Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
rob + = email

2020 January 06 • Monday

After the last two American Godzilla movies, I'm thinking about Gamera. They were making great Godzilla movies in Japan right until everything went off the rails with the American Godzilla, the Japanese Shin Godzilla and then the Japanese animated Godzilla movies, which I thought could have been really good but I didn't actually make it through the first one...

But Gamera! Almost all of those movies were for kids until they relaunched the giant flying monster turtle in the '90s with a real special effects budget and a more serious approach to storytelling.

Perhaps the biggest revelation was showing the collateral damage caused by giant monster battles. When Gamera breathes his fire breath to attack or defend, thousands of people on the street get incinerated. And this fact of life itself becomes a major plot point later on in the trilogy of 1990s Gamera movies.

This new approach required the right music, of course, and Cinema-kan in Japan has just released a three-CD set of the music from these movies. Ko Otani's score for Gamera: Guardian of the Universe is our 603rd Soundtrack of the Week.

Otani came up with a strong and heroic main theme for Gamera and while the music in general doesn't have a wide range of orchestral color, there are some interesting sonorities that pop up in the midst of the strings here and there, such as whatever that weird electronic sound is on "Terror Closes In".

The strings do most of the work here, always chopping and pulsing when they're not drawing various figures. Horns and percussion are frequently stabbing and popping and propelling and I think you can hear the influence of John Barry in places.

And then out of nowhere there's a kicky and bubbly pop song, "Myth", by Bakufu Slump. This has more of an '80s feel to it and is par for the course for Japanese movies of the '90s.

But it's a really good score for a really good movie! Let's hope they start making some better Godzilla movies soon. And another Gamera movie!