The show Mystery Science Theater 3000 was gifted with many bad films, but few as entertaining as the Gamera films. When it originally aired in Minnesota, the five Gamera films (in the Sandy Frank Americanized cuts) were used for their training grounds, but the cast has always felt that those episodes are too rough to consider cannon. When they moved over the Comedy Central, they revisited the flying turtle’s five films in their third season. These were long hoped for DVD releases, and now Shout Facotry has collected all five in a tin. And they’re just as good as you remembered. Our review of MST3K vs. Gamera follows after the jump.
For these five episodes, the show had pretty much already figured itself out. These were from the third season, and they had it down but weren’t bored. These are all Joel Hodgson episodes, so it’s all classic form. Gamera appears to be a variant on the success of Godzilla, with Gamera a gigantic intergalactic turtle who runs rampant and destroys Japan for similar reasons. But Gamera is joined by a kid who likes turtles, and the kid ends up protecting Gamera from the government’s worst instincts. In the sequels, there’s generally some human drama, and then a competing alien that Gamera has to do battle with.
It wasn’t until the fourth movie that the boys came up with their Gamera theme song, but these episodes are close to pure joy, and the perfect sort of episodes to get people interested in the show (though my go-to’s are usually Mitchell, and Santa Claus Vs. the Martians, with Manos the Hands of Fate right up there). You can see them get bored with the bad elements of the second film (which is shockingly Gamera light), but for the most part when puppet suited men attack each other, it’s comic gold.
More than any of the recent boxes, this is the collection to have to show to people who aren’t on the Mystery Science love train. But this collection is pretty much perfect, and they have so much fun ripping on the goofy spectacle.
Shout Factory presents each film on its own disc. Gamera comes with “So Happy Together: A Look back at MST3K and Gamera” (23 min.) with comments from Jim Mallon, Joel Hodgson, TV’s Frank Coniff, Trace Beauleiu, and J. Elvis Weinstein, also included are the MST3K Hour wrap-arounds (5 min.), and the film’s original theatrical trailer. Gamera vs. Barugon offers “Gamera Vs. The Chiodo Brothers” (24 min.) where the brothers (known for their make up and special effects, with an eye towards monster suits) talk about the franchise, and monster-making in general. Also included is the film’s original theatrical trailer. On Gamera vs. Gaos there’s “Gamera Obscura: A Brief History by August Ragone” (30 min.) and the film’s original trailer. Gamera vs. Guiron comes with the MST hour wrap arounds (5 min.) and the film’s original trailer, while Gamera vs. Zigra comes with the film’s original trailer.