Monster-film maker tackles other big menace


Norman England is the world’s leading non-Japanese expert on all things Godzilla, if hours logged on the set are any measure. From 1999 to 2004, he spent, by his own estimate, 150 days at Toho Studios watching the king of kaiju (monsters) come to life in film after film, culminating with Ryuhei Kitamura’s “Godzilla: Final Wars” (2004).

A former New Yorker who moved to Japan in 1993, England was then the Japan correspondent for Fangoria, a U.S. magazine devoted to horror, splatter and exploitation movies, but his going far beyond the call of journalistic duty by spending so much time on the set spoke of a larger obsession — and ambition.

Besides writing for other publications, including a monthly column for the Eiga Hiho film magazine, England has since expanded his resume to include set photographer, subtitler, actor and filmmaker. His new short feature, the erotic shocker “New Neighbor,” has been selected for festivals in Hamburg and Montreal, and will screen at the Uplink theater in Shibuya from Oct. 5-11.

When I met him, however, England was back in his photographer’s guise on the set of “How to ‘Undead’ Sex,” a segment of the straight-to-DVD omnibus project “Zombie TV!!” As director Yoshihiro Nishimura and his action coordinator filmed three male zombies tussling in a pro-wrestling ring, England moved about nimbly snapping shots, taking care not to get in the way of the tumbling and grunting actors. “If you get three seconds, you’re lucky,” he told me, his forehead beaded with sweat. “You’ve got to get in and out.”

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