Film Review – Gamera: The Complete Collection

Kaiju fans rejoice, for the gods of schlocky entertainment (Arrow Video) have surpassed even their own very high standards with a box set that drinks long and greedily from the well of superlatives. Gamera: The Complete Collection, released this week provides devotees of rubbery turtle fun with a comprehensive release of the jet-powered reptile’s antics. The full dozen outings for the friend to all children is presented in superb quality, along with the US cuts of early the early movies, spliced and re-titled for the American market, and dozens of hours’ worth of supplementary material and commentaries.

It’s absolutely the ne plus ultra of box sets for monster movie fanatics. Having spent the past week solidly working my way through it all, it’s difficult to conceive of a single stone that hasn’t been unturned in the quest to present a complete package.

The uninitiated are, one suspects, unlikely to drop the fat end of £150 on such a gift, but that is beside the point. It’s not a release crafted for the casual viewer. This is a collection for the die-hards who are likely to have seen each film already and won’t be swayed by the hefty price tag.

If you haven’t seen the movies and are intrigued, quality varies wildly, it would be polite to say. The original, along with a couple of follow-ups, watch like inoffensive curios these days; slightly threadbare poor relations to Godzilla that arrived a decade-or-so late.

The bulk of Gamera’s Shõwa period, from fourth entry Vs. Viras, through the eighth edition’s Super Monster, are, in all honesty, a bit of a slog. It’s here that the series settles into a family-friendly routine of insufferable child actors and underwhelming aliens in sparkly leotards.

But, if 2006’s Gamera the Brave feels a little incidental, that takes nothing away from the trio of excellent 90s efforts: Guardian of the Universe, Attack of Legion and Revenge of Iris that inject of much-needed sense of impetus into the series and cement Gamera’s status as a genuinely entertaining monster and not just an also-ran.

It’s something of a moot point, though. Arrow’s handsome collection is designed to appeal to collectors, completists and aficionados, anyway. And it’s hard to see how anyone even remotely interested in this exhaustive and faultlessly presented package is going to find anything to complain about.

★★★★★


Sci-Fi, Horror | Japan, Various | 15 | Blu-Ray (8 Discs) | 17th August 2020 (UK) | Arrow Video | Dir.Various

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS

• Limited collectors’ edition packaging, housed in a large-format rigid box, fully illustrated by Matt Frank
• All twelve uncut original Japanese versions of the films in high definition, with lossless Japanese and English audio
• 4K restorations of the critically acclaimed Heisei trilogy (Gamera the Guardian of the Universe, Gamera 2: Attack of Legion, Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris)
• Hours of new and archive bonus features, expert commentaries (including August Ragone, David Kalat, and Steve Ryfle & Ed Godziszewski), interviews with cast and crew, and the worldwide Blu-ray premiere of Gammera The Invincible (the American theatrical version of the first film)
• Hardback 120-page comic book including a full-color reprint of the four-issue Gamera comic series 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
• Perfect-bound 80-page book including a new retrospective on the series by Patrick Macias, kaiju X-ray illustrations by Jolyon Yates, and much more!