Movie Name: Gamera: The Giant Monster
Studio: Daiei Film Co., Ltd
Release Date(s): November 26, 1965
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
A nuclear bomb is accidentally dropped in the arctic unleashing Gamera, a giant turtle from Atlantis. Gamera’s hunger cannot be stopped as the world seeks to eliminate Gamera, a young boy named Toshio (Yoshiro Uchida) questions if Gamera is just misunderstood. As Gamera threatens the world, the world must unite to stop the dangerous threat!
Directed by Noriaki Yuasa, Gamera: The Giant Monster also goes by just Gamera (大怪獣ガメラ or Daikaijū Gamera which translates to Giant Monster Gamera). The movie was released in America in 1966 as Gammera the Invincible with an added American cast which later also became Gamera the Invincible. Gamera was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 when it was on KTMA-TV (MST3K fifth episode) and was also featured on MST3K in the third season of the official show (MST3K #3.02). The Gamera episodes of MYT3K were out-of-print for years but were able to be shown after a shifting of rights in Gamera’s ownership.
Gamera was always second fiddle to Godzilla. He was created as Daiei to compete with Toho’s Godzilla films. It is easy to see how Gamera stole from Godzilla, but you can also see that Gamera began to come into his own after a period of time.
This entry of Gamera is much more derivative of Godzilla’s movies at the time. Godzilla started out as a serious film, but Gamera already had aspects of humor and comedy built in at the onset. Like Godzilla, Gamera always had young Japanese “friends” like Toshio to support him. Godzilla didn’t have that for the first few movies. It is always amusing however how a little kid will associate with the kaijū (the Japanese term for the giant monsters) despite the fact that he’s destroying the world around him.
I do like that Gamera is more “international”. Gamera flies all around the globe and multiple countries become involved in destroying Gamera because he’s not just a threat to Japan, but a threat to the world. Plan Z becomes an plan by the world to rid the planet of Gamera, and Gamera almost has a Watchmen type unifying effect on the planet.
Godzilla at least was a bit menacing…Gamera wasn’t really. There are points in this film where Gamera costume looks a bit more real than Godzilla, but bottom line is he’s a flying turtle. When he journeys around the planet, his legs pulls in and he spins…it is more comical than dangerous.
Gamera is for fans of kaijū films. It is almost like watching Gobots when The Transformers was on. Gobots were fun at points, but The Transformers were king…kind of like Godzilla. Still, Gamera isn’t a bad movie in the overall picture (as far as goofy foreign monster movies go), but it does just feel like more of the same. Gamera the Giant Monster was followed by Gamera vs. Barugon in 1966 in what is known as the Showa era of Gamera.
Buy it now on Amazon.com: