Friday, July 2, 2010

my appreciation of Gamera

(this intro originally was written for a full Gamera movie series review for Scary Monsters magazine that I never was sent in.  it did end up being used for the VHS release of Gamera vs Guillon, AKA Attack of the Monsters in 2000.  Yuasa-san shook my hand and thanked me for writing it.  

I have updated this a bit, and for those of you wondering why I don't use the term "kaiju" at all, well, in the mid-70s most kids in America would never have heard that term.)

By the time I was 8 years old, I had watched every movie that had aired on local tv.  I had also seen one or two in the theater and several other monsters movies, both Japanese and American.  I knew their names, origins and major battles.  I'm sure most of this knowledge took up valuable space in my brain that should have been used for useful thinks like math, but how important was that?  I was well on my way to becoming an expert on giant monsters.

So imagine my chagrin, when visiting some cousins in West Virginia, one of them asked me if I liked Gamera.  "Who?" was my reply. He found it difficult to believe that I, self-professed monsterologist, didn't know who "the friend of children" was.  Not only did I not know who Gamera was, I didn't know what he looked like, what his powers were or even what he was!  what kind of monster professor was I?  well, Fate (and the glorious Channel 3) came to my rescue a few months later.

during my usual scouring of the TV Guide for any movie remotely monster related, I found a listing for a film called Attack of the Monsters.  I was showing on Sunday about 11 AM.  there was no blurb, so I had no idea what to expect.  After getting home late from church (it is rather hard to convince grown ups to hurry and leave because one needs to get home and watch a monster movie- I should have old them the Broncos were playing!), I turned on the set in time to see a silver flying monster fighting a knife-headed monster on an alien planet while two lucky boys looked on.  WOW! this was cool!  and not five minutes later either Tom Akio invoked the name "Gamera"... and he appeared! now I had three new giant monsters to add to my list.

evil beast Guiron!
I watched the rest of the film in rapture.  by the time Gamera had defeated the awful beast Guiron and the evil space women, I was a fan.  Back in the pre-VCR days you had to absorb as much of a movie as you could in one setting, as a particular movie may never be shown again.  the images in this movie were quite indelible: the monsters, the spaceship, even the futuristic buildings of Terra were etched into my brain. I even remembered the name of the kids, even though the movie was never shown in my area again.

(since this was written over ten years ago, many things have changed, including being able to own Gamera movies complete and uncut, some with dual languages.  who knew back in 1974 this would be possible?)

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