A jet aircraft from an unidentified country (we never find out where it is from) is shot down by an American jet fighter in the Arctic. The crashing aircraft turns out to have been carrying a nuclear payload, which explodes, and the atomic explosion cracks the ice and awakens a massive, tusked turtle: Gamera!
Gamera, it is surmised, is a very, very ancient beast from a time when Atlantis still existed. It soon transpires that Gamera can fly like a spinning, flame-expelling UFO, and the huge turtle starts wrecking things around the world, feeding off flames, electricity, and so on.
Meanwhile, a boy called Toshio, who has been ordered by his father to let his pet turtle (terrapin) go, believes that the gigantic Gamera is, in fact, his pet: now grown very large!
As Gamera carries on destroying stuff, so that it can imbibe the energies created by man’s industries, an international scientific conference is held and it is decided that the ‘Z Plan’ must be used to deal with the titanic turtle…
I think Daiei Film’s kaiju movie still looks great, with very eye-pleasing B&W photography and lots of smashing and wrecking.
Gamera remains a very left-field monster creation, even to this day: it’s a giant turtle that likes children, smashes things and can retract its limbs & head so it can zip through the air like a living, flying spinning top, via some kind of natural jet power!
Gamera, in the movie, has very contradictory urges regarding mankind…
First the beastie sinks a shipload of people, but it later saves Toshio when he falls from a wrecked lighthouse, but then the raging reptile purposefully fries lots of victims alive with its flame breath!
The film handles the ‘Z Plan’ well: we’re never allowed to know what this plan entails, until we see the rocket revealed… as Gamera is blasted into space!
GAMERA: THE GIANT MONSTER remains a very entertaining, watchable kaiju movie, which launched its turtle-tastic star upon the world and many colourful, fun Gamera films followed.