Friday, March 30, 2012

Godzilla Attacks Worcester Again (The Recap)

Monday, March 26, 2012 was the date of the second "Godzilla Attacks Worcester" show at the Elm Draught House in Millbury, MA. It was a fabulous show for those of us in attendance. The program is put on my the good folks at That's Entertainment, the "Pop Culture Emporium" located in Worcester, MA. I used to refer to That's E! (as it's also known) as a comic book store. That was indeed its designation for many years. But the variety of merchandise that they sell simply makes "comic book store" a less-than-descriptive description of the place.

That's Entertainment in Worcester, MA

The Elm Draught House in Millbury, MA

Anyway, last year (2011) That's Entertainment collaborated with the Elm Draught House to put on the first "Godzilla Attacks Worcester" show (see my two blogs on that show for more information: Godzilla Attacks Worcester and Godzilla Attacks Worcester 2: The Recap). It was a Godzilla double feature that was mainly meant to publicize the release of the first issue of the new comic book Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters. Stores that ordered enough copies of this title were given the special privilege of receiving custom editions of the first issue with their own business being crushed by Godzilla on the cover. That's Entertainment was one of these stores. Here's what the cover looked like:

This year's show wasn't specifically promoting anything. I believe it was simply something that had to be done after the success of the first show. They hinted that they'd do another one after the first one, and I know that it was something they really wanted to do. Luckily That's Entertainment and the Elm Draught House were able to make it happen again. The fact that it was a double feature of Godzilla movies was a direct homage to the old 1970s-80s Boston-area Saturday afternoon show Creature Double Feature.

That show created many Monster Kids in the New England area and was a big influence on many young minds (mine included). The lasting impact of Creature Double Feature can be seen in the fact that this show payed homage to it nearly thirty years after it went off the air. Godzilla Attacks Worcester was an all-ages show and I'm sure that most of the younger attendees had no idea what Creature Double Feature was, but I'd venture that pretty much everyone there who was older than 35 had watched the show as a kid.

As was the case with last year's Godzilla Attacks Worcester show the tickets were free and available on a first come basis to anyone who visited That's Entertainment in the weeks before the show. Tickets weren't given out (or sold) at the door. Despite that quirky policy both shows were very well attended. I'm not good at estimating crowd numbers, but it seems doubtful that anyone could complain about the turnout.

The show was scheduled to start at 6:00. I managed to get there a few minutes before the start time. The crowd was buzzing and the line waiting to order from the Elm's extensive menu was very long (and remained so well into the program). The first movie didn't come on until a bit after 6:30, but no one was complaining--as they were projecting "Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster" (aka "Godzilla vs Hedora") (1971) up on the big screen. There was no sound (only subtitles), but that didn't seem to bother the people who opted to watch the screen rather than mingle. I should mention that, in addition to the usual movie theater fare, the Elm offers beer, wine, pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken parm sandwiches, BBQ rib sandwiches, nachos, ice cream, apple pie and many other tasty treats. And they have the BEST movie popcorn I've ever tasted!

Just a few of the Elm's food choices

The crowd waits for the show to start!

"Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster" in silent mode

Hedora's transformation scene
(very familiar to fans of Creature Double Feature from the show's opening)

Like last year, they didn't announce exactly which Godzilla movies would be presented until showtime. This seemed a bit annoying last year, but has now already become somewhat of a fun new tradition--and an integral part of the show itself. Unless there's a Godzilla film you really hate it's bound to be a pleasant surprise when they're announced. When it finally was time for the show to start there was a quick welcome from the That's Entertainment folks, followed by a very nice video presentation of various Godzilla and Godzilla-inspired clips (including a bit from the classic "Bambi Meets Godzilla" short) set to Blue Oyster Cult's song "Godzilla".

Here's another video for the song
(Note: this is not what was seen at the show)

Local Horror Host show Creepy Castle made an onscreen introduction to the show (as they did last year). Finally the identity of the first film could be revealed--it was "Terror of Mechagodzilla" from 1975. As is the case with most Godzilla movies, I had never seen this one on the big screen. Despite being a DVD projection rather than a true film-based presentation it was still great (and a lot of fun) to see this classic up on a real movie screen rather than on a TV.

Welcome to the show!

Godzilla and Jet Jaguar bond

Bambi Meets Godzilla

Creepy Castle's introduction to the first movie of the night...

Let the show begin!

The first film was followed by a few drive-in intermission ads and the night's first batch of raffle prizes. That's Entertainment gave out a number of Godzilla toys and DVDs. After a few more Godzilla-related shorts Creepy Castle returned to introduce the second movie, which was "Godzilla Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack" (2001). They used the same formula for last year's program--an old, classic Godzilla movie paired with one of the newer ones from the more recent series. It's a perfect combination that offers something for the older, long-time Godzilla and Creature Double Feature fans as well as something for the younger fans who might prefer the newer films in the series. Both factions also get a chance to see the other side too.

It's raffle time!

The crowd waits for the next winning number to be announced

A little reminder to get some more of the Elm's delicious popcorn

Godzilla Shogun Warriors toy commercial from the 70s

The Honey Nut Cheerios Bee gives Godzilla something new to chew on

Godzilla and Jet Jaguar again

That's Entertainment's own commercial

You can't really have a Godzilla show without a Minya appearance, can you?

Four images from a bizarre animated ad for PTT Performa Gold featuring a gas-guzzling, braces-wearing Godzilla-type monster

Here's the entire ad

Godzilla game commercial from the 70s

The Crypt Meister introduces the second feature...

After "GMK" was over, those who stayed for both movies were given another chance to win more raffle prizes. The second batch of prizes included mostly gift certificates to That's Entertainment as well as two grand prize packages which included a That's E! gift certificate AND two passes to the Elm Draught House. I didn't win anything last year. I sat through both raffle prize sessions this year and still didn't win anything. ...At least not until the very end. I was the lucky winner of the first of the two grand prizes! What a way to end the night! Finally, Creepy Classics returned on the screen one more time to wrap the show up.

Here's the final prizes of the night being raffled off

And here's the first of those final prizes--now safely in Monster Dad's possession!

A final Creepy Castle bit to finish off the night

Overall I'd have to say that this was probably a slightly better show than last year's (and last year's was great). The first show was obviously a new experience for everyone involved and That's Entertainment has certainly learned from the experience. The presentation was a little tighter and seemed a bit more polished. While the Godzilla-related shorts presented during last year's show were great, they did tend to slow the show down somewhat. They were able to cover all that area with the shorter video presentation at the beginning of the show and a few shorts during intermission. Intermission was shorter in general and made for better pacing. That's not to say there were no glitches. In one of the funniest moments of the night "Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah" was started about four times before they finally managed to put it on in English with no subtitles. The fact that the crowd got into this bit of a rough patch and enjoyed it rather than being annoyed by it really goes to show what kind of a fun show this was. You can never duplicate the excitement of putting something like this on for the first time, but it seems that the quality of these Godzilla Attacks Worcester shows should continue to improve as they (hopefully) continue to run.

In their closing remarks the That's Entertainment folks promised another show next year. This really does seem like it's going to become a regular tradition (at least I'm crossing my fingers and hoping so). Even without having a real "reason to be"--like last year's comic book release commemoration--Godzilla Attacks Worcester was simply a great (and fun) show. It would seem that it was beneficial to both That's Entertainment as well as the Elm Draught House. That's E! generated a lot of buzz and excitement--not to mention foot traffic in its store by way of all those people picking up free tickets there. The Elm (which is normally closed on Mondays) generated a lot of food sales on a night when they normally wouldn't even be open and didn't even have to run a movie that they rented from a studio for big bucks. The win-win situation extends to the audience, who were treated to a great night of entertainment that was put on for FREE! How can you beat that?