Category Archives: gamera

Return of the Giant Chicken from Mars

Monster X Strikes Back: Attack at the G8 Summit ~ If you’re going to make a sequel to one of the silliest kaiju eiga, and do it with a straight face, the best way is probably to just make a comedy. That’s what the producers of 2008’s Girara no gyakushû: Tôya-ko Samitto Kikiippatsu did with this insane sequel to 1967’s The X from Outer Space. No apologies, no explanations, just balls out screwiness with Guilala, the monster that looks like a giant chicken from Mars.

In the midst of the G-8 Summit in Japan, Guilala returns from space. There is no reference to the first movie despite the film’s title and the fact that the name (and the lame monster suit) has not changed. One of my favorite scenes comes when a little kid, looking like he walked right out of a 1960s Gamera flick, wanders into the military staging room and provides a name for the monster, insisting he needed one. Each of the G-8 members spends the rest of the film trying hair-brained scheme after hair-brained scheme in attempts to destroy the creature.

Silliness on a Spaceballs scale follows throughout, though the humor rarely reaches beyond the fifth grade or the 1960s. Even Guilala has a laugh while dancing around his small soundstage that he seldom leaves. Beat Takashi makes a crazed appearance as a Daimajin knock-off late in the film, but it’s well worth the wait.

This is more fun that it should be, and funnier than it deserves to be, but worth a peek for kaiju eiga fans – but remember, don’t take it seriously.

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Boy Meets Turtle

Gamera the Brave ~ Boy meets turtle. Boy feeds turtle. Turtle grows. No, really, turtle really freakin’ grows. Monster attacks Japan. Turtle fights monster, saves Japan. Boy (and Japan) happy. That could be it, but there’s a lot more to it.

Gamera the Brave, or Chiisaki yusha-tachi: Gamera as it is known in its native land, is not your average Gamera movie despite the above description. It was marketed as a children’s film, which it most certainly is – like the original Gamera film series of the 1960s but unlike the more violent and dark 1990s flicks. Except for the opening few moments which harken back a vague memory of Gamera fighting several Gaos, this is pretty much all kids fare – and it’s delightful stuff.

The little boy Toru finds his pet turtle Toto is a little more interesting than most other turtles, flying and spitting fireballs. This secret he shares with his best friend, little girl next store Mai. It’s just fun. And it’s not annoying. As any Kaiju fan will tell you when they hear a kid is involved in the plot of the movie, he’s going to be annoying – especially if it’s a Gamera flick. Not the case here at all.

This could easily be an afterschool special with a bit of kaiju eiga nudge-nudge thrown in. It does eventually turn into a Gamera movie though, so take heart, fans of the spinning flame-spitting turtle – you won’t be disappointed. There’s even a Guiron reference that is in there just to make the fanboys grin. Fun is what the kids’ part of this flick, as well as the adults’ part, is all about.

When bad monster Jidas shows up, we see that the special effects are cutting edge, at least as far as the genre goes. Toto plays Gamera (although I wish they would have kept his original roar) and takes on Jidas, a prehistoric spiked iguana-like kaiju with a mutant tongue – don’t ask. The fights that ensue are spectacular, and that is the reason I like kaiju eiga, but I gotta tell you – as engaging as the monster battles are, the relationship between little Toru and little Toto is moreso.

I waited months for this on NetFlix, and it was worth the wait. Fun for the kids, fun for the monster fans, fun for the adults, just fun.

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