Gamera: The Complete Collection (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Sep 14, 2020
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Gamera: The Complete Collection (Blu-ray Review)

Director

Various

Release Date(s)

Various (August 18, 2020)

Studio(s)

Daiei Film/Toho/Kadokawa Corporation/Shochiku Company (Arrow Video)
  • Film/Program Grade: See Below
  • Video Grade: See Below
  • Audio Grade: See Below
  • Extras Grade: A+
  • Overall Grade: A+

Gamera: The Complete Collection (Blu-ray Disc)

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Review

Giving the Godzilla films a run for their money, the Gamera series has fewer entries but a very appreciative fan base the world over that has stuck around since the original film’s premiere, which was later ported over to the US in a re-edited and re-dubbed version. Consisting of twelve films, Arrow Video has put together a massive eight-disc Limited Edition boxed set, complete with various versions of each film, a mountain of bonus materials, and impressive swag.

In 1965’s Gamera, the Giant Monster, the titular towering tortoise is set free when a bomb is dropped in the Arctic, unleashing it from its icy prison. It makes its way to civilization where it begins laying waste to everything. Meanwhile, a young boy with a turtle obsession tries to convince everyone that Gamera is not a monster at all, but a misunderstood animal. After the scientists and military personnel of the world fail to defeat it, they put their heads together and try to find a way of stopping it without killing it.

A giant hit in Japan, Gamera, the Giant Monster was later recut for American audiences, even shooting new scenes, and released on TV as Gammera the Invincible (intentionally misspelling the name). Of the three versions available—the original Japanese version with Japanese and English dubbing and the American version—the original Japanese version is by far the best. The English dubbing is absolutely atrocious and the scenes added into the American version stop the story dead in its tracks. On the other hand, the English dubbing on the American version is actually superior—especially as it pertains to Toshio, who is much less annoying comparatively.

In the 1966 follow-up, Gamera vs. Barugon, three men head to a remote island where a hidden treasure is said to be located. Though the villagers warn them to stay away, they proceed anyway and find what appears to be a large oval-shaped jewel. Unfortunately, it turns out to be an egg housing the monster Barugon, which after it hatches, grows to an enormous size and begins reeking havoc wherever it goes. Seemingly impossible to stop, Gamera returns unexpectedly and fights the monster to the death.

Gamera vs. Barugon wasn’t as successful financially upon release, despite having a larger budget. Most of the film’s focus was on the melodrama between its lead characters and the monsters take a backseat for long stretches. It was later recut by American International Pictures and released in the US on TV as War of the Monsters, which streamlined the film and included a new English dub. As such, there are three distinct versions of the film: the original Japanese language version, the same version with English dubbing, and the more efficient AIP version. Of the three, the best is the original Japanese version, but with reservations concerning the story.

In 1967’s Gamera vs. Gyaos, Gamera’s latest enemy emerges from a cave near a construction site. A large, bird-like creature that can only come out at night, Gyaos is seemingly unbeatable. A young boy points out that Gamera—who saves him during an initial clash between the two giant kaiju—can stop the monster under the right circumstances. After scientists fail to come up with a plan, all eyes are on Gamera to save them before Gyaos decimates them completely.

Ditching many of the qualities of the previous film but also bringing back the director of the original (Noriaki Yuasa), Gamera vs. Gyaos is a better sequel that pushes the gore envelope often, with both Gamera and Gyaos gushing heaping amounts of green and purple blood during their battles. The focus is also shifted more towards the monsters, leaving little room for the melodrama that pervaded the previous film. Released in the US on TV under the title Return of the Giant Monsters, it’s one of the most entertaining films of the Showa era.

Continuing the series’ success in 1968 was Gamera vs. Viras. In this entry, which is the shortest of all the Gamera films released in Japan, an alien race led by a large squid-like monster called Viras has come to Earth to destroy its inhabitants and make use of its resources. Its spaceship runs into Gamera, and after their initial battle, it manages to take control of its mind to do its evil bidding. Meanwhile, two troublesome boys from a boy scout troop are kidnapped by the aliens and held for ransom in exchange for Earth’s surrender. All life depends on Gamera regaining control of his mind and saving the human race from destruction once again.

If there’s any doubt that the Gamera series wasn’t aimed at children, Gamera vs. Viras (and the subsequent sequels) would be all the proof you need. Now they’re front and center, directly taking part in the action and cheering for Gamera on the sidelines. The monster action doesn’t occur until the film’s final half hour, but even so, it’s some of the best that the series has to offer thus far. The film was released in Japan with a running time of 72 minutes, but when it finally premiered in the US on TV through American International Pictures under the title Destroy All Planets, it was expanded to 90 minutes. This version padded the film with monster fight footage from previous films. Unhappy with this, the film’s director later oversaw an 81-minute intermediary version that incorporated the same footage, but less of it. All three versions are available here.

Following in 1969 was Gamera vs. Guiron, the fifth film in the succession. In it, two young boys stumble upon an unmanned spaceship and decide to go on board. As one boy’s younger sister watches, the ship takes off and heads into space, landing on the unknown planet of Terra. There they discover a monster called Guiron, which defends the mostly uninhabited world at the command of two alien beings, Barbella and Florbella. Sensing danger, Gamera heads for Terra, even as the younger sister attempts to inform the adults of the boys’ whereabouts.

In Gamera vs. Guiron, the entire focus of the film is on the children, and most of the adults are either in total disbelief (despite the events of the previous films) or they’re simply not present. It received perhaps the largest amount of attention by Mystery Science Theater 3000, particularly due to Gamera’s horizontal bar swinging, his theme song, and the incredibly awful English dubbing—roundly considered to be the worst of the entire series. It’s also one of the most violent entries. Guiron, a monster with a blade for a head (one of the neater-looking monsters), slices and dices another monster like a pot roast. When the film was released on TV in the US as Attack of the Monsters, that moment was excised, yet the success of the series continued.

Hot on its heels in 1970 was Gamera vs. Jiger, which was released in the US as Gamera vs. Monster X. This time around, a construction site on an island in the Pacific features a large statue that is being removed. Beneath it emerges the monster Jiger, which heads for land and begins destroying everything in its path. Gamera reappears to stop it, but not before it can impregnate Gamera with its young. Two young boys take a small submersible into the water where Gamera is out of commission temporarily and make their way inside to locate the problem. But whether or not they can reawaken Gamera before Jiger brings about more destruction is another matter.

Not much has changed substantially in Gamera vs. Jiger as the plot is still solely driven by the actions of two children. In fairness, Gamera being removed from the equation in such a bizarre fashion is certainly a fresher approach than Gamera simply getting injured and having to recover until the last minute. At this point in the series, the repetitiveness is beginning to show, particularly when it comes to the kids’ involvement and their irritatingly constant cheering for Gamera, regardless of what language they’re speaking.

The last in the series to feature the original model and suit of the jet-propelled super turtle,1971’s Gamera vs. Zigra, features yet another plot about aliens. This time, a beautiful woman aboard a spaceship takes two children and their fathers hostage. After escaping, the woman heads to Earth in search of them. Meanwhile, her spaceship resides underwater, threatening the Earth if it doesn’t bow to its demands. Gamera appears and the ship morphs into the giant sea creature Zigra, leading to another a battle to the death between two titans.

The quality of the Gamera series drops dramatically in Gamera vs. Zigra. The company producing these films, Daiei, was going bankrupt at the time and the people making the film scrounged every last bit of energy to get it finished. It was unfortunately not picked up for distribution by American International Pictures, meaning that the film never saw the light of day in the US until many years later. It’s also the only film in the original series to try and have more adult-oriented appeal as the young woman from the spaceship appears in a bikini, albeit briefly. Though shot mostly on location at Sea World in Kamogawa by a tireless cast and crew, nothing can save it from its mediocrity.

The final film of the Showa era, 1980’s Gamera: Super Monster, offers a plot that features three magical space women who have come to Earth to ensure peace. Secretly hiding their identities, they become aware of an orbiting spaceship containing the alien Zanon who wishes to enslave Earth, sending an evil space woman down to infiltrate and learn more about the Gamera monster. In the process, Zanon also sends all of the monsters from the previous films to destroy the Earth, but Gamera always stands in their way, particularly at the request of an obsessive young boy.

If it isn’t painfully obvious, Gamera: Super Monster is basically a repackaging of the monster battles from movies past. It also incorporates elements from many popular films of the era, including Star Wars, Jaws, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Additionally, it uses footage from the anime TV shows Space Battleship Yamato and Galaxy Express 999. If the previous film was hell for its makers to produce under such terrible working conditions, this film must have been a complete nightmare. Easily the worst of the original run, it was also the last for its long time director Noriaki Yuasa, who helmed all but one of the Gamera films.

Fifteen years would pass before Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe would emerge in 1995, which was a major success and began a new trilogy of Gamera films. Essentially a reboot, the story involves researchers who discover an ancient statue on an oceanic atoll with markings that hint at the return of Gamera. After three Gyaos creatures being to appear, one of them grows to an enormous height and threatens to take over not just Tokyo, but all of Japan. Although the military doesn’t initially realize it, Gamera returns to defeat Gyaos and save Japan.

Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe is definitely one of the best Gamera movies overall. Despite puppets and men in suits still being utilized, the story moves quickly and the special effects are much improved over their lower budget 1960s counterparts. Gyaos was also given a slight makeover to make it much more menacing, and the whole idea that Gamera is a friend to children has been dropped. In fact, children play no role in the outcome of the plot whatsoever. The film was a huge hit in Japan and won many awards the world over, later being declared by many as one of the greatest kaiju movies ever made. As such, the Heisei Trilogy was born.

Next in line was 1996’s Gamera 2: Attack of Legion. A meteorite has landed, spilling forth a large number of oversized, insect-like creatures that are attracted to electricity. Along with their host, a colossal kaiju called Legion, they’re making their way through Japan, leaving a wake of destruction and chaos in their path with no clear way of stopping them. Flying in to help is Gamera, who has yet to reveal a secret power that will help stop Legion, but this time he’ll be assisted by the military in bringing it down.

It’s interesting that ten films into the franchise, the sole focus of a Gamera film is finally the monsters. In that regard, Gamera 2: Attack of Legion is one of the more clinical entries, ejecting all of the personal drama and devoting more time to scientists and the military trying to figure out what to do. It’s also one of the more stylistic entries, with faster cutting and employing the use of still frames for emphasis. Horror elements are also introduced, even bloodshed. And the final battle between Gamera and Legion is one of the more satisfying payoffs in any Gamera film. With its success firmly established, the door was left wide open for another film.

Ending the Heisei Trilogy in 1999 was Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris. Going in a completely different direction than any of the previous films, the story involves the young Ayana, whose parents were accidentally killed due to Gamera. Traumatized by the event, she goes to live with another family, but never finds peace. She comes across a hidden cave housing the egg of an ancient creature, which is meant to be guarded by a young boy from a nearby family. Meanwhile, armies of Gyaos monsters continue to terrorize not just Japan, but all of the world, with Gamera barely able to keep up. Under Ayana’s care, the creature hatches from its egg, fuses with her, and grows to an enormous size, consequently going after Gamera for personal revenge.

Many of the cast members, as well as the director, from the previous films return for this final installment. One of its more interesting moments is a sequence in which we follow people on the ground as Gamera and a Gyaos battle each other. Mostly seen from their point of view with the monsters towering over them, people running and screaming in every direction, and endless fire and debris falling from the air, it’s one of the most effective sequences in any Gamera film. It also explores what the effects of living in a world with such monsters would be, which is where the Ayana story comes in. Unfortunately, the various story threads get more complicated and it winds up confusing at times, making the film drag. It doesn’t help that when other characters are trying to discover what’s going on, we as an audience already have the answers. Regardless, Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris did well upon release and closed out the trilogy while differentiating itself from the previous entries.

And finally, the light at the end of the turtle, 2006’s Gamera the Brave, which is the final Gamera film as of this writing. 33 years prior, the original Gamera committed self-sacrifice by exploding itself and destroying its adversaries, thereby saving Japan. In present day, a widowed father and his young son Toru are slightly estranged from one another and still grieving over the loss of his mother. On a nearby island, Toru discovers a baby turtle, naming it Toto, and raises it in secret with his friends. Meanwhile, the Japanese government is looking to disband their giant monster studies division, even as reports of nearby ships being mysteriously destroyed are coming in. Toto grows into a large Gamera-like creature with the ability to hover and breathe fire, and Toru can no longer keep him a secret. Soon the kaiju Zedus appears and it’s now up to Toto to defend Japan, but Toru must see to it that his pet doesn’t commit the same sacrifice as its predecessor.

Gamera the Brave takes what could be a terrible premise for a monster movie and actually succeeds in making it work, partly due to strong performances, but also because of what it doesn’t do. It has the feel of an American remake made by Roland Emmerich (complete with a single dad left to raise his young son), but focuses more on its characters than its set pieces (which do not even occur until the latter half of the film). What brings it down slightly is its dodgy CGI and music, the latter of which has a strong resemblance to video game scores like The Legend of Zelda—feeling out of place in an otherwise authentic aesthetic. And if this is to be the final film in the Gamera franchise, it’s ending is a fine love letter to the films of old to go out on.

The presentations for all twelve of the original Gamera films were sourced from 4K restorations carried out by the Kadokawa Corporation and provided to Arrow Video. Other 16 mm and 35 mm elements were resourced from MGM, Shout! Factory, ADV Films, Media Blasters, and the UCLA Film Archive to complete the English language versions that are also included. Unfortunately, the original camera negative for Gammera the Invincible could not be accessed legally, so a 35 mm print was scanned instead that utilizes elements from the Japanese masters to fill in missing shots.

Gamera, the Giant Monster features a pleasant black and white presentation. Grain and detail tend to breathe slightly during certain sections, but everything appears natural. Brightness and contrast levels are ideal while blacks are deep with good shadow detail. Minor damage is present, limited mostly to scratches and speckling. The images aren’t always perfectly sharp, depending upon the element utilized. Occasional Japanese subtitles, all burned in, are present during English-speaking scenes. Gammera the Invincible, which is available in the extras menu, is less impressive visually. It’s a strong, organic presentation, but the original element shows more obvious leftover damage. It also incorporates footage from the main feature to complete it.

Gamera vs. Barugon features a strong color presentation of the film. Grain levels are even throughout and detail is often high. Occasional softness crops up due to opticals, but everything is as it should be. The color palette offers a nice variety of hues, including the green and purple blood of both Barugon and Gamera. Black levels are deep and brightness and contrast levels are ideal. No major damage is present other than minor speckling and the image is stable throughout. War of the Monsters (also found in the extras menu) has been constructed using elements from the main feature. As such, the opening and closing titles are the only aspects of its presentation that are less than stellar. They lack the same clarity and fine detail, but also contain obvious leftover damage. The rest of the presentation is otherwise excellent.

Gamera vs. Gyaos also features a potent color presentation, replete with high levels of detail. Colors are often bold, offering less variety that the previous film, but still jumping off the screen. Blacks are deep while brightness and contrast levels are mostly ideal, though a few shots which may have been taken from a lesser source, have crush to them. Minor damage is mostly limited to speckling, though the aforementioned lesser source is a tad more damaged.

All three versions of Gamera vs. Viras are derived from the same excellent master. They are similar to their predecessor, but with a bit more variety in the color and less crush to the blacks.

The presentations for Gamera vs. Guiron, Gamera vs. Jiger, and Gamera vs. Ziger are of similar quality, though a few opticals are dirtier compared to the rest of each film. Their color palettes are rich and varied like the previous films and black levels are deep with good shadow detail. Grain levels are mostly even, though the aforementioned opticals soften things a bit when it comes to detail. No major damage is leftover other than mild instability in a few shots.

Gamera: Super Monster is the most compromised presentation of all because of how it was shot. A video to green screen system was used for all of its special effects, which are of considerably lower quality visually than the rest of the feature. As such, they stick out dramatically. But the rest of the footage, like most of the previous films, is quite good. Mostly even grain levels, excellent color, deep blacks, and high levels of fine detail are all on display.

Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe, Gamera 2: Attack of Legion, Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris, and Gamera the Brave all look excellent. Some of the special effects work, including the composites and CGI work don’t hold up all that well in high definition, but the rest of each presentation is solid through and through. Grain is well attenuated while black levels are inky deep with very little to no crush. The color palettes don’t always offer an enormous variety, but skin tones appear natural and contrast levels are ideal. They’re all clean and stable as well.

The audio for Gamera, the Giant Monster is presented in both Japanese and English mono DTS-HD. The Japanese audio is much fuller than the English dub, with higher treble and more even sound. Gammera the Invincible features an English mono DTS-HD track only. The audio is limited, even containing a couple of dropouts, but it’s easily discernible.

Gamera vs. Barugon and Gamera vs. Gyaos feature Japanese mono and two English mono tracks (AITV and Daiei), all in DTS-HD. Again, the Japanese audio has more life to it over the other tracks, and sounds a bit more natural as well.

Gamera vs. Viras features audio in Japanese mono and English mono DTS-HD. The English track is much tinnier, but the dubbing isn’t too bad. The Japanese track, again, is more natural comparatively.

The audio for Gamera vs. Guiron features Japanese mono and two English mono tracks (AITV and Daiei), all in DTS-HD. The Japanese and AITV (American International Television) English mono tracks are on par with each other, though the Japanese track has bit more low end to it. The Daiei track is severely limited.

Gamera vs. Jiger features audio in Japanese and English mono DTS-HD. The English dubbing is a tad louder, but the quality is similar. The Japanese track offers less treble.

Gamera vs. Zigra, which carries the same audio options, appears to have been pieced together using a couple of different audio elements. At times, the Japanese audio is bright, and at other times not so much. The English dub is more even throughout.

Gamera: Super Monster also features audio in Japanese and English mono DTS-HD. The English dubbing is of much lower quality. Otherwise, the sound effects and music are identical on both tracks. It should also be noted that each soundtrack from the Showa era has its share of hiss, but it’s mostly mild and never intrusive.

Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe features audio in Japanese 5.1 and 2.0, English US 5.1 and 2.0, and English UK in 2.0, all DTS-HD tracks. The multitude of options really push this film’s presentation over the edge. All of the tracks have an abundance of fidelity to offer, even if the English dubbing is not always perfect. Explosions and monster sounds are given much more depth in 5.1 while dialogue remains consistent.

Gamera 2: Attack of Legion, Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris, and Gamera the Brave all feature audio in Japanese 5.1 and 2.0, and English 5.1 and 2.0, all DTS-HD tracks. Like the previous entry, it’s the quality of the options that give these films their aural strength, whether it’s the large explosions, atmospheric activity, the score, or simple dialogue exchanges.

Each film also features subtitles in English as well.

GAMERA, THE GIANT MONSTER (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B-/B/B
GAMMERA THE INVINCIBLE (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C-/C+/B-
GAMERA VS. BARUGON (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C/B+/B+
WAR OF THE MONSTERS (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C/B/B
GAMERA VS. GYAOS (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B/B+/B+
GAMERA VS. VIRAS (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B-/B+/B+
GAMERA VS. GUIRON (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C+/B+/B
GAMERA VS. JIGER (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C+/B+/B
GAMERA VS. ZIGRA (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C-/B+/B-
GAMERA: SUPER MONSTER (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): D-/C+/B
GAMERA: THE GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B+/A-/A+
GAMERA 2: ATTACK OF LEGION (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B+/A-/A+
GAMERA 3: REVENGE OF IRIS (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B-/A-/A+
GAMERA THE BRAVE (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B/A-/A+

The following extras are included for each disc and film:

DISC ONE – GAMERA, THE GIANT MONSTER

  • Audio Commentary by August Ragone
  • Introduction by August Ragone (HD – 13:12)
  • Gammera the Invincible (HD – 85:41)
  • Gammera the Invincible Theatrical Trailer (SD – 1:35)
  • Gammera the Invincible Theme Song (HD – 4:08)
  • Remembering the Gamera Series (SD – 23:13)
  • Interview with Noriaki Yuasa (HD – 13:11)
  • Gamera Special Part 1 (SD – 29:52)
  • Gamera Special Part 2 (SD – 28:20)
  • Sandy Frank Version Credits (SD – 5:11)
  • Japanese Trailer (HD – 1:58)
  • US Video Promo (SD – 1:03)
  • Image Gallery (HD – 77 in all – 12:50)

DISC TWO – GAMERA VS. BARUGON

  • Audio Commentary by August Ragone and Jason Varney
  • Introduction by August Ragone (HD – 7:57)
  • War of the Monsters (HD – 88:45)
  • American International Version Credits (HD – 1:17)
  • Sandy Frank Version Credits (SD – 2:09)
  • Japanese Trailer #1 (HD – 1:13)
  • Japanese Trailer #2 – Texted (SD – 2:38)
  • Japanese Trailer #2 – Textless (HD – 2:31)
  • Image Gallery (HD – 129 in all – 21:41)

DISC TWO – GAMERA VS. GYAOS

  • Audio Commentary by Stuart Galbraith IV
  • Introduction by August Ragone (HD – 9:12)
  • American International Version Credits (HD – 1:17)
  • American International Alternate Footage (HD – 1:10)
  • Sandy Frank Version Credits (SD – 4:34)
  • Japanese Trailer (HD – 2:29)
  • German Trailer (SD – 2:18)
  • US TV Spot (HD – 1:08)
  • US Video Promo (SD – 0:52)
  • Image Gallery (HD – 128 in all – 21:31)

DISC THREE – GAMERA VS. VIRAS

  • Audio Commentary by Carl Craig and Jim Cirronella
  • Introduction by August Ragone (HD – 11:14)
  • Gamera vs. Viras: 25 Years Later (HD – 12:29)
  • G-Fest 2003 Highlights (HD – 60:59)
  • The 4th Nippon Jamboree (HD – 6:18)
  • American International Version Credits (HD – 1:28)
  • Japanese Trailer (HD – 2:32)
  • US TV Spot (HD – 1:04)
  • Image Gallery (HD – 109 in all – 18:11)

DISC THREE – GAMERA VS. GUIRON

  • Audio Commentary by David Kalat
  • Introduction by August Ragone (HD – 11:25)
  • American International Version Credits (HD – 2:24)
  • Sandy Frank Version Credits (SD – 2:44)
  • Japanese Trailer (HD – 2:13)
  • US TV Spot (HD – 1:04)
  • Image Gallery (HD – 63 in all – 10:30)
  • Neptune Media Archive Gallery (HD – 40 in all – 6:40)

DISC FOUR – GAMERA VS. JIGER

  • Audio Commentary by Edward H. Holland
  • Introduction by August Ragone (HD – 8:39)
  • American International Version Credits (HD – 1:11)
  • Japanese Trailer (HD – 2:20)
  • German Trailer (SD – 2:15)
  • US TV Spot (HD – 1:01)
  • Image Gallery (HD – 123 in all – 20:41)

DISC FOUR – GAMERA VS. ZIGRA

  • Audio Commentary by Sean Rhoads and Brooke McCorkle
  • Introduction by August Ragone (HD – 8:23)
  • Sandy Frank Version Credits (SD – 3:15)
  • Japanese Trailer (HD – 2:23)
  • US Video Promo (SD – 1:01)
  • Image Gallery (HD – 92 in all – 15:20)

DISC FOUR – GAMERA: SUPER MONSTER

  • Audio Commentary by Richard Pusateri
  • Introduction by August Ragone (HD – 6:05)
  • Alternate English Credits: Gamera Super Monster (16 mm) (HD – 4:49)
  • Alternate English Credits: Super Monster (VHS) (SD – 5:59)
  • Japanese Trailer (SD – 2:36)
  • English Trailer (HD – 2:37)
  • Image Gallery (HD – 47 in all – 7:50)

DISC FIVE – GAMERA: THE GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE

  • Audio Commentary by Matt Frank
  • Introduction by August Ragone (HD – 4:34)
  • A Testimony of 15 Years: Part 1 (HD – 115:47)
  • Interviews with Shusuke Kaneko and Shinji Higuchi (HD – 35:48)
  • SFX Interview with Shinji Higuchi (HD – 92:42)
  • Behind the Scenes (SD – 16:01)
  • Production Announcement (SD – 5:05)
  • Backstage Clip: The Legend (SD – 4:17)
  • Yubari Film Festival (SD – 6:13)
  • Hibiya Theater Opening Day (SD – 2:55)
  • Alternate English Credits: US End Credits (SD – 5:17)
  • Alternate English Credits: UK End Credits (SD – 1:57)
  • Theatrical Teaser #1 (HD – 0:31)
  • Theatrical Teaser #2 (HD – 0:34)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:31)
  • TV Spots (SD – 6 in all – 2:12)
  • US Video Trailer (SD – 1:20)
  • Gyaos Destruction Strategy SNES Commercial (SD – 0:32)
  • Image Gallery (HD – 92 in all – 1:34)

DISC SIX – GAMERA 2: ATTACK OF LEGION

  • Audio Commentary by Kyle Yount
  • Lake Texarkana Comedy Dub
  • Introduction by August Ragone (HD – 4:21)
  • A Testimony of 15 Years: Part 2 (HD – 121:45)
  • Behind the Scenes: Production Footage (SD – 59:54)
  • Behind the Scenes: SFX Footage (SD – 39:46)
  • Production Announcement (SD – 6:34)
  • Backstage Clips: Sky (SD – 3:11)
  • Promotional Events (SD – 5:16)
  • Hibiya Theater Opening Day (SD – 3:58)
  • Additional English Credits (SD – 1:21)
  • Comedy Dub Outtakes (SD – 3:56)
  • Behind the Scenes Trailer (SD – 3:37)
  • Special Trailer #1 (HD – 0:33)
  • Special Trailer #2 (HD – 3:41)
  • Theatrical Trailer #1 (HD – 2:21)
  • Theatrical Trailer #2 (HD – 1:03)
  • Theatrical Trailer #3 (HD – 0:35)
  • Theatrical Trailer #4 (HD – 0:39)
  • Theatrical Trailer #5 (HD – 0:35)
  • TV Spots (SD – 7 in all – 2:12)
  • US Video Trailer (SD – 1:32)
  • Image Gallery (HD – 121 in all – 2:03)

DISC SEVEN – GAMERA 3: REVENGE OF IRIS

  • Audio Commentary by Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski
  • Audio Commentary by “Gamera, Iris, and Soldier 6”
  • Introduction by August Ragone (HD – 10:47)
  • A Testimony of 15 Years: Part 3 (HD – 134:31)
  • Gamera at the DNA of Tokusatsu Exhibition (HD – 10:47)
  • Publicity Announcement (SD – 3:50)
  • Photo Op (SD – 0:55)
  • Backstage Clips: I Want You to Teach Me Again (SD – 4:41)
  • Shibuto Cine Tower Opening Day (SD – 6:00)
  • Deleted Scenes (SD – 26 in all – 10:21)
  • The Awakening of Irys (Remix) (SD – 37:34)
  • Storyboard Animation (SD – 6:08)
  • Special Effects Outtakes (SD – 2:19)
  • Comedy Dub Outtakes (SD – 3:24)
  • Additional English Credits (SD – 1:22)
  • Theatrical Trailer #1 (HD – 1:11)
  • Theatrical Trailer #2 (HD – 0:36)
  • Theatrical Trailer #3 (HD – 0:28)
  • Theatrical Trailer #4 (HD – 0:33)
  • Theatrical Trailer #5 (SD – 2:01)
  • TV Spots (SD – 20 in all – 5:30)
  • US Video Trailer (SD – 1:31)
  • Gamera 2000 Playstation Commercial (HD – 0:20)
  • Image Gallery (HD – 114 in all – 19:21)

DISC EIGHT – GAMERA THE BRAVE

  • Audio Commentary by Keith Aiken and Bob Johnson
  • How to Make a Gamera Movie (HD – 37:15)
  • Behind the Scenes of Gamera the Brave (HD – 63:39)
  • The Men That Made Gamera (HD – 43:16)
  • Opening Day Premiere (HD – 5:01)
  • Kaho’s Summer (HD – 10:02)
  • Special Effects Supercut (HD – 32:32)
  • Theatrical Teaser #1 (HD – 0:25)
  • Theatrical Teaser #2 (HD – 1:00)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD – 1:40)
  • TV Spot #1 (HD – 0:17)
  • TV Spot #2 (HD – 0:32)
  • Image Gallery (HD – 88 in all – 14:50)

This is a literal monster of an extras package, and going through all of it and critiquing it individually would not make for very good reading, but rest assured that all of this material is well worth your time. Of particular interest are all of the audio commentaries, the introductions to each film by August Ragone, the 3-part documentary on the Heisei Trilogy spread out over the three films’ respective discs, alternate opening and closing credits sequences, behind the scenes footage, and interviews with the creators. The image galleries are also a treasure trove as they contain a mountain of on-set images, behind-the-scenes stills, storyboards, promotional images, posters, lobby cards, soundtrack covers, newspaper clippings, home video covers, promotional materials, and press booklets. It’s also worth noting that most of the featurettes and interviews are in Japanese, but presented with optional English subtitles.

All of the discs are housed in large, book-like packaging with beautiful new artwork by Matt Frank. Inside there are 2 disc slots on each page, a fold-out, two-sided map of Japan highlighting all of the films and the locations in which they take place, and a set of 12 art cards showcasing all of the films’ monsters. Also in the package is a large 80-page softcover booklet with more new artwork on the front and back cover, A History of Gamera by Patrick Macias, an interview with Noriaki Yuasa by David Milner, fully-illustrated Kaiju X-Rays by Joylan Yates, Inside the Heisei Trilogy by Norman England, A Guide to English-Language Gamera by James Flower, transfer details, and production credits. Additionally, there’s Gamera: The Comics Collection, a large hardback, 130-page compendium containing full color reprints of a four-issue Gamera comic book series that was originally released by Dark Horse Comics in 1996, and the first-ever English-language printing of the prequel comic The Last Hope by Matt Frank and Joshua Bugosh. All of this content is contained within a large, rigid slipcase (which is quite heavy).

Not included in this set are the AIP versions of Gamera vs. Gyaos (Return of the Giant Monsters), Gamera vs. Viras (Destroy All Planets), Gamera vs. Guiron (Attack of the Monsters), and Gamera vs. Jiger (Gamera vs. Monster X), though their alternate credits are included for each. Then again the Sandy Frank versions of these films aren’t included either, and there’s already enough content here to go around. It’s also worth noting that the Retromedia DVD release of Gamera vs. Viras features an audio commentary with Carl Craig, Brett Homenick, and Damon Foster, which has not carried over either. Considering the amount of material that you get, these are minor losses.

Gamera: The Complete Collection (Blu-ray Disc)

Gamera: The Complete Collection is easily one of the top home video releases of the year. It unfortunately went out of print rather quickly, which made reviewing it a bit of a conundrum since it’s tough to acquire now. Nevertheless, if you can manage to get your hands on it as there are likely still random copies floating around out there in the wild (not unlike Gamera himself), it’s definitely worth it—and will sit handsomely next to your Criterion Godzilla Blu-ray collection.

- Tim Salmons

(You can follow Tim on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel here.)

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