Gamera Vs Space Monster Viras (AKA Destroy All Planets) – 1968, Noriaki Yuasa
GAMERA?! More like SCAMera!
Just when Daiei was doing so well with it’s Gamera franchise, it farts out this bellow average embarrassment, a lousy Gamera Part IV which relies heavily on recycled footage from previous Gamera films to fatten up it’s run-time. This is done so extensively that it’s really hard not to think of Gamera Vs Viras as a bit of a rip off, Which is a shame because he was just starting to win me over like only a mammoth, city demolishing turtle beast from Atlantis can. What am I supposed to do now?!
THE PLOT~ The movie opens with a super bizarre looking alien craft cruising up on Earth, looking to get in on some of that sweet, interplanetary-conquest action, but then the aliens see Gamera zooming around in space and completely freak the fuck out. Gamera kills them all, because apparently that’s his thing now, but not before the aliens manage send a distress signal back to planet dumb ass stressing the importance of Gamera awareness. Good looking out, you stupid, alien buttholes.
Meanwhile, in Japan, we meet our main characters, Jim and Masao, two young boys who are members of the Japanese wing of the Boy Scouts… Did you even know they had friggin’ Boy Scouts in Japan? They totally do, and they seem to be way cooler than the American Boy Scouts, because they’ve got chicks, for one, and also they chill with Gamera and work to repel alien invasions, so you can take your Pinewood Derby and shove it up your ass, America. Japan does the Boyscouts right. Anyway, upon meeting our two mischievous preteens, they waste no time in getting into some seriously ridiculous hi-jinks; first, they sabotage a small submarine within ten minutes of their introduction. Next, they’re partying with Gamera less than thirty minutes into the picture, and finally, towards the end of the movie, they manage to sabotage` the alien spacecraft and save the day, which is a crucial moment in the defense of Earth. Long story short, Moonrise Kingdom has nothing on these intrepid junior outdoorsmen, they deserve hella merit badges for this shit.
But earlier in the movie, before Jim and Masao save the world, the alien conqueror people do indeed send a second spaceship to Earth after Gamera chows down on the first one. This time the galactic interlopers get right down to the task of figuring out just who this Gamera chap is, anyway, and after some investigation, they see what’s going on here; Gamera is mighty, but he does have one weakness; “his pronounced and unconditional love of children.” Naturally, they deploy Chris Hansen of Dateline NBC immediately.
Hey, Gamera, why don’t you have a seat over there?
Also, though, they kidnap Jim and Masao, and keep them prisoner aboard their craft as a bargaining chip in case the United Nations thinks they can get away with nuking the weird series of striped orbs they dare to call a spaceship.
Behold; a spacecraft which can share the frame with a gigantic, jet propelled turtle monster and still manage to be the most ridiculous thing visible.
Finally, just for good measure, they use their far out space Martian technology to brainwash Gamera and send him on a smashing spree. This chunk of the film is especially compromised by Daiei’s cheapskate-stock-footage recycling scheme, as we are made to trudge through a replay of the first three movies for what must be at least twenty minutes, and I would call that totally unacceptable. Some of this reused footage is BLACK AND FUCKING WHITE, because it comes from Gamera’s first movie, and that’s just embarrassing. Have you no shame, Daiei?!? What were you damn thinking!? It’s also badly distracting to see actor Kojiro Hongo, who in this movie plays a Scoutmaster to Jim and Masao, clearly visible playing different characters in this older footage, and I would say that this shameful fumble hurts the film nearly as badly as the sudden and unexplained disappearance of all color from the universe. Daiei- you suck for what you have done here.
In the end, the boy’s fuck up the surprisingly easy to sabotage spaceship and all the aliens reveal their true form- weird, pointy squid monsters, which is a lot better than the disguises they were using- human bodies with black smocks, grey chino pants, a beret, sneakers and one of those white collars they give you when you get a haircut. These aliens shop at Goodwill. Anyway, they look almost as ridiculous in their squid form, which is something like what you would get if a squid mated with a Leatherman Multi-Tool.
The math is solid.
Regardless, these loser squid beasts from space all Voltron together into one giant stupid squid monster, and then proceed to battle and gruesomely impale poor Gamera, who somehow survives this seemingly mortal wound, and in return, murders them all. And that’s the movie.
It’s okay at best. Kinda fun, but the radically pronounced kid-centric vibe isn’t doing the
movie any favors, and the excessive use of stock footage alone disqualifies it from anything above a ‘C’ grade. Gamera VS. Space Monster Viras is something Daiei should have been ashamed of, especially given the gradual upward climb good ol’ Gamera had been experiencing before this dud. To be frank, I’m angry about it. He deserved better, and it’s crazy to think that the same studio that gave us Daimaijin is even capable of stooping to this shameful low.
If we wanted to defend Gamera Vs Viras, it might be worth mentioning that this could, MAYBE, be Daiei’s answer to Godzilla’s Revenge, a Toho produced movie that was also much more kid friendly, and which also made extensive use of stock footage… but let’s be honest, that feels more like a cop-out than a justification. Godzilla’s Revenge was more forthcoming about it’s previously seen footage, and since we don’t even know if those monsters are “real” within that film’s individual universe, the dreams sequences in which they are seen could all just be cobbled together memories of past Toho films the main character enjoyed. More importantly, they don’t interrupt color footage with black and white footage and then try to sell it to you as a new event, so Gamera Vs. Viras is a shame any way you slice it.