Director: Tanaka Shigeo
Writer: Takahashi Niisan
Cast: Hongou Koujirou, Enami Kyouko, Hayakawa Yuuzou, Fujioka Takuya, Fujiyama Kouji, Natsuki Sho, Kitahara Yoshirou, Sugai Ichirou, Miake Bontarou, Houjou Jutarou, Wakamatsu Kazuko, Konno Yuka, Takamura Eiichi, Tani Kenichi, Itou Kouichi, Hoshi Hikaru, Abe Osamu, Osanai Jun, Hamaguchi Yoshihiro, Joe Ohara, Nakata Tsutomu, Moriya Yuuji, Kawashima Shinji, Harata Gen, Mori Kazuo, Minatsu Shin, Gotou Takehiko, Kagawa Touichirou, Shingu Nobuko, Nishi Hiroko, Akira Michiyo, and Masuda Takashi
Composer: Kinoshita Chuuji
Release Date: 4/17/1966
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Retrieving an ancient opal and exposing it to infrared light, a treacherous man named Onodera (Fujiyama Kouji) releases Barugon—a giant, reptilian kaiju with an elongated, freeze-gas emitting tongue—from the mysterious gemstone. Only Gamera, no longer trapped inside the Z Plan rocket, can prevent Barugon from wreaking havoc on Japan.
Combining epic monster action with a compelling human subplot, this production earns its reputation as the greatest installment in the original Gamera series. Specifically, Gamera vs. Barugon deserves praise for its riveting destruction footage, thought-provoking social commentary, and high-quality special effects—at least by the standards of a 1960s tokusatsu film.
By forgoing the childish antics of the first Gamera feature, Gamera vs. Barugon maintains a serious and camp-free tone at all times—an aspect that reinforces the terrifying, existential danger posed by Barugon (not to be confused with the Toho monster known as Baragon) and his rainbow ray.
Gamera vs. Barugon should also be commended for its inclusion of a human antagonist, who adds a personal element to the main conflict of this film. Notably, the character of Onodera—willing to sacrifice people for monetary gain—serves as a reminder that human beings, though mostly good-natured, present a greater threat to society than any fictional monster ever could.
Also problematic is the clichéd, if not thoroughly cartoonish, appearance of Barugon’s rainbow ray—an incongruous addition to a dark and atmospheric kaiju film.
By murdering his fellow expedition members and stealing a prized artifact, Onodera unleashes a terrible creature on the people of Japan—a statement on how human greed, corruption, and exploitation of the environment can result in devastating consequences for civilization.
This offering is an enjoyable entry in Daiei’s lineup of Showa Gamera films. Especially worth noting are Gamera vs. Barugon’s entertaining monster battles, topnotch performances, and acceptable production values, which rival those of a traditional Godzilla feature.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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