Gamera: The Giant Monster (DVD)



Gamera: The Giant Monster on DVD (click for larger image)Reviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring Eiji Funakoshi, Harumi Kiritachi, Junichiro Yamashiko, Yoshiro Uchida

Directed by Noriaki Yuasa

Distributed by Shout! Factory


Though Godzilla usually gets all the love when it comes to the giant monster or Kaiju arena, any fan worth their salt is likely to hold Gamera right up there in the highest of regards. For many years everyone's favorite fire-breathing flying turtle has suffered through some of the single most piss poor DVD releases imaginable. Thankfully every reptile has his day, and with this release the good folks over at Shout! Factory have given Gamera his!

He appeared for the first time in 1965, a full ten years after Godzilla had wrecked Japan. We are at the height of the Cold War, and East vs. West tensions reach a fever pitch when a Soviet aircraft carrying nuclear devices is shot down over the Arctic. As if the fallout isn't enough to contend with, the blast ends up awakening the long lost legend of Atlantis -- Gamera: The Giant Monster! Yet, there's always some good that comes with the bad as the release of this destructive creature forces men from all countries all over the world to band together to try and find a way to stop the beast!

Sure, in later films Gamera ended up usually sitting on the all too kid-friendly side of the fence, but here? Here he's as evil as they come, and Gamera: The Giant Monster has just as important a message and is nearly every bit as good as the original Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

Gamera: The Giant Monster on DVD (click for larger image)Finally we can throw away all those horrendous DVDs. Shout! Factory has done an exemplary job delivering us the best possible quality print of the film taken directly from the vault materials. We're talking a Criterion Collection level of love and care. The image is crisp and amazing, and the audio track (which is in JAPANESE ONLY with crystal clear subbies) is a true treat. If you're a fan, you are going to be blown away. There's no doubt about it.

In terms of special features this is a shining example of quality over quantity. Before you even pop the DVD in, there's a twelve-page booklet that includes an essay by director Noriaki Yuasa himself, who sadly passed away in 2004. To be able to read the man's thoughts on the creature and the franchise is brilliant. Also brilliant in the booklet is an Anatomy of Gamera chart, which explains just where all those fire jets are coming from. Mystery solved!

From there we get an engaging commentary from August Ragone, a true sage when it comes to all things related to Japanese monster movies. This guy leaves no stone unturned and does it in a fashion that's both informative and entertaining. Next we have the Retrospective: Look at the Gamera Franchise featurette. Though a bit on the short side, this made for Japan (it's subtitled for us) look at all three eras of the Gamera franchise is concise fun that even gives us a look at a Gamera flick that was never made. If that isn't worth the price of admission alone, I don't know what is! Add on a publicity gallery featuring posters, etc., and we are not only done but extremely happy.

To put it simply, if you're a fan of Gamera or just a fan of monster movies, you need this DVD like yesterday. Thank you, Shout! Factory! It truly doesn't get any better. Although if you slide this puppy onto Blu-ray ....

Special Features

  • Audio commentary by August Ragone
  • Retrospective: Look at the Gamera Franchise featurette
  • Publicity gallery
  • Twelve-page booklet with an essay by director Noriaki Yuasa

    Film

    4 out of 5

    Special Features

    4 out of 5

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    I hadn't realized this had come out already... gotta get this, NOW


    Submitted by Richard Bastard on Fri, 05/14/2010 - 12:17pm.
    Vermithrax's picture

    It comes out this Tuesday.


    Submitted by Vermithrax on Sun, 05/16/2010 - 10:58am.
    Vanvance1's picture

    Very cool. Who wouldn't love a giant flying, flame spewing turtle?

    I wonder how long before Hollywood comes calling for the American version.


    Submitted by Vanvance1 on Fri, 05/14/2010 - 2:38am.
    Foywonder's picture

    Doubtful.

    Another reason to not get too excited for an American version: the company that owns the rights to Gamera is owned by Disney.


    Submitted by Foywonder on Tue, 05/18/2010 - 10:33pm.
    Vermithrax's picture

    I have the Region 2 Japanese release of this movie as well as the crappy public domain (which it's obviously not) Alpha Video release I got for the dubbed version. I was just about to order the newly-released Japanese Blu-ray box set but thankfully Shout! Factory announced that they will be releasing all of the older Gamera films on DVD, while they are not HD, they are close enough to make this fan happy, I sure as hell don't mind spending about $180 less then I would have spent. Plus August REALLY knows his shit when it comes to Kaiju films, so the commentary should be a blast!


    Submitted by Vermithrax on Fri, 05/14/2010 - 12:21am.

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