For two years, yours truly had the honor of gracing the Tokyoscope section of Otaku USA with my column, “R5 Central”–named after the podcast that I host and produce. (Now currently on college-induced hiatus!) This last year saw the ending of said column, due to the growing need for space, wrapping up with my take on the Kamen Rider Decade movie, All Riders VS Dai-Shocker. However, one more installment of the column had in fact been written before I got the news; a look at Gamera: The Super Monster, the one film of the Showa Era series that rarely gets mentioned. Due to varying factors through, it ended up not seeing the light of day…until now! Considering the subject matter, I figure it’s only fitting that I post this on OUSA.com as a “Lost Episode”.
Submitted for your approval…..
EPISODE 12: (Please) Destroy All Super Monsters!
Original Airdate: 10/2009
There exist films that are so horrid, so ridiculously bad, yet so obscure that nobody dares speak of them in broad daylight. Hercules in New York, The Skull Soldier, these are movies that you wouldn’t believe existed if you saw them on the racks of the local rental shop-There’s a freaking Gamera movie that was made in the 80’s that I never heard about! Sorry to cut myself off there but I found myself doing a double take when I landed a copy of the 1984 compilation extravaganza, Space Monster Gamera or as fans refer to it, Gamera: The Super Monster. This obscure gem was recently released in a boxset and as such, I found myself privy to viewing it. I still haven’t figured out whether I actually enjoyed its overall badness, or if I’m just traumatized.
Desperate to save the studio, Daiei concocted this monstrosity. Reusing footage from several Gamera films and tying them together with a loose storyline, it (spectacularly) failed and became the stuff of legends. Super Monster tells of three “Space Women” from Nebula M88. They find themselves targeted by the Space Pirate Ship Zanon, which just so happens to look like the Imperial Star Destroyer from Star Wars with wings on the side. Zanon wishes to colonize the planet for its people, a seemingly peaceful plan, save for the fact that it wants to accomplish this by mowing down the cities of Japan with giant monsters. Our only hope? Well, certainly not the Space Women as they’re effectively useless. Seriously, they have no weapons, sleep in a transparent micro-sized lunchbox, and any time they try to use their powers, they get shot at from space! Nope, Earth’s only hope from these monsters (that attack through dated stock footage) is young Keiichi. A wicked Hammond organ player, Keiichi’s true love in life is the exploits of Gamera, best expressed in his self-written Gamera March….which you’ll be hearing for the rest of the movie. Through weird Space Woman super magic, Keiichi’s pet turtle is transformed into Gamera, fighting back with stock footage of his own.
Why should you care about Gamera: The Super Monster, let alone nurse a desire to seek it out? There are several reasons: One, Space Hammond Organs. Because apparently, aliens use them to make cars fly and open dimensional doorways. Honestly, I think the writer was picked on as a kid for playing them, then became determined to make them cool at any cost. Think about it, if you were a kid and saw that Hammond organs meant you’d meet hot space women and bring monsters into existence? Yeah, you’d probably want to get lessons ASAP.
Reason Two, because it comes off as a pop culture cipher that wore out its welcome a long time ago. That’s right, it’s the Kaiju version of Family Guy. How? Let’s go down the list–In the first ten minutes, Keiichi and his friends are ogling over chapters of Kochi-Kame and Kinnikuman that have Gamera references. They even visit a policeman who bears a striking resemblance to the lead of Kochi-Kame who makes a very lame joke. Later on, Koiichi has a dream that Gamera faces off against–and make sure you’re sitting down for this one–Space Battleship Yamato. Animated and WITH BGM! It’s topped later when Gamera passes by Galaxy Express 999 stock footage. Truly, a special effects masterpiece.
Lastly, the ultimate reason to see this? Mach Fumiake is in it! Yep, the Japanese Women’s Wrestling superstar makes another obscure film appearance, topping Norifumi Suzuki’s The Great Race. Remember how the Space Women were useless? Well as if to redeem the film, Mach comes face to face with an agent of Zanon and manages to brutally mop the floor with them. Even better, the agent is beaten so badly, she accidentally shoots herself in the knee with her own gun! The only thing that could have made that cooler is if she exploded.
Truly, monster fans everywhere must experience this at least once. That said, there are some merits to Gamera: The Super Monster. Even though it failed in its overall purpose, it introduced a new generation of kids to the Showa Era Gamera series. It’s like Daiei’s version of Ultraman Story, the compilation film that might as well have been a commercial for future VHS releases. If you find yourself with an opportunity to watch this movie, do so, and make sure you have a room full of people so you can share in the nightmare together. Because that’s what these movies are all about, scaring away your friends.
Until the next, Gamera died for your sins.