Shout! Factory’s disc of the first Gamera film was an impressive effort that delivered its oft-disrespected subject with a high-quality transfer and informative yet entertaining supplemental materials. Thankfully, they’ve maintained this level of quality on this second installment of the Gamera series.
This new disc features a fresh, hi-definition transfer of the uncut Japanese version of Gamera Vs. Barugon: it runs 100 minutes, unlike the truncated A.I.P.-T.V. War Of The Monsters version that can be found on budget discs of this title. This was the first Gamera film to be shot in color and the disc does a nice job of conveying the film’s vintage color scheme. The audio portion of the transfer retains the original Japanese mono mix, included here with English subtitles. Neither of the existing English language dubs is included but that fits the disc’s serious approach to its cinematic subject.
Shout! Factory has also assembled a few classy supplements to back up the disc’s strong transfer. The most substantial is a commentary track featuring author and kaiju-eiga expert August Ragone (returning from Shout Factory’s first Gamera disc) along with fellow expert and translator Jason Varney.
Said commentary track is action-packed, with Ragone and Varney laying out credits and background info for virtually every actor who appears on screen as well as frequent examples of the differences between the script and the finished film. They also reveal plenty of fascinating trivia, like pointing out an extra who would go on to play Sada Abe in a Teruo Ishii film and the fact that Gamera Vs. Barugon cinematographer Michio Takahashi also shot Alain Resnais’s arthouse classic Hiroshima Mon Amour(!).
Unfortunately, there is no trailer for the film but there are three different image galleries: one for stills, another for publicity photos and a final one that includes images for the film’s Japanese pressbook. There is also a booklet insert in the DVD case that features lead actor Kojiro Hongo reflecting on his history with the Gamera series, including a very funny story of how he initially tried to dodge being cast in Gamera Vs. Barugon! The booklet also includes biographies for the film’s characters and a fun scientific-style diagram of Barugon.
All in all, Shout! Factory’s disc of Gamera Vs. Barugon offers solid value for money. Some collectors might be disappointed by the lack of English dubs but it remains a well-crafted disc whose fan-friendly approach is likely to please the kaiju-eiga faithful. Anyone who loves the Gamera films should check it out.