Friday, May 30, 2008

Gammera the Invincible

Hey, you gotta love a Japanese monster movie that off the top opens in Canada and explores some great Canadian history by touching on the ill-fated story of Henry Hudson. There's also some cool model work and a great Dick Dale-esque score. Yes, the first 45 seconds of this move rock!
Filmed in Japanese in 1965 as Gamera, this is the American version entitled Gammera the Invincible (for some reason an extra "m" was inserted into the name). This is the first Gamera film, the only one ever released to theatres in the United States, and this version contains extra scenes filmed with American actors, much like the Americanized version of the first Godzilla movie.
And like the first Godzilla movie, this movie doesn't get all cutesy-wutesy kid-friendly like later Japanese monster movies will do, although how seriously can you take a giant flying turtle? Gamera, like Godzilla, is also awakened by a nuclear explosion. It destroys a research ship, then leaves the Canadian arctic for Japan to cause more havoc. I guess Winnipeg wasn't worth bothering with.
If you've seen one Japanese monster movie, you really have seen them all. Planes attack, missiles are fired, building are destroyed, Tokyo gets flattened, the scientists comes up a crazy scheme that no one thinks will work. You've got to start wondering why all these monsters have it in for Tokyo. Did they once have a bad sushi experience?
Interestingly, Gamera is dealt with by tricking him into a rocket and he's blasted off to become the first creature from earth to go to Mars. An another example of NIMBY in action -- we have nothing against giant flying radioactive turtles, just as long as he doesn't live in our neighbourhood.
Once you get past the idea that Gamera is a giant turtle with flames coming out his ass, this really isn't so bad.

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