Gamera Vs Viras (1968)

Gamera Vs Viras (1968)

Gamera falls under the influence of aliens using a mind control device and they order him to destroy Earth. Two young boys manage to stop the aliens and Gamera then has to fight the aliens’ leader, Viras, a giant squid.

 

Gamera, the poor relation to Godzilla (the dominant statesman of kaiju films) sees his prospects slump to a new low in Gamera Vs Viras. Released in America as Destroy All Planets, the film was no doubt re-titled to cash in on Godzilla’s highly memorable Destroy All Monsters. Calling this whatever else it wants makes no difference because Gamera Vs Viras is disappointing. It’s worse than disappointing though, it’s appalling. The Gamera series was always aimed more at the younger demographic, featuring a couple of Japanese school kids in the lead roles and being the ones to help Gamera save the Earth. As a result the films come off more juvenile and cartoony than they should and certainly dafter than the majority of Godzilla films. But I guess with this being aimed towards kids, the goofier the better, right?

The other Gamera films never had much of a budget in the first place but this entry seems to have no budget at all. Instead of using new footage to show some of the things that the plot has Gamera do, they’ve simply cut bits out of the previous films and used the stock footage. This leads to all manner of terrible continuity issues as one moment Gamera destroys a dam in glorious Technicolour and then a moment later he’s smashing up Tokyo in black and white footage. Not least there’s the problem of the minor changes to the suits in between Gamera films. And no one is supposed to notice? It’s only kids watching remember – surely they won’t fall for the oldest trick in the book to keep costs down?

The ‘aliens trying to conquer Earth’ theme is the staple diet of a kaiju film – this time they dress like surgeons and wear berets. Their ship is a couple of painted-over plastic bottle tops stuck together. Their control systems look like kaleidoscopes. And of course, they’re all Japanese-looking aliens. But again, no one is supposed to notice. It’s for kids! They are pampered by overly cutesy dialogue, the fact that the lead school kids are boy scouts and one of the most awfully ear-splitting songs ever made, the ‘fight song’ that the kids sing.

Gamera looks quite cheap again and his opponent, Viras, looks awful. The giant squid doesn’t have much movement despite the numerous tentacles. The fight scene at the end between him and Gamera isn’t bad but with limited movement from both parties, the action mainly consists of static dummies being thrown through the air. They fight on land and underwater and it’s the sort of daft entertainment that one should be getting from the Gamera films, not kids in tight shorts fending off Japanese aliens in surgeon outfits. The main problem is that Viras just doesn’t get enough screen time. Yes the suit looks awful but like all special effects, their initial effect wears off over time as the audience becomes accustomed to it. If we’d have seen a lot more of the monster, we wouldn’t have been too bothered about seeing the zipper because we’d be too focused on the monsters duking it out.

 

Gamera Vs Viras is a mess of a monster flick. Too much stock footage. Too many silly goings on. And not enough monster action. I think even the kids that this is aimed at would see right through the empty shell of this sorry kaiju.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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