THE BASEMENT BLU-RAY REVIEW: Gamera The Complete Collection by Arrow Video

To capitalize of the success of Toho’s Godzilla series, film company Daiei created a giant monster of their own, Gamera. This series began in 1965, a good 11 years after the start of the Godzilla series. The early films, during the Showa era, were definitely geared more for kids as children would almost always be a big part of the storylines. With that in mind, these films also tended to be more violent, with injuries produced during the monster fights showing a lot of flowing blood. The budgets were always much lower than the Toho films and though this oftentimes showed, it did not detract from the overall enjoyment of these films.

Thickness comparison between the Gamera and Godzilla collections.

Earlier this year Criterion released a collection of Godzilla films from the same era, many for the first time on Blu-ray. It received mixed reviews overall (see my review HERE) and it seems as though Arrow Films learned from these reviews for their recent release, GAMERA: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION. Even though all of these movies have been released before, some only on DVD and others on DVD and Blu-ray, this is sure to be the collection to have.

Comparison of size of the Gamera and Godzilla collections.

Let me start by talking about the packaging. The box that this collection comes in is huge and weighs a lot. Despite it’s size though, it will still fit on a regular book shelf, though not on a movie shelf. The slip case is a nice touch that the movie collection, comic collection and the book on the retrospective of the series all fit perfectly inside and will be nicely protected.

Like the Criterion Godzilla collection, the book that stores the discs is loaded with artwork, this time by Matt Frank, and the discs are stored in cardboard sleeves. At least here the drawings are of the monsters as they appear in the actual movies. The discs are also difficult to remove but not nearly as bad as in the Criterion release. There are eight discs in all, each one featuring additional artwork.

Next is GAMERA: THE COMICS COLLECTION, a nice, hard-cover 130 page comic book. Featured is a full-color reprint of the four issue Gamera series originally released in 1996 by Dark Horse Comics. Also included is the first-ever English-language printing of the prequel comic, The Last Hope, by Matt Frank and Joshua Bugosh.

Lastly is a perfect-bound, 80 page book including a new retrospective on the series by Patrick Macias, an archive interview with Noriaki Yuasa by David Milner, kaiju x-ray illustrations by Jolyon Yates, Fangoria set reports on the Heisei trilogy by Norman England and a viewer’s guide to the English-dubbed versions of the films. There is also a double-sided four-panel poster of “Gamera’s Map of Japan” in both Japanese and English and collectors’ artcards for each film, featuring new artwork by Matt Frank. The original movie posters are also shown in here, one of my main complaints from the Criterion Godzilla set.

This set has eight discs showing all twelve movies to date. I have seen all of these movies in their various releases over the years, from the horrible Sandy Frank VHS tapes recorded is SLP speed to the Shout Factory DVD’s of the Showa Series to the Mill Creek Entertainment Blu-ray releases of the Heisei Series. Their quality ranged from horrible to pretty good. Now let’s see how this set stands up.

The first movie, on disc one, is GAMERA THE GIANT MONSTER from 1965. This disc includes a lot including a high definition 1080p transfer with lossless original Japanese and dubbed English mono audio, with optional English subtitles. There is commentary and a newly filmed introduction by August Ragone. There is also a high definition 1080p transfer of GAMMERA THE INVINCIBLE in its Blu-ray debut. This is the American theatrical version of the film also with lossless mono audio and optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. From 1991 comes an archive featurette called Remembering the Gamera Series, including interviews with director Noriaki Yuasa, writer Nisan Takahashi and others. There is also another interview with Noriaki Yuasa from 2002 by Jorg Buttgereit. Next is an hour-long best-of compilation supervised by Noriaki Yuasa from 1991 called Gamera Special as well as alternate English credits and trailer and image galleries. This is just disc one!

The menu screen is beautiful, featuring the artwork on the actual disc. The video definitely looks great during GAMERA THE GIANT MONSTER with very clear and easy to read subtitles. Though this film was made in 1965, I actually like the black and white film (supposedly the budget was so low that they couldn’t afford color film). The miniature effects do not always stand up in high definition, with wires often seen on flying aircraft. Also, the lack of details are evident at times. The city destruction scenes are excellent though and in some of the buildings you can see people running around in miniature; a very effective creation. Though the concept of a giant flying turtle that breathes fire may seem silly, his first appearance here is pretty good, breaking through the ice.

GAMMERA THE INVINCIBLE also looks the best it ever has, though not as nice as the original Japanese version. The dubbing here is far from perfect, as was the norm of many of these films. This is why I prefer the Japanese dubs with English subtitles. The added American scenes feel rushed and most of the actors probably didn’t work again after this film because they were so bad. Finally with this disc, both the Remembering the Gamera Series and Gamera Special are well put-together, are entertaining and look great!

Disc two features the first two sequels in the Gamera series, GAMERA VS. BARUGON and GAMERA VS. GYAOS. Both films feature high definition 1080p transfers with lossless Japanese and dubbed English mono audio, with optional English subtitles. August Ragone and Jason Varney do commentary on GAMERA VS. BARUGON and Stuart Galbraith IV does it on GAMERA VS. GYAOS. Both films feature newly filmed introductions by August Ragone. There is also a high definition 1080p transfer of WAR OF THE MONSTERS, the shorter American edit of GAMERA VS. BARUGON. There are alternate English credits for both films as well as trailer and image galleries.

GAMERA VS. BARUGON is a direct sequel to GAMERA THE GIANT MONSTER, starting where the first movie leaves off. This came out in 1966 and is the first color entry in the series. This is the first versus movie in the series, which remained for the rest of the entire series. Barugon, no relation to the Toho Barugon, is a four-legged creature. Because it is hard for a suit actor to move in this kind of suit accurately as a four-legged animal would, the monster at times appears on its knees with its hind legs. An opal, left in a cave during the war, is found and brought back to Japan. It turns out the opal is an egg, and Barugon hatches out. The picture quality here looks great and the opening scenes of Gamera repeatedly flying into the dam is really well done with excellent miniature work. With the clarity you can also really appreciate the matte work being used.

WAR OF THE MONSTERS, by American International Television, again doesn’t look as clear as the Japanese version but it still looks pretty good! The dubbing matches up pretty good but the voices often do not match what you would expect the person to sound like.

GAMERA VS. GYAOS is one of my favorite films in the Showa era of Gamera films. I think part of the reason is that Gyaos reminds me a bit of Rodan, one of my favorites of the Toho monsters. The film is crystal clear, looking like it was made much more recent than 1967. This is the first movie to really get into Gamera being the friend of all children, a laughable concept. The children also become integral parts of the plot, often suggesting to the adults what needs to be done to defeat Gamera’s foe. The origin of Gyaos is really never given as he just sort of appears emitting his laser beams from a cave in a mountain. The effects are pretty creative and again, the matte work is first rate. Now if they could only figure out how to makes scenes with miniature jets flying look real.

Disc three features two more films, GAMERA VS. VIRAS and GAMERA VS. GUIRON. They are once again high definition 1080p transfers with lossless Japanese and dubbed English mono audio, with optional English subtitles. There is a choice of three versions of GAMERA VS. VIRAS via something called seamless branching. They are the theatrical version, the director’s version and the US extended version. The available commentaries are by Carl Craig and Jim Cirronella on GAMERA VS. VIRAS and David Kalat on GAMERA VS. GUIRON. August Ragone again provides new introductions to both films. There is a new featurette featuring Carl Craig showing off his souvenirs and props from GAMERA VS. VIRAS. There are also highlights from G-FEST X from 2003 featuring Noriaki Yuasa and Carl Craig. Next is a promotional film for the Boy Scouts of Japan directed by Yuasa from 1966 called The 4th Nippon Jamboree. Lastly on this disc are the alternate English credits for both films and trailer and image galleries.

GAMERA VS. VIRAS came out in 1968 and features aliens who want to take over the Earth. Little do they know that they will not only have to deal with Gamera but with Maseo and Jim, the two privileged kids of this film. They can do pretty much anything they want with little repercussions. Maseo and Jim get captured by aliens and Gamera’s mind is taken over with a brainwave control device by the aliens. While in the ship, the boys find a squid-like alien and when the aliens all combine together, they grow to gigantic proportions. Visually this film looks great with great colors and clarity. The mono audio track is also very crisp. Even though we are still early into the series here, stock footage from past movies was already being used, to save on money.

GAMERA VS. GUIRON came out in 1969. Guiron is another four-legged creature with a huge knife for a head that can also shoot throwing stars. This film also features kids, younger than in the last film. Two of them, Tom and Akio, are also kidnapped by aliens, this time of the female persuasion who threaten to eat their brains. On their dying home planet, the monster Guiron lives. Gamera comes to the planet to save Tom and Akio and fight Guiron. This film seems a little inconsistent with the clarity. Don’t get me wrong, it does look great. It just seems that the special effects footage is clearer than any featuring human actors.

Disc four features the last three movies of the Showa era, GAMERA VS. JIGER, GAMERA VS. ZIGRA and GAMERA SUPER MONSTER. All three films feature a high definition 1080p transfer with lossless Japanese and dubbed English mono audio, with optional English subtitles. Commentary on GAMERA VS. JIGER is done by Edward J. Holland. Commentary on GAMERA VS. ZIGRA is done by Sean Rhoads and Brooke McCorkle. Commentary on GAMERA SUPER MONSTER is by Richard Pusateri. Once again there are newly filmed introductions to all three films by August Ragone. There are alternate English credits for all films as well as trailer and image galleries.

GAMERA VS. JIGER, from 1970, features another four-legged creature, one of which has a great design. The film opens with Gamera stock footage from past movies with the Gamera March playing, sung by a bunch of kids. Seeing this montage reminded me of how fun the monster designs were, even if they were illogical at times. This time the kids are Hiroshi and Tom, following the Japanese and Caucasian kid team up of the past films. There is also a small submarine, similar to the one seen in GAMERA VS. VIRAS. Instead of aliens this time, the story concerns an ancient curse, as a statue is removed to be housed at EXPO-70 in Japan, which attracts Jiger. Jiger’s design works well as the suit actor is actually able to walk on all fours, much like an actual animal would, though I have no idea how he can fly. On the other hand, Gamera walks on this knees. Jiger injects a parasite into Gamera and Tom and Hiroshi must use the submarine to go into Gamera and save him. Again the movie looks pristine and sounds great. The matte work continues to shine as does much of the miniature work.

GAMERA VS. ZIGRA came out in 1971. As you can see these movies were coming out at a fast and furious pace. In this film Japan has built a base on the moon, that is visited and destroyed by…you guessed it…aliens. Our main characters, including children Kenichi and Helen, witness the same alien craft go into the ocean. When they investigate they are beamed aboard. The female alien contacts the authorities threatening to kill her hostages unless they surrender. Gamera saves the hostages and the alien ship transforms into Zigra.

The third and final film of the Showa area, voted the worst of all Gamera movies, is GAMERA SUPER MONSTER from 1980. This is pretty much a stock film extravaganza, featuring all of Gamera’s past monster battles. The Earth now has superheroes, who must have the aid of a boy, Keiichi, to help save the planet from the evil alien Zanon. For unknown reasons scenes from popular Japanese animation shows and movies are incorporated into the film as well. Though this is a 1080p transfer, you can only do so much with the source material. Some of the scenes are crystal clear whereas others look like they were taken off of an old VHS tape and edited in. Without a doubt this is the best this film has ever looked, and I suppose young kids would enjoy it, but it is one I will not be going back to.

Disc five starts with the first of a trilogy of Heisei Gamera films that will go down as three of the most significant kaiju films of all time. The stories are really good and the special effects are some of the best ever put on screen. Special effects artist Shinji Higuchi has set the bar with these kind of effects and they have not been rivaled since. These films are storytelling in their purest form and are the genuine highlights of this set.

GAMERA: THE GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE was released in 1995 to compete with the Godzilla films of the same era. Not only did they compete but they exceeded everything Toho was putting out. On this disc the movie is shown in 1080p high definition from a 4K restoration by Kadokawa Pictures. Both the Japanese language and English dub is included with optional English subtitles. The featured commentary is by Matt Frank and there is a newly filmed introduction by August Ragone. The first part of an epic three-part documentary appears here as well called A Testimony of 15 Years, interviewing the cast and crew of the Heisei Trilogy. There are also interviews with director Shusuke Kaneko and SPX director Shinji Higuchi, filmed by Jorg Buttgereit from 2002. In addition there is an extended interview with Shinji Higuchi, focusing on the trilogy’s special effects. There is also behind the scenes featurettes tracing the film’s production from announcement to release. As with the other discs there are alternate English credits and trailer and image galleries.

GAMERA THE GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE may be the perfect kaiju movie. Both Gamera and Gyaos are back, newly designed and looking better than ever. The new looks are much more believable and the anatomy seems much more realistic than in the Showa films. Gamera returns to fulfill a prophecy after the Gyaos appear and start eating people. The military has to decide who the bigger threat is as both monsters fight in Tokyo. Though not a detailed plot, you get the gist of it (and I plan on covering these films in my KAIJU KONNECTION series). The monster mayhem is a sight to behold. The cities are very realistic looking and many scenes are filmed at street level, looking up at the monsters. The detail at this level is unbelievable as you see everything from bicycles to trash cans to litter! It is this level of detail that sets this film apart from everything Toho has done.

The pyrotechnics here really stand out as well. Not only do the explosions appear gigantic, they looks 100% real as far as scale goes. When the miniature city scape is destroyed, you truly get sucked into the illusion that it is real. The suit designs are also the best ever achieved. Here all of the goofiness that the Showa Gamera had is gone and though he is trying to save Earth, he is still menacing to look at. His movements are very realistic and convincing. Gyaos again is a huge step up from his first appearance in 1967. Here they are scary and knowing that they are eating people is gut-wrenching. My only real complaint about the monsters is that Gyaos often glide as they fly as opposed to flapping their wings. Something that size would need to flap its wings a lot to stay airborne. When the props actually do flap their wings it adds a lot to the realism.

This is the best this film has ever looked and I am so glad that they redid the English subtitles. One thing that always stood out to me on the ADV Films release of this film is that often the subtitles would appear with a short sentence and the actor would just keep talking. I always wondered what we were not hearing. The audio is wonderful, especially with the special effect sequences. You just cannot go wrong with this film and seeing it here is like seeing it for the first time.

As for the extras, let me start with A Testimony of 15 Years, Part 1. This is a featurette I was really looking forward to but it definitely falls short. The main problems is the subtitles. As each crew member is asked questions, the question is on screen for such a short time that you can’t read them. Then there are long periods of time where the person is talking and no subtitles even appear and at times when they do, it’s obvious the first part of what was said is missing. The included behind-the-scenes footage is nice and what you can get out of the interviews is interesting; I just wish the subtitles were complete so that you didn’t feel like you were only getting a part of the conversation. Part one is well worth watching, just remember that you will miss some things.

The interviews with director Shusuke Kaneko and SFX director Shinji Higuchi on the other hand are excellent. Though you do not see the questions being asked, the answers are still very interesting to read and seem pretty complete. The setting is a storage unit housing reproductions of the monster costumes used in all three of the films, making a perfect backdrop.

The extended interview with Shinji Higuchi is also very interesting with a lot of great insight into how the special effects were achieved in the Heisei Gamera trilogy. Also on this disc is the behind the scenes featurette tracing the film’s production. This is very similar to the A Testimony of 15 Years in that there is a lot of footage being spoken in Japanese with little or no subtitles. To see the behind the scenes footage though more than makes up for it. Lastly there is a fun behind the scenes music video with a very catchy song.

Disc six features the first of two sequels to GAMERA THE GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE. On this disc is the film GAMERA 2: ATTACK OF LEGION. The movie once again is a high definition 1080p transfer from a 4K restoration by Kadokawa Pictures. There is the original Japanese and English dubbed versions of the film with optional English subtitles. The commentary is by Kyle Yount. August Ragone provides a newly filmed introduction and part two of A Testimony of 15 Years is featured. Also included is on-set footage from the shooting of the film’s main unit and special effects filming. There are behind the scenes featurettes tracing the film’s production from announcement to release. There are alternate English credits and the “Lake Texarkana” comedic dub track. Trailer and image galleries round out this disc.

Watching GAMERA 2: ATTACK IF LEGION on this disc just blew me away. The great thing about this trilogy is that each film gets better than the previous, not an easy feat. The movie starts with some horrible English actors, that seems to be the norm for these films. A meteor shower brings the Legion to earth, a hive-like creature. Individually they are slightly larger than a normal-sized man but when they combine they form the first newly created monster in the Gamera series. One thing that really stands out about this film is that a part of it takes place during winter, in the snow. The detail shown is fantastic as you can see Gamera’s breath in the cold. Legion’s first appearance at a brewery is scary and when they attack the subway, it is terrifying as people are killed. Though it is not shown, you see just enough for your imagination to run wild, which is the best way to feel the terror implied on screen. This is definitely not a Gamera with children in mind.

The miniature effects here are also very innovative. When the flower bursts through the building, part of the scene is filmed from below with the debris falling towards you. On top of that, people are inserted in the foreground running from the debris and the scene is flawless. One thing I do not understand though is when scenes just pause into a still picture. It’s definitely different but I am not sure what the point is.

Gamera’s first appearance is mostly CGI as he is flying and we are introduced to wing-like structures where his arms should be. When he lands we see his leg come through the roof of a building, again shot from inside the miniature building at floor level. In another great shot, again at street level, Gamera is shown walking and as he steps the vibrations from the force of the footstep just destroys nearby items in a very realistic manner.

The look of Gamera has changed in this film. He is scarier looking and I don’t see the incarnation being the friend of all children. In a scary scene Gamera is covered with the Legion and when he takes off and starts spinning, his blood splatters the sides of a building.

This film took a lot of chances, showing us stuff that we have never seen before in a kaiju film and it all works, setting the bar of what kaiju films should be. I will always be partial to the man-in-the-suit method of conveying these creatures and this trilogy certainly shows that not only can it be done, but it can be done extremely well. In these films not only are the monster scenes great, they are intercut with great human stories as well.

I had never seen the Lake Texarkana dub before but it is hysterical. It’s a fun version and one I highly recommend drinking to. The second installment of A Testimony of 15 Years is much the same as the first. The questions appear so briefly that you miss them if you blink. Despite this, what the creators of this trilogy have to say is interesting and it includes a lot of behind the scenes footage. The featurette of the main unit on site filming is interesting but it’s the behind the scenes special effects footage that really shines. The suit of the adult Legion is amazing in its design and execution. Also on this disc is another music video with behind the scenes footage. If anyone knows what the Gamera song is they are singing and how to get a copy, please let me know!

Disc seven features probably the most popular of this trilogy, GAMERA 3: REVENGE OF IRIS, from 1999. In addition to the high definition 1080p transfers from 1 4K restoration by Kadowkawa Pictures, both the Japanese and English dub of this film are included. This time the commentary is by Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski and there is a brand new introduction by August Ragone. The third and final chapter of A Testimony of 15 Years is here as well as a featurette tracing the film’s production from announcement to release. There are deleted scenes, the first time we have seen this in this collection, as well as a montage of behind-the-scenes footage and work-in-progress special effects footage called The Awakening of Irys (Remix). As with all of the discs there are also alternate English credits and trailer and image galleries.

A common theme is most of the Gamera movies is the connection between Gamera and humans. In the Showa films he was the friend of all children. In this trilogy Gamera is connected psychically to Asagi Kusanagi and for the first time, the villain monster, Iris, is attached to another girl, Ayana Hirasaka, who hates Gamera because her parents were accidentally killed by him. This makes for a very interesting plot twist that is full of human drama and amazing monster fights, showcasing perhaps the best special effects in this trilogy. Gamera has been re-imagined yet again, and is now in his most frightening form.

The film opens with returning character Mayumi Nagamine, the ornithologist from GAMERA THE GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE. It seems as though the Gyaos may be back. From there we go to some scientists studying the ocean floor, where they find a bunch of dead Gameras…this is where they go to die as a new one is called up. We then get a black and white montage of what happened in the first film, giving you the sense that this is going to be another Gamera versus Gyaos story. During this time we see a young Ayana, as her family is getting ready to evacuate the city while Gamera and Gyaos fight. As she waits for her parents in the car, Gamera walks through the building they live in, killing both of them. She is having nightmares about this vision and is now living with extended family.

I don’t want to get into too much story detail; let’s just say that Ayana finds an egg in an old shrine in her village, that hatches into Iris. She takes care of it and as it grows, the two become bonded. Her hatred of Gamera fuels Iris into some of the best monster battles ever put on screen. Gamera’s roar has changed slightly, sounding more menacing, and his fire breath is a lot more destructive. It’s interesting that Gamera will deflect one of Gyaos’ beams to save a child but in the very same scene will blast his fire killing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people.

The flying effects of Iris are done with CGI and work really well. There are so many parts to this monster including all kinds of tentacles, done both practically and with CGI. The aerial battle between Gamera and Iris is really well done and makes for some fun excitement. As with all of the movies in this set, this is the best this film has ever looked and seeing it this clear makes a whole new experience from past releases. The miniature of Kyoto Station is the most realistic ever created and seeing it destroyed is breath taking.

Though the main story is about Gamera versus Iris, the back story is very much Gyaos, with attacks happening everywhere throughout the world. In the end hundreds of Gyaos are seen heading to Japan, beautifully rendered in CGI. It appears as though this secondary story was opening up another sequel, of epic proportions, but instead, we got GAMERA THE BRAVE.

The special features are fun here as well. We have the final edition of A Testimony of 15 Years, which again is very interesting. The deleted scenes, though fun to see, are obvious why they were cut as they add nothing to the story (and there are no deleted monster scenes). The featurette The Awakening of Irys (Remix) is the highlight of the special features, showing how many of the special effects were achieved, including how they really recreated Kyoto Station. The special effects outtakes are fun to watch, especially when you see how much planning goes into the monster fights. Now onto…disc eight.

Disc eight features the film GAMERA THE BRAVE, a disappointing entry to most fans. Though the story is not horrible, it ignores the set-up from the previous film and goes in a new direction. Gamera is back as a friend to all children with a cute design and a fun story for the kids. This is a high definition 1080p transfer with original Japanese and dubbed English tracks, with English subtitles. The commentary is by Keith Aiken and Bob Johnson and August Ragone has not filmed an introduction to this film. There is a featurette hosted by director Ryuta Tasaki called How to Make a Gamera Movie as well as an all-access on-set documentary called Behind the Scenes of Gamera the Brave. The next documentary is called The Men That Made Gamera and it looks back at the series from start to finish, featuring interviews with cast and crew. Next is a featurette entitled Opening Day Premiere, showing the cast and crew presenting the film at its first showing. Then there is an interview with the film’s young star named Kaho’s Summer. Lastly there is a montage of effects shots overseen by FX supervisor Hajime Matsumoto called Special Effects Supercut and of course, trailer and image galleries.

The movie starts with people fleeing in terror as their village burns around them. Gamera is brutally attacked by Gyaos before destroying himself and the flying reptiles. Such a disrespectful end to the trilogy. It is now 2006 and a child from this attack remembers what happened. A boy, Toru is the son to this man and his mother died in a car accident. He finds an unusual egg and a turtle hatches out. He raises it, not realizing it is a baby Gamera. Once the turtle starts hovering and breathing fire, he realizes he has something special.

The turtle continues to grow and a new monster, Zedus, is introduced after a bunch of boats go missing. While the young Gamera protects Toru and his friends from Zedus, it is the children that figure out how to help Gamera defeat Zedus in the end. The human element of this story is touching, despite it being a complete turn from the previous entries. There are some cute scenes of the young Gamera, called Toto by the boy, where he encounters a knife, reminding him of Guiron.

Toro and his best friends.

Though a kids’ movie, there is human death and blood in this film. The producers actually did a pretty good job maintaining a balance between being geared for kids and watchable by adults. Zedus is a decent looking kaiju, not on par with the last three monsters Gamera fought, who loves to eat people and when Toto first appears, as a not quite full-size Gamera, he almost loses, before blasting Zedus in the face with a fireball. After Gamera’s first fight he is captured and can be seen being transported on the back of a flatbed, similar to the scene from GORGO.

I did enjoy this film much better with this viewing than I did with other viewings. The films looks great and the large scale practical Gamera effects are very well done. The miniature work is not as good as seen in the preceding trilogy but most of it works. Though not a fan favorite, this movie has grown on me and is quite charming. This movie is about what can be accomplished when everyone comes together. When all of the children band together to make sure that Gamera gets the red stone he was born with, it is absolutely adorable.

The first documentary, How to Make a Gamera Movie, is a decent insight into what goes on and the behind-the-scenes footage is always interesting. Next is a featurette that is over an hour long called Behind the Scenes of Gamera the Brave. This is nicely filmed and narrated, making it a must see. The insight into the special effects is very interesting, showing me things I never expected. This truly is an artform, one that has many more components than I thought. The Men Who Made Gamera is a 45 minute retrospective of the entire series, with interviews with many of the people that worked on these films. Opening Day Premiere shows the cast and crew presenting the film at its first public screening at Marunouchi Piccadilly, Tokyo, on April 29, 2006. These are always fun to watch, especially with the fans that came out to see it. The archive interview with the film’s young star, Kaho, is called Kaho’s Summer and it shows what a true talent this actor is! You will get examples of this in almost all of the documentaries. The Special Effects Supercut is a compilation of finished and in-progress special effects footage from the film, assembled by visual effects artist Hajime Matsumao. This half-hour tribute to the effects is so much fun to watch since it’s the effects that we have to love so much.

With that being said, I cannot recommend this set enough. Unfortunately it is a limited edition and retailers seem to be selling out of them, with no possibility of restocking. I have also seen them for sale on the secondary market asking double and even triple the retail selling price. If you missed out, there is a rumor that another collection is due to come out, missing a lot of the bells and whistles. Though they are a nice touch, what it really comes down to is the quality of the movies and you’re not going to get any better than this!

To see other entries in my BASEMENT BLU-RAY REVIEW series, just click HERE.

~David Albaugh

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