"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

From Shout! Factory On July 10th!

Art courtesy of Shout! Factory ©Kadokawa Pictures

Freed from the Z Plan capsule, Gamera attacks a dam upon his return to Earth! Meanwhile, a private expedition to retrieve a rare opal in New Guinea, unwittingly unleashes the malevolent Barugon! Virtually unstoppable, and able to freeze anything in its path, the monstrous lizard turns modern cities into glaciers until Gamera arrives to challenge the marauder! But, even the fire-spitting terrapin becomes trapped in the creature’s frozen grip! Can one of the explorers, Keisuke Hirata (Kojiro Hongo, Satan’s Sword), and a New Guinea native, Karen (Kyoko Enami, The Woman Gambler), help to defeat Barugon before it plunges Japan into a new Ice Age?

GAMERA VS. BARUGON (1966) was the second entry in Daiei Studios’ monster series, directed by veteran Shigeo Tanaka (The Great Wall), is more lavish than the original in terms of scale and scope — shot in spectacular color! Noriaki Yuasa (Gamera, The Giant Monster) was relegated to helming the visual effects for this outing, and the results are fantastic! For the first time, Shout! Factory presents GAMERA VS. BARUGON in an all-new HD anamorphic widescreen transfer, in Japanese with English subtitles! Special Features include a collectible reversible cover, a special 12-page booklet featuring an essay by actor Kojiro Hongo, publicity galleries, and an Audio Commentary with Japanese Cinema historians August Ragone and Jason Varney!

Shout! Factory's Special Edition DVD of GAMERA VS. BARUGON hits retailers on July 10, 2010 for only $19.93! Order from the Shout! Factory website, and receive a special limited edition set of Gamera postcards — each representing one of the eight original Gamera films — free with your purchase!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Unanimous Praise For Shout!'s New Release


©Kadokawa Pictures

With the impending May 18th release of Shout! Factory's Special Edition DVD of GAMERA, THE GIANT MONSTER (1965), the first of the original eight films to be released by the Santa Monica-based label, the reviews are coming in — and the early reports are stellar! While I have already received advance copies of the DVD, it would not be fair for me to review this disc myself (obviously). So, l will let the objective (and unapologetic) critics speak in their own words:

Kevin Pyrtle of WTF-Film.com: "First things first – the packaging on this release is exceptional all around... Opening the package one finds well designed disc art as well as a 12-page booklet, featuring a 2001 essay by director Noriaki Yuasa, character bios, [and] a neat anatomical rendering of Gamera himself... New in the supplemental department is a feature commentary by August Ragone... this is a fine track, offering insight into the Cold War setting of the film and a wealth of back info for the production and biographical information on the cast and crew... the well-translated subtitles [are the most literate] I’ve seen for a Japanese genre release... the work [Ragone] put into [the subtitles] shows. [Gamera] is a winner all around, and it’s wonderful to see another fan favorite getting its long-due respect... a must buy!"

Joe Cascio of DVD Drive-In: "Shout! Factory must be commended for such an excellent DVD presentation, giving this film the dignity and respect it deserves... The 2.35:1 black and white image is impeccably clean and transferred from an all new High Definition master created by vault elements... an excellent and very informative commentary by August Ragone... sheds new light on all of the film's key players like the late Noriaki Yuasa... as well as thorough biographies on all the leading actors and the genesis of what would eventually become Gamera... [his] playful comments about his distaste for the child character of Toshio Sakurai are also amusing... the dedicated fans at Shout! Factory... have obviously poured their heart and love into giving the genre fans the original GAMERA the way Noriaki Yuasa intended it to be seen."

Ian Jane of DVD Maniacs: "The best of the extra features on this disc is a commentary track from August Ragone... who quite obviously knows his stuff... [he] provides a lot of context... discussing how the Cuban Missile Crisis and other nuclear incidents set the stage for the film... If you've ever wanted to know more about the politics behind a film like Gamera, this is a pretty interesting way to learn about them, but we're also given a wealth of information about who worked on this picture, what else they may have done, how Japanese mythology is reflected in Kaiju films, and how the visual effects were done... Ragone keeps the facts coming quickly in this track, barely taking time to breath, and is never at a loss for words... The transfer is great and the extras are great. Shout! Factory has done an excellent job all around on this release and should be commended for their efforts..."

Stay tuned for more reviews as they come in...