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GAMERA: THE GIANT MONSTER
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Reviewed by: JimmyO

Directed by: Noriaki Yuasa

Starring:
Harumi Kiritachi
Eiji Funakoshi
Yoshiro Uchida

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
A giant turtle named Gamera is awakened after an accidental atomic blast. The beast soon terrorizes Japan and makes friends with a little boy. Roar.
Is it good movie?
Gamera: The Giant Monster is exactly what it sounds like. It is basically a Godzilla flick with a different monster filling in for the lead. While this one features a gigantic turtle, it seems to inject a little bit of political idealism into its story. Not saying that it is this incredibly deep statement on the state of the nation, but there is definitely thought put into this monster mash. It also has exactly what you would want in a Godzilla wannabe flick, action scenes and a man in a suit causing havoc all throughout Japan. One sequence includes a surprisingly cool miniature set, it is a lighthouse that Gamera crashes his fists upon, but he manages to save a little boy named Yoshiro Uchida…. although if the monster hadn’t knocked the damn thing down to begin with it wouldn’t have been a problem in the first place.

While this certainly plays like your typical average monster movie, I like the fact that you can see it in its original dialogue with subtitles. I always hated the dubbing in these types of films. It never even came close to matching and it simply made the film more of a joke than it need be. Sure it’s silly. But not hearing badly dubbed voiceover can make a huge difference for any movie. There is something fun about watching old black and white monster movies, although the later Gamera films were in color. While this is not anywhere near perfect, it has sort of a bygone era feel that makes it entertaining to watch.

Yet not all is roaring good times with Gamera. As I mentioned earlier, this feels like an imitation Godzilla movie. It is also a little slow in the beginning, aside from the groovy sequence where the iceberg splits in two. But this baby certainly drags in the beginning and in the middle section. I also found the monster to be a little strange looking, and not all that terrifying. Oh no, I get it, this was a different time and it might’ve been scary as hell back in the day, but not today. This is a freakin’ giant turtle! Not scary! But, if you like these types of Saturday morning movies, then you could do much worse than Gamera.
Video / Audio
Video: Not a bad anamorphic widescreen transfer for an old 1965 monster flick.

Audio: The sound is also pretty clear for this shrieking monster of a movie.
The Extras
Special Features include Commentary by August Ragone, author of Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters . This commentary is so outrageously filled with info, that after awhile you go a little numb. I give massive props to Ragone for going to this extreme and have as much information as he does here. Seriously, this is mind numbing.

Next up we find A Look Back at Gamera (23:11) which is a series of interviews with some of the men involved in the film. While there is a bunch of information here too, this is fairly dull viewing. But it is worth watching at least once, maybe in shifts… yes, it does feel really long for a twenty minute featurette. You wanna see pictures? Well you can browse through a Publicity Gallery. You can watch by section including “Original International Sales Brochure”, “Pressbook” and “Photo Gallery”. Have fun with this one. And when you are done, you can watch the Trailer for the film to finish it off. And if you still aren’t satisfied, you can look through the booklet that comes with the DVD. This is groovy, monster turtle, good times.
Last Call
I enjoyed Gamera for what it is. This is an old fashioned, man in suit flick that doesn’t have the bad dubbing. It is the original Japanese version with English subtitles. If you like this kind of film, you will have fun. But beware, it is a little slow and a gigantic turtle is not all that frightening. Yet it is still worth checking out for fans of schlock and monster mania.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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