OOM #15 – Gamera vs. Viras (1968)

A new day of horror in this Overlook’s October Madness, the series of 31 days that features one horror movie review a day. Today we have one of the wildest installments of the Gamera series, ‘Gamera vs. Viras’ (1968), brace yourselves for the video done by James Rolfe, which you can see here, and then my review, that even surprises me, down below.

The moment this movie starts you already know if you’re going to like it or not. We hear a narration from an overlord alien mindset that approaches planet Earth, all this while we see parts of the alien ship from where this voice is coming from. The ship seems to be empty and it talks about how it plans to take over Earth and enslave all humans, all this because it’s the planet that looks like the most to their home. Anyway, what they didn’t count with was with the friend of all children (this time, a title that is actually spelled out in the movie) Gamera to defend the planet, at least for a while. Gamera actually crashes into the spaceship, breaking it and making it useless for a while. And meanwhile the bad guys are recovering we see the innocent adventures of a couple of kids that are in a summer camp, they are given the oportunity of actually pilot a submarine prototipe (please, someone tell me when would that ever happen in real life) and go under the sea, play with the creatures, fishes and find something incredible, in this case, they find Gamera, and we can see that he is a changed monster, he loves the kids, he plays with thems and even helps them when the danger seems to approach: the aliens are back, and this time they mean business, they even show us a montage of 15 minutes of stock footage from earlier Gamera films to tell us that they’ve done their homework, they rented the movies, studied them and came out with the conclusion that Gamera loooves children, and to make him do the stuff that they want, they have to kidnap the two kids and then force him to wear the mind control. Once with the mind control, Gamera is ordered to destroy the cities, and the shock is so big, that everyone seems to remember back to the first film in black and white when Gamera actually came out only to destroy and kill the humans.

This film is, obviously, for kids, and even the chilling sequences of the final 15 minutes, when the alien turns out to be Viras, the giant monster that Gamera has to fight, it all plays like a sequence from a popular violent anime like Saint Seiya or Dragon Ball Z, lots of fake blood and violent and outrageous stunts that could have popular and copied names from kung fu maneuvers. The colours and flashy lights are kid friendly, of course, and it gives the movie a nice and actually really interesting look towards how the cinematography of the interiors plays with the costumes and then all is contrasted by the fight sequences featuring Gamera. This is maybe the most interesting Gamera film from a cinematography stand point, as it uses many sources of light, it actually plays with the eyes of the aliens and the chiaroscuro of certain sequences, the interior of the spaceship is actually a work of retrofuturism to be applauded nowadays, and there’s some retroprojection to have Gamera and the kids in the same frame, reacting to what they say. The film from a script and development stand point is weak, but is actually way more decent than most children films that come out this years, and that is saying quite something. This should be the Gamera film that you could watch if you want to know if you either love or hate the series, for me, this is on the better tier of the series, this is actually interesting besides any clunkiness that the characters or the plot may have, the fight between the monsters is equiparable to the one in Monster Zero. A good kaiju in the end.

7/10

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