To continue producing Gamera films, Daiei divided the films into two classes. Class A would be given the more sizable production budget while Class B would be given a production budget that is two-thirds smaller. Gamera vs Barugon is the only Gamera movie to be categorized in the Class A production. Since this has a larger budget, director Noriaki Yuasa would be bypassed for Shigeo Tanaka based on experience.
During the production of the movie's climax, the suit of Barugon wouldn't sink into the water. The suit had to be cut into multiple pieces just to get the suit to sink.
While attending screenings of the movie, Noriaki Yuasa noticed the kids were getting bored restless during long scenes without the monsters. Yuasa felt the movie lost its core audience and this inspired him to reveal the monsters earlier and consistent in later movies.
Gamera vs Barugon was released in Japanese theaters on April 17, 1966 in a double billing with Daiei's other monster movie Daimajin. Gamera vs Barugon underperformed in the box office and was never released theatrically in America.
After an expedition to New Guinea turns into betrayal, an oddly sized opal hatches out the monster called Barugon and goes on a rampage around Kobe, Japan. However, its rampage will attract the giant turtle Gamera and the two monsters are locked in battle.
After Gamera: The Giant Monster saw success in the Japanese box office, Daiei wasted no time going into production on the sequel. This time, the movie sought after to a more adult audience than children. It is a much more slower paced film and this is the only Gamera movie that does not feature a child character. The aim was to be a more serious and grounded monster movie, which didn't seem to land with most of the audience. When watching the movie today, there are some things about this movie that are off, but I find it to be the best Gamera film of the showa era.
The movie starts off right after Gamera: The Giant Monster showing Gamera's escape and then attacking Kurobe Dam in Japan. Ichiro, a World War II veteran, sends his brother Keisuke, Kawajiri, and Onodera to New Guinea to retrieve an opal that he hid in a cave during the war. As soon as they arrive, they are greeted by the island's natives and a Japanese professor who warn them to not venture into the jungle due to a curse. The trio ignore their warnings and went searching for the location where the opal was hidden. They found the opal in the cave and Onodara betrays Keisuke and Kawajiri. Keisuke is revived from his injuries back in the village and tells about the opal, which he learns is not an opal at all and is actually an egg belonging to a monster named Barugon. Onodara accidentally hatches the egg with a UV lamp and the monster grows to an enormous size destroying the ship Onodara was on. Barugon goes on a rampage across Japan and Gamera challenges the monster to a fight.
Having no children in the movie is one of the good things I like. You will hear this a lot in my reviews of the other Showa era Gamera films, but I always found children to be annoying and unlikeable. In this film, there are no children being annoying. All of the characters are adults since this was supposed to be a dark and serious film as opposed to the first movie.
Since Gamera vs Barugon went for a dark and serious tone it actually took liberties to show stuff like blood and monsters eating people. Yeah! A monster ate a person in a Japanese monster movie! Showing something as miniscule as that was actually looked down upon. Even Toho Co. would shy away from showing monsters eating people until Godzilla vs Megaguirus.
But it's not just the gore and people getting eaten that makes the movie dark. The story is what makes the movie have a dark, more grounded, and serious take on the monster. It is a story about greed and betrayal. A theme that is common in the Godzilla movies at the time, which director Shigeo Tanaka tried to replicate in this Gamera movie. However, I can see this movie being pretty boring for some as the build up to the fights are slow since this is a more story-driven movie.
The costumes, models, and effects are a mixed bag, which can also be a turn off for a movie trying to tell a serious story. At times, the monster suits and models will look fine in some angles, but not so much from other angles. Or the rocket Gamera escapes from looking obviously fake or the way Gamera is flying around on strings looked more like he was swinging loosely more than controlled by a puppeteer could really be looked at as goofy.
Now when it comes to Barugon, there is not much to talk about in terms of design other than it is a giant lizard that shoots a blast of ice from its tongue and rainbows out of its back. An okay design overall, but the name and parts of the monster's design does confuse people with another monster called Baragon from Frankenstein vs Baragon (aka Frankenstein Conquers The World) by Toho Co. It is like looking at almost identical twins. Do you know the "copied homework" meme? Baragon and Barugon are an example of that meme. They're supposed to be completely different monsters, but have similar designs and names.
It is a real shame that Noriaki Yuasa did not stick with the more serious stories in later movies. It would not be until 1995 that Daiei would reboot the series with a trilogy of movies and returning to the serious themes and stories that would become fan favorites today. If Yuasa had stuck with the more serious stories, then I think the Showa era Gamera movies would be much more appreciated.
Gamera vs Barugon is hands down the best Gamera movie in the Showa era with the serious and dark themes that are grounded into the story. However, the slow pacing and costumes and special effects looking subpar in some areas than others may turn people off. If you don't mind a slow paced story and the effects looking subpar at times, then I recommend this movie to be given a watch. This is truly the best movie in this era and it only goes down hill from here.
Now I want to know what your thoughts are on the movie. Do you think it's good or do you think it isn't all that good? Leave a comment in the comments section of your thoughts on Gamera vs Barugon. Make sure to follow me on Facebook, Minds, MeWe, Gab, and TRUTH Social to stay up to date for more news, reviews, and discussions.