The fourth entry into the Gamera series is Gamera vs Viras, and it’s my favourite of the series so far. The first three are quite similar to each other, following the same basic premise, with the first half introducing the monster, then the second half being the fighting. This one saves the monster for almost the end, the first hour is build up and the final ten minutes is the most brutal fight of the series so far. It’s epic.
It starts with an alien spaceship coming to Earth. The design is pretty nice, it’s five balls joined together in a circle, that are stripped like bees. Instead of a stinger, each ball has a dish that can shoot a laser. Gamera finds the ship and destroys it, with another one not far behind. The second one captures Gamera in a bubble. At the same time two children are in a submarine as part of being in the boy scouts, because 1960s boy scouts in Japan are allowed to take control of private submarines, no problem. The aliens capture the boy scouts, and uses them to turn Gamera against humanity. They discover that Gamera’s weakness is saving children, so using that they put a mind control device on him so he destroys Japan.
The moment when Gamera attacks the first ship is brilliant. He just flies up to it, headbutts one of the bee-like balls until it cracks, shoves his head inside and breathes fire over it. There’s no hesitation, it knows these are the bad guys and just attacks straight out. It’s funny and cool to watch.
Strangely enough, the footage of Gamera destroying Tokyo is in black and white, while the rest of the film is in colour. That’s because it’s reused footage from the first film, which was shot in black and white. The fourth film had a major budget cut, which explains the length being seventy minutes, and the reusing of old footage for almost all of Gamera’s rampaging. It’s not all bad though, there’s a moment where the aliens read Gamera’s mind to see his past, and it works as a recap for those that haven’t seen the previous films. It’s a clever technique and for the most part it’s not obvious they are reusing footage, except when it changes from colour to black and white.
The actual monster, which is a space squid named Viras, spends most of the film in the alien ship behind a cage. It looks, to me at least, as Squidward from Spongebob with a beak. The two boys find it, believing it to be a captured animal, and then it’s revealed later that it’s actually in control. The two boys running around on the ship is pure brilliance. It’s goofy and funny. They find they can ask for anything from the ship’s computer, asking for drinks and fruit, thinking they will get a knife to kill their captors.
Viras has also captured humans, using their bodies as shells for other squids. They are genuinely creepy, looking like blank slates until they go into attack mode, with glowing eyes. One of the human shells also detaches his arm at one point to pin the boys to the wall. It’s creepy and strange.
When it’s time for the big fight, Viras beheads all of the human shells, taking the squids underneath and turning into the big Viras. The following fight is then brutal. Gamera beats the hell out of Viras, who then uses the needle point-like head to impale himself into Gamera and stabs him a bunch of times. It’s bloody and violent. In the end Gamera may win, but it’s the closest to defeat so far in the series. I had a hell of a good time with this one, and I’m very excited for what comes next.
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