Space Gyaos Coast to Coast

Space is fascinating to the kids in 1969’s Gamera vs Guiron. That’s sensible: 1969 brought the moon landing. Paired with UFO culture, the fifth Gamera entry finds story energy in the real world.

Gamera vs Guiron brings a little education value, charting stars and planets. There’s even Cold War lessons – traveling to another planet, the kids learn the alien civilization was wiped out because of a computer glitch. Now, only two women remain.

From there, it’s a Saturday morning adventure with two kids whisked away in an alien ship, and then chased by the planet’s inhabitants – those two women, seeking to eat pre-teen brains. Terrifying to 10-year-olds, and soaked in color as to make this visually attractive, akin to a live action cartoon, thereabouts Gamera vs Guiron’s ambition.

Surrealism this is not – Gamera vs Guiron invents its own aesthetic

In producing a charming, kitschy movie, the animated-esque antics pair to the restricted budgets at Daiei during the time. It’s easier to let pass the rotting rear projection screen and limited miniature sets when Gamera vs Guiron is openly wacky. This is the movie where Gamera bats away throwing stars like a ninja, performs an acrobatics routine (he sticks the landing too), and fends off a monster with a giant knife for a head. Surrealism this is not – Gamera vs Guiron invents its own aesthetic.

On Earth, parents worry about their missing kids, Akio (Nobuhiro Kajima) and Tom (Christopher Murphy). A comic relief policeman acts out his purposefully clumsy role. Akio’s little sister pleads with adults to believe her brother sped off in a spaceship, but they don’t believe her. Tormented on another world, rejected on their own, the youngest in Gamera vs Guiron spend the movie belittled, even as they show smarts and do the right thing. As a reward, they get to watch a gargantuan turtle shoot flames at a living meat cleaver. Seems fair.

Unlike the previous Gamera vs Viras, Gamera vs Guiron enjoys a softened tone, a little schooling, and measured approach to worldly events. Straight fantasy gives children a standing against adults in an inoffensive way, not in protest to discipline, but by continuing to be truthful. Gamera makes any saves the kids can’t, this boyish story all the more delectable with monster blood and decapitations. Disjointed and weird, Gamera vs Guiron freely leans into its bizzaro camp mantra.

Video

In general, this Blu-ray presentation looks excellent. Grain resolves well, naturally part of the film stock. Resolution brings out texture on the planet’s miniature set, and finds details on Guiron/Gamera’s suits. Scaly skin never looked so clean or obvious.

Where this goes wrong are wide shots; harsh ringing diminishes fine lines. It’s visible on glasses, cars, buildings, etc. This creates outlines around objects, and at worst, limited aliasing for those watching on larger screens. The rest is perfectly film-like, so the digital anomalies stick out.

Everything else works. Color nicely saturates, like on Guiron’s hide where greens and reds stick out. Glittering rocks on the alien surface shimmer in various purples. Slight fading doesn’t reduce the impact. Rich contrast won’t relent, and black levels look spectacular in multiple instances. Dimension when making the alien women appear menacing excels.

Audio

American International’s dub and Daiei’s own join the original Japanese mix, all DTS-HD. Other than Gamera’s theme song, most music runs under the action. The minimal orchestration comes through cleanly, smooth too, until the few closing riffs that strain the highest treble.

Dialog purity suffers only from small analog hiss.

Extras

Author David Kalat provides commentary on this one, defending the film with logical arguments. August Ragone joins the disc for his intro. Trailers follow, an image gallery after those, but Arrow goes a little beyond here in digging up materials from Neptune Media’s VHS releases, even some that went unreleased, liner notes and all.

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 Guiron
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Eschewing logic, Gamera vs Guiron goes all-in with a Saturday morning-esque adventure in space where kids conquer all.

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