Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Smaller Kaiju: Space Amoeba

I probably would never have heard of this film if it hadn't been for a review of the Godzilla, Monster of Monsters video game. Later, I found out that Kamoeba shows up in 2003's Godzilla: Tokyo SOS. This is an odd duck of a kaiju film; a Toho release, directed by Ishiro Honda, not tied to Godzilla intil 2003. Yes, Honda made more non-Godzilla science fiction films than he did in the franchse, but these are not nearly as well known, or commonly available in the US.

Space Amoeba begins with a brilliant scene dealing with the exploration of space. The image of a Saturn Five lookalike, the Helios 7, silhouetted against the sun, is a powerful, beautiful image.

A beautiful shot of the Helios 7 against the sun.

That said, the film employs considerable coincidence when a commercial jetliner happens to be within eyeshot when the Helios 7 capsule, which was taken over by something glittery in space, splashes down. When you consider how big the Pacific Ocean is, that's quite the coincidence. And of course, because this is a Honda film, our truth-seeker is a reporter. And because it's the end of the sixties, he's laughed at by the establishment.

Something wants a warm ride home.

In yet another nod to the greedy industrialist trope, and in fact a neat lift from Gappa, an wealthy industrialist is going to build a resort on isolated and lightly-populated Selgio Island.

A flag for each place where I accidentally murder an islander.

Like Infant Island, it turns out Selgio Island has a monstrous guardian; Gezora the gigantic cuttlefish of doom. It also appears to have Chekov's Volcano. An island that smokes in the first act will erupt in the second.

A volcanic island. Wonder what it's going to do...

To make sure we get a monster in the first twenty minutes of the film, some of Asia Development Corporation's lackeys go fish at Selgio's forbidden cove. And it turns out that on Selgio the fish fish for you.


Gezora later attacks the cabin and devours the company guy he didn't get. But before it can devour their local guide, it's driven off by a flock of day-flying bats.


The Gezora suit is decent, and gets used for an extended attack on the village. Under Honda's careful direction, the sequence doesn't drag, but moves along at a good clip, and is integrated well into the rest of the film. Unlike most other Kaiju, Gezora is successfully attacked and killed with guns and fire. This stands in a stark contrast to works like Godzilla, where tank fire, artillery, and millions of volts doesn't even faze the monster.

Gezora's mad eyes.

Curse humans and their fire!

Once Gezora is dead, the weird glow infests a giant crab. This monster is tougher, and does not fall to machine-gun fire. However, it does fall into a hole, where it is destroyed by setting a big pile of gas cans on fire. Twice thwarted, the glowing glittery thing divides itself, infesting a turtle (Kamoeba), another crab, and a human.

I have learned all Ibirah could teach me, and more!

Luckily, the hypersonic sounds of the bats makes the two giant creatures go crazy, and they fight each other. They do so up the volcano, and like Frankenstein vs Baragon, the volcano erupts, consuming the kaiju.


Sometimes, you just gotta blow up an island.

Ultimately, this films lacks the city-stomping that demonstrates the monster's size. All the action happens on Selgo Island. With the smaller set, mostly of trees and a few small huts, the monsters don't have to be quite so gigantic. But the film lacks a lot of the fire and earnestness that made Godzilla and Matango the thrilling and weird films they were. Space Amoeba is merely an acceptable film with little going for it.

Next up, the Godzilla franchise veers in a very strange direction.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Talking Sin, Blood, and Hammers

I received a shout-out in the Amazon review of Anthology II: Inner Demons Out. It's a great review of an excellent anthology. I reccommend it.

Anthology II: Inner Demons Out, with an impressive list of cotributors, and me.

My own story is called "A Poor Sinner's Hands," and this blog entry is about the background of this story.

To begin with, there aren't a lot of protagonists of color in horror. Especially in Lovecraftian horror. The image of the tweedy professor of anthropology or folklore is almost inevitable of a white guy. Elizabeth Bear's Shoggoths in Bloom is a rare outlier. And I like treadiny my own path, but I also want diversity in what I read. A single perspective is boring and repetitive. What would be a working-class perspective on the Cthulhu Mythos? What would they find in it? Lovecraft posits a lot of lower-class people being part of the Cthulhu Cult in "The Call of Cthulhu." But he did so for reasons of racism, implying that anyone would worship Cthulhu had to be in some way subhuman. But I look at people's motivations more than Lovecraft did. So my cultists need a reason to rebel, a reason to go against established social order.

I originally wrote this for a fifties themed Mythos anthology. I wanted to make a paralell between the very human cruelty of racism and the very unworldly horror of the Mythos. Others have done so before, specifically David Drake's "Than Curse the Darkness" (available in the Book of Cthulhu, which I love. But one idea doesn't make a story. But when two bounce off each other, the engine starts to warm up. So I had the idea for a black character, in the fifties, encountering the Mythos. But how?

You know those Facebook memes with "Do you have a moment to talk about our Lord and savior Cthulhu?" Thinking about that, there are problems. The Cthulhu Cult is necessarily secretive, but they have to be in some way evengelical. How do they recruit? And what if they ran into someone who was exactly the wrong person? A murderer perhaps?

But I didn't want to make someone who was just a psycho. "Just a psycho" is boring. Why does a person need to kill? That's more interesting. Someone who doesn't want to kill, but has to anyway? That's interesting. How do they maintain a semblance of a life when they commit murders? How do they think about it? This idea combined with the racism to come up with a very interesting character, Eli Taff. Taff is a veteran of World War II who came home to farm in Louisiana. With a lot of discussion coming up recently about PTSD in veterans, I thought this would make for an interesting psychological stew for a character.

With these elements, the story practically wrote itself. And I'm pretty happy with it. It's a smaller, more intensely human story than most stories that borrow Lovecraft's ideas. But my tack has has been to be more human than Lovecraft was, to explore the way otherworldly horrors erode and distort a person. Someone that could be us.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Turtle vs Body Horror: Gamera vs Jiger

After the poor performance of All Monsters Attack, Toho took a year to consider the Godzilla franchise. Gamera, however, continued on, and 1970 was the year of the International Exposition in Japan. Giant monsters and the International Esposition were perhaps a strange alliance, but Gamera vs Viras partnered with the Boy Scouts, so this isn’t completely unexpected.


Like Reptilicus, which took time to discuss the brilliance of Copenhagen, Gamera vs Jiger spends a few minutes ‘explaining’ the Japan World Exposition 1970 and its themes. The audience is shown several of the exposition buildings. The Expo looks fo the future, congratulates itself on the prosperous and science-tastic present, but it also also features some of the past, contrasting scientific progress with the belief in the continent of Mu. Among the mysteries of the past to be displayed is a thirty-three foot statue from Wester Island, referred to as the Devil’s Whistle. What could possibly go wrong?

I am not sinister.

The Wester Island representative, Mr. Gimbo, warns of a curse should the statue be moved, snarling the word ‘Jiger’ as he departs. On Wester Island, as the jet-assisted (!) helicopters pull the statue up, it emits a strange tone. But before anyone can really consider the consequences, Gamera appears.

Why only one jet-assisted helicopter

Hiroshi and Tommy area bit older that the kids from the previous films, and not quite so suicidally stupid. In addition they have slightly more to do than just be rescued by their giant turtle buddy. Like Gamers vs Viras, the kid spend a certain amount of time in a yellow submarine. The film also starts off with a bit of discussion of science versus superstition, emphasizing the progress demonstrated by the expo. This is undermined by having the expo trashed by two gigantic monsters.

The Jiger suit design is less creative than previous Gamera opponents, based somewhat on triceratops. It’s got spikey horns, a lizard-like body, and a back fin. It can command rocks, has a pair of jets under its head frill, allowing it to fly, or at least as reasonably as Gamera. It also has some sort of cone of destruction it can project from its top horn, which devastates entire areas.

Does Jiger have a skin condition?

In the initial fight, Gamera seems to get the upper hand at first, immediately, but Jiger blows darts from its horns, impaling each of Gamera’s knees, and Jiger gains the advantage, and escapes. Gamera, in the first film was able to get off his back by activating his jets, can't withdraw his limbs, and therefore has to struggle to get back on his feet.

The end of the first fight--Gamera down, Jiger takes off.

Jiger has a quick scene taken directly from the 1954 Godzilla, where Jiger approaches a tower filled with reporters.

Were you here when Godzilla did the same thing?

The first rematch happens early, about halfway through the film, and this is when it all goes horribly wrong. Jiger reveals yet another spine, this one at the end of its tail. This causes Gamera such pain that he abandons the fight, and wanders through Osaka, bellowing his agony. Morose music plays in the background. On a close-up, we can see Gamera's got some serious swelling around the wound. What is it? Was it a poisonous stinger? The flesh on his left arm and head become pale and translucent. Surely some terrible virus or toxin is responsible?

Jiger forcibly impregnates Gamera. Should we be watching this?

The science boffins X-ray Gamera,and determine that there's a mass, possibly cancer, in the wound. Cancer? Is Gamera going to need chemo? Isn't this a little dark for a kids' film? Science guy goes on to talk about larvae that can infest an elephant's trunk, and then shows us film of cutting the larvae out in all its body-horror glory.

When a mommy work and a daddy work love each other very much in an elephant's nose...

Thanks, science guy!

And the audience's reaction

This revolting lecture gives the boys the idea to enter Gamera's body with a minisub Fantastic Voyage style. The alveoli look suspiciously like clear garbage bags. Jiger's larva/baby is already fully formed and mobile. And like every baby everywhere, it emits unspeakably horrible goo from its nose.

EEEEW!  Baby snot

By a stroke of good luck, the boys discover that the baby is averse to the sound of static. They stick the staticy radio to the baby's head, and it goes down, convulsing. It's not quite as bad as Yonggary's anal-bleeding death, but it's more grisly than I was expecting from a Gamera film.

In the still image, you can't see the twitching.

While Jiger sleeps. Gamera is hooked up to high-voltage wires to reawaken him. After seven million volts are put through his heart, with only a nominal reaction from the giant turtle, the voltage it turned up. As with Mothra vs Godzilla, the system breaks down when it is pushed too hard. fortunately, it's enough, and Gamera blasts off to fight Jiger a third time. Gamera dodges the spines, resists the disintigration ray, but for some reason has to put telephone poles in its earholes.

And Gamera makes his saving throw!

Distance weapons ineffective, there's nothing left but for a colossal wrestling match. It's OK, the intercuts with the kids shoutng encouragment are annoying as always. Gamera triumphs by grabbing the Devil's Whistle and throwing it into Jiger's head.

Are you not entertained?

And that's how Gamera saved the 1970 Japan World Exposition. He also politely hauls Jiger's corpse away from the site.

I'll be glad with this era of Gamera films is over. Gamera vs Jiger is a lot less annoying that many of the previous entries in the series, but having watched a lot of them in two months, the repetitive plots and and child actors cheering Gamera on have become very tiring. Next week, giant cuttlefish!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Knifehead Attacks: Gamera vs Guiron

I can remember seeing four monster movies on the 4 O'Clock movie on Channel 30: Destroy All Monsters, King Kong vs Godzilla, Godzilla vs the Smog Monster, and Gamera vs Guiron.

Like a lot of science fiction films, this starts with science, explaining the vastness of space, and touching on radio astronomy, on which the plot hinges. Out protagonists are an annoying kid, Aki, and his Anglo friend, Tom, who are amateur astronomers. They turn out to be the only people watching the sky when the flying saucer lands.

No one else was watching the sky thet night.

This is the first alien invasion film that acknowledges a language barrier. Tomoko, Aki and Tom's tagalong little sister, asks if the aliens will even understand Japanese. The subject is picked up with the tralslation machine the aliens use. It's a small nod to the increasing sophistication of the audience, or possibly to Star Trek's Universal Translator. It also allows the aliens to converse privately in earshot of the boys by moving their translation devices.

The kids manage to launch the space ship, or perhaps have the spectacular bad timing to be playing at launch when the spaceship decides to head home. When they're threatened by meteors, Gamera shows up to make sure they get through safely. Luckily, these are the only kids on Earth who need help. Gamera then tries to follow the UFO, but it rapidly outpaces him.

What ever space program needs--a gigantic space turtle.

Tomoko tries to tell her mother that Aki and Tom have been abducted by a spaceship, but, as an adult in a kid-oriented film, she doesn't believe the kids. Or perhaps she just can't believe she's landed in such a ridiculous plot.

Where are your priorities, young woman?

The planet they boys land on is barren and windy, sort of a predecessor of Aliens LV-426, and like Planet X in Invasion of Astro-Monster. It sits on the opposite side of the Sun, a conceit used in another 1969 film, Doppelgänger. Although it was a technologically advanced civilization, they kept churning out monsters until just about everything was destroyed. Computer error, you understand. So Space-Gyaos, like Earth Gyaos, but silver, is rampaging. The ground opens up, revealing Guiron, who's got a massive knife blade for a head. Guiron is likely the inspiration behind Knifehead, in Pacific Rim. Like many of Gamera's opponents, and Yonggary, it has projecting lower tusks.

When all you have is a knfe-head, everything looks like a pot-roast.

What follows is a pretty clinical dissection of Gyaos. Guiron reflects Gyaos's sonic beam back, severing its leg. Then it leaps into the air, cutting Gyaos's wing off. On the ground and helpless, Gyaos then loses its other wing, and then its head. I can't help thinking that Guiron's head blade is about as sharp as Gypsy Danger's sword. No blood and guts, though. Just some purple flesh where Guiron cuts. This sets Guiron up to be pretty tough, since Gamera didn't have an easy time defeating the non-space Gyaos.

It slices! It dices! Look at that tomato!.

Guiron, it turns out, is the watchdog for the last tywo remaining Terans, Barbella and Flobella. Like the Kilaaks from Destroy All Monsters, they control their monster. Why they can't control the Gyaos with the same technology is left unexplained. It's oddly like Katsura controlling Titanosaurus, silver spandex and all, from Terror of Mechagodzilla. And their space-spandex fits them quite well. The Teran civilization has a lot of technology, but the errors in the system has somehow created the Gyaos monsters, which destroyed the civilization. Like the Viras aliens, they also have a mind probe. And it provides us with an opportunity to show stock footage of Gamera's past exploits, but only three minutes' worth this time. We get brief moments from all the previous films except Barugon, for some reason. Perhaps because it doesn't have any moments that demonstrate Gamera's ongoing friendship to children.

I'm hot and evil. Flobella, are you hot and evil?

These aliens are pretty, but they've got their horrific side. While the kids are sleeping, the Terans decide to eat their brains, raw, to absorb their memories. Aki's head gets shaved with a razor stuck into a plastic ray-gun toy. It's a creepy moment, and Aki goes through the rest of the film with very short hair. This is more menace than a lot of kids' films offer, and gives it just enough edge to make it palatable to me as an adult.

Just put some brightly-colored plastic on it, and it's a SPACE SHAVER!

Just as they're about to cut into his skull, the red alert sounds, letting them know Gamera has landed. And then there's nothing for it but Guiron has to fight Gamera. As is standard for these films, Guiron wins the first round, and Gamera retreats. In the meantime, the boys escape and engage hijinks, causing Guiron to attack the spaceship the Terans are escaping on, a plot point used later in Godzilla vs King Ghidorah. After this, Guiron attacks the structure where the kids are, but Gamera comes to their rescue.

And he manages to stick the landing

Gamera jams half a missile into Guiron's head, then breathes fire on it, detonating it.

Well this is a fine how-do-you-do.

The rest of the film is the usual reconciliation with Mom, getting back to Earth stuff. The science folks who greet the kids after they get home are much more interested in what they've learned than the fact that they're the only humans to have been to another planet. Or that Aki's had his head shaved and looks suspiciously like a newly-inducted cult member.

Now to give all of my money to the Reverend so I can go with him when the comet shows up.

Gamera vs Guiron is one of the better Gamera films. The plot holds together better than most of the prevoius ones, and the doses of actual threat keep the film from being dull. One annoying piece is that the writer repeats his two conditions for a more advanced civilization four times, with exactly the same phrase. Tera has no wars and no traffic accidents. It's a strange pair of points, although I understand that the Vietnam War was in full swing when the film was made. And increased urbanization led to more traffic accidents. But really, what the hell?

Next up, Toho skips making a Godzilla film in 1970, so we'll go straight to Gamera vs Jiger.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Imagine Monsters: All Monsters Attack

The irony of 1969's All Monsters Attack, renamed in the States as Godzilla's Revenge is that it's considered by many to be the worst Godzilla film made, yet it was directed by the revered Ishiro Honda. Immediately notable is the really annoying acid-rock style intro song. If nothing else indicates that recreational amphetamines had finally reached Japan, this song is it. Akira Ifukube did not contribute to this film, and his presence is sorely missed.

David Kalat is kinder to this film than I have been in previous viewings. He raises the excellent point that this is a kids' film which addresses, however inept this might appear to me in America nearly fifty years later, the plight of the latchkey kid, something that was a serious social concern in Japan when this film was made. Our child protagonist, Ichiro, wears the same shorts as do most kid protagonists of the era. The main difference is that Ichiro's parents aren't around because they work, which is made explicit with an early film encounter between Ichiro and his father, who tells his son that he has to work late, and that Ichiro should take care of the house until his mother comes home.

Ichiro is at odds with children his own age, they bully him, and he seems to have no resource to adults to protect him. The inventor who lives in Ichiro's building is more his speed. As an artist/scientist, Shinpei can relate to the imaginative Ichiro in a way that kids his age cannot. And Ichiro is polite to him. When his parents both cannot come home, Shinpei feeds Ichiro. But Ichiro won't touch the beef until he is assured his host can afford it. That's pretty polite.

Kids and computers? They'll never mix.

The film establishes itself in a busy, industrial landscape of rusting metal, brown smoke, rushing cars, and clouded, polluted skies. Honda's bleak urban landscape has a depressing start to a kids' film, but it emphasizes the richness of Ichiro's imaginative escape to the lush Monster Island.

As desolate an urban landscape as you please.

It's worth pointing out that the film's monster sequences are in Ichiro's imagination. He has a monster toy in his closet, and his initial flight to Monster Island is made with the assistance of a 'computer' with crayon-drawn dials. Once he is on the flgiht to Monster Island, he imagines the rest of the passengers away. This could also explain the repetition of monster fights from the previous films, Ichiro is replaying them in his mind. He begins to repeating the sequences he has seen, and then moves on to creating his own, with Godzilla taking on Gabara, the kaiju incarnation of Ichiro's bully, at the end of the film.

Ichiro, with his toy computer and monster.

And now, we get rid of the rest of the passengers.

Gabara is sort of a standard monster. He's got some red hair, bumpy skin, no tail, and a mocking cry that sounds like nasty laughter. He's perfect for what he is--a monster invented to personify bullies. He has no berath or distance weapon. He can send what are apparently surges of electricity through his hands, giving him a killer grip. This is true to his metaphor--you run from a bully.

Gabara, the bully monster.

Godzilla, as father-figure to Minilla, forces him to fight Gabara, despite the bully-kaiju being twice his mass. Seeing that Minilla is overmatched, Godzilla steps in, and finally, Gabra gets the thrashing that we have all been waiting for. And while this is what we as the audience want, Godzilla in a fight we haven't seen yet, it undermines the film's message (which comes home when Ichiro tricks some bank robbers) of self-reliance.

A Godzilla film with as little Godzilla as possible.

This was a film aimed at children, and as I have said before, Godzilla films that aim at children as the audience tend to fail. All Monsters Attack was the first Godzilla film to sell less than two million tickets. While this was not intended to compete with the extraviganza that was Destroy All Monsters, the drop off is notable. The next film in the series, Godzilla vs Hedorah, controversial and strange as it is, sold a quarter of a million more tickets.

When your buddy is a doughy monster with terrible teeth, you may want to reconsider your imagination.

Having learned from his imaginary monster friends, Ichiro turns the end of the film into Home Alone, defeating the thieves we have heard about. He then spends some time with his mother, who swears she will never spend a late night at her job again. Ichiro stands up to his bully, then goes on an explosive tear, dong what the bully's gang dared him to do earlier. Is this the freedom of someone who has been oppressed getting a little clean fun in, or the start of a psychotic little crime spree as the oppressed turns into the oppressor? Has Ichiro joined the bully's gang? Taken it over? The film is silent, ending before telling us the answer.

Bukakke accomplished. Ho ho ho.

The final shot is the kids, all together, still in the polluted industrial landscape. The smaller problem has been solved, but the society and conditions that created the problem still exist.

Well, there's a happy ending and no doubt!

All Monsters Attack is unsatisfactory for most Godzilla fans for two reasons. One, Godzilla isn't the focus of the story. It's really a story about Ichiro and how his imaginary friends, who could have been anyone, help him with his bully problem. And that probably would have been forgivable if the new Godzilla sequences had been longer, or more compelling. But the low budget is once again in evidence, and the fight is less than satisfying. I'm more forgiving of the film because I think I can see what the film was trying to say, but it's not a film I'm going to pull out for sheer enjoyment value.

Next week, Giant Turtle vs Knifehead.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Experience the Terror of Stock Footage! Gamera vs Viras

I suppose we could look at 1968 as the 'crash' of Kaiju films. After an incredible seven (Son of Godzilla, Gamera vs Gyaos, Giant Space Monster Guilala, Yonggary, Gappa, Wangmagwi, and King Kong Escapes) were released in 1967, only the two major franchises, Godzilla and Gamera, produced films the next year. Godzilla was starting to falter, and Gamera was under crushing pressure to keep its budgets small. One solution to the problem of low budgets was to recycle footage, which was most egregiously done in Gamera vs Viras.

Gamera vs the flying bee-stingers

We begin with the standard Alien Invasion. Of course, the aliens want Earth, and this time, their excuse is that Earth is most like their home planet, out of all plents in the universe. Lucky us. However, as the initial attack is approaching Earth, Gamera happens. Gamera just happens to be hanging out in space, as the UFO approaches Earth, and there is immediately a fight. Gamera's fire breath works in space, as it turns out. And apparently, it can breathe in space. But even as the advance scout is destroyed, it calls for reinforcements. Cue the Gamera song over the credits.

Gamera lets in the vacuum of space and a lot of fire

Gamera vs Viras also has the dubious distinction of adding several annoying tropes to the usual annoying Gamera tropes. Not only are there two precocious super-science kids, (Masao and Jim) whose ability to make things work in reverse saves the Earth, but they're Boy Scouts. We meet them as they play around with an experimental minisubmarine, reverse the batteries so that it'll only work in reverse (ho ho).

What could possibly go wrong?

While underwater, Jim points with fear at the giant monster swimming next to them, which Masao points out is only Gamera. Gamera is safe as houses, nothing to worry about. A far cry from the dangerous monster he was. But Gamera's fame hasn't spread past Japan. Although Jim knows a monster when he sees one, Masao knows who it is.

What could possibly go wrong?

What is painfully obvious is how little money was spent on the production. Masao's sister has a wrist-radio she uses to call him. But it's clearly a compass. And at minute 22, we start with a long montage of what Gamera did in previous films. Sequences from Giant Monster Gamera (tastefully tinted so we won't notice the memories are in black and white), Gamera vs Barugon, and Gamera vs Gyaos. And we're not talking about just a couple of minutes. These are entire sequences. Now, the Shout! factory cut, the original Japanese version of the film, only has eleven minutes of this flashback, although there are more to come. However, longer sections were inserted into the International versions, padding the film by another eighteen minutes. Still, this is close to a seventh of the overall film length. I should point out that use of stock footage was less noted by an audience watching these films in the theater, unable to pause and reference previous films from a private library.

Around this time, Godzilla films start using more and more stock footage, even recycling a shot within a single film. But the greatest abuse of this comes from the desperate measures needed to push out the final Gamera film of the Showa era, Gamera, Supermonster in 1980. Daiei was being purchased by Tokuma Shoten, and can be seen as a cynical attempt to wring money from a dead franchise. More on that when we get to it.

As with Destroy All Monsters, Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, and Invasion of Astro-Monster we have the theme of mind control. The aliens from Viras kidnap the Jim and Masao, threatening to kill them unless Gamera obeys their commands. This is a deal you can make with an intelligent creature capable of reason, much the way Mothra's larva negotiates with Godzilla and Rodan in Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster. The monsters are no longer forces of nature, but characters with thoughts and motivations. Gamera can be held hostage by his love of children. Godzilla can be convinced to attack Ghidorah. After this, however, a device is deployed to control Gamera utterly. As a historical note, the CIA's MKUltra mind-control experiments had been curtailed a second time in 1967, although it was not brought to public knowledge until 1977.

What could possibly go wrong?

Thus, it's up to the Boy Scouts to rescue the world. They discover that they can order any sort of food they want. I don't think I'd trust any fruit juice an alien ship that kidnapped me would offer, but that's me. The point is to impress the audience with the aliens technology, I suppose. Nor do I think I would try to release a caged monster I found on an alien spacecraft. But the plot must happen.

Hey, monster. Why aren't there any locks on your cage?

When the aliens command Gamera to attack, by golly it's the Kurobe Dam sequence from Gamera vs Barugon, and then the destruction of Tokyo from Giant Monster Gamera, adding another five minues of stock footage (now sixteen minutes, or one fifth of a seventy-one minute film).

After Japan has been treated badly by Gamera, the UN calls, and says they will not sacrifice the two boys on the space ship and will surrender the Earth rather than allow them to be harmed. Which was not the decision I was expecting. Luckily, the Viras spacecraft wasn't designed for any sort of security, so the computer will just open it's most vulnerable section and let the boys switch the batteries. So clever.

When ordered to attack the boys, Gamera's will overpowers the mind-control ray, and he trashes the alien ship. But what the boys thought was a caged monster is really the ship's commander! It transforms into a gigantic version of itself, and we finally get some monster-on-monster action in the last ten minutes of the film. It is somewhat marred by Gamera allowing Jim and Masao to tell him how to fight. "Use your fiery breath, Gamera!" "Get closer, Gamera!" It would be really annoying backseat driving, but later on, they just shout Gamera's name, offering no instructions, and it's worse.

Gamera makes his will save.

Viras is interesting-looking. Its tentacles sort of conceal the man-in-the-suit's legs, making it look least-human looking of Gamera's foes. It can fly and seal it's trefoil head into a diamond-hard blade, although it looks surprisingly like a lemon-reamer.

Now where are those Girl Scouts?

Point Viras

It gets Gamera on its back and stabs him a couple of times. But then Gamera flies high into the atmosphere, freezes it and dumps it into the ocean. After that it's all over but the congratulatory back-slapping.

This is a hard film to sit through. With the repetition, even though I'd seen the other Gamera films months ago, the really annoying kids, and the events that japoen for plot convenience really make this a very ittitating film. But it seems like that was the way monster films were going. The experimentation of last year was over. Money was to be made by pandering to kids, and the dumber plot, the better.

Next up, Godzilla's Revenge, the second film to concentrate on Minilla. I hope I'm up to it.