Gamera (1965 film)
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Gamera (大怪獣ガメラ?, lit. Giant Monster Gamera), also known as Gamera: The Giant Monster or Gammera, the Invincible, is a Daikaijū Gamera1965 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Daiei Motion Picture Company. It was released to Japanese theaters on November 27, 1965.
The film is similar in nature to the popular Godzilla films, and is also the first in a series of films about Gamera.
The film opens with Gamera's awakening from the unintentional detonation of an atomic bomb during a dogfight between American and Russian fighters. Like other "giant monster" movies, Gamera wastes no time in causing a rampage of destruction, first destroying a research ship, then making his way to Japan to wreak havoc. In an attempt to stop the monster, Gamera is sedated and vast amounts of dynamite are placed under him. The explosion knocks the monster on his back and it seems as though the problem has been solved. This is not the case, however, as Gamera reveals his ability to fly. A second plan is devised to stop the monster, this time by baiting him into a rocket that is to be launched to Mars. The plan is successful and Earth is safe from Gamera.
While Gamera does share many similarities with other "giant monster" films, especially the Godzilla series, it does contain one notable difference. At one point in the film, Gamera saves a small boy named Toshio Sakurai (renamed "Kenny" in the English version from Sandy Frank Productions) from death after knocking down a lighthouse. This leads the young boy to conclude that Gamera is not really destructive, but merely misunderstood and out of place in the world. This is a concept that would be seen in many monster movies to come.
- Main article: Gamera (1965 film)/Gallery.
Gammera, The Invincible was heavily re-edited from its original Japanese version. Shots and scenes were moved around, while some were deleted completely. New footage featuring American actors, including Albert Dekker and Brian Donlevy, was spliced in to create a more international feel and to replace scenes shot in Japan featuring American characters, in a style similar to the U.S. release of Godzilla, King of the Monsters!.
Gammera, the Invincible was dubbed by Titan Sound Inc. It features the voices of Jack Curtis and Peter Fernandez, who are best known as voices in the English dubs of Speed Racer and Ultraman. It is in the public domain in the United States and has been released on DVD by too many companies to fully list, although a 1999 VHS by Neptune Media is the only version to present the film in its original aspect ratio.
In 1985, Sandy Frank Enterprises commissioned a new dub of the film, possibly from Anvil Studios, which was first released in 1987. The Sandy Frank version, titled simply Gamera, is simply the Japanese version of the film dubbed into English, with two differences. Like the other Gamera films distributed by Sandy Frank, it features a new credits sequence with footage of ocean waves as a backdrop. Gamera's raid on the geothermal power plant is also edited differently. It is only available via VHS and LaserDiscs released by Celebrity Home Entertainment in the 1980's. Gamera, along with the other four Sandy Frank Gamera movies, was mocked twice on Mystery Science Theater 3000, first on KTMA TV 23, a UHF station in the St. Paul-Minneapolis area, and later in the show's third season.
DVD and Blu-ray Releases
Daiei Video DVD (2001)
- Region: 2
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (Mono)
- Special Features: Cast and crew bios, theatrical trailer, Gamera anatomy, interviews with director Noriaki Yuasa (approximately 1:30) and special effects director Yonesaburo Tsukiji (approximately 2:30)
- Notes: Only the movie itself has English subtitles. Out of print.
Shout! Factory DVD (2010)
- Region: 1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (1.0 Mono)
- Special Features: Audio commentary by August Ragone, 10-page booklet, trailer, gallery of publicity materials, "A Retrospective Look at the Gamera Franchise" featurette (23 minutes)
Mill Creek DVD (2014) [Gamera: Legacy Collection]
- Region: 1
- Discs: 4
- Audio: Japanese (1.0 Mono)
- Special Features: None
- Notes: Packaged with Gamera vs. Barugon, Gamera vs. Gyaos, Gamera vs. Viras, Gamera vs. Guiron, Gamera vs. Jiger, Gamera vs. Zigra, Gamera: Super Monster, Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, Gamera 2: Attack of Legion, and Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris.
Mill Creek Blu-ray (2014) [Gamera: Ultimate Collection, Volume 1]
- Region: N/A
- Discs: 2
- Audio: Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0)
- Special Features: None
- Notes: Packaged with Gamera vs. Barugon, Gamera vs. Gyaos, and Gamera vs. Viras
Kadokawa released Gamera on Blu-ray in 2009, with additional DVD releases in 2010 and 2016. Further information is not available yet.
- The World Entertainment/Harris Associates cut of the film, entitled Gammera, The Invincible, contains one shot of Gamera not in the original Japanese version or the Sandy Frank dub. It is a wide shot of Gamera attacking the nuclear reactor.
- This film is the only film in the Gamera series where Gamera does not fight another monster.
- In a scene that was filmed but ultimately not used, Toshio’s classmates bullied him for not wanting to build model kits or listen to music with them. One of those kids was played by Tôru Furuya, who would go on to become a prominent voice actor, his roles including Seiya in Saint Seiya, Yamcha in the Dragon Ball series, Tuxedo Mask in Sailor Moon, and Amuro Ray in Mobile Suit Gundam.
- Gamera was originally supposed to be called "Kamera" ("kame" being the Japanese word for turtle), but the name was judged to be too similar to "camera."
- Daiei president Masaichi Nagata claims he came up with the idea for Gamera when he looked out the window of a plane and saw a cloud that looked like a turtle (a story that matches Tomoyuki Tanaka's yarn about Godzilla's origin almost exactly). P Productions founder Tomio Sagisu disputes this story, saying that Daiei stole one of the monster ideas he had for a half-hour kaiju TV show. The proposed series was rejected by all of Japan’s major studios, Daiei included, for the high budget it would require. Apparently, one of his teleplays included the description "the turtle monster flies by pulling its head into its shell and shooting flames."
- The Gamera suit used for the majority of filming was 6 ½ feet tall and 110 pounds, built by Kanji and Koei Yagi, who also built the suit used the first Godzilla movie. A second, heavier suit was used for fire-breathing scenes, so as to better protect the actor inside.
- All of the stuntmen Daiei hired to play Gamera quit in short order, forcing the special effects staff to draw lots to determine who would climb in the suit each day. Kazuo Yagi did the most time.
- The original script called for Toshio to have a dream in which he played with Gamera.
- Gamera's fire was created with pressurized propane. Rumor has it that one of the small mechanical models used during a fire-eating scene exploded during filming.
- The Sandy Frank dub of Gamera was featured on Season 3 of the movie-mocking television series Mystery Science Theater 3000. It was also riffed on the show during its original broadcast on the Minneapolis-area station KTMA.
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