What to Watch in October on TCM
It's October, which means scary events, scary outings,
and scary movies in theaters, as well in the comfort of your own home. So, as a countdown to the end of the month (and the scariest night of the year), Turner
Classic Movies (TCM) is presenting a collection of
Horror Classics featuring films with the Monster of the Month, Godzilla. But that's not all. The month's Horror Classics span several decades from 1921's The Phantom Carriage to 1980's The Fog, directed, co-written and
scored by modern cinema's Horror King, John Carpenter.
The TCM Halloween 2019 Classic Horror Schedule kicks off with the original 1954 Godzilla (also know by its original Japanese title, Gojira). The 164 foot radioactive monster had humble beginnings with a simple, yet very original plot. Inspired by the events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the story bases the creation of the seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast on American nuclear weapons testing off the Souther most tip of the island of Okinawa. Although it is 175 miles away from Nagasaki and nine years after the fateful day that led to the Japanese surrender it seems that America is still impacting the
Directed by Ishirô Honda (Rodan, Mothra), the film is typical of movie releases of the era. However, unlike the other SciFi films of the 1950s, Godzilla's production value is far above that of the usual "B" movie features of the day. In fact, it raise the bar far above that expected of the genre, much like The Day the Earth Stood Still three years before, and Forbidden Planet two years later. These are films that, regardless of their fantastical concepts, are plausible and and completely believable due in large part to the performances of the talented cast.
The characters are well developed with layered personalities and complicated motives. The impressively experienced Takashi Shimura (Seven Samurai, Rashomon) plays Professor Kyohei Yamane. His portrayal of a concerned scientist is subtle and compelling. He is a man who has seen first hand the effects of radiation fallout and is concerned about the consequences of mankind's misuse of a powerful and uncontrollable element. On the other hand is Dr. Daisuke Serizawa played by Akihiko Hirata (Samurai, Rodan). The doctor is closely protecting the possibilities of his own work, resisting the idea of using it against Godzilla for fear that it will be later misused by political powers. The portrayals of these two men, as well as the other characters, are subtle and lack the usual hysteria associated with monster/SciFi films.
The original Godzilla has inspired 35 sequels and spin-offs. It is a cinematic phenomenon that virtually guarantees box office success. Although it's subsequent sequels and re- imaginings have never lived up to the original, that very first incarnation is an amazing triumph for Japanese cinema. It belongs on your "must see" list. Other films scheduled for the month long salute to creepy things that go bump in the night are Die Monster Die, Mothra, The Black Cat, and The Blood on Satan's Claw, I walked with a Zombie and King Kong. Check the TCM website for a complete list and schedule of show times.