Attack of the Monsters (1968, aka. Gamera Vs. Viras)-
Tiny, tiny...tiny little pants.
If I were to make a list of things I don't want to see in a movie, somewhere in the top ten, wedged between lingering close-ups of Ernest Borgnine's back hair and sex scenes featuring Bea Arthur and William Hickey, would be children running around in tight little pants. Maybe it is the aesthetic visual. Or it could just be that it reminds me of growing up in the 70's and being forced into ultra-tight clothing all of the time.
Anyway, Attack of the Monsters features the duo of Jim and Masau, precocious little Boy Scouts running around in tiny shorts. And because they are so darn precocious, they stray from the Boy Scout field trip and hot-wire an experimental sub (with no regard that- oh, I don't know?- people could DROWN, if a sub malfunctions). Some aliens in a spacecraft made of ping pong balls with black stripes painted on them start messing around with the Earth. They capture Gamera briefly and scan his brain to find his weakness. Here is where we get to see tons of stock footage from past Gamera movies. So much stock footage, it takes up a fourth of the film. They determine that his only weakness is his "unusual and overpowering kindness towards children" (insert your own Michael Jackson joke here). The aliens kidnap the boys and plant a doohickey on Gamera so they can control him. Mayhem. Destruction. The boys sabotage the spaceship. Gamera gets free and makes calamari out of the aliens when they morph into a big- silly even by rubber monster movie standards- space squid.
Destroy All Planets (1969, aka. Gamera vs. Guiron)- This time, two different little kids, Akio and the no doubt marshmallow binge eating Tom, wander into a spaceship and get abducted. The kids are taken to a planet called Terra, which has the same atmosphere as Earth and is located on the opposite side of the sun. There they meet two alien women, Propeller and Flobee?, Barbell and Floatphlegm? I'm not exactly sure because I was too busy being hypnotized by Tom's fat cheeks and Akio's lazy eyes.
The alien women seem nice enough at first, but it turns out they only want to gobble the kids brains raw and absorb their intelligence. In other words, it will be a very light meal. One wonders why they didn't abduct a rocket scientist or Nobel Prize winner instead of two kids whose smarts lead them to brazenly walk into whatever alien spaceship may be nearby. Before they can cannibalize Akio's brain, Gamera shows up and fights the alien chicks monster, Guiron, who is basically an iguana with a knife for a head. After some underwater fighting, gymnastics, and a nasty suplex into the ground followed by shooting a missile into Guiron's head, Gamera saves the day. Before the credits roll, we get treated to the Gamera theme song as he flies through space.
The DVD: Retromedia
Retromeadia is aiming straight for the US fan who grew up with these films on television. Nope, they aren't uncut, letterboxed, and in original Japanese language like the finicky kaiji geeks out there will want. These are the edited and dubbed American International prints. This double feature is squarely targeted at someone who wants to recapture those childhood moments of sitting down and watching these on tv, either during their original 60's broadcasts or in the decades that followed.
Picture: Full-screen. Well, they look pretty rough, a little soft and washed out, some dirt and lines here and there. But, as I said, that is the intent. So, get out your old antenna covered in tin foil and put it on top of the tv, get some sugar laced cereal, and pretend like your seven years old watching Gamera on a Saturday afternoon.
Sound: Basic Mono. Once again, dubs, a little muffled sometimes, and very silly, but that just adds to the retro charm. Were else but in the dub will the officer in Gamera Vs. Guirons name sound like "Cornjob"?
Extras: Chapter Selections--- Two Gamera Galleries, "The American International Years" and the best one, "The Wacky World of Gamera", which has tons of cover/poster art, and neat anatomical cross sections of Gamera and his foes.
Conclusion: If you are out to capture that childhood charm of watching rubber monster movies, then these are the discs for you, presented in their full rough glory just like they were when they were originally broadcast in the States. Purists can go elsewhere, import discs of the uncut films, but for those of us who grew up and fell in love with the films by way of these edited dubs, this is just what you are looking for.