DVD REVIEW: GAMERA VS. BARUGON (1966)

GAMERA VS. BARUGON (1966)

Starring Keisuke Hirata, Kyoko Enami and Koji Fujiyama

Directed by Shigeo Tanaka

Written by Nisan Takahashi

Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory’s commitment to releasing such questionable kaiju eiga as 1965’s Gamera vs. Barugon is admirable. Nostalgia has, after all, bestowed upon Gamera, Japanese studio Daiei’s answer to Toho’s Godzilla, only a modicum of the respect and appreciation that the Big G gets. That said, the terrifying terrapin is still considered one of Japan’s best known giant monsters.

Set months after the original, Gamera improbably returns to Earth, having been rocketed into space at the end of 1965’s Gamera. But the giant turtle must play second fiddle to his new arch-nemesis Barugon, a non-descript monster from New Guinea brought to life by the shenanigans of a cabal of Japanese businessmen who think that the opal they are recovering from the island’s forbidden jungle will bring them fortune; instead they bring forth an egg which, once inadvertently treated with radiation (which one conspirator is using to treat his athlete’s foot), gives birth to Barugon, a creature which normally comes forth only once in 1000 years.

Much stompy-stompy upon the shores of Japan ensues, with Gamera taking on Barugon twice, although Barugon’s freeze-action tongue immobilizes our terrible turtle for most of the film’s 100-minute running time. The acting is terrible, the English dub reveals some ridiculous dialogue, and the clichés of Japanese monster movies are firmly established, including obstinate military men, awkward man-in-suit battles and awfully convenient logic, as when New Guinean Karen (Kyoko Enami) just happens to reveal Gamera’s weakness, after he’s already pounded half the island.

Shout! Factory presents the film in a pristine anamorphic transfer which doesn’t increase its quality but does make the experience that much more pleasant than watching it on commercial television late at night, broadcast from the local Buffalo station. Then again, that was pretty fun. (Being 8-years-old helps the cause).

Rating: 2/5

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