Gamera the Invincible

Director: Noriaki Yuasa

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Gamera the InvincibleThe first Gamera film Gamera the Invincible, 1966 (Daikaiju Gamera, 1965) is the only one in black & white. The b/w cinematography somehow makes Gamera look more "serious" than in the installments that would soon follow in living color, despite that the FX are even lower grade than in early Godzilla films.

For the first half of the film, the only thing original about Gamera is he's a turtle & thereby even goofier than being a dinosaur. Just about everything he does in this film is same-old-same-old that Godzilla & other monsters had already being doing over at Toho studios, & Daiei studios just wanted in on that commercial action. The seed of the later Gamera as the friend to all children is here, but mainly he's a model-stomping monster-suit who will destroy things until a way is found to stop him.

But the first time it was revealed that Gamera could pull his arms & legs inside his carapace & turn into a whirling flying saucer-like spinning fiery disc, that one-upped Godzilla's abilities, & must've been awesome to the film's first young audience, though taken for granted in sequels.

Gamera the InvincibleA Russian Atomic airplane crashed in the Arctic in Eskimo country, & the radioactive explosion splits open the ice & releases Gamera the giant fire-eating & energy-eating turtle who walks upright like Godzilla.

Gamera sets off for Japan where he performs standard destroy-everything-in-his-path routines, while Japanese defense troops try to bomb, burn, or electrocute Gamera. Everything makes the turtle stronger.

Meanwhile a little boy has been forced to turn his pet turtle loose by mean parents who think their kid is too weird & shouldn't play with turtles. He ends up seeing Gamera's arrival on Japanese shores while turning his own pet loose. He runs up into a light tower which Gamera soon knocks over, but when the giant turtle sees the cute li'l boy about to be killed by a fall, he catches the boy in his enormous front foot & sets him down safely.

In later episodes Gamera will be much more overtly the Friend of Children & responsive especially to the needs of small boys. But this isn't a big focus of the first film, for after Gamera saves the boy, the monster pretty much just goes on a rampage, until he is tricked into entering the cone of a giant rocket & gets blasted off into outer space.

The okay cinematography makes the stomping & destroying sequences, including the destruction of a nuclear power plant, as interesting to watch as such silly films ever are. It's a nice wee family film, unlike episodes that followed that were aimed primarily at the youngest members of the audience exclusively.

For another Gamera film, see:
Destroy All Planets; aka, Gamera vs. Viras (1968)

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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