Film:
DVD:

Written by Kazunori Ito
Directed by Shusuke Kaneko
Special Effects by Shinji Higuchi
Starring Tsuyoshi Ihara, Shinobu Nakayama, Ayako Fujitani, Akira Onodera, Yukijiro Hotaru, Hatsunori Hasegawa, Hirotaro Honda, Toshiyuki Nagashima, Miki Mizuno, and Ai Maeda

Features:

  • Three Gamera films: Guardian of the Universe, Attack of Legion and Revenge of Iris
  • Outtakes
  • Original Japanese TV spots
  • Original Japanese trailer
  • Running audio commentary with Gamera
  • Interviews with the special effects director
  • Press conferences
  • Opening night scenes
  • Behind-the-scenes in Japan featurette
  • Scenes from assorted promotional events
  • Featurette on the Lake Texarcana Gamera

Dindrane's Kaiju Warnings:

  • Quality Tokyo stomping
  • Killer bugs
  • More Mu mumbling
  • Telepathic schoolgirls

Released by: ADV
Region: 1
Rating: 12+
Anamorphic: No.

My Advice: Oh, get it... you really must.

Gamera. For monster movie fans, the name alone can make you shiver in sheer joy, knowing that hundreds of tons of Japanese stomping glory is coming your way. This limited edition box set brings us three of Gamera’s finest tales.

For those of you Philistines who do not know the might Gamera is, he’s a foe of Godzilla, surpassed only by Mothra for sheer beautiful monster-ness and power. A giant turtle-like creature with large, nasty pointy teeth, Gamera has a bad attitude, fire breath, and a fondness for architectural destruction. And he can FLY.

The collection begins with Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995), wherein our beloved tortugan hero Gamera must fight the usual hoards of foolish military drones, but the Gyaos, prehistoric bird-reptiles, are back, and bent on eating Japanese schoolchildren (aren’t they always?) and increasing the lamentable pollution mankind already heaps on our beleaguered planet. Luckily, there are a few ordinary Japanese folks who understand that at least one of the monsters destroying Tokyo Tower is on their side. Schoolgirl Asagi Kusanago develops an empathic link with Gamera that could kill her or save everyone. It seems that both Gamera and the Gyaos were created by the ancient Atlanteans, and our modern-day pollution has awakened Gyaos, who prefers foul waters and wants to make them even worse, unlike the heroic Gamera.

The second film, Gamera: Attack of Legion (1996), brings us a meteor shower near Sapporo that brings with it a whole host of new problems for Gamera and Japan: electrical outages, out-of-control plant growth, and a hoard of invading insects. This time, it’s a science teacher and a colonel on Gamera’s side, racing to keep the military from destroying their only hope.

Finally, Gamera: Revenge of Iris (1999) brings back the Gyaos, but also a strange new monster, found and named Iris by a young girl, whose hatred for Gamera threatens to poison the powerful Iris and thereby destroy the world. Again, a minor environmental message runs through it.

This new trilogy on Gamera brings us our old turtley friend in a much sleeker, scarier design. The updated graphics make it visually much less cheesy, but don’t worry—the producers didn’t take themselves too seriously. Bruce Campbell would be proud. The show looks great, and whether you opt for Japanese with or without English subtitles or the English dub, the movie sounds great, too. I have to say, the dub was done a bit too cleanly; while it’s obviously a dub, there are none of the howlingly bad moments you remember from the choppy, sloppy dubs of your childhood. While the plot is standard monster-movie, the cinematography is quite stunning in places. Also, see if you can guess which actress is the daughter of Steven Seagal.

The special effects here are truly amazing, from aerial fireball battles over Tokyo to a floating atoll known as Gamera, the monsters, battles, destruction, and more all look great, and yet aren’t so slick that you’re tempted to take the movie more seriously than it is meant to be. The balance is truly just perfect between action fun and quality production and B-movie filmmaking.

The extras are refreshing and solid. On each disc, we get a very cool interview with the special effects director Shinji Higuchi, a Gamera press conference that is both cool and fun, the original Japanese trailer and TV spots, a behind-the-scenes documentary, scenes from Gamera promotional events, and scenes from the film’s Japanese opening night. Most of those latter features say more about Japan and Japanese culture than they do Gamera, but that’s part of why we love kaiju so much. There are also some outtakes, a look at the Lake Texarcana Gamera, and the real star of the collection—a commentary on the third film by Gamera himself! You know you can’t miss that.

Action, clever writing (by Ghost in the Shell's Kazunori Ito no less), good cinematography… In the immortal words of Blue Oyster Cult, “Oh no. There goes Tokyo.” And never have we kaiju fans had it so good.

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