Thursday, February 18, 2010

G-FAN Magazine # 38 "Gamera Takeover"

It took us years to get our hands on a copy of Gamera 3 (The Revenge of Irys/Incomplete Struggle), but the online marketplace that is ebay provided the opportunity at the right price (given the film's "out-of-print" status), so at long last we were finally able to view the movie that some have called "the greatest kaiju film ever made."

In light of such effusive praise, it is somewhat intimidating to render a personal verdict--but here it is anyway. Gamera 3 is an incredible work, highlighted by jaw-dropping, utterly convincing special effects. It is a rare monster movie in which the plot is more than just filler between creature scenes--for in truth, the kaiju are used sparingly. It puts a memorable exclamation point on the modern Gamera trilogy and withstands (or is it "invites"?) repeated views. Having said all that, I cannot bring myself to christen it the "Greatest Kaiju Film Ever." There are at least five films I would rate ahead of G3 on that list. The bottom line for me is that G3 suffers for the brevity of monster action. The kaiju sequences in the film are brilliant. A preliminary bout between Gamera and Irys--or a more kinetic final battle--would have made a "best of all time" rating harder to argue against. As it is, G3 is a classic, and is the kind of movie you are compelled to talk about after watching (provided you can find someone who would like to talk to you about an awesome giant turtle movie). With its mythic underpinnings, one can definitely see how the "Kaneko touch" transferred to GMK a few years later.

G-FAN #38 is the perfect companion piece to G3, with no less than 25 pages of thoughtful and wonderfully illustrated coverage of the film. Ed Godziszewski and Norman England provide definitive commentary and reaction to the 1999 release, and England explores the promotion of the film's Japanese debut in a thoroughly intriguing article. (An exhibition took place in the very Kyoto train station "demolished" in the film.)

There is an abundance of fan artwork in this issue, as well as engaging fiction by Skip Peel and J. Christian Grymyr (the latter of which is a concept spun off of an MST3K sketch about Gamera!). Factor in a J.D. Lees review of Gamera on VHS and a Gamera-themed merchandise report, and you have what might be the most Gamera-centric G-FAN ever published. Issue 38 is required reading for those who wish to fully enhance their G3 viewing experience.

In a bit of happy Gamera serendipity, the word is out that Shout! Factory will be releasing the original Gamera films on DVD beginning with Gamera the Giant Monster Special Edition in May of this year. What's more, August Ragone (author of Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters) will be preparing booklet material and audio commentary for the film. For more info check out his blog at

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