In Gamera: The Giant Monster, a gigantic, fire-breathing turtle awakens. He leaves his arctic prison and sets his sights on destroying Tokyo.
In short, Gamera: The Giant Monster is an enjoyable knockoff of the classic Gojira/Godzilla movie. It’s enjoyable, but not dreadfully original. However, it did spawn seven sequels, so it definitely improves over time. Also, it should be noted that this is strictly a black-and-white movie, unlike its’ sequels.
Gamera, the Giant Monster begins with a Cold War conflict. United States military fighters launch an attack on enemy bombers (presumably belonging to the USSR). This causes the detonation of an atomic bomb on one of the aircraft. The nuclear blast awakens Gamera from suspended animation in the ice. Meanwhile, a Japanese research team stumbles upon an Inuit tribe in possession of an ancient stone etching. It depicts a giant turtle, which the tribe refers to as “Gamera”.
Soon after, Gamera’s on his way to Japan, proving his destructive force and near-invulnerability. There are two things that separate him from the various other Godzilla knockoffs. He consumes flammable materials such as oil. And, he rescues a young boy, Toshio, from falling to his death.
Toshio loves all turtles, and now considers Gamera to be his special friend. He goes as far as to smuggle himself aboard, to warn Gamera of the scientists’ plans to stop him. Gamera is vulnerable to cold, at one point being frozen and knocked onto his back. But the fire-eating turtle also shoots fire from his limbs, rotating and flying through the air like a flying saucer. But his appetite for flammable materials has given the scientists and idea …
They use a trail of flammable materials to lure him to “Plan Z”. A trap to trap and launch the turtle to Mars. It actually succeeds, and the movie ends with Toshio and the various scientists waving goodbye. And Gamera flies towards Mars … until the sequel.
Editorial review of Gamera: The Giant Monster, courtesy of Amazon.com
Shot in black and white, this 1965 Japanese monster movie was the Daiei company”s answer to Toho”s famous Godzilla series. A skirmish between U.S. and unknown “enemy” planes results in an atomic explosion over the Arctic which unthaws and unleashes the giant flying turtle Gamera, who eventually settles into Japan to wreak havoc while seeking out hydro-electric sustenance. However, this fire-eating (and breathing) behemoth displays a compassionate streak when he saves the life of a young boy who nearly falls to his death from a toppled lighthouse.
Panicky scientists and military officials vainly try to find ways to destroy Gamera while the boy seeks to bond with his misunderstood reptilian hero. Like many of its celluloid Japanese monster brethren, Giant Monster Gamera has not aged all that well, but the well-staged and photographed assault on Tokyo makes for festive mayhem. Overall the film is good entertainment for young kids as well as the inner children of the adults who grew up on these monster mashes. –Bryan Reesman