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Godzilla turns 60

Godzilla in a terrifying scene from his

Godzilla in a terrifying scene from his first film in 1954, "Godzilla, King of the Monsters." Photo Credit: Toho Co., Ltd.

Now this is what 60 looks like. The diamond anniversary of Godzilla -- who made his film debut in 1954 and established himself, literally, as Japan's biggest export to the United States -- is being marked in an appropriately gargantuan way, starting with "Godzilla," the potential summer blockbuster starring Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Olsen opening next Friday.

But movie theaters aren't Godzilla's only stomping ground. Everyone's favorite reptilian monster is popping up on DVDs, in books and even on album covers.



Last week, Sony Home Pictures Entertainment unleashed Blu-ray double features of 10 Godzilla movies, including "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah" (1991) and "Godzilla vs. Mothra" (1992). While they may not be Godzilla's monster hits, they still feature all of the chintzy effects and atrocious English dubbing that fans have come to expect.

Meanwhile, it's a battle of the titans in the 1962 cheesefest "King Kong vs. Godzilla," which Universal released on Blu-ray, fittingly, on April 1. The laughable plot involves a pharmaceutical company capturing King Kong on an island and bringing him to Japan, where he naturally escapes. It's then up to Godzilla to stop him from wreaking havoc.

Want more? Come July 22 Tokyo Shock will release the 1973 camp classic "Godzilla vs. Megalon," in which Godzilla made a big splash battling the monster god of the undersea civilization Seatopia.



Several books pegged to the new movie are coming out, including Tuesday's "Godzilla: The Art of Destruction" by Mark Cotta Vaz (Insight Editions), which features interviews with cast and crew and tons of photos, and Greg Cox's "official movie novelization" from Titan Books on May 20.

Most fascinating has to be "Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters" (Chronicle), a new biography about Japan's answer to Ray Harryhausen that came out last week. Tsuburaya was the visual-effects mastermind behind "Godzilla," "Mothra," "Rodan" and numerous other Japanese monster movies.



Godzilla has always marched to his own beat, and these two albums are proof. The soundtrack for the upcoming movie comes out Tuesday and features music by composer Alexandre Desplat ("The King's Speech").

Far more fun, though, is the March release "Classic Themes From Godzilla," which includes a dozen creature feature themes from the original "Godzilla" to "Godzilla vs. Megalon." They sure don't write 'em like that anymore.

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