Subnautica

Viewed through a 10-year-old’s eyes, Gamera vs Viras is nifty. Two kids pilot a miniature submarine, driving alongside Gamera, and even around him as they explore. It has aliens with glowing eyes, monster decapitations, and later, a brutal fight in which Gamera finds himself gored by an intergalactic space squid.

In that way, Gamera vs Viras is generally harmless. Kooky, weird, surreal. Cheap, too. Daiei’s financial misfortunes – the entire Japanese movie industry, really – become apparent in this entry, not only utilizing stock footage, but black & white stock footage from 1965’s Gamera, spliced in to the all-color production.

Gamera vs Viras is generally harmless. Kooky, weird, surreal

Letting kids star and showing them as smarter than adults (and aliens) gives the story a hook for the youngest set. It speaks to adults – trust children, because even at their most rambunctious or troublesome, their innocent minds will problem solve a way out of trouble. The fault isn’t in the budget or lack of effort; success against Japan’s changing movie marketplace challenged everyone. Rather, it’s the aimlessness of Gamera vs Viras.

Gamera vs Gyaos partly did the same thing. There, a little boy, Eiichi, solved the world’s monster problem, but did so with the backing of authentic real world drama. Outlandish, but earnest and purposeful. Seeing Eiichi react to something truthful gave his actions weight. Gamera vs Viras spends its time filming Masao (Toru Takasuka) and Jim (Carl Craig) eating sandwiches and drinking juice.

An indirect PSA plays out for the Boy Scouts. Masao and Jim sport their membership uniforms throughout; their many escapes and successful ploys suggest a link to scouting. That’s not made clear though. Gamera vs Viras doesn’t even make a case for joining. The only thing the 100+ kids do is take roll call, leaving Masao and Jim on their own.

Gamera shows up early and often, countering any criticisms from previous films. He smashes bulbous spaceships, then rumbles with his kaiju opponent for the final 10-minutes or so. There’s no loss of creativity as plausibility is tossed. Viras is stuck with a rock on his pointy head, and Gamera surfs on Viras’ tentacles. Whimsical, but hollow.

Video

Mediocre mastering leaves Gamera vs Viras looking rough. Coarse and weighted grain suggests a lower resolution scan, some (rarely) precise detail aside. Whatever the source print, it’s fine, spotless in terms of scratches or other imperfections.

That fattened film grain brings issues to color reproduction. Gradients harden, leading to visible separation and banding-like complaints. Overall saturation nicely decorates the sets with vivid yellows and oranges. Flesh tones naturally warm up. Primaries pleasingly brighten.

Pumped up contrast causes a few issues, mostly in the military base scenes. Whites clip slightly, giving images a blown out appearance. Other than Gamera’s hide, black levels find few uses. Viras’ ship interior goes dark in spots, shadows dense and maintaining the intended silhouette on aliens.

Audio

Original Japanese and the English dub offer choice. DTS-HD will suffice for the simple sound design, at its heaviest when presenting the Gamera theme song (which became a constant in the series). Vocals render well, and thin instrumentals land their peaks. Same goes for the tiny underscoring.

Dialog holds up. Inside the mono mix, elements exist in perfect balance.

Extras

Actor Carl Craig joins with Blu-ray producer/friend Jim Cirronella on an active commentary (over the longer US version). August Ragone appears for his intro, and Cral Craig returns to show off his Gamera vs Viras memorabilia. An hours worth G-Fest 2003 footage (featuring Yuasa and Craig) is spectacular. Yuasa’s Boy Scouts PSA from 1966 is here too. Alternate opening credits for the US version, Destroy All Planets, are followed by trailers and an image gallery.

In addition to the US edition in its entirety (fattened with more stock footage), Arrow includes a director’s cut, but doesn’t note the differences in the disc’s menu. It runs roughly nine minutes longer than the Japanese original, but shorter overall than the US cut.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Gamera vs Viras
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A final turning point for the original series, Gamera vs Viras aims directly at kids through a hollow, meandering story that might engage the youngest.

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