Gamera The Giant Monster (1966)
“GAMERA finds the perfect intersection between silly and cool, looking both dangerous and ridiculous as he tromps around. He’s no Godzilla, but he’s got his own thing going on.” – The AV Club
With the giant success of GODZILLA in 1964, competing studios scrambled to cash in on the giant monster phenomenon. While on a flight over the ocean, screenwriter Niisan Takahashi saw an island shaped like a tortoise, and GAMERA, the petrol-guzzling, invincible flying turtle death machine was born.
An American jet fighter shoots down an aircraft above the artic which detonates its nuclear payload. Unbeknownst to the Americans, the blast awakens the ancient beast Gamera far beneath the surface of the earth.
Dr. Hidaka, a Japanese scientist on a research mission in the Arctic, consults with a local Inuit chief who explain that the giant mysterious creature recently sighted after the crash is an ancient creature called Gamera. Meanwhile jets of fire erupt from Gamera’s feet and he spins like a UFO to wreak havok on an unsuspecting Tokyo.
The low-budget production was plagued with disasters: ice trucked in for the Arctic scenes melted and flooded the studio, the spinning Gamera suit got caught up in electrical wires, burned and crashed and the 132 pound plaster and latex suit exhausted multiple prop department crewmembers. But director Noriaki Yuasa soldiered on, even taking special effects classes at night so he could extend the budget and shoot some of the effects himself.
GAMERA ended up being a huge success and spawned multiple sequels and TV series. Kaiju authority and PACIFIC RIM director Guillermo Del Toro puts GAMERA in his top five kaiju films of all time.