Greg Shoemaker, the founder and editor of the legendary Japanese Fantasy Film Journal, is often celebrated as the creator of Godzilla fandom in the United States. Published in 1968, JFFJ #1 was the first fanzine devoted to the genre of sci-fi and fantasy films from Japan, and many fans still regard it as the best. Mr. Shoemaker answered Brett Homenick’s questions in a 2009 interview about the history of his groundbreaking publication.
Brett Homenick: How did you become a Godzilla fan?
Greg Shoemaker: I’d say I’m more an Eiji Tsuburaya fan. As a youth, viewing Battle in Outer Space in a theater on a large screen in 1960 was quite an experience! It blew my socks off. Never before had I encountered a movie so over-the-top with respect to visual effects and use of color. Tsuburaya and his technicians have to be thanked for persuading me to learn more about Japanese effects films and the personnel that worked on them, which ultimately led to discovering Kurosawa, Mifune, and so on.
BH: What led you to create The Japanese Fantasy Film Journal?
GS: My movie-going preferences as a youngster were fantasy and science fiction films, which included the works of George Pal, Ray Harryhausen, and Disney, among others. When nothing on the big screen intrigued me, to feed my interest in science fiction and fantasy films – and to a lesser extent the early horror films from Universal – I subscribed to quite a few fanzines (more often than not a fanzine was purchased a single copy at a time since the release schedule of fan-produced publications was inherently irregular), which included Photon, Gore Creatures, and FXRH, as well as prozines like Famous Monsters of Filmland and Castle of Frankenstein. I was a loner kid. Wasn’t much interested in sports and rather naive about things. So these magazines were important to me, offering an outlet for escape.
By 1968, I had the opportunity to watch a large selection of Toho genre films either through theatrical showings or television broadcasts, and I had made a judgment about them: I thought they were pretty cool. And I had come to the realization that whenever a Japanese tokusatsu film was previewed in TV Guide or reviewed in fanzines and prozines, negative adjectives usually littered the writer’s comments. And the films were never discussed in any detail. Coincidentally, I was envious of the editors of the fanzines I collected. An editor selected artwork, articles, and photos, expressed opinions in editorials, and manipulated these elements into a product to be shared with others, hoping the combined efforts of all who participated in the process would be appreciated. Being complimented for a job well done is a gratifying feeling, and possibly I was seeking the accolade, as well as being recognized as a unifying force behind a project. The Ed Wood syndrome, if you will. Situations in my home – which I won’t go into – and my lack of friends, probably explain some of this motivation. So with a cause under my arm and an egotistical drive to see my name in print, a determination arose to publish a fanzine devoted to the honest discussion of science fiction, fantasy, and horror films produced in Japan.
Naming the fanzine took little effort. Don’t know why. I jumbled a number of words around and settled on The Japanese Fantasy Film Journal. Combining the first letters — minus the article — resulted in, TADA!, JFFJ, a palindrome.
BH: Please describe the process of creating the first issue. In other words, how did you conduct research, how did you recruit contributors, what were your initial ideas, etc.?
GS: An article on Godzilla, King of the Monsters! was chosen to be the feature of issue #1. I wrote a filmbook of the movie and followed that with professional reviews of the film from books and magazines I owned. Lacking enough material on Japanese movies to fill the issue — there were no contributors on board — I fleshed out the eleven-page filmbook/review section with news of upcoming Japanese motion pictures I had obtained from Unijapan Film – a quarterly English-language magazine promoting Japanese motion pictures – and added editorial ramblings, my musings on rock music, and an article on my experience with 8mm moviemaking, with which I had been experimenting for several years. I must have thought myself some sort of cultural guru, but this material sprang from experiences that were important to me at the time. The issue was a whopping 16 pages in length.
A junior in college in 1968, the year I began publishing JFFJ, I was drawn to psychedelia, which had been gradually insinuating itself into music and art since 1964 or 1965. The anti-Vietnam War effort also engaged me, and on several occasions I joined protesters on campus demonstrating against the war. There was a growing desire to challenge the status quo among some of the students at that time, and I decided to be a part of it. I wasn’t a radical, but the changes in politics, culture, and social mores taking place in that time colored some of the non-Japanese content of the fanzine’s first issue which I had written.
With little money at my disposal, I located the cheapest duplication method available, Ditto printing. The system used two-ply “spirit masters” or “Ditto masters.” The first sheet could be typed, drawn, or written upon. The second sheet was coated with a layer of wax that had been impregnated with one of a variety of colorants. The pressure of writing or typing on the top sheet transferred colored wax to its back side, producing a mirror image of the desired marks. (This acted like a reverse of carbon paper.) The two sheets were then separated, and the first sheet was fastened onto the drum of the (manual or electrical) machine, with the waxed side out. As the paper moved through the printer, the solvent would be spread across each sheet by an absorbent wick. When the solvent-impregnated paper came into contact with the waxed original, it would dissolve just enough of the pigmented wax to print the image onto the sheet as it went under the printing drum. This was a low volume method, as eventually the colorant would disappear to a point where copies were illegible. (I have to thank Wikipedia for the definition.)
I designed a tacky, black and white cover – I never claimed to be an artist – indicating a price tag of 25¢. The cover was printed by a cheap offset company. Onto one side of sheets of 8.5-inch by 11-inch, yellow paper, two publicity photos for Godzilla were also offset printed. The blank reverse allowed for the continuation of the remaining sentences of the Godzilla filmbook, which were reproduced by Ditto. The text was typed onto various color Ditto masters — using my two-finger method — and I drew amateurish illustrations and headings onto these same masters. It was an issue of many colors. Talk about psychedelic!
Twenty-five copies of JFFJ #1 were printed. The Ditto masters did not allow for additional legible pages to be replicated. Most of the copies, if not all, were submitted free to other fanzine editors. It was common practice at the time for an editor to publish reviews in his or her fanzine of fanzines received in the mail, and I was hoping mine would receive similar treatment.
That was the genesis of JFFJ #1. But the issue was unfocused, and my desire that the fanzine be a voice for the Japanese genre film failed to materialize because of insufficient planning and inexperience in publishing. I was in over my head, and it showed.
BH: How did you advertise the magazine?
GS: By using the method of obtaining free publicity for JFFJ as detailed in the previous answer and purchasing classified advertising in several prozines, the word was spread about JFFJ.
BH: One of your most notable contributors was Horacio Higuchi. Please talk about Mr. Higuchi, how you came in contact with him, and the sort of material he contributed to JFFJ.
GS: I believe Horacio’s initial contact with my fanzine was the review he submitted for Lake of Dracula which was published in issue #10. An intelligent and literate citizen of Brazil, Horacio attended a university there, studying ichthyology at the time of his first submission, if I remember correctly. Interestingly, his heritage was part Portuguese and part Japanese. Over a century ago, the Japanese began to immigrate to Brazil, and in that country resides the largest Japanese population outside of Japan.
Our correspondence lasted many years. But by the time JFFJ ceased publication, Horacio no longer responded to my letters. Yet later, he mailed me a copy of a magazine which had published an article he had written. In addition, the magazine had an article on an obscure Japanese film — we shared an interest in relatively unknown Japanese science fiction, fantasy, and horror movies. So, I believe, as his fascination for the obscure evolved, Horacio moved on to other genres, which may explain his eventual silence. This assumption is based upon his published article in the magazine he sent me which discusses Jose Mojica Marins – also known as Coffin Joe — a filmmaker of a series of outre horror movies filmed in Mexico.
Horacio visited me three times, twice staying overnight, once spending part of one day, only to be whisked away on a Greyhound bus on a cross-country tour to visit friends and correspondents. His visits were short but informative and stimulating.
In addition to the Lake of Dracula review, Horacio supplied a filmography of the Supergiant (a.k.a. Starman) films as well as Toei’s Man in the Moonlight Mask series for a follow-up to the Japanese superhero article I had written for JFFJ #11. He also contributed a review of Terror of Mechagodzilla for issue #13 and one for Mighty Peking Man for issue #14.
BH: According to legend, Hideyo Tsuburaya was a pen name you used for some of your articles. Why did you choose to write under this name?
GS: An acquaintance at the time submitted an article on the making of Toho’s Gorath. The article was withheld from publication for quite a while – the reason escapes me – and I edited some of the text, probably more than I should have. Due to the delay – and possibly my edits – the author requested anonymity, and I obliged with a pen name. Artist Murad Gumen had created a fictional member of the Tsuburaya family for a one-page comic which was published in JFFJ, so I appropriated the name for the byline on the Gorath piece.
BH: Over time, how did JFFJ change and grow?
GS: Printing methods changed, which allowed more flexibility with design, improved readability, and offered a neater look. Mimeograph printing followed Ditto printing, with a few offset pages in the mix. Eventually the point was reached when the entire issue was printed offset. The evolution of JFFJ’s improved appearance was also due in part to the incorporation of art submitted by readers and the use of more photos as illustrative material. Layouts I created improved throughout the run of the fanzine as well. Eventually artwork was all but eliminated in favor of photographs since submissions were either unrelated to the genre or were swipes from a publicity still. Don’t get me wrong. I received a lot of great art over the course of my fanzine’s life, but much of the written material published later in the fanzine’s history covered new movies or films unreleased outside of Japan. A still was a better representative of the films being discussed. The idea of devoting a section of each issue to artwork only was contemplated, but it never was put into practice. The use of a spot color on type and some art — the contents of the all-offset issues were printed only in black ink — arrived with issue #15.
There was a slight backlash I hadn’t foreseen with the slicker look of JFFJ and the gradual reduction of fan art. Readers wrote to me lamenting the loss of the “fanzine” quality JFFJ initially had which they felt was being replaced by a more professional tone and style. Many of the readers had been buying JFFJ for quite a while -— the fanzine was only sporadically published during its entire run — so many years passed while only a few issues were released; these readers had grown up with JFFJ. The friendly, fannish quality of the earlier issues was gradually disappearing. I understood the readers’ concerns, but I wanted to take the fanzine to another level. Improving the look and content of JFFJ, I believed, was the path to higher circulation and financial self-sufficiency.
There was no Internet to search for material or to answer questions, so I visited newsstands, book stores, and the library to seek out information; and letters — with a copy of the current issue of JFFJ enclosed — were written to a number of Japanese studios requesting information and publicity material. Many of the studios were very considerate of my requests, forwarding flyers, posters, and stills. Toho was the exception. However, I did manage to convince the manager of their West Coast branch in California to send some material. He eventually got into trouble with the head office for cooperating with me, and the relationship ended.
Once the Japanese studios obliged my initial inquiries for material, and it was published in an issue of JFFJ, a copy of that issue was enclosed with a letter to the respective studio asking for items on other film projects, both old and new. This strategy usually netted another package of material which would be published in the next issue, and so on. The ongoing process generated an assortment of content which ended up in the pages of JFFJ. It aided me greatly due to a lack of written submissions, a situation I faced continuously.
Due to the long gaps between issues, readers may have thought I had time to accumulate many written contributions from which to choose, but that was never the case. If I wanted to get the next issue out, I had to do a lot of writing to fill the pages. Also, previously published articles were sought out and reprinted, with permission of the authors, of course.
When I began copyrighting the fanzine with issue #12, a copy of the issue was required to be mailed with a form and a check to the Library of Congress. Can you believe that this institution has copies of JFFJ #12 through #15 in their files? Stacked next to some really important document?
Finally, but most importantly, the content of JFFJ became devoted solely to Japanese science fiction, horror and fantasy films, television, and direct-to-video product — and a topic I had not initially envisioned seeing in the fanzine, Japanese anime. No more essays on rock music, politics or amateur moviemaking. I finally achieved my goal.
BH: At its peak, how many readers did JFFJ have?
GS: I am unaware of the maximum number of readers JFFJ reached, but both issue #14 and #15 had a print run of 1,000 copies. A large number of the copies were delivered to book stores and several large distributors who in turn sold them to book stores and comic shops around the U.S.
It was difficult obtaining payment from the concerns that purchased quantities of an issue. In fact, a pattern developed between us. When I announced to these businesses that an issue was soon forthcoming, as a means of determining the quantity each wished to be shipped, delinquent payments soon arrived in the mail, but many reminders to pay for the copies had preceded the mailing of the announcement. Twice did a distributor go bankrupt over the course of publishing JFFJ. That really hurt financially. But the most difficult time I had procuring payment occurred after the release of #15, my final issue. Since there wasn’t a follow-up, there was no announcement of a subsequent issue to persuade book stores and distributors who owed money for #15 to pay up, and therefore collecting payment proved even more trying.
BH: Generally speaking, what went into the process of editing and publishing JFFJ? Please also discuss when you had to exercise editorial judgment over material you received?
GS: Some of my earlier responses may also be relevant to this question, but the formula for each issue included several repeating articles/columns — letters of comment (I always received a lot of great LOCs), film news, an editorial, and “Trivia,” a collage of weird and unusual material collected between issues referencing Godzilla or Japanese monsters and their films, which discussed items such as song titles, the track “Mothra” by the heavy metal band Anvil, for example, and was illustrated by previously published newspaper or magazine single-panel cartoons and comic strips; newspaper editorial cartoons often used Godzilla as a stand-in for a political or social force of change, good and bad. Doug Pelton provided a large number of contributions which ended up in “Trivia.” If the issue needed material to round out an issue, I would write articles based upon information supplied by the studios. In several issues, the feature was something I had authored.
Very little editing of contributors’ submissions occurred. It was primarily used to correct grammar and punctuation.
Articles were keyboarded by myself initially on a typewriter, then later on a typesetting machine which used a photographic process to put type to paper. The paper was run through a chemical developer for processing and would emerge as a length of white paper with black type. The end product of either method of producing type was adhered by rubber cement and later melted wax to stiff sheets of poster board to create a page or “keyline.” Prior to incorporating a typesetting machine into the mix, rub-off letters were used to create headings and special type effects. Rules were created from rolls of clear tape containing different weights of black line, and tints of black were taken from sheets of screened material which had a sticky back to adhere to the keylines.
Several years after graduating from college, I was in the employ of a seven-branch retail department store as production manager in display advertising. The advertising department eventually purchased a stat camera, which is a large-format stationery camera used to shoot film from camera-ready artwork. The mechanism was housed in a huge self-contained, light-proof structure which had a door through which a person could enter. The operator would place the art or a photo to copy on a platen outside the structure, enter the structure, and then move the lens in such a manner as to enlarge or reduce as well as focus the image. Photographic paper was inserted into a platen located on the inside, the lens opened for a specific time to photograph the image, and then the paper was processed in chemical baths. To screen photos would necessitate inserting a special screen in front of the photographic paper. Through this method I learned how to make halftones of photos and enlarge or reduce art to be used in JFFJ. I made good use of the stat camera on Saturdays when the department was mostly deserted. Incorporating pre-screened photos into keylines was not the best route for good reproduction since the offset printer would take my keylines and photograph them to make plates for printing, which unfortunately softened the halftones I had made. Normally, a printer would create halftone negatives of photos and manually cut them into the negative of the line art/type, but it would have made the cost of printing JFFJ beyond my means.
Following my termination as production manager, when the department store chain’s headquarters was shifted to Kansas City, Missouri, I procured a job as a typesetter. Entry into this career was unusual. Unable to find a new job and with unemployment compensation running out, I pleaded with the owner of a typesetting business for employment. The owner was familiar with me since his company had typeset one issue of JFFJ, and I had used its services in my previous employ. Fortunately, he planned to enlarge his second shift, so a copy of the manual for the typesetting machine was given me to read. And I taught myself how to type with all ten fingers! Eventually, the owner gave me a test on a typesetting machine — I barely passed — and I was hired. Now I had the ability to professionally typeset JFFJ’s text — for free!
BH: Do you have any interesting or funny memories you can recall related to your work on the magazine?
GS: Let’s see. The contents page of issue #6 was positioned on the back of the cover out of necessity. The reverse side of JFFJ’s cover had usually been left blank, but the issue was short of space. The printer, unfortunately, imposed the cover and the contents page upside down.
Issue #4 was all out of whack. The printer backed-up the wrong pages for the whole issue. The contents page ended up in the middle of the issue, and page numbering was nonsensical.
Director Joe Dante (Piranha, Gremlins) sent me a note and money to purchase a copy of issue #12 and #13. A postscript to his note read, “It’s a great magazine!”
I was also proud of my little fanzine when an October 8, 1975, issue of Variety, the weekly movie newspaper, included an article on the Film Literature Index, a quarterly-plus-annual published in Albany, NY, which indexed film periodicals from around the world as well as non-film periodicals which contained articles on movies. The 1973 index alone had 1,500 subject headings, including film entries listing titles, director, date of original release, and so on. Variety’s article went on to state that “the range of coverage is such that even off-beat periodicals, such as ‘Japanese Fantasy Film Journal’ are included, which make it a valuable historical record.”
In 1983-1985, I received Christmas cards from Tokyo Movie Shinsha, a studio/distribution company in Japan. TMS’s gesture was a pleasant surprise which indicated that efforts to solidify a relationship between JFFJ and Japanese studios using correspondence and copies of JFFJ as an incentive had worked at least with one studio.
BH: What was your relationship like with Toho during this time? What about the other Japanese studios?
GS: The studios which I contacted to acquire material to publish in JFFJ were, for the most part, quite cooperative to my requests. Each had evidence that items sent to me were published in JFFJ by the copies I had mailed to the studios containing its publicity material. Toho, on the other hand, was not pleased with the publication of stills from its films in JFFJ. The studio threatened me with a lawsuit if I continued. The letter from Toho led me to believe the concern was over images of their monsters and not photos from movies like Vampire Doll or Adventures of Takla Makan. A response to Toho expressed my viewpoint that JFFJ was providing free publicity for the studios’ motion pictures, and that I was not making a profit from my publication. Toho never responded. The answer to the problem of using Toho’s stills was a simple one. I just stopped sending the company copies of JFFJ. Not another complaint was heard.
BH: Ernest Farino, designer of the main title sequence for Godzilla 1985, was a writer and artist for JFFJ and went on to enjoy a successful career in film. Who were some of your other contributors that made the successful transition from fan to pro? And what was your reaction when you learned about their success?
GS: Not only writers, but artists should be included as well, for the early issues of JFFJ would have been dismal efforts indeed without their important contributions.
I was recently in contact with Ernie Farino, surprisingly, after years without communication, who contributed articles and art for JFFJ. In addition to his career in special effects and creating film titles, he has returned to publishing — his fanzine FXRH, devoted to Ray Harryhausen, was a favorite fanzine of mine — with the release of the hardcover, Ray Harryhausen: Master of Majicks Volume 2.
Stan Timmons, who wrote and drew for JFFJ, continues to write for Marvel and DC Comics and has had a number of novels published, including Outer Limits: Always Darkest and a series of Battlestar Galactica novels co-authored with Richard Hatch. Stan submitted many lengthy synopses for early issues of JFFJ which unfortunately went unpublished as the magazine shifted direction to film analysis. These manuscripts, not content just to describe action and story, took a very creative approach to each film they tackled, and were a delight to read. Remorse for not getting his hard work into print still bothers me.
Author of several articles in JFFJ, Michael Copner was an actor in the film The Vampire Hunters Club (2001), director of the documentary On the Trail of Ed Wood (1990), and was editor and publisher of the late, great film magazine Cult Movies.
Murad Gumen, contributor of much of the great humor art in JFFJ, worked as an in-betweener on Raggedy Ann and Andy (1977), wrote, directed, and produced the comedy-fantasy feature Wonderguy and has worked as a writer, artist, and illustrator for Marvel and Charlton comics, was an artist for Cracked, Playboy and Heavy Metal, and was employed as a staff artist at the New York office of the Walt Disney Company.
Much of the fanzine’s early wacky artwork was courtesy of Todd Schorr who is still arting like crazy. His portfolio and bio can be viewed at toddschorr.com. I remember seeing his name associated with a line of greeting cards many years ago.
Michael Hayes, who supplied analysis in early issues of JFFJ, contributed articles to Widescreen Review, and wrote two books, Wide Screen Movies, as co-author, and 3-D Movies.
Peter Kuran formed his own company, VCE, which has provided special visual effects to over 300 motion pictures. The firm also is involved in licensing and image restoration, and has produced five documentaries on the subject of atomic history. One of the documentaries, Trinity and Beyond, gained Peter a Scientific and Engineering Academy Award¨ for inventing a color restoration process which he created when making the film.
Mike Natale, who authored several special visual effects article for JFFJ, is a photographer and videographer living in New York City.
Fred Olen Ray, has gone on to produce, direct, and screenwrite a large number of low-to-medium budget feature films. He is also the head of Retromedia Entertainment which releases DVDs of both his own productions and archival films, including “The Giant Majin Collection,” which contains the two direct-to-TV AIP releases Majin, Monster of Terror and Return of the Giant Majin.
Stephen Mark Rainey, a name familiar to many Godzilla fans from his being the founder of Japanese Giants in 1974, published and edited for ten years an award-winning short-story/poetry/essay magazine, Deathrealm, and has written a passel of fantasy/horror novels, including Dark Shadows: Dreams of the Dark (with Elizabeth Massie), Balak, Blue Devil Island, and many more. Visit stephenmarkrainey.com for more details.
I attempted searches online for several other contributors to JFFJ but had no success, unfortunately.
I was surprised by the number of contributors who transitioned from fan to pro and am fortunate they decided to contribute to JFFJ. Just why my fanzine was the beneficiary of so many talented people is unexplainable. But I certainly am grateful.
BH: In the 1970s, other Godzilla fanzines were created. Mark Rainey founded Japanese Giants, and Damon Foster published Oriental Cinema and Japanese Movie Sci-Fi. What did you think of the creation of these ‘zines?
GS: Though I provided a bit of assistance to Mark Rainey, editor of issue #1, the arrival of Japanese Giants in 1974 did force me to evaluate the direction JFFJ had been taking, but aware that I did not have the written resources to change the direction, I simply plodded on. Japanese Giants evolved into a incredibly informative genre publication, a much better one than JFFJ ever was. And the individuals behind JG, if not then, I got to know very well as time had passed. In fact, Ed Godziszewski and Mark Rainey, both of whom at one time edited JG, were contributors to JFFJ.
I was contacted by phone sometime in 1980 regarding the “The Japanese Fantasy Film Society” and its newsletter, a project of Ed Godziszewski, Bill Gudmundson, Alex Wald, and Michael Paul. The call was to get my impression of the group’s name which was very similar to the name of my fanzine, and a sort of warning shot to alert me to its forthcoming release to the public because I assume the project was going to appear regardless of my concern with its name. The similarity in names bothered me, and I told them so, but the words The Japanese Fantasy Film Journal was not trademarked, so I had no recourse to prevent the use of a similar name. My displeasure dissipated, and I even became a member of the “society.”
Damon Foster’s enterprises originated after the cancellation of JFFJ. I am only familiar with his Oriental Cinema based upon several issues I have read, but his efforts to continue the discussion of the genre were most welcome.
BH: Why did you decide to cease publication of JFFJ?
GS: There were several reasons.
The fanzine was labor-intensive, requiring a lengthy production schedule. It was the pre-digital age, remember. Early on, JFFJ was a labor of love, so I simply sloughed off the hard work involved. Eventually, however, the work load to produce an issue began to wear me out. As well, due to the fanzine’s low print run, per copy cost was high, so I was eating a lot of the production costs. The fanzine never did return a profit.
Also, there was the reluctance of the fanzine’s readership — or anyone else who had something to say on the subject — to put to paper opinions and essays for printing in JFFJ. Generally, much of each issue depended on material I had written or compiled, and writing something pertinent had become difficult for me — readers’ perception of the depth of my knowledge of Japanese science fiction, horror, and fantasy films may have given me more credit than was due me. In addition, I was also writing a lot of business correspondence to studios and to distributors and retailers of JFFJ. To readers who had sent inquiries and opinions on the fanzine and the films it covered, I answered every letter received, usually in some detail. I believed they deserved it. So most of my free time was devoted to writing something related to the magazine.
Tsuburaya Pro.’s reluctance to provide images to illustrate the proposed overview of the studio’s productivity for issue #16 was frustrating. I felt that August Ragone’s article, the inclusion of many rare images, and smart-looking layouts would have taken JFFJ to another level. In fact, had the studio not been so miserly, it is possible that his piece could have been expanded to fill the issue, which would have alleviated my authoring additional articles to bring the issue up to the page count I had set for it.
Basically, it all boils down to the fact that I was worn out from the effort I had to devote to JFFJ and frustrated by the lack of resources to improve it. So, in 1985, after 17 years and 15 issues, I decided to end my hobby.
BH: Why don’t you write more articles?
GS: Putting coherent thought into words is tough for me. (Anyone reading this interview is probably nodding in agreement.) That and the inability to add something worthwhile to the discussion of the genre. Unfortunately, I do not have at my disposal any contacts in Japan who are able to feed me hitherto unknown secrets about the country’s genre moviemaking.
BH: What’s your favorite Godzilla movie?
GS: Godzilla (1954). It is a film every member of the family can enjoy. The effects now seem quaint, but the movie still has an important story to tell.