In the mood for an offbeat movie, I picked up Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris from the local Best Buy this weekend.

Like many geeky boys my age, I grew up on a steady diet of cheesy sci fi flicks, including the large number of 1960 Godzilla and Gamera movies involving men in rubber-monster-suits beating each other up while destroying large areas of cardboard model cities. And for those of you who’ve seen some of these flicks, but have forgotten, Gamera was the giant turtle that was the friend of children everywhere, enemy of alien brain eaters and their pet sixty story tall lizards, and who also happened to have rocket engines that could switch places with his limbs.

Much like Godzilla, Gamera has had a recent film makeover in the form of three recent movies, starting in 1995. They’re all pretty decent, when you consider the competition in the giant monster genre, and actually come off better than the japanese Godzilla revival that occurred just prior.

The third movie is definitely of interest for those looking for a film that doesn’t hold back in terms of the actual consequences of giant monsters duking it out in populated urban areas. The movie revolves around a young girl who’s parents were killed during the events of the first of the three films, when the big turtle accidentally crushed the building her parents were in. Seeking revenge against the shelled giant, she releases Iris, a rather well-executed tentacled demon who’s more than willing to take revenge on Gamera.

While the story is technically about giant monsters, there’s more than enough plot revolving around ordinary humans, and most of the fight sequences are shot from the vantage point of many of the helpless people caught in the carnage erupting around them. The film pulls few punches in showing that while Gamera is technically on the side of the humans, many will die in the clashes. One fight sequence graphically shows what happens to a street full of people when one of the turtle’s giant fireballs misses its intended target, and by the end of the night the news estimates of up to 20,000 dead fill the televisions.

The effects aren’t always perfect, with the early fights looking closer to something out of an early Sam Raimi flick, but the latter fight sequences are really well done. Overall execution also is somewhat hit or miss, but along with the complex plot, prove to be something that rises far above the rather basic genre that spawned the film.