Gamera - Super Monster (1980)
aka Uchu kaiju Gamera
Directed by Noriaki Yuasa
Featuring Mach Fumiake, Yaeko Kojima, Yoko Komatsu
What it is: Kaiju on a budget
Space invaders arrive to conquer Earth armed with a heady supply of monster stock footage. Fortunately, space women and a little boy team up to defeat them... and they have their own supply of Gamera stock footage.
It was the fun of monster movies that drew me to this movie project in the first place, so who can blame me if I go running back to them. Pound for pound, this movie probably has more monster battle footage than any other Gamera movie. The problem is... it's almost all stock footage from earlier Gamera movies. Yes, there is a smidgen of new Gamera special effects footage here, but it's mostly of an immobile version of the monster whose sole movement is to open and close his mouth. From what I gather, Daiei was floundering at this point and this movie was supposed to pull them out of debt; as it is, they folded six months later. To keep up to date, they reference both STAR WARS and SUPERMAN in the early scenes, but make no attempts to emulate either of those films. They even tip their hat at Godzilla at one point. Despite the existence of super space women in the movie, they do very little other than try to avoid getting killed and cheer on Gamera. Yes, it's all a bit of a ripoff, but if in you're in the mood for an early Gamera movie, this one would work as well as any other. It would be another 15 years before Gamera would return to the screen, and at that time he would finally emerge from outside the shadow of Godzilla to stake his own monster territory. This movie was merely the end of his first era.