FILMS IN REVIEW: Gamera at low ebb or high camp?

Movies in review:

Destroy All Planets/Attack of the Monsters  

When Gamera appeared in the 60’s, he (?) had 3 great movies in a row. However as the years trundled on, his subsequent movies suffered from lower budgets and an attempt to appeal to the tiny tots. In BOTH of these films on this DVD, the action revolves around two little annoying boys, one Japanese and one Occidental “Gaijin”, getting into trouble and good old Mr. Gamera rescuing them. Frankly, I would have let the goofy kids suffer the consequences.
AOTM is the American TV edit of “Gamera vs. Guiron”. The plot follow the misadventures of a couple of kiddies threatened by two silver jumpsuit-clad alien ladies who want to eat their brains. Considering how irritating the brats are I can’t blame them. But, considering how moronic the boys are, the aliens might be better served stopping off at the Osaka “Arby’s” instead.
Gamera shows up to get the kids out of their predicament. However, the Space Women have a unique giant monster of their own to give Gamera a run for his money. Gamera and Guiron go head to head on the aliens’ home planet, a lovely colorful vista for their most unusual battle featuring teleporters, fire-breathing, ninja throwing-stars (!) and gymkata (!?!).


DAP is the American TV edited version of “Gamera tai Uchu Kaiju Bairasu”. It starts off well with Gamera knocking the tar out of some aliens and their oddly-shaped starship. Seeking less formidable foes, the aliens go to Earth and make life hard for two mischievous boy scouts. Unwittingly the boys provide the aliens with vital information regarding Gamera’s abilities (a.k.a. lots of stock footage from previous Gamera movies). Before the boys get in too deep though, Gamera shows up to lay down a second smack-down.

In a pinch, the aliens call upon their giant monstrous Boss in retaliation. Now I don’t mean to ruin the surprise of it for you, but the bad monster in this film is one of the oddest I have ever seen in a Japanese monster movie. In your mind, imagine the unholy offspring of “Tweety-Bird” and an octopus. Now spray paint their mutant devil-child silver. This alien fiend is simply dumbfounding to look at — super cheesy and perhaps the best justification for buying this DVD. Or, perhaps the best reason to shake your head in shame to wonder why you did.


Now if you are a fan of letterboxed, pristine prints of Japanese monster movies with subtitles, BEWARE! These are well-worn TV prints that have obviously been shown quite a bit. Although the transfer is not too bad, the prints themselves are faded, well-worn, scratched, and dirty at points with nice big rotten tape edits too. Worse yet, both are full-screen presentations of a widescreen original. You will wish at times that you were able to see the whole frame and wonder what you had missed. Worst of all, the gory bits typical of Gamera movies have been inexcusably SNIPPED!

As for EXTRAS, they are mighty light but do include some nice photos of Gamera and his friends at work. Also it is nice that both movies are on the same side of the DVD.

Hopefully good, clean, letter-boxed prints of these movies will become available again. An outfit named “Neptune Media” once offered these movies in VHS form with all the goodies (no pan ‘n scan, English subs, original soundtrack)  but they sadly seem to have disappeared.

If you are a hardcore Gamera fan, this DVD provides a nostalgic second chance to see these movies like you may have seen them the first time: on a Saturday morning long ago, badly chopped and cropped. However if you are a stickler for quality in your DVD collection, you might want to pass this one up.


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