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Hollywood Hoodoo: Pacific Rim Follows in Old Sci-Fi Tradition

Pacific Rim, a movie due for release in just a few weeks, is the latest science fiction movie in the Kaiju tradition and the latest iteration of an plot design nearly as old as sci-fi itself. The Kaiju genre is Japanese and refers to movies we typically associate with such anti-heroic monsters as Godzilla, though there are many such films from around the world – even North Korea has Pulgasari. Monsters in the Kaiju tradition are almost always unnatural creatures of staggering size. early incarnations were depicted by a man in a lizard suit stomping through a toy city (the Japanese call this method, with lots of special effects, Tokusatsu).

Pacific Rim is obviously far more technically advanced than that. Usually the creatures involved are some sort of unnatural beast, something roused from a remote location (Godzilla) or dropped in from space (Cloverfield), but occasionally they were manufactured. The 50m tall Jet Jaguar (remember, the robot who helped Godzilla duke it out with Megalon?) is an example of this.

Pacific Rim, directed by Guillermo del Toro, involves alien monsters roused from the deep places of the Pacific Ocean. Creatures of prodigious size (footprints nearly the size of a football field) come rampaging up from the depths to destroy cities in the US, Philippines, Japan – you get the idea. This isn’t a new idea. Sea monsters feature prominently in mythology and “pulp” sci-fi writers wrote books and stories as far back as the 50s and 60s, if not earlier. Two examples of this are The Atlantic Abomination (order a copy here), a book by John Brunner, and of course Sea Siege, a novel by the Grand Dame of Science Fiction, Andre Norton (pick up a copy here). You can look through lists of many decades-old anthologies and novels for more. Pay particular attention to the Ace ‘Double Cover’ books, which feature such non-Kaiju gems as A Planet for Texans and A Yank at Valhalla.


More on the official movie home page.

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