Gammera the Invincible

1966 | B&W | 86 min

Starring: Brian Donlevy, Albert Dekker, Diane Findlay, John Baragrey, Dick O’Neill, Eiji Funakoshi, Michiko Suguta, and Harumi Kiritachi.

Directed by: Noriaki Yuasa


When an incident between Soviet and American forces in the disputed Arctic region results in an accidental nuclear explosion, the ancient monster Gamera—a flying, two-hundred-foot tall, fire-breathing turtle—is freed from his centuries-long, icy slumber. Understandably upset after being disturbed from his nap time in such a violent, “explod-y” way, a groggy Gamera (or “Gammera” as the distributors have dubbed him for the US version of this initial outing) immediately proceeds to destroy a research ship unfortunate enough to be in the area at the time. Not satisfied with that minor bit of carnage, the grumpy turtle heads to Japan to cause some real trouble, mostly by squashing a bunch of cheap models of Japanese cities.

In the midst of this rage-fueled tour of destruction, the gargantuan reptile inexplicably befriends a young Japanese child named Toshio. Despite little Toshio’s insistence that Gamera is a good turtle—you know, if you ignore all his killing and indiscriminate destruction of entire cities—the leaders of the world come together and decide to eliminate the rampaging reptile.

The founder of Kyoto Fried Chicken looks on in disbelief.

After a “brilliant” plan to defeat Gamera by flipping him on his back fails to neutralize the threat (apparently no one involved with that plan ever saw a turtle before. They right themselves in seconds), the scientists of the world concoct Plan Z, a plan to capture the seemingly-invincible beast and blast him off to Mars (Won’t the Martians be surprised when that care package arrives?). Can humanity defeat Gamera with their desperate Plan Z, or will all of civilization fall to the terrible titanic terrapin?

“Hi, Mom!”

Directed by Noriaki Yuasa and written by Nizo Takahashi, Daikaiju Gamera was released in 1965 in Japan and, after significant modifications, to American audiences as Gammera the Invincible in 1966. Years later it would be re-released for television as simply Gamera by the oft-maligned Sandy Frank. This updated version restores most of the original film, including the original (and frankly, much worse) English speaking scenes which were re-shot for the U.S. theatrical release. Frank’s version also renames the characters, most notably changing “Gammera” back to “Gamera” and “Toshio” to “Kenny“—a young male character named Kenny being an unmistakable hallmark of Sandy Frank’s Japanese imports.

“A flying, 200-foot-tall, fire-breathing turtle is attacking Tokyo?
Um…that’s Japan’s problem.”

Everything you’ve come to expect from a 60s-era, Japanese, guy-in-rubber-suit monster flick is on display here. Cheesy special effects, silly plot, ludicrous “science,” and the annoying kid with seemingly top-level security clearance telling everyone who will listen that the monster that is currently decimating humanity isn’t all that bad. Hardly ground-breaking as far as kaiju films go, and honestly nowhere near as serious-minded and allegorical as Godzilla’s debut outing, Gamera’s maiden voyage is still an enjoyable way to spend ninety minutes of your life, assuming you’re in the mood for some mindless, monster movie fun.


Reviewed By Derek “Gamera is my spirit animal” Miller
Posted September 7, 2017

Video Clip – Gamera may be “the friend of all children,” but apparently he hates teenagers.

Additional Screenshots (Click an image to view full-size)


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