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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Gamera Vs. Guiron / Gamera Vs. Jiger
Gamera Vs. Guiron / Gamera Vs. Jiger
Shout Factory // Unrated // September 21, 2010
List Price: $19.93 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted September 19, 2010 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
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The MovieS:
For some strange reason, Gamera has never been as popular in America that his large, reptilian cousin, Godzilla.  While it's not unusual to see a Godzilla Film Festival or even a Godzilla convention, the same can't be said about the giant flying turtle.  Heck, Godzilla 2000 even had a wide theatrical release in the US opening on over 2000 screens while 2006's Gamera the Brave first appeared in the US on DVD.  That's too bad, because while I enjoy Godzilla films a lot, I've always liked Gamera a bit more.  His movies are just a touch more surrealistic and unusual.  A good example of this can be found in Shout! Factory's release of the 5th and 6th movies in the original Showa series:  Gamera Vs. Guiron and Gamera Vs. Jiger.  This is the first time that either of these films has been available in region 1 in anamorphic widescreen versions in the original language.  With great looking transfers and multiple audio tracks to choose from, this disc is a treat for Daikaiju fans.

Gamera Vs Guiron:  Two young amateur astronomers spot a spaceship one night which lands in a nearby field.  Good thing they were looking too, because they're pretty much the only ones who manage to spy the large fiery ball that cuts through the night sky.  The next day they hop on their bikes and find the ship in the middle of a forest.  The door is open, so they climb in and are whisked off into space.  Remotely controlled, the boys have a great time zooming through the void, and even encounter Gamera, the friend to all children, and beat him in a race.  Gamera warns the boys not to travel any further, but since they're not in control of their craft, there's nothing that they can do but continue on.

They kids eventually arrive on the planet Terra, a body in out solar system in the same orbit as Earth, but directly on the other side of the Sun.  The problem is they don't actually land, they crash.  Apparently the sophisticated controls that guided the ship safely across the solar system weren't that advanced after all.  In any case Terra was once the home to a race of advanced beings, but in typical advanced species hubris they tampered with forces that they couldn't control and created monsters that destroyed their world.  The only two survivors are a pair of space babes, Floban and Barbella.  They're protected from the monsters by Guiron, a vicious knife-nosed creature that they command via a mind control device.  The boys watch as Guiron makes quick work of space Gaos, cutting the creature to pieces before returning to his cage.
Floban and Barbella pretend to be friendly, but they really want to eat the boys' brains and then use the knowledge that they'd inherit to invade Earth.  Sensing that the children are in danger however, Gamera arrives.  But he has to get past Guiron before he can rescue the pair.

Gamera Vs. Jiger:  Taking place back on Earth, Japan is getting ready to host the World's Fair and naturally they want to move a giant ancient statue from the island where it resides to Osaka for the celebration.  When the leader of tribe that lives on the island warns against moving the statue they ignore the old kook.  When Gamera tries to prevent them from moving the statue, everyone just figures that the giant turtle has gone rouge.  Then, when the ship carrying the artifact arrives in Japan, the entire crew is incapacitated with a horrible sickness.  How many warnings do these guys need?? 

So they move the statue to the event site, but it turns out that old rock was actually the key that had sealed the giant monster Jiger away for centuries.  With it removed, the creature makes a bee-line for Osaka and trashes anything that gets in its way.  When Gamera tries to stop him, he gets stung with Jiger's tail, crawls to the sea, and seemingly dies.  It's up to a pair of plucky kids using a toy submarine to convince the stupid adults that Gamera is still alive.  They use their sub to travel through Gamera's mouth deep into his body and discover what caused him to collapse.  But even revived can the giant turtle defeat Jiger's heat ray and the spears he shoots out of his head??
Both of these films are filled with bizarre fun.  There are hot alien babes in spandex who eat living brains, kids advising generals, a giant knife for a monster, and kids walking around inside a giant turtle.  The sets are bright and colorful, especially in Gamera Vs. Guiron, and this just adds to the psychedelic feel of these movies. 

There are a lot of holes and silly plot devices in these films, and if you think about them too much they quickly become silly.  But that's the point.  They're not meant to be taken seriously, just give viewers a wild crazy ride and both of these succeed wonderfully on that count.
The DVD:

Both films are presented on one single-sided DVD.  The disc comes in a clear keepcase with a nice double sided cover.  On the inside is a hilarious cut-away view of Gamera showing his organs including the Uranium Sac and Oil Sac.
One of the great things about this disc is that it gives viewers both the (hilariously) dubbed English versions that many of us grew up watching as well as the original Japanese track.  Gamera Vs. Guiron has both the Sandy Frank and the AIP dubs while Gamera Vs. Jiger version has the AIP dub.  The original language track is clean and clear while the dub tracks are a bit old and sound muddled.  There's some background hiss present in the dubs, but it wasn't irritating.  Overall it's great to have all of these tracks to choose from.
The thing that impressed me the most about this disc was how good the image looks.  It's like seeing these films for the first time.  After watching these multiple times on TV or on cheap DVDs from companies specializing in public domain films, this widescreen anamorphic image is a revelation.  The colors are very bright and vivid and the detail is excellent.  The increased clarity really makes these films come alive.  With two movies on one disc, I was expecting a lot of digital defects, but there really weren't many.  The films are pretty short, the total running time for both movies is only 165 minutes, and aliasing, blocking, and other common compression artifacts are minimal.
There are only a couple of photo galleries included as extras.
Final Thoughts:
A pair of wacky, fun films.  I've enjoyed Gamera since I was a kid, and while many critics prefer the earlier more down to earth adventures of the giant flying turtle, I've always loved the more outrageous bizarre films, like these two.  A pair of fun films with a great presentation and multiple audio tracks makes this disc Highly Recommended.
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