The End of an Era. The End of a Hero. And a Ton of Stock Footage…

Gamera: Spuer Monster, or Space Monster Gamera (宇宙怪獣ガメラ Uchu Kaijū Gamera) is the last film in the Showa Gamera series. The film was intended for children, and was made with mostly stock footage – as Daiei had just been bought out of bankruptcy.

There are several pictures on this review page that may give you the wrong impression. If I were to, say, be glancing over just photos from Gamera: Super Monster and saw this:

…Gamera: Super Porn, anyone?

… I mean. Damn. I’d watch that movie. Jeepers. The very ambiguity of this photo (and others in this article from Superstrangevideo.com) show you just what you’re in store for in this movie – something ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. And I use the term ‘movie’ loosely. This flick is a massive pile of stock footage. The new footage amounts to like fifteen minutes… literally. I’ll let SKREEONK.com’s Gamera Expert, The Real McCoy explain with his review of the Japanese version of the film (followed by a plot synopsis):

I begin this review by saying that this movie is definitely not for everyone. The story is overused, the acting is mediocre, and there is virtually no new Gamera action. It is all stock footage from his previous movies, and the only new footage of him consists of a model with a moving mouth flying over the city. Literally, there is about all of two minutes of new Gamera footage in the whole movie. But don’t lose hope just yet!

In this eighth and final entry in the Showa Gamera series, we’re back to spacemen; well, space women again. Once again, alien invaders attempt to take over the earth. The story revolves around yet again a young boy who idolizes Gamera. But this time, we get some cool space chicks to follow as well! Together, the four make a fun combination, and their acting, for that matter, any of the acting in the movie isn’t horrible, and can be enjoying at times. Keichi is so innocent, and he’s not a complete loudmouth, like Kenny from the previous film. I myself found great entertainment out of the story.

The story as a whole is not horribly uninteresting, but the other flaws that the movie has, I think, is what gives the movie such a bad reputation. Make no mistake about it; those who dislike the film have as credible a reason as those who like it. The absolute weakest point of the film is the stock footage. It’s not like Godzilla’s Revenge or Godzilla vs. Gigan stock footage either. The stock footage takes up about sixty percent of the film. Every foe Gamera ever fought is in the film by way of stock footage, and the battles usually last no less than five minutes apiece. Six times five is thirty, plus or minus a few here and there, and add an extra few for Gamera’s mind control scene, which was lifted from his debut film and placed under a color-filter, unsuccessfully, and that’s about forty minutes out of a ninety-two minute film. That’s a lot. It may be less, but as I said, it’s such an eye sore that it seems like it drags on. There’s plenty of human action in between, but just the fact that there is no new monster footage hurts the film greatly.

One redeeming thing about the movie is the music. While childish, if fits the tone of the movie like a glove, as for the darker moments there was darker sounding music, for the fun scenes there was a fun, bouncy piece, and for the sad scenes, there was sad music. The film opens with a very catchy theme song, and it was interesting for me to learn that the female lead (who was also a professional wrestler; another interesting factoid), actually sang the song. It is very bouncy and happy, and while being slightly overused in the film; accompanying the fight scenes every time the tide turns in Gamera’s favor, once again fits the tone of the movie perfectly.

Now, get your rotten tomatoes ready, folks, because I’m about to spill the beans! This was my first Gamera movie I ever saw. I did not know the film consisted of virtually nothing but stock footage until I became re-acquainted with Gamera a few years ago. At the risk of my credibility, I will say that this is, always has been, and always will be my favorite Showa Gamera film. Scary, isn’t it? Having said that, I fail to see that no fan out there cannot find some enjoyment out of this movie. As I said, the story and characters are both fun and likeable, but I agree that just those things don’t make a good monster movie. Critically, this film deserves no more than two stars. Now you can throw your tomatoes. I cannot sit down to this movie and not finish it, and it has and will forever be my favorite. For personal enjoyment, I give this movie a perfect five!

Now that everybody has finished beating their heads against their keyboards, I’ll add something else. This was intended as a last shot, as the Daiei movie company was going bankrupt, and was the last Gamera film for fifteen years, until they decided to revive the character in 1995, with bigger budgets and beefed up special effects.

One more thing; did anybody else notice the imperial star destroyer? Or the poster advertising a Godzilla movie? Strange…

(And now the plot synopsis, for those of you who are curious!)

A giant spaceship appears in earth’s atmosphere. Called spaceship Zanon, its mission is to destroy the earth. Sending a message targeting three lonely space women disguised as humans, Zanon explains that if the earth does not surrender, they will unleash their army of monsters upon the world. The space women, Kilara, Marsha, and Mitan, are from a peaceful planet which had been destroyed by Zanon. Their principles do not allow them to possess destructive weapons of any kind, and they are faced with a terrible dilemma. Zanon dispatches an agent, a space woman named Giruge, to find the three peaceful space women, and she begins her quest. She is equipped with a blaster, and an indicator on her wristwatch that tells her when the space women transform; sending the signal back to spaceship Zanon to track and destroy them. Back at Kilara’s pet shop, she meets a young boy named Keichi, and they quickly become friends. Gamera is Keichi’s favorite monster; he has comic books and toys of him, so naturally he likes to look at the turtles in her pet shop. Seeing his interest in one of them, she gives him one out of kindness. Then, the disasters begin. Mt. Fuji erupts, releasing the monster Gyaos, who proceeds to lay waste to everything in sight yet again. Keichi visits Kilara at her pet shop to apologize to her, as his mother wanted him to release his turtle into the river. Apologies accepted, he expresses his dream that his little turtle would turn into Gamera, so he could protect the world. After playing a quick song on their magic keyboard (which they use to view different parts of the action), Kilara gets an idea. Kilara, Marsha and Mitan excuse themselves from the pet shop, leaving Keichi to play on the organ by himself. They transform, and begin the process that would bring Gamera to life. In doing so, they are nearly killed by Zanon, and they quickly transform again. Keichi plays his song on the organ when outside, he hears a loud, trumpeting cry. He goes outside to see Gamera, flying over the city to do battle. Calling after him, he jumps with joy. Giruge, however, overhears this and offers to take a walk with Keichi, so she can secretly learn more about Gamera. After a brief skirmish, Giruge meets Keichi and tells him the next time Gamera will lose. After defeating Gyoas, her and Keichi become friends again, and she offers to take him to the next battle. Giruge fears that Keichi may be connected to Gamera, and plans to kidnap him. After Gamera defeats Zigra, Keichi becomes angry at Giruge and runs away, with Giruge chasing close behind. Kilara spots the chase on her viewscreen, and presses some keys, and Keichi magically stumbles into the pet shop. He learns their secret and promises not to tell. Gamera then faces off against each one of his foes, one-by-one, defeating them all. He is placed under mind control by Zanon, and after using her viewscreen, Kilara discovers it, and flies up to destroy it using Zanon’s beam. After succeeding, Giruge finally catches up with them, and a fight between Kilara and Giruge ensues. Giruge is injured, and after being spared by Kilara, who refused to kill her, she is brought unconscious to Keichi’s home to rest. She is touched by the boy’s kindness, and she begins to change her views. Gamera continues his battles, now freed of mind control, and finishes the last fight victorious. Giruge gets a message from Zanon demanding that she finally kill the space women, and out of the goodness in her heart, she transforms into her space form, sacrificing herself. She says that Zanon will attack the earth, and even Gamera cannot stop it. After thanking the boy for showing her true kindness, she disappears. Gamera begins to fly into outer space, toward the massive spaceship, with Keichi calling after him, begging him not to go. Gamera closes in on the spaceship, and then there is a giant explosion, and both Spaceship Zanon and Gamera disappear. Keichi is heartbroken, but Kilara comforts him, explaining that from now on, the world may live in peace due to Gamera’s sacrifice.

-The Real McCoy

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(photos from http://www.superstrangevideo.com)

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Gamera, Super Monster

Gamera films can get crazy, but this one takes the cake. GSM represents a who’s who of the Gamera films, and then desperately tries to tie it up with a decent plot. The space women/invasion plot really fails, making the fight scenes a welcome oasis. Most of the fights are good, but Jiger gets cheated. Jiger gave Gamera a hard time, but he’s seen as a pushover here.

The spacewomen don’t have much to do with their roles other than their leader. She’s the action hero of the bunch. The villain, ironically, has the better role. She plays the role with charming evil in the beginning, but then softens as the end comes. Her sacrifice elicits little pathos though.

The one saving grace of the film is the music. It’s dynamic and goes perfectly with the fights. The music playing with Gamera and Barugon’s fight is by far my favorite.

GSM is a popcorn flick with mainly kid appeal.

-Edgaguirus

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