Gamera vs. Barugon (DVD)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Kojiro Hongo, Kyôko Enamii, Yuzo Hayakawa, Takuya Fujioka
Directed by Shigeo Tanaka
Distributed by Shout! Factory
And with this second entry into the Gamera franchise, Shout! Factory once again gives every American fan of the fire-breathing turtle a good reason to be grinning from ear-to-ear! Yep, no more crappy DVD transfers for us! Looks like we're in for smooth sailing in terms of quality from here on out, and this next stop on Gamera's journey is a good old fashioned monster bash!
As you may recall, at the end of Gamera: The Giant Monster (review here), the giant menace was launched into outer space, thus freeing the world from his deadly clawed grip. But tragedy strikes during his ride into the great unknown, and Gamera is freed from his prison and headed back to Earth for some payback. Little did he know that upon arrival he'd have company in the form of another giant beastie, the fearsome Barugon, who has the power to freeze anything he wishes, thus turning Japan's biggest cities into glaciers. What we have here is an epic battle of men in rubber suits who wield the power of fire and ice! Does it get any better? Of course it does, but few things come close to Gamera vs. Barugon in terms of fun. Looking for explosions and ummm ... rainbows? Look no further!
This first sequel in the now legendary Daiei Studios franchise had a far bigger budget than its predecessor so the spectacle, such as it is, of these two creatures battling is presented on a far grander scale with better effects, etc. It also marks the very first time Gamera graced the screen in color and one of the last times the creature was, shall we say, less than kid friendly. There's no denying the movie's charm, and again Shout! Factory has done a great job in bringing this battle of the behemoths home the way that it should be by seeking out high definition vault materials for their picture and sound transfer of this glorious little flick.
What it comes to extras, things are a bit leaner this go around. We get three things -- another splendid commentary track by giant monster authorities August Ragone and Jason Varney, a quick publicity gallery featuring posters, ads, and stills, and another killer twelve-page liner booklet that's home to character bios, a Barugon monster diagnostic, and more.
While not as impressive as Shout!'s treatment of the original film, this package still stands head and shoulders over the other Stateside releases of these wonderful little movies. Now if only we could make like Japan and get these suckers on Blu-ray.
4 out of 5
3 out of 5