Old Japanese kaiju movies are infamous for being some of the cheesiest movies of all time. If you talk to someone unfamiliar with something like the Godzilla franchise, the first thing that will pop into their heads will practically always be two dudes in rubber costumes smashing around a toy set. Unfortunately, while they do ignore some of the more artistic values some of these movies have, I can’t exactly tell them that they’re wrong.
But when it comes to cheese, no kaiju exemplifies it more than the giant flying turtle and friend to all children: Gamera.
The Gamera series is one I’m not super familiar with. While I watched the Godzilla movies to death as a kid, I discovered Gamera only a few years ago in my sophomore year of high school. And frankly: I’m super glad I did.
Because before that, I never thought that a series could be more fucking ludicrous than the Showa era of Godzilla.
This franchise is absolutely bat shit crazy. Seriously, if you’ve never seen it, I’d highly recommend you check it out just so you can see some of the crazy shenanigans. And if you don’t feel like picking up a copy of one of the films, don’t worry: Mystery Science Theater 3000 did a few episodes on some of these.
Once again: I cannot say they are undeserved.
Let me give you a basic synopsis for the backstory of Gamera. See, a long ass time ago, the Atlanteans discovered a way to create life using Mana, the life force of the planet, and decided to play god. But instead of creating something that wouldn’t be scary and horngry (horny and hungry, that was not a typo) for murder, they created giant flying laser shooting murder birds. So how do they combat this deadly threat?
By creating a giant plasma breathing turtle who can fly by retracting his limbs into his shell and blasting plasma out of each gap to spin through the air. Also he really likes human kids, despite being afraid of humanity’s ability to destroy shit. Because fuck it, it’s Japanese! He can be a giant hippie turtle! We ain’t gotta explain shit!
Yeah, these movies are bit shit fucking crazy. And yes: I fucking love them! They’re so absurd that you can’t help but point and laugh. Like the time that Gamera fixed a broken UFO by… sticking the two broken pieces together with his bare hands.
Because that’s how it works.
Or how, in some of the later films in the franchise, humans gain the ability to read Mana levels with the help of… a Sega Dreamcast. Because… why not? I mean, I knew that thing was a head of it’s time, but damn. Why can’t my PS4 do that?
It becomes even funnier when you consider that he wasn’t some nothing kaiju that only had one or two movies before being forgotten. No, this guy was huge. Hell, he competed with Godzilla himself in the box office multiple times! This dude competed with the King of the god damn Monsters! That’s amazing to me.
And yet the two have never crossed over in an official movie…
Now, I can’t lie. These movies aren’t exactly good by any means. The visual affects, even by the standards of the sixties and seventies, are really bad. The sets, costumes and visual effects (lasers and other things like this) all look super fake and bad. Compare this to the poor but still believable effects in the classic Showa era of Godzilla films, such as the much better suits of most of the movies (I said most, not all), and it’s clear which of the two kaiju had a bigger budget.
Plus, the messages of these movies are stupidly simple. While Godzilla deals with the complex moral issues of nuclear weapons and atomic energy, Gamera’s themes can be boiled down to one simple sentence: “Be nice to the planet because it’s the one you live on.” It’s not a bad message, especially since these movies are clearly marketed towards children, but it’s not one that will make you think longer than a few seconds.
Still, while they don’t look great and they aren’t super complex, these movies are definitely still a blast to watch. They are so cheesy and dumb that you simply can’t have a bad time watching them. If you need a good laugh and you’re in the mood for a classic kaiju flick, the Gamera series is definitely one to look at.
Who knows? Maybe Legendary will pick it up and we can finally have that Godzilla VS Gamera movie! I’d fucking kill to watch that movie! I want to watch Godzilla turn him into turtle soup dammit!
Though I don’t think the kids would appreciate that…