After a long and unplanned hiatus, I’m back! And yes, I’m back specifically to finish my long-delayed review of Gamera: Super Monster.
Yes, that Super Monster. Yes, I’m serious. Its purported badness draws me in like a Mothra to a flame, but I also really like how fucking weird and doofy (but still sweet!) this flick is. There’s enough unique, charming strangeness here to merit a deep dive.
If you haven’t already, be sure to give part 1 a read here. Or don’t? That might be an intriguing/hilarious social experiment! If you haven’t seen this movie and haven’t read part 1 of my review, go ahead and read this and see if anything that follows makes any fucking sense at all. If it does, congratulations, you’re either having a nervous breakdown or you’ve achieved total consciousness.
Even if you have seen the movie and/or read the first part of my review, it can still seem like a delightful fever dream: size-shifting Space Women sleep in an invulnerable lunchbox, they operate flying vans and dimensional portals with Casios and look upon Gamera as he relives his greatest Showa-era battles… who in turn sometimes looks upon random clips of anime… all while a Star Destroyer bombards them with threats and orbital laser strikes! Ready for more?! TOO BAD!
Ahhhh, 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!
Last month I joked about not being able to find a giant monster movie that would be thematically appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day. To my knowledge, Japan (or anyone, really) has yet to film a 300 ft. tall Leprechaun pushing over Tokyo Tower. But then I got to thinking about the true meaning of St. Paddy’s, and suddenly King Kong vs. Godzilla seemed like a perfect fit: in that movie Kong’s a huge lush that loves to gets loaded on berry juice, and a major plot element is getting him black-out drunk so they can cart his sloshed ass off to Japan! But before I had a chance to study up on KKvG, helpful Reddit user TheRedBee chimed in with their suggestion, “Kaiju Leprechaun? I suggest Gamers vs Barugon. It’s got rainbows, treasure and booze.” And with that, the choice is made!
I’ve been itching to dig into classic, goofy Gamera, especially since I’ve already touched on serious Gamera in my review of Gamera 2: Advent of Legion. Gamera vs Barugon represents the Gamera series tentatively dipping its toe into campiness right before going full-on balls-out crazy. But the movie wants to have it both ways and be a clever monster thriller too: Barugon has some pretty adult themes, and there isn’t a single “Kenny” in sight. It’s a fascinating mess! Grab a drank and a giant opal, because it’s time to jam-era with Gamera!