Sadly, Gamera Vs. Guiron is a definite step back after Gamera Vs. Viras despite not having nearly half as silly looking a monster for our giant fire-breathing flying turtle to battle. Once again the plot revolves around a Japanese and a foreign sales-friendly American boy, but this time the pair are younger, blander and not only devoid of much in the way of personality but, more damagingly, lack the screen chemistry of Toru Takatsuka and Carl Craig. While you could believe their predecessors really were best friends, these two only seem to be together because the casting director put them next to each other and because of their ability to remember their lines and to stand where the director tells them. Which is a problem when most of the plot evolves around them. It's another exercise in juvenile wish-fulfilment, a Hansel and Gretel in space story that sees the two would-be astronomers who dream of a world without wars or traffic accidents spot a flying saucer land in the woods near their house and, naturally, fly it to its home planet, whose last two inhabitants welcome them with open arms, beaming smiles and drugged donuts, planning to use the spaceship to escape their Gyaos-ridden world and use the boys as rations en route - but not before eating their brains to assimilate their knowledge so they can fit in on Earth. Naturally Gamera is in hot pursuit to save the children, facing off against the aliens pet attack-monster Guiron with his knife shaped head and his love of slicing his opponents into little bits and throwing them around.
While it's always fun to watch Guiron slice'n'dice, the film's just rather flat, the budget struggling with the script and frequently losing - the interior sets are okay but the model spaceship never looks more than three inches tall and the alien world seems a bit on the make do and mend side: films like At the Earth's Core managed to do much more with what were probably even smaller resources. It's unengaging stuff but fairly painless to watch.
After the limp and disappointing Gamera Vs. Guiron, Daiei pulled their socks up a bit with Gamera Vs. Jiger, giving it a noticeably bigger budget, better monster smackdowns and a better script. Set around Japan's Expo 70, which gives them a huge ready-built set to play with, it plays a bit like a spin on Mothra without the singing fairy girls and the native dance numbers as archaeologists arrogantly take a statue from a remote island to put on display only to release yet another monster who's soon heading for Tokyo having left Gamera stuck on his back - well, he is a turtle...
By now the series was unashamedly aimed at children, set in a world where no-one is to surprised when monsters appear and when the solutions are only found when adults listen to children in a modern day fable. There's even a Tinker Bell element to it - you have to believe in Gamera for him to win. Once again it offers a Japanese and American juvenile lead, and while there's not much spark between them they're better actors, though as always the real stars are the men in the rubber suits. It helps a lot that this time the hero in a half-shell gets to face off against one of his best opponents (the film even offers a neat solution to why the statue kept him trapped for millions of years). Just as welcome is the fact that they don't scrimp too obviously on the budget as they would in later entries. Though the appearance of a minisub makes you think you'll be seeing the minisub vs. Gamera race from Gamera Vs. Viras again, it's put to rather more imaginative use - the only recycled footage this time is in the title sequence. Even Gamera's theme song gets new lyrics. It's naturally silly stuff, but it's certainly entertaining for kaiju fans even if it isn't up to Toho's standards.
Shout Factory's Region 1 DVD offers decent 2.35:1 widescreen transfers for both films with the original Japanese soundtrack and two English dubs and photo gallery that's full of composite stills that are far more exciting than anything in the films itself.
2 people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?