Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Gamera: Super Monster

Cinema Monolith: 1/10 The Monolith
IMDb: 3.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 26%

Released in Japan on March 20, 1980 and in the US on May 7, 1980
Not rated
92 minutes

Directed by Noriaki Yuasa

Written by Niisan Takahashi

Cast: Mach Fumiake, Yaeko Kojima, Yoko Komatsu, Keiko Kudo, Koichi Maeda, Toshie Takada, Hiroji Hayshi, Makoto Ikeda, Kisao Tobita, Toru Kawai, Reiko Tajima, and Ted Thomas as the Narrator

Back when I was a kid, you could usually find me camped in front of the television on Saturday afternoons, enjoying whatever science fiction and horror films my local channels were kind enough to throw my way…including those cheap monster movies imported from Japan, featuring the likes of Godzilla, Rodan, the evil three-headed Ghidorah, and even Mothra and her pair of pint-sized fairy guardians. But one that was not so captivating, and considered silly even by my five-year-old standards, was the flying turtle with jet-propulsion legs known as Gamera.

Now, flash-forward a handful of decades, and here I am watching a Gamera movie again…only to discover they’ve devolved into something much, much worse. Made as a cash grab by Daiei Film, a Japanese company on the verge of bankruptcy, this eighth installment in the Gamera series – and the first in nearly ten years – was deficient and cut-rate in just about every way, and looked it: silly, sloppy, poorly edited, haphazardly dubbed, and injected with enough stock footage of military jets, volcanic eruptions, and scenes from prior films to make Ed Wood drool with envy.

And then there was the story, which along with the stock shots and English dubbing could best be described as either hilarious or criminal, depending on your mood and level of patience. An alien overlord, intent on taking over the Earth, sets his sights not on Tokyo, but on the smaller city of Nagoya instead. Three women—one a pet shop clerk, one a school teacher, and the third employed at a Mazda dealership—receive a signal that alerts them to the impending danger. These ‘space women’ race from their jobs, change into identical super hero costumes, and proceed to do nothing.

However, the pet shop woman gives a young boy a turtle from her store, which either a) becomes Gamera, b) becomes Gamera in the boy’s dream, or c) is set free into a dirty industrial river and dies a slow death. Soon the overlord sends his own space woman down to supervise the attack, and instructs a rogues gallery of ridiculous monsters to fight Gamera, who of course do battle separately instead of all at once, and are defeated one by one. After a few more repetitive skirmishes between monsters, and a climactic catfight between space women, the boy ends up in bed with the evil space woman, and Gamera sacrifices his life in a fiery collision with a star destroyer, saving the world.

The Japanese monster – or kaiju – films of the 1950s and 1960s had an innocent, somewhat lame charm about them, but this one decided to ditch the charm and concentrate squarely on the lame. So what compelled me to watch it three times over the past few months? Well, besides to gather notes for this review, and the nostalgia factor mentioned above, and my twisted fascination with bad sci-fi and horror movies, this film was part of a DVD set containing two episodes of Movie Macabre, a late-night horror show I used to watch hosted by the wise-cracking Elvira and her two captivating co-hosts. Sadly, these short segments proved far more entertaining than anything the movie had to offer.

Which meant Gamera: Super Monster was nothing but a worthless mess, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find a reason to care about any of it. In fact, it made me wonder if young viewers, past or present, were just as put off by the story’s innocent stupidity as I was. And I was surprised to hear the use of profanity—a ‘damn’ here, a ‘hell’ there—in a Japanese monster movie I’d assumed was geared towards children. So because of this, I’m going to allow myself some profanity of my own: this was by far the shittiest kaiju film I’ve ever seen.  (1/10)

2 comments on “Gamera: Super Monster

  1. Christmas drinking I would very much assume being the reason for the zero after the 1 being left off this review? Had to be 10/10? Not 1/10? Hey! It’s got a flying mutant space turtle on the cover! Even the three matching super suit ladies are jumping stars of praise for this movie?

    Tee-Hee it does sound awful. I never heard of this one before. I thank you for your service in pre-warning us the lame errors of this film and I do hope, well I know they did, that “Elvira and her two captivating co-hosts” brought a big smile to your face.

    Welcome back Sir Todd of the Monolith.


    • Todd B

      And thank you, Master Mikey, for the salutations. And I must say, it was probably more Christmas eating than Christmas drinking that caused me to goof up that review score. It was supposed to be two 1’s, which in the world of movie reviews stops at 10, and cycles around to 1 again.

      And yeah, those “matching super-suit ladies” spent a lot of time “jumping stars” throughout that movie; it would’ve been okay to watch had it not been for the ridiculous sound effect that accompanied it each time. Lordy, it was worse than that damn kid yelling “GAMERA!” every five seconds!

      Okay, I’ve done my part…now it’s YOUR turn to watch it!


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