We here at Gravedigger’s Local 16 celebrate Godzilla’s birthday every year, but what about Gamera?
Regular readers of this site are no doubt familiar with Japan’s favorite giant, flying turtle (that breathes fire to boot). If not, then you need to read this. Now. In either case, what you may not realize is that the first Gamera movie came out all the way back in 1965 on this very da…What? It came out on the 26th? Seeing as how I’d have to wait until 2015 to have this article posted on the correct day and still have it be Thanksgiving at the same time, I’ll think I’ll just celebrate a day early. I’d probably still be too busy being in a food coma to write this up tomorrow anyway.
In honor of Gamera’s birthday, I wanted to post something really unique and special. So let’s look at the Gamera movie that never made it. After 1971’s Gamera vs. Zigra (the 7th film of the original series), Daiei planned on pitting Gamera against a giant serpent called Garasharp. Although things apparently got to the point where a costume was made, Daiei’s bankruptcy effectively ended the project. Sadly, the costume was either unavailable, unusable or forgotten when the Tokuma Shoten publishing company bought Daiei and released Gamera: Super Monster in 1980. It’s a shame, too, as doing so would have spiced up what little new Gamera footage was shot for the film (which largely consisted of stock footage from the previous entries in the series).
However, fans did eventually get a chance to see Garasharp. For you see, a short film was created about the film for the release of the Gamera series on LaserDisc (and later carried to DVD). Using a combination of interviews and narration over concept art, storyboards and models, the basic plot for the film was revealed. Thanks to kaijusroyaume, we can watch it right this instant:
I don’t know much Japanese, but the basic gist of the video is that Gamera would fight and eventually kill Garasharp. Although Garasharp dies, it was able to give birth to either two offspring or a single two-headed creature. Being the friend of all children, no matter what species they are, Gamera spares the offspring’s life by flying it to a deserted island to live out its days in peace. The end also offers a tantalizing glimpse at another monster in addition to Garasharp: a bulky orange monster on four thin legs that isn’t shown in the synopsis detailed in the video. Apparently, this creature is named “Malcobkarappa” and its name seems to indicate that it’s a mutated fungal growth of some kind, presumably something that was originally growing on (or in) Garasharp.
Hopefully, Kadokawa Pictures (the company that bought Tokuma Shoten and now owns Daiei’s assets) will see fit to revive Garasharp and Malcobkarappa for a future Gamera film. Until then, we’ll have to make due with the information gathered here. I’m just thankful they made that video showing what could have been.
UPDATE: The kaiju costume noted above might not have been Garasharp after all! Based on the reference to the costume’s two heads, it might have been a costume made to depict Wyvern, a different Gamera foe who never appeared onscreen. Then again, based on some notes about Garasharp and Wyvern, one kaiju might have been gradually redesigned into the other! It also turns out there was an earlier attempt at a Gamera movie which never got made…
Happy (Early) Birthday Gamera!