Wednesday, June 1, 2016

"Gamera vs. Viras" (1968) d/ Noriaki Yuasa

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We'll get it all underway with this, the fourth Gamera movie to be released by Daiei Studios in 1968, as directed by Kenji Yuasa, the man behind such series entries as Gammera the Invincible (1966), Gamera vs Gyaos (1967), Gamera vs Guiron (1969), and the notorious Gamera, Super Monster (1980), as well as the Ultraman 80 tv series. If your sole exposure to Japan's terrible terrapin is the well-crafted Heisei series of the mid to late nineties, watching any of the Showa series could exact a horrible toll on your very sanity, and any clean underwear you may be wearing at the time. Don't say I didn't warn youse guys...

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Always supportive of scouting, I'll take three Girl Scouts boxes. Of cookies...of cookies. 
Somewhere in space, a strange alien craft that resembles bumblebee striped bouncy balls held together by an o-ring (probably because it is just that) is about to conquer the Earth when the planet's giant flying, flame-breathing, tusked turtle guardian, Gamera, makes the scene in time to blow it to shit. A second identical circle of balls is dispatched from the home planet to succeed where the first failed. It would seem that Earth is an ideal conquest for these aliens, who resemble Japanese men in surgeon gear and Puma sneakers, but with Gamera defending his turf so voraciously, the spacemen are forced to study their foe extensively before plotting their second attack. By "studying their foe extensively", I of course mean watch no less than fifteen minutes of highlights from the first three Gamera movies on their vessel's video screen. Yes, even black and white footage from the first film. They decide that Gamera's Achilles heel, like John Wayne Gacy, is little boys, and it just so happens that there's an International Scouting Jamboree going on, where two mischievous pranksters, Masao and Jim (Toru Takatsuka, Carl Craig) have backwards rewired a mini-submersible's controls, and are late for role call. Oh, you boys!

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"Shouldn't the camera be around your neck, Masao?",  queries Jim (Carl Craig).
With the help of a "Super Catch-Ray"...ahem, the sinister surgeons abduct the boys, using the young hostages as leverage with the giant turtle, who is fitted with a mind control device that the aliens utilize to wield the monster's destructive force against Earth's meager defenses, in another prolonged stock flashback sequence showcasing Gamera's prior attacks from the previous movies. The boys prove to be not only cleverer than Japan's scientists of the day, but also the otherworldly invaders, using Jim's lasso to free themselves from the aliens' bindings, switching out modules in the control panels to reverse the aforementioned Super Catch-ray and beam themselves back to terra firma with their glowing eyed captors mostly clueless until it's too late. With Gamera no longer under their control, the alien leader, a silly-faced space squid named Viras is forced to take more drastic measures, beheading his crew and absorbing their bodies to grow to an appropriately giant size for a knock down, drag out fight to the death against Gamera in the ridiculous finale. Can you handle it?

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"Oof-ahh!! My Labonza!",  cries a punctured Gamera.
American scout/lasso champ/photography enthusiast, Carl Craig would not appear in any more films, but would go on to fulfill his dreams by becoming an Air Force pilot. Fancy that. While it's no secret that any of the Showa Gamera films are shoddy, cheap, tyke-oriented Godzilla rip offs that are effortlessly dissectable by anyone, whether they're in possession of bubble gum machine space robots or not, tonight's review stands as a noticeable drop off in overall quality and production values from the previous three entries, and as you'll see throughout the month, it gets progressively worse from here. If you're game for cheap laughs (and who isn't?), you may enjoy these movies considerably more than I've predicted. A single Wop is more than generous here. All eleven Gamera films released from 1965 to 1999 were collected in a dvd set by Mill Creek Entertainment in 2014, and should still be relatively cheap to obtain. Approach with caution anyway.

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My sentiments exactly.
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mottikod said...

The kids in these movies are crazy reckless...and all they get in response are chuckles from adults.

Randy Ozehoski said...

My Favorite Gamera flick.

beedubelhue said...

Thanks, guys. I believe the annoying kids are unofficially called "Kenny's" in the Gamera series, after the kid from the 1965 original, but don't quote me on that, unless I happen to be right...


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