Friday, January 15, 2021

Gamera vs. Guiron

Gamera vs. Guiron (aka Gamera tai daiakuju)
Noriaki Yuasa

We live in trying times and it's a good excuse to turn to some comfort films. Out of the entire Gamera oeuvre, Gamera vs. Guiron is the most comfortable for me. Many people came to Gamera after the 1960s, through Mystery Science Theater 3000. Much like some other films on that show, I realized that I liked the movie that Joel and bots were riffing on. It captures that essential magic that makes Showa era Gamera so much fun, it's serious, silly, sneaks in some monster gore, and as a bonus it generally whips along at such a quick pace that doesn’t get bogged down in reusing stock footage or rehashing scenes from the previous films.

Part of the charm of Gamera vs. Guiron is that it plays out like a story written by children. Akio (Nobuhiro Kajima) and Tom (Christopher Murphy) are obsessed with space, so naturally, they spot a flying saucer land nearby. They find it and board it. The saucer takes off and after one unsuccessful encounter with Gamera they end up on a Counter-Earth populated by two people and one monster. The aliens, Florbella (Reiko Kasahara) and Barbella (Hiroko Kai) are attractive humanoids who have a vested interest in eating children’s brains and their pet Guiron is a knife-headed kaiju who defends them. The kids run around and thwart the aliens. Giant monsters fight and spill multi-colored blood everywhere and everyone goes home happy singing the Gamera theme.


You’re here for Gamera and although he takes his time showing up you are treated Guiron slicing and dicing up a Space Gyaos (which is just a regular Gyaos costume spray painted silver) in a surprisingly graphic fashion complete with Guiron mutilating the corpse after the fight. Not only is it a big goofy rubber monster fight but it does set Guiron up as a threat and one who can potentially do a lot of harm to Gamera (which he does). The fights show a lot more life than some other Gamera films and the higher than normal amount of bloodletting gives the scenes some spice.

The aliens drive up the creep factor when they are introduced with their shadowy faces, blinking light-up eyes, and their interest in cracking open children’s heads to get to the delicious brains inside. Despite being creepy, these aliens are never threatening. They are barely able to keep two children at bay and are totally out of their depth when dealing with giant monsters. The rest of the human cast only occupy the first act of the film and aside from goofball cop Kondo (Kon Ohmura) none of them are worth much of your attention.

"Watch out, sometimes these things
pop open like a tube of biscuits."

Gamera vs. Guiron is my favorite sequel in the Gamera series, it has the sense of loopy fun that is unique to the Gamera films and it is enhanced with some cartoonish gore that gives just a little edge you don't normally find in giant monster films. It is a delight for young gorehounds and a cozy afternoon film for older ones.

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