Gamera Vs Barugon (1966)

Gamera Vs Barugon (1966)

An expedition to retrieve a huge opal goes wrong when it is revealed that the opal is in fact the egg of a giant monster called Barugon. This beastly brute has a deadly tongue and a rainbow beam and begins to destroy Japan. Only Gamera, the giant turtle with flame breath and rockets in his shell can save the day.

 

Gamera has always been seen as a poor man’s Godzilla (at least during the original series of Gamera films, not the more recent 1990s versions which kicked ass) and you can see why. With the same sort of ideas as the Godzilla series but clearly with one half of the budget and talent behind the camera, the Daiei studio made these films look like knock-off versions made by kids. As with the Godzilla series, heck any monster series, there’s only so many monster versus human plots you can do before people get tired of it. Universal started the trend in the 30s when they began pairing off Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolfman to try and revive interest once their individual series began to wane. Toho did it with Godzilla. So Daiei took the same route and gave Gamera an opponent to fight instead of just having him smash up Tokyo.

Gamera Vs Barugon is a pretty feeble effort to say that it’s only Gamera’s second cinematic outing and they looked to have run out of creative ideas already. Barugon looks pathetic – like a lizard/dog hybrid. He crawls on all fours and therefore doesn’t physically interact with Gamera as a two-legged opponent would during the fight scenes. His tongue-weapon is so terrible that it has to be seen to be believed. How can the studio get away with this as a special effect? Despite sharing the name with one of the monsters that inhabit the Godzilla films, this Barugon is a totally different monster – except it isn’t. The name wasn’t copyrighted so Daiei seem to have created exactly the same monster to trick people into thinking it is.

Back in the good old days of low budget films, the cheap monsters were usually kept off the screen as long as they could be because they look rubbish. Yet Barugon is on screen a lot. In fact I think he has more screen time in this one than he did in the entire Godzilla series. As for Gamera, we see very little of him and therefore hardly any giant monster battles ensue. The idea of a jet-propelled flying turtle with flame breath doesn’t lend itself to credibility but Gamera lives up to the ridiculousness of it. The battles that do commence are short and quite uninspiring. The level of fighting in these Daiei films compared to their Toho rivals is extremely disappointing. At least the Toho monsters with Godzilla and co. got down and dirty monster of the time. These monsters look like they’d disintegrate if they made contact with each other.

In fact the best fights in this film are between the human actors. There are two decent fight scenes and although they are ruined by some truly woeful dubbing, they are still the highlight of the film (pretty sad considering the film is about giant monsters fighting each other). As always the human sub-plot is equally uninteresting. This time we are given a moral story about getting greedy….blah blah. If the studio had cut out some of the unnecessary characters they could have spent more money on the monsters. But alas this did not happen and as a result we are left with a very poor kaiju film.

The Gamera films also lacked a decent music score. Akira Ifukube scored most of the Godzilla films before his death and he created some awesome signature music for Godzilla and some of the other monsters. The fight music was always rousing and Ifukube’s talent always seemed to be wasted doing these films when he could have been scoring serious films. Here the music is lacklustre and doesn’t add to the ambiance at all. It’s not exciting and its blandness adds to the dull, uninspiring affair that the rest of the film tries to maintain.

 

Gamera Vs Barugon is a lot worse than some of Godzilla’s lesser attempts and he saw some pretty dark days. With this only being the second instalment in the series, it was obvious things were about to get worse! Avoid unless you are a total Gamera nutcase.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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