On December 6, 2023

The Movie Diary: A monstrous move

Growing up, I used to love watching cartoons on Saturday mornings. My mom was pretty good about letting me hang out in my pajamas, eat cereal, and take in the colorful programming, but by late morning, she was usually pushing me out the door to play. 

And I was usually ready to join my friends since we had a large contingency of kids in our neighborhood who were always ready for a game of baseball or football. However, before I ran out, I always checked to see if a horror film was on the noontime schedule. 

The Saturday noon slots on my local station were generally filled with older black-and-white films and on occasion, they threw in a classic horror movie. If one of these films appeared on the schedule, there was no way I’d walk away from the television.

I’ve always had a soft spot for horror films. It didn’t matter if it was “Abbott and Costello Meet Dracula” or “The Creature from the Black Lagoon,” if the main character was monstrous or otherworldly, I was in. There’s just something about the anxiety garnered from a good horror film that does the body good — at least for me. 

Of all the horror genres, two stand out for me: zombie films and monster films. 

I’ve always had a soft spot for zombies. Ever since I saw my first zombie film, “Night of the Living Dead,” I’ve been enamored with dead humans stalking people to eat their flesh. It’s gross and disgusting, but there’s also something primal about the idea that resonates with me.

In college, I was introduced to “Dawn of the Dead,” which juxtaposed my greatest fears with my greatest fantasies. Imagine living in the attic of a mall with access to every material need you could envision, but to get to them, you had to somehow avoid the hordes of zombies who were wandering the premises? 

That’s an absolute genius storyline — and one that I had nightmares about for years afterwards. 

Fast forward another 20 years, and “28 Days Later” is released, which added a new twist since the heretofore slow-moving zombies can now run… and fast! Once again, I was completely transfixed by this film and the contemplations it offered. 

And who could forget “Shaun of the Dead,” which took the beloved zombie genre and sprinkled it with humor. Another genius stroke and another film that found a special place in my twisted heart. (In recent years, the “Zombieland” franchise has done the same thing to equal effect.) 

Unfortunately, my beloved monster films have not fared as well as their zombie counterparts. Multiple attempts have been made to bring the classic monsters back to the big screen, but most have been met with horrendous results. I didn’t mind Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” with Jack Black and Naomi Watts, but that’s where the quality seemed to end. 

There’s been several attempts to bring Godzilla back, but in each case, the results have been less than satisfying. Sure, the graphics are incredible, but the accompanying storylines have been suspect. 

Last week, I happened to see that a new Godzilla film was being released, “Godzilla Minus One.” This one piqued my interest because it was produced in Japan, the birthplace of the Godzilla franchise.

My mother has been in town visiting so I asked her if she wanted to join me to see “Godzilla Minus One.” I assumed she wouldn’t, given the subject matter, but surprisingly, she said yes. 

When we got to the theater, I was told that the next screening was in a 4DX theater, which I assumed meant enhanced sound and picture quality.

As it turns out, 4DX theaters are equipped with seating that moves in conjunction with the action on the screen. The theater also sprays water and blows air on you when appropriate to the storyline. All of this is done to further enhance your immersion in the film. 

I’d never experienced this before (and neither had my mother), and both of us were wildly taken aback. When I tell you that the seats moved, they genuinely thrust to and fro, so when Godzilla’s tail whipped around and knocked over a building, you felt like you were there. 

I’m not sure every film would be worthy of a 4DX theater, but “Godzilla Minus One” certainly was. There is also some genuine heart in this picture, which shines through the plot and actors’ emotional portrayals.

Of all the modern Godzilla reboots, this one is by far the best. A small note: This film is subtitled, but don’t let that sway your decision to go (it’s hardly noticeable after the first few minutes).

A gigantic “B+” for “,” now playing in theaters everywhere. 

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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