Written by Barney Buckley
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In-depth movie review on the first movie!
A brief description of what Gamera is?
Gamera is a gigantic flying Terrapin then seen in the giant sci-fi movie known as Gamera the Invincible which came out in 1965.
Is a film that is directed by Noriaki Yuasa who directed most of the Showa Series of Gamera films.
This is the first entry to the Gamera films within the Showa Series and it was theatrically released in the United States.
The Cast for This Film Are
- Eiji Funakoshi as Dr Hidaka
- Harumi Kiritachi as Kyoko
- Junichiro Yamashita as Aoyagi
- Yoshiro Uchida as Toshio
- Michiko Sugata as Nobuyo
- Yoshiro Kitahara as Sakurai
- Jun Hamamura as Dr. Murase
- George Hirose as the Japanese ambassador
The Following Cast Were Added in the 1966 American Theatrical Release of the Film:
- Albert Dekker as the Secretary of Defense
- Brian Donlevy as Gen. Terry Arnold
- Diane Findlay as Sgt. Susan Embers
- John Baragrey as Captain Lovell
- Dick O’Neill as Gen. O’Neill
In an icy North American region, an unknown aircraft is shot down by an American fighter jet. The aircraft crashes and its cargo, a low-level atomic bomb, explodes. The resulting cataclysm awakens a giant, prehistoric monster called Gamera, who has the appearance of a giant turtle with teeth and large tusks. Japanese scientists on an expedition (including Dr. Hidaka, Kyoko, and Aoyagi) nearby are given a “devil stone” by an Eskimo chieftain, who explains that the creature is called Gamera.
Gamera destroys the American jet with his fire breath and escapes into the sea. The monster heads to Japan and surfaces from Sagami Bay, where Toshio, a boy releasing his own pet turtle, sees him. Gamera destroys the city of Fujisawa and a lighthouse. However, he also rescues Toshio from falling from that same lighthouse and then retreats back into the sea. Scientists and government officials hold a conference to discuss killing the monster.
Gamera destroys a research ship, kills the crew and then heads to Tokyo. He is attacked with freeze bombs and blown up, falling onto his back as a result. The scientists indicate that a turtle cannot right itself once on its back and that Gamera will therefore die of starvation. Gamera then pulls his head, limbs and tail into his shell, emits flames out of his arm and leg cavities and flies away by rising up into and spinning around through the air like a flying saucer.
Toshio and his family decide to stay with an uncle in Tokyo because they have nowhere else to go. Toshio explains to the professor that Gamera is lonely and like regular turtles, he is not evil. Dr. Hidaka, meanwhile, has observed that Gamera consumes fossil fuels, and may seek out atomic bombs for the energy they provide. He also emits radio signals. This leads the Japan Atomic Energy Commission to figure out what to do with its stockpiles. Meanwhile, disasters and accidents start to occur: Koto Ward is struck by flash floods and ships collide in Tokyo Bay. Dr. Hidaka claims that Gamera has caused these accidents because he is hiding in the bay.
An international scientific conference is called, and they decide to use “Z Plan” based at Oshima Island, involving a consortium of American, Soviet and Japanese scientists, to eradicate Gamera. Before any action can be taken, however, Gamera lands at Haneda Airport, destroying the control tower, and proceeds to wreak havoc in Tokyo (including destroying the Tokyo Tower). Toshio and his family evacuate again, but Toshio disappears.
Z Plan is still not ready and the scientists plan to keep Gamera at bay in the meantime by confining him to an oil refinery. Dr. Hidaka has surmised that Gamera is gaining energy by consuming fires at the refinery and they will therefore keep shipping petroleum there by train car to keep Gamera occupied for 24 hours. Toshio has found his way to the refinery and sneaks on board the train to Gamera, chased by the refinery headman, and they are both thrown from the train when it explodes. They are unharmed and Toshio is sent on his way.
In the meantime, Z Plan is completed and Toshio sneaks on board the ship delivering supplies to Oshima. Gamera is lured to Oshima by lighting an oil slick path from Tokyo to the island, but an oncoming typhoon blows the fire out. Aoyagi starts a bonfire and Gamera makes his way to a volcano erupting on the island. The next day, Z Plan is put into action: Gamera is lured to a rocket and blasted off to Mars. The worldwide announcement of success extols the triumph of science over ideology, Aoyagi and Kyoko go off together and Toshio decides he is not sad, because he is going to be a scientist so he can go visit Gamera one day.
Let’s Talk about Some Interesting Facts about the Production of This Film
The director Noriaki Yuasa did in fact initially began production of a film that was simply titled as Dai Gunju Nezura and this is literally translated as “The Great Rat Swarm” which in fact would literally involve real live rats crawling around over a major set of cities.
The rats that were received for this film came with some baggage such as a whole mess of fleas and it literally halted the production of the film.
With the success all the Toho Motion Picture Company’s Godzilla film that came out in 1954 called “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” would eventually have Noriaki Yuasa of the decision to go ahead and create a film very similar to that one.
The company that would make the original film Gamera The Invincible was known as the Daiei production company and they would go ahead and create a monster series of their own.
This company would make a series of films from 1965 all to 1980 before actually going bankrupt.
They would use the miniature city sets used in the film “The Great Rat Swarm” that was already scrapped due to the infestation and Masaichi Nagata came up with the idea to develop a giant monster that would attack the city and he also had the idea that it would be a gigantic flying turtle. Noriaki Yuasa and the screenwriter Nisan Takahashi developed the ideal that would eventually become the 1965 film that they would tentatively call Gamera the giant monster.
Special effects technician Ryosaku Takayama would design the turtle suit that was used in the film.
As I’ve mentioned before this film is created by Daiei production company and they would aim these films were targeted towards a younger audience of children rather than the dark and eerie tones of the first two Godzilla films. And they also had a lower budget for these films.
This particular film would be the only film within the series that was shot in black and white.
Noriaki Yuasa also stated that this is the very first film which had a budget of about ¥40 million and he also mentioned that the film went “overbudget just a little bit”.
Due to the commercial success all the first Gamera film the second Gamera film which is tentatively call “Gamera versus Barugon” which came out in 1966 had an expanded budget and that budget would be ¥80 million. That my friends is double the original film.
Gamera Suit Design
Shodaigame Gamera Suit
Shodaigame Gamera Suit is a technical name for the Showa Series of Gamera’s and the suits used in this series.
First let me explain the word Shodai in means first-generation and the word game segment comes from the word Gamera.
The Shodaigame suit design is based on the appearance of a gigantic terminal that has fingers would very long claws on each hand as well as five toes with very sharp claws as well. Plus it has a very long tail. The underside of the shell for carapace as a brick -like pattern. While the top of the carapace has several spikes protruding from the shelf itself.
The Gamera suits face was made to look very menacing with small angry -looking eyes. The most famous aspect about this suit and all other Gamera suits are gigantic tusks that protrude from the lower jaw. This suit also has a very pointed snout. The ridge on the top of is also much more pronounced than in the later design of Gamera suits.
During the flying scenes as we all know Gamera is capable of flight. They use a miniature puppet that is roughly around 3 feet in length it was constructed just for the flying scenes. They would actually suspend this puppet using piano wire and it was filled with a mechanism that was capable of spewing flames from his arms and leg holes.
Let’s Talk about the Films Release
The film was released in Japan on November 27, 1965.
The film itself was a bigger head than the studio expected which I mentioned before led to a higher budget for the second film known as Gamera versus Barugon which came out in 1966.
There was in fact an edited version of the film that was released yesterday in the United States on December 15, 1966. It was called ” Gammera The Invincible” which in fact it was or it had a typo as Gamera is spelled G-a-M-E-R-a and according to the title that is released in the United States it is spelled as G-A-M-M-E-R-A The Invincible.
This version that was released in the United States did in fact include some scenes that were added such as the Alaskan army base, the Pentagon, and the United Nations headquarters.
This particular version was also shown frequently on American television in the 1970s.
Now We Will Talk about Home Media
Gamera the invincible was released on home video as “Gamera” in 1987 by Sandy Frank Film Syndication.
This Release Also Contains the Japanese Version of the Film without the Added Foliage from the 1966 United States Theatrical Release with all the added footage.
This version was in fact entirely re-dubbed in English with a different musical score.
However the 1966 theatrical version does feature Brian Donlevy also had been made available on home video as well.
Vintage Home Entertainment released Gamera: The Ultimate Collection on May 17, 2005 which included a compilation of the entire film series. The film was last released by Willette Acquisition Corp. on Feb 17, 2015.
Let’s Talk about the Reception of This Film
According to Variety which is a magazine that does state that Plan Z in the film was an “all appropriate idea for Gamera, a film which can also be rated as Grade Z”.
From many retrospective reviews such as AllMovie it did in fact give the film a positive review complimenting the films direction, special effects, and cinematography stating, “all in all Gamera the Invincible is a solidly-crafted, engaging monster mash-just make sure you see the original Japanese version”.
This film according to Rotten Tomatoes is right at 20% according to the website. However you need to keep in mind it really does come down to how you feel about the movie not these credits.
Now is give you some basic facts and trivia based on this film
There is in fact a sequence where you do say Gamera attacking two strippers in a nightclub and it was shot however it was deleted from the film.
As I have mentioned before this is the only film within the Gamera series that is filled in black and white.
This is also the only film within the series that Gamera does not fight another monster.
This is the only film within the series that Gamera is in fact the antagonist instead of the protagonist.
There is a tribute/spoof about Gamera that was using the episode of the grim adventures of Billy and Mandy, it is when you do see Billy and Irwin go to Japan to see monster’s fight. The monster’s name is Kragera in this episode.
The world entertainment/Harris Associates cut version of the film entitled “Gammera, The Invincible”, does contain one shot of Gamera in the original Japanese version wore the Sandy Frank dub version. It is a wide shot of Gamera attacking the nuclear reactor.
I have seen this film in many different versions of this film and I do like them all equally as it is the beginning of the series just like Godzilla 1954 is perhaps the best within the Showa Series of Gamera films as they do tend to get a little cheesy towards the 1980s. Until we reach the Heisei Series of Gamera films those in my opinion are some of the best Gamera films to date. Anyway this film is a classic and has many fantastic elements especially the way they film it. All in all this is a great film if you are new to the Kaiju genre you might want to check this out if you want a greater understanding of the gigantic flying Terrapin.
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