Gamera Vs. Guiron – 1969, Noriaka Yuasa, Japan
By its very nature, the Gamera franchise seems to invite a comparison to the work of his most noteworthy big, green rival, Godzilla. Gamera only exists as an attempt by Daiei to siphon off some of that big lizard money in the first place, and it would be nearly impossible not to at least think of the single most important, influential, and popular giant monster franchise of all time when evaluating a competing super beast, but then, Gamera continues to mirror Godzilla periodically throughout his adventures, as well. Or perhaps they’re both just responding to other ongoing cultural phenomena. Hard to say. In any case, this is Gamera’s fifth film… released in 1969, the same year All Monsters Attack came out, which sucked like crazy. So, damn,,, I guess in terms of 1969 kaiju films, Gamera is the reigning champ. At last!
THE PLOT~ Two mischievous boys (heard that one before) steal away on a mysterious UFO, which then flies them, autopilot style, to it’s mysterious and far away planet. Gamera spots the kids on the way out, and follows them, because little boys are apparently his number one priority. I hope no kids on Earth need Gamera’s help for the next day or two, because he’s way out of his jurisdiction this time, like when Joe Don Baker went to Malta in Final Justice. (Joe Don Baker reference- I can now die happy.)
Anyway, the planet they wind up on is all tubes and nonsense, it sort of looks like what you’d get if Chucky Cheese designed an alien planet. I would, in no way, be surprised if every hour on the hour Guiron wiggled out to play a pizza themed cover version of ‘Dancin’ in the Streets’, but I digress. This Dr. Suess land of moon craters and goof tubes is basically deserted due to an ecological disaster the aliens caused, which, in turn, created a race of Gyaos monsters, who annihilated all life and who still continue to tear shit up hard. Two (TWO) alien women somehow survived the subsequent mass extinction of their species, and they now control a giant monster called Guiron, which they use to protect their dome and tube style future city from the friggin’ Gyaoses. At first they act super cool to our wayward Earth boys, but we soon learn they plan to fucking eat their brains and then conquer Earth, for more delicious brains. Yep!
So, anyhow, Gamera shows up, him and Guiron throw down, and the day is saved. Our alien chicks are killed, our humans boys are returned to Earth, and the sun sets on yet another monster filled day in 1960’s Japan.
It’s actually a lot better than the preceding Gamera film, but it’s not going to rival Gamera Vs Barugon, or Gamera Vs Gyaos, at this point the reining Gamera champs. Like Gamera Vs Viras, this film is without question very, very youth oriented, “friend to all children” being a title Gamera eagerly accepted years before Godzilla sort of reluctantly gave up his days of menacing and killing people to follow suit with categorically kid-friendly adventures exclusively. Gamera does rip of Big Bad GZ, but there are times when this imitation looks a little more mutual than people would like to admit.
We should also talk about Guiron. I like him… But… Well, there’s just no nice way to say this, his face is a damn sword. Straight up. That’s really the first and last page of the Book of Guiron, his damn face is a sword.
Ol’ Sword Face, I call him.
Which is kind of cool. Gamera, being a turtle, is, essentially, a shield with limbs and a head, so just as he is inherently defense oriented, Guiron is a weapon with feet, making him outwardly offensive in nature. He also can fire shurikens out of the side of his head, and remains, without question, easily the least weird monster in the entire Daiei Gamera franchise. Also, when he kills things, he will often decapitate his enemies through the power of headbanging, which is extremely metal.
It’s actually quite likely that Guiron is the single most formidable foe Gamera has faced yet. Before this, it would be, without question, Gyaos, but as I mentioned earlier, Guiron kills like, four Gyaoses everyday, that’s like, his afternoon routine. He slices of their wings, crawls up to their imobilized, shgrieking bodies, and then headbangs his sword face into them, first decapitating, and then slicing the rest of the Gyaos into rounded sections like a giant sausage. In the end, Gamera DOES make sure Guiron is super, super dead, but he’s not able to do it on his own, he requires the aid of powerful, explosive rockets to really get the job done. In fact, in this entry, Gamera isn’t much of an able combatant at all, he’s much more adept at turtle gymnastics that the art of ferocious, monster combat. Perhaps this is a symptom of his evolution towards giant, smiling, tusk faced Happy-Meal Toy and away from nightmarish terror of Japan? Seems plausible.
Pictured: Turtle Gymnastics.
This shits goofy, no question, but Gamera has never managed to avoid being goofy, not in the Showa era, at least. If you like Gamera, you know this, and that shouldn’t slow you down. It’s also commendable (I guess) that Daiei has began to use extra terrestrials for it’s villains, just like Toho did with it’s Godzilla franchise, but has managed to come up with two different stories in order to accommodate them, a feat which Toho was never able to achieve after decades of just copying and pasting the same Alien Invasion script over and over and over.
The Gamera franchise appears to have peaked with Gamera Vs Gyaos, and what we see with this film is a pretty shallow, straightforward, children’s science fiction movie, with a few giant monsters. These movies are fun enough, if that’s what you’re into, but our big, frumpy turtle guardian is straight up phoning it in about now.