For some strange reason, Gamera has never been as popular in
that his large, reptilian cousin, Godzilla.
While it's not unusual to see a Godzilla Film Festival or even a
Godzilla convention, the same can't be said about the giant flying
turtle. Heck, Godzilla 2000 even had a
theatrical release in the US
opening on over 2000 screens while 2006's Gamera
the Brave first appeared in the US on DVD.
That's too bad, because while I enjoy
Godzilla films a lot, I've always liked Gamera a bit more.
His movies are just a touch more surrealistic
and unusual. A good example of this can
be found in Shout! Factory's release of the 5th and 6th
movies in the original Showa series: Gamera Vs. Guiron and Gamera Vs. Jiger. This is the first time that either of these
films has been available in region 1 in anamorphic widescreen versions
original language. With great looking
transfers and multiple audio tracks to choose from, this disc is a
treat for Daikaiju
Gamera Vs Guiron: Two
young amateur astronomers spot a
spaceship one night which lands in a nearby field.
Good thing they were looking too, because
they're pretty much the only ones who manage to spy the large fiery
cuts through the night sky. The next day
they hop on their bikes and find the ship in the middle of a forest. The door is open, so they climb in and are
whisked off into space. Remotely
controlled, the boys have a great time zooming through the void, and
encounter Gamera, the friend to all children, and beat him in a race. Gamera warns the boys not to travel any
further, but since they're not in control of their craft, there's
they can do but continue on.
They kids eventually arrive on the planet Terra, a body in
out solar system in the same orbit as Earth, but directly on the other
the Sun. The problem is they don't
actually land, they crash. Apparently
the sophisticated controls that guided the ship safely across the solar
weren't that advanced after all. In any
case Terra was once the home to a race of advanced beings, but in
advanced species hubris they tampered with forces that they couldn't
and created monsters that destroyed their world. The
only two survivors are a pair of space
babes, Floban and Barbella. They're
protected from the monsters by Guiron, a vicious knife-nosed creature
command via a mind control device. The
boys watch as Guiron makes quick work of space Gaos, cutting the
pieces before returning to his cage.
Floban and Barbella pretend to be friendly, but they really
want to eat the boys' brains and then use the knowledge that they'd
invade Earth. Sensing that the children
are in danger however, Gamera arrives.
But he has to get past Guiron before he can rescue the pair.
Gamera Vs. Jiger: Taking
place back on Earth,
Japan is getting
host the World's Fair and naturally they want to move a giant ancient
from the island where it resides to Osaka
for the celebration. When the leader of
tribe that lives on the island warns against moving the statue they
old kook. When Gamera tries to prevent
them from moving the statue, everyone just figures that the giant
gone rouge. Then, when the ship carrying
the artifact arrives in Japan,
the entire crew is incapacitated with a horrible sickness.
How many warnings do these guys need??
So they move the statue to the event site, but it turns out
that old rock was actually the key that had sealed the giant monster
for centuries. With it removed, the
creature makes a bee-line for Osaka
and trashes anything that gets in its way.
When Gamera tries to stop him, he gets stung with Jiger's tail,
to the sea, and seemingly dies. It's up
to a pair of plucky kids using a toy submarine to convince the stupid
that Gamera is still alive. They use
their sub to travel through Gamera's mouth deep into his body and
caused him to collapse. But even revived
can the giant turtle defeat Jiger's heat ray and the spears he shoots
Both of these films are filled with bizarre fun. There
are hot alien babes in spandex who eat
living brains, kids advising generals, a giant knife for a monster, and
walking around inside a giant turtle. The
sets are bright and colorful, especially in Gamera
Vs. Guiron, and this just adds to the psychedelic feel of these
There are a lot of holes and silly plot devices in these
films, and if you think about them too much they quickly become silly. But that's the point. They're
not meant to be taken seriously, just
give viewers a wild crazy ride and both of these succeed wonderfully on
Both films are presented on one single-sided DVD. The
disc comes in a clear keepcase with a
nice double sided cover. On the inside
is a hilarious cut-away view of Gamera showing his organs including the
Sac and Oil Sac.
One of the great
things about this disc is that it gives viewers both the (hilariously)
English versions that many of us grew up watching as well as the
Japanese track. Gamera Vs. Guiron has
both the Sandy Frank and the AIP dubs while Gamera Vs. Jiger version
AIP dub. The original language track is
clean and clear while the dub tracks are a bit old and sound muddled. There's some background hiss present in the
dubs, but it wasn't irritating. Overall
it's great to have all of these tracks to choose from.
The thing that impressed me the most about this disc was how
good the image looks. It's like seeing
these films for the first time. After
watching these multiple times on TV or on cheap DVDs from companies
specializing in public domain films, this widescreen anamorphic image
revelation. The colors are very bright
and vivid and the detail is excellent.
The increased clarity really makes these films come alive. With two movies on one disc, I was expecting
a lot of digital defects, but there really weren't many.
The films are pretty short, the total running
time for both movies is only 165 minutes, and aliasing, blocking, and
common compression artifacts are minimal.
There are only a couple of photo galleries included as
A pair of wacky, fun films.
I've enjoyed Gamera since I was a kid, and while many critics
earlier more down to earth adventures of the giant flying turtle, I've
loved the more outrageous bizarre films, like these two.
A pair of fun films with a great presentation
and multiple audio tracks makes this disc Highly