There goes Tokyo!

Published 9:42 pm Tuesday, March 8, 2016

There’s more to Godzilla — the iconic fire-breathing monster from the 1954 film of the same name — than meets the eye.

“Godzilla is the living embodiment of the atomic bomb,” said Mike Holtzclaw, a Daily Press features reporter and longtime film buff. “A lot of people think Godzilla is just a cheesy horror movie. But you have to look at it in context … and remember that this film was made in Japan by people who experienced the atomic bomb.”

Holtzclaw will share his perspectives at the Isle of Wight County Museum’s Monster Matinee, a special program about classic Cold War-era monster movies, at 1 p.m. Sunday. Admission to the museum is $2.

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Patrons will be treated to popcorn, trivia and movie clips from some of the era’s classic monster movies: “Attack of the Crab Monsters,” “Deadly Mantis,” “It!,” “Plan 9 from Outer Space” and more.

The atomic bomb had the biggest impact on the horror genre, Holtzclaw said. Often, horror films during the Cold War often showed giant, radioactive insects or creatures that attacked humans, he said.

Scientists also began to be portrayed differently on the silver screen during that time, he said. Before the atomic era, scientists were usually evil, sinister characters.

“But in the 1950s, scientists were usually portrayed as well-intended people, working for the good of humanity, when their experiment gets out of control and threatens to destroy the human race,” he said.

Isle of Wight County has a special link to Cold War history, according to Jennifer Williams, the museum’s director. One of the Cold War’s few surviving Army Air-Defense posts is at Nike Park, a popular county park in Carrollton and home to Isle of Wight County Parks and Recreation Department.

Until 1963, the park was a Nike-Ajax missile base, Williams said. Fear of Soviet bombings during the Cold War sparked the United States’ creation of a Nike surface-to-air missile system to protect major metropolitan areas and large military installations like those in Hampton Roads, she said.

After 1963, the Army Signal Corps used Nike Park.

Several times a year, the museum sponsors Cold War walking tours of Nike Park, with still has the original barracks, mess hall, administration and recreation building, officer family housing, fueling areas and underground missile magazines.

The next tour is at 2 p.m. April 16 at the park, 13036 Nike Park Road.