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Featured DVD Review: Gamera: Double-Feature Double-Shot

September 17th, 2010

Gamera: Double-Feature Double-Shot - Buy from Amazon: Gamera Vs. Gyaos / Gamera Vs. Viras and Gamera Vs. Guiron / Gamera Vs. Jiger

The Gamera kaiju franchise continues its DVD release this week with a double-feature double-shot. That's two Gamera DVDs, each with two movies, starting with...

Gamera Vs. Gyaos

A series of earthquakes awaken the long dormant Mt. Fuji, which in turn attracts Gamera, who is always in need of energy and he begins to feast. Meanwhile, a construction company is building an expressway near Mt. Fuji, which has drawn protests in the area, some people are looking to delay the construction by any means necessary in an attempt to raise the price of the land. A group of reporters fly by in a helicopter to survey the scene, only to be shot out of the sky. Another reporter travels by motorcycle to investigate and is followed by a small boy, Eiichi, but the pair comes across Gyaos, a giant bat-like monster. Gyaos promptly eats the reporter, but when he goes after the kid, Gamera shows up and the fight is on. While Gyaos has a sonic / laser breath attack that easily cuts Gamera's arm, Gamera's shell is strong enough to protect him long enough to save the kid.

However, he was badly hurt during the fight and has to retreat to the ocean to recover. In the meanwhile, Gyaos is free that night to destroy several cities in central Japan and the military is powerless to stop it.

Will the humans figure a way of stopping Gyaos? Or at least slowing it down long enough for Gamera to recover?

Gamera Vs. Viras

The movie starts in space with a spaceship that looks like the back end of half-a-dozen or so bumblebees glued together. Aboard, the computer informs the crew, and the audience, that the Earth is the planet most similar to theirs and it is their mission to conquer and occupy the Earth. However, Gamera arrives to kick their ass, but before the ship is destroyed, it sends a distress beacon to its homeworld, Viras, telling them to send the backup ship and warning them of the monster they will face.

Spaceship Bumblebee Butts mark 2 arrives and has a better plan. It will find Gamera first and scan it looking for a weakness. That weakness is kids, so they build a cannon that fires kids at Gamera to defeat him. ... No. They don't do that, because that would be awesome, I mean wrong. That would be wrong. Instead, they kidnap a couple of boy scouts and force Gamera to work for them by using a mind control device. However, while Gamera is destroying the Earth for the aliens, the boy scouts escape and wreck havoc on the spaceship, eventually running across another captured alien, a squid-like being. But after "freeing" it, they learn the truth. It wasn't a prisoner, but the leader. Now Gamera and this giant squid beast have to have an epic duel to the death.

The Extras

There are no real extras on the DVD, but there are image galleries for each movie, plus multiple audio tracks. (Original Japanese for each, and a total of three English dubs for the two movies.) This is a large drop-off in extras compared to the first two DVDs. However, you are getting two movies for the price of one, plus they are both shown in newly restored anamorphic widescreen, which is a major plus.

Gamera Vs. Guiron

We again start in space with a narrator telling us about the cosmos and how stars die and from their remains new stars are born.

Back on Earth, scientists have been receiving strange signals that they think are from extraterrestrial intelligences, but the head scientist talking to the media dismisses any hope of contact, as stars are too far apart to travel between them. Just then, three kids playing around with their telescope see an alien spaceship land. It's from the planet Terra. The three kids investigate and the two boys climb aboard only to have it take off. Gamera gives chase, but it gets away and flies the boys to Tera, the tenth planet in our solar system. Once there, Super Gyaos tries to rescue them, but it encounters Guiron. Guiron is a quadruped with a giant blade on its head that can deflect Super Gyaos's sonic / laser breath attack and slice through its enemies with ease. He makes short work of Gyaos.

The boys continue to explore the new planet and meet two beautiful, but sinister ladies, Barbella and Flobella. They control Guiron, and when Gamera comes to rescue the two boys its an epic battle. At first Gamera looks to have been defeated, but you can't keep a good turtle down.

Gamera Vs. Jiger

It's the 1970 World's Fair, which was held in Osaka. One of the main exhibits will be a giant statue from Wester Island... I think that's a play on Easter Island, which means it is either a nuclear powered pun, or something was lost in translation.

Moving on, this statue is called the Devil's Whistle, because when the wind blows over it, it makes a tremendous noise. While they are trying to remove the statue from the island, the natives protest. Even Gamera arrives to try and stop them, but with no luck. When it is moved, the people learn too late that the noise it creates can cause insanity. Worse still, it apparently was connected to a monster called Jiger, which immediately heads off to where the statue was taken, destroying anything in its way. Gamera shows up to protect the people, but Jiger's got a lot of weapons. It's quills impale Gamera's legs, preventing him from retracting them to fly. She has a heat ray that can turn people into skeletons and city blocks into rubble. Even worse, when Gamera finally gets the upperhand, she implants a baby parasite into his chest, sending Gamera into a coma.

How can Gamera win this fight?

The Extras

Again, there are no real extras on the DVD, but there are image galleries for each movie, plus multiple audio tracks. (Original Japanese for each, and a total of three English dubs for the two movies.) This is a large drop-off in extras compared to the first two DVDs. However, you are getting two movies for the price of one, plus they are both shown in newly restored anamorphic widescreen, which is a major plus.

The Verdict

The Gamera kaiju franchise started out well and arguably peaked with the second installment. However, after a great start, the quality quickly dipped. Fans of the franchise can say the four films featured in Gamera Vs. Gyaos / Gamera Vs. Viras and Gamera Vs. Guiron / Gamera Vs. Jiger show Gamera hitting its grove. Fans of kaiju films in general will probably appreciate some of the creature designs. (Guiron is particularly cool looking.) However, the quality is off, there are practically no extras, while the biggest selling point is the price.


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