another is "Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monster All Out Attack". GMK, while not as good as G3 (which is good only because of the film's evolution coming from G1 and G2) is considerably better than G1 and G2 and arguably better than the original "Gojira". Back on January 31, the Plaza Theatre of Atlanta, Georgia, which used to be a grindhouse/porn theatre, showed GMK. In this report, we will look into the history of Godzilla in this theatre and what happened at the premiere and if anything else would happen.

First we have to talk about the history of this film. This film has been the most shown Godzilla film ever (in American art houses and cult film theatres). The film has been shown at least eleven times at an estimated six different art film houses and other specialty theatres. And now it’s showing here. According to two articles on Henshin!Online, the way theatres get prints of these types of films is by contacting Sony Pictures Repertory, and with paying $150 and 33% of the box office income, you can show the film that you want (in this case, GMK). At the current time, you have a choice to rent a dubbed version and a subtitled version. It was not always liked that. A subtitled version was made available only a little bit before September 14th, 2004 (and the first article explaining this film was written a year and accouple of days before). The print which was shown was the dubbed version.

So it turns out that this is not the first time a kaiju film has been shown in Atlanta, let alone the legendary Plaza Theatre. Previously, the theatre has shown the films Mothra (February 24th 2007) and Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster (March 29th 2008). As they say, third times the charm, and their third kaiju film was GMK. Two weeks before the premiere, I estimated that only a little more than $35 will be made at the box office. At the end of the 10:00 pm showing, the box office draw became a total of $2,800 (that is both showings together). Attendance to the 1:00pm showing was around 150 and the attendance for the adults-only 10:00pm showing was 250.
INTERVIEW WITH SHANE MORTON (runner of the Silver Scream Spook Show and affiliate of the Plaza Theatre)

Here now is an interview with Professor Mort, the guy in charge of the Plaza Theatre:
1. How well known is the Plaza Theatre and it's main attraction: The Spook Show?
The Plaza is Atlanta's greatest movie theatre as well as Atlanta's oldest continually operating movie theatre which opened in 1939. The Spook Show is Atlanta's greatest theatre going experience! You will see a line around the building twice a day on the last Saturday of every month!
2. What is the theatre regarding to giant monster films (kaiju films) and what Godzilla films have been shown there?
We were the first theatre in North America to show the newly restored Mothra print. We've shown Godzilla vs. The Sea monster, Infra-Man, and the greatest giant monster movie of all time, 1933's King Kong!
3. Sources say that the theatre has shown two kaiju films: Mothra (1961) and Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster (Godzilla, Mothra, Ebirah: Big Duel in the South Sea). Can you recall how successful this screening was. If not, the Mothra screening?
The Mothra screening was a huge deal and extremely successful. In my opinion, it was the most beautiful and colorful print of a film I have ever watched! All of the Kaiju films are well attended and even none of the children seem to care about the subtitles... Hey , were purists!
4. For monster films shown with the "Spook Show", there is a poster made (like the one seen in this link: http://www.scifijapan.com/articles/2009/01/04/giant-asian-monsters-on-the-big-screen-in-january/). Who makes these posters and is there any other information I can get on them?
Kevin Rej is our amazing poster designer and artist. He is a long time Atlanta resident and designs ad campaigns and logos for national companies but still loves drawing Monsters for us! check him out here - http://www.raisestudio.com/
5. What film requests do you get, if you can say some monster-movie oriented?
Everyone has a favorite Monster / Scifi / Horror film and we get requests for all of them. Believe me if it exists on 35mm film and is a classic, you will get a chance to see it at the Silver Scream Spook Show. (or if it is R rated, at Splatter Cinema which The Plaza hosts the second Tuesday of every month.) I have personally fulfilled many of my cinematic viewing dreams at the Plaza Theatre.
6. What monsters films are being planned to be shown in the future?
We have a line on King Kong Vs. Godzilla and many of the newer Godzilla films, but we prefer to show the older ones. GMK is an exception to our rule. Coming up in March we have the 7th Voyage of Sinbad, May we have Creature From the Black Lagoon in 3D, plus more classic Bela Lugosi, Ray Harryhausen, and Vincent Price in the works.
7. What monster films have you seen and liked (if you can, list Japanese Kaiju films)?
Kaiju films, All of them! I am a huge fan and have actually partied with Haruo Nakajima and Kenpachiro Satsuma! (Do not get in a drinking contest with Nakajima, trust me!) I also love any old monster movies. It's too long of a list to put down but I do have an intense and all encompassing love of classic Horror / Monster / Sci-Fi movies!
8. Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Attack; Mothra; and Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster are all owned by Sony. Do you have any affiliation with Sony and how do you go by getting a print of the films (please be specific with this)?
We have no official affiliation with Sony. The Plaza Theatre has relationships with most if not all the film studios in order to run their films. Getting the films to show is just part of the day to day operations of running a movie theatre. The theatre requests films to the studios, they see if they have 35mm prints, what kind of shape they are in and if they are available. Sony seems to be the only studio that has 35mm prints of Godzilla films that are made available to theaters.
9. What is your goal when releasing a movie like this (e.g.: box office sales and attendance)?
We want to fill the theater of course, but we also want to turn people onto stuff that they are unaware of. Especially in the case of GMK, we are going to blow people’s minds with this movie - and the show! We have never worked so hard on props, magic tricks, etc, as we are on this show. It's going to be stupendous!
10. Anything to say to the people reading this interview?
Yes! Thank you for the support! The Silver Scream Spook Show is a dream come true for all involved and it makes us very happy every time we hear the laughter and the screams of an appreciative audience! Come see the Spook Show, you won't believe your eyes! We'll scare the Yell out of you!

I would like to re-mention from the article that King Kong vs. Godzilla, 7th Voyage of Sinbad, and some Harryhausen films are going to be shown, including Creature from the Black Lagoon in 3D and some classic Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price.

Something about the Plaza Theatre is that it is one of the ultimate fan hot spots in America. As Shane Morton said, if you got a request, he will try to fill it. And also since it is an old theatre, people want to keep it fun. But what do the people think? Here is an interview with Avery Guerra, who is actually a friend of mine. Here is the interview that gives everything from a fan's point of view. I did this interview in way that not everyone has been to this theatre which is located in the south.
Q. State your name and history as a kaiju fan concerning writing papers, being staff of official sites like SciFiJapan, MonsterZero, and Henshin!Online, ect.
A. Hi my name is Avery Battles but I'm more commonly known online as Avery Guerra. From as far back as I can remember I have been a fan of daikaiju [giant monster] films. [I should note on your interview questions that I've never worked for any of those sites before. I regularly work for the ones that I mentioned and I am pretty good friends with Kieth Akin of 'Sci-Fi Japan' and stay in regular contact with him. ] You know I was in your shoes just a few years back. I never thought that I would be where I'm at now and with all the connections I've made. I wouldn't ever claim to be anyone special or better than anyone else as I'm just a Regular Joe, but apparently I've got quite a talent at finding news on giant monster [kaiju] films and making the right friends, as I've been told regularly. I think that had a big hand in landing me the jobs as I've become basically a 'news hound' for several sites including; Kenneth Hulsey's 'Robo Japan/Monster Island News' and famous Australian author and film critic Robert Hood's 'UnDead BackBrain' among many others including several mainstream horror movie news sites that I regularly help out. I'm actually not much of an author and only write the articles on occasion. Although I'm told my writing skills are not too bad. Usually, I'm just the one going out there and finding the news and taking it to the right people. I don't receive any pay for what I do, it's more of just a hobby, but I enjoy it immensely. I do however make a lot of connections with movie directors, special effects artists, actors, etc. that will surely benefit me a lot in the future.
Q. How many times have you gone to the Plaza Theatre and what films do you usually see there?
A. I have only been to the Plaza Theater a handful of times to catch some of the Silver Scream Spook Show's monthly screenings of classic horror/sci-fi films. I have been lucky enough to catch 'King Kong [1933], 'The Creature From The Black Lagoon [in 3-D], 'Mothra' [the original Japanese language print] and a few others.
Q. Are you associated with the staff of the Plaza Theatre?
A. I'm actually not in any way associated with the staff at the theater nor with the staff of any of the special events that it hosts such as; 'Silver Scream Spook Show', 'Splatter Cinema' or 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show'. I have been in contact with the host [Professor Morte] of the 'Spook Show' via e-mail through their 'MySpace' page. A very pleasant experience. They are a very professional and friendly crew and put on a fantastic show that's not to be missed.
Q. You mentioned to me before that you recommended a lot of films. Was GMK one of these films and what other kaiju related films did you recommend?
A. I have recommended many films to them for consideration for future shows and "Godzilla: GMK" was actually second on my list of films I most wanted to see as a part of their show. Among the countless others I suggested such recent releases as; "Godzilla: Final Wars" and "Gamera; The Brave", as well as classics such as "Reptilicus", "The Giant Claw", "Gammera; The Invincible", "The X-From Outer Space", "Majin; Monster Of Terror", "Gorgo", "Mighty Peking Man", "Pulgasari" and many others.
Q. How have your experiences at this theatre been to you and have effected you?
A. Each of the shows that I had the pleasure of catching at this theater were exactly that; a pleasure. The staff of the cinema and crew members of the special events were all very professional and courteous and you can easily tell that they have a love for what they're doing. That really helps makes it all a much more enjoyable experience and one that I would highly recommend to others.
Like what Morte said, if you got a request, he will try to fulfill it. May a Gamera film or a Guilala film be not too far off in the horizon?
First, as a Georgian and a South Easterner in general, not a lot of Kaiju related event happen here, excluding Florida. But the one place that we Southerners can always rely on is the Plaza Theatre to show films as a good alternative to other events. Here is how everything went:
I left two hours early. I live in Warner Robins so it is not that long to Atlanta. We got there 45 minutes early, and thank god we did. I was the first to get out of the car (I am only 15, so my mom drove me and my brother to the event) and I got my camera and started snapping photos till I was met my a short woman who was a radio talk show host who was doubling for security. Next, after covering the front of the theatre, I decided to ask a teen aged woman, an employee, if the posters could be bought once the show was over. I was answered with a , "no". I tried getting in, but there was another no. Of course anyone who knows me knows that no one is going to get in my way of kaiju stuff. And then the true magic took it's toll on me.

I had never been to a G-FEST or any type of kaiju-related event. So when I went to the theater and saw GMK and Kill Bill posters and a dealer's table and another table full of free promotional items and a table of display only items (unless you are a member of the Silver Scream Spook Show fan club). In case you were wondering, the items on that table were a bunch of issues of G-FAN, a bunch of Japanese VHS tapes (some from Video Daikaiju), and last but not least a slew of Dark Horse Godzilla comic books.

The dealer's table was actually a guy selling his copies, which he had a lot of copies and stuff. All 6 inch figures were $15, Bandai Creation figures were $5, Bandai Creation 12" figures were $20, and all exclusives were $30. So here is what I got:

-Bandai AFFE Exclusive crystal Gamera 1999 $30
-Bandai Theater Exclusive Gamera 1999 $30
-Bandai History of Godzilla set (from 1999/2000) $20
-Bandai Godzilla vs. Destroyer Diorama $10-Bandai Iris 6" $15
-Bandai Toho Kaiju 6" King Ghidorah $15
-Bandai Godzilla Island 6" Mecha King Ghidorah $15
-Bandai Toho Kaiju 6" Spacegodzilla $15
-Bandai Theater Exclusive 6" Mire-Goji $15
-Bandai Theater Exclusive 6" Gira-Goji $15
-Bandai Toho Kaiju 6" Burning Godzilla $15

Me, the dealer, and a friend of the dealer then chatted. It was nice that I got to chat with other Godzilla fans. We covered topics like our Clubtokyo memberships, Gamera 3 or Gojira, and other Godzilla collectibles. Then some eyes widened when people found out that I got such rarities like the Bandai Large Scale 1991 Godzilla or the Chogokin Kiryu 2002. Then we talked about the CM discs. Total nerd fun. Sadly, the dealer, who I forgot to get his name, had to leave half way through the film to go on a trip to Florida.

After that, I just started taking more and more photos. The theatre, I found out, is like the Godzilla capitol of the South East: the theatre itself keeps Godzilla toys at it's box office stand (a bottle cap with a HG figure of 1974 Mechagodzilla and a Bandai SD Gira-Goji in the corner of a window. The stand, which held the G-Fans and the R2 VHS tapes and the Dark Horse comics, is a monthly thing filled with Goji merchandise; but on occasion other merchandise to other cult films, depends on what they are showing).
Around 45 minutes after I came to the theatre, that is when the crowds came. This is a major learning point for me, a Godzilla fan who is also studying the fandom. G-Fest is the Mecca for American/Canadian fans and those who go are well educated G-FANS who know a lot about Godzilla and other kaiju related facts. This premier was not. So there were more casual fans than die-hards like me. First, the crowd was mostly adult - no doubt either nostalgic people or people wanting to look at a movie that they thought would have a snowball's chance in hell of being shown (a Goji film so to speak). There was no one in my age group there. But there were kids. It was mostly boys, but there was one little Mothra fan who bought a VHS of Rebirth of Mothra (1996). But the main thing was that most people in attendance were casual fans. Some boy's father thought that the film they were showing was Ghidorah, The Three Headed Monster (1964), which I overheard this comment and politely corrected him. Another said that the film was made in the Heisei series, but I corrected that also. As I said, casual fans. The kids were cool though, two younger fans were holding their Imperial Godzillas (did not know there were even collectors in Georgia) and a HG Heisei 1995 Gamera. But I do not blame them, I made my mother hold my Bandai 8" GMK Ghidorah, my brother hold a w/ tag Bandai 8" GMK Baragon and I held my Bandai 8" GMK Goji figure (all figures I bought were but into a box which went into the back of my mom's SUV). Then came the time to enter the theatre, with by the doors two big home-made Godzilla banners. Then the magic happened:
The Silver Scream Spook Show is something which lots of people come to on a regular basis in Atlanta, that I can assure after overhearing the multitude of comments. Audience participation is a given. The Spook Show cast tries to do a 30 minute show based on the movie. First, we had the character Retch give out treats to all the kids who had birthdays, which ranged from the aforementioned HG Gamera and Godzilla shirts to official Silver Screen Spook Show merchandise (stickers and trading cards). Then the show started. First, a semi-burlesque Japanese school girl was dancing around a teacher. Then they went off and Professor Morte (played by Shane Morton) and his henchmen Retch finds an Xilian that tells a prophecy of monsters coming on the 31 of January to do battle in and around the Plaza Theatre. The crew go and give the sea monster (with music from Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water, and the sea monster is not Ebirah) and a giant big foot (they used Toho Kong roars) sleeping pills in which if taken on an empty stomach, makes the monsters enraged. So they have to get Mothra by making her come out of her cocoon to the Shobijin's song with burlesque dancing. Mothra wakes up and is to fetch Godzilla to do battle with big foot and the Sea Monster. Mothra fights Big Foot and Godzilla fights the Sea Monster. After wards the movie began.
Audience reaction to my second favorite Godzilla film was nice. Nothing Rocky Horror like, but it was fun. There was clapping for the Toho logo, the main credits, Godzilla's appearance, Ghidorah's coming to the final battle, Ghidorah getting his wings, and last but not least the end of the film. But there is always expected to be laughter. But sometimes laughter can be a sign of a difference between two different societies. First, I do not understand the laughter at the quote, "It is a bit far fetched" when a guy suggests they name the monsters. Second, the dubbing is ok, I do not see anything wrong with it. Not to forget the laughter when Yuri Tachibana said, "They're dead. The men in the helicopter. They're dead." There was laughter accompanied with a random "You think so?" Honestly, we Americans are so bad at mental stuff. We Americans are always going fast. We text fast, we multi task fast, we like stuff fast. So we think fast and do not ponder/meditate on subjects. This is a bad thing. For instead on thinking, "Why did Yuri Tachibana say that?" and coming to the common conclusion that she is trying to recon with the incredible events which she is witnessing. But we Americans, unless used to the Godzilla films and are a little intelligent, take it that: "She said that? Yo duh their dead! Why say something as obvious as that?" Either A.)This film is comedic and I am an idiot not to realize that, B.)I take these films too seriously, or C.)America needs to wake up. I am glad though that the American people liked the film and that the film's reputation has grown as a good film that even made American critics like it.

On a side note, I bet that the woman who greeted me is a critic who is hopefully going to or already has reviewed the film positively on local Atlanta, Georgia radio. Another thing I wish is that Roger Ebert would be here. While he did not like Gojira much, he did like Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995) and therefore hope to get a review of the film from him. When the film was over, my family went and got a photo with Proff. Morte (and I thanked him for the interview) then got a photo with the Godzilla suit (the Godzilla suit was not the GMK suit, it was very well made home made suit with the head looking like the 12" Banpresto figure's head). Everyone seemed to be pumped and I could not go to sleep for another 16 hours after that, since it was my first Godzilla theatrical experience.

In conclusion, it was a well worth event. Sure, I was the only forumer to go but it was a cool experience which a lot of people wished could have been here. And I wished that Packmule and Avery Guerra could have been there. And if you are reading this, you should have been there. It was like a mini G-Fest like none other.