1965 Theatrical Poster
|Directed by||Noriaki Yuasa|
|Produced by||Hidemasa Nagata
|Written by||Nisan Takahashi
|Music by||Tadashi Yamauchi|
|Edited by||Tatsuji Nakashizu|
|Distributed by||Daiei Film Co., Ltd.|
|80 min. (Original)
86 min. (USA)
Gamera (大怪獣ガメラ Daikaijū Gamera?, Giant Monster Gamera) is a 1965 science fiction kaijū film directed by Noriaki Yuasa and released by Daiei Film Co., Ltd. The film focuses on Gamera, a giant ancient chelonian creature who terrorizes Japan after it was awakened by an atomic bomb explosion in the Arctic. The film is the first in a series of kaiju (giant monster) films featuring the monster Gamera. Gamera was created by Daiei to capitalize on the success of rival studio Toho's popular Godzilla films, and it, too, spawned its own franchise. It was released in the United States in 1966 as Gammera the Invincible and has been the subject of three different Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes.
In an icy North American region, an unknown aircraft is shot down by an American fighter jet. The aircraft crashes and its cargo, a low-level atomic bomb, explodes. The resulting cataclysm awakens a giant, prehistoric monster called "Gamera", who has the appearance of a giant turtle with large tusks. Japanese scientists on an expedition (including Dr. Hidaka, Kyoko, and Aoyagi) nearby are given a "devil stone" by an Eskimo chieftain, who explains that the creature is called Gamera.
Gamera destroys the American jet with his fireball and escapes into the sea. The monster heads to Japan and surfaces from Sagami Bay, where Toshio, a boy releasing his own pet turtle, sees him. Gamera destroys the city of Fujisawa and destroys a lighthouse. However, he also rescues Toshio from falling from that same lighthouse, and then retreats back into the sea. Scientists and government officials hold a conference to discuss killing the monster.
Gamera destroys a research ship, kills the crew, and then heads to Tokyo. He is attacked with freeze bombs, and blown up, falling onto his back as a result. The scientists indicate that a turtle cannot right itself once on its back, and that Gamera with therefore die of starvation. Gamera then pulls his head and limbs into his shell and flies away.
Toshio and his family decide to stay with an uncle in Tokyo because they have nowhere else to go. Toshio explains to the professor that Gamera is lonely, and like regular turtles, he is not evil. Dr. Hidaka, meanwhile, has observed that Gamera consumes fossil fuels, and may seek out atomic bombs for the energy they provide. He also emits radio signals. This leads the Japan Atomic Energy Commission to figure out what to do with its stockpiles. Meanwhile, disasters and accidents start to occur: Koto Ward is struck by flash floods, ships collide in Tokyo Bay. Dr. Hidaka claims that Gamera has caused these accidents because he is hiding in the bay.
An international scientific conference is called, and they decide to use the "Z Plan" based at Oshima Island, involving a consortium of American, Soviet, and Japanese scientists, to eradicate Gamera. Before any action can be taken, however, Gamera lands at Haneda Airport, destroying the control tower, and proceeds to wreak havoc in Tokyo (including destroying Tokyo Tower). Toshio and his family evacuate again, but Toshio disappears.
The Z Plan is still not ready, and the scientists plan to keep Gamera at bay in the meantime by confining him to an oil refinery. Dr. Hidaka has surmised that Gamera is gaining energy by consuming fires at the refinery, and they will therefore keep shipping petroleum there by train car to keep Gamera occupied for 24 hours. Toshio has found his way to the refinery and sneaks on board the train to Gamera, chased by the refinery headman, and they are both thrown from the train when it explodes. They are unharmed, and Toshio is sent on his way.
In the meantime, Plan Z is completed, and Toshio sneaks on board the ship delivering supplies to Oshima. Gamera is lured to Oshima by lighting an oil slick path From Tokyo to the island, but an oncoming typhoon blows the fire out. Aoyagi starts a bonfire, and Gamera makes his way to a volcano erupting on the island. The next day, Z Plan is put into action: Gamera is lured to a rocket and blasted off to Mars. The worldwide announcement of success extols the triumph of science over ideology, Aoyagi and Kyoko go off together, and Toshio decides he is not sad, because he is going to be a scientist so he can go visit Gamera one day.
- Eiji Funakoshi - Dr Hidaka
- Harumi Kiritachi - Kyoko
- Junichiro Yamashita - Aoyagi
- Yoshiro Uchida - Toshio
- Michiko Sugata - Nobuyo
- Yoshiro Kitahara - Sakurai
- Jun Hamamura - Dr. Murase
- Mort Marshall - Jules Manning
- Alan Oppenheimer - Dr. Contrare
- Stephen Zacharias - Senator Billings
- Bob Carraway - Lt. Simpson
- Gene Bua - Lt. Clark
- John McMurry - Airman First Class Hopkins
- Walter Arnold - American Ambassador
- Louis Zorich - Russian Ambassador
- Robin Craven - English Ambassador
- George Hirose - Japanese Ambassador
- Albert Dekker - Secretary of Defense
- Brian Donlevy - Gen. Terry Arnold
- Diane Findlay - Sgt. Susan Embers
- John Baragrey - Capt. Lovell
- Dick O'Neill - Gen. O'Neill
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Gamera was originally presented in the United States by World Entertainment Corp. and Harris Associates, Inc., who renamed the film Gammera the Invincible. Reportedly the extra 'M' in the monster's name was to prevent confusion over the pronunciation. Premiering in New Orleans on December 15, 1966, this was the only film in the original Gamera series to receive a theatrical release in America.
Gammera the Invincible was heavily re-edited from its original Japanese version. To Americanize the film for American audiences, director Sandy Howard filmed new footage starring Albert Dekker, Brian Donlevy, John Baragrey and Dick O'Neill. Many of these new scenes replaced similar scenes from the original cut that featured Caucasian extras. Several other scenes from the Japanese version were removed altogether to make room for the new American scenes. Although not credited in the film, it's likely that the remaining Japanese dialogue was dubbed into English by Titan Productions, Inc. in New York. Notable Titan performers such as Bernard Grant, Paulette Rubinstein and Larry Robinson all lent their voices to the film. Future Speed Racer voice actors Peter Fernandez, Jack Curtis and Corrine Orr also participated in the re-recording sessions.
In 1985, American producer Sandy Frank purchased the rights to five of the original eight Gamera films and distributed them to television and home video via King Features. Frank retitled and re-released the first film under the title Gamera. Unlike the previous American version of the film, Frank changed very little from the original Japanese cut of the film. New opening credits set against a stock shot of the ocean were attached to the film and a new English dub Americanized most of the characters' names ("Toshio" became "Kenny", "Kyoko" became "Katherine", "Aoyagi" became "Alex", and so on). None of the footage shot by Sandy Howard for the 1966 American version was seen in this version of the film.
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The film has received mostly negative reviews from critics.
Some reviews on the film have been more positive. AllMovie gave the film a positive review complimenting the films direction, special effects, and cinematography stating, "All in all, Gammera The Invincible is a solidly-crafted, engaging monster mash - just make sure you see the original Japanese version". It currently has a 20% "Rotten" score on Rotten Tomatoes.
The movie was satirized twice in the B-movie-mocking series Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K). It first appeared on the show during its first season on Minnesota UHF station KTMA, debuting on December 11, 1988. On June 8, 1991, it was again featured as the second episode of the third season on cable channel Comedy Central. Since the writing on the show had evolved a great deal since the KTMA days, the writing staff ended up tossing out all the improvised jokes from the first episode and re-wrote the entire show. The 1985 "Sandy Frank version" of the film was shown in both episodes.
Home Media releases
All three versions of the film had been made available on various home media formats. The Sandy Frank dub was released on VHS and Laserdisc by Celebrity Home Entertainment under both the Creature Feature label and the Just For Kids label in the 1980s. In the mid 1990s, both the original Japanese cut and the 1966 American re-edit were released separately on widescreen letterbox VHS editions. The 1966 American re-edit version was first released on DVD by Synapse Video. It was released again on May 20, 2003 by Alpha Video. Since then the film has been released countless times by various studios. Vintage Home Entertainment released Gamera: The Ultimate Collection on May 17, 2005 which included a compilation of the entire film series. The film was last released by Willette Acquisition Corp. on Feb 17, 2015.
In 2010, Shout! Factory released the original Japanese version of the film on DVD in North America for the first time under the title Gamera, the Giant Monster. Bonus material on this release include a Audio Commentary track, a behind the scenes featurette, and the original Japanese theatrical trailer. A year later, the company also released the MST3K edition of the Sandy Frank dub version on a DVD box set along with four other MST3K editions of other Gamera films.
In 2014, Mill Creek Entertainment released the Japanese version on Blu-ray in North America for the first time on the Volume one Blu-ray set of Showa era Gamera films.
- "Gamera Cast, Crew, and Director" The New York Times. Accessed July 24, 2015.
- Guarisco, Donald. "Gamera the Invincible (1965) - Noriyaki Yuasa". AllMovie.com. Donald Guarisco. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- "Daikaijû Gamera (The Giant Monster Gamera) (1965) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes.com. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- Episode guide: K05- Gamera
- "Gamera the Invincible (1965) - Noriaki Yuasa". AllMovie.com. AllMovie. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- Gamera at the Internet Movie Database
- Gammera the Invincible at the Internet Movie Database
- Gammera the Invincible is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- Gamera at AllMovie
- Gamera at Rotten Tomatoes
- 大怪獣ガメラ (Daikaijū Gamera) in the Japanese Movie Database (Japanese)