Gamera Vs. Barugon – DVD Review

The monster turtle returns for a second chance to make huge impressions around Japan. Kids who grew up watching the Creature Double Feature and Mystery Science Theater 3000 have fond memories of Gamera. He was an equal to Godzilla in the world of guys inside giant monster suits destroying cities made of model homes and remote control cars. Unlike Godzilla, Gamera had the ability to fly around in his shell like it was a space space ship. He was a rocket powered wrecking ball of a beast. For his second round, the producers brought the action in full color. Gamera Vs. Barugon finally gives him a giant monster to beatdown instead of pesky people.

The movie flashes back to the end of Gamera: The Giant Monster. Humans trick him into the tip of a rocket. He’s launched into space with the hopes that his shell shall never darken the Earth. However you can’t keep a profit earning monster off the screen. There’s a complication with the rocket that allows Gamera to head back to our planet. He recharges his energy by smashing up a hydro-electric dam. It’s a nice piece of destruction and carnage.

Unlike the other seven films in the original series, there’s no kid angle to the story. No Kenny annoyingly insisting that Gamera is a friend to all children. Instead a pack of explorers search an island looking for opals. Even though the natives warn them, they enter a cave to find a mega-huge opal. They’re rich although things go bad. Only one guy makes it on a ship leaving the island with the treasure. Turns out the jewel is an egg. Things go bad when the thief leaves it under an Arby’s heat lamp. Out cracks Barugon. The monster looks like a creepy alligator with a horn and backfin. Its evil powers include the ability to freeze objects it touches and shine a destructive rainbow from his backfin. This evil hippie reptile rampages Osaka.

The military thinks they can handle this new creature, but they get trashed like they’re merely remote control army toys. Their only hope is in luring Gamera to Osaka. Will the turtle do their dirty work? Can he handle being attacked by a rainbow? How much of Osaka will survive being frozen, burned and rainbow-ized? Gamera Vs. Barugon is a successful sequel since it ramps up the action. The extra minutes that were snipped for the American release makes this more mature than the average goofy monster stomp movie. This is the Godfather Part II of Gamera movies.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The color transfer is so much better than you’ve ever seen on your TV. Joel and the Bots wish they could have given us this cut instead of the nasty pan and scan. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono in Japanese. The levels are fine without out pops and crackles. The subtitles are in English. Not listening to a dub makes the movie more sophisticated than when it ran on the Creature Double Feature.

Audio Commentary featuring August Ragone and Jason Varney. They explain the turtle-mania with plenty of trivia about the production.

Photo and Publicity Galleries contain numerous lobby cards and a few shots of the mini-city sets.

Original Movie Program gives a sense of how the film was hyped in Japan.

Booklet contains anatomical drawings of the monsters and Kojiro Hongo’s essay about how he became a Gamera regular. This is more than mere chapter titles.

Gamera Vs. Barugon is an adult giant monster movie. Gamera the turtle returns to Earth with a chance to be viewed as a hero if he can take out the deadly rainbow spouting Barugon. This battle is filled with action and thrills without any annoying kids dominating the screen time.

Shout! Factory presents Gamera Vs. Barugon. Directed by: Shigeo Tanaka. Starring: Gamera, Kojiro Hongo and Kyoko Enami. Running Time: 100 minutes. Released on DVD: July 6, 2010.

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