Sitges 2008: MONSTER X STRIKES BACK! ATTACK THE G8 SUMMIT!
Batten down the hatches! Hide your women and children! Cult monster fave Guilala - last (and only previously) seen in 1967's The X From Outer Space - is back and in cult director Minoru Kawasaki's hands nobody is safe! Not even the leaders of the western world!
Let's be clear here: Kawasaki, quite proudly, does not make what anybody would generally term 'good' films. He is a master of cheap shlock, gimmicky humor, and rubber monsters. He is the crazy child of Japanese film, the man who simply refuses to grow up and continues to make precisely the sorts of films he would have loved himself when he was ten, and he is an absolute master of his craft. Kawasaki is a trash-auteur of a very particular type and while his films may not be 'good' they are always good for at least a handful of very solid laughs and, by my count, his Guilala revival flick is his strongest since he first burst into the international scene with The Calamari Wrestler.
Let's set the scene: the regular G8 conference of the world's top eight economic powers is occurring in Japan when a meteor strike unleashes the awesome power of Guilala - a rubber-suited, miniature stomping monster in the oldest old-school style - upon the land. Panic! Chaos! Organizors wish to call the conference off but, no! The Americans prefer to stay and fight, a decision which essentially shames the rest of the lot into staying, too. Even Canada which, true to form, does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING the entire film. When I, as a Canadian, pointed this out to Kawasaki the day after the screening he simply laughed and said he couldn't think of anything Canada would do in that situation which, short of offering the big guy a giant sized plate of poutine, seems pretty damn accurate. We're a passive lot, we are. But I digress ...
Back to the point: while the world leaders cook up a variety of foolish plans ranging from the Russians injecting the beast with Polonium to the British attempting a brainwashing technique - all while the French president attempts to bed his translator - a reporter covering the conference discovers a strange village in the nearby woods, a village with a highly specialized local religion that she believes may be the key to defeating Guilala and saving the earth. Which is absolutely correct and leads to a Guilala versus Takeshi Kitano-voiced local god giant monster battle.
Old school all the way with nary a scrap of CGI to be found this is goofy, trashy fun. While there are a few sequences that indicate that if he were ever offered a decent budget - very unlikely - and had the inclination to do so - even more unlikely - Kawasaki could actually have a very good, serious film or two in him, Monster X Strikes Back proves, once again, that Kawasaki is one of the silliest film makers on the face of the planet. Turn off your adult mind, overload your system with sugary snacks and pretend you're a kid watching bad b-movies matinees on cable or UHF again and just roll with it. Not all trash is just trash.