Wow. Watched the final episode of Stranger Things and I’m glad I stuck with it. The X-files/conspiracy/Goonies styled series gave way to a final episode that was pure monster movie. It ended fantastically, emotionally charged and well worth the time I put into it. At times during the season my interest faltered but the show always gave me something to pique my curiosity. The last few episodes were ramping up the tension but few series go all out monster movie style like the final show did. I’m glad I stayed with it to the end.
Gamera vs Buragon (1966)
Daiei Studios – aka: War of the Monsters (1966)
In Gamera’ s second film we get a recap from the original up to when the scientists had sent the big angry turtle into space in a rocket. The space capsule is immediately hit by a meteor and Gamera returns to earth in color, attacking Korobi hydro-electric dam. Then Gamera heads to a distant volcano and isn’t seen for another 40 minutes…really? Wtf?
We get a story about a band of reckless treasure hunters in the So. Pacific that invade a sacred cave, steal a sacred opal and bring a curse upon mankind. That curse is the dreadful monster Buragon. The evil leader of these hunters will not listen to reason, he wants riches only. Only he can save the world from its terrible, awful fate and rigged system…(oops! sorry got carried away there). Oh, and that opal, it wasn’t a rock, it was a rock lobster! I mean it was the egg from which Barugon hatches. The little guy is a cute son-na-bitch.
The big drawback in suitmation FX is usually four-legged Kaiju, but they do a fairly good job here at this lizardry wizardry, even providing the creature with a long battering ram tongue. The monster’s huge phallic tongue spews white frost on everything. Then the beast’s backbone horns light up and shoot an electric rainbow decimating all of Japan’s military missiles. They explode in premature evacuation, never leaving the launch pad. I know weird, right? Luckily Gamera sees the backside rainbow and rushes to the scene to defend mankind’s missiles.
We have a nice long tug-o-war battle between the monsters and the military’s scientific weapons until Barugon’s Rainbow is shot back up his own ass by a giant mirror, and he’s then killed by water…we must not be in Kansas anymore…Gamera wins the day by unfreezing, beating Buragon and dragging him into the bay. It’s a nice action-packed, old fashioned Kaiju battle at the end, the kind of scene I relished as a young lad.
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.
Rare and Obscure Dinosaur films
Tirano’s Claw (1994)
aka: Dinosaurs vs Cavemen
Tirano’s Claw is a South Korean film about caveman life with no dialogue, much like One Million BC. When one caveman’s love interest is about to be sacrificed to the tribes God, a huge Tyrannosaurus, he risks his life to save her, getting them both banished from the tribe. They battle a Pachycephalosaurus, a giant man-eating rat, and their fellow tribesmen as they fight for survival. There’s some nasty and grotesque scenes depicting the savagery of prehistoric life. The worst part is watching them eat. Despite its sometimes sub-par special FX it’s somewhat engaging as you root for the young couple to escape the clans relentless, and often silly/comical pursuit to bring them back to the sacrifice stone.
As far as dinosaurs are concerned, there’s a very rubber looking, man in a suit Pachycephalosaurus (slightly more realistic than Barney the purple dinosaur), a man-in-suit Pteronodon and a large animatronic Triceratops. However, the star of the show is a full-sized Tyrannosaurus, mechanical/animatronic dinosaur. I can imagine that this ungainly monstrous contraption most likely killed or maimed some of the stuntman making the film. Tirano’s Claw might only be enjoyable for Dinosaur completists, but I found it entertaining. For a long time it was very difficult to get your hands on a copy, but now you can watch the whole film on YouTube. see link(s) below.
Here we have a dinosaur film that did not shoot one frame of dinosaur footage for its own production. Every scene of dinosaur and prehistoric beast was reused footage from films that have come before, most notably, One Million BC (1940). The production got fairly creative with this, going as far as filming the characters (new footage) in the foreground over the reused footage in the background. They even use b&w footage of Rodan to stand in as a pterodactyl. The premise of the film is far-fetched. Two men about to have a gun duel are swept up by a comet colliding with earth. They find the comet has earth’s prehistoric life still living as it had been a million years ago. The men are attacked by a parade of lizards and reptiles posing as dinosaurs including, a skink, a gator, an iguana, a monitor lizard, and a snake. There’s even some armadillo mixed in with some fake mastodons and a mongoose. Well, the two men get separated and each makes friends with a separate tribe of humans. In the end they get the warring tribes to get along, shake hands themselves and make a new life with their respective new cave-girl love interests. One of the big draws to the film, especially for young men, was the underwater swimming scene with star, Joan Staley. This film is not at all important in the history or legacy of dinosaur films. However it is enjoyable in a train wreck, sort of hokey-silly-pseudo-science, way. I just wouldn’t go out of my way to find it.
a big draw for the film in 1961 was this scene…huba, huba!
Creature Features revisited – More Giant Monsters
Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)
The Giant Gila Monster (1959)
Actress Lisa Simone was a contestant for Miss Universe in 1957.
Texas Drive-in theater owner, Gordon McLendon produced this film and The Killer Shrews as second features to the main attractions he had at his theaters.
Danzig used the font from the movie posters for his album logos.
Clint Eastwood has a bit part as a pilot for the jet fighters that shoot at the tarantula at the film’s end.
Earth vs. The Spider (1958)
In a scene with a movie theater where Mike works at, you can see a poster for The Amazing Colossal Man in the Coming Soon display case and the Marque shows Attack of the Puppet People as now showing. Both are by Bert I. Gordon films.
parlor of horror – classic sci-fi/horror movie reviews
Horror Movie Poster art – Postcard Collection- Part II
From my personal collection – post card sized replications of all the famous classic films I love
The middle era horror films, 1960’s to 1980s, plus some non-horror flicks:
1960’s horror, sci fi and other!
1970’s and 1980s horror and sci-fi
My Clint Eastwood poster repros: