Gamera vs. Barugon Shigeo Tanaka

Gamera vs. Barugon Shigeo Tanaka
Humanity must have felt pretty cocky when it managed to lure Gamera (the nuclear-mutated flying turtle) into a spacecraft that launched him off Earth at the end of Gamera the Giant Monster (1965). Alas, early in Gamera vs. Barugon (1966), we learn that while drifting through space, the spacecraft collided with a meteor, unleashing Gamera and making him more powerful than ever. You know what they say about best-laid plans. In Gamera's second cinematic adventure, released just six months after Gamera the Giant Monster, our hero mostly plays second-fiddle to Barugon, who the DVD liner notes helpfully explain is "a nightmarish cross between a monitor lizard and a chameleon […] born every 1,000 years, according to legend, from an egg resembling a large opal," which a group of explorers remove from a cave in New Guinea's Valley of Rainbow. Unfortunately for them, Barugon has been mutated by infrared radiation and quickly grows into an 80-metre, Osaka-destroying rubber monster, who, true to his place of origin, shoots deadly rainbows from his horns. Who will stop this rubbery menace? Well, "always in search of vaster sources of heat and light energy, Gamera was immediately aware of Barugon's rainbow," notes the narrator. At this point in the series, Gamera had not yet evolved into his role as "friend of all children," and Gamera vs. Barugon spends a little too much time on drab adult melodrama. Still, once the two monsters finally start duking it out over the intricate, seemingly endless scale-model version of Osaka, trifling matters like plot and character are the last things on my mind. Seen for years only in muddy pan-and-scan prints, this gorgeous widescreen DVD reveals Gamera vs. Barugon to be arguably the slickest entry in the series: Barugon's rainbows, Osaka's sleek model cities and the lush, just slightly fake-looking New Guinea jungles pop off the screen in vivid colour. The film's unusually high production values actually enhance the cheesy delights of Japanese monster cinema: Barugon's huge, painted eyes, with their unmoving pupils and barn door-like, blinking eyelids, can be appreciated in crystal clarity. DVD extras include scholarly commentary by kaijû experts August Ragone and Jason Varney, photo gallery and publicity materials. (Shout! Factory)