Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monster Crap Inductee: Gamera (1965)

Monster Crap Inductee: Gamera
Damn You Kenny


Almost everytime when it is cold, I dream of being in a vacation in sunny old Key West.

Seriously, there is alot to do, the weather is not as hot as most of the southern areas, the sea is beautiful, and if you are near the sea, you can see a really great sunset. And speaking of near the sea….we are going to be inducting an animal monster who lives in the sea. He was also inducted here once vs. another sea monster. His name is Gamera and in fact this was his first movie.

Now, now before I decide to crap on this movie, I just want to say that this was very close on whether to be inducted or not because truth be told, it almost was pretty good. But there is one person who put this movie in my crap list. His name is Kenny. He is your average young boy that seems to be in almost every bad Japanese Monster Movie ever. Now let’s summarize this movie immediately.

Now as we begin this movie, I’m sure you are asking yourself why the credits are in color yet the movie is in black and white. The answer would be this was the last monster movie to be made before color came to play and by the time we were introduced to color, they had already made a whole black and white movie. Because of that, the credits were done in color. We start with three planes flying overhead for some unknown reason. After that, we move to the iced parts of the Artic where we see a truck driving to a nice settlement of Eskimos.

Two scientists and a reporter greet the local Eskimos and talk with their leader, who sounds like the guy from Hogan’s Heroes.

I Know Nothing!!!

Yes, you indeed know nothing. The small conversation is interrupted when little Eskimo children notice some unknown planes. It is in fact the planes we saw from the beginning of the movie. The old man freaks out and thinks they are the devil birds, but someone tells him that they are just planes. We get another scene change and this time we go to a ship that is breaking ice. The ship is part of the means of transportation of the two scientists and the one reporter and this ship has a crew of its own. The ship’s crew also sees the unknown planes and notifies their base of it. The base is filled with a bunch of Americans and their commander looks kind of like Curly Joe of the Three Stooges.

The commander tells his planes that just so happen to be in the area that there are some planes of unknown origin and to either escort it back to the base or if they resist, shoot them down. The US planes chase the unknown planes and since the unknown planes are trying to resist capture, the US planes fire. One of the unknown planes is shot down and it causes an atomic explosion, meaning they had atomic weapons on board. And of course atomic weapons means only one thing, a monster will appear.

And right on cue, the ice breaks open and out comes Gamera.

And might I add that Gamera makes his entrance almost like Goldberg. The two scientists and the reporter are about to leave for the ship when they are given a strange rock from the Eskimo chief. I call it a strange rock because it looks like a medium rare pork chop. They ask if this is of the legendary turtle that lived on the artic continent to which the chief confirms his suspicions. He calls the legendary giant turtle Gamera. When he says the word Gamera, all of the Eskimo children hide in their igloos. When asked where he got it, the old man says he doesn’t know (Alzheimer’s anyone?) but he knows that the stone brings evil. Now if that stone really brought evil, why in God’s name would you be holding it?

Meanwhile back on the ship, the crew sees the giant monster and wonders what it is. However, when they try to guess what it is, Gamera appears and destroys the ship, killing all of the crew.

The base sends planes out to find either the ship or Gamera and of course, they can’t find either. Before I continue, if anyone wishes to ask where the unknown planes came from, well… would be one of many because this film never even mentions where they are from.

We go back to New York for some reason and get a news report on a giant turtle attack. And this reporter has the two scientists that were in the Artic. Their names are Dr. Hidaka and Catherine, who we find out, is Dr. Hidaka’s daughter. Dr. Hidaka mentions the giant turtle as Gamera and says that he has awakened due to an explosion. He believes that Gamera is very dangerous and should be stopped at all costs. He does believe that due to the mass amounts of radiation on Gamera, that Gamera should die very shortly.

We then get the normal showing of newspaper headlines. We then see an old drunken farmer walking down a road when he sees what he thinks is a UFO. We cut to a radio show that is announcing several sightings of a flying saucer. After that, we go to an airplane where Dr. Hidaka and Catherine. Also, the reporter is there as well and we find out that his name is Alex. Alex reveals that he didn’t take the assignment for the story at all, but he took the assignment so he could be close to Catherine, with whom he is very smitten with.

Meanwhile, on a beach somewhere in Japan, a woman named Nora meets with a teacher who talks about her step-son Kenny. It seems Kenny has a strange fascination with turtles as he draws them all the time and he even has a pet turtle that he brings everywhere. The other students find him very strange so the teacher asks that Kenny not be allowed to bring the turtle to school anymore. At the dinner table, Nora and Kenny’s father have a conversation about Kenny’s turtle fixation. Kenny’s father tells Kenny that he must give up the turtle and Kenny is not happy with this demand. What a brat!!

Outside, Kenny says goodbye to his turtle, who he calls Tibby. While this is all happening, Gamera comes out of the water. Kenny is lying down, not realizing anything while Gamera seems to be playing Peek-a-boo. Kenny finally sees Gamera and makes a run for it. He runs to Nora and tries to show her Gamera, but Gamera is gone so she sees nothing and thinks Kenny is seeing things. But he isn’t and soon an earthquakes starts as Gamera re-appears. Nora, along with Kenny’s father now try to make a run for it. However, they find out that Kenny is not with him, but instead is going to the lighthouse to get a better look. Kenny is face to face with the giant turtle as Gamera destroys the lighthouse. Kenny falls, but is saved by Gamera who places him safely on the ground.

While the parents are caring for Kenny, Gamera makes one yell and leaves the scene. Kenny wakes up and thus begins a strange relationship that Kenny has with Gamera.

Now at the airport, Dr. Hidaka receives a phone call that Gamera has appeared and is very much alive. Back at the house, Kenny sneaks out to find the place where he left Tibby. He talks to Tibby, telling the turtle that he will be back tomorrow. Meanwhile in another plane, Dr. Hidaka and Catherine are ready to head off to the university. Alex surprises them and reveals that he snuck on this plane to be near Catherine. You know, while this might have been okay back then, this is not okay now as Alex would be a stalker if he did this. Seriously, Alex is just asking to have a restraining order placed on him.

At a military base, Dr. Hidaka, Catherine, and Alex arrive and are greeted by Japanese army officials. The commanding officer tries kicking Alex out because he is a reporter, but Hidaka tells the officer to let him stay. They reveal that Gamera is heading towards a power plant near a volcano. While they are discussing more information, I’m just hoping that volcano isn’t active.

But basically, I missed the part where they decide to electrocute Gamera and we all know how effective electrocution has been towards a monster. I mean, just ask Godzilla or any other giant monster. All it does is pisses them off. Well, as always, the plan of electrocution fails as Gamera tomahawk chops the electric wires.

Well, because the wires don’t work on Gamera, they decide to start firing at the monster and like all Japanese monster movies……that plan sucks as well. Gamera destroys the power plant as they are doing all of this, might I add. One more thing, Gamera seems to be walking funny. In fact, Gamera’s walking kind of reminds me of an old wrestling tag team.

As they are watching this mayhem, Dr. Hidaka decides that he needs to speak with a certain colleague about what to do next. That colleague is Professor Murase.

They are making some conversation on how to defeat Gamera, but all I am thinking about is whether to order some chicken or not. Meanwhile back at the destroyed power plant, planes are flying overhead as Gamera seems to be flexing his muscles.

While watching this, one of the army guys believes that they should call UN headquarters and see if they can help. Now while this was probably a good idea back then, if you called the current UN, they would probably sit on their fat asses and do nothing.

As the battle between the Japanese army and Gamera continues, we see that annoying brat Kenny rooting for Gamera. As Prof. Murase and Dr. Hidaka appear to see their supposed plan come together, Kenny comes in and tries to have them save Gamera. Jesus Christ, someone please kill Kenny already.

After much conversation, Prof. Murase and Dr. Hidaka decide that firing missiles at Gamera is pointless. Back at the army base, the general is told that there is nothing left of the power plant. Dr. Hidaka thinks up an idea to freeze Gamera because since fire rejuvenates Gamera, the opposite should stop him. The general reveals that they have a secret freezing bomb under military secret that they could use. They all agree to use the bomb on Gamera. However, they then find out that there is one downside and that is the bomb only works for ten minutes.

Outside, we see a plane going towards Gamera, who is still doing that funny familiar walk. We then see Gamera climbing up a mountain and for the first and only time in this movie, Gamera is actually crawling like a turtle. At the base, Dr. Hidaka is lecturing the troops about the current plan to capture Gamera. The freeze bombs hit Gamera and he freezes up. Now is time for the plan to capture Gamera.

Oh, and before I continue, when I say Gamera is frozen, I mean his lower body is frozen as his upper body is still moving around. Meanwhile, they are setting up charges to supposedly blow him up. And while Gamera is thawing out as they are ready to blast. They set the dynamite off and Gamera falls on his back. They pretty much think it’s all over as Dr. Hidaka says that turtles can’t get off of their backs. Unfortunately Gamera has one trick left up his sleeve as he goes into his shell and fire starts shooting out of his shell. He then begins spinning like some rims on a car.

After spinning around, Gamera begins to fly like the flying saucer that had appeared earlier in front of the old drunk guy. In fact, it is revealed that Gamera was that flying saucer. They then find out that the stone that looks like steak was basically trying to tell them that Gamera was a flying creature. We then get the newspaper jumble scene once again.

We move back to the street where Kenny almost gets hit by a car. If only that car would have done the deed, we would never have to hear the annoying attitude of that brat ever again. But it is not to be as Kenny merely drops his back which was filled with rocks. When asked by Nora why he has those rocks, he explains that it is Gamera’s new house. Okay….Kenny, I’m not sure about your understanding of measurement, but Gamera is not going to be able to fit in your back pack nor are those rocks able to make a satisfying home for a giant monster.

Meanwhile, at an office building, Dr. Hidaka and Catherine are met by Kenny and Nora. Catherine tries showing him around, like the Tokyo Tower. However, all Kenny is interested in is Gamera. It is at this point that Kenny says that Gamera is friend to all children. Yep, and now we know where the idea of making Gamera a good guy came in. Damn you Kenny. After making a prolonged speech about his love for Gamera, I basically am getting the urge to strange this kid. Outside, Nora greets a construction worker and their conversation ends quickly when Kenny is chasing after the construction worker’s son, who stole some of his stones. After being told to give them back, the son reveals that he threw the stones off the bridge and into the river. This makes Kenny sad as he runs away. While Kenny is away, that kid states that he is crazy, crying over a bunch of stones. Back in his room, Nora is trying to help Kenny get better as Kenny is lying in his bed.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that a series of strange events have been happening all over the world. All of these events are being blamed on one being….

Reed Richards???

No, not Reed Richards. They are blaming all of this on Gamera. In a meeting, the blame is officially being placed on Gamera. They give their reasons for this and basically admit that there may be more catastrophes coming. They then decide to execute a “plan Z” in response to Gamera. Meanwhile, back in the city, Gamera attacks once again. Gamera makes his arrival by crashing into a building. He basically gets up as if saying he meant to do that. At a dance club, young teens are dancing as the cops tell them they need to evacuate the building. The teens respond by rejecting them and saying that Gamera doesn’t scare them. They would regret those words as Gamera destroys the place and kills all of the rebellious teens in attendance. Gamera goes to town and in once scene Gamera destroys the new Toho Theater. Why is this important? Well, Gamera was done by Daiei Productions, who was a rival of Toho Productions (the people responsible for Godzilla). This was basically a way for Daiei to take a shot at Toho. It was a shot that Toho didn’t really recognize as anything more than a midget trying to hit a giant. It is basically the same approach WWE uses when TNA is trying to take potshots at them. Gamera then destroys Tokyo Tower as Dr. Hidaka and Prof. Murase watch on. We then see a room where Nora is getting ready to evacuate while Kenny looks on, Kenny basically makes a plea for Gamera to stop being bad. But of course his plea is met with deaf ears.
We then see shots of the devastation caused by Gamera which almost looks like it was ripped off of the movie Godzilla, King of the Monsters. We move to Nora, who is searching for Kenny. Back at the meeting room, Prof. Murase and Dr. Hidaka, as well as UN officials make the final agreement to use “Plan Z”.

As the first part of the plan, they decide to make a trail of fire in which to lure Gamera away from the city and onto a private island. Kenny sneaks aboard a train and has to be pulled off it before it explodes. Everyone is then forced to leave, including reporters. This doesn’t make Alex happy who wishes to stay. However, Kenny once again sneaks on board so he can get close to Gamera. Professor Murase is informed on base that Kenny has disappeared once again. The worries end as Kenny is caught and taken back to base, all while Kenny is trying to resist. He is taken to another part of the island where Dr. Hidaka and Catherine are at. Gamera is finally led to the island where the army is waiting to fire at him. A typhoon seems to coming which might ruin their plans, but they are able to get Gamera into their trap. The trap involves a steel ball on top of a rocket as the rocket is sent to Mars. Despite Gamera being defeated, Kenny seems happy that Gamera was not killed and even proclaims that he will be an astronaut one day so he can go to Mars and see Gamera as the movie ends.

There are several interesting tidbits about this movie. When it was originally released in the US, it was called “Gammera” instead of “Gamera”. This basically tells you that someone doesn’t know how to spell.

Another tidbit is that a monster turtle was not the original idea for this movie. In fact, Daiei wanted to do a movie about giant rats ravaging Tokyo. They even had scenes where they were using real live rats attacking and feasting on human dolls. However, this idea was scrapped when the studio started being infested by fleas from the rats. Now, while to you this may not be a big deal (besides the itching), I just want you to know that fleas on rats can give a very bad disease. The disease was responsible for killing between a third to two thirds of the medieval European population at the time. That disease is called the Bubonic Plague, but for those in medieval Europe, it was known as two words

Black Death

Gamera would make more movies in the Showa era before Daiei went bankrupt on the whole Gamera is the “friend to all children” move. In the Hensei era, the movies ended up being better and I can only attribute that to one things. They decided to make Gamera be an anti-hero. While Gamera was still defeating monsters, he would be destroying things as a threat to humans as well. Now a new Gamera movie is being made that will once again re-invent Gamera into the new Millennia. Hopefully it will be for the better.

Now let me just say that this movie had potential to be a good movie, but it was destroyed by the presence of that annoying brat named Kenny. I swear I have never understood the need for these little boys in these big roles. And what is even more disturbing that while this film didn’t have it, most of these monster movies consisted of young boys in very short shorts. Thank god for that.

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