Daikaijû Gamera (1965)
Directed by Noriaki Yuasa
Eiji Funakoshi played Doctor Hidaka, a zoologist, and world's foremost authority on giant Arctic turtles from Atlantis.
Harumi Kiritachi played Kyoko Yamamoto, his dutiful assistant.
Junichirô Yamashiko played Aoyagi, intrepid and impetuous news photographer.
Yoshiro Uchida played Toshio Sakurai, a small boy who is somewhat deranged on the subject of turtles.
Michiko Sugata played Nobuyo Sakurai, Toshio's long-suffering older sister.
Yoshiro Kitahara played Mr. Sakurai, their longer-suffering widower father and lighthouse keeper.
Jun Hamamura played Dr. Murase, paleontologist and Colonel Sanders look-alike.
Yoshio Yoshida played a Catholic Eskimo chief.
Legendary (well, in Japan, anyhow) film comic and Kurosawa-gumi member Bokuzen Hidari played the old drunk farmer who sees Gamera and thinks it's a UFO.
No word on who played the USAF General in the Arctic who looked like an unholy amalgam of Michael Chiklis and Curly Joe DeRita.
And Chibi the Wonder Turtle played himself. (Herself?)
Plot: While in the Arctic searching for the lost turtles of Atlantis*, Dr. Hidaka, Kyoko and Aoyagi witness as US fighters shoot down fighters from an unidentified country**, causing an atom bomb to go off and awaken a giant fire-breathing turtle, which they call "Gamera", after a monster from Catholic Eskimo legend. Subsequently, Gamera saves the dangerously disturbed Toshio, who immediately becomes the Pope of the First Church of Gamera, becoming the first of the annoying small children that will plague these movies, and which Godzilla largely managed to avoid. Gamera attacks power stations and Tokyo, but the scientists of the world come up with the Z Plan, which involves trapping Gamera in a rocket, and blasting him off to Mars, where Toshio promises to someday visit him. Oddly enough, this plan works.
Or does it?***
Gamera Facts:Gamera is a giant turtle that can breath fire and can fly by withdrawing into it shell, shooting flames out of the holes, and spinning. I have no idea how one would explain the physics of that.
Gamera is 60 meters tall. In real measurements, that's 196.85 feet.
Gamera feed off of power sources and fuels, and can consume fire, as well as breath it out.
Gamera generates radio interference.
What'd I Think of the Film?: I liked it. The effects were OK for the time period and the plot moved along well and was both exciting and a little bit nuts, which is how I like my movies. I liked the score as well, very portentous, and good at setting the mood. The acting was good, too, assuming they were all meant to seem slightly crazy.
*I'm not making this s*** up.
**i.e., the USSR
***Well, no, it doesn't.
Way back when, probably in the late 60's, I saw GAMERA THE INVINCIBLE. One more Japanese giant-monster movie, this one with a slightly-different feel, and an unusual ending. And a strange, catchy rock & roll song.
Over the next few years, I managed to see the sequels. But, inexplicably, due to the stupidity of the local UHF stations, I saw most of them IN REVERSE ORDER. So all those flashbacks kept showing me stuff I hadn't seen yet. Then, I did.
Kinda reminds me of when I watched CHARMED the first time on TNT. At one point, I was watching 4 episodes a day. But they were from 2 different runs of the show. So, for example, in the morning, if they were running the 1st season, in the afternoon, they'd be running the 4th season. Imagine trying to pick up on a show's continuity for the first time that way. Strangely, many times, I'd see a sequel, then, later that same day, or the next day, see the story it was a sequel to. TOTALLY NUTS!! While some of the long-term creative decisions (ALL on the part of the main producer) have me shaking my head in retrospect, the first time out, what really impressed me was how, no matter how complex the show's history and continuity was, I NEVER ONCE got confused about what happened when. In its way, that was good writing. Often, the show's direction may have been seriously flawed, but the writing on the individual episodes was almost uniformly excellent.
What was the question? : )
Gammera the Invincible (1966)
This is interesting, because it's an "Americanization" of Daikaijû Gamera, the way Godzilla, King of the Monsters was an "Americanization" of Gojira (1954). It's also not the "English" dubbing I remember seeing as a kid, and not the Sandy Frank dubbing they used on Mystery Science Theater 3000. There are a number of added scenes with American actors - most notably Albert Dekker and Brian Donlevy - playing various military officers, scientists and commentators reacting to Gamera's antics. I'm not sure, but on the dubbing of the Japanese parts, I believe I recognize the voices of Peter Fernandez and Corrinne Orr, which wouldn't surprise me. There's a number of changes to the soundtrack, including the "rock" part that Henry mentions above. As an "Americanization" goes, it's not nearly as successful as Godzilla, King of the Monsters. The "American" scenes are intrusive and poorly-acted.
Current Tentative Schedule (Subject to change):
8/8/11: Daikaijū Kettō: Gamera Tai Barugon, Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Gamera vs. Barugon)
8/9/11: Doctor Who - the Sun-Makers
8/10/11: Doctor Who - Paradise Towers
8/11/11: Daikaijū Kūchūsen: Gamera Tai Gyaosu, Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Gamera vs. Gaos)
8/12/11: Gamera Tai Uchū Kaijū Bairasu
Turn down your lights. (Where applicable)
Mystery Science Theater 3000, Show 302: "Gamera"
1)Joel and the Bots are warming up before their performance.
Joel: Take-out endless salad container
Mads: Vacuum cleaner for bird-cages
3)Servo sings a song to Tibby the Turtle
4)Joel tries to teach Crow and Servo not to hate Kenny
5)Tom and Servo are getting a "beauty parlor" treatment from gypsy, when the SOL* is visited by Gamera (played by Michael J. Nelson)
6)Servo gives the cast a second look. Joel reads a letter. The Mads give Joel a shock to the "shammies".
Post-Credits: The Eskimo Chief says "Bye".
Favorite Line(s): "It is...the Devil's envoy!" "Kissinger?"
Film Notes: This was part of a package of films that producer Sandy Frank bought the rights to, and dubbed into English. Notable changes are that Kyoko is re-named "Catherine", Toshio is re-named "Kenny", Chibi is re-named "Tibby", Nobuyo is re-named "Nora" and Aoyagi is re-named "Alex". Apart from that, the dubbing actually isn't that bad.
DVD Extras: So Happy Together: A Look Back at MST3K and Gamera - a featurette featuring various cast members looking back on what the Gamera movies meant to the show. they've all aged well.
MST Hour Wraps: Opening and closing segments from the short-lived Mystery Science Theater Hour, featuring Michael J. Nelson as "Jack Perkins".
Original Japanese Trailer
Overall: I'm more of a "Mike" fan than a "Joel" fan, but the Gamera episodes are one of the strongest strings of episodes in the show's history. The fact that they were able to do several related films in a row really allowed them to build up a head of steam.
*Stands for "Satellite Of Love"
Daikaijû kettô: Gamera tai Barugon (1966)
This picture has been known in the US as War of the Monsters and Gamera vs. Barugon. It is the first Gamera picture to be shot in color.
Directed by Shigeo Tanaka
Kojiro Hongo played Keisuke Hirata, a pilot.
Kyoko Enami played Karen, a native of New Guinea.
Akira Natsuki played Ichiro Hirata, Keisuke's crippled older brother.
Koji Fujiyama played Onodera, the heel of the piece.
Yuzo Hayakawa played Kawajiri, a trusting dope.
Ichirô Sugai played Dr. Matsushita, a physician living out in the jungle.
Plot: After a brief re-cap of the first film, we see that the rocket was almost immediately hit by a meteorite, and Gamera freed. He returns to Earth and demolishes Kurobe Dam, before taking off, because he's got alot of stuff going on down south. We cut to Osaka, where the elder Hirata Brother is telling Kawajiri, Onodera and young Keisuke about a giant opal he found in New Guinea during the war, and hid there before he was captured. The three ship out on a freighter, and jump ship in New Guinea. They rent a helicopter and land in a native village, where they meet ol' Doc Matsushita and his native protege, Lisa Jr. Karen. (It's funny seeing Japanese guys in the "intrusive outsider" roles that one is used to seeing white guys in.) After harassing the natives, the three enter the Forbidden Zone Valley of Rainbows, where they find the opal in a cave. Onodera turns on the other two (there's a very suspenseful scene where Onodera see a scorpion on Kawajiri and says nothing) and takes off on the other two, leaving Kawajiri dead, and believing Keisuke dead as well. Karen rescues Keisuke, and informs him that the "opal" was actually a Barugon egg. Meanwhile, Onodera has developed athlete's foot in the jungle, and has been treating with infrared radiation. Due to bad planning, the egg has also been exposed to infrared, and hatches in Kobe harbor. (The hatching scene is pretty good.) Onodera gets in a fight with Ichiro, and gives himself away. He leaves Ichiro and his wife for dead, and takes off. Elsewhere, Barugon's Rainbow Beam has attracted Gamera, and the two scrap. Barugon freezes Gamera, but not before Gamera cuts him. (Mark's right, these monster fights are bloodier than Toho's.) Keisuke catches up with Onodera and beats the crap out of him. Karen informs the authorities that Barugon cannot endure immersion in water, and is easily-hypnotized by the light shining from diamonds. They come up with a plan to lure Barugon into drowning itself in Lake Biwa using a diamond that Karen just happens to have with her. They use artificial rain to stall Barugon while they get the plan ready. The plan looks like working, (although they do the obligatory "the engine stalls while the monster is bearing down on them" scene) but Onodera reappears and steals the diamond, but then Barugon eats him. Keisuke discovers that mirrors reflect Barugon's Rainbow Beam, so they build a giant mirror that reflects the beam back at him. This works, but they only hurt him, not kill him. However, Gamera has thawed out, and somewhat anticlimactically drags Barugon into Lake Biwa, and then flies off. Keisuke tells Karen he'll take her home.
Gamera Facts: Gamera can fly in outer space.
Barugon Facts: Barugon has a club-like tongue, from which it can emit a freezing mist.
It can project a destructive Rainbow Beam from its back. This beam can be reflected by mirrors.
Its blood is purple.
Immersion in water will kill Barugon.
Barugon is drawn to light, particularly light shining from diamonds.
It only appears once every thousand years.
The infrared radiation caused Barugon to develop much more quickly and become much larger than it normally would.
What'd I Think of the Film?: I find this to be one of the most watchable Gamera films, not least because it's the only one of the Showa Era Gamera films without a little weird kid in it. It's well-acted and has a good score. It is funny that Gamera isn't in the picture much - it's more like a Barugon film that features Gamera.
it's more like a Barugon film that features Gamera.
Sounds like it. They did several "Godzilla" movies like that around that time... King Kong, Mothra, Ghidrah, Ebirah. Godzilla reduced to guest-star in his own movie. Just like Chris Lee's Dracula.
I believe this was the last Gamera movie I ever saw, after seeing several of the later sequels in reverse order. I recall it was a close thing, too, because my parents dragged me off to my Aunt & Uncle's house in NE Philly that night, but luckily, nobody was watching anything on TV that night, so I was able to see it in the living room. But my memory is vague, my impression is whoever was there did a lot of talking, and it was difficult to focus on the movie. Worse than at home.
Boy was that a long time ago...
Mystery Science Theater 3000, Show 304: "Gamera vs. Barugon"
1)Servo and Crow argue the relative merits of MACs and PCs.
Joel: Audio-animatronic pop can
3)Servo advertises the 5000 Piece Figthing Men and Monsters Set (I'd buy one of those!)
4)Crow and Servo eat at TGI Tokyo.
5)Joel and the Bots discuess the "Faces" of Gamera films.
6)Joel touts books about Barugon and then reads a lette.
Post-Credits: Kawajiri is a little too happy for a guy who's about to be stung by a scorpion.
Favorite Line(s): "Well, that's it, we're licked."
Film Notes: More from Sandy Frank. No changes to character names that I noticed.
DVD Extras: Gamera vs. the Mighty Chiodo Brothers - a featurette in which the guys who made Killer Klowns from Outer Space reminisce about monster movies.
Original Japanese trailer
Overall: Another good episode. the "Fighting Men and Monsters" bit was my favorite of the host segments.