Monday, June 7, 2010

Attack of the Monsters aka Gamera vs Guiron (1969)

Mysterious signals have been received from outer space. The eyes of the world have turned to the stars as scientists debate the possibility of life on another planet, eventually coming to the conclusion that since it would take an Apollo rocket "a million years" to reach the closest star able to support life, the only possibility for us to actually contact an alien life form would be for them to come visit us. Unfortunately, when that actually happens and a spaceship lands in a deserted wooded area in Japan, those same scientists with all of their satellites and scopes and radar somehow miss it. Fortunately, however, two preteen boys, Akio and his American friend Tom (along with Akio's little sister) are looking through their home telescope and spot the ship as it lands.

Upon investigating the next day, the boys find themselves suddenly trapped inside the ship as it takes off on a return course to its home planet. When the ship is threatened by an oncoming meteor and all seems lost, the boys are rescued by the giant, space-faring, fire-breathing, flying turtle known as Gamera. Upon seeing the boys inside, Gamera decides to accompany the boys and keep them safe, racing alongside the speeding spaceship at a speed that one of the boys estimates at upwards of "mach 33".

I first discussed Gamera in this post from March, in which I talked about the origin of the creature and how he, along with a number of his kaiju (giant-monster) brethren reached U. S. shores in the form of highly edited, often atrociously dubbed films that often bypassed a theatrical release and were only ever seen on these shores on TV. This film, originally known in Japan as Gamera tai Daiakaij┼ź Giron, or Gamera vs. Devil Monster Guiron was the fifth film in the highly popular (at least in its home country) Gamera series. Released in the U. S. as Attack of the Monsters, the film (in fact, the whole series) unfortunately never gained the popularity or respect of fellow invader Godzilla, largely due to the fact that it was seen more as "kiddie fare" instead of a vehicle for true monster mayhem. While it is true that the Gamera films often did focus on the child stars featured in them, they often also contained some relatively brutal scenes during the monster battles, such as the one in this film where Guiron uses the sharp blade on the top of his head to repeatedly slice into his opponent of the moment Space Gyaos, until he is not only dead, but quite well mutilated, a scene that was removed by AIP-TV before the film's release in the states. Plus, one must also keep in mind that all of the kaiju films of the era were trending that way, and even Godzilla acquired a son and more family-friendly attitude before being eventually rebooted for a new era.

Anyway, back to today's flick. Upon arriving upon the ship's home planet (oddly named Terra), the boys find that it is the property of two evil women (apparently the last of their race) who plan to use their pet monster Guiron to invade and conquer the Earth. After an exhibition of Guiron's strength and fighting prowess in which he easily and brutally dispatches Space Gyaos, as described above, the boys realize they must do something to save their home planet. Fortunately, Gamera, even though eventually outpaced by the speeding ship, has continued to track them, and shows up to face down the brutal creature. Despite Guiron's greater strength, a head blade that can even slice through the space-turtle's shell, and the ability to reflect beam attacks back at his opponent, Gamera finally wins tge day through a combination of guile and gymnastics. (And if you don't believe a flying turtle can also do gymnastics, just take a look at the picture to the right.)

Obviously intended to be a light-hearted afternoon's entertainment rather than a seriously scary monster movie, Attack of the Monsters succeeds on exactly that level, and even today provides a sense of relief from the take-themselves-far-too-seriously action adventure flicks of today. 

Let's take a quick look at one of the climactic battle scenes: (this clip was actually taken from a subtitled version of the original rather than the re-dubbed American import, but I decided to include it since it does include Gamera sticking his 9.95 landing.)

And here's the skinny:
Title: Attack of the Monsters
Release Date: 1969
Running Time: 82min
Starring: Nobuhiro Kajima,  Miyuki Akiyama
Directed by:  Noriaki Yuasa
Produced by:  Hidemasa Nagata, Sandy Frank, Masaichi Nagata
Distributed by:  American International Pictures

Attack of the Monsters is available to watch or download for free here.
It's also available to purchase on DVD from Amazon: Attack Of The Monsters (aka Gamera vs. Guiron).
Netflix also has the DVD available for rental: Gamera vs. Guiron.

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian


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