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!
Looking back on the unmitigated diaper fire that is 2016, I noticed I’ve only done one Gamera review this year! I’ve got something ultra special planned for next month, so I had to squeeze in some more titanic turtle before the year is up! Being November, I naturally picked one where our chivalrous chelonian roasts some turkeys!
Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (or its Japanese title Gamera: Giant Monster Midair Battle) was unleashed in 1995 and successfully rebooted the Gamera series. Directed by Shusuke “GMK!” Kaneko, scored by Kow “GM-FUCKING-K!!!!” Otani, with special effects by Shinji “did the fighter jet scene in GMK!” Higuchi.
I really really like GMK, and Gammy here is what most of that dream team was doing pre-GMK. If you’re playing a drinking game where you take a shot every time you read GMK, please call 911. If you’re still conscious, great! This movie is a ton of fun, gave Gamera the second chance he always deserved, and in a lot of ways outshined Toho’s Godzilla output of the time. Keep reading to find out how!
Hope you had a good (or at least not-shitty) Varantimes Day! I always like to try and tie my reviews to something current-ish, so this month I went hunting for a little giant monster romance! Last year worked out great with Rodan‘s star-crossed terror-dactyls. This year… let’s just say kaiju generally aren’t lovey-dovey creatures.
Gamera gets pragnent in this one! Implies a little hanky-panky, yeah? Except Gamera is a boy and there’s no sex, just a (non-erotic) shanking. Also two kids abort the murderous monster-baby. Hahaha, hoo boy. This is truly one of the craziest, most fun entries in the classic Gamera series, and that’s saying a lot considering we got shit like this in a previous installment.
So light some candles, put on some slow jams, and check yourself for ancient curses and/or monstrous parasites, because we’re talking about 1970’s Gamera vs. Jiger!
Gamera’s first feature is the only one to cast him as the villain, the only one in black and white, and the only one that doesn’t have the Gamster taking on an opposing monster. It’s the poster child for early installment weirdness, even more so than the straight-laced Gamera vs. Barugon. Even though O.G. Gamera is a city-smashing, crowd-roasting terror, that somehow doesn’t stop him from being crowned “The Friend of Children” which means this movie is populated with some seriously fucked-up human characters. It’s great!
We’ll talk about all that, plus how this movie started out as a failed attempt at a rat-attack horror movie. Load up on freeze bombs, eat some fire, sign off on Plan Z, and get ready to slam-era with Gamera!
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!
This month I’m reviewing Gamera 2: Advent of Legion. A.K.A. Gamera 2: Attack of Legion, A.K.A. Gamera 2: Legion Invasion, A.K.A. The Color Purple. Why start a trilogy in the middle? Snow! More specifically, I love Christmas, and wanted to continue my theme of holiday-flavored reviews. That said, nobody’s made Santa vs. Gappa yet, so the most festive thing I could find in giant monster movies is snow. And it’s actually pretty rare! Kaiju are fine with showing up at night, during rainstorms, or in the middle of tidal waves, but it would appear they take most winters off. Son of Godzilla has an amazingly moving and tender snow sequence at the very end of the movie, but the majority of Gamera 2 takes place in Japan’s wintry wonderland. And really, I’ve been itching to talk Gamera for a while now. Not only that, but G2 is stuffed with incredible practical effects and puts Toho’s monster movies of the same era to shame in pretty much every way. So grab a sixer of Kirin, bundle up, and prepare yourself for Legion to attack! Or invade! Or advent!