Gamera Super Monster is amongst the most insufferable movies ever made, a statement not made lightly. Daiei Studios (nearing their financial disintegration) constructed this kaiju stew of stock footage, Super Sentai television, Star Wars, and anime, on a budget which often did not permit the use of film stock. New effects footage was universally completed on analog tape.
Bad movie, worst movie; they’re often baseless internet forum vernacular. But, Super Monster’s deserving designation is an anomaly – pick one of those phrases and it’s a rightful suitor.
Japanese theatrical releases dissolved during the ’70s. TV’s entertainment intervention slashed consumer spending. Stock footage was a cost cutting norm. But, while rival Toho crafted lightly meaningful scripts from clip show sludge like Godzilla’s Revenge or wrapped Godzilla vs Gigan in aimless entertainment, Super Monster’s tacky assault on movie goers is blinded.
Pointing and laughing at the arduous existence of this wishy washy feature would work had most of the gags not already been levied at the seven plus films this footage was already lifted from. In segue, Super Monster splices in silly still images, pithy science lessons, tragic musical numbers, and a hokey feminine super hero component so incompetent, it’s a wonder how any of this was considered suitable for distribution.
Super Monster requires narration to be coherent, and even then manages to cripple an unclear narrative which features Japanese female pro wrestler Mach Fumiake guiding a trio of space women against Zanon – Zanon either a talking Star Destroyer pilfered from Star Wars or an unseen physical alien. It’s not clear. Gamera writer Nisan Takahashi, owed substantial sums of money for his work at the time, doesn’t seem to care anyway.
As an all-in-one feature, that which pulls nearly all of the ’60s and ’70s Gamera action scenes together as a singular piece, Super Monster may be worth fast forwarding through. If nothing else, the 90 minutes which comprise this fumbled cash-in offers rubber suits and miniatures in droves. Shame then nothing assembles Super Monster in a way to make it worth the effort.
The final piece of Mill Creek’s Gamera Four Movie Collection fits onto a single disc with three other monster sequels and is hit with an expectant rut of rough compression. AVC encoding crumples around the zoomed aspect ratio of the stock footage, worse here than it was previously in the respective features themselves. Digital errors and clumps of blocking are evident.
New footage assembles something near the quality of film stock, with perky grain mangled only slightly by this shift to low bitrate Blu-ray. The resolution bump is notable on occasion over the DVD (facial definition is inconsistent yet present), but lacking cinematography is often indifferent at the source. Speaking of which, Super Monster carries a clean print with minimal damage.
All of that aside, roughly 20 minutes of this non-spectacle were captured on analog tape. Chroma errors, streaking, and other VHS-esque strikes are constant. Add in a mess of special effects and watch the quality further sink ever downward. Mill Creek was powerless.
Despite the mess, Super Monster hosts faded if nicely rendered color. Reds are persistent. Black levels are lost and contrast is disappearing with age, forcing this feature to lose depth with time and leaving the mild saturation a significant purpose.
Super Monster opens with a jingle more akin to Poland than Japan, an instant notification to get out while you still can. Certainly, the rotting quality breathes little life into the piece anyway. Age related defects are consistent throughout this clip fest, and it is doubtful replacing the Dolby Digital track with an uncompressed option would do much to fix anything.
Dialog is stranded and poor source mixing nearly mutes many of Gamera’s screechy roars. Digital keyboards, which play an unusually hefty role here, are clearly being warped by the audio track.
No bonuses here as the space is used to fit all four movies on disc… as if anyone would want to offer behind-the-scenes info to this forgotten dud anyway.
Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.