by Paul Deeter
In an age of radioactive dino's and threats from the unknown jungles of countries far beyond us, it's no surprise to see monsters at almost every corner of the world. King Kong technically came first, in 1933 with the classic film of the same title, but once Godzilla was released in Japan's Showa Era in 1954, the floodgates opened. King Kong was the monster to beat all monsters in 1933, a wrecking ball unfairly stolen from his home island and then shot down when he escaped in New York. Before Kong, and for years past, monster movies meant Frankenstein and The Mummy, or films based on classic literature and monster characters as allegories. So when King Kong came out, it terrified people all over the U.S. Kong was a force to be reckoned with, until the kaiju emerged. Enter Toho Studio's release of Godzilla in 1954. The monster to be reckoned with emerged from the depths as an allegory of the hydrogen bomb, both a creative and masterfully written message from Japan about the atrocities of war. Godzilla was unstoppable, the movie intended to prove that with stunning practical effects and a dinosaur like monster design. The creature stomped on whole buildings, ate train cars for breakfast and could shrug off gunfire or damage of any sort. Godzilla would create the longest franchise of all time, put Toho studios on the map, and terrify audiences internationally. Godzilla also harbors radioactive powers, which is a step up from Kong's brute strength alone.
It was only natural the two would meet however, being how famous both monsters came to be across the world, and the box office promises of a double header. This was the idea of a crossover far greater than anyone could do, even 60 years in the future with Marvel's best efforts. And with the Japanese release of the monster project came monster earnings.
King Kong vs. Godzilla was released theatrically in Japan on August 11, 1962. The film remains the most attended Godzilla film in Japan to date, and is credited with encouraging Toho to prioritize the continuation of the Godzilla series after seven years of dormancy. - Wiki
And the fact is that almost 60 years have passed, and the film quality, overall hamminess of the action and all-too-obvious zippers have caused this film to age less than gracefully. So with the success of its' predecessor and the many films that came to lead up to the 2014 Godzilla, in 2015, before the release of Kong: Skull Island, the company Legendary Entertainment was all over the rights to a more glorious, effects-laden monster mash. With the film released on the 25th of this month, and a planned HBO Max release on the 31st, it's safe to say people are hyped and placing their bets on just what corner to root for. But you heard it here first folks. Purely Kino is not endorsing a radioactive dino-win with Godzilla. Nor do we endorse Kong's attempt to defend the states and send that ugly green lizard back to the depths. This website calls into the ring an unexpected third fighter in the ring: Gamera.
Yeah, that Gamera. Gamera, the Giant Monster. Gamera, the friend of all children and the Guardian of the Universe. Now you may be groaning by this point of the article, or maybe you're asking yourself who the f--k Gamera is. Gamera is an unlikely third candidate in this two-party faceoff. Daiei film's Gamera, the Giant Monster is a 1965 film that was conceived to rival Godzilla's infinite popularity in Japan. This absolute unit of a fighter is a giant turtle/tortoise monster, with the ability of flight through its very serious jetpacks on its shells. And uh, it spins around on light-poles too. This causes Gamera to gain just the proper momentum to save the day and protect the children and the universe as well. The backstory to Gamera certainly has nothing to do with either Godzilla or Kong as described in the film's wiki:
The original 1965 film, Gamera, the Giant Monster, depicts Gamera's origins as being a result of United States military fighters launching an attack on enemy bombers (presumably belonging to the Soviet Union), which causes the detonation of an atomic bomb on board one of the aircraft. The nuclear blast releases Gamera from a state of suspended animation in the ice. Meanwhile, a Japanese research team stumbles upon an Inuit tribe in possession of an ancient stone etching that depicts a giant turtle, which the tribe refers to as "Gamera".
Gamera may be a bit familiar, but the design and likeable nature of the creature spurred on 12 entries into his canon. Gamera has taken on some of the toughest creatures too, (outside of Godzilla and King Kong). Who could forget Viras, the household name or the one that looks like a manta ray Zigra? Or Mothra, I mean Gyaos, the vapor inducing flying legend. Household names, the lot of them. Gamera would go on to inspire comics, starting a Dark Horse Comic arc and would be featured in the timeless video-game Gamera 2000 for the Playstation. Who cares that Gamera was tirelessly mocked, in shows like South Park and the Simpsons. Maybe you were introduced to Gamera by the cult show Mystery Science Theater 3000, where Joel and his co-hosts mercifully mocked the poor landlocked turtle by song: "Gamera is really sweet! He is filled with turtle meat!" I'm not trying to gate-keep a giant turtle franchise, but I owned Gamera films on VHS before any Godzilla films. So where is the love for Gamera? Sure he's a blatant rip-off attempted cash-in on another franchise from the same country! Sure he has silly powers and a silly face and has done more for children then grown adults! Sure he's, a turtle.
I can assure you the only reason Gamera is not in the same ring as Godzilla and Kong, is simply because it would be an unfair fight. Gamera would smoke them both, with his little turtle hands restrained in his shell. He'd be flying around, so he'd have that. He's almost completely immune to fire, he even gains energy from it in some movies. So Godzilla would have to pull off hella tail whips to even bruise the creature. And King Kong is completely out of his element here. Sure he's been strong enough in the past to toss around Godzilla like a puppet, and he too is unaffected by military gunfire. But who's to say Gamera isn't heavier than Godzilla? He's got an impenetrable shell. Kong's not going to be beating through that shell anytime soon. Plus, Gamera is a stone-cold hero. He defends the universe, and children! Name two child friends of Kong. It's a no-brainer. And if you think I'm the only one arguing in favor of Gamera, I'll have you know he has quite the slender fanbase!
Todd McCarthy, in his review of Gamera: Guardian of the Universe for Variety, wrote that "Despite its horrific countenance and plated shell, Gamera remains one of the most likable of all movie monsters". Brian Solomon of the website Bloody Disgusting ranked Gamera eighth on his list of "Most Kick-Ass Giant Monsters in Movie History". - Wiki
There you go, likeable and within the top ten of all monsters in movie history! That's 7 monsters from first place, which is basically top 5. How about that for staying relevant? Ok, Gamera the Brave was the last film entry for the franchise in 2006. But I see green in the future, and not just from the color of the monster. Kaiju are coming back, movies like Pacific Rim and now Godzilla vs. Kong are proven hits. So while Gamera may be a bit too much of a tank to take on these two title fighters, that doesn't mean he won't down the road. Mark my word, Gamera will have his day back under the sun. And then it's over for our title fighters, and we'll have a new King of the Ring.