Don’t be a Gamera: Pooper Monster, Check Out Gamera: Super Monster! (Part 1 of 2)

tumblr_ofl2y8k4wl1rwn81uo1_1280Ahhhh, Gamera: Super Monster, we meet at last! I had never seen the 1980 entry in the Gamera series until this last month.  Its reputation might lead you to believe I was avoiding it, but come on, you know me better than that!  I was saving this heaping helping of stock-footage fueled weirdness for a rainy (or Michigan-humid) day!

This is a good thing and a bad thing.  The good thing is that I had a lot of fun finally cracking this nut–I basically gifted myself a ridiculous cinematic dessert.  The bad thing is that by the time I snuggled in to watch Super Monster, I had already found out most of its best/strangest details.  In case you’ve never seen this thing and want to ensure you have the maximum WTF experience, I won’t spoil it by listing out all the madness here.  All you really need to know going in is that Super Monster was a blatantly desperate attempt to pump funds into the dying (now long-dead) Daiei studio and it was made on the shoestringiest of budgets (even by Gamera standards).

So fire up your electric organ, fly your magic van someplace safe, and start talkin’ to your watch, because we’re diving in to Gamera: Super Monster!


I usually kick reviews off with a look at the original theatrical trailer…. but I couldn’t find one for Super Monster. That’s a pretty good indicator for where this movie sits in the popular consciousness, but it’s still a bummer.  I’d love to see how Daiei tried to sell this flick.

…And now I can thanks to a hot tip from friend of the blog, Ted Johnson! Feast your eyes on the original Japanese trailer for Gamera: Super Monster (and all the other Showa Gamera trailers if you feel like rewinding)!

The trailer focuses on non-stop action: Gamera’s foes come out and wreck shit, he comes out and wrecks their shit, there are transforming super ladies, a suspiciously familiar evil spaceship, a random cop holding a comic book (???)…. It’s completely bonkers, which makes it a really fair, honest approximation of the movie its selling.

I had an easier time grabbing some samples of Super Monster’s score, so let’s have a listen! Here’s a fan-made music video of the opening theme followed by the end credits music.  The video itself is stitched-together clips from the movie, so spoiler alert?  I guess?

The opening theme is a fun, disco-y superhero ballad and the end credits music is a mellow mirror of that tune.  That’s maybe an odd choice for the thundering chaos of a Gamera movie, but it’s a perfect fit for a charmingly corny, low-budget, kid’s superhero flick.  Gamera: Super Monster is both, so it checks out!  Check out the “Gamera vs. Barugon” theme below!

It’s funky as fuck! There are only a few pieces to the Super Monster soundtrack, but I never got tired of hearing this!  Make sure to at least listen long enough to hear the “wikkita-wikkita” guitars come churning in! That shit rules. Shunsuke Kikuchi put the score together and even though I didn’t know his name, I definitely know (some of) his work!

His body of work is mostly anime and tokusatsu scores, which also includes Dragon Ball Z, Kamen Rider, and OH YEAH THREE OTHER GAMERA MOVIES. So by the time Super Monster came out he had already worked several times with series director Noriaki Yuasa and series scribe Niisan Takahashi.  Fun fact, Noriaki Yuasa was a child star in his younger days!  He also directed a flick called The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch and it looks BUCK WILD:

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“Now I’m really hisssssssed off!”

Gamera: Super Monster opens with credits rushing backwards into a glittery star-field… which… kind of sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

All right, cat’s out of the bag.  It’s 1980, Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back were so rad they made everybody jizz their brains out their buttholes and 1978’s Superman was no slouch either.  Daiei needed a slam dunk, so I don’t fault them for trying to bash their Gamera-shaped peg through a Star Wars and/or Superman -shaped hole.  When the credits finish, we’re treated to matte paintings of some spacey vistas and the narrator kicks off his expository spiel.  He waxes philosophical about the vastness of space before telling us about Zanon, a pirate spaceship “bent on murder and destruction” (at this point also depicted via paintings).  It is “the messenger of death” and it’s next mission is to attack Earth.

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And I mean, if you’re going to rip off Star Wars, you might as well do the iconic opening verbatim!

Luckily for us Earth is the foster home of three refugee Space Women who lost their homeworld to the vicious Zanon.  It’s unclear if Zanon is a single being on the ship, the alien race in charge of the ship, the ship itself, or all three.  It’s a cool as fuck name though, so let’s roll with it.  Kilara, the leader of the Space Women, senses space trouble a-brewin’ and signals the other two to meet up with her.

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“This is how we all communicated on planet Carol of the Burnett system.”

Mitan and Marsha (Marsha, what a weird, spacey name!) ditch on their day jobs (at a car dealership and an elementary school) to meet up with Kilara.  These initial superhero transformations are achieved with simple but effective jump-cut camera tricks, followed by some decent if chintzy-looking blue screen flying:

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But Kilara’s routine is way more fun.  First, she puts on a bitchin’ leather jacket and hops in her adorable pet store van:

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I mean duh, obviously.

The she plays her dashboard-mounted space casio:

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I know what you’re thinking: “Yes, of course Matthew, FUCKING DUH.  We all do this. What is the unusual part of this sequence?”

Which makes her van do/look like this:

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“Obviously normal.  Everyone knows vans are squiggly, like 10% too small, and don’t cast shadows.”

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“Oh.”

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“OHH”

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Folks, welcome to this nutty-ass movie.  Thank you for joining me.

Now that Kilara’s van is a flying orange glob, she waits for Marsha and Mitan to be horribly absorbed by it, which of course they do quickly and willingly.

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Well not THAT quickly, we see Kilara waiting for them for a sec. Filler!  Super Monster is famous for its generous re-use of old footage, but it’s packed with almost as much time-eating filler.

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Ahh, the universal fantasy of human flight! Spreading your arms, bending yourself like a banana, and looking off to the right as you majestically wobble forward through the air.  Just like we all imagined!

Once they’re all inside the space splotch, Zanon warns them not to interfere with his/their colonization of Earth.  If they do, Zanon will slaughter humans instead of just colonizing their world.

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I love how minimal this set is.  Of course it’s out of necessity, but it shows how much you can pull off with some ingenuity and creative lighting. It’s the K-Mart version of Krypton, but it’s still alien and evocative.

They know that Zanon can track them whenever they’re in their true (Space Woman) form, so they do a crazy dance to transform back into their human disguises and land the van on a nearby parking structure.

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As you do.

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Being pursued by an intergalactic warlord is no excuse to park like an asshole, Kilara!

Zanon’s got a Space Woman on his side though, the dastardly Giruge!  Giruge’s deployed to Earth and sets about “clear[ing] all obstacles” for the pending colonization.

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You know how it is, glammed out alien invader on the weekend, back to biz-casual on Monday morning!

It’s a little bit Terminator and it gets a little bit Ghostbusters a moment later! Specifically, Louis Tully possessed by Vinz Clortho.  Here’s Giruge’s reaction to getting hit on by a random sleazebag:

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So either Giruge’s got superpowers, or that dude is deathly allergic to being politely rejected.

This is followed by a smash cut to a suburban house with what sounds like a circus organ playing “Camptown Races.”  It’s an odd thing to jump to, but it’s the introduction of Super Monster’s kid-lead Keiichi!

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It’s a Showa-era Gamera movie, they’re contractually obligated to include at least one chirpy little nerdling.

Keiichi finishes playing his (innocent-sounding but actually fucking gross and dehumanizing) lesson and he runs off to hang out with his little buddies.  What follows is a minor filler scene, but one I never got a good handle on.  Keiichi’s friends are flipping through a comic book and one of them says that Gamera’s in it!  Keiichi is ga-ga for Gamera (#relatable) so he rushes over to check it out. It’s kinda weird and kinda meta, but let’s have a look!
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I, uh…

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That ah…

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IT’S JUST SOME COP GOOFING AROUND WITH A NORMAL TURTLE WHAT THE FUCK

I watched the dubbed and subtitled version of this scene to try and figure it out. In the subtitles one of the kids says (or reads) that the turtle is spinning like Gamera in that last panel.  WAY TO LIE TO US KID.  I opt for dubs when I’m reviewing because I like taking screenshots without subtitles in the shot, 60s dubs are actually really good, and dubs from other eras have their own unique cornball charm (even though quality-wise they don’t touch those 60s dubs).  All that said, the dub on Shout Factory’s DVD (I love unofficial fan edits/reconstructions, but for reviews I try to opt for a version that’s commercially available) is weirdly muffled, so if I totally whiff on a line of dialogue or miss some expository detail, you know why! This is also one of those weird dubs where everybody calls Gamera “Guh-mare-uh” instead of “Gam-er-uh” (like “camera”)… I find myself getting a little nostalgic for wonky dub quirks like this.  Dub-a-dub-dubs aside, the filler continues when one of the kids says that Muscleman is better and we look at his comic for a sec.

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Though you might know him better as Kinnikuman or as the star of the M.U.S.C.L.E figures! He’s a ridiculously beefy pro wrestler who started out as a parody of Ultraman (hence the head-fin)!

This is about when the filler starts to feel like product placement for this comic book (which based on the inclusion of Kinnikuman it must be Weekly Shōnen Jump?).  Then they decide they’re going to find the the cop from the regular turtle not Gamera comic?  AND THEN THEY FUCKING DO

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Why/how is he a real guy?!

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He has a normal turtle and everything.

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Then he shills for Weekly Shōnen Jump.

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Why is this happening.  What is this.

This is the weirdest part of the movie, and we just saw a lady turn her van into a flying blob by playing a keyboard.  The cop is played by Yûzô Hayakawa, who was Kawajiri in Gamera vs. Barugon. That doesn’t really explain any of this though.  Is the comic based on this cop?  Why?  Is he a famous cop?  I’m really lost on this.  Hayakawa was a prolific actor, also showing up in Warning from Space, but none of that really sheds any light on this random police officer who is the star of a comic.  He even starts the conversation with the kids by vehemently denying that he’s the cop from the comic, like he has to explain this to people all the time.  I watched this scene dubbed and subtitled and literally understand nothing about it.

Anyway he kindly tells the kids to fuck off and I can stop having an aneurysm over this nothing scene. Keiichi… just kind of ditches his two friends between scenes to go look at the turtles in Kilara’s pet store.
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I don’t know what happened to the other kids, but I’m just grateful to understand what this scene is and what it means.

Kilara strikes up convo with Keiichi and lets him have a turtle for free.  Kilara is…. really really great.

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She’s played by Mach Fumiake, a former pro wrestler, which instantly explains her confident swagger, breezy natural charisma and impressive, statuesque build. She’s maybe not like the best actor in the world, but she owns the screen, has great surrogate big-sister chemistry with Keiichi, and absolutely comes across like a kind, real-life superhero.

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The kid’s good too.

Kilara’s Zanon sense goes off, so she sends Keiichi home with a new free turtle in tow.  Zanon declares that he/their first strike is to make Mt. Fuji erupt via stock footage.  It does!

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A team of scientists are sent to survey the recent eruption by helicopter, and anybody that’s seen Gamera vs. Gyaos might recognize the ill-fated chopper in question:

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The miniature work in classic Gamera movies is always a mixed bag, but this shot is amazing.

That’s right gang, now we’re really getting into stock footage country.  With the exception of a minute or two of new footage of Gamera drowsily flying around and stomping past a sign, every single monster scene is pulled from a previous entry in the franchise.  Godzilla’s Revenge did a smarter, more satisfying job of leaning on reused scenes, but it doesn’t bother me all that much here either.  It’s fun reliving Gammy’s old battles in a (slightly) different context.  Super Monster functions both as a Gamera sampler platter for new fans and a love letter to the entire Showa series (albeit a weird and lazy one) for series veterans. But anyway, the chopper’s gonna be fine right?  They’re just checking on the aftermath of a volcano, so it’s not like–

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WHOA!  Ha ha, yikes!

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Hey, cuttin’ it a little close there buddy!

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WAIT, SHIT!

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SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!!!!

This (and the next few special effects sequences) are re-purposed from Gamera vs. Gyaos, but other than some suspiciously anachronistic-looking fashion, it all holds up really well.  With the chopper fucked in half, the Japan Self Defense Force deploy a squadron of fighter jets and well–

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Turns out death rays work just as well on fighter jets! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Pretty exciting stuff!  Pretty intense, right? So naturally our next shot is–

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SMASH CUT TO A SUBURBAN HOUSE BUMPING CLOWN-ORGAN MUSIC

We rejoin Keiichi, who’s now playing a Gamera march he composed to his new pet turtle.  If the fact that he composed his own Gamera tribute ballad isn’t enough to establish Keiichi’s super monster super fandom, we also cut to a stack of Gam-mags in his room too.

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Which again, #relatable

Keiichi’s mom crashes his gam-jam with maximum Mom-Face:

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Thankfully she’s not just there to tell Keiichi to cool it the fuck out with his Gamera March (though I’m sure that figured in somewhere). She’s also not there just to holler at Keiichi for bringing home a random-ass turtle.  Instead, she has a really sweet talk with him about how the turtle would surely be happier out in its natural habitat.  Keiichi thinks hard about it, realizes she’s right, and cuts the little guy loose.

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He even “winks” in agreement!

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It’s a tender little moment, lightened up the sweet but dry humor of Keiichi asking the turtle to “try to think of me from time to time.  When you’re not too busy.”

SMASH CUT BACK TO GYAOS MURDERING EVERYBODY

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You might want to call your chiropractor about that mood whiplash.

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He’s such a brat.

The effects work for Gyaos aren’t quite up to the standard of what Toho was putting out at the time (which in this case is actually 1967 instead of 1980), but they’re ambitious, dynamic, and are super fun to watch! Since Yuasa and co. are able to cherry-pick their best past work, it all ends up looking pretty rad!  Jumping back to the streets of 1980 isn’t quite seamless though:

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But it’s also not that jarring.  Like I bet most kids (Super Monster’s target demographic) didn’t consciously pick up on it.

Either Marsha or Mitan (I always mix up the non-Kilara Space Women) is stuck in traffic trying to meet up with her compatriots so they can go kick Gyaos’ ayaoss.  Running out of time, she makes a REAL BOLD choice and goes full superhero in the middle of the street, then teleports her entire fucking car.

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Not only is this poor sea captain trapped in a car instead out on the briny blue, now he has to deal with this happy horseshit?!

Zanon can spot them from orbit every time the Space Women space out, so Marsha (or Mitan) isn’t just putting herself in danger, but her fellow Space Women as well!  Her Mazda pays the ultimate price!

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Super Monster might have had a micro budget, but the optical effects are pretty sick!

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So that’s it! If the Space Women transform, Zanon will nuke their glittery asses off the face of the Earth!  They can’t possibly defeat Gyaos as a trio of regular-ass broads, so they have to just lay low for now.

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Thankfully for THE WORLD, sweet, dorky Gamera-loving inspiration strikes the next day!

Keiichi swings by Kilara’s pet shop the next day to apologize for releasing the turtle, ends up scoping out Kilara’s big-ass electric organ (continuous product placement for electric organs/tiny keyboards?) , and plays his nerdy little Gamera ballad for them.

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It inspires the SHIT out of Kilara.

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She’s the best.

Kilara and the other Space Women vow to find Gamera, and on a more serious note, Marsha and Mitan vouch for their willingness to put their lives on the line to save their adopted homeworld and all the dweeby little kids like Keiichi that they share it with.  Keichi agrees to watch the shop for Kilara and co. while they step out

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Step out and STEP UP (2: The Streets)

The Spa-Dubs transform back and forth, drawing and confusing Zanon’s orbital laser strikes and… this summons Gamera?  I think?  Maybe Keiichi’s song played a part?  This is another moment I couldn’t quite crack, subs and dubs alike.  But who gives a shit Gamera is here!  And he’s FUCKING HUGE AND BEAUTIFUL AND LOOMING OVER THE ENTIRE CITY!

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YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAa

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When you get over the initial delight of seeing enormo-Gam you realize he’s just sort of drifting lazily through the air but WHO FUCKING CARES GAMERA IS HEEEEEERRRRRRREEEEE

Keiichi of course loses his goddamn mind when he sees this, cementing Keiichi as perhaps the single most relatable film protagonist of all time.  Keiichi’s so psyched up that he gets caught off-guard by Giruge, who strong-arms him into going for “a walk.”

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It’s hard to remember the rules of stranger danger when the 400 ft. long turtle of your dreams is gliding overhead.

So with Gamera in the movie, we jump to another scene from Gamera vs. Gyaos! It actually sounds more crazy and abrupt in writing than it actually is in the movie.  It’s easy to ignore the jarring-ness when it’s the scene where Gyaos splits a car in half like the fucking climax of The Love Bug:

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ALSO LOVE BUG WAS ’68 AND GYAOS WAS ’67 EXPLAIN YOURSELF DI$NEY!

Before Gyaos can chow on any terrified motorists, Gammy spins into the scene!  And some SUPER funky “wikkita-wikkita” guitar plays while these two titans tangle!  They chase each other through the sky, come crashing down into the churning sea, and finally Gyaos has to laser his own foot off to get free from Gamera’s determined maw.

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Not going SUPER in-depth with these fights because… well, I gotta save some stuff for when I review the movies they originate from!

It fucking rules.  It was a smart call to start with the Gyaos battles, because they are crazy fun to watch.  Giruge rolls up to Keiichi’s school the next day to mean mug and tell him that there’s no way Gamera will win.  This of course, is a bugfuck insane thing for an adult woman to do.

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“Gamera’s a dumb little wiener baby and everybody knows it!”

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“WHO ARE YOU?”

BACK TO THE FIGHT (that night)! Gamera and Gyaos face off again near the terrible pteranodon’s mountain lair and it’s a total blast.  Gamera parries some of Gyaos’ lasers, gets sliced by the rest, Gyaos air-drops Gamera, they bite, they sweep the leg, they do all kinds of crazy, awesome shit.  This fight is packed with fun gags, but one of my favorites has to be when Gamera lobs a glob into Gyaos’ gob:

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I like this for two reasons: 1. It let me write that ridiculous sentence just now. 2. It shows what a crafty and cunning combatant Gamera is. His use of improvised weapons is one of the most exciting and entertaining hallmarks of the series.

Gyaos puts up a good fight, but after being gobsmacked, Gamera’s able to airlift him into sunlight, then drag his ass into the nearby volcano.  It’s pretty fucking metal.

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The music here is not metal though. It’s kind of a funky, droning riff on the Jaws theme?  It’s cool, but it gets used more effectively later.

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Gyaos has pink blood! Like Klingons (sometimes) do!

The space ladies were watching it on space pay-per-view, and they muse that Keiichi will also have seen the fight in his dreams.  They probably mean it metaphorically, but if they mean it literally I am REALLY curious about the extent of their powers.

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If I asked nicely could they beam WestWorld and GLOW and Bojack Horseman into my sleeping brain? I’d love to get caught up without spending all my waking hours watching TV.

Zanon’s pretty pissed about Gyaos getting dumped into a volcano so he/they/it tells Giruge to learn about Gamera and just straight up kidnap Keiichi.  Keiichi knows from a dream that Zanon will strike from the sea next. Is he psychic? Did the Space Women send him this vision in addition to season one of GLOW the Gamera vs. Gyaos pay per view? Is it pure coincidence? Whatever it is, Keiichi’s mom is sick to death of hearing about monster shit, so Keiichi runs off to go tell Kilara instead.

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She believes him because she’s very cool and open minded, and then Keiichi’s back on his merry way, sprinting and screaming as all children spend most of their time.  Kids are insane.

Keiichi runs into somebody else who wants to hear all about his kaiju shit, the dastardly Giruge! If Keiichi has ANY stranger danger recognition skills, Giruge easily gets around them by offering to “take you out for hamburgerlunch!”

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hamburgerlunch

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HAMBURGERLUNCH

Stuff like “hamburgerlunch” is a major part of why I watch these wacky old dubs.  It’s a hilarious delivery of an incredibly mundane idea and I’ll probably remember it for the rest of my life.  After hamburgerlunch, Giruge bombards Keiichi with red flags that he doesn’t notice. “If you want to see Gamera you must do as I say” she tells Keiichi as she leads him into an alley.  She tells him to close his eyes, and thankfully just uses her watch to teleport him to the beach instead of anything more sinister.

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I guess it’s just not a stock footage-filled kid’s kaiju movie if the child protagonist doesn’t fall into a swirling, psychedelic vortex.

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I mean obviously kidnapping is bad, but at least she didn’t chop him up into hamburgerlunch.

Keiichi excitedly exclaims that Giruge must be a Space Woman, but before Giruge can confirm or deny that, Zigra surfaces and fucks ship up! That Jaws-lite music comes back and makes WAY more sense accompanying Zigra.  Gamera comes screaming in right away and tangles with Zigra in the murky depths.

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Gamera fights like a kaiju-sized, rocket-propelled wrecking ball, and that’s never not a joy to behold.

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….A kaiju-sized, rocket-propelled wrecking ball that is fully capable of getting gored. He goes all in every fight, fully knowing it could be his last. Gamera is amazing.

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It’s fierce, fightin’ fun, and my favorite detail about this version of the fight is that the Jaws-adjacent music gets muted and muffled every time they cut to undersea footage. There aren’t enough good diagetic sound gags in kaiju movies.

Zigra goes for another Gamera-gash, but Gammy grabs him and rockets out of the water triumphantly, then launches him like the big shitty lawn dart he is!

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This is the best genre in the universe.

Zigra morphs into a more humanoid shape and tries to tussle with the Gamster on land, but it ends with Gamera practicing his marimba and Zigra bursting into flames.

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THE BEST GENRE IN THE UNIVERSE

Keiichi finally starts to pick up on Giruge’s predatory vibe and tries to bail, but Giruge won’t let him! Keiichi’s Mom is starting to worry about her missing son and checks in with Kilara…. but she hasn’t seen him in a while herself.  When mom bounces, Kilara pulls Keiichi up on her bitching futuristic flat-screen, then plays some more keyboard to create an extra-dimensional escape hatch for him to flop through!

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All this fantastical alien tech being powered by keyboards reminds me of the episode of Comedy Bang Bang where Reggie is living out The Last Starfighter.

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No joke one of my favorite parts about watching this for the first time was checking out all of Kilara’s super-dope 80s fashion. She is rocking the SHIT out of that gray blazer.

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This movie rules.

Safe from Giruge and (temporarily) monster-free, Kilara and Keiichi chill for a sec.  Kilara explains that she and the other Space Women don’t live in this… living room or whatever behind the pet store, but rather “we sleep in the car at night.” They are a trio of space faring, super powered Matt Foleys.

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“Sorry Keiichi, I’m from space in 1980, I don’t get that reference… yet.” 😉

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They shrink down and sleep in a see-through lunchbox inside the van!  It’s whimsical and weird, and reminds me of Mothra‘s tiny ladies, or even Beetlejuice when he’s shrunk down and imprisoned in the model town.

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These composite shots are great.

Kilara gets the alert that Viras has appeared, and she reluctantly agrees to bring Keiichi to watch the carnage. Which is a good thing because that means we get to watch the carnage too!

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FUCK YES

Gamera and Viras grapple, Gamera drags him onto dry land, Viras chucks Gamera, there’s some ambitious but goofy wirework, and some straight-up cartoon physics regarding some thrown boulders:

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It’s a ridiculously fun gag, but the most iconic moment of the fight (and one of the best sight gags of the entire franchise) comes after it! Viras horrifyingly impales his head into Gammy’s sweet shelled tummy, but Gam pulls through and turns it around on Viras spectacularly:

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Poor little buddy!

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YEEEEEUUUUUUUSSSSSSSSS!!!

Viras like disintegrates on splash down and Giruge gets chewed out by her space boss(es).  Giruge tells Zanon that going after Keiichi was a fuck up on her part.  From now on, she’s gunning for the Space Women.  Keiichi gets home in time for bed and #relatable continues:

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He is tucking himself in with his Gamera books.  I’m trying this out as soon as I can get some Gamera books of my own.

Or at least, I thought they were both Gamera books. They’re not, and that VERY small detail is the only thing that makes the next sequence make any sense.  The next sequence, of course, is Gamera flying through the stars and looking at a cartoon space-boat.

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Imagining Gamera peacefully gliding through deep space actually sounds like a rad, kaiju-y alternative to counting sheep.

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That is until he encounters an anime boner battleship.

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It’s only a boner-ship from certain angles, but look at that thing! DOI-OI-OI-OING. This is what happens when foreshortening goes wrong.

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Gamera nods in approval as he looks upon it.

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That last shot is how I pieced this “mystery” together.  See the pattern of the rockets on the back of the ship?  If you scroll up, you’ll see the same pattern on the dark blue book next to Keiichi.  Keiichi instigated this weird mash-up dream by making two of his favorite books bunkmates.  It’s adorable kid-logic and I wish it worked in real life.  The anime and book in question are Space Battleship Yamato, one of the most influential and beloved pieces of Japanese sci-fi.  Getting some clarity through context is nice, but that’s still some nutty-ass filler. Bravo!

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Keiichi was fucking jazzed about it too.

While Keiichi is safely snuggled up and dreaming of his favorite IPs looking at each other Giruge gets up to no good! She finds the Space Women’s van and disintegrates it!

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Did all the money they saved by not building monster suits and miniature cities go towards optical effects, compositing, and cool little props?  Because that shit all looks great.

Luckily she didn’t know about their weird Beetlejuice sleep box, leaving Keiichi to safely recover it the next day!

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These composite shots are seamless.  The glass even warps a little bit at the top of the box.

Their sleep box shields them from Zanon’s scanners (scanons? zanners?), and was rad enough to survive the disintegration. Keiichi scoops it up to take the Space Women back to their ad hoc HQ behind Kilara’s pet shop. Of course, creepers gonna creep:

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Giruge has a court order to stay at least 500 light years away from schools.

What’s Giruge got up her sleeve? Who’s Gamera gonna slam-era next? What the fuck are the Space Women’s super powers, exactly?  Will Gamera weirdly look upon any other anime clips? Find out in part 2 of this review, coming soon!

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4 thoughts on “Don’t be a Gamera: Pooper Monster, Check Out Gamera: Super Monster! (Part 1 of 2)

  1. Might I recommend a follow on youtube: a channel called “Obsolete Goku.” They post HD quality trailers of Japanese fantasy films (not much Godzilla, though), including a fine (and lone) quality trailer for “Super Monster”:

    “Zanon” is the race of aliens on the spaceship. “Spaceship Zanon” is the spaceship itself. The voice that keeps threatening everyone is the Zanon Captain.

    Way to call out Kilara’s shitty parking! I never noticed it before. Good eye, Matt!

    I’m tellin’ ya, Tokuma Publishing made this movie, not Daiei (note that none of Daiei’s producers are listed in the credits, but a bunch of Tokuma peeps are. No Nagatas were in sight). They had no interest in reviving Daiei; they just wanted to make a cheap buck exploiting Gamera by calling in some contracts signed back in ’71.

    I’ve seen “The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch.” It’s not as fun as the title would make it seem. It is a serious horror movie (despite it’s wacky antagonists), is shot in black and white, and I believe came out the same year as “Gamera vs. Viras.”

    One of the kids says that his grandmother knows a policeman with a turtle and the kids go off to harass him for… reasons? He’s never meant to be the character from the comic. The dub just goes off the rails there for some reason. He’s just the ward’s local police officer (just like Officer Kondo).

    Kilara may be really great, but giving away free turtles left and right, she has no clue how earth economics works.

    Isn’t the guy who sees, er, Not-Kilara teleport away the policeman with the turtle that totally doesn’t have a comic about him?

    You know what might have been interesting? If they showed Gamera having to weave the hell out of the way of skyscrapers (well, considering the budget, A skyscraper). When Gamera was in full swing, they didn’t really have them in Japan, but by 1980, they were all over the place.

    You know, when they made the Gamera marionette, some goober BROKE the damned remote. So, the thing’s mouth could either open and shut continuously or not work at all. That’s why the mouth isn’t controlled semi-properly like in previous movies. Of course, this movie being made for $1.80, they didn’t have time to repair the remote so Gamera’s mouth could move… naturally.

    And did no adults notice Giruge just loitering outside their school waiting for Keiichi? Actually, now that I think of it, that’s not the most inappropriate thing involving Giruge in this movie…

    Are we not gonna talk about how there was a crewman whose job was just to hurl children at the beach all day? No? Alright…

    When I first saw “Gamera, Super Monster”, I had not seen “vs. Jiger” or “vs. Viras” yet (as Sandy Frank did not release them onto VHS in the 80s). When I saw the end of the Viras battle in ’92, I had the EXACT same reaction you did. Complete with “YEEEEUUUUUSSSSS!!!!”

    The Space Battleship Yamato cameo would’ve been no mystery to its 10-year-old Japanese audience. That shit was INSANELY popular at the time and the first series had just ended a year or so before. In fact, “Farewell to Space Battleship Yamato: Soldiers of Love” (aka “Arrivederci, Yamato”) has the EXACT same plot as “Gamera, Super Monster” AND the exact same ending, albeit more artfully–though somehow less excitingly done. The Japanese title of this movie, “Space Monster Gamera” means nothing… it’s just to remind kids about “Space Battleship Yamato”/glob onto its popularity. The Japanese are bastardly about this sort of thing. “Runaway Bride” was released in Japan as “Pretty Bride” to make people think it was a sequel to “Pretty Woman.”

    Can we please not have to wait too long for Part 2? Pretty please with Gameras on top?

    • Deffo going to give Obsolete Goku a look, great tip!

      Gamera navigating skyscrapers would have been awesome as hell and I assume WAY over their budget. Their budget of course being seven bucks, some pachinko tokens, most of a dirty thirty of Kirin Lager, and a whole lot of cockeyed optimism.

      If I had the resources I’d probably start a whole blog or podcast about the brave, bold teamsters on movie sets that spend their entire shifts launching children/animals/stiff dummies. God that would be a fun video essay series.

      The Viras Spin is so, so good. Showa Gamera has tons of incredible gags, but that is a legit contender for all-time best. I think I feel a juicy listicle coming on!

      The plan/hope is to have Part 2 out in the first half of August, then squeeze off a full Destroy All Monsters review in the second half of August. I famously bite off more than I can chew, but I think real life things are settling down enough to make it possible! Gamera give me the strength!

  2. Sorry, Matt… but this one is a turd any way polish. Even to a diamond sheen after long-term petrification! Hahahahah…. Love your reviews though and glad I found your Facebook page finally.

    The boy and I can’t wait for GodZ:KOM to come out! First trailer looked lush.

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