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  Gamera the Super Monster Turtle RecallBuy this film here.
Year: 1980
Director: Noriaki Yuasa
Stars: Mach Fumiake, Yaeko Kojima, Yoko Komatsu, Keiko Kudo, Koichi Maeda, Toshie Takada, Hiroji Hayshi, Makoto Ikeda, Kisao Tobita, Osamu Kobayashi, Yûzô Hayakawa
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, Adventure
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: The spaceship Zanon glides through the inky void of space, seeking out new planets to conquer, and if they don't agree to being conquered, they will be destroyed. Unfortunately our world is next on their agenda, and they have sent an agent named Giruge (Keiki Kudo) to seek out any opposition to the alien schemes, not realising three space women are residents in Japan in disguise. Their leader, pet shop owner Kilara (Mach Fumiake) assembles her associates and they decide what to do, unaware that a small boy of her acquaintance, Keiichi (Koichi Maeda) may hold the key to our survival...

And so this marked the end of Gamera, or at least it did until he was revived in the nineties, for it was the contractual obligation movie as his studio Daiei had long ago been mired in financial troubles, necessitating the end of the giant turtle's franchise. But there was one film pending on the contract, so series director Noriaki Yuasa and writer Nisan Takahashi got the band together one more time to roll out their most famous creation in a blaze of glory. Or rather a half-arsed selection of stock footage from the previous films linked by an embarrassing plotline obviously cobbled together with as little care as possible.

Well, they had money matters to think about, so those intricate miniatures and men in rubber suits were replaced with shot on video special effects that would shame your average "make science fun" educational TV show for schools. Recognising the twin behemoths of Star Wars and Superman, the two blockbusters of the era, this attempted to have the audience believe they were watching something every bit their equal, and even better they were combined here as the statuesque Fumiake (actually a lady wrestler in her other line of work) and her partners performed a dance routine which enabled them to transform Superted-like into silver and red spandex - with accompanying capes.

They could fly as well, and lived in a magic camper van which could teleport them wherever they wanted to go - you can see how impoverished this was, but also why there were those who quite enjoyed its pitiful production values as some kind of camp classic. Maybe not classic, but at least a fitting end to a franchise which often drew its share of derision as the poor man's Godzilla. Speaking of which, in a frankly confusing development Keiichi, the little boy with the very big voice, bought a pet turtle like the ones in his beloved comic books then was coaxed by his mother into letting it go into the river - whereupon it grows into clips of the giant turtle we all knew. Whether this was to indicate Gamera was all in his mind was none too clear.

But if you wanted a handy collection in one easy to access place of all the battles with rival monsters Gamera had endured, then this did offer that as each of those setpieces, usually the grand finales of the films they hailed from, were presented as if the aliens were lining them up for the turtle to fight once again. Or are we watching Keiichi's memories of his favourite movies? Which included bits and pieces of anime made to look as if the rampaging reptile was kicking back of a morning and spending time watching cartoons. If you think this sounds mindbendingly "meta", as they say, then that's not really the way it played, as more often than not the shoddiness of the enterprise worked against it with a thrown together, "will this do?" air about the proceedings. The alien spaceship was even a copy of a Star Destroyer from the George Lucas epic, with its own fly past at the beginning. Not a noble way for Gamera to go out. And he does go out. Music by Shunsuke Kikuchi.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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