Gamera Vs. Barugon

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Unavoidably trudging along in Godzilla’s wake, Gamera’s creators made the decision to also make the turtle titan a white hat and a prospective protector of the earth. To do so, however meant coming up for rival monsters for him to wrestle but how do you concoct a suitable villain for your heroic Kaiju to face when he boasts such outlandish abilities? Simple: down as much mind altering substances as you can and get writing.
After being blasted into space at the end of his debut movie, Gamera has the overwhelming good fortune to be freed from his one way trip to Mars by a meteorite that strikes his rocket and sends him spinning back to earth. Upon landing he desides to show his relief by throwing his toys out of the pram and trashing the Kurobe Dam in Japan.
Meanwhile, while a giant monster turtle causes major damage in a heavily populated area, the film sees fit to change gears (not to mention plot and tone) and focus on the antics of three mercs sent into the jungle by a World War II veteran to retrieve a priceless opal he stashed during the war. Only one man emerges with the jewel but exposure to infra-red light reveals it to actually be an egg which hatches into a lizard called Barugon that quickly grows to a humongous size. Barugon, who sports a freeze ray located in his tongue and a rainbow-coloured, gay-pride style death ray that enimates from the middle of it’s back wastes no time going on a rubbery rampage and even fends off a Gamera attack by freezing the Kaiju solid. Can the small fleshy humans come up with a plan to halt Barugon in case Gamera remains a Kaiju-sicle for good, or will the film continue to cram the plot of the jewel theives down our throat until we want to pull our hair out?

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Obviously the latter unfortunately, because even though this movie is armed with a pair of creatures that are armed with truly brain warping special skills, it stubbornly insists that we’re more interested in seeing the moral musings of a jewel thief than focusing on a mongloid-headed lizard whose protruding tongue can freeze a building solid.

Despite the monster scenes looking very daffy an pretty cheap (Barugon’s suit performer looks like he’s drowning in that costume), they still are still the best thing about the movie by far as the jewel thief plot is horribly convoluted, literally seems drafted over from a completely different movie and is only there to explain away the villainous Barugon’s origins. And yet on it goes, seemingly never ending as everyone continuingly fights anyone who confesses any sins to. It wears thin fast and slows the momentum of the aggressively weird monster-plot to an unnecessary crawl.
However when the Monsters finally get the space to rock their shit it’s surprisingly hard edged, it’s not every Kaiju movie that (SPOILER WARNING) has it’s hero drag a bloodied and beaten antagonist into a lake and straight up drown his ass like a miserable rat but Gamera carries himself like a fucking gangster.

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Only sporadically fun, Gamera Vs. Barugon feels stuffed and overlong at only a mere 106 minutes and a fair chunk of that is admittedly a slog but there’s just about enough of that surreal weirdness that the franchise eventually embraced fully to keep fans occupied.
🌟🌟

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