Article #234 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 11-5-2001
Posting date: 3-21-2002
A giant turtle is awakened when atomic weapons explode in the arctic regions. This monster, known as Gamera, terrorizes Japan.
This was the first of a series of movies from Daiei that attempted to cash in on Toho’s Godzilla series. Though it is the most serious movie of the series, I also find it one of the most tedious; it fails to emulate the original Godzilla movie effectively, as it lacks the sense of devastation, real pain, and suffering that enfuses its model, nor does it come up with a compelling human story to add to the proceedings. Instead, it gives us a little boy who runs around claiming Gamera is good; unfortunately, the only good action performed by the monster is to save the life of the child (after putting it in danger in the first place). The charming silliness of later entries were more fun, though Gamera would really not come into his own until the nineties with GAMERA, GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE.
I do find it interesting that the monster is allowed to live at the end of the movie, though this was probably done in anticipation of sequels. I’ve never seen the American version of this movie that features new footage of Brian Donlevy; all I’ve seen is the recent Sandy Frank version which contains (I think) all the footage of the Japanese version, but is hampered by very substandard dubbing.