Gamera Vs Gyaos (1967)

Gamera Vs Gyaos (1967)

A mysterious giant bat-like creature is awakened by an erupting volcano and proceeds to go on a violent rampage throughout Japan. A young boy with an emotional link with Gamera summons the giant turtle to come to their rescue.

 

Formulaic springs to mind. As with the Godzilla films, once Gamera had worn out his shelf-life (which was worn out considerably after only the first film!), it was just a case of finding new monsters for him to fight. I mean, what else can you really do with a giant monster? It’s not like you can write gripping dramas or rom-coms about them falling in love with fellow giant monsters or holding down 9-5 office jobs. Come to think of it, there’s an idea someone needs to do. But anyway, the only thing that giant monsters do better than destroy Japan is to smash each other to pieces. As is the case with the majority of the kaiju films of the 50s, 60s and 70s, our heroic monster is called in to save the day when a new monster shows up and tries to take over. It didn’t matter whether it was Godzilla or Gamera, the formula was the same. Rinse and repeat.

Gamera Vs Gyaos follows the same routine. A new monster shows up, does some damage across Japan and looks to be a menace. Gamera shows up and the two monsters fight. Gamera loses the first round and retreats whilst the new monster continues its rampage and the humans step in, feebly attempting to stop the monster with tanks and planes. Then its time for the big finale where Gamera makes a spectacular comeback, fights the monster and defeats it, thus saving the day for Japan. As always, the unnecessary human sub-plots get in the way of the two monsters duking it out. Here we have some villagers trying to get more money from a new road being built on their land. Plus the ‘annoying Japanese kid who is best friends with Gamera’ makes his unwelcome debut to the series. For each Gamera film after this, there would always be a Japanese kid who was friends with Gamera. Don’t ask me why a monstrous turtle would befriend a fat Japanese schoolboy, it’s just one of those mysteries.

The obvious lack of budget in the Gamera films is reflected in the rather pitiful-looking monster suits. At least the Godzilla films had monsters which looked real (to a reasonable degree!) – the Gamera monsters always looked more like sock puppets fighting than guys-in-suits. Gyaos looks a bit cheap and has a weird angular head but I suppose once they start fighting with each other, that doesn’t really matter. He’s one of the nastiest kaijus on record and looks pretty mean, even managing to chomp down on a few humans.

Thankfully there is a lot more monster action in this film: the fights are over quick but there are plenty of them. Gyaos tends to just sit back and use his laser beam weapon (don’t ask!) which is a bit boring as prefer my monsters to duke it out and get down and dirty with the fisticuffs.  He’s arguably Gamera’s most famous foe and made a far better showing of himself in Gamera, Guardian of the Universe in the 90s reboot of the series. Gamera looks as daft as ever, with tiny hands and the rocket jets built into his shell. Conveniently, the monsters usually do battle in the middle of nowhere as opposed to the middle of the cities. The miniature sets look like Lego buildings so it’s probably a good job that they didn’t fight there as landing awkwardly may hurt!

 

Gamera Vs Gyaos is a half-decent Japanese kaiju flick and a lot better than some of Godzilla’s worst outings (Godzilla’s Revenge and Son of Godzilla for instance). Its too family friendly to be entertaining to adults wanting a kick out of giant monsters smashing Japan to bits but younger viewers may be interested in watching a giant turtle with built-in jet propulsion do mortal battle with a flying bat with a laser beams. Definitely the best of the original Gamera films.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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