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Gamera vs. Barugon (a.k.a., War of the Monsters) (1966).

March 9, 2009

The Scoop:
The flying turtle madness continues!

Let’s move on to the second installment in the Gamera franchise, “Gamera vs. Barugon.” This time around not only is the action in color, but Gamera also makes the leap from nuclear-spawned menace to friendly protector of the Earth, just like Godzilla did in his series a decade earlier.

The bad guy role is filled by Barugon, a four-legged dinosaur/lizard/dog type thing who shoots a hilariously non-menacing rainbow ray from his back, and who can also freeze things with his tongue. Quite the odd combination, but trust me, this is one of least strange things we’ll see in this series.

Some treasure hunters set the plot in motion when they bring a giant opal back to civilization, only to discover that the opal is actually an egg. Pretty soon, out pops Barugon, who proceeds to stomp the crap out of the parts of Tokyo that hadn’t previously been stomped in the other kaiju movies. Finally, Gamera shows up to put the critter in his place.

On the human side we get the usual roles we’re used to seeing in these movies — committed scientist, bland girlfriend, rigid military brass, etc. They’re played ably enough by the likes of Kojiro Hondo, Kyoko Emani, Yuzo Hayakawa and Takuya Fujioka, but there’s really not much for them to do. Even Gamera doesn’t get much to do other than show up at the end to lay the smack down.

This is pretty much the Barugon show from start to finish, resulting in what is easily the most boring of the Gamera series.

Best Line:
“That monster destroys everything with his tongue!”

Side Note:
The original Japanese title is “Daikaiju Keto: Gamera tai Barugon” (literally translated, “Giant Monster Duel: Gamera Against Barugon”). When American International Pictures bought the film for U.S. distribution in the late 1960s, they cut 14 minutes of footage and retitled it “War of the Monsters.” In the 1980s, Sandy Frank secured the video distribution rights. He restored the missing footage, redubbed the dialogue and retitled the whole thing “Gamera vs. Barugon.” So which version should you see? Frankly, it doesn’t really matter since the missing footage is so yawn-inducing, it doesn’t actually detract from the movie. But it sure makes it go by quicker.

Companion Viewing:
Any other Gamera or Godzilla film you can get your hands on.

1,000 Misspent Hours.
The Shrine of Gamera.

Take a Look:
Not too many clips or info online on this one (it’s got a much lower profile than the other 1960s Gamera movies, mostly due to its quality), so here’s the first part of the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” treatment. Click through for more:

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