Gamera (大怪獣ガメラ?, lit. Large Monster, Gamera), also known as Gamera: The Giant Monster or Gammera, the Invincible, is a Daikaijū Gamera1965 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Daiei Motion Picture Company. It was released on November 27, 1965.
The film is similar in nature to the popular Godzilla films, and is also the first in a series of films about Gamera. It was one of the five Gamera films to be featured as episodes of the Mystery Science Theater 3000.
The film opens with Gamera's awakening from the unintentional detonation of an atomic bomb during a dogfight between American and Russian fighters. Like other "giant monster" movies, Gamera wastes no time in causing a rampage of destruction, first destroying a research ship, then making his way to Japan to wreak havoc. In an attempt to stop the monster, Gamera is sedated and vast amounts of dynamite are placed under him. The explosion knocks the monster on his back and it seems as though the problem has been solved. This is not the case, however, as Gamera reveals his ability to fly. A second plan is devised to stop the monster, this time by baiting him into a rocket that is to be launched to Mars. The plan is successful and Earth is safe from Gamera.
While Gamera does share many similarities with other "giant monster" films, especially the Godzilla series, it does contain one notable difference. At one point in the film, Gamera saves a small boy named Toshio Sakurai (renamed "Kenny" in the English version from Sandy Frank Productions) from death after knocking down a lighthouse. This leads the young boy to conclude that Gamera is not really destructive, but merely misunderstood and out of place in the world. This is a concept that would be seen in many monster movies to come.
- Japan - November 27, 1965
- United States - December 15, 1966
- Spain - June 1967
Gamera: The Giant Monster was the only film in the original Gamera series to be released to American theaters. It was originally presented in America by World Entertainment Corp. and Harris Associates, Inc. who released it under the title Gammera, the Invincible, with two "m"s. All subsequent entries in the series spelled the main character's name "Gamera," and were released directly to television by American International Productions Television (A.I.P.-TV). Gammera, the Invincible's American premiere was in New Orleans on December 15, 1966.
Gammera, The Invincible was heavily re-edited from its original Japanese version. Shots and scenes were moved around, while some were deleted completely. New footage featuring American actors was spliced in to create a more international feel and to replace scenes shot in Japan featuring American characters, in a style similar to the U.S. release of Godzilla, King of the Monsters!.
Added scenes in Gammera, The Invincible featured American stars Albert Dekker and Brian Donlevy.
Gammera, the Invincible was dubbed by Titan Sound Inc. It features the voices of Jack Curtis and Peter Fernandez, who are best known as voices in the English dubs of Speed Racer and Ultraman. Titan Sound Inc. was also responsible for dubbing the original U.S. Versions of Ebirah, Horror of the Deep and Son of Godzilla.
The Differences between the JP and US version are...
- The film was dubbed to English
- Added New American actors into the US version.
- Also the scenes featuring the American actors in the Japanese version are completely removed, and replaced with the new American actors that were added for the US version.
- Added shots of Gamera during the scene of Gamera attacking the nuclear reactor that were most likely removed from the original JP version.
- The music that was playing in the dance party was replaced with new music that was made by "The Moons" for the film.
- The Daiei logo is replaced with a World Entertainment Corp logo
- Also the music that played in the beginning of the JP version was partly removed because it played when the Daiei logo appeared which it was replaced by the newly added music theme made by "The Moons", but it goes to the original music that was playing when the World Entertainment Corp logo disappears
- The Ending theme from the JP version was partly removed when the scenes showing the rocket at the sky that has Gamera inside in it starts appear, which was replaced the newly added theme made by "The Moons"
- Added more Gamera roars into some of the scenes that didn't have those added roars in the original JP version.
During the 1980s, Sandy Frank re-dubbed and distributed the Gamera series on VHS for home video (This was the version used for the Mystery Science episode).
The Sandy Frank version, titled simply Gamera is the Japanese version of the film dubbed into English. It does not contain any of the edits or added footage from the Gammera, The Invincible version. The only change is the opening credits, which replace the originals, with new ones electronically laid in over a stock shot of the ocean. Four of the other Sandy Frank Gamera releases have the same footage.
This, along with all the other Sandy Frank Gamera movies, was mocked on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Said episode from Season 3 was released in 2011 as part of the Volume XXI box set of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD box sets by Shout! Facotry (dubed the "MST3K vs Gamera" set) which contained all five Gamera episodes of the show.
In 2010, Shout! Factory released the movie on DVD as Gamera: The Giant Monster, which was the original unaltered Japanese movie in an HD transfer with new English subtitles, and in full anamorphic widescreen. The DVD came packaged with a 12 page booklet featuring an essay by director Noriaki Yuasa. The DVD also had a publicity gallery, audio commentary, and a retrospective of the Gamera series. Shout Factory has since gone on to re-release the other Showa era movies with the original Japanese versions, and both English dubs included.
- The World Entertainment/Harris Associates cut of the film, entitled Gammera, The Invincible, contains one shot of Gamera not in the original Japanese version or the Sandy Frank dub. It is a wide shot of Gamera attacking the nuclear reactor.
- This film is the only film in the Gamera series where Gamera does not fight another monster.
- This film is also the only Gamera film to be shot in black and white.