Gamera the Invincible (1966)

After Toho's success with creatures like Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodan, it was only a matter of time before other companies would enter the market with new giant monster creations. GAMERA is introduced in 1966 as a giant fire-breathing turtle that is awoken from his stasis by a misguided nuclear blast, after which he heads to Tokyo to feed on fossil fuels and create a path of destruction of his own. GAMERA goes to show that the same high level of quality that went into the costume design and miniature set work in GOJIRA could be recreated in another film series, however this later entry had the benefit of years of experience in working with the costuming materials from the Toho creations, and the filming techniques themselves fall well below the bar set by Japanese leaders like Ishiro Honda. While Gamera makes short work of power plants and industrial parks, the camera either remains static and emotionless or jerks with the fluid motion of an automatic sprinkler. The version of the film that was first introduced to international audiences had several new scenes added using American actors that are outrageously over-the-top while the Japanese-American actors are forced to speak in offensive and stereotypical Engrish. The monster is given a surprising range of motion through its slender design, which helps in its believability and proves to be a lesson learned from the bulkier Godzilla costumes. While it is clear in the subplot that this series is geared more towards a younger crowds, Gamera's wrath and sinister appearance would lead you to believe otherwise. Still, there are moments between the lead kid and the beast in the film that make it accessible to child audiences. Despite its flaws, the film distinguishes itself enough as a worthy competitor in the Kaiju subgenre, and makes for more giant monster fun from the 60s.

Rating: 7/10.
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  1. There's two different US versions of GAMMERA, THE INVINCIBLE. The other version cuts out all the scenes with Brian Donlevy and Albert Dekker and reinserts scenes cut from the version featuring the added 'M' in the title.

    The next film, Carl, WAR OF THE MONSTERS (GAMERA VS. BARUGON; spelled with a 'u' as opposed to the 'a' of Toho's Baragon) is the most adult of the series as well as the longest entry so expect a more character driven film.

    I haven't seen the dubbed version in years, so I don't recall if there was anything (dialog wise) cut from it or not. That one didn't do as well in Japan so Daiei abandoned the serious tone and much of the characterization in favor of the kiddie oriented stuff that permeate the remainder of the series after the first sequel. Even still, the monster scenes were far more violent and bloody than anything coming from Toho, whose Godzilla films slowly began seeping in bloody violence during the 70's.

  2. Im looking forward to the next four on the chopping block, the St Clairs Vision set that I ended up getting looks like run over dog shit but it will have to make due, I dont imagine the Aplha copies were any better

  3. I wouldn't know about the quality on the other discs such as the Alpha release but I assume it's the same. I only have the Japanese subbed editions. I haven't seen the AIP-TV versions since catching theme numerous times on tv as a kid.