Gamera (1965) The title creature is released from eons of hibernation by a nuclear blast in the arctic, and proceeds to wreak havoc on power plants in Japan. One of the most absurd of all Japanese monsters, Gamera is a giant turtle with a massive underbite, and he walks on two legs and has long humanoid arms and hands with opposable thumbs. He also eats fire and when he retracts his arms and legs, the holes turn into jets which allows him to fly while rapidly spinning around, giving him the appearance of a UFO. He also loves children, which is evidenced when he stops a rampage to catch a falling young boy and place him safely on the ground. The same young boy had just released his own pet turtle, Pee-Wee into the wild a few minutes earlier, so he is convinced that Pee-Wee has somehow mutated into 200 foot tall creature. Nuclear weapons are no use against Gamera, as he feeds off their power, but that’s OK because he would return for six sequels and a reboot. Much like the first Godzilla film in 1954, this was edited into another film with added English speaking actors and released in America as Gamera the Invincible. Hammer’s own Quatermass, Brian Donlevy starred. The only film of the series in Black & White.
Gamera vs Barugon (1966) The first sequel to Daiei Film’s answer to Toho’s Godzilla, the fire-eating turtle is back from Mars and creating more havoc in Japan, and this time, in color. A group of crooks travel to a primitive island where they steal an opal the size of a softball. Turns out it was not an opal at all, but an egg. The egg incubates under the care of the bad guy and grows into a giant horned monster called Barugon, not to be confused with another horned lizard called Baragon, who was one of the lesser monsters in a few Toho films. Barugon has a spray come out of its throat that causes instant freeze on anything it touches. It will be a battle of fire vs., ice when he and Gamera cross paths. AIP bought the American rights and released it straight to television under the title War of the Monsters, where it got heavy TV rotation for most of the 1970s, along with several other Gamera adventures.