Flashback to 1969 for ‘Gamera vs. Guiron’ (AKA ‘Attack of the Monsters’)


Key events of 1969: The Manson murders. Hippies flocked to the Woodstock music festival. A giant space turtle named Gamera fought Guiron, a monster with a giant blade on its head.

For those not yet born by 1969, it’s hard to imagine how things were. It was a different world, rife with social change, conflict, and giant monsters duking it out for unfathomable reasons on alien planets. Enter Gamera vs. Guiron, then ask yourself where such a movie comes from. Why have boys named Akio (Nobuhiro Kajima) and Tom (Christopher Murphy) encountered a UFO landing in a field? What does Gamera himself (or itself) represent? Is it mere childish nonsense? It’s an oddly thought-provoking topic.

One thing is clear: Gamera may have started as a Godzilla knockoff, but this movie’s central monster is markedly different from that one. Whereas Godzilla is more conventionally monstrous in appearance, Gamera looks more like a turtle (although real turtles don’t have teeth). He can also fly, travels through outer space freely and seems to have a strange affinity for children, saving their lives whenever called upon to do so. Quite simply, Gamera is its own thing, and so are the monsters it battles.

Gamera vs. Guiron also does not delve into simple moral lessons. While it could simply chide the two youngster’s and their need to investigate the alien craft, it’s also what leads them on a spectacular adventure that will mature their minds forever. Being threatened by two Japanese alien babes and a giant knife-head monster will do that to do — and so will bonding with a giant, flying space turtle!

I also wonder if the movie’s more influential than given credit for. For example, the alien women, Barbella (Hiroko Kai) and Florbella (Reiko Kasahara), are trying to eat Akio and Tom’s brains to gain their knowledge. Well, that’s exactly what Josh Brolin’s character threatens to do to his child in Robert Rodriguez’ Planet Terror! Also, the planet the aliens are from is called “Terra,” while the Rodriguez film has the word “Terror” in its title. Maybe it’s only a coincidence, but there’s a plausible influence.

Gamera vs. Guiron via Daiei Film

The Humor of Gamera vs. Guiron

The whole brain-eating thing is kind of silly, and is a funny/zany aspect of Gamera vs. Guiron. While it may have disturbed some ultra-sensitive parents, anyone with a spine should be able to laugh or shrug that premise off. Honestly, the humor to this movie is almost innate, and its makers seem pretty aware of it. While Gamera looks funny enough on his own, Guiron is definitely sillier. In addition to his head-blade, you have his sleepy looking eyes and strange ability to generate, throw and call back shurikens (AKA throwing stars, commonly employed as ninja weapons). This becomes a possible obnoxious, laugh-out-loud moment for some, and a real head-scratcher for others.

While the movie has some pitfalls, you don’t watch something like this expecting a masterpiece. In fact, if you know it’s a giant monster fight movie, you pretty much know what’s in store. The cute little touches are an added bonus, and they are definitely kind of cute. Even the villains are cute. Would I recommend Gamera vs. Guiron? Yes. Would you like it? Quite possibly not. Still, it’s one of those “bad” movies I’d happily recommend to someone, just to see how they react. I mean, why the hell not?

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What do you think of Gamera vs. Guiron? If you haven’t seen it, do you plan to now? Let us know in the comments!