Gamera: The Giant Monster

Actors: Eiji Funakoshi, Harumi Kiritachi, Yoshiro Uchida
Director: Noriaki Yuasa
Format: Anamorphic, Color, DVD, NTSC, Widescreen
Language: English
Region: 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Shout! Factory
DVD Release Date: May 18, 2010
Run Time: 78 minutes



Gamera is of course the 60 meter tall giant turtle monster that is awoken from his (its?) centuries long frozen slumber in the North Pole by an accidental nuclear explosion.

He breathes fire and “flies” by spinning through the air like a flying saucer. Gamera has no qualms about incinerating an entire club filled with antiauthoritarian beatniks with his fiery breath, but saves a small annoying boy from falling to his death (you can guess at whom the movie is aimed).

Gamera: The Giant Monster is the first movie in a series intended to cash in on the success of Godzilla by a rival studio. It is however a bit of a snore as well. (The movie however isn’t as much of a downer as the original 1956 Japanese version of Gojira – better known to Western audiences as Godzilla of course.)

Yup, it’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 territory all right, but Gamera never scales the dizzying heights of other “so bad, they’re good” monster classics such as Mothra vs. Godzilla. Still, fans of the genre would probably want to check out what is the first DVD release of the original Japanese version of this movie.

THE DISC: Presented in its original aspect ratio the print used is practically free of any blemishes such as scratches, specks and so forth. The movie looks really fantastic. However the disc seemed to “stutter” once or twice. A minor inconvenience though – and it could just have been our DVD player instead of the disc itself.

There is a trailer and a 20 minutes long retrospective look at the Gamera franchise (which was big with Japanese children of the era). The retrospective is in Japanese and has a lot of talking heads. The staccato audio commentary by an American enthusiast is filled with the sort of trivia that will make your head hurt.

WORTH IT? By now you ought to know whether you’re the sort of person who would rather spend an hour and a half of your life on a mid-‘Sixties B&W monster flick as opposed to, let’s say, reading a biography of Stalin or listening to Brahms’ piano quartets.

RECOMMENDATION: If you’re looking for sheer bizarro badness, then you’d be better off checking out some of the Gamera sequels such as 1968’s Destroy All Planets instead.



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