Happy Birthday, Gamera

GameraGamera, the only 200-foot turtle in the world that can shoot flames out of his butt, turns 44 today. Actually, he’s older than that (his Japanese birthday is November 26, 1965), but December 15, 1966 was when Gamera first appeared to U.S. audiences to wreck the world, save the world, and to shoot flames out his butt. (Not necessarily in that order.)

In his short but colorful career, Gamera has appeared in 12 movies (one was a greatest hits), battled a never-ending supply of giant criminal monsters, died, was reborn, and took more of his share of cheap shots from the likes of Barugon, Zigra, Guiron, and that ultra-dickhead, Gyaos. And not just regular Gyaos, either. Gamera’s had to shell up against several versions of the anvil-headed reptile bird, including Space Gyaos, Super Gyaos, and Hyper Gyaos.

GameraOther than the butt flame deal, here’s some other cool stuff Gamera can do: Fly (he’s jet-propelled), spin (like a 200-foot Frisbee™), shoot plasma fireballs out his mouth (not the result of heartburn, but from a steady diet of petroleum), and absorb Earth energy (like a 200-foot New Age sponge). Gamera’s only true weakness, besides female turtles in high heels, is cold temperatures. Not surprisingly, he went balls out crazy after being released from his icy tomb after Soviet jets carrying atomic bombs crashed and exploded in Antarctica. (At least it looked like Antarctica – it may have been the North Pole. They look similar.)

GameraThe pinnacle of Gamera’s achievements, though, can be seen in the balls out crazy Gamera 3: Awakening of Irys (1999), where Gam Gam engages in one of the all time greatest giant monster battles ever filmed, going up against the wussily named Irys. Yeah, Irys kicked Gamera right in his fireballs. But this duke out was over-the-top, with Gamera using his fire breath to shear off his own flipper, which Irys had pinned to a train station. His gushing wound cauterized, Gamera honked (it sounded like an elephant playing acid jazz on a bus-sized trumpet), then stood victorious over the smoking carcass of his multi-tentacled foe. That’s what you get when you mess with someone who can shoot plasma fireballs out of his mouth, bitch.

GameraSo happy U.S. birthday, Gamera. I’d tell you to blow out the candles on your birthday cake, but you’d probably just eat ’em. To a giant turtle, flaming candles taste way better than Gyaos layer cake.


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