Tag of the Month, December 2018 – Twisted Xmas

It’s that holly, jolly, time of year again….time for my mixed-up, twisted Christmas tradition!

monthlytag - Dec 2018

For a little refresher: Every month, in between my regular reviews, I will be viewing films pertaining to a certain theme, be it seasonal, holiday, or otherwise-oriented. Examples: “Twisted Xmas” for December, something romantic for February, etc.

Since this is, you guessed it, December, it’s time for Twisted Xmas! In between the usual kinds of holiday joy films, I’ll be taking a look at some less-than-accommodating yuletide flicks like Die Hard and The Box. Y’know, to spruce things up.

Check out my holiday-themed reviews on my social media pages:


Enjoy the festivities, and yippee-ki-yay motherf**kers!


Godzilla: Resurrection -Release Date Announcement

The time has come, my friends! My first fan edit is complete and almost ready to be unleashed!

My edit will be available online December 15, 2018–the 34th anniversary of The Return of Godzilla, the original version of this illustrious film. Be sure to follow my social media accounts to stay up to date on my edit, and thank you for all the interest you’ve shown in the project!

For details on this edit, visit my page on it here.

Godzilla Resurrection - Version 3A - Poster

Godzilla: Resurrection – The Finishing Touches

I do hope none of you thought I was dead, because while I may have felt it for awhile, I can assure you, I am not. Life has just been an upheaval for the past few months, from losing one job and quitting another, to starting a new one, to personal losses and gains, it has been a trip. But all through it, I’ve had this project as a sort of therapy, and it is on the threshold of completion.

Last time, I told you, dear readers, about the personal touches I was bringing to Godzilla: Resurrection, and how I hoped they would meld the varying sensibilities of the two main cuts of TROG with some of my thoughts on how to elevate both versions. In this post, I’m going to continue on that subject with a few more of my additions, starting at the very beginning: the title.

I always knew going in that I was going to employ the American main title sequence, given that it covers both casts and crews from which I pulled footage, and, well, its just way cooler. However, since I gave my edit a new title, the simple katakana logo of TROG and the frankly disappointing title of Godzilla 1985 just wouldn’t do. Noticing that the American credits play over what appears to me to be the “Gojira” katakana letters being burned into the screen “The Thing” style, I decided to take to Photoshop and After Effects to build just that.

screenshot 10

The effect is striking, at least in my opinion. I hope viewers of the edit approve.

The other big touch is, of course, the subtitles. For Resurrection, there are two main files on the larger MKV version: foreign translation titles, and full english subtitles for the entire dialogue. Now, there is one big running change that I may get knocked for by some, and I completely own it: many foreign lines have been changed for various reasons, either to better fit with my edit, given that some lines may refer to scenes that have been cut or reordered, some have even been shifted into other scenes, and in a few cases, simply due to me not appreciating the original line. I do realize that some watching this edit do understand Japanese, and may find it jarring to see subtitles not matching up to the spoken lines, and may even feel offended by these changes, but I can only assure you all, it was not my intention to offend or imply that I was thinking that “nobody would notice.” This was simply a change I found necessary to help the edit flow.

screenshot 11

The last little addition of mine….I’m gonna save that one as a surprise.

Now that the subtitles are done, I’m working on recording an audio commentary for the MKV release, and then the edit will be off to FanEdit.org for submission and review. If all goes well, I plan to have it available to view sometime either this month or the next, which would be a perfect time to release a Godzilla edit (in case you’re not in the know, Godzilla movies have been a December staple in Japan).

Thank you all for following me on this awesome journey, and I can’t wait to show you its ending!

Godzilla: Resurrection – My Own Personal Touch

Last post, I talked about using elements, both physical and conceptual, from the alternate cuts of Godzilla: Resurrection. While this approach greatly streamlined a film that was originally lopsided in its pacing and reinstated many fan-favorite changes made to the international and American cuts, I wanted to go deeper.

While Resurrection is, at its core, a hybrid cut, I quickly hit upon the idea during my analytical viewings of the film and its myriad versions of adding my own cuts and rearrangements, to bring the film closer to a subjective perfection that I always felt it deserved. In short, I wanted to add my own mark upon TROG by further cleaning up the editing, crafting a wholly different beast from other hybrid projects of this nature.

screenshot 8

The majority of my contributions to the editorial feel of Resurrection are undoubtedly cuts. Several scenes in both TROG and G85, while undeniably necessary and worthy of inclusion, could certainly have benefited from a tighter cut. These range the gamut from cutting a subpar line from Okumura when he storms out on Goro after the publication of the photos of he and his sister, to tightening the action pieces of the elevated train attack and the Super X shelling. Even two Pentagon scenes from the American cut received a trimming, one to remove a frankly-incredulous line regarding the Presidential hotline being “down for repairs,” and the other to remove an equally-incredulous line referencing the violation of a UN space treaty–something the US happily does in Resurrection anyway.

screenshot 9

Other changes to the editorial flow include the cutting of Goro’s early phone call to the mainland about the Yahata Maru (unnecessary to the plot), the rearrangement of several scenes of military preparedness for the arrival of Godzilla midway through the picture.

One small change that I am nonetheless proud of, having seen it in action, occurs after Hayashida muses on Godzilla’s relationship with mankind, and what he hopes to accomplish by sending the creature back into the earth through Mt. Mihara. In the original version, this scene immediately cuts to the American and Soviet ambassadors arriving in Tokyo–a clumsy cut in every sense of the word. With no clear demonstration of the passing of time, this rather loud transition from a nighttime monologue to blaring diplomatic music falls with a thud. I knew I had to do something about it.

My solution: insert two shots, one from earlier of the downtown district where Hayashida’s lab resides at night, and a piece of Tokyo stock footage in the daytime. Finding appropriate footage was not easy: the only stock video of Tokyo in the correct era of the 1980s I could find was in very low quality with a large time code burned into it, so I had to settle for modern-day footage and hope the anachronism went unnoticed. In the end, I think I accomplished what I set out to do with it: inserting a more recognizable passage of time that befits the political procedural feel of Hashimoto’s original film.

Another addition of mine, one I’m even more proud of, is more technical-related. In the original cut, the Soviets aren’t the only nation with nukes in space; one shot of an American nuclear missile satellite exists in the Japanese version, and this satellite is loaded for bear compared to its Russian counterpart.

As you can see, however, this shot is unfortunately plastered with another burned-in subtitle. Servanov’s EOST, which was immensely useful for helping me get rid of most of these, was no help here, as the only textless source of this shot came from an alternate take contained on the German DVD release. This take, apart from being in a lower resolution with blown-out contrast, also suffers from its starfield not moving in the first 5-10 frames or so. While it works for his cut in that the international version contained this alternate take, it wouldn’t do for mine.

Into After Effects I went, using the satellite element cut out of a still frame in Photoshop. From there, I added a custom starfield behind the sat, keyframed its motion, and then added a subtle gate weave to the sat itself to emulate the original shot. The result:

Not bad, eh? I think so.

One other change I feel like mentioning here is related to the audio mix. In both the original cut and G85, much of the scenes inside the lab building when Hayashida, Goro, and Naoko are trying to escape the rampage seemed a bit empty. If one watches the scene again, it’s easy to realize that this is because there is no ambient sound of Godzilla and the maser trucks–surely, a battle going on right outside the walls should be audible, especially if it’s shaking the building at times. So, I added in plenty of distant SFX to spruce up the scene. It really adds some tension, I think, and was one aspect my beta-viewers brought up often. I liked the effect so much, that I added some more later on when Tokyo braces for a nuclear explosion: the sound of nuclear attack sirens has now been layered into the film, from the first announcement after Godzilla falls unconscious all the way through to the explosion itself.

However, sometimes my own personal touch isn’t signified by what I add or cut, but what I leave in: several beta-viewers and others online have asked why I kept a crucial aspect of the Super X shelling the same as it was in the original cut, Godzilla uses his atomic ray after being attacked. G85 moved this to before the Super X opened fire, creating a more aggressive and territorial Godzilla that many fans seem to prefer. While that viewpoint has its merits, too many other instances of Godzilla’s hesitation to attack lead me to believe that Hashimoto’s and Nagahara’s intent was to portray Godzilla as more of a curious creature, one fascinated and perplexed by the modern world around him, enough to be more likely to barrel through it, taking hits like they were nothing, than to preemptively strike. It’s a portrayal that reminds me of Legendary’s take on the character, and one I decided in good faith to keep in.

After all, this is one of the major goals of the edit, to preserve the original intents and themes of the filmmakers. While G85 did a lot in streamlining a film saddled with pacing issues, it also wrecked its central message and replaced it with dismissive Americanized corporate entertainment. What I could use from G85 to improve the picture, I did, but this was never bound to be a straight hybrid. The Return of Godzilla deserves way more than that, I believe, and I hope I did it justice.

P.S. I actually just finished the timeline and made my first test render of the smaller MP4 version of the edit, so the final product is not too far off! I’ll be making adjustments based on little hiccups I saw on the test and then it will be time to start work on the subtitles.

Until then, stay tuned for more posts on this edit.

Godzilla: Resurrection – Using the Alternate Cuts

Let’s face it–if I, or anybody following this project with even the slightest enthusiasm, thought that the original Japanese cut of The Return of Godzilla were perfect in any way, this edit would not be necessary–or even exist. TROG is most certainly one of the best Godzilla films out there, a remarkable piece of critical Japanese art made at the height of the Cold War, but its flaws are readily apparent to even the biggest fans. Numerous shots run a little too long, breaking an ideal pace for its many scenes of tension and suspense; emphasis is placed on sub-par visual effects; several pieces of music are, shall we say, not up to scratch, whilst other sequences lose impact without any music or key sound effects.

85 screenshot 1.jpg

For these reasons, among others, perhaps explains why the alternate cuts of TROG, namely the International Cut prepared by Toho and the New World Pictures-produced Godzilla 1985 are so popular. For every mistake these versions make, they fix several present in the original cut. Perhaps this is also why a hybrid cut of these disparate visions of Godzilla’s first triumphant return is so attractive to fan editors; KingAsylus91 embarked on his own years before, as well as another fan on TohoKingdom. And now, here I am.

While preserving the original Japanese dialogue and Koji Hashimoto’s intent to portray a serious, question-raising kaiju film that was very much in the same spirit as Gojira (1954), Resurrection will also pull from the best changes made to these other versions. After all, it is, at its core, a hybrid cut.

85 screenshot 3.jpg

But which changes to retain? Which to disregard? Here was one of the biggest problems surrounding this fan edit, what to do about these versions. While the previous hybrid cuts were happy to try and meld the American scenes starring Burr into the Japanese version as is, creating a straight-forward mix of the two films, I decided to try something different.

Contrary to popular belief, the biggest changes (in quantity, at least) to G85 had to do with cuts and rearrangements made to existing TROG scenes, not to the added footage. Some of these changes were questionable, but others actually did much to improve both the pace and flow of the picture. It was these changes I decided to retain in at least some capacity.

But what are they? Below is a list, by no means comprehensive, of some of these changes:

  • Maki’s encounter with the Shockilas more closely resembles the G85 version, cut down to remove more laughable shots of the monster prop and to tighten the action of the scene.
  • An establishing shot of Tokyo from the air used later on in TROG has been moved to its earlier G85 position, setting up the return to the city after the sequence aboard the Yahata Maru more clearly.
  • The reveal of the Soviet Nuclear Attack Satellite has been moved to after Kasirin’s deactivation of the weapon, as in G85.
  • Many pieces of the Christopher Young score have been added back to their respective scenes, including Maki’s search of the Yahata Maru, the Soviet Sub sinking, the JSDF dock massing, and Okumura’s near-death under the helicopter.
  • G85 additions of Reijiro Koroku’s score have been reinstated, such as during the lure test and Maki and Naoko’s attempted escape from the lab building during the Super X battle.
  • Some new sound effects added into G85 have been reintroduced, such as the Shockilas cackle, some new Godzilla roars, and the famous “B-mix” Godzilla scream from both G85 and the International Cut.
  • Numerous little cuts, additions, and other alterations, ranging from some rearranging of the JSDF massing at the docks to trims of the life-size Godzilla foot.

But how were these alterations made to Resurrection? While many, most involving simple cuts or editing, were achieved by working directly with the Kraken blu-ray, the added Pentagon scenes and other pieces of alternate audio had to be culled from other sources, namely the G85 and EOST (International Cut) reconstructions by Red Menace and Servanov.

85 screenshot 4.jpg

Red Menace’s G85, while in 1080p resolution, presents the added American scenes in standard definition with added film grain to partially hide this fact. With no other source available, I have resorted to integrating the footage from this release and blending the two sources together with an application of grain to the rest of the picture. The same goes for Servanov’s EOST, which is presented at 720p; this source had to be used to substitute any scenes involving “foreign” (not Japanese) dialogue have been resourced with Servanov’s International Cut reconstruction to remove burned-in Japanese subtitles present on the Kraken print. In the final product, additional grain will be used to better hide the lower resolution. While this will add much noise to the film, my hope is that the film will achieve a certain worn, almost “grindhouse” patina, as though Resurrection has seen much love in the 1980s during its theatrical run but has not been able to benefit from an extensive restoration with digital noise reduction.

In the end, however, this is only half of the veritable cake mix of Resurrection. There are many other changes, much more esoteric and exclusive to my own tastes and rationales, that make up this ambitious fan edit. In my next post, I’ll talk a bit more about them.

Until then, ciao.

Fan Edit Review: Godzilla 1985 Theatrical Version Reconstruction


Original Film Directed by Koji Hashimoto, R.J. Kizer, Written by Shuichi Nagahara and Lisa Tomei
Fan Edit by Red Menace (a.k.a. OMGItsGodzilla)
Category: Reconstruction

In September of 2016, Godzilla fans in America received what they thought would be the best news they had had since the return of the Big G to theaters two years earlier: the last remaining Godzilla film without a North American release, The Return of Godzilla, finally hit the stores on blu-ray. Months before, however, these same fans learned of an unfortunate footnote to this release–it would not include the popular American recut, Godzilla 1985. To this day, the last official home video of 1985 was the Anchor Bay VHS tape, and to a dedicated Godzilla fan known as Red Menace, this just wouldn’t do.

I’m not going to go too deep into all of the differences between The Return of Godzilla and Godzilla 1985, but suffice to say, there are plenty. The last Godzilla film to be heavily recut with newly-added scenes (and the last to be released theatrically in the States until the Roland Emmerich film), 1985 acts as a sequel to the Americanized version of the first Godzilla film, King of the Monsters. That cut starred the great Raymond Burr as reporter Steve Martin, thrust into the action with some skillful shooting and editing, and the inclusion of a voiceover narration by the character.


1985 sees Burr return to the role, but this time, he stays far away from the action in several scenes set within the Pentagon, depicting Martin as an adviser to a trio of helpless American military officers watching the kaiju rampage unfold. This makes Red Menace’s job a bit easier than, say, Harmy’s on the Star Wars Despecialized Editions, as this meant only a comparitive handful of shots were needed to be inserted as opposed to a vast number of visual effects integration.

Red Menace achieves this with a popular standard definition capture of 1985 from the premium cable channel MonstersHD in the early 2000s. This does mean the exclusive footage is of a lower resolution than the main Kraken blu-ray rip, but Red manages to smooth out the inconsistencies with overlay of a 35mm film grain element from HolyGrain. The end result does mean that the image is rather thick with noise, but it certainly helps sell the illusion of an older print newly scanned into HD, especially at normal viewing distance. Bitrate is high, approaching blu-ray quality at around 25mbps.


In addition to these shots, Red Menace also had to recreate a fair share of subtitles, both for location cards and foreign dialogue. Using an Australian VHS rip, they were able to fashion and time nearly-identical subtitles to the theatrical release.

Audio is bit worse-for-wear, however: due to 1985 only ever seeing release with a mono track, the audio is rather tinny and limited. This isn’t a knock against the editor, who surely only had to work with what existed; this is a gripe against New World Pictures. On the reconstruction, the track is in dual mono/stereo configuration, and comes through loud and clear. It seems evident that it was sourced from the MonstersHD broadcast, however, as it contains several subtle differences to the actual theatrical cut (MonstersHD had aired a workprint version, not the released American cut). A bit unfortunate, as this reconstruction cannot be called entirely accurate, but these changes are very minor, and one or two have been fixed. From talking with the editor, I have learned that a future v2.0 is in the works that will address these issues.


The first of Red Menace’s Godzilla reconstructions serves up a real treat for G-Fans the world over. Finally, a film, or at least a version of it, that was considered to be lost indefinitely to tangled rights issues and null mass demand is now readily available to view by anyone with an internet connection and a bit of space on their computer. It looks pretty damn good for a mix of SD and HD footage, and while the audio does leave one missing the Japanese cut’s 5.1 remix, this is as true to the original American release as it gets, barring that next-to-impossible official release.


Simply follow @RedMenaceOfficial on Tumblr, you can find all of their projects there!

Godzilla 1985 is available in several flavors, in both the v1.0 reviewed here and his earlier v0.5 and v0.6 efforts using SD sources, if you’re into seeing a work-in-progress version. 1.0 is available in a lower-bitrate MP4 file for more compact size and a full-quality MKV file. They have also provided two bonus features that can be downloaded separately: a reconstruction of the utterly weird and out-of-place American theme song “I Was Afraid to Love You,” and the original theatrical trailer, restored of course.

Godzilla: Resurrection – The Audio Mix, Pt. 2

It’s about that time for another Resurrection update.

I have finally completed the assembly! The final cut, barring some huge change to come from the feedback I expect to get from upcoming beta-viewings, will be approximately 114 minutes–over ten minutes longer than the original cut, and almost thirty minutes longer the 1985. While there is still much work to be done with color correction, grain addition, and subtitle creation, not only is the main structure of the film now complete, but the audio mix is–again, barring any major changes from the beta-viewings–now a done-deal.

In my last post, I talked at length about the audio, and the extensive process I undertook to both downmix a proper stereo version of the Kraken Releasing blu-ray, and to meld that with the mono sound of 1985 without becoming jarring in the transition. Well, since then, it’s become a bit more extensive.

screenshot 7

One major problem that I had to tackle was Okumura’s near-death under the helicopter about two-thirds into the film. In TROG, this scene played without any music until the end of the scene, where he is finally pulled in along with the lure tape to Koroku’s M32, “The Couple Left Behind.” In 1985, this scene acquired some new, suspenseful music leading into M32, a track that most likely was an unreleased cue from Christopher Young’s Def-Con 4 score. Being unreleased, this posed a major problem: all I had to work with the mono audio from the film itself, which didn’t quite fit with the rest of the soundscape. Despite the best efforts of myself and another helpful Godzilla fan known as Zarm, an isolated version of the track just couldn’t be found.

After much brainstorming, I came up with a solution: using the faux-stereo wav files ripped from Red Menace’s 1985 reconstruction, I edited and moved around the track to eliminate any dialogue that played over it, and then experimented with ExpressFX Delay and channel panning. The end result, while not perfect, was still impressive, to me at least; the ambient helicopter blades seemed to blend into each other, and the track took on more of an authentic stereoscopic feel, enough for me to declare, “good enough.”

G85 audio fix

This led to my applying the same technique to several other spots in the film, including two more exclusive Chris Young tracks, and a certain infamous “scream” in the grand finale.

This technique didn’t work everywhere, however: I couldn’t use it for the majority of the 1985 Pentagon scenes because it would wreak havoc with the dialogue. So for those scenes, I tried something else: layering in snippets of background sound effects to complement the added isolated Young tracks, in a further attempt to bump up the mix into a more stereo-sounding beast.

screenshot 2

I even went the extra mile and recreated the G85 arrangement of Koroku’s main theme, using the original soundtrack release; the end result is quite powerful, more so than the mono mix could ever hope to be.

Has this all been worth it? Well, I shall see once I start hearing back from people who watch the edit. But for now, I’m happy with my accomplishment.


It’s May at The Movie Maestro

…and there will still be now Tag of the Month. Sorry, life is really kicking my ass now.

I’ll be using what little spare time I have this month to do some blog maintenance and work on Godzilla: Resurrection, so stay tuned for more updates on that fan edit. Of course, if I watch any films, I’ll have those reviews up.

If you still haven’t checked out all of my MCU Marathon reviews, they are all listed right here, and if you haven’t seen Infinity War yet, then well, get on it!


Godzilla: Resurrection – The Audio Mix

Here I am, back with another Resurrection update!

I’m still in the process of creating the assembly cut, but I’m almost done; the Super X battle is all done, so it should be smooth sailing until I reach the end sequence, where my next great challenge will involve integrating the various sound effects, such as the famous “B mix” scream and Raymond Burr’s narration, into the audio mix, which is what leads to today’s post.

While The Return of Godzilla is readily available in the United States on blu-ray with both English and Japanese 5.1 surround mixes, I have chosen to mix Resurrection in stereo. The reasons for this are two-fold:

  1. Godzilla 1985 has only ever had a mono mix, which is in stereo configuration on the Red Menace reconstruction, so any fan edit that combines both films must match.
  2. My relative inexperience with surround mixes.

Given the ambitious nature of this project compared to some others I have in the pipeline, I decided on the stereo mix as an easier alternative to trying to up-mix the 1985 footage to 5.1. This presented its own set of challenges, however, as simply down-mixing the 5.1 Japanese mix would not be ideal or easy. So, I decided to take a two-tier approach to the audio.

First, after ripping the blu-ray and acquiring Red Menace’s 1985 reconstruction, I used Audio Muxer to extract and convert each video file’s audio track, in three varieties: a lossless stereo .flac track, two lossless mono wav files for the left and right stereo tracks, and lossless mono wavs for each 5.1 track (left, right, back left, back right, center, and LFE). These files were then used to rebuild a new mix, using the flacs as a base. For dialogue scenes, this track was enough, but for more action-packed sequences, I employed the separate wav files in various configurations to both add punch and nuance to the picture, and sometimes even to cover editorial changes made by myself.


In effect, even in scenes where it appears I made no major changes, the audio has been substantially altered or even rebuilt, as was the case with Steve Martin’s introduction at the end of the Yahatu Maru’s wreck off of Daikoku Island: all audio in this portion of the scene from Godzilla’s roar on has been rebuilt using the isolated Christopher Young music cue and public domain sound effects, whilst before it has been rebuilt from the ripped audio elements listed above. Many other scenes benefit from this reconstruction, including:

  • Any scene with audio elements added in 1985, including the English news voice of Goro’s sailboat radio, the added Shockilas noises, the Christopher Young tracks, and alternate Godzilla roars;
  • Several scenes in TROG that were noticeably missing sound effects, like numerous sequences within Hayashida’s lab building during the Tokyo rampage and the battle with the Super X;
  • Adding the Christopher Young tracks and other sound effects to the added Pentagon scenes to bump up the mono audio

I hope all this work will be appreciated by viewers of the edit when it is released, because boy, is it a lot of work. But it’s all a bit of fun, really.

And a lot of desk chair sweat.

Infinity War is Upon Us!

It has been a long decade, and finally, the weekend of Avengers: Infinity War is here!

As you may know, I’ve been undertaking the expansive #MCUMarathon challenge ever since the beginning of the year, and while I may have fallen behind at multiple points, I have arrived at the finish line! Not only will I be reblogging all of Tumblr reviews throughout the day, but they will all be collected right here for your pleasure.

I have seen the film, and let’s just say…It. Is. Glorious.

The #MCUMarathon Reviews:
Iron Man
The Incredible Hulk
Iron Man 2
Captain America: The First Avenger
The Avengers
Iron Man 3
Thor: The Dark World
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Guardians of the Galaxy
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Captain America: Civil War
Doctor Strange
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Thor: Ragnarok
Black Panther
Avengers: Infinity War