View Full Version: GAMERA, THE GIANT MONSTER (1965)

Mobius > Asian Cinema > GAMERA, THE GIANT MONSTER (1965)


Title: GAMERA, THE GIANT MONSTER (1965)
Description: DVD Review & Screen Caps


August Ragone - April 7, 2010 08:19 PM (GMT)
First reviews:
http://wtf-film.com/site/2010/04/05/gamera...t-factory-2010/

http://www.dvddrive-in.com/reviews/e-h/gam...ntmonster65.htm

I received my advance copies and all I can say is, WOO-HOO!

user posted image

user posted image

user posted image

user posted image

user posted image

user posted image

user posted image

user posted image

user posted image

user posted image

Thanks to Ian Jane of AV Maniacs for the screen caps!

GAMERA VS. BARUGON is scheduled for July 6th!

August Ragone - April 10, 2010 07:14 PM (GMT)
Here's another extremely positive review!

AV MANIACS:
http://www.avmaniacs.com/review.php?id=1335

Doran Gaston - April 10, 2010 08:18 PM (GMT)
I'm really looking forward to this. I've only seen the Sandy Frank version on MST3000, so I feel like I've never really properly seen the first Gamera movie.

August Ragone - April 30, 2010 12:44 AM (GMT)
Here's another positive review from Killer Film:
http://www.killerfilm.com/film_reviews/rea...vd-review-31226

August Ragone - May 7, 2010 05:52 PM (GMT)
Another great review from The Bloodshot Eye:
http://blogs.commercialappeal.com/the_bloo...now-on-dvd.html

Mark Tinta - May 20, 2010 10:22 PM (GMT)
Looks great. Highly enjoyable kaiju with some really solid miniature work. And really good visual effects that still impress today, especially in that shot when the men are fleeing the ship and Gamera is seen towering over it. I'll go through the commentary in the next few days. It's too bad that the US cut (which I haven't seen since I was a kid) proved too costly to include here, which would have made it the ultimate comprehensive package (I suppose I could pick up that Alpha DVD and store it in the same case), but what's here is certainly worthwhile and a mandatory purchase for any kaiju fan. And it's so nice to have a booklet with a DVD. We don't see nearly enough of that anymore. If this is any indication of what Shout Factory has in store with future GAMERA titles as well as the Roger Corman library, they'll certainly have a repeat customer with me.

Nice work, August!

August Ragone - May 23, 2010 08:07 PM (GMT)
Thanks!

Doran Gaston - May 23, 2010 09:17 PM (GMT)
Will Shout Factory's future Gamera releases also have commentaries?

August Ragone - May 23, 2010 11:46 PM (GMT)
We've already recorded the commentary for GAMERA VS. BARUGON. Waiting for word beyond that; although I've already written an audio commentary script for GAMERA VS. GYAOS (and have started notes for the others with our team). Let's hope that the sales of GAMERA will warrant more of the same for the remainder of the releases.

Brian Camp - May 24, 2010 10:47 AM (GMT)
Well, I did my part and bought this DVD last Friday at Best Buy on 14 St. in Manhattan. Haven't watched it yet, but look forward to it, since I've only seen the two earlier English-dubbed versions of this film and never the original Japanese-language version.

I've always been curious about why they chose to film this in black-and-white when nearly all the competing Toho kaiju films had been in color since RODAN, from 1956. I can understand why certain somber-themed samurai films were still being shot in b&w in 1965 (e.g. Shinoda's SAMURAI SPY and Okamoto's SAMURAI ASSASSIN), but not a monster film like this. Is this question dealt with in the commentary? Thanks.

August Ragone - May 26, 2010 02:12 AM (GMT)
I don't believe I mention it in the commentary, because that is covered by Yuasa himself in the short Gamera documentary on the disc.

Brian Camp - June 1, 2010 02:06 PM (GMT)
I watched GAMERA: THE GIANT MONSTER and the accompanying documentary last night and listened to August’s commentary this morning. Great job all around.

Fascinating film. I’d seen both English dubbed versions (on VHS) before and watching the Japanese-language original was clearly like seeing the film for the first time. I thought the special effects were very imaginative and fun to watch, esp. given how hard it was for the studio to create them from scratch for their very first kaiju film. I liked the inclusion of the boy, Toshio, and felt his scenes gave the film an emotional core that would have been missing otherwise. In fact, I wish there’d been more of an emphasis on him and I’m happy that the later Gamera films put their child protagonists at center stage. (August’s views on this matter, as expressed in his commentary, are quite different from mine—he’s awfully harsh towards the boy, repeatedly calling him “crazy.”)

I found the three protagonists an odd lot—a zoologist, his pretty female assistant and a smitten news photographer. They rarely react to anything, even when face-to-face with Gamera’s rampages. The zoologist is deadpan throughout. Which is another good reason for giving the kid some play—he at least reacts.

But I love how the zoologist and an elderly paleontologist get to run the show, giving orders to the military right and left. Which brings up a whole question for me, which I’ll maybe raise on the Sci-fi board, of how command structure is treated in monster films like this, in both the U.S. and Japan.

I preferred the non-actors playing American military personnel in this version to the name actors hamming it up in GAMMERA THE INVINCIBLE. They probably were actual U.S. military personnel, which makes those scenes more authentic and their line readings probably match how they’d sound in real life.

It's explained in the documentary why they didn’t shoot it in color, something about not being sure they could “synthesize” it properly, meaning, I presume, matching the color of effects shots with that of location shots. It sure would have added a whole other time-consuming layer of work to the production and I can understand them making that choice. Still, it would have looked awesome in color.

I noticed the New York Times headline in the film which announces “Gamera Revives by Atomic Bomb in the Arctic Ocean.” Next to it on the front page is an actual story about the death of Adlai Stevenson in London. (For some reason the “A” in Adlai’s name is whited out, so the top line reads “DLAI STEVENSON IS DEAD.”) The date on the front page is July 15, 1965, exactly when that story would have appeared (Stevenson died on July 14, 1965.) He had been the Democratic candidate who ran for President against Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956. My parents were big Stevenson supporters.

I was eager to hear August’s commentary address the beautiful actress who plays Nobuyo, Toshio’s older sister. I looked her up in the booklet and her name is Machiko Sugata. But when she came on in her first scene, the commentary veered off in other directions. And I never heard a word about her. (Truth to tell, it was very early this morning and I dozed off a few times while listening, so I could have missed it. Hey, I was tired. We’re having a heat wave here in NYC and all I’ve got are a couple of electric fans.)

Odd thing about the commentary: on my disc, we don’t hear the film’s soundtrack at all underneath it, which is standard for commentary tracks. Was this a deliberate choice or a production error?

Also, the trailer included on the disc lasts nearly two minutes and consists mostly of scenes that aren’t in the movie, e.g. Toshio being snatched by Gamera during his climactic assault on Tokyo. August, can you explain that?

Thanks.

August Ragone - June 2, 2010 06:14 AM (GMT)
QUOTE
I watched GAMERA: THE GIANT MONSTER and the accompanying documentary last night and listened to August’s commentary this morning. Great job all around.


Thanks for the kind words, Brian!

QUOTE
August’s views on this matter, as expressed in his commentary, are quite different from mine—he’s awfully harsh towards the boy, repeatedly calling him “crazy.”)


I used to identify with Toshio as a kid; but I really seem him a delusional--he's really unhinged in comparison to the screenplay. But, even if I think Toshio is a kook, I don't think that way about the children in most of the later Gamera films, who are smart, insightful, proactive, and sympathetic (I especially identified with the boys in GAMERA VS. VIRAS).

QUOTE
It's explained in the documentary why they didn’t shoot it in color, something about not being sure they could “synthesize” it properly, meaning, I presume, matching the color of effects shots with that of location shots. It sure would have added a whole other time-consuming layer of work to the production and I can understand them making that choice. Still, it would have looked awesome in color.


What Yuasa told me back in 1999 or 2000 was that they also felt that they could better execute the visual effects in B&W, which would hide any shortcomings. Daiei made a number of visual effects films before GAMERA, and shot in color, including the 70mm spectacle BUDDHA (Kenji Misumi, 1961) and THE GREAT WALL (Shigeo Tanaka, 1962), which had extensive miniatures and matte paintings. Yuasa also felt that he could better direct the money spent on color film stock to other aspects of the production, and that since the original GODZILLA was shot in B&W, this might bode well for GAMERA.

QUOTE
I was eager to hear August’s commentary address the beautiful actress who plays Nobuyo, Toshio’s older sister. I looked her up in the booklet and her name is Machiko Sugata. But when she came on in her first scene, the commentary veered off in other directions. And I never heard a word about her.


I do go into her career later in the commentary, towards the end of the film. I made sure to cover everyone as much as we could, given available Japanese information and reference materials on them.

QUOTE
Odd thing about the commentary: on my disc, we don’t hear the film’s soundtrack at all underneath it, which is standard for commentary tracks. Was this a deliberate choice or a production error?


Not sure what happened with that... I recorded the commentary in San Francisco and the DVD was authored in Los Angeles. So, I can't answer that question. But, this is not the case with the commentary for GAMERA VS. BARUGON.

QUOTE
Also, the trailer included on the disc lasts nearly two minutes and consists mostly of scenes that aren’t in the movie, e.g. Toshio being snatched by Gamera during his climactic assault on Tokyo. August, can you explain that?


Japanese companies would routinely use B Roll or Alternative takes in their trailers, but Daiei would shoot footage specifically for trailers -- with the actors breaking the fourth wall. Not all Daiei trailers are done in this style, but most of the Gameras are -- and I think it's great.

Hope that I answered all of your more pertinent questions -- and thanks again for the kind words!

Marshall Crist - June 2, 2010 07:24 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (August Ragone @ Jun 2 2010, 12:14 AM)

Japanese companies would routinely use B Roll or Alternative takes in their trailers, but Daiei would shoot footage specifically for trailers -- with the actors breaking the fourth wall. Not all Daiei trailers are done in this style, but most of the Gameras are -- and I think it's great.


The trailer for GAMERA VS VIRAS is a masterpiece IMO, largely because of the highly enjoyable non-feature footage.

Doran Gaston - June 7, 2010 04:04 AM (GMT)
I bought this disc a few days ago, and I enjoyed watching it an listening to the commentary. It's a fairly modest kaijyu film, but it has a charm that goes a long way. It's interesting to compare to the first Godzilla film from 1954 (odd that a relatively gentle kaijyu film such as this one is so closely modeled on such a bleak film), the Godzilla films that were being made around the same time as Gamera, and also with later Godzilla films such as Godzilla Vs. Hedorah and Godzilla's Revenge that arguably took some cues from the Gamera series.

Director Noriaki Yuasa manages to work pretty well within what was probably a fairly small budget, although I have to say that I found the film's one real "giant monster on the rampage in Tokyo" sequence to be disappointingly brief (I wonder if the briefness of the sequence had anything to do with a desire to keep the scenes of Gamera knocking over buildings and killing people to a minimum in order to try to make him a more sympathetic monster). Stiill, I think the film holds up pretty well overall and it serves as a pretty solid debut film for one of the more endearingly oddball monsters in kaijyu eiga-dom.

When I was going through the promotional materials on the DVD, one little detail that I found interesting is the Gammera the Invincible version premiered as a double feature with Mario Bava's viking film Knives of the Avenger.

The Sandy Frank version that I had seen before on MST3000, unlike Gammera The Invincible, was actually mostly untouched as far as I recall aside from the dubbing, but seeing this film for the first time in the proper aspect ratio and with the original dialogue still made a big difference. I look forward to more Gamera DVDs.

If you want to read another review for this DVD, there's this one on the Onion AV Club (kind of amused that the writer couldn't spell director Yuasa's name correctly):

http://www.avclub.com/articles/gamera-the-...-monster,41695/

Doran Gaston - June 8, 2010 05:14 PM (GMT)
Gamera Vs. Barugon is coming July 6! Yay!

http://www.fangoria.com/index.php?option=c...news&Itemid=167

Doran Gaston - June 17, 2010 06:48 PM (GMT)
Most of the rest of the movies in the Showa Gamera series are coming to DVD in September, and the really neat thing is that they're on two 2-for-the-price-of-1 discs!

http://wtf-film.com/site/2010/06/16/more-g...y-in-september/

No word yet (that I'm aware of) on when/if Shout Factory is releasing 1971's Gamera Vs. Zigra/Jigura or 1980's Gamera Super Monster (never seen it, my understanding is that it's basically a "clip show" mostly edited together from earlier Gamera movies).

Brian Camp - June 18, 2010 12:33 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (Doran Gaston @ Jun 17 2010, 12:48 PM)
Most of the rest of the movies in the Showa Gamera series are coming to DVD in September, and the really neat thing is that they're on two 2-for-the-price-of-1 discs!

http://wtf-film.com/site/2010/06/16/more-g...y-in-september/

No word yet (that I'm aware of) on when/if Shout Factory is releasing 1971's Gamera Vs. Zigra/Jigura or 1980's Gamera Super Monster (never seen it, my understanding is that it's basically a "clip show" mostly edited together from earlier Gamera movies).

I taped GAMERA SUPER MONSTER off broadcast TV some 25 or so years ago. Even in the English dubbed version, it reverts to the Japanese soundtrack when the kid hero sits down at a piano and sings the Gamera song in Japanese. It's got a trio of gorgeous actresses in attractive costumes playing three alien women. And it's got a cameo appearance by the animated Space Battleship Yamato! Sure, the Gamera scenes may all be excerpts, but it worked for me.

Bob Cashill - September 1, 2010 10:10 PM (GMT)
Last but I hope not least.

August Ragone - September 2, 2010 05:25 PM (GMT)
Bob,
Thanks for the kind words! ;)

Bob Cashill - September 7, 2010 06:48 PM (GMT)
My pleasure, August.

James Cheney - September 8, 2010 11:29 PM (GMT)
Any plans for Gamera tai Daimaju Jaiga/GAMERA VS. MONSTER X, or is it already included and I missed it in the onslaught of related releases? It's my personal favorite... just for the kids in a mini-sub navigating inside of Gamera!

Doran Gaston - September 8, 2010 11:35 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (James Cheney @ Sep 8 2010, 05:29 PM)
Any plans for Gamera tai Daimaju Jaiga/GAMERA VS. MONSTER X, or is it already included and I missed it in the onslaught of related releases? It's my personal favorite... just for the kids in a mini-sub navigating inside of Gamera!

James Cheney - September 9, 2010 02:01 AM (GMT)
Yay! Thanks! At heart, I'll always be one of those little kids cheering on Gamera or bossing Giant Robot around....

Keith Aiken - September 10, 2010 09:49 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (James Cheney @ Sep 9 2010, 02:01 AM)
Yay! Thanks! At heart, I'll always be one of those little kids cheering on Gamera or bossing Giant Robot around....

Shout sent me the JIGER DVD (as well as the other films coming out this month) so I posted sneak previews on SciFi Japan a couple of weeks ago...

http://www.scifijapan.com/articles/2010/08...s-edition-dvds/




* Hosted for free by InvisionFree