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Noriaki Yuasa
Mach Fumiake, Yaeko Kojima, Yoko Komatsu
Writing Credits:
Nisan Takahashi

Alien forces send all the monsters Gamera has faced in one final battle to rid the planet of its last hope.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Japanese DTS-HD MA Monaural
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $179.95
Release Date: 8/18/2020
Available Only As Part of 12-Movie “Gamera Complete Collection”

• Audio Commentary with Film Historian Richard Pusateri
• Introduction by Film Historian August Ragone
• Alternate English Credits
• Trailers
• Image Gallery


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Gamera: Super Monster [Blu-Ray] (1980)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 13, 2020)

In 1965, Gamera the Giant Monster became a hit in Japan, one that spawned six more movies through 1971. In 1980, the franchise attempted a comeback via Gamera: Super Monster.

The evil alien Zanon heads to Earth with the desire to enslave humans. When the superheroic group the Spacewomen can’t stop Zanon, they turn to another combatant.

Enter Gamera the giant turtle! Foes from Gamera’s past return to fight him, as the massive reptile attempts to halt Zanon and save the planet.

An eighth Gamera movie intended to come out in 1972, but the Daiei studio ran into massive financial issues, so the franchise went on hold until 1980. Under new management, fans eventually got Super Monster.

That didn’t mean those Gamera lovers got a truly new product, though, as Super Monster offered a bargain basement affair. It relied heavily on clips shot for earlier movies to flesh out its barebones narrative.

Apparently this didn’t sit well with fans. Super Monster bombed and sent Gamera back into hibernation until a reboot took place in 1995.

But that’s the subject of a separate review. Now we’ll deal with the atrocity called Super Monster.

Because I didn’t enjoy Giant Monster, I didn’t plan to dig into the rest of the Gamera catalog. However, the bonus features for Giant Monster offered some slivers of Super Monster, and it looked so bat guano crazy that I felt compelled to give it a look.

Alas, Super Monster never becomes the surreal camp masterpiece I hoped to find. Instead, it just offers an incoherent mess.

Face it: the “story” exists just as a vague excuse to package clips from old movies in which Gamera fights other creatures. The narrative kinda sorta pretends to offer something more than that, but absolutely none of it goes anywhere.

Zanon comes to Earth to dominate but then sends female representative Giruge (Keiko Kudo) to assimilate/supervise because… I don’t know. She wanders around and seems like a vague threat to the Spacewomen but she serves no real purpose I can discern.

As for that superhero trio, they also seem impotent. Of course, some of that stems from design, as they can’t offer a counterbalance to Zanon or we wouldn’t need Gamera.

Nonetheless, it never seems clear what powers the ladies possess and why the movie needs them. They remain spectators who feel like they’re involved but they’re just expository window-dressing.

And then there’s Keiichi (Koichi Maeda), a Gamera-loving youngster who helps bring the creature out of hiding… I guess. Like the others, his purpose remains uncertain, other than to give kids in the audience a conduit, I suppose.

But who needs him? He brings nothing to the story and seems like a dolt since he eagerly goes off with strange adults he doesn’t know. This kid’s a milk carton waiting to happen.

At the start, Zanon tells humans to surrender or be destroyed, but then the violence ensues right away. We get no sign of a span in which earthlings get a chance to obey, as the mayhem occurs without haste.

Again: wha? And why does Zanon need these old monsters to do their bidding? They came to Earth with this bitchin’ space cruiser but they can’t fight their own battles?

Plot holes and idiocy seem legion. The Spacewomen worry that humans will detect them, but then they ride a van that’s transformed into a big orange blob in the middle of a city.

Cheapness and derivative material abound in Super Monster. Many effects look like they were shot on video, and some were!

The opening space voyage of Zanon simply films concept art, and the ship itself brings a hilariously obvious repurposing of an Imperial Destroyer from Star Wars - one introduced with music that evokes 2001: A Space Odyssey!

If Space Monster managed some excitement, I might forgive the absence of any real story or character arcs or competent effects or filmmaking. Alas, the battle scenes make no more sense than anything else.

These feel like what they are: reused footage from old movies. They don’t blend with the new material in a coherent manner and fail to pack any kind of punch, as they pop up out of nowhere and lack impact.

I can’t really fault the filmmakers for the disaster that is Space Monster, as their hands seem to have been tied. Nonetheless, a terrible movie is a terrible movie, no matter what excuses we make for it – and this is a really terrible movie.

Footnote: when Zanon arrives on Earth, they declare that “resistance is futile”, and they want to assimilate humans for their cause. Is it possible that the Borg from Star Trek actually ripped off Super Monster?

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C+/ Bonus C+

Gamera: Super Monster appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I’ll say this: the image could’ve looked worse.

A mishmash of sources, the presentation lacked consistency. Some of that stemmed from the fact a lot of the material came from old Gamera movies, but even then-new footage seemed up and down.

For the most part, sharpness felt adequate to good. Older elements could lean soft, and effects shots created for Super Monster suffered from iffy delineation due to the techniques involved – especially the occasional images shot on video.

Still, the movie mostly showed appropriate definition, and I noticed no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects or edge haloes. The film showed a nice layer of grain, and print flaws seemed restricted to a handful of specks.

Colors tended toward a natural palette, with a mild green impression at times. The hues felt fairly well-rendered – at least for new footage, as the older clips tended to see mushier.

Blacks were reasonably deep, and shadpws displayed acceptable clarity. Nothing here excelled, but given the nature of the project, it worked fine.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack it seemed wholly adequate and that’s about it. Speech occasionally showed slightly brittle tones, but the lines usually remained fairly natural.

Music showed acceptable range – though the score could’ve packed more of a punch – and effects displayed competent accuracy. Though a little distortion crept in at times, these components brought decent definition. This ended up as a dated but decent soundtrack.

The movie’s extras open with an introduction from film historian August Ragone. In this six-minute, five-second reel, Ragone gives us some background for Super Monster in this useful overview.

The movie brings an audio commentary from film historian Richard Pusateri. He gives us a running, screen-specific look at the series, the genre and aspects of the movie.

On occasion, Pusateri provides some insights, but much of the time, he either just narrates the film or offers snarky comments. We get little useful content in this dull, uninformative track.

A few minor extras finish the disc, and Alternate English Credits splits into two areas: “16mm” (4:49) and “VHS” (5:59). Both offer music that differs from the original Japanese release as well as the expected English text.

We also get two trailers - one Japanese, one English - and an Image Gallery. It shows 48 shots that mix production pictures and publicity elements. It becomes a decent compilation.

Created to fulfill a contractual obligation, Gamera: Super Monster feels like the cinematic product it is. Idiotic, incoherent and downright dull, the movie must be the franchise’s absolute nadir. The Blu-ray brings acceptable picture and audio along with a few bonus materials. I hoped Super Monster would fall into the “so bad it’s good” category, but instead, it’s just bad.

Note that as of August 2020, this Blu-ray version of Super Monster only appears as part of a “Gamera Complete Collection”. This packages 12 Gamera adventures.

The “Complete Collection” also features a 120-page reproduction of a 1996 Gamera comic book and an 80-page retrospective book. My review copy didn’t include these components so I can’t formally discuss them.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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