KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Out Monsters Attack (2001) a.k.a: GMK

B&S About Movies

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a ghostwriter of personal memoirs for Story Terrace London and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

GMK wipes the slate clean (again) and starts yet another entirely new time line in the “G” universe. Here, Godzilla has not been seen since 1954 when the oxygen destroyer killed him. General Tachibana (Ryudo Uzaki ) of the Japanese Self-Defense Force is starting to suspect that Godzilla is back and responsible for the destruction of a submarine off the coast of Guam.

Tachibana’s daughter Yuri (Chiharu Nîyama), with whom the general has a strained relationship, works for a reality TV show called Digital Q. The show specializes in stories on Blair Witch and Bigfoot…

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KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Gamera 2: Attack of Legion (1996)

B&S About Movies

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a ghostwriter of personal memoirs for Story Terrace London and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

1995’s Gamera: Guardian of the Universe was a hit, prompting Daiei Studio to produce the sequel, Gamera: Attack of Legion one year later. Ayako Fujitani returns as Asagi Kusanagi, the teen who bonds with Gamera. The film also stars Japanese soap star (and Granddaughter to Toho Kaiju Eiga star Kumi Mizuno) Miki Mizuno, as a computer scientist aiding the military in unraveling the mysterious life cycle of earth’s latest invader. 

This time, the alien in question is called “Legion.” A symbiotic organism comprised of thousands of little insect soldiers whose mission is to prepare…

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KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995)

B&S About Movies

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a ghostwriter of personal memoirs for Story Terrace London and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

In 1965 Daiei Studios decided to capitalize on Toho’s successful Godzilla film series with their own fire-breathing radioactive star, Gamera the flying turtle. At that time, Gamera was “the friend to children” and his films from that era are largely considered to be inferior to the Toho series of Kaiju Eiga (giant monster films), although they are entertaining and fun.

In 1995, after a 15-year retirement, Daiei brought back the shelled one and gave him a new lease on life. The man given the responsibility of transforming Gamera from a low-budget children’s monster into a…

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KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Daimajin (1966)

B&S About Movies

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a ghostwriter of personal memoirs for Story Terrace London and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

Daimajin takes place in feudal-era Japan. It opens with a small village being overthrown by an evil overlord named Samanosuke (Yutaro Gomi.) He kills everyone in the royal family except the young Princess and Prince Tadafumi who go into hiding on the mountain where the statue of the ancient god Majin stands. Legend has it that Majin has the soul of a warrior trapped inside him and must not be angered lest there be grave consequences.

After ten years of repression and starvation, an attempt is made to restore the old regime but Samanosuke is…

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Blood Freak (1972) — B&S About Movies

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a ghostwriter of personal memoirs for Story Terrace London and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn […]

Blood Freak (1972) — B&S About Movies

Another Kind of Eugenics

I recently read an article written by the CEO of Netflix Reed Hastings where he stated that getting rid of “less than top performing” employees created a better work environment. They weren’t bad employees. Just not perfect. My immediate response to his version of what I call “Corporate Eugenics” was visceral and intellectual. Was he really arguing that anyone who doesn’t exist in a perpetual state of positivity and productivity in the name of his company’s shareholders is essentially useless? Yes. Yes, he was.

This type of psychopathic thinking not only absolves management from their duties to train and build up their teams, but it also, disturbingly, ignores the reality of human existence itself. Life isn’t perfect. Shit happens. Couples divorce, elderly parents die, children get cancer. All of these circumstances WILL affect a person’s performance at work. You know what else affects people? Working with people unable to get along with their co-workers who might not think or work the same way they do.

I’m sorry if the harshness of reality brings down the shiny false narrative of what many accept as “successful working culture” but it seems to me that a bit of flexible thinking is in order here. Managers at every level are responsible for creating a working environment conducive to professional development. You want a good team? Build one. Create a place where the very real existence of different learning style and personality types is not only acknowledged, but where an individual’s strength’s are recognized and used to a company’s advantage. That kind of leadership, particularly in the age of Covid-19 is what we need most. Stop paying attention to the flashy person with crappy ideas and start acknowledging the quiet person with good ideas.

Alas, according to Hastings, being a “good” employee isn’t good enough any more. Even being “great” isn’t enough. His employees must be great at all times lest they — the human cog — be replaced by a younger, shinier version of themselves. Ones that “fit it.” Because, God forbid people learn to work well with others.

I for one, will resist tooth and nail against this model. First, because it goes against everything I know to be good and decent about human beings. Second, because this model is frighteningly close to that of eugenics. Where people are placed into categories and the merely “adequate” and “weak” are discarded as in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

Lest we devolve further than we already have into a Dickensian nightmare with no opportunities for those over 40, those who think differently organizationally and those of us not extroverted 100% of the time, I propose what society needs now are managers and CEOs who take responsibility for creating toxic company cultures like the one Hastings described. Those who can pull their businesses out of their “positive thinking” echo chambers and embrace diversity of thought and working styles. Those with an ability to ask themselves, “What are my weaknesses?” Those willing to abandon such things as “Keeper Tests” in favor of deeper-level engagement with workers as people. Those strong enough to point the mirror of criticism back onto themselves instead of focusing on the weaknesses of their employees and blaming them when problems arise. Those who ask their workers, “What do you need from me to be more productive?” and then doing their best to make reasonable improvements.

I genuinely do not believe there is an inherent conflict between a financially successful company and a compassionate one. All it takes is a bit of…wait for it…hard work.

Mill Creek Sci-Fi Invasion: Brother from Another Planet (1984)

B&S About Movies

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) memoir writer for Story Terrace in London. You can read more of her film, books and music reviews at https://www.jennuptonwriter.com and on her blog https://womanycom.wordpress.com.

The best Science Fiction holds a mirror up to the society from which it sprang. Brother From Another Planet (1984) does this in several innovative ways. Written and directed by John Sayles, it tells the story of a three-toed empathic runaway alien slave (T2’s Joe Morton) stranded on earth. Despite the fact he cannot speak and is never named, he is one of the most sympathetic aliens evercommitted to film. He hears and feels the past through surfaces. Upon landing on Ellis Island, he becomes overwhelmed by the voices of the past – a full 36 years before Klaus in The Umbrella Academy.

As much as Morton is the star of the…

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Mill Creek Sci-Fi Invasion: The Creeping Terror (1964)

B&S About Movies

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) memoir writer for Story Terrace in London. You can read more of her film, books and music reviews at https://www.jennuptonwriter.com and on her blog https://womanycom.wordpress.com.

For years I searched for the worst movie ever made. I’ve dove deep. So deep, that time and experience have made me realize there is no single title that unequivocally holds that title. Crap is in the eye of the beholder. Nevertheless, The Creeping Terror (1964) is definitely in the running. It is bad in just about every way imaginable.

Is it the good kind of bad? The kind where you can slam back a few shots and laugh harder than at any Rob Schneider movie ever made? Yes. Yes, it is. For even more laughs, watch the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version. The segment where Mike plays the incredibly monotonous jazz music from the…

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HH2020 #7 – Jennifer Upton on “When Michael Calls” (1972) — Horror And Sons

One of my favorite parts of each Halloween Horrors series is when someone covers a film or show that I’ve personally not seen. Today’s entry would be one of those cases. Jennifer Upton of Womanycom.wordpress.com returns for her 3rd year of our October series, this time taking a look at the 1972 made-for-television film When […]

HH2020 #7 – Jennifer Upton on “When Michael Calls” (1972) — Horror And Sons

Book Review:  Diminished Responsibility: My Life as a U.K. Sub and Other Strange Stories – Volume I Alvin Gibbs

 

Image Courtesy Tome and Metre Publishing

The best memoirs are written by strong, self-aware individuals who take their audience on a journey with them from who they were when they started to who they are now. The best authors offer him or herself up as a down-to-earth person who has, through living an interesting life, somehow changed. Diminished Responsibility: My Life as a U.K. Sub Volume 1 succeeds on both counts.

Comprised from a series of re-vamped blog entries originally published on http://www.uksubstimeandmatter.net/ with a new foreword by Henry Rollins, Gibbs paints a multi-coloured picture of a young, sometimes-selfish kid who, though experience and self-reflection has grown into a man. A man comfortable enough in his own skin to recount instances when he was an “arsehole” who learned and grew.

Gibbs starts at the beginning, takes us through his childhood and adolescence in the London suburb of Croydon. He moves chronologically from young fan and novice musician through his early days on guitar to a blossomed performer – writing, recording and touring the world as the bass player for The Users, Brian James’ Hellions and his first three-year stint with the U.K. Subs from 1980 to 1983.

The author knows his audience. Well. After having spent years chatting with them pre and post-gig, he knows what they want. He gives plenty of detail on the writing and recording process for the Subs’ fourth and fifth records, Diminished Responsibility and Endangered Species and copious anecdotes on guitarist Nicky Garratt, drummer Steve Roberts and their perpetually young-at-heart leader Charlie Harper. The best of which had my significant other writhing in hysterics, clutching his ribs.

Citing literary influences as diverse as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hunter S. Thompson, Raymond Chandler and Charles Bukowski, Gibbs’ descriptive prose and humorous anecdotes would entertain even readers unfamiliar with the Subs music. One humorous bit includes the portrayal of an uptight Swedish hotel manager who refused to allow unmarried consenting adults into his rooms, as “The Sex-Finder General” – a nice nod to Matthew Hopkins, the historical figure who burned witches during the English Civil War. Gibbs describes the puritanical hotelier as a man, who in his spare-time likely wore “nothing but a gimp mask and leather jock-strap” and whipped himself “furiously” to “expunge his many sinful thoughts.” This one had me giggling almost as hard as my husband.

Speaking of “sex-finding”, it’s clear that Gibbs was repeatedly torn between wanting a stable relationship/home life and having the freedom to live what Joey Ramone once referred to as “the life.” He’s not the first musician to battle with this issue, nor will he be the last. Hindsight has given him the ability to assess his feelings honestly and embrace his discomfort. It’s refreshing to see a musician deal with the subject head-on rather than brushing it off casually or brandishing his conquests as a badge of honour as so many do.

The book also portrays the feast-or-famine financial nature of the music business, and the high-contrast characteristics of life on the road. Each story is well-balanced with plenty of booze, sex, drugs and sometimes destructive behaviour to offer glimpses into the darkness while remaining light-hearted enough to make one envious. It’s a wonder the author’s liver hasn’t written its own memoir titled, “Oh, Christ… Please… No More.”

As engaging as the contents are, the omissions are equally worthy of discussion. The events recalled on the dissolution of the 1983 Subs’ lineup 1983 seems to come almost out of nowhere, with little to no buildup of animosity portrayed between the various members. Other than a few mentions of Steve Roberts’ growing problem with alcohol, there are precious few hints foreshadowing the meeting where they split.

Anyone familiar with the machinations of the music business–or the entertainment industry – knows there is no absolute truth in any situation. Only Rashomon-like scenarios, where each party involved in recalling a past episode possesses a unique point of view. Diplomatic to the end, there are never any suppositions made on the motivations of anyone on that fateful day other than the author himself. As it should be.

This is not Gibbs’ first outing as an author. His last book, Some Weird Sin: On Tour with Iggy Pop – the updated version of which was published in 2017 – chronicled his experiences touring with Iggy Pop in the late 1980s. When read back-to-back, Some Weird Sin and Diminished Responsibility Vol. 1 reveals another high-contrast image – the difference between touring with the Subs versus touring with Iggy. As interesting as Harper and the gang are, Iggy is…well, Iggy. He’s a legend. He’s also Jim Osterberg and the book goes a long way to making that distinction.

Despite the luxurious perks that come with touring with a major act, the exhaustion described at the end of 1988’s Instinct world tour further clarifies just how difficult–and fun – life on the road can be. The cast of characters encountered are equally entertaining, and the hotel managers a lot nicer than the aforementioned Swedish gentleman.

Some of this material will likely be revisited in the second forthcoming volume of Diminished Responsibility, which picks up in 1983 and continues all the way to present day. A far greater span of time that will cover the author’s self-described“most interesting period” of life.

In the meantime, you can purchase Diminished Responsibility: My Life as a U.K. Sub and Other Strange Stories – Volume I and the updated version of Some Weird Sin at: http://timematterrecordings.bigcartel.com/?fbclid=IwAR2MIj5ADBIP_Aptv755DAlcDgzlHrhqdFd4Rq_cqncQdNORTwxTOVWH480.

Image Courtesy Tome and Metre Publishing