31 (Japanese) Monsters #8: Gamera
For every Coke, there’s a Pepsi. For every Betty, there’s a Veronica. And for every Godzilla, there must be a…
|Monster Island Nickname||Gammy|
|Hails From||The Arctic|
|Movies Appeared In
(not counting stock footage)
|Hobbies||Befriending Children, Frisbee Golf|
Gamera is weird. There’s no getting around that. He’s not just a giant, prehistoric turtle; or a giant, fire-breathing, prehistoric turtle; or even a giant, fire-breathing, rocket-propelled, prehistoric turtle. Gamera is a giant, fire-breathing, rocket-propelled, prehistoric turtle who hangs out with kids.
At first, it wasn’t his idea. You see, there was this little boy who loved turtles. Everything was turtle this and turtle that until his folks–in a desperate attempt to fight off madness–ordered him to release his tortoise into the wild. Wouldn’t you know it, that’s when Gamera showed up. And naturally our chelonphiliac child assumed that the 60-meter-tall reptile who just smashed the lighthouse in which he was standing was his pet all growed up. There could be no other explanation.
And so began the relationship between a flame-belching behemoth and an entire generation of Japanese children in creepily short pants.
Other things of note about the Gamera films:
- They were cheap, even by the standards of the giant monster subgenre.
- They were gruesome. Gamera was frequently pierced, spewing geysers of blood. A favorite trick of his monstrous opponents was to impale his limbs, leaving him incapable of retreating into his shell.
In the ’90s, Gamera made a comeback in a surprisingly good trilogy of films. Reconceived as the bioengineered product of an ancient civilization, he was the guardian of Earth…but not necessarily of mankind.