The Basement Book Shelf: “Godzilla FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the King of the Monsters”

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I cannot remember a time when I was not a Godzilla fan. I have vivid memories from a very early age watching Godzilla movies every weekend on the local UHF stations and enjoying week-long marathons during school vacation weeks. To this day I still love these films, not only for the nostalgic aspect of them but also because they are just very creative and fun movies to watch.

 

Debuting in 1954, the Godzilla franchise has been one of the longest running series in history with 33 films as of this writing (including an animated one and three of which were produced in the United States). Though the movies may vary in quality (those of the 70’s having extreme budget restrictions) they are all enjoyable in their own right and to watch the whole series from beginning to end is a great time capsule of not only the state of Toho, the company responsible for Godzilla, but also the state of Japan at the time.

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When the subject of this review, “Godzilla FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the King of the Monsters” by Brian Solomon, came up as a recommendation on Amazon, I knew it belonged in the Basement library. I wasn’t totally sure as to what to expect with this book, but the reviews were decent and not for nothing, I love reading about my favorite movie monster. When the book arrived the format did throw me though, as I expected a book full of questions with answers (this was based on the “FAQ” in the title). This is actually a very well researched and written book about the history of Godzilla with no Q&A sections.

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One of the things I like most about this book is that Solomon is obviously a huge fan of the genre which makes connecting to him and what he is saying very easy. His experiences watching these movies growing up were very similar to mine, making every aspect of this book very relatable. This isn’t about reading a book by an unknown author, it’s about having a Godzilla discussion with a fellow fan.

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He covers every movie to date, including the most recent American movie, GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS. Though this book came out in 2017, Solomon had enough information already to cover this film, making the book seem very up-to-date. He definitely knows his stuff and the information is presented in a very fun way. He covers all movies individually as well as all of the monsters that Godzilla has fought or teamed-up with over the years. He also talks about the suit actors, the various men who over the years have suffered for their craft wearing these heavy latex suits with little to no sight or breathing holes. Ishiro Honda and Eiji Tsuburaya are also given much-deserved credit.

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For me, this was a hard book to put down. It’s a fast read and I never lost interest in what was being presented. At 358 pages this book is crammed with everything you could ever want to know about Godzilla and features many great photos. Though I haven’t watched these films in awhile, especially the lower-budget ones from the 70’s, this book has inspired me to bring these movies back out and enjoy them all over again (though I am planning on waiting until the Criterion Godzilla collection (GODZILLA: THE SHOWA-ERA FILMS, 1954–1975 (The Criterion Collection)) comes out at the end of October to re-watch them.

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Do yourself a favor and pick this book up. Like I mentioned, it’s a fast read that is very informative and a lot of fun. This is one book that I will read again one day and hopefully it will inspire future Godzilla fans to go out and support these films. The world will definitely be a lesser place without them.

~David Albaugh

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