"C’mon Doc. Everybody knows Japan makes the best stuff."
Well, were talkin b-movies and what better place to start
than with a genuine Japanese giant monster flick.
Giant monster movies were around during the silent years, but
I guess that most movie buffs would name King Kong (RKO 1933)
as the first real giant monster movie. Still Kong was a giant
version of a real animal, it would not be until the 1950’s –
and the fear of atomic radiation – that the really strange
giant critters started runnin around the big screen.
The Japanese giant monster film genre started in 1954 with
Godzilla. These films became extremely popular with kids and
anybody who could appreciate the fun and absolutely wild
levels of imagination involved. For non-Japanese speakers an
added attraction was the dialog dubbing, which could range
from merely silly to downright hilarious.
Today Japanese giant monster movies have a huge fanbase. And
because of that fanbase, we need to get the terms correct:
“Daikaiju” or simply “Kaiju” = giant monster and “Kaiju Eiga”
= monster movie. If you want to speak of these films with a
true fan of Japanese giant monster movies, these are the
terms you will have to use.
Yeah, I know.
For my purposes, it is easier to write out two words than
four, so I will use the phrase daikaiju eiga in place of
Japanese giant monster movies. Why? Because this is my blog
and I can do whatever I want! Bwahhahahahahaha!
Anyway, Godzilla was made by Toho studios and by 1965 they
had made 6 daikaiju eiga featuring the big G. Naturally,
other Japanese movie studios saw how much money Toho was
making and reasoned that they had to get a piece of the
daikaiju eiga pie. Mmm…daikaiju eiga pie! Godzilla rip-offs
were a go! After the dust settled only one daikaiju eiga not
from Toho made any impression. That daikaiju eiga, stunningly
enough, was Gamera (Daiei studios 1965).
Gamera is the only Gamera flick to be shown in theaters in
the USA. The sequels were all sold straight to TV. As was
common practice, American distributors renamed the movie
several times, dubbed the movie several times and added
scenes with American actors. The two most common American
titles for the first Gamera film are: Gammera the Invincible
and Giant Monster Gamera. Gamera fanboys will point out that
Gammera the Invincible is the ONLY time when Gamera’s name
was spelled with two m’s.
Yeah, I know.
The version I watched was Gammera the Invincible.
The flick starts out with what I believe are supposed to be
Soviet TU-16 Badger bombers flying around North American
airspace in the Arctic. I say “supposed to be” because what
they so obviously are are models connected by wires. These
Soviet bombers are intercepted by models of American Air
Force F-106 Delta Darts, and one of the bombers is shot down.
At this point I would like to point out that with the
exception of most cars and one stock shot of a passenger jet
ALL of the vehicles in this flick are models. Painfully
obvious models. I will concede that when the Darts fire their
air-to-air missiles at the bombers, the effect is passable.
The downed Soviet model – uh, bomber – explodes upon impact
and since it was carrying atomic bombs, there is a nuclear
explosion. I won’t get into how unlikely such an event would
be. Anyway, this is all witnessed buy a team of Japanese
scientists who are conducting some sort of field research
with Eskimos. Eskimos played by Japanese actors. Well, sorry
Daiei, but Toho beat you to the punch. In 1962’s King Kong
vs. Godzilla, the black natives who live on Kong’s island are
all Japanese actors.
Yeah, I know.
The scientists, who are led by a zoologist (more about him
soon), can plainly see the dogfight and resulting mushroom
cloud with their naked eyes. Their reaction: “Wow! That must
have been an atomic bomb to make such a big explosion!” Then
they get back to work. One would think that Japanese who were
all alive in 1945 would have a more dramatic response to
being within straight-line sighting distance of an atomic
Well, THE BOMB releases Gammera from the interior of a
glacier. Gammera, as you can see from the pics, is a giant
(200 foot tall) turtle with big honkin tusks that nearly poke
his own eyes out. Oh and his eyes light up. Anyway, Gammera
sinks some ships, kills some Eskimos and heads for…wait for
Next we see some awful added scenes with American actors.
These folks make the Japanese cast all look like Olivier.
There is a news program where two guys debate the existence
of Gammera. The guy who does not believe such nonsense asks
the guy who says that Gammera may exist, “Where did you get
your degree? Made in Japan?” Thank you Mr. Buchanan. Then we
are treated to a newspaper headline that reads, “Giant Turtle
Baloney Say Scientists.” Mmm…giant turtle baloney.
Next we meet a little Japanese boy named Toshino and his
family. Toshino is sad because his father and sister are
going to make him release his pet turtle whom he loves
<sniff, sniff>. The kid goes out and frees his turtle near
the family lighthouse. While he is doing this, Gammera sneaks
up on him. Seriously, the kid has no clue that a 200 foot
tall turtle has just come ashore a few yards from him. There
is a knee-slapper scene where Gammera peeks over the sea side
cliff sees Toshino and ducks before the kid turns around!
When Toshino does see Gammera he goes up to the top of the
lighthouse to get a better look. Then Gammera knocks the
lighthouse over, but saves the kid by catching him as he is
falling. This is used in the sequels as the set-up for Gamera
(one “m”) becoming “the children’s friend” <gag!>.
Okay moving right along…the Japanese military hatch a plot
to get Gammera on his back, cause everyone knows upside-down
turtles are helpless. Well, when they do succeed in flipping
Gammera over, he has a surprise for them. He pulls in his head
and feet and shoots fire from his leg holes and flies away!
And they did not see that coming!? Dumbasses!
Then we see a club full of Japanese teens dancing to the
latest hit “Gammera!” Here are the full lyrics to this mod
tune: “Gammera!…Gammera!…Gammera!…etc.” A middle-aged
cop runs in and tells them that they must evacuate because
Gammera is heading straight for the building. One of the
young punks says, “We don’t want to leave! We want to dance!
We can dance if we want to!” Okay, I made that last comment
up. Gratefully Gammera destroys the building and squishes the
teens. The middle-aged cop escapes thereby proving the folly
Well, the brain trust, led by Dr. Hidaka (the zoologist)
discover that Gammera not only breaths fire (did I mention
that? yeah he breaths fire), not only shoots fire out of his
leg holes to fly, but actually EATS fire. the U.N. is
notified and realize that Gammera is a threat to the world’s
gas and oil supply! If he did not eat fire, well nothing to
worry about, but since he does – he must go. The U.N.
supports “Plan Z” advanced by the scientists in Japan. It
will require the cooperation of the USA and USSR. When the
Soviet rep asks who will be in charge, he is told that Dr.
Hidaka will lead the effort. Everybody says, “Okay” and Plan
Z is a go! To recap; the governments of the USA and USSR are
placing their military and scientific resources under the
command of a Japanese zoologist. YOU GO DR. H!!!
The plan is to lure Gammera to a space center by rolling
train tanker cars full of gas down to him like m&m’s. While
this is happening, Toshino (the little whiny brat) is
determined to warn Gammera. He tells folks, “He’s just big
and clumsy. If people were nice to Gammera, I bet he could
be trained to be nice and quiet like other turtles.” I kept
shouting at the screen, “Just smack him!” But no one did.
Toshino almost gets killed riding a fuel tanker car toward
Gammera, but is saved at the last minute by the crew foreman.
They jump off just as the tanker explodes – and of course
don’t get hurt. Damn. Oh, by the way, the foreman is named
So Gammera ends up right where they want him, is captured
inside the nosecone of a frickin huge rocket and fired off to
Mars. Toshino waves and shouts, “Sayonara Gammera!” then the
words “THE END. Sayonara Gammera.” appear on screen.
Gammera the Invincible makes Godzilla look like Shakespeare.
Gammera looks like a toy – a cheap toy. Yeah Godzilla has
looked pretty ratty in some of his incarnations, but Geez
just look at the pics!
I remember liking Gamera when I was little. However, I do not
recall ever seeing this first gamera movie. The ones I
remember were in color and featured Gamera fighting other
monsters to save the Earth, or specifically the children of the
Earth. He is the children’s friend, ya know <double gag!>. I
also remember that the monster combat scenes were punctuated
by gore. That’s right, green, blue, purple and sometimes red
blood spewing from wounds and limbs and heads being sliced or
ripped off with great fountains of monster blood! Cool! None
of that is in Gammera the Invincible.
The other element that can liven up a dumb movie is babeage.
Not in Gammera. The only two female cast members, Toshino’s
sister and Dr. Hidaka’s assistant, are homely. Only later
would Toho and Daiei realize that the little boys who loved
their daikaiju eiga were getting older and would appreciate
some cute girls in mini-skirts and cat-suits.
Overall I would say Gammera the Invincible would be a fun
movie to watch and heckle with like minded friends. It’s not
such a great solo time waster.
Gammera is lucky he chose Japan to attack. If he had attacked
the USA an army or Cajuns from Louisiana would catch him and
have a giant turtle gumbo festival. I gaarontee!
By the way, just like Godzilla, Gamera had a big budget
make-over in the 1990’s. Can’t give an opinion cause I’ve not
seen any of the modern Gamera movies. Will I? Hard to say, as
of today, I have no ambition to do so.
I dare you to check out this site:http://www.neomonsterisland.com/kgirls.htm
I double-dog-dare you!
No, I don’t know – and I don’t think I want to know!
Sapporo! The beer to drink when the only other choice is Bud.
Well, since I was going to watch a Japanese movie, I figured
I’d have myself some brew from the land of the rising sun.
Sapporo is one of the oldest Japanese beers. First brewed by
the Kaitakushi Brewery in 1876. Sapporo is brewed and
distributed by contract by Guinness in Ireland and Sleeman in
I had Sapporo Premium Lager which comes in a 22 oz. steel can
as well as 12 oz. bottles. My Sapporo was from the can. the
can is shaped like a pilsner glass and has 20 sides. The can
is made of steel and is quite tough. I successfully stood on
top of the empty can without crushing it. That is impressive
when you consider that I weigh nearly 300 lbs.
Unfortunately, the can is the only impressive thing about
Sapporo. The company’s web site states that their product
comes from their brewmasters, “carefully controlling the
process almost as if they are able to talk with yeast.”
Yeah, I know.
Well if they can talk to the yeast, they must be saying,
“Take it easy! Don’t strain yourself!” Hahaha! Get it? Yeast?
Strain? Oh nevermind.
Sapporo Premium Lager is 4.9% ABV. I could not find an IBU
rating for this beer, but rest assured it ain’t high. The
beer is a light yellow color with a slight hoppy aroma and a
persistent white foamy head. It does look nice, I’ll give
The problem is that there is nothing distinctive about
Sapporo. Nothing. Think tame. Think bland. Hell, even Bud has
a distinctive skunk-funk about it. It’s not a good thing, but
it is distinctive. Sapporo got nada.
The taste is very smooth and light. Not very hoppy at all.
Very little bitterness and not dry either. Sapporo does have
a very slight sour aftertaste that is soon gone.
Sapporo is quite close to being yellow water. That can’t be a
Verdict: Sapporo proves Japan can make weak bland mass market
lager just as well as the USA. Drink this only if the other
choices are unacceptable.
It might go well with turtle gumbo.
Questions, comments and requests encouraged!