Gamera – The Giant Monster (1965/Shout! Factory DVD)
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: B- Film: B-
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.
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.
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.
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.
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