Thursday, October 14, 2010

GAMERA VS GUIRON / GAMERA VS JIGER


The second Gamera double-feature disc from Shout! Factory pairs 1969's GAMERA VS. GUIRON with the following year's GAMERA VS. JIGER. As with the previous double feature, the films on this disc represent the series' juvenile period, with stories aimed squarely at an audience of young boys - and 45-year-old kaiju kids like me.

GAMERA VS. GUIRON (a/k/a ATTACK OF THE MONSTERS) is probably the most bizarre of the Gamera series. A flying saucer lands on Earth. Two young boys (again, one Japanese and one Caucasian) board the alien spacecraft, which seals them in and takes off. Once in outer space, they encounter the heroic megatortoise, which flies alongside their runaway saucer until it increases speed and leaves G trailing behind. The craft lands on an alien planet (said to be on the opposite side of the sun from Earth), where the boys find evidence of an advanced civilization - and giant monsters, including "Space Gyaos" (a silver variation of the Earthbound variety, first seen in GAMERA VS. GYAOS) and Guiron - a quadruped creature with a head shaped like a giant knife blade. They also encounter the planet's sole inhabitants - two pretty space women who welcome the boys warmly and promise to take them home. Of course, the sexy aliens have more sinister plans... and a taste for human brains!

GUIRON is probably my favorite film in the series. It's not necessarily the best, but its space-age Grimm's Fairy Tale plot, copious monster action and sexy space chicks really push all my buttons. I'm also enamored of Guiron's sheer absurdity; not only does he use his entire head as a weapon, slicing up his opponents like sushi, he has the ability to fire throwing star-like weapons from his "ears." Combined with some lovely comic book-styled sets and miniatures, goofy kaiju combats complete with gouts of multicolored monster gore, and the virtual non-existence of adult authority figures, GAMERA VS. GUIRON is a demented delight.

The second feature, GAMERA VS. JIGER (a/k/a GAMERA VS MONSTER X) was one I hadn't seen before. In this astounding entry, archeologists inadvertently release the monster Jiger from its internment beneath Wester Island when they remove an ancient stone monolith. The revived creature makes its way to Japan and the grounds of the 1970 World Expo, where, in a battle with Gamera, it impregnates(!) the turtle with its own spawn. Two young boys ('natch) pilot a minisub inside(!) the gargantuan, unconscious Gamera to find and destroy the pesky little baby Jiger. Eventually, of course, "the friend to all children" is revived, and with the help of the human authorities, once again faces off with the destructive beastie....

Another strange trip into giant monster madness, JIGER possesses a slightly more elaborate - and utterly nuts - storyline, a really well-executed four-legged monster opponent, and more than a few jaw-dropping moments. Sure, there's plenty of stock footage in there, and the kids are again the real stars, but there are a few significant adult characters this time, and they're not entirely useless. We also get a nice visual tour of the 1970 Expo. Once again, we get some unusually brutal monster battles. I'm actually quite impressed at how well the performer in the Jiger costume moves on all fours - unlike the quadruped characters in Toho Studios' films, which generally scrambled around on their knees (Anguirus, Baragon), Daei's Jiger (like Barugon before him) actually uses his feet. Impressive.

Both films are presented uncut and in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfers are virtually flawless, with bright colors, and sharp detail. Audio options include the original Japanese soundtrack and English dubs. Bonus features are limited to a still gallery for each film, showcasing the original theatrical posters and other publicity material.

As stated in my previous reviews,these discs are a "must have" for fans of Japanese monster movies. They cost a  few bucks more than the many DVDs available sporting the beat-up 16mm AIP-TV (cropped) prints, but the widescreen aspect ratio and restored prints of these editions makes a world of difference.

Highly recommended.

BUY: Gamera Vs. Guiron / Gamera Vs. Jiger [Double Feature]