Gamera’s All-Star Holiday Spectacular

There’s a marked difference between Godzilla’s clip show movie, Godzilla’s Revenge/All Monsters Attack, and Gamera’s, Gamera Super Monster. In Toho’s, the story followed lonely latchkey kid living through Japan’s economic expansion, at the cost of the traditional family. In the other, Daiei’s film riffs the Christopher Reeve-starring Superman, Spielberg’s Jaws, and Ultraman to do… something.

It’s hard to explain Gamera Super Monster, brought to life after Daiei’s post-bankruptcy rebirth, but without the confidence to spend any money on production. Like its predecessors, this is a children’s movie, starring an annoying, pitchy kid, Keiichi (Koichi Maeda) with a deep love for Gamera (who may or may not actually exist; the script is inconsistent).

At least 40 minutes of Gamera Super Monster’s runtime comes from stock footage

At least 40 minutes of Gamera Super Monster’s runtime comes from stock footage. Every prior film’s battles play on screen. In a pre-home video world, reliving Gamera’s monster duels held a little value, even when understanding Super Monster’s impossible cheapness. These days, fast forward proves invaluable. Gamera even comes up against anime, watching Spaceship Battle Yamamoto and others as he flies through space.

The Earth-bound story trying to sync this together deals with a space invasion. A not-subtle Star Wars Star Destroyer knock-off hangs out in space, shooting lasers at thinly disguised super women, while the invading Zanon empire’s lone representative calls on monsters to attack. It’s a wonder why all of the villainous creatures don’t attack at the same time, but asking for logic in Gamera Super Monster goes a step too far.

In the creative exhaustion, there’s a thin (very thin) plot about coming to understand, even empathize with one’s enemy. The Zanon woman (Keiko Kudo) learns compassion from Earth’s people, and the purity of children. Early on, Keiichi lets his pet turtle go, another message about caring, this time for animals. But, since it’s suggested Gamera IS that turtle, one can imagine kids dumping their pets and hoping they come back as flying, fire-breathing kaiju after watching Gamera Super Monster. They’ll end up disappointed, much like anyone who endures this sloppy movie.

Video

While it’s worth noting Gamera Super Monster shows slightly heavier compression than other movies in Arrow’s Gamera Blu-ray set (and it’s the bottom bill of a three-movie disc), if any movie didn’t deserve more space, this is it. Grain looks chunky and thick, even blocky. Gamera Super Monster fights for disc space, but it’s passable enough to appreciate the source.

Note the composite effects for Gamera Super Monster utilized a tape-to-film system, new at the time, and clearly limited now. When active, resolution flattens, and tape-based artifacts take over. There’s no getting around it. The actual 35mm footage offers a clear print and minimal damage, lightly textured. Also, the new footage comes in at 1.85:1, and to match, the stock footage is blown up from 2.35:1, leading to cropped imagery. That’s normal too, and no fault of Arrow’s mastering.

The best thing in this transfer is color saturation. Reds brightly shine, as do other primaries, although there’s lots of red in Gamera Super Monster. Pleasing, natural flesh tones stand out, giving images life.

Audio

At its peaks, the score sounds rotting, devoid of fidelity and wobbling while it plays. The energy is gone. Whether in the English dub or Japanese DTS-HD track, dialog wanes in clarity. There’s a roughness to the lines, but everything is intelligible.

Extras

Longtime kaiju fan and ‘zine contributor Richard Pusateri draws the short straw, giving the commentary for this clunker. August Ragone chimes in with his detailed introduction. English credits, trailers, and an image gallery come up as the Showa era finale.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Gamera Super Monster
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Only a few Japanese giant monster movies earn their stereotyped ridicule. Gamera Super Monster is among those elite.

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