In 1965, when King of the Monsters Godzilla had already starred in five movies and battled Anguirus, King Kong, Mothra, King Ghidorah and Rodan, a new kaiju hit the scene, a fella by the name of GAMERA, THE GIANT MONSTER. I respect Godzilla, and I concede that he beat Gamera to waking up in the 20th century, and to starring in movies. But we’re told in this movie that Gamera is from Atlantis, and though I’m no historian I’m pretty sure that means he was around before whichever dinosaur era the puny pre-radiation Godzilla came up in. Gamera is the O.G. He’s just a late bloomer.
The Gamera movies were created by Daiei, the studio founded in 1942 that produced Akira Kurosawa’s RASHOMON, Kenji Mizoguchi’s UGETSU and SANSHO THE BAILIFF, and also the Zatoichi, Yokai Monsters and Daimajin series. This one was clearly made to compete with or cash in on Toho’s popular Godzilla series, but that’s odd because it’s a black and white movie where one monster is awakened and attacks Tokyo, not another monster. By this point Godzilla had done three color films and had been fighting other monsters for a decade. And it wasn’t as if most films were black and white then – Daiei’s own Zatoichi movies had switched to color. Was this made for people nostalgic for the original GOJIRA (which was eleven years in the past at that point)? Were they trying to make sure the world had a movie like GOJIRA but not a total bummer inspired by the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima? And is doing that kind of like how KONG: SKULL ISLAND mimics all your favorite Vietnam War movies without all the horrors-of-the-Vietnam-War darkness? Uh, not really. They were just trying to save money. More on that later. (read the rest of this shit…)