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Gamera:  Super Monster (Region 2)
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Box Front Japanese Title: Uchu Kaiju Gamera (ďSpace Monster GameraĒ)
Alternate Titles: Super Monster (international title)
Director: Noriaki Yuasa
Original Release Year: 1980
Running Time: 92 minutes

DVD Released By:
Toshiba / Daiei Video (Japan)
Video: Anamorphic widescreen
Audio: Japanese mono
Extras: Interview, filmographies, photo gallery, theatrical trailers, storyboard / model presentation of an unmade Gamera movie
Subtitles: None
Closed Captions: None
Region: 2
Format: NTSC
Chapters: 30
Packaging: Keepcase
MSRP: 4,700 yen
UPC #: 4988008040487
Catalog #: TKBU-5079
Status: Out of print.  (Was also available as part of the Gamera:  The Box 1969 - 1980 Box Set.)


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The Film: Darth Vaderís Imperial Star Destroyer approaches the Earth.  (Just kidding!  The hostile alien spaceship only looks like the Star Destroyer from Star Wars.  In fact, itís a direct copy and even does a slow pass over the camera as it heads off into the distance.)  Three women, Kilara, Marsha, and Mitan (a pet-shop owner, car salesperson, and teacher, respectively) turn into costumed superheroes to oppose the menace.  The alien sends his own superwoman to carry out his plans on Earth.

One day, a boy named Keiichi visits Kilaraís pet shop.  He is a fan of turtles and Gamera.  Kilara gives him a turtle as a gift.  His mother wonít let him keep it, though.  So, instead of kindly returning it to the shop, he lets it go in the river.

Monsters soon begin attacking the Earth.  Gyaos appears first, causes widespread destruction, and is defeated by Gamera.  Gamera continues to battle against numerous monsters that keep appearing:  Zigra, Viras, Jiger, Guillon, and Baragon, in rapid succession.  Gamera faces and defeats them all, in
strangely familiar fashion.  While this is going on, Keiichi befriends both the good superwomen, and (unknowingly) the evil one.

Eventually, the evil woman fights Kilara, is injured, and sees the error of her ways.  With no more monsters in Daieiís stable left to fight, Gamera rockets off into space for an anticlimactic showdown with the alien ship.

Gamera:  Super Monster is the final film in the Showa Gamera series.  Unfortunately, itís also by far the worst.  All of Gameraís fights with the other monsters are merely stock footage lifted wholesale from the earlier movies!  Godzillaís Revenge and Destroy All Planets were bad in this regard, but Super Monster sets a new low.  The amount of stock footage in this film is almost unrivaled.

As if that werenít bad enough, the new material isnít very good, either.  The optical effects are cut-rate.  Kilara is the only one of the three heroines who actually does anything; the others are superfluous.  The master alien is never seen.  Heís just a disembodied voice giving orders to his agent on Earth.  Keiichi is shown sleeping in the same room as his mother, and the way he talks about Gamera in his sleep with a big smile on his face is just creepy.  Later, he sleeps in the same bed as the injured evil alien woman!  WTF???  The heroinesí gizmos are activated by playing three simple, successive notes on an electronic keyboard.  Not only does the same sound get annoying, but it also seems like any schmuck playing around could accidentally hit the three keys and vaporize something.  The manga magazine
Shonen Jump is blatantly plugged by name.  As Keiichi and his friends flip through an issue, Kinnikuman (Ultimate MUSCLE in the U.S.) is shown.  Star Wars isnít even the only big-budget American film that gets ripped off.  Kilara taking Keiichi on a flight over the city at the end is right out of Superman:  The Movie.

Need I go on?  As much as I would like to say that this movie is so bad that itís good, itís not.  Itís just bad.  It's unfortunate that
Mystery Science Theater 3000 never got around to this movie; it really needs their intervention.  Itís sad that Gameraís career ended for a long time with this piece of dreck.  Itís also too bad that this disc is the only one in the collection that does not feature English subtitles.  Grade:  D

Video: Gamera:  Super Monster is presented in anamorphic widescreen.  Picture quality is variable, which is inevitable for a movie cobbled together from so many sources.  The various stock monster battles donít look as good as they do on their own respective discs.  Most of the new material looks good.  ďPeople scenesĒ are sharp and clear; effects shots are soft and grainy.  Is this the fault of the transfer, or poor special effects?  Pick one.  Grade:  B-

Audio: Audio quality is good throughout.  Japanese mono is the sole option, and all of the dialogue, music, and sound effects are reproduced faithfully.  There is no noticeable hissing, popping, or background noise.  An all-new Gamera song makes it debut.  (A dubious consolation prize for no new monster action?)  Grade:  A

Extras / Menus: This is the most feature-packed disc in the series.  All of the extras are in Japanese, with no subtitles.  First up, there are seven screens of text that appear to be cast and crew filmographies.  I canít read Japanese, so I canít tell for sure.  They can be cycled through back-to-back, or selected individually from their own submenu.  Next is a photo gallery that shows the construction of a Gamera suit.  It consists of 17 images.  The original Japanese theatrical trailer is included, in non-anamorphic widescreen.  There is also what seems to be a teaser trailer.  Presented in anamorphic widescreen, it consists entirely of monster footage from earlier Gamera films.  No new footage from Super Monster is shown, but it does include a few strains of the new Gamera song.

The most intriguing supplement of the entire series is on this disc.  Itís a segment devoted to a proposed, but unfilmed Gamera movie,
Gamera vs. Garasharp.  Garasharp is a giant green cobra with metallic horns and a whip-like stinger / drill on its tail.  The concept of the film is illustrated through a combination of conceptual artwork and models of the monsters.  It runs 3 Ĺ minutes, and is narrated in Japanese.  Apparently, after defeating Garasharp, Gamera saves its two offspring from the military and flies them to a deserted island.  At the end, another monster shows up!  This unnamed mystery kaiju has a pineapple-like body with a bird-like beak and long, spindly arms.  This segment is sure to be fascinating for all Gamera fans and kaiju enthusiasts.

Finally, there is a brief (3 Ĺ minute) interview with director Noriaki Yuasa.  This appears to be part of a larger interview that is spread across all eight Showa Gamera DVDs.  This particular segment is the longest of the eight, and
Gamera vs. Garasharp is discussed at the end.  All of the menus are still images with no music or sound.  Despite being entirely in Japanese, they are fairly easy to navigate.  Grade:  A (Even if you canít understand Japanese!)

Final Analysis: Gamera:  Super Monster is one of the most piss-poor kaiju movies ever made.  (The inexplicable lack of subtitles doesnít help, either.)  While I canít possibly recommend it, this disc does have some good supplements.  Diehard Gamera fans will want to see the Garasharp segment, but is that worth buying the DVD for?  Probably not.  Good thing itís included in the 1969 Ė 1980 box set.  More casual kaiju fans (who may only buy a few individual titles instead of investing in the boxes) can pass it by.  Final Grade:  C
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