Monday, November 04, 2013

Vamp or Not? Gamera Vs Gyaos

Daikaijû kûchûsen: Gamera tai Gyaosu was a 1967 Japanese film directed by Noriaki Yuasa. It was drawn to my attention when I received a comment from Superheroinegirl who wondered if I had considered doing a ‘Vamp or Not?’ of the film. I must confess that I hadn’t, but I did some quick research and decided that I should.

The film is a kaiju film, essentially a Japanese giant monster movie. It starts with volcanic eruptions across Japan. The kaiju Gamera (Teruo Aragaki) is drawn to an eruption at Mount Fuji. Gamera is a hero monster and is essentially a giant turtle. He can walk on two legs and, when withdrawn into his shell, he can fire jets and fly like a rotating flying saucer. He can eat heat sources (fire, lava etc) and stores it. When necessary he can breathe out a jet of flame.

Gamera flies to Fuji
A village near Mount Fuji is in the path of a new expressway. The foreman of the work, Shiro Tsutsumi (Kôjirô Hongô), has been tasked with getting the villagers to sell up but the village elder (Kichijirô Ueda) has persuaded the villagers to hold out for more money. A group of researchers are due to fly over the mountain to observe Gamera and Tsutsumi would like to halt work until that research has been carried out. Unfortunately the company won’t allow it, expecting him to sort out the issues with the villagers and resume work – this, of course, brings conflict.

in the cave
As the researchers fly over the area sonic beams are shot out of a cave, destroying the helicopter. Meanwhile the village elder’s grandson, Eiichi (Naoyuki Abe), has shown a reporter (Shin Minatsu) a route up the mountain. They notice an eerie glow from a cave and investigate. Once inside there is an earth tremor and rocks begin to fall. The reporter leaves Eiichi and runs outside – straight into Gyaos, who picks him up and eats him. It is Gyaos who concerns us.

Gamera breaths fire
The creature is said to be a cross between a pterosaur and a bat. I could actually see the bat like quality of it despite the toothed beak. Although it is supposition on the film scientists’ part, we discover that Gyaos’ spine is forked and this acts like a tuning fork creating the sonic beams. It also means that Gyaos cannot turn his neck (an evolutionary disadvantage I would say). In the first battle between Gamera and Gyaos, it is Gamera who comes of worst – indeed it is the first film in which Gamera bleeds, his leg cut by the sonic wave.

Gyaos' head in sunlight
They discover that Gyaos is nocturnal and, in a subsequent battle, Gamero manages to bite off part of Gyaos foot as it tries to escape the coming dawn. The brief exposure to sunlight makes its head glow red. From this we get two interesting things. Firstly we see Gyaos in his cave as his foot regenerates. Also the humans get hold of the discarded toes but they seem to be shrinking. They discover that exposure to ultraviolet light eats away the flesh. We also discover that the creature hates fires and will put out blazes with a yellow smoke like substance expelled from its chest.

drinking fake blood
A plan is hatched to immobilize Gyaos by luring him to a revolving roof and spinning him (thus wrecking his balance) until the sun comes up! But how to lure him? They figure that since he likes eating humans he could be lured by the scent of human blood. Now they don’t use real blood but a synthetic substitute that looks and smells like blood. They then use planes to set a trail of blood vapour and do indeed lead him to a blood fountain which he actually does drink from.

snack time
So there you have it – drinking blood (though whilst his natural eating habits involve popping the humans whole into his beak we can argue that they are too small in comparative size for him to just drink the blood), dislike of fire, ability to create a fog, shaped kind of like a bat and destroyed by sunlight. I want so very much to go Vamp on this, and if you look at the Wikipedia page for Gyaos his species is listed as Vampiric Bat/Pterosaur, so I am going to say Vamp but you are, of course, free to disagree.

The imdb page is here.


JaredMithrandir said...
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Taliesin_ttlg said...

Suggestions are always welcome (how quickly I can check them out will vary, understandably).

I'll have to look up that review