Thursday, 24 June 2021

Gamera Vs Giant Evil Beast Guiron


The Slice Is Right

Gamera Vs Giant Evil Beast Guiron
aka Gamera tai daiakuju Giron
aka Attack Of The Monsters

Japan 1969
Directed by Noriaki Yuasa
Arrow Blu Ray Zone B

Wow. Just wow. Is this the greatest movie ever made? Probably not. Is this the Citizen Kane of giant flying turtle movies? Also, probably not but, honestly, this movie was so much fun that I spent my time texting about it and then replaying the bits I missed while texting because it brought so much violent silliness to the table. I mean, by now the Gamera series was completely retooled for the kiddie market and, following on from the surprise success of the previous entry, Gamera Vs Viras (reviewed here), it’s pretty much highlighting the child protagonists almost exclusively but, even so, the surrealistic violence on this one is both astounding and drawn out in a pretty sadistic manner, so I was confused in terms of the juxtaposition of intended audiences. Indeed, some of the more gruesome monster carnage was cut from the film when it was re-titled as Attack Of The Monsters, for the AIP release in the US.

After some complete tosh about a star in trouble on the other side of the galaxy (the writers apparently trying to ride the back of the enthusiasm for the upcoming moon landing), followed by a credit sequence shown over boiling lava which, in all honesty, has nothing to do with the content of the movie.... a Japanese kid, his sister and his American friend witness a spaceship landing through his telescope. The next morning they bike over to where it landed and the two boys enter the thing... and get whisked away to another planet. A planet which has a population of sinister aliens with their own monster called Guiron, who sees off a space monster who is a tarted up version of Gyaos from a previous movie, in spectacularly violent fashion (yeah, I’ll get to that soon). Meanwhile, the younger sister can’t convince the boy’s mothers they have gone off to have adventures in space. Incidentally, there’s a strange take in the film where one of the boys looks straight into the camera and at first I thought he was breaking the fourth wall to connect with the audience. Then I realised he must have thought one of the other actors had flubbed a line and was looking towards the director to call cut and make them do it again. Why this shot was kept in the film I’ll never know, I guess.

Anyway, the aliens are bizarre and comical and transform themselves into sexy ladies. There are two of them and, although they often talk about the population of the entire planet and they have clearly have a vast ‘space complex’ on their world, you only ever see two of them and absolutely nobody comes to help them when they get into trouble at the end. And, since one of the aliens, by now transformed into ‘space babe’ form, kills the other because she’s been damaged, you have to wonder if she’s actually halving the population of the planet. Similarly, when one of the non-aimed missiles the kids manage to shoot at the surviving alien manages to kill her too, you have to wonder if these young tykes are not somehow guilty of genocide? Where the heck are the other aliens? This film makes no sense.

As it happens, the grand scheme of these two aliens, Barbella (played by Hiroko Kai) and Florbella (played by Reiko Kasahara) is to return on the ship to Earth and to eat the brains of the kids en route, before going on to eat all of the humans on our planet. However, Gamera comes to the rescue, sees off Guiron and takes the kids back home in a hastily prepared spaceship (you really don’t want to know... just watch it, it’s funny and highly implausible).

And... in terms of plot and effects, it’s not that great a movie. Some of the slide shots are terrible. It looks cheap and when the kids tell the aliens about Gamera, the defender of children, footage is replayed from the previous films... including some stuff from the very first film (with absolutely no explanation as to why some off the flashback footage is in black and white when the rest of it is in colour). However, the film more than makes up for all this with the epic battles between, first Guiron and Gyaos and then, two battles between Guiron and Gamera.

Guiron is, basically, a big walking Bowie knife with shark-like features and is about as surreal as you can get. When Gyaos tries to shoot him with a laser beam that shoots out from his mouth, it bounces off the surface of Guiron’s unwieldy knife head and is reflected back to Gyaos, cutting his own leg off. The one legged behemoth takes to the sky to fly at Guiron, who plays possum as he arrives before jumping up and slicing his arm/wing off. Then, with Gyaos on the ground, writhing around in agony, Guiron slides up to him and takes his other arm off before then using the ground as a big chopping block to slice his head off with his own big, cutty head. Said head goes flying through the air (for some bizarre reason, physics does not play its proper part here) and then, Guiron starts slicing up the body and giving an evil chuckle.

This is amazing and definitely sets the Guiron character to truly be the “Giant Evil Beast” he’s credited as in the title of the film. Gamera also loses to him on his first fight, largely due to the fact that, in another bizarrely surreal twist, Guiron has boomerang ninja stars which fly out of his knife head, hit the target and stick in (releasing gouts of blue Gamera blood) before returning back to their housing in Guiron’s head. But that’s okay, because Gamera soon learns how to break off the long, spindly top of a nearby mountain and use it as a baseball bat to deflect the shuriken in mid flight.

Other oddities involve the fact that one of the kids seems to be dressed up like Captain Scarlet and that Gamera uses a horizontal bar connecting two buildings on the alien planet to do twirly gymnastics on. One of the kids gives him a ‘Perfect’ score. Roll over Olga Korbut, is what I say. Added to this, when you have two space babe aliens delivering lines like... “While they’re sleeping, we’ll eat their brains raw.” and, not to mention, the cutesy and energetic Gamera song which is heard at least twice, then you have a film which, frankly, I could watch many times over the course of my life, if I had the time. This is perfect material for ‘spirits and beer’ nights with your friends and, once again, these Gamera films, housed in the beautiful Gamera - The Complete Collection limited edition box from Arrow (which I believe they have now reissued as two smaller, separate boxes), are really impressing me. I can’t wait to see the next one. Daiei created a very credible box office rival to Toho’s Godzilla series and it’s such a shame that the two titans never met (on screen). Definitely check out this Arrow box set if kaiju eiga are your kind of thing. Just fantastic.

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