Rewatching the Gamera movies! Gamera vs. Gaos (1967) introduces Gamera’s most famous rival, and it features several classic Gamera-isms.
Here’s what happens: A group of farmers are unwilling to relocate to make way for a new freeway. This is complicated when Japan is wracked with mysterious volcanic eruptions, unleashing giant monster Gaos into the world. After Gaos and Gamera battle a few times, scientists determine that sunlight is harmful to Gaos, so a plan is hatched to keep Gaos distracted long enough to keep in the sun. When that fails, it’s all up to Gamera.
Nice gams: As the movie begins, it’s been two years since anyone has seen Gamera, and there’s a lot of speculation as to where he went and whether he will return. Gamera’s return is ambiguous. Was he hibernating at Mount Fuji alongside Gaos? Had he traveled there from parts unknown, drawn to the volcanic energy? The movie doesn’t say.
Turtle power: Gamera draws his limbs into his shell, and then rolls down a mountainside like a huge bowling ball to crash into Gaos. When injured, Gamera goes to the bottom of the ocean to heal.
Big baddie: The story goes that producers originally wanted to make a Dracula movie, therefore Gaos drinks blood (!) and he’s vulnerable to sunlight. Gamera and Gaos are evenly matched. They can both fly, and Gamera’s fire breath is as powerful as Gaos’ laser breath. Gaos’ best move, however, is the power to generate city-destroying gusts of wind with his wings.
Hapless humans: Our hero is intrepid reporter Okabe. He sneaks onto restricted land to investigate the volcanic eruptions, discovering Gamera’s underground hiding place. He pretty much disappears after the first act.
Kid stuff: Eichi is a kid who follows Okabe onto the volcano site, and Gamera rescues him during the first battle with Gaos. Eichi and Gamera seem to develop a psychic bond after that, with Eichi speaking on Gamera’s behalf in front of the adult soldiers and scientists.
Thoughts on this viewing: I liked this one! It finds a pretty good balance between the action movie stuff with monsters and fighting and humans trying to science their way out of it, and the kid-friendly stuff with a child bonding with the giant turtle. It’s got some surprisingly blood scenes, but also some goofy slapstick humor.
Next: When aliens attack.
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