Gehara (Short, 2010)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Ken Osawa, Shiro Sano, Mina Fujii, Hiroyuki Watanabe
Directed by Kiyotaka Taguchi
Gehara is 20 minutes of pure old fashioned Japanese giant monster movie bliss.
amazing what director Kiyotaka Taguchi, writer Jun Miura, and special effects supervisor Shinji Higuchi (no stranger to this genre, having done effects for all three 90’s Gamera movies and Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack) managed to accomplish in a 20-minute short film, capturing what it is that so many of us love about these giant rubbersuit, model city, Japanese monster movies of old in such a short amount of time in ways that even many of the more recent Godzilla movies failed to do so. Amazing that the trio also do a wonderful job lovingly spoofing the very genre they so clearly love with more success than Minorus Kawasaki did with Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit and, again, did so with only a 20-minute running time.
A fishing boat is attacked by an enormous behemoth emerging from the deep ocean. As their boat is destroyed, they only manage to muster one last scream:
Mainland Japan will soon experience this hirsute horror when the giant long-haired monster Gehara (if Eiji Tsuburayu designed a Mystic from The Dark Crystal) rises from the depths to do what all giant monsters when in the land of the rising sun.
To say any more would be to give away too much, and you'd be surprised how much Taguchi manages to pack into those 20 minutes. Okay, I'll give you a little indication of what else to expect.
A deadpan scientist never fails to deliver a deadly serious and hilariously ham-fisted non sequitur attempting to moralize the story. For example, government officials celebrate believing the military may have defeated Gehara, and this guy stands next to them stiff as a board, his expression blank as could be, and joylessly pontificates that perhaps man is the true monster.
A top-secret military super-weapon looks suspiciously like a giant fan.
A twist ending that builds to a cliffhanger that leads to a trailer for a Gehara sequel.
Gehara hits all the right notes from Shinto high priests foreboding doom to Akira Ifukube musical cues. The more familiar you are with the classic films of this genre, the more nuances you'll pick up on. Only thing missing is a second monster for Gehara to battle.
Some online have said they hope Gehara gets made into a full length feature in the future. I don't know if it would be as successful with an extra hour tacked on. Part of what makes this work is that it is a short film and doesn't suffer from any of the plot-character pitfalls that hinder Japanese monster movies when the monsters aren't on the screen.
4 out of 5
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