Friday, May 7, 2010
Gamera: The Giant Monster (1965, Noriaki Yuasa)
Above you can see me doing my best Gamera impression. Some say we were separated at birth, but I think it's just a case of dead ringers. Regardless, as you can see I am holding a copy of the new Gamera The Giant Monster DVD being released on May 18th by the fine folks at Shout! Factory. They were kind enough to send me a copy to review on my blog, which I am very excited to do. I'll admit that, though I would say I am a B movie lover (in case the title of this blog didn't tip you off), I am not very knowledgeable about the realm of "Kaiju" (Japanese for Strange Beast) films. I saw Roland Emmerich's Godzilla remake in the theater in the late 90s but other than that, I don't think I've ever sat through an entire Kaiju. After watching Gamera, that will definitely change.
Gamera is a giant turtle creature that is awoken when a plane carrying an atomic bomb crashes into the arctic where the turtle has been asleep for a very long time. It destroys a Japanese research ship, but three people manage to get away and alert the world. Soon a UFO is spotted and we presume it must have some connection to Gamera. Is he from Outer Space? Gamera then appears in a Japanese town, destroying their water tower but saves a boy who believes that Gamera is really his pet turtle Pee Wee. The boy's father and sister made him get rid of Pee Wee because the boy was obsessed with it and wasn't making friends with other kids. Despite the boy's pleas that Gamera is friendly, a ploy is thought up by scientists to freeze Gamera and then blow it up. Instead of killing Gamera, it is knocked on its back, which the head scientist says will cause Gamera to starve to death due to its immobilization. We soon find out that this ain't no ordinary turtle (duh) as do we learn how the UFO is connected to this anarchic amphibian.
Wow, what a crazy, silly, ridiculously awesome film. There were a lot of interesting concepts that were thought up for Gamera that I had never seen before. The UFO connection (which I won't spoil), the sympathetic young boy and Gamera's power source are all kooky enough to make it more than just your typical monster. Shout! Factory has done a great job with the film, featuring a commentary by August Ragone, a Japanese cinema historian and the first ever DVD release of the original Japanese version of the film. Like I said before, I haven't seen many Kaiju films but Gamera will definitely make me check some more out.