Gammera the Invincible (1966) Review
“The super-monster even the H-bomb cannot destroy…”
Synopsis: An atomic explosion awakens Gammera–a giant, fire-breathing turtle monster–from his millions of years of hibernation. Enraged at being roused from such a sound sleep, he takes it out on Tokyo.
Gammera the Invincible is a frankenmovie made out of the 1965 Japanese Gamera: The Giant Monster and some new footage largely starring American Army personnel. Archive footage from the Japanese flick is laughably dubbed and mildly tweaked to fit the new story, but the main difference is really the inclusion of the Americans. (What can I say, we like to feel involved!) Despite being cobbled together and fairly shaky, Gammera the Invincible and its titular giant turtle is entertaining and serves up obligatory kaiju smashing and pseudoscience in spades.
Most of the archival footage from Gamera: The Giant Monster centers around two plot lines: 1) Dr. Hidaka (Eiji Funakoshi) working as one of the scientists trying to combat the kaiju menace, and 2) the travails of little Toshio (Harumi Kiritachi) who is really, REALLY into turtles. (Cue “I like turtles” gif.) The pseudoscience involved in Dr. Hidaka’s plotline is fun, as it usually is in these types of movies – we get explanations for Gamera’s behavior and how he can eat fire – but I’ll be honest, Toshio is what made the movie for me. Kid almost gets suspended from school for being too into turtles, then spends the movie chasing after Gamera trying to convince him to be nice. I’m sold.
The new footage for this American release had a few surprising bright points as well. I don’t normally look for or expect wit in my kaiju watching, but I was pleasantly surprised by some of the repartee in the new scenes. (The news interview in particular is great!) Along with pseudoscience, we even get a scholarly analysis of Gamera, which I found quite fun.
As a whole, Gammera the Invincible is worth the watch if you’re into cheesy effects and giant monsters. Gamera goes on a standard kaiju rampage, but also eats fire and flies and is regularly mistaken for a UFO, which is never not funny. Add in funny – intentionally and otherwise – dialogue and laughably bad dubs, and you have a fun flick that’ll keep you shaking your head and smiling long after it’s over.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: C+