Taken from my website Slasher Movies Uncovered. For more awesome movie reviews, go to http://slicendiceslasherfilms.blogspot.com
Are you one of those people that gets all gushy at the sight of a turtle? If so, your opinion might be changed after your first encounter with "Gammera." "Gammera the Invincible" is a 1966 film from Japanese director Noiaki Yuasa, and it tells the story of a killer turtle that tries to take over Tokyo. I personally find this movie to be one of the most enjoyable monster flicks of all time because of it's awesome action, great creature, and hilarious elements of creativity.
To start the movie off, there was just about the campiest and most hilarious theme song ever. "Gammera..... Gammera.... Gammera." When this happened I was laughing so hard, and was drawn into the movie immediately. After this, the movie randomly goes to some Eskimos, and then a second later at a military base. Personally, even though this fast pace is mildly hard to follow, it also is kind of symbolic to the panic taking place in the scene. It also makes things more interesting. In the military base, the leaders are informed by the Air Force that the world is under "Red Alert," because of threat of atomic warfare, and that they need to take action right away. As all of the planes fly around, the scene cuts to a sheet of ice that breaks from the explosion, and out of it comes "Gammera," a giant turtle that will take over the Tokyo as revenge for this interruption his two million year hibernation. Now the people of the world must fight for their lives, or be done forever.....
While this movie is basically a "Godzilla" copycat, I really still thought it was cool in its own way. I think that the fact that "Gammera" is a turtle is quite hilarious, because in our real world, the animal is the most harmless and slowest creature, yet in this movie, it has the capability of making the world Hell. I also like that there is a reason for the monster terrorizing the world, instead of just doing it for the film. Something that is also original about the character is that he can make himself look like a UFO and fly. I like this a lot it adds to the campy outrageousness of the movie, and helps out stand out from its inspiration. The movie has a political undertone like the former film, but in this one, it is much more isolated and conflict driven. In "Godzilla," the monster's attacks were just a trigger to memories of the 40's in Japan, but in this one, there is actually war taking place, and the fighting actually caused the problems with Gammera. The For all of these reasons, I personally had more fun watching this movie than "Godzilla."
In movies, the military meetings are often very boring for me, because of their lack of emotional connection. In this movie, this was different for me, because it was all very interesting. I like the fact that the leaders are skeptical about "Gammera" being real, because it makes the movie authentic since the idea of this creature is also unlikely in our society. It is also cool to see everyone butting heads, since they're from all over the world. This shows some cultural diversity in the movie that wouldn't be dared shown very often in the era.
The acting in the movie is good for what the movie is, but not anything special. I think it is pretty amazing that all of the actors could keep a straight face while talking about the turtle, because honestly their lines are so hilarious that I would've broke. Everyone also gives a lot of emotion in their performance, and definitely put a lot of effort into their job. Albert Dekker was the standout for me as "Secretary of Defense," because he portrayed a tough man that can get things done very well.
Watching the movie, I really appreciated practical effects even more than before. Gammera's costume was so cool, because even though it is a man in a suit, I would never believe it since he looks gigantic compared to everything else. This camera work was very skillful in my opinion, and I feel that is is much more impressive than using CGI to get things done. The scenes where the character fly are also pretty sweet for its time, because even though it's very fake, it still has a nice and vintage look that people like me really appreciate. The action scenes were pretty fantastic in the movie, because they were full of destruction, and the monster showed a lot of threat. Buildings crashed, and fire flew through the air, and I was highly impressed in all ways.
The climax of the movie is very cool, because it portrays the military doing everything they can to dispose of this monster. While Gammera is obviously the villain, these scenes really gave a little bit of empathy for him, as the viewer doesn't want him to do(nor does some of the characters). These scenes are very action packed, and full of laughs the whole way through, and they kept me excited constantly. I thought that the ending was pretty awesome, because it was extremely outrageous and absurd, yet it was exactly what was needed for success.
"Gammera the Invincible" is definitely not a cinematic masterpiece in any standard, but it is one of the most enjoyable movies ever. There are so many moments where I was sucked in by the action, and laughing at the goofiness of the filmmaking. I definitely recommend this movie to all fans of the classics, because it is one of the greatest monster movies of the "golden era."