It's hard to believe that I was already in college when this came out. Andthat I had to sneak away from the local art theaters to watch this at adowntown Saturday kid's special. Yes, as the dust of an atomic squabblebetween the US and the USSR settled and a man in a giant turtle suitclimbed out of the ice, I was stuffing my mouth with popcorn - with realbutter in those days.
The basic film is pretty simple minded. Japanese scientists investigatingEskimos witness an atomic accident that releases a giant turtle. After ashort flying tour of the world, Gammera descends on Japan and Tokyo for anextended lunch. An irritating young boy names Toshio races about tellingeveryone not to kill the terrapin from hell. Which is moot, since nothingcan kill him. Does the Earth get saved? Or is the turtle toast? I'm nottelling, but anyone who has ever watched a Japanese monster movie shouldhave no trouble guessing.
What I missed in my adolescent popcorn days was that Gammera is about 60%biting satire about scientists, news writers, and politicians (both US andinternational). It makes you wince a bit to realize that the filmmakershad no delusions about how silly we all are. And how many double standardswe have. There were moments when I wasn't sure if I was wincing at thehumor or the acting. The latter is classic Japanese sci-fi - awful.
The transfer is nothing to sing about, unfortunately. It looks like a copyof a copy. Which is probably exactly what it is. Even so films like thesehave a certain timelessness, like bomber jackets and BurmaShave signs. So,if you to once had a mouthful of popcorn on the Saturday matinee, I saluteyou. Some things never change.