If only Gamera could battle the worldwide blight of traffic accidents…
Akio is worried about traffic accidents. Ignore the knife-headed, shuriken spitting alien monster. Traffic accidents – those are the real danger.
Daiei’s Gamera series continued its crumbling metamorphosis into budget stricken child fantasy with a script and design seemingly culled from the minds of its young stars. Shot into space by a UFO, Akio (Nobuhiro Kajima) and Tom (Christopher Murphy) find themselves unceremoniously jettisoned on planet Tera which houses the ungainly Guiron and two women who want to eat some brains. It’s bizarre.
Guiron deflects critics like Gamera deflects ninja stars. There are no words sufficient. Guiron is an educational science depository, with lab coated officials spouting off astronomy lessons to an over eager press. This is also a child’s fantasy of screen nonsense and untethered imagination, yet hammered with surprisingly explicit (if still tame) violence. Tera’s guardian freely uses his knife head – which seems to be pulling the suit actor ever downward – to slice apart the silver painted Space Gyaos into six delectable sections before splintering Gamera’s shell enough to spout blood. Green, snot-like blood, but still.
Considering this fifth offering a camp classic is inconsiderate to those with low tolerance for rubber suits, dismal editing, and miniatures so poor, paint is sloppily dripping from their sides. Helpless, director Noriaki Yuasa succumbed to the structure of Japanese television, only stretched from 30 to 80 minutes. Guiron is consistently grueling as the kids scamper around sets which appear to held together by limited amounts of glue, while writer Nisa Takahashi recycles his ideas from Gamera vs. Viras with shared “success.”
This is the feature wherein Gamera dances. He even performs gymnastics. Again, no words. Ever. As if the human fascination with traffic accidents (spoken three times!) wasn’t enough, Guiron’s stumbling kaiju fare is decisive in settling this 1969 feature into a pit of schlock fantasy where it struggles to keep even the youngest invested.
If anything comes from the Gamera series of the ’60s and ’70s, it is visual indication of the slow downturn in Japanese cinema during the period. Rear projection scenes in these latter entries display a screen rotting in front of the lens, becoming worse with each successive sequel. By Gamera vs Zigra, said background action is shown on a dingy, torn, and warped plate shot indicative of the financial distress affecting studios, Daiei more than most. With Guiron, there is a burn mark sizable enough to distract someone and cause a traffic accident.
Mill Creek’s second set of Showa era Gamera offerings begins with Guiron, and despite encoding hurt by smashing four films together on one disc, this 1969 franchise edition is minimally afflicted. Evidence of low bitrates include mild smearing and some buzzy grain, yet overall, these images are striking.
Guiron’s opening live action features a government building, with sharpness and clarity well ahead of those films offered by the first Gamera collection. Resolution is vivid, and the high class mastering process – courtesy of Shout Factory – is finally allowed to display captured fidelity.
Close-ups of human characters, especially the space women Barbella and Florbella, load screens with definition. Monster action displays the characteristics of rubber, including notable chip marks on Guiron’s blade. While barren, miniature sets showcase what they can, including sand grains and yes, paint applied without care.
This is an imperfect surprise, namely for erratic print damage which was not cleaned and general color fading. Guiron has carried a yellowish tint dating to its days as an AIP property meant for television which is still maintained here. Color on this print lacks some of its punch and with some yellowing overlaid, aging has left a small imprint.
Sing along to the peppy Gamera song within the boundaries of Dolby Digital courtesy of Mill Creek. There is limited energy pouring from this 2.0 mono track, hit with instances of fading and even skipping, although the latter is a fault of the editing rather than mastering.
Dialog is fuzzy and imprecise, but clean enough to earn only glancing scorn. No dub is available, so this Japanese only track is not hindered by tampering. Moments where the puny score seems to disappear lie entirely on the source. The material hosts a level of sloppiness which would have been evident in any codec.
No extras are offered. The package deal of the four later Showa Gamera films is considered enough.
Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.