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Sampo & Erhardt

Sci-Fi Archives

Visit our archives of the MST3K pages previously hosted by the Sci-Fi Channel's SCIFI.COM.

Goodbye Sci-Fi

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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Episode guide: 302- Gamera

Movie: (1965) In the first of a long-running Japanese movie series, a giant mutated turtle with super powers is accidentally revived from eons of hibernation and, of course, attacks Japan. Authorities, there and in the U.S., work to stop it. Meanwhile, young Kenny is fascinated by the beast.

First shown: 6/8/91
Opening: Tom leads some warmup exercises
Invention exchange: Crow tricks Tom into the old “trust exercise” prank; Joel shows off his endless salad takeout container, but Frank’s birdcage vacuum malfunctions
Host segment 1: Tom sings “Tibby, Oh Tibby”
Host segment 2: Crow and Tom hate Kenny, but Joel suggests a positive outlook, and proposes a contest
Host segment 3: The bots are playing beauty salon when Gamera visits on the Hexfield
End: Another look at the cast of the film, Joel reads some letters
Stinger: Eskimo says: “Bye…”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (149 votes, average: 4.31 out of 5)


• One of the things that this episode-watching process does is compress the whole evolution of the show. It has only been a little over four months since we watched episode K05- GAMERA, but for the Brains it had been two-and-a-half years since they watched it. But, wow, what a long way they have come in that time. This one, like last week’s episode, is chock full of things that would be revisited again and again. The riffing is very funny and the movie is, well, it is what it is. Either you like this sort of movie or you don’t. The segments are all at least good, and that brings the rating up a bit further. So this one may not be a home run, but it’s a solid stand-up triple.
• With this movie we get Kenny, the prototype of the whiny, privileged, tiny-shorts-wearing grade schooler who demands to be heard and obeyed. Enjoy.
• Yes, Joel saw this movie during the KTMA season, but remember, this is all new to Trace. He was out of town last time. It’s possible Kevin had to sit through some or all of this, I suppose.
• With this episode, season three begins its odd see-saw rhythm: first a Japanese import, than an American film (mostly classic 50s sci-fi), then back to a Japanese import and so forth.
• And although he was mocked a bit during the KTMA days, it’s with this episode that we really begin the troubled relationship with one Sandy Frank.
• I believe both inventions are from Joel’s standup act.
• The next episode, “Pod People,” is famous for its “Chief? McCloud!” riffs, but did you catch the one here? “Goodbye, Chief.” “Goodbye, McCloud.” So it’s clear this was a concept that was already percolating in the writing room.
• Callback: “No!” (Cave Dwellers). “No dancing, not allowed” (The Crawling Hand).
• The phrase “In fear and hot water” is a Firesign Theatre reference.
• We haven’t really had a complete song from Kevin since “Creepy Girl,” and he’s terrific once again — although Crow steals the show.
• Joel is carrying, and drinking from, a soda can during Tom’s song.
• Watch Joel and Crow exchange “oh brother” faces during Tom’s song. Trace’s puppetry is has gone from good to great.
• Following the song, back in the theater, Crow mercilessly pummels Tom with Tibby jokes and then Joel joins in, upsetting Tom so much he tries to leave–and he runs left! Where does he think he’s going?
• Did anybody ever send replies to “Kenny! What Gives?” If so, apparently they weren’t funny enough to be included in a later show. It never comes up again.
• Goof: Tom Servo mentions Kenny’s rocks before the “Kenny’s rocks” scene in the movie. A lot of times they do a host segment that might have been more effective if it appeared later in an episode, after whatever they’re referencing takes place in the movie. This is one of those. But, in their defense, I suspect when you watch a movie five or six times in a given week you can lose track of when stuff happens.
• Then-current riffs: Tom does a Robin Leach impression. At the time Leach’s show, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” was all the rage. Not so much, now. Also: Crow notes that the other international leaders are likely to listen to Japan “since you own their countries.” Japan’s “lost decade” put an end to jokes about how the uber-wealthy Japanese were buying up everything.
• I asked these questions when we did the KTMA version of this movie, and got some pretty good answers, but I want to ask again anyway. Questions for the movie: 1) So, the old eskimo is the latest in a long line of keepers of the ancient Gamera stone that’s been handed down in his tribe for thousands of years, right? Then these complete strangers show up in his village and he happily hands it over to them? “Now son, guard this sacred stone with your life, um, unless somebody asks to have it.” 2) What’s with Dr. Hidaka pretty much lying through his teeth when he vouches for the reporter? Is he just doing him and Catherine a favor so they can continue their tepid romance? He says the reporter has extensive knowledge of Gamera. What does the reporter know that Hidaka and Catherine don’t know? He never demonstrates any real knowledge of the situation, that I noticed. 3) This is really another angle to the question of “Kenny: what gives?” Kenny behaves as if he has some sort of psychic connection with Gamera. But the movie never presents any evidence that this is actually the case. Yes, Gamera doesn’t kill Kenny when he has the chance, but that could have just been luck. (Some commenters said it’s a “lost in translation” thing with the dubbing. One commenter suggested Kenny has a form of Asperger’s. Most said he’s just crazy.)
• Mike is hilarious as a smarmy Gamera, but unfortunately the gag “You’d know about pain–you’ve seen Spalding Gray” isn’t quite as funny since Gray’s death.
• Crow makes a bad pun about midway through the movie, and Joel casually rips Crow’s arm off and tosses it across the theater!! He doesn’t even let Crow retrieve it at the end of the segment! Later, he does it again! He’s so strict!
• What causes him to do it a second time is when Gamera is being blasted off against his will, and Crow says, mockingly “Hey Joel, remind you of anything?” He and Tom then begin singing the opening theme song! This seems to enrage Joel.
• The Brains make no attempt to hide the fact that Tom’s hand is taped to his head in the last segment. He even yells “Yowch!” when Joel pulls it off.
• In episode 208- LOST CONTINENT, when Joel gets “movie sign against my will” the official FAQ stated that the Mads gave him a “shock to the shammies.” But that phrase wasn’t used in that episode, and didn’t appear until this one.
• “Gammera the Invincible” was the USA-released version of this movie, which included extra scenes with an American cast (Albert Dekker, etc.) filmed in America. The scenes added nothing … just more people talking about Plan Z. They’re not included in the Sandy Frank version.
• Cast and crew roundup: If you’re looking for somebody to blame for the entire Gamera oeuvre, look no further than Noriaki Yuasa, who directed this and three other MSTed Gamera outings (for brevity’s sake I am just going to refer to these movies by the name of Gamera’s opponent): “Gaos,” “Guiron,” and “Zigra.” Plus he supervised the special effects for “Barugon.” Then again, you could also blame screenwriter Fumi Takahashi, who wrote all five of the MSTed Gamera movies. Exec producer Masaichi Nagata also had that role for “Barugon,” “Gaos,” “Guiron” and “Zigra.” Producer Yonejiro Saito was the planner for “Barugon.” Editor Tatsuji Nakashizu also worked on “Barugon” and “Gaos.” Score composer Tadashi Yamauchi also worked on “Gaos.” In front of the camera: Eiji Funakoshi also appears in “Guiron.” Yoshiro Kitahara also appears in “Barugon” and “Gaos.” Koji Fujiyama also appears in “Barugon,” “Gaos” and “Zigra.”
• Creditswatch: One Lisa Sheretz is listed as a contributing writer for this and the next two episodes. Maybe she was a tryout that didn’t take? Also: Colleen Henjum begins a contributing writer gig that will continue into season six. Along with Bridget Jones, Henjum was a “home writer” — they sent her a copy of the movie with the time codes and she would fax in jokes. Audio was a rotating job this season: Fred Street did it in the last episode, John Calder did it this time and in the next two.
• Fave riff: “Oh…this is Pearl Harbor…how’d THAT get in here?…” Honorable mention: “So, extra crispy or regular?”

83 Replies to “Episode guide: 302- Gamera”

  1. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    >>>Was Gamera supposed to be evil in this movie?

    That depends on whether or not he was supposed to be SENTIENT in this movie. If, at this stage of his movie development, he simply had animal-level intelligence, the question becomes moot. When bears eat grubs, they don’t worry about the effects on the next generation of insects.


  2. Mac aka:afriendlychicken says:

    Executive producer Masaichi Nagata was the producer of some great Japanese films. He helped to produce a lot of Kenji Mizoguchi films, and also produced films by Yasujiro Ozu and Kon Ichikawa. The Gamera films were done at the end of his career.

    This episode holds a special place in my life for when this premiered it was the first episode my sister watched in it’s entirety. She finally understood what that weird show I loved with “those guys talking over it” was really about.


  3. Jay says:

    On the commentary on the Shout!Factory release of “Giant Monster Gamera”, August Ragone acknowledged that Toshio/Kenny was a pretty messed up kid (I belive he went into more detail why this might be). It’s one thing to hear it from our beloved wisecracking robots, it’s another to hear it from a noted (and good-humored)expert on Japanese cinema.

    I too met Noriaki Yuasa, way back at G-FEST ’99. He was a nice old fellow who enjoyed entertaining families and liked kids, particularly a toddler in a Guiron jumper.

    A decent but riffable movie, with good commentary, and the Tibby song (specifically Crow’s contribution) is a classic.

    “Tibby? Tibby?”


  4. bdtrppr6 says:

    i can’t wait for the box set-i’ve only seen one of them msted.

    as a side, the redone 90’s versions of Gamera are actually fairly rad. it’s still a flaming flying turtle from outer space, but the effects are a lot better.


  5. Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    FINALLY, Trace cuts his hair and Ponytail-Watch can come to an end. Stupid early nineties hairstyles. . . . ..

    After a good opening segment and solid riffing for the first section of the movie (as others have noted) this episode sort of loses steam and peters out.

    Count me down as a hater on the Tibby song in Host Segment #1. It does nothing for me. Yeah sure, Crow steals the show, but was there really a show to steal?

    HS#2 is okay, because I mean really, what gives with Kenny? but the slam on Spalding Gray in HS#3 is uncalled for, in my opinion. Sort of ruins the fun of the segment.

    As for the Gamera movie itself, eh. . .I didn’t really like it when I watched it in KTMA05 form, and this time around it still really didn’t do it for me. There’s something about it that makes me want to just. . . .tune out. The other Gamera movies are better, as I recall. Maybe not? It’s been awhile. I’ll have to re-compare them after we’ve reached that point in Season 3.

    A 3/5 episode, for me anyway.

    And here are some RIFFS, brought to you by DaiEI!!

    Crow: “Micro Machines at 10o’clock!”

    Joel: “Cut! Cut! Lets do it again.”

    When Gamera first emerges, Servo: “Now why can’t I have a cute shape like that?”


    Joel: “Hey it’s a rag tag band of misfits.”

    Crow: “Quick, move his spine around. He’s had a bad fall.”

    Joel: “They’ve been on that plane for 48 hours.”
    Servo: “Luckily the inflight movie is Berlin Alexanderplatz.” ——>Berlin Alexanderplatz is a fifteen and a half hour movie that originally aired on television as 14 episodes. I’ve not seen it; it sounds epic.

    Crow, ribbing Joel: “You can be replaced by Leno, you know?”


    Servo: “The Gamera-Jamera.”
    Crow: “I’ve got a turtle that’s as big as a whale!”

    Gamera, trapped in egg, Crow: “Suddenly he’s a chewy nougat center.”

    Servo: “They launched Merv Griffin’s microphone into space.”


    Shock to the shammies? Whatever that is, I don’t want one. No sir. Not at all.


  6. toot-toottoot-toot says:

    Love the Tibby skit but I find this a rather mediocre letdown from Cave Dwellers. This was about middle of the pack with Gameras for me (the best being Guirion and Zigra). I don’t know if it was the black and whiteness or what. At the time of writing I just finished Fugitive Alien 2 (I’m a bit ahead) and I’m so happy Sandy Frank’s done after that. The Japanese films were not my favorite eps.


  7. Sharktopus says:

    I’ve been refreshing my memory of this one in drips and drabs from YouTube and I have to say, emphatically, meh. Much duller than your typical kaiju smash ’em up, and WAY too dumb to take seriously like the original Gojira. I’m sure Gamera suffered from the typical poor Sandy Frank translation, but yikes. These are some of the stupidest movie scientists since King Dinosaur.

    But bottom line: the riffing just doesn’t do much for me. And Joel laid on the commercial quotes way too thick for me. I’ll admit that I’m too young to remember most of those Carvel-type references, but I don’t tend to enjoy that stuff on general.


  8. Sharktopus says:

    Oops – premature submission. Anyway, I look forward to the goofy, colorful Gamera flicks coming up (and the Gamera boxset). More crazy rubber suits, less Kenny please. Can we all agree he’s the the most annoying kid of any MST movie?


  9. Sitting Duck says:

    @ Shaktopus #58: Actually I think that may have been a Weekend Discussion topic. If it hasn’t already, maybe Sampo will take it for consideration.


  10. Rex Dart says:

    I also distinctly remember Noriaki Yuasa. A nice, funny guy. I still have my Gamera vs. Guiron VHS he autographed.

    If I could just defend the Gamera movies for a bit, I think the two points to remember is:

    1. The dubbing makes them much, MUCH worse than the originals.

    2. Excluding the original and Barugon, they’re squarely aimed at kids. Compared to a lot of kids entertainment these days, I think the Gamera films still compare favorably.

    Except Zigra. Blegh.


  11. Sharktopus says:

    @ Sitting Duck: I think that was a weekend discussion, but if not, it should be. Maybe “What child, other than Kenny, is the most annoying?” :-D

    I had no idea Joel was doing a Johnny Carson bit towards the end there until Crow said “We can replace you with Leno.” I love Joel – sure, we all do – but his “impressions” can be pretty terrible. He did a great Richard Kiel in The Human Duplicators, though. Too bad Kiel didn’t get to speak in Eegah.


  12. Mr. B(ob) says:

    I don’t think his impressions were meant to be perfect imitations or that given the great comic sensibilities on the show that anyone probably thought they were great in that way, I think they were meant to be funny more than “spot on” and in that I always thought Joel’s impressions were successful. In fact, being a bit off-the mark often added to the humor. It’s not what you say, but how you say it and nowhere is that more true than in comedy. I did and still do love Joel’s delivery both in his own voice and the funny voices he often did as well.

    I am seriously thinking about buying the recent Shout! Factory DVD release of Gamera in the original Japanese with subtitles just out of curiosity to see what the movie was like before it got a bit mangled for US release. That won’t mitigate the fact that it’s still largely a rip-off of the entire main premise of the original Godzilla, but it should still be interesting to see how the quality of the production comes off without any tinkering by the earlier people who released it in the US.


  13. Fnord says:

    I don’t know if it’s been mentioned, but the guy who plays the goofy drunk farmer who delivers the “That must be one of those… flying saucers… I’ve… heard… so… much… about… lately.” line is Bokuzen Hidari, who you may remember as Yohei from the film Seven Samurai, which was released 11 years earlier. Just a little bit of trivia.


  14. Cornjob says:

    “People don’t mean to be annoying, it’s just that they’re all messed up inside.”

    I think this is a particularly insightfull observation, and something usefull to keep in mind when you encounter a square that bugs you, REALLY BUGS YOU!!


  15. losingmydignity says:

    This one is a lot of fun indeed. This may actually be the best of the Gameras but I’ll be watching them again in the next few weeks, obviously, to see if that still holds true.

    I feel like this ep was a real breakthrough for them, riffing wise, but not sure if I can pinpoint why…Well, I like this one.



  16. Anita says:

    Am I the only one who thinks the theater silhouette looks completely different in this one? It seems “bolder” and bigger?


  17. jere7my says:

    What causes him to do it a second time is when Gamera is being blasted off against his will, and Crow says, mockingly “Hey Joel, remind you of anything?” He and Tom then begin singing the opening theme song! This seems to enrage Joel.

    It’s a sex joke. Crow asks Joel if the big phallic missile being erected on-screen reminds him of anything — i.e., the fact that he’s not getting any on the SoL. Then Tom starts singing “In the not-too-distant future…” and laughing at Joel’s predicament.


  18. Reaper G says:

    “Gammera the Invincible” is worth watching for the appearance by Alan Oppenheimer, who we all remember as Dr. Hale in “Riding with Death”. “Sam, I don’t want Gamera interfering with my patents!”


  19. MSTie says:

    I own the Gamera box set but can only take these movies in small doses. I hate the obnoxious Kenny and his ilk so much, but the host segments and the riffing in this movie are top-notch.

    Fave: “Suddenly he’s a chewy nougat center.”


  20. EricJ says:

    I own the Gamera box set but can only take these movies in small doses.I hate the obnoxious Kenny and his ilk so much, but the host segments and the riffing in this movie are top-notch.

    Personally, only found Vs. Guiron, and bits of Vs. Zigra, ever managed to take their riffs outside the Box.
    Gamera 1 was okay, but picking one for goofy cult value would have been enough. Like the FVI movies, that’s the problem of local stations that used to get their movies in cheap and often public-domain packages.
    (And the Sandy Frank bile in S3 would probably have been a bit less if they hadn’t had to go through the same station package in the KTMA days.)


  21. Sitting Duck says:

    Gamera fails the Bechdel Test. None of the female characters ever exchange words.

    In the DVD extra where Joel et al talk about doing the Gamera films, it gets noted that Joel tried to rein the rest of them in when it came to some of the more vicious riffs targeting Kenny. From what I can tell, they got back at him by line assigning him most of said riffs that made it in the final script.

    Speaking of DVD extras, recall the Tom Servo DragonCon panel where Kevin talks about the Tibby song, but he can only remember Crow’s lines.

    There’s one episode of the anime series Detective Conan (a.k.a. Case Closed) which involves a murder at a kaiju film set. The kaiju in question is Gomera. Like Gamera, he’s a friend of all children. Unlike Gamera, Gomera has its own equivalent of the Mothra faeries. While I’m at it, let’s play some Six Degrees of Separation. Detective Conan was localized in the States by Funimation. Which employs many of the same voice actors as the now-defunct ADV. Which handled the Stateside release of the modern Gamera films.

    Even in Japan, scientists are apparently capable of declaring martial law.

    Much is made of how Dr. Murase looks like Colonel Saunders. This is doubly interesting when you consider how popular KFC is in Japan.

    With this movie we get Kenny, the prototype of the whiny, privileged, tiny-shorts-wearing grade schooler who demands to be heard and obeyed.

    Except he doesn’t wear shorts.

    Favorite riffs

    The captain has turned off the No Dubbing sign. You are free to speak any language you choose.

    “Kenny’s not a bad student.”
    He’s just twisted.

    Or not Tibby.

    “It wasn’t very friendly of the two of you to give me the slip.”
    And make me wear it.

    “What are all these stones? Why are you carrying them around with you, Kenny?”
    To hurt people. Life hurts me, so I hurt back.

    Gamera demands your instant death.

    This is Pearl Harbor. How’d this get in here?

    Don’t touch me, infidel! The Man-Goat shall make you pay!

    “Not even the press is allowed to enter the area.”
    Kenny, however, is free to move about.

    You never loved me, Kenny. It’s just the rocks you cared about.


  22. Bruce Boxliker says:

    Gamera’s only destroying cities & crushing people because he’s hungry. He hasn’t eaten in several million years! I know *I’D* be pretty cranky.
    Ever think about the fact that when Gamera breathes fire out, he’s technically vomiting?

    As much as I do like this episode, it really isn’t as laugh-out-loud funny as some of the goofier Gamera episodes. I still enjoy it since I really like the movie itself, and the Tibby song is great. There’s still a lot of fun to be had here, though.

    Seems like Kevin’s falling back to his trying-to-sound like Josh voice for Servo. He occasionally drops it, which makes it all the more noticeable.

    @54 – Actually, Gamera in the 90s trilogy is not from outer space. He’s a genetically engineered guardian of the Earth created by the Mu. For those not in the know, Mu was the name of a supposed continent & highly advanced civilization that sank into the ocean. Just like Atlantis, but in the Pacific ocean.
    Come to think of it, Gamera’s never been from space. In the classic series he’s just an ancient life-form that’s been frozen in ice.

    For those interested, the last Gamera movie made, Gamera the Brave (2006) featured a young boy finding & raising a small turtle that grows up into Gamera. Not a great movie, especially compared to the 90s trilogy, but not bad, either.


  23. EricJ says:

    Sitting Duck:
    Gamera fails the Bechdel Test. None of the female characters ever exchange words.

    Whereas in Vs. Guiron, the two moms spend time talking about their kids…Thank You! Hello!


  24. Johnny's nonchalance says:

    What causes him to do it a second time is when Gamera is being blasted off against his will, and Crow says, mockingly “Hey Joel, remind you of anything?” He and Tom then begin singing the opening theme song! This seems to enrage Joel.

    It’s a sex joke. Crow asks Joel if the big phallic missile being erected on-screen reminds him of anything — i.e., the fact that he’s not getting any on the SoL. Then Tom starts singing “In the not-too-distant future…” and laughing at Joel’s predicament.

    Ummm… I don’t think so. It’s a puppet show. Sex may on your brain, but they sang the song because

    “his bosses didn’t like him so they shot him into space.”


  25. Into The Void says:

    “Let’s watch the kids go to their fate
    They’ll disappear into the woods
    It will be days before they’re found
    Cornjob will be blamed”

    “Why must we sing this stupid song?
    It’s getting really annoying
    We apologize, for it’s lame
    We are filled with shame”

    (not the exact episode, I know …but vs Guiron is my fave)


  26. thequietman says:

    Well, after the underwhelming (to me) “Cave Dwellers” this was a welcome breath of fresh air, hilarious from start to (almost) finish. Maybe it’s Joel’s child voice, I don’t know, but I have no problem with the riffs on Kenny’s obsessive, almost sociopathic personality.

    Kenny: Tibby, Tibby!
    Crow: How does he expect Tibby to signal him? Light a flare?

    Looking forward to more annoying kids yielding hilarious comedy with Pod People!


  27. Sitting Duck says:

    As an aside, one of the power cards the tabletop game King of Tokyo is called Friend to All Children.


  28. goalieboy82 says:

    what is it with sandy frank “films” to begin with. are they that bad to begin with or did he make them that bad.


  29. Cornjob says:

    #47 and #64 are my previous posts.

    This is certainly a legendary episode. If MST3K has a resident mascot Kaiju it is definitely Gamera. And what a perfect fit. Giant flaming atomic city crushing turtle. Apparently this makes some kind of sense in Japan, but in the West it’s a big WTF!?

    And the now legendary Kenny who is almost as scary as the turtle.

    I watched the Viras movie on Netflix. There were some charming children in it who playfully sabotage the controls of a submarine. I’m not a child person.

    BTW: Pacific Rim is the best Kaiju movie I’ve seen.


  30. Cornjob says:

    Genesis 19 recounts how a wicked city God punished by having it destroyed by a mighty flaming turtle in the tale of Sodom and Gamera.


  31. ahaerhar says:

    Have you caught Gamera vs Jaiga? I’m pretty sure it’s got the guy who played Cornjob as a different goofball and guest-stars Expo `70.

    But yeah, Gamera’s a perfect fit for MST3k. He’s not even _the_ big name rubber suit monster, he’s the other, cheaper, franchise.


  32. pondoscp says:

    It’s probably been mentioned, but just in case:
    Godzilla’s roar during the phone call to Gamera (in host segment 3) has been removed for the Shout! release. No biggie, but I do believe this has been the only instance of Shout! having to remove anything from an episode. (Now, the horrible audio glitch/pop/blow out your speakers in Final Sacrifice, that’s a whole other story)


  33. mnenoch says:

    Another one of my favorite Joel episodes and one of my go to MST3K movies. This episodes happens to be one of the few that I formatted for my ipod nano and I would listen/watch to it while going to sleep, driving, or flying.

    The Tibby song was another sound wave that made its way around on the internet in the early days so I had heard that a lot before I ever got a chance to watch it.


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