This Gamera flick picks up right where the first one left off, with Gamera, the giant rocket powered turtle, being shot into space in a rocket. Before you can say “watch out for that tree!” a meteor crashes into the rocket and Gamera is free to return to earth and wreck a little havoc.
While all this is going on three men journey to an island in the South Pacific to find a giant opal. One of men, Onodera (Koji Fujiyama) is a real jerk and wants the gem all to himself. So he kills his buddies and returns to Japan. Little does he know that Kawajiri (Yuzo Hayakawa) survives the attempted murder. A lovely girl named Karen (Kyoko Enami) tells him that the opal is actually the egg of a wicked creature called Barugon. Now that egg is headed to Japan, and hatches! Barugon is a large reptilian beast that has a long chameleon-like tongue that can spray a freezing blast. In addition this monster can fire a very FABULOUS rainbow beam that destroys anything it touches. Barugon starts to really trash Osaka. Kawajiri and Karen attempt to work with the Japanese military to stop Barugon using an enormous diamond. But the wicked Onodera is still around and when he finds out about the diamond his greed gets the better of him. Oh yeah, and Gamera decides to waltz in at the end and actually give us the title Gamera vs. Barugon, but only because Onodera the Greedy Bastard just wasn’t as catchy a title. Prepare yourself for intrigue, mayhem and lots of tonguing in this film. Just don’t prepare yourself for much Gamera.
|"Gamera comes running for the creamy taste of flames."|
Part of the problem is that the monster action gets seriously sidelined for a good portion of the film. Gamera himself only shows up about three times. Each time his appearance is abbreviated. His battles with Barugon just don’t amount to much more than the two rolling around. Yeah Barugon gets the upper hand on their first meeting, but even the thrilling backdrop of Osaka castle doesn’t help the thing: it just kind of a bland affair.
Barugon himself really seems like an odd creation. His lizard-like body is interesting, and I like his long tongue attack. But the freezing blast and rainbow beam – well it just seems extremely goofy. Of course calling anything Gamera related “goofy” is redundant. Keep in mind; the series eventually delivers a monster with a head shaped like a knife. The rainbow blast just reminds me of all those rainbow themed kid focused art, stickers, and shirts of the 1970s and early 80s. That isn’t’ the creators fault, but that is the side effect here. Barugon blasts Gamera with his super sparkly happy rainbow beam. The Care Bear Stare LIVES!
|I don't think Kermit had this in mind when he sang, "The|
Instead you get the thuggish and greedy Onodera, who is just a jerk from the moment you meet him. His greed drives many of the nasty consequences in the film. Even Barugon’s rampage can be put on this guy’s shoulders. Fujiyama gives a good performance, and you really detest the guy before he is finally devoured by Barugon (in one of the best death scenes in the entire series). Kawajiri is our stalwart hero. He’s a bit rough around the edges but has a heart of gold. He does seem to be easily discouraged though. After his plot to defeat Barugon fails, he just crumbles. Enami as Karen is an interesting character. She’s an islander who knows all about Barugon and tells us about his history and his abilities. She also comes up with an idea to drown the giant creature, but it doesn’t go well, and she breaks down too. See, this is why we need the little determined kids to show these adults that giving up is not an option!
|"Oh no, he thinks it's a fire hydrant!"|
Model work in the film is pretty darn impressive too. I love the Osaka castle model during the first face off between Barugon and Gamera. That thing looks so cool. But the port of Osaka gets really trashed by Barugon too, and the entire sequence is pretty impressive.
Alas, the dubbing in this film is about as poor as it was in Gamera. Some of the cast sounds bored to tears. Other folks sound confused by the lines and the whole concept of the Gamera film. Once again, the villain gets the best performance, with the voice actor chewing the scenery and providing some unintentionally funny moments with his hyper-intense performance. Some of the dub script is just bizarre and nonsensical, and that always works for some laughs.
|Way too much screen time is spent with these|
The movie just doesn’t deliver what it promises: two huge monsters slugging it out in Japan. Yeah it eventually happens, but it is too little and too late. The film seems slower than Gamera, and has a less interesting script than that film. But the scope is bigger in Gamera vs Barugon and the addition of color and some amazing model work makes this a slightly more entertaining film. But only by a little bit. Still all these colorful additions may be just what Joel and bots ordered for their second tackle of this turtle-tastic film.
|"He's making everything Christmasy."|
This doesn’t mean there aren’t laughs to be found in Gamera vs Barugon. This episode has plenty of great riffing. It just feels like the best moments are ones when either Gamera or Barugon is on the screen. Sadly, that just doesn’t happen that often in the middle portion of the film.
When the boys realize the film is in color Crow quips about Gamera, “You know in color I thought he’d be a strawberry blonde.” But once Gamera disappears from the film, Tom asks Joel, “Wasn’t this a Gamera movie?” Joel replies, “He must have a real good agent.”
|Extreme joy or extreme constipation.|
Gamera vs. Barugon picks up when Barugon hatches form his opal and starts to trash Osaka. As he hatches Tom declares, “Caution: filling his hot… and alive.” Barugon’s tongue attack is perfect for quips, and when he shoots it out Joel does his best Freddy Krueger imitation with “I’m your boyfriend now!” This riff would re-appear in The Giant Gila Monster. The frosty blast from Barugon’s tongue causes Joel to say, “You don’t see that too often in nature.” To which Tom adds, “Frosted mini-tanks?”
|"Help! I'm being frenched to death!"|
The host segments start off with a classic battle. Tom is a Mac user and Crow is a PC user. They can’t agree on anything, until Joel shows up and says he’s using his Amega. They proceed to mock him mercilessly. For Joel’s invention he takes the dancing soda cans (remember those things?) and turns it into a spokes-can for recycling. The Mad scientists unleash the Cummer-bubble-bund - cummerbund that shoots bubbles. But this one is adapted for Disco! It has to be seen to be believed. At the first break Joel and bots perform a radio ad for Make Your Own Tokyo playset. It has a bunch of models, fire, and a panicky Joel. At the next break Tom and Crow dress as monsters going out to eat at TGI-Tokyo. Joel is their server and he has a lot of flair! For the next break Joel tries to convince the bots that the Gamera series is filled with big named stars. He rolls a slide show and proceeds to give all the Japanese actors celebrity identities. The bots don’t buy any of it. When the movie is over the bots complain about the lack of Gamera in Gamera vs. Barugon. Joel explains that Gamera was behind the camera for this one.
|I wonder if he pitched the Jack Daniels grill already?|
Gamera will return in Gamera vs. Gaos!
I give this episode 3 opal/eggs out of 5.
This episode is available on the MST3K vs Gamera boxset (Vol. XXI).