Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Giant Monster Cycle > Japan > Gamera – The Giant Monster (1965/Shout! Factory DVD)

Gamera – The Giant Monster (1965/Shout! Factory DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Film: B-



Toho had a monopoly on giant monster movies to the point that the success was on par with Universal’s monsters of the 1930s and 1940s, but Toho monopoly was finally broken in 1965 when they successfully launched Gamera.  This classic of the genre about a giant tortoise that is awakened by nuclear radiation and goes on a huge attack had some shades of Godzilla, but had a distinctly different look and feel than any of the Toho line-up, as well as a few tricks Toho may have never come up with.


The Daiei Studios landed up with a big hit that became a big movie series in its own right and in-house Director Noriaki Yuasa delivered a fun film that used different effects and approaches than the Toho counterparts.  This new Shout! Factory DVD is the original Japanese cut and it is a film that holds up well after all these years on its 45th Anniversary.  Writer Nisan Takahashi adds to the surprises and the way they succeed is to get past what was becoming a confining formula at Toho for such films.


In addition, they come up with touches that are wacky and odd, but that only makes the film better.  The result is not an imitator, but a competitor and other competition would soon follow, including on Japanese TV in hit series like Ultraman.  Gamera is also a bit politically incorrect and the series would be more violent than the Toho counterparts, in all making this original a minor genre classic and worth revisiting in this new DVD edition.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 black and white Daieiscope image is pretty good for the format and the film’s age, as shot by Director of Photography Nobuo Munekawa.  Reportedly the last monochrome production in the genre, it looks good and the effects can differ in interesting ways from the Toho films, which only makes this more unique and interesting to watch.  The makers use the scope frame very well and if you have never seen it this way, you’ll find this transfer additionally impressive, even when you see some softness and ware.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also good for its age and cleaned up about as well as it could be, though I wonder how much better it would sound in a lossless codec.


Extras include a booklet inside the DVD case, while the disc adds a Publicity Gallery, Retrospective Look at the Gamera Franchise and solid feature length audio commentary track by writer and film scholar August Ragone that should be heard after you see the film.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com