These are the first four Gamera films in their original Japanese releases, subtitled, no dubs and uncut. I am a fan of the Heisei trilogy of the late 1990's. Now I watched those movies first so I was already a Gamera fan before buying this set. I was well aware of their campiness, well more than campy, these films are absolute bonkers. The idea of Gamera is absurd. Think about it, giant turtle with tusks, breathes fire, and in the old films, he can fly through space. Not just fly, but fly IN SPACE! Not everyone can wrap their heads around that and it is one of the reasons why Gamera has enjoyed nothing more than cult status in the West compared to his more familiar rival from Toho. Supposedly Gamera is right up there in popularity in Japan second only to Godzilla. I will write a brief review for each of the four films
Gamera: Comparisons to the Godzilla films are inevitable in the first two Gamera films. The first film itself is not the best quality. The acting seemed phoned in. The black and white made Gamera look scarier, but he will look goofy soon enough and honestly, there isn't anything wrong with that. He is so much more lovable that way. The sets are amazing. Amazing. Like whatever money they did not spend on the suits and quality actors, they spent on the sets. Besides the FX scenes, the film would have been forgettable if not for it being the first Gamera film.
Gamera vs. Barugon: The main monster of this film is not to be confused with Baragon who first appeared in Toho's Frankenstien vs. Baragon, then Destroy All Monsters and finally Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant All-Out Monsters Attack. Basically they took the concept of Baragon, gave him a longer horn, shorter ears and changed the "o" to a "u" and they have another monster. Sure his look and name may appear to be a rip off, but his powers aren't. He has this freezing spray that ends up to be Gamera's weakness. He also shoots rainbows out of his back. Rainbows. So not only Gamera is absured, his foes are even crazier. Plot-wise the film is better. The main human villain is a complete a-hole. Sometimes more entertaining than the actual monster fight. Check it out
Gamera vs. Gyaos: Now these were these films start to come into their own. It is like the filmmakers realize that Gamera is an insane concept so they decided to make the films more insane. This one centers around a road construction by this volcano. It is very boring. Some guys are pissed because they are not getting their money, but who cares. The real deal is the fights. Oh my god this film has three monster fights. Gyaos is so B.A. The King Ghidorah of the Gamera series. The fights were brutal. Just brutal. I can't decide which of these four films I like better, this one or the next one I am about to review
Gamera vs. Viras: This is the first Gamera film to have children as the lead cast. The first and third film had a kid in it but they were never the lead. Just some annoying little punk shouting "Gamera!" all the time. You just want to slap them. I think it is better to watch these films in the mindset of children, you can enjoy them more. This one takes place mostly in space. Two kids get kidnapped by aliens because they realized that Gamera has a fondness for children, he is after all "Friend to all children" so they hold them hostage to control Gamera and have him destroy earth so they can take over. The final fight was crazy, I mean these were directed towards kids but they can get graphic. I guess it is okay if the monsters bleed in any color but red. There's a nice touching scene where two children have a race with Gamera. You will see what I mean about Gamera being lovable.
Overall, the picture and sound quality was as expected for a HD transfer. The best it can be. I just wish they had better subtitles. They looked like they were typed in a hurry and the font was hard to read. As much as I prefer watching these films in the original language, I wish they would have a dub audio option. I don't mind reading them but the dub can't be any more ridiculous than what I am reading. Anyway if you love Gamera or into those giant monster movies, check it out. They are fun, will make you laugh. Just turn your brain off, pretend to be a kid again and enjoy.