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Gamera (1965 film)

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Daiei's Gamera Series
Gamera1965(1)
Gamera
Directed by Noriaki Yuasa
Written by Nisan Takahashi
Yonejiro Saito
Produced by Hidemasa Nagata
Yonejiro Saito
Masaichi Nagata
Starring Eiji Funakoshi
Harumi Kiritachi
Junichiro Yamashita
Music by Tadashi Yamauchi
Cinematography Nobuo Munekawa
Editing Tatsuji Nakashizu
Distributed by Daiei Motion Picture Company
Running time 80 mins
(Japan)
86 mins
(USA)
Followed by Gamera vs. Barugon

Gamera or Gammera, the Invincible (大怪獣ガメラ, Daikaijū Gamera, lit. Giant Monster Gamera) is a 1965 daikaiju eiga (giant-monster movie) about a giant turtle named Gamera. The film is similar in nature to the popular Godzilla films, and is also the first in a series of films about Gamera. It was one of the five Gamera films to be featured as episodes of the movie-mocking television show Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Gamera opens with Gamera's awakening from the unintentional detonation of an atomic bomb during a dog fight 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.

Cast

  • Eiji Funakoshi as Dr. Hidaka
  • Harumi Kiritachi as Kyoke Yamamoto
  • Junichiro Yamashiko as Aoyagi
  • Yoshiro Uchida as Toshio Sakurai
  • Michiko Sugata as Nobuyo Sakurai
  • Yoshiro Kitahara as Mr. Sakurai
  • Jun Hamamura as Professor Murase
  • Kenji Oyama as Minister of Defense

American releases

Gammera
This was the only film in the original Gamera series to be released to American theaters. It was originally presented in America by World Entertainment Corp. and Harris Associates, Inc. who named the star Gammera, the Invincible, with two "m"s. All subsequent entries in the series spelled the main character's name "Gamera," and were released directly to television by American International Productions Television (A.I.P.-TV). Gammera, the Invincible's American premiere was in New Orleans on December 15, 1966.

The original U.S. theatrical release version, titled "Gammera, The Invincible", was heavily reedited from its original Japanese version. Shots,scenes were moved around and some were deleted completely. New footage featuring American actors was spliced in to create a more international feel and to replace scenes shot in Japan featuring American characters whose acting was poor.

Added scenes in "Gammera, The Invincible" featured American stars Albert Dekker and Brian Donlevy.

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 on "Speed Racer" and "Ultraman". Titan Sound Inc. was also responsible for dubbing the original U.S. Versions of "Godzilla Vs. The Sea Monster" and "Son of Godzilla".

During the 1980s, Sandy Frank re-dubbed and distributed the Gamera series on VHS for home video (This was the version used for the Mystery Science episode).

The Sandy Frank version, titled simply "Gamera" is the Japanese version of the film dubbed into English. It does not contain any of the edits or added footage from the "Gammera, The Invincible" version. The only change is the opening credits, which replace the originals, with new ones electronically laid in over a stock shot of the ocean. Four of the other Sandy Frank Gamera releases have the same footage.

This, along with all the other Sandy Frank Gamera movies, was mocked on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Said episode from Season 3 was released in 2011 as part of the Volume XXI box set of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD box sets by Shout! Facotry (dubed the "MST3K vs Gamera" set) which contained all five Gamera episodes of the show.

Also, in 2010 Shout! Factory released the movie on DVD as "Gamera: The Giant Monster", which was the original unaltered Japanese movie in an HD transfer with new English subtitles, and in full anamorphic widescreen. The DVD came packaged with a 12 page booklet featuring an essay by director Noriaki Yuasa. The DVD also had a publicity gallery, audio commentary, and a retrospective of the Gamera series. Shout Factory has since gone on to re-release the other Showa era movies with the original Japanese versions, and both English dubs included.

Gallery

Main article: Gamera (film)/Gallery

Trivia

  • A tribute/spoof of Gamera was used in an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, when Billy and Irwin go to Japan to see monster fights. The monster's name was "Kragera" in the episode, though most of the features remain the same.
  • The Invader Zim episode "Hamstergeddon" is a parody of Gamera(and other monster films)in which the respective attitudes of the boy and the soldiers are reversed, with catastrophic consequences.
  • This was the last giant monster movie to be filmed in black and white.
  • 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 1963, Daiei originally planned to make a low-budget monster film about an onslaught of giant rats rampage through Japan, using live rats feasting upon human dolls in a miniature set. In the end, the studio was infested with fleas before production started, and this convinced Daiei to make a man-in suit giant monster film.

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