Sunday, March 23, 2014

Honourable Mention: Gamera: Guardian of the Universe

Having exercised our ‘Vamp or Not?’ muscles over the kaiju film Gamera Vs Gyaos and deciding that Gyaos was a vampiric bat, you’d have thought that looking at anything with Gyaos in would become easy. Not so.

In the 1995 Gamera daikaijû kuchu kessen, director Shûsuke Kaneko reinvented the blooming wheel. Gyaos become a species, rather than a single creature, and the background is changed. The elements that perhaps drew us to announce Gyaos as vampiric are lost or watered down.

Gyaos waste
The film starts with a ship carrying plutonium colliding with a floating atoll. Round the same time we see people on an island attacked by something from the sky. The police contact ornithologist Mayumi Nagamine (Shinobu Nakayama) and ask her to travel to the island as she was a friend of a scientist there and the last message they received mentioned a bird. There is destruction across the village, which Mayumi doesn’t tie into a bird until she finds a giant bird pellet that contains a pen and pair of glasses owned by her friend.

the obelisk
The two stories run in parallel for a while. The atoll has a mysterious obelisk with Etrurian runes on it. The obelisk crumbles and energy exudes from the atoll as Gamera is awoken. Meanwhile they discover that the “bird” is a 15 meter carnivorous flying creature with scales and teeth that isn’t actually of the bird genus. Plus there are three of them. They attempt to capture them (in a stadium with a closing roof) using cattle carcasses as a lure. They get two as Gamera reaches land and fights the third, merging the two threads of story. The other two use their sonic rays to escape. At first the military target Gamera rather than the Gyaos due to his size.

Gyaos attacks
Now, originally Gyaos was killed by the sun. These are nocturnal but capable of being active in the sun. They are carnivorous but a love of blood is never mentioned. They are still sort of a bat/pterosaur cross but they show no ability to release a smoke/fog screen and any fear of fire is normal and not notable. The source of the creatures go back, in this, to Atlantis. The Gyaos were created to tackle pollution (hence these ones awakening) but they started to multiply and attack humans. The Atlanteans created Gamera to destroy them but it was too late and, whilst the few remaining Gyaos went into hibernation, the Atlantean civilisation was doomed and so they bequeathed Gamera to a future civilisation.

Super Gyaos
We discover that they appear to be all female but actually they are asexual, with only one chromosome and able to self-reproduce. The main Gyaos in this evolves into a Super Gyaos with a 100 meter wingspan. But, despite the added background, we lose much of the vampiric elements and this, because of the history of the creature only gets an honourable mention due to its lost genre overlaps. The imdb page is here.

Bonus Honourable Mention: Gamera Vs Viras

The 1968 Noriaki Yuasa directed film Gamera Vs Viras deserves to get a bit of a bonus mention here.

In it Gamera is pitted against the aliens Viras who intend to invade earth and colonise it (as it is the closest to their planet in size and atmosphere in the universe). At the head of the film Gamera destroys the first of their spaceships and so a second is despatched. It catches Gamera in a stasis field and scans the creature’s memories to find a weakness.

stock footage
This leads to a lot of stock footage (19 minutes in the US release, and to be honest other films in the series showed some this footage too but no other to this extent) some of which shows Gamera’s battle with Gyaos from the film the year before. So, unlike the Gyaos above, this Gyaos is still a vampiric bat but, of course, it is all memory and old footage and thus gets an honourable mention only.

The imdb page is here.

Bonus Honourable Mention: Gamera Vs Guiron

space Gyaos
The year after Gamera took on Viras he was out in space again, this time to rescue two young whippersnappers who had climbed on board a UFO and been whisked off to another plant (Earth’s twin that followed the same orbit on the far side of the sun and so was never seen from Earth).

Gamera’s enemy in this was Guiron but the planet had its own version of Gyaos, who appeared in what we might call a monster cameo. This Gyaos seemed un-phased by the sun but otherwise was identical to the original Gyaos – mainly because it was the same Gyaos model but spray painted silver and known as the Space Gyaos.

The imdb page is here.

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