Gamera, The Giant Monster (1965)
A nuclear blast in the arctic wakes a mythological turtle from its frozen depths. It attacks power plants absorbing the energy released by their explosions. We follow a group of scientists as they try and devise ways to combat this ferocious enemy. We also follow the story of young Toshio, who loves and collects turtles. He lets a turtle go back into the wild on the same night Gamera attacks the nearby lighthouse. When Toshio looses his grip on the upper landing of the building, Gamera seems to be somehow aware of his kind treatment to his brethren and saves him from falling to his death. When Gamera attacks Tokyo, the boy tries to go talk to him but is stopped by workers at the fuel plant.
There is a great amount of destruction in this film as Gamera smashes buildings in Tokyo, power plants, and the airport. In the end Toshio is happy the scientists devise a plan that doesn’t destroy the creature, but instead sends it into outer space.
Shout Factory did a marvelous job with the DVD including a documentary interviews featurette in the special features and a great Gamera booklet in the case that features the story of Gamera and a detailed diagram of the beasts biology, showing the fuel sacs that enable it to fly, absorb and breath fire, and to turn raw energy into biological food. From the doc we learn that Gamera was filmed in B&W because of its budget restrictions. In order to build the massive sets to compete with Godzilla, the money had to be saved in other areas. Daiei Studios took a big chance filming without colour when it was by then the industry standard. The b&w works well for the film, masking some of the costume and set flaws as well as giving the feel of the original Japanese Kaiju.
Although this first feature is set up as a classic sci-fi film, the connection between Gamera and young Toshio garnered a loyal following from children throughout the world. Daiei Studios seized on this youth popularity aiming it’s future films more to children and having great success with it.
Gamera is the one of the oldest/longest running popular franchises only behind Godzilla, James Bond and the British “Carry-on” comedies. The new planned film for 2016/17 would be the 14th film in the franchise. Daiei Motion Picture Company and now is currently owned by Kadokawa pictures.