Movies and Film

Sea Change – Gamera vs. Viras (1968)

So far in Gamera’s cinema career, he has faced mankind and other giant monsters much like himself, even coming close to being defeated by the likes of Gyaos.  In this fourth film, Gamera faces a threat unlike any he has faced thus far, at least on this planet called Earth.  The film and the series, already being firmly set in the science-fiction genre would become even more so with the inclusion of aliens and the spacecraft they arrived in.  The movie would also feature another slight change by being made specifically for kids rather than just geared towards them.  Because of that, Gamera himself would also experience a personality change.

gamera-vs-viras13In the earlier films, more the first couple than the third movie, Gamera was out to destroy whatever came across his path be it cities, vehicles or humanity.  Now the Daiei Film Company has taken the beloved monster and turned him into a pacifist, a creature that feels a bond with children, much like a dog would, and taking him about as far away from his origin as possible.  Was it a good thing?  Yes and no because the transition between having Gamera be one thing and then become something else was a little rough in the doing, almost as if Daiei did not know what to do with him.  In almost every aspect, Gamera is a Godzilla clone and the first couple of movies were very similar to what was happening in his series.  So moving away from that and what Godzilla was doing was a good way to differentiate the two rather than being just a poor clone.  While the films varied in quality up until this point, this movie was actually, surprisingly good.

gamera-vs-viras5Sure, it featured a couple of kids that were fairly rambunctious at times, and perhaps even a little grating, yet you could not help watching because what they were doing was quite fun and even enjoyable.  The space invaders were a little disappointing as they were merely humans that for whatever reason, possibly came from another planet (or perhaps they were enslaved?) and the concept of Viras was interesting though the eventual reality was not.  What is a little humourous is that the production values on the film seemed to be of a higher calibre than the last one, but once again when it came to costume design, the movie failed outright as Viras looked utterly ridiculous.  Mean to the be some sort of outer space squid, the costume would have been okay if not for the pair of obviously human legs underneath it all.  When you think of films that create a break in logic or in the narrative it is trying to sell, seeing Viras with his legs ranks right up there.  It would be nice at some point to see the costume designs get a little better, though for anyone who has ever seen a Gamera film, you know that it does not happen until those far later in the series.

Last but not least, the movie leaves you wondering how Gamera could survive being not just stabbed, but impaled by Viras multiple times in the torso without dying.  Perhaps monster physiology is a little different than some, but no creature big or small should have been able to live through that.  When all is said and done though, Gamera vs. Viras was much better than Gamera vs. Gyaos.  The film was definitely no masterpiece, but it was by no means the worst to have ever been seen on the screen.  A good and bad film that was captivating in all the best and worst ways.

3 out of 5

First entry – Giant Monster Gamera (1965)
Second entry – The Monolith Monsters (1957)
Third entry – Gamera vs. Barugon (1966)
Fourth entry – Tarantula (1955)
Fifth Entry – Gamera vs. Gyaos (1967)
Sixth entry – Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)

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