Thursday, March 31, 2016

#GHWP Live Tweet Fridays - Metalder and the Road to Year One

     After a few months of "succumbing to my own gaping head wounds" (i.e.: suffering through the winter holidays for another year after the loss of so many loved ones in recent past), I'm trying to pick this back up again.

     A little part of me always wanted to be a TV horror host. When Mystery Science Theater 3000 came along in my early teens, I watched the horror host dynamic altered right before my eyes. Not only was there hosting going on, but there was live and humorous commentary to boot. I love watching television and movies and talking about them. It's perhaps the only time I feel comfortable and confident with myself in a public or even a pseudo-public setting like Twitter. If I had the opportunity to do it in costume and make up, all the better. Twitter and #GHWP gave me the virtual opportunity to make that dream come true and to give me some learning experiences along the way, and I set aside the costume and make up for a make-believe gorilla suit and chest plate. It started as a lonely little riffing venture on my part with a few random movies I simply wanted to see and didn't want to watch alone, and it took a little while to settle on a hashtag. But it wasn't really the hashtag that did it: it was the material I knew best and the great people I met that decided to stick around for the ride with their own observations and humor.

     #GHWP owes everything to the people of #DriveInMob and their viewing of Space Giants for inspiring the five-year-old kid in me to revisit Spectreman, and they are one part of a big group of funny and kind riffing folks deserving of my thanks including #TrashTue, #BMovieManiacs, #MondayActionMovie, #WarBonds, #Riffotronic and #BNoirDetour. I jumped into this headfirst and just started throwing ideas at these once-random strangers, and they were good enough to play along. Spectreman became sort of the mascot of #GHWP, and the whole thing might have faded away in the early stages if not for Spectreman's instant success. At peak, I think a few Spectreman episodes had around 20 people attending a couple of nights. For me, even 3 people would have been a success, and that's usually the number I have on a Tuesday night. If no one shows at all, sure, I get a little bummed out (I know my time slots aren't the best), but I love doing it anyway. I'm adding more depth to the experience of watching something.

     When Spectreman ended (a little disappointingly with its final episode), it was a hard struggle to find something to take its place. I could name in a snap any number of shows I would have chosen to take its place, but there was the problem of availability in online streaming. I tried my hand at just about everything I could find, and despite how well some of it went over with the audience, all of it was sorely limited to a small number of episodes. Smash hits like Kikaider and Robot Detective K only filled the time slot for a couple of weeks with just the first few episodes available, and the English language Ultraman series didn't get the attention I expected. I kept sifting through material on YouTube to the point that all I was trying to do was keep #GHWP going for one more week. I'd run out of ideas and couldn't find anything to fit the mood for extended periods of time. I needed a new series that could run for a while and keep drawing a crowd, and I stumbled upon Choujinki Metalder. I thought little of it because I'd never seen any of the series before, and if the first episode or two didn't go over then no big deal. Metalder, however, became the perfect spiritual successor to Spectreman, and it became an instant favorite series of mine as well.

When Ryusei Tsurugi's emotions hit their peak, he transforms into Superhuman Machine Metalder.
     The instant hook was the assortment of villains, the action, and the fact that Metalder's nemesis God Neros threw his entire army at Metalder in the first episode. Metalder broke away from some conventions and even set aside the standard kick-explode-the-monster-of-the-week a few times to deliver something that was more a modern day feudal samurai drama mixed with a little bit of Pinocchio, and I came to find out that more than a few of the enemies in the story were based on real Japanese folklore. Good villains are what make a good superhero story, and the God Neros Empire really knows how to party with their gladiatorial death matches, arm wrestling competitions, fancy dress dancing balls, disco parties and women's slavery. Okay, well... they had me ready to sign up until that last one. Don't tell me you weren't at least a little intrigued up to that point, too... and, um... maybe a couple of you still are anyway... um...

     Metalder managed to keep going strong for more than half the series until a few viewing setbacks came along, and I was afraid it was going away for good. The upside is that I can keep going through alternative means. The downside is that I'm going to have to skip about a half dozen episodes with poorly scripted subtitles. I spent an entire weekend re-editing the subtitles for those episodes, but there is no way to implement them into the viewing at this point. Maybe someday down the line I can go back and fill in those gaps. The remaining Metalder episodes last exactly long enough to shift right into the first anniversary of #GHWP the week of May 12, 2016. When that day comes, we're going to get nuts with a few oddities I had to pass up for a while, and I have a few special plans to revisit the things that helped get Gaping Head Wound Playhouse off the ground including, of course, Spectreman. Fans have clamored for his return, and the void left by the absence of Dr. Gori and Karas has been palpable. Even better, there is now opportunity to feature their return to the screen as alien invaders in another more recent movie.

     I want to thank everyone for riffing along with me and for reading my little collections of nonsense here. It's been both therapeutic and something that induces the need for therapy depending on the week... but somehow I have managed to keep this going for almost 52 weeks straight at almost two nights a week. I just enjoy sharing my own joys, so I hope you'll stick around to celebrate this little milestone.

     #GHWP presents Choujinki Metalder courtesy of from April 1-29, 2016, with the final 9 episodes as well as the theatrical movie. #GHWP nestles snugly in between the fine riffing programming of Friday Love which begins at 8PM EST with #TGIRiff and finishes out with #Bmoviemaniacs at 11PM EST. If you don't dig what I host on a Friday night, one or more of those folks more than likely have something to strike your fancy.