Source: Shout! Factory
Okay, I know this is when all of you expect to see my weekly piece about hard to find Godzilla toys on Amazon.com, but, as you know, "Gamera: The Giant Monster" comes out on DVD today, so, I thought that it would be a good idea to let the titanic turtle rule the day.
I can only assume that if you are either a fan of Godzilla, or Ultraman, that you are most likely a Gamera fan as well, and for the past decade, you have had to suffer through any number of poor quality DVD releases of the American versions of these Japanese monster films.
Well, today that all changes, thanks to Shout! Factory, and their upcoming releases of the original Japanese versions of these Gamera films, starting with "Gamera: The Giant Monster", today, and continuing with "Gamera Vs. Barugon" on July 6th.
The difference between these DVD's, and the horrible versions of the Americanized, public domain, Gamera films is night-and-day. No more scratchy images, poor dubbing and chopped prints.
These babies are in widescreen, with crisp colors, unedited in the original Japanese with English Subtitles.
For decades American fans have longed to see these films as they were intended, as the Japanese did in their theater seats.
Here is the info from Shout! Factory:
From Japan – the country that brought us such mythical movie monsters as Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidorah – storms Gamera, the titanic terrapin feared by adults and loved by children. On May 18, 2010, Shout! Factory will unleash Gamera, The Giant Monster – Special Edition on DVD for the first time in its unedited original version, with English subtitles — in anamorphic widescreen from an all-new HD master. The DVD includes a 12-page booklet with an essay by director Noriaki Yuasa, a photo gallery, trailers and more. The collectible Gamera, The Giant Monster Special Edition DVD is priced to own at $19.93.
Like all classic monster movies, it is the folly of man that unleashes a ginormous beast upon the world. This time it is literal fallout from the Cold War — a Soviet bomber is shot down over U.S. airspace in the Arctic Ocean, with the massive radiation from the resultant atomic explosion awakening the ancient, gargantuan Gamera. A long-forgotten legend of the lost continent of Atlantis, the 200-foot-long, fire-eating turtle isn't in a good mood, and proving impervious to all manmade weapons, the colossal chelonian smashes a cataclysmic swath across the globe. But when he arrives in Tokyo, a small boy forms an odd connection with him, allowing authorities to unleash “Plan Z.”
The classic Gamera was directed Noriaki Yuasa, who helmed all seven of the original Gamera entries in the Showa era series between 1965 and 1971, and stars Eiji Funakoshi (Fires On The Plain), Harumi Kiritachi, Junichiro Yamashiko and Jutaro Hojo (Wrath of Daimajin). The subsequent franchise was more kid-friendly (yet ironically bloodier) than Godzilla, who became less menacing and more cuddly himself during the Sixties. The Gamera series was creative in the monstrous nemeses that it pitted against the towering turtle, the most famous being the flying, pointy-headed Gyaos, who was resurrected for the successful trio of movies in the Heisei-era series between 1995 and 1999.
Created by the same company who brought Zatoichi to the screen, Daiei Studios’ titanic terrapin is the only true rival to Toho’s King Of The Monsters, able to hold his own at the box office and secure a place in the hearts of kaiju eiga (Japanese monster movie) fans around the world. The original films have woefully been underrepresented on DVD, a especially release featuring the authentic Japanese versions.
In searching the Shout! Factory website, I discovered these two wonderful Gamera (above) and Barugon (below) wall papers free for download.
Take that damn Steel Magnolias DVD out of your player already and make room for a real scenery-chewing monster.
Shout! Factory releases a Special Edition of Gamera, The Giant Monster on May 18, and it's a must for everyone who loves kaiju (that's Japanese for "monster") movies. And who doesn't love a zipper-backed beastie laying waste to scale models of Japanese cities?
Pop Culture Zoo - Joseph Dilworth Jr
When I was a kid one of the things I looked forward to the most on the weekends was the Creature Double Feature, which aired on a TV station out of Boston, channel 56. Every Saturday the station would air two movies back to back drawn from a stable that included the Universal Horror movies from the 1930s to 1950s, the 1950’s Hammer Studios and American International Pictures films, along with a healthy does of early Roger Corman horror films and, most importantly to me, the Toho Studios “giant monster/man-in-suit” films from the ’50s through the ’70s. This is where I developed a great affinity for the early monster and horror films and also where I discovered Godzilla. I was an instant fan of the giant green monster, but he would take a back seat once I saw the first Gamera film. The gigantic turtle has been my favorite of all the Japanese giant monsters since then. Now, Shout Factory has released a great edition of the film Gamera: The Giant Monster and I couldn’t be happier.
Gamera is a giant, fire-spewing turtle monster -- and that never goes out of style
Los Angeles Times (blog
Look! Up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's, um ... a giant turtle that spins and spews fire as it flies through the air? That's right, it's “Gamera: The Giant Monster," which destroys everything that stands in its path -- save for little children. Aww, hard shell -- soft heart!
On Tuesday, Shout! Factory releases a DVD of the original 1965 Japanese horror film produced by the Daiei Motion Picture Co. as a direct competitor to Toho Studio’s established monster, the mighty Godzilla.
The competition didn't really go so well for the massive sabre-toothed, turtleshell terror.
While the Japanese version of “Godzilla” is actually a well-made, effective thriller, “Gamera” is pretty cheesy with all the seams showing -- including visible wires and rinky-dink miniatures. And poor Gamera -- the team that designed and created him must have learned their craft from a school that advertised on matchbooks.
“Gamera” was made at the height of the Cold War and just a year after such nuclear war flicks as “Dr. Strangelove” and “Fail Safe.” And in this film, Gamera is a prehistoric species awakened from his Arctic slumber during an atomic blast in the region during a dogfight between U.S. fighters and Soviet bombers that have flown into U.S. airspace.
Turtle Soup: 'Gamera, the Giant Monster'
Express from The Washington Post (blog)
"Gamera, The Giant Monster" is not an especially good movie. It's an admitted rip-off of the popular "Godzilla" craze that stomped through Japan in the early '60s, and every element points to its quick-buck origins: The story is outlandish and convoluted, the acting wooden and broad, the direction one step above hackwork, and the effects decidedly primitive. Even Noriaki Yuasa, who made the movie in 1965, calls it "technically outdated and juvenile." In 1991, "Mystery Science Theater 3000" made particularly hilarious sport of it.
So why does "Gamera" hold such a fascination for generations of Japanese as well as American filmgoers, even 45 years after its release? Why has Gamera survived when other kaiju flicks have long ago breathed their last fireball and destroyed their last city?
According to Shout! Factory's new DVD edition of the '65 flick, that longevity has more to do with the monster itself and very little to do with any of the cinematic niceties we ascribe to "good" movies. First of all, he's a giant turtle. Not a giant lizard or a giant bird or even a giant moth, but a giant, bipedal turtle. That by itself is endlessly and weirdly entertaining. As a turtle, Gamera shoots fire out of his mouth, lets loose an ear-splitting screech and can fire jets out of the limb holes in his shell, which spin him like a flying saucer. Two enormous tusks on his bottom jaw give him the appearance of a scaly warthog.
Gamera, The Giant Monster (Special Edition) DVD Review
IGN - Arnold T. Blumberg
If you were one of those kaiju fans who gravitated to the Gamera series instead of the sprawling Godzilla saga, you were probably the sort of kid that liked to be an outsider; you know, the type that likes the really edgy band no one else likes, at least until they become popular. Now of course the flying turtle has his following and a reputation built on multiple films from different eras; nevertheless, Gamera always seemed to come in number two in the Japanese giant monster race. Ah, but did he try harder? Taking a look back at his very first appearance, you'd be hard pressed to think so.
Born out of an appreciation for the same '50s rampage romps that fueled the creation of Gojira himself – more on that later – this debut adventure for Gamera is similarly dark and destructive, with a sledgehammer-subtle commentary on the forbidding frontiers of science. Things kick off with a nuclear explosion in the Arctic that awakens a giant turtle under the ice. Yes, Gamera is out and about that early in the film, and his existence is explained briefly by a character postulating that the creature may have lived in Atlantis a long time ago. Huh? Never mind, the movie distracts you with the only English-speaking actors they could scrounge up in 1965 Japan to play the most inept and inarticulate American military officers this side of an Ed Wood movie. And make no mistake, they're hysterical! See how you forgot to ask why none of this makes any sense?
And let us not forget that Shout! Factory will be releasing "Gamera Vs. Barugon" on July 6th. Though the distributor has not made a formal announcement about this release, Amazon lists it as a single disc, in widescreen format, in Japanese with English Subtitles.
One can only assume that it will be of the same quality as the "Gamera, The Giant Monster – Special Edition" release.
Fans can click on the link box provided to preorder "Gamera Vs. Barugon" before it's July release date.
Here are some more Gamera DVD releases.....for those of you who like the 'old-school' Americanized versions:
Attack Of The Monsters (aka Gamera vs. Guiron) $7.98
War of the Monsters (aka Gamera vs. Barugon) $7.98
Gamera vs. Monster X / Monster from a Prehistoric Planet $9.98
Destroy All Planets $7.98
Gammera the Invincible $7.98
See Also: Godzilla (And Friends) In The News 05/11/10 - How Does King Kong vs Godzilla Rank Among Monster Battles? More Gamera And Kamen Rider DVD Stuff / Godzilla Toy Tuesday! Godzilla vs The Micronauts And Gamera In A Box / Godzilla (And Friends) In The News 05/03/10 (Part 2) / Killer Kaiju Monsters: Strange Beasts of Japanese Film (Ivan Vartanian)(HarperCollins)(2010) / Info On Shout Factory's 'Gamera The Giant Monster' And 'Gamera vs Barugon' DVD Releases / A Classic Godzilla Comic Strip - The Monsters That Devoured Canarsie / Godzilla 2012 In The News 04/05/10