Know Your Monster: 31

ZEDUS

Last but certainly not least in our Know Your Monster series is Zedus, arch-foe of Gamera. Zedus is a powerful monster, a sea beast who bears a strong resemblance to Godzilla but has a few different embellishing traits.

For instance, Zedus has a forked, serpent-like tongue that he often uses to impale his enemies. Frilly dorsal fins run the length of his body from his head to his tail. His extremely long tail is second only to his tongue in his arsenal of weapons. He can whip it around at a fast clip, knocking down buildings and bowling over opponents. Zedus’ other notable feature is his titanic size. He towers over 200 feet tall, making him one of the largest of the Kaiju.

Zedus made his screen debut in Gamera The Brave, the most recent Gamera film, released in 2006. He doesn’t actually battle the original Gamera but instead the big turtle’s offspring, Toto, who hatches from a mysterious egg and is raised by a young boy named Toru. Yes,  the filmmakers return to familiar territory, giving us a Gamera who is a protector of kids and a force for good. But before dismissing the film as sugarcoated pablum, watch this scene of the bad-ass Zedus, munching on some villagers. Many Kaiju are fierce, but how many do you recall who are carnivorous?

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And for a double-dose of Zedus, here’s his showdown against Toto.

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Hope you’ve enjoyed our Know Your Monster series and learned a thing or two about the Kaiju, the Japanese movie monsters. The next time one of your friends try to stump you with a Godzilla trivia question, bring up Zedus or Biollante, and test who’s really the expert on the subject!

Is Pop Culture the Plague?

“American popular culture not only celebrates freedom, it is also itself an example of American freedom at its best and most vibrant,” writes Paul Cantor in his new book The Invisible Hand and Popular Culture: Liberty vs. Authority in American Film and TV.

Even before politicians and elite cultural critics decried the boob tube as a “vast wasteland,” they were attacking other forms of popular entertainment — novels, movies, comic books, and more — as simultaneously soporific and dangerous, either lulling the masses into quietism or sparking bad behaviors. But Paul Cantor, a professor of English at the University of Virginia, argues that such criticisms get everything wrong. H/.T Reason TV

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Attack of the Fresh Produce

Ben Crystal from Personal Liberty Digest wonders if President Obama’s signing of the Monsanto Protection Act will spur a fresh produce counter-attack. In this edition of The Great Eight, Crystal also weighs in on Ashley Judd’s decision not to run for Senate in Kentucky and on Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s latest belligerent warnings.

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Topless Jihad Launched

Amina Tyler, a Tunisian activist, has inspired the Ukrainian feminist group, FEMEN, to jump-start a new Arab Spring for women’s rights. Tyler caused controversy after posting photos of feminist slogans written across her naked chest, hoping to raise awareness of the deteriorating situation of women’s rights in the Middle East. A Muslim preacher demanded the teenager be stoned, calling her an “epidemic.” Because of Tyler’s demonstration, FEMEN has declared April 4 a day of “relentless topless jihad against Islamism.”

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A Short Love Story

A young girl’s dreams of romance are embodied by a couple of pencil-outlined birds that escape from one of her drawings. The full title of Carlos Lascano’s work is A Short Love Story in Stop Motion. Lascano is a well-known Argentine animator and illustrator, whose 2005 work, Legend of the Scarecrow, was nominated for a Goya as the year’s best animated work.

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Know Your Monster: 30

YONGGARY

Yonggary is a South Korean movie monster, inspired by the Japanese Kaiju. He’s said to be a 200 million-year-old dinosaur, resurrected by aliens to help them conquer the Earth. Yonggary looks a lot like Godzilla, but has a protruding horn in place of his nose. In some incarnations, he even has a few horns. Yonggary also has a jewel called the “Damon” on his forehead. It’s through this jewel that the aliens control the beast. When the jewel gets destroyed, Yonggary breaks free from his alien masters, turning against them and fighting to protect the planet.

Besides looking like Godzilla, Yonggary exhibits many similar traits. He dines on gasoline and oil, shoots fireballs from his mouth and emits a laser beam from his horn. Reacting to criticism that Yonggary was a Godzilla clone, the Korean filmmakers modified the monster’s original appearance, giving him a few new distinguishing attributes. There’s also some trash talking against Godzilla in the Yonggary movies. As one policeman observes in the 1999 remake of Yonggary: Monster from the Deep: “Compared to this guy, Godzilla is a pussy.”

Yonggary translates as “Huge Dragon” in Korean. The monster has not built up much of a homegrown fan base, and the Yonggary movies haven’t been particularly successful at the box office. The first came out in 1967, and promptly disappeared. However, the 1999 remake was repackaged as Reptilian for release in the United States. It’s aired a few times on the Sci-Fi channel and also surfaced in a Midnite Movies DVD series marketed  by MGM.

Here’s a short clip of the CGI-generated Yonggary in action.

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Tomorrow’s featured monster will be Zedus, wrapping up our month-long salute to the Kaiju.