SFA: Shout!Factory Gamera Featurettes

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SFA: Shout!Factory Gamera Featurettes

Postby Benjamin Haines » Sat Nov 09, 2019 12:50 pm

SFA - Special Features Appreciation!

Gamera (1965)


Shout!Factory DVD - 2010

A Look Back at Gamera - 23:13

Originally produced for a Japanese laserdisc set in 1991, preceding Gamera's Heisei revival by four years, this documentary takes a look back at the Showa Gamera films. Shout!Factory included it with English subtitles on their 2010 DVD release of the original Gamera.

Director Noriaki Yuasa, screenwriter Niisan Takahashi, art director Akira Inoue, monster suit maker Masao Yagi and special effects artist Haruo Sekitani are all interviewed on-camera. Takahashi recounts the legend of how Daiei president Masaichi Nagata came up with the idea of Gamera, insisting that it happened and that several of the men he works with could corroborate it. We get to see behind-the-scenes photos from Daiei's cancelled film production Nezura, with sewer rats scurrying around miniature city sets, including one graphic photo with many rats drowned in a water tank. Thankfully, Daiei switched to monster suits for the Gamera series and we get to see several BTS photos from the original film, Gyaos and Viras. The documentary features clips from all eight movies plus a look at Yuasa's storyboards from the first film.

About 15 minutes in, Yuasa and Takahashi talk about their plans for Gamera vs. Garasharp, the movie that they were hoping to make next while they were still in production on Gamera vs. Zigra in 1971, before Daiei ultimately went bankrupt. Yuasa describes how they were expecting to compete with Toho's "King Ghidorah" in 1972, so they tried to make Garasharp a monster that could compare with Ghidorah. We then get to see a mini-dramatization of this Gamera movie that could have been, directed by Yuasa, written by Takahashi and depicted partially with illustrations by Inoue. Gamera and Garasharp are shown as small figurines with minimal movement. Garasharp is a serpentine monster with tusks, standing taller than Gamera. The plot is standard later-Showa fare but the ending is inspired. The last moment of this segment features a concept figurine of another monster, a mystical monster called Ng. Apparently Yuasa, Takahashi and Inoue were open to replacing Garasharp with different monsters like this Ng if they had gotten to do a proper follow-up to Zigra.

For the last three minutes of the featurette, the interviewees describe what Gamera means to them personally.


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Shout!Factory DVD - Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XXI: MST3K vs. Gamera Set - 2011

So Happy Together: A Look Back at MST3K & Gamera - 23:13

Running exactly as long as the previous featurette, this retrospective examines Gamera's history on Mystery Science Theater 3000. The five Showa films that Sandy Frank released to American TV and VHS in the mid-'80s (Gamera, Barugon, Gyaos, Guiron & Zigra) were riffed during MST3K's debut amateur season on the KTMA channel local to Minneapolis. Those five movies later got a proper riffing during the show's third professional season on Comedy Central in 1991.

Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Coniff, J. Elvis Weinstein and Jim Mallon were all interviewed for this 2011 DVD featurette. They recall their favorite monsters and characters while reminiscing about how much fun it was to riff on these films in particular. The Gamera movies really are more fun and bizarre than most of the movies featured on MST3K and it's nice to see that the folks making the show enjoyed that.

Mallon refers to Sandy Frank as a Columbus-type figure who discovered Gamera for Americans, clearly unaware that the Gamera movies were previously released to US theaters and TV in the '60s and '70s. Beaulieu acknowledges Gamera's history as an afternoon movie in America and he contends that more people probably saw these Gamera films thanks to MST3K. Weinstein credits Sandy Frank for how the bad dubbing made the movies extra riffable, possibly unaware that Sandy Frank was only responsible for two of the five dubs on the Gamera films he released.

Notably absent from the interviews are Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy despite their involvement in the third-season Gamera episodes.


Gamera vs. Barugon (1966)

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Shout!Factory DVD - Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XXI: MST3K vs. Gamera Set - 2011

Gamera vs. The Chiodo Brothers - 23:37
Produced, Directed and Edited by Daniel Griffith

Charles, Edward and Stephen Chiodo, the brothers who did special effects for films like Critters, Killer Klowns From Outer Space and Team America: World Police, sit down to discuss how movie monsters brought to life through suitmation have influenced them. They don’t quite have all of their facts straight but it’s clear that they’ve loved classic kaiju for a long time. Although video clips are limited to the Showa Gamera films, we get to see a lot of behind-the-scenes photos of the Chiodo brothers at work. At the end they act like Gamera is attacking their house.


Gamera vs. Gyaos (1967)

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Shout!Factory DVD - Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XXI: MST3K vs. Gamera Set - 2011

Gamera Obscura: A Brief History by August Ragone - 30:04

This featurette is just what this DVD set needed for collectors whose only exposure to kaiju is through MST3K. August Ragone offers a factual rundown of the history of the Gamera series for half an hour. He starts by providing context for Japan's Monster Boom of the mid-'60s and how Gamera slid into that. He debunks the legend of how Gamera came to be, goes through the cancelled Nezura film and expounds on the cultural background of why Gamera is a turtle. He describes how Daiei marketed and merchandised Gamera in Japan in those early years and then talks at length about how the Showa films were presented to US viewers over the years, from "Gammera the Invincible" to AIP-TV to Sandy Frank to MST3K. He spends the last seven minutes discussing Gamera's Heisei revival in the '90s, citing a San Francisco screening of Guardian of the Universe that began with much of the audience riffing on it MST3K-style until the film's intensity quickly shut them up. He also cites the US premiere of Gamera 3 at Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre during G-Fest 1999, which both Noriaki Yuasa and Shusuke Kaneko attended. The featurette ends abruptly with no mention of Gamera the Brave.
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Benjamin Haines
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Re: SFA: Shout!Factory Gamera Featurettes

Postby mbozzo » Tue Dec 03, 2019 11:41 pm

It been a while since I saw the first three movie in the first Gamera series. I wonder if they still hold out as they did when I first saw them. :?
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