One of the cost-cutting measures Daiei implemented in the third Gamera film, Gamera vs. Gyaos (1967), was giving Noriaki Yuasa double duty as both Director and Director of Special Effects. Whether it’s this, or the fact that writer Niisan Takahashi felt the previous film, Gamera vs. Barugon (1966), “failed as children’s entertainment,” Gamera vs. Gyaos is in many ways more similar to the original film, Gamera: the Giant Monster (1965.) I understand why this one is a fan favorite, but I actually prefer the more adult story of Gamera vs. Barugon.
While my personal choice may be a slower story more dependent on plot, I don’t believe that’s what the Gamera films were intended to be. (Remember, this is my first time watching them, so I’m not sure at this point what to expect.) I’m guessing it won’t take long for me to shift gears from the excitement of a jewel heist that releases a tongue-punching monster, to the thrill of a young boy riding on the rough shell of a giant turtle as it glides through the sky. If done right in future outings, I wouldn’t mind them awakening a little childlike wonder in my cranky mind.
The other thing that’s becoming clear is that the Gamera films are less about the destruction and more about the good ol’ monster action. We have the Godzilla films for the destruction, but both Gamera vs. Barugon and Gamera vs. Gyaos feature only minimal footage of rampage. Most of the mayhem takes place outside the cities, focusing on the battles between the beasts. Also, Gamera has been the underdog. The humans want Gamera to arrive to help save the day, but the “villains” like Barugon or Gyaos, win the first battle, severely harming the “hero.”
In this movie, poor Gamera has his “arm” (or “hand,” as it’s called) nearly severed by the supersonic ray (laser?) emitted from Gyaos’s mouth. Gamera retreats to the bottom of the ocean for it to heal. It’s at this point we realize that the aforementioned young boy, Eiichi (Naoyuki Abe) may have a psychic link with Gamera. He shouts out, “Hurry and get well!” as the image of his face shrinks and fades to a shot of the giant turtle underwater as the clear liquid becomes green with Gamera’s blood.
This green compares with the green glow in the air that identifies the location of Gyaos, and contrasts with the pink blood that will later spew from that creature’s wounded body. Supposedly, Gamera vs. Gyaos is the story of Dracula told with giant monsters. Indeed, Gyaos emerges only at night and eats people for sustenance. He’s drawn to the smell and taste of blood. Therefore, the scientists determine they can manufacture a blood substitute and pump it into the air to lure Gyaos into a trap. This results in a wonderfully unique line:
Turn up the fake blood!
Gamera vs. Gyaos includes an obligatory science lesson where we see a cool x-ray-like drawing of Gyaos that shows its spine splits and forks into two necks. (This means it can’t turn its head, so they theorize they can successfully attack from behind.) However, science quickly transitions to acting on information from Eiichi, as well as more speculative methods for stopping Gyaos. For example, they think if they make it dizzy, they can hold it in place until the sun rises. It’s convenient, then, that the nearby Hotel Hi-Land has a rotating platform on top.
All they have to do, then, is make a slight modification to the platform to make it spin faster, pump that fake blood into the air to lure Gyaos to it, then start a huge forest fire to lure Gamera to the scene to finish the job. Easy-peasy, right? It’s 99% ridiculous, but 100% fun! Gamera is a great shot when throwing a boulder that seals Gyaos’s mouth to stop the supersonic laser ray, then ironically bites it on the neck before carrying it on its back and dropping it into a volcano.
Gamera vs. Gyaos does have an adult story woven throughout. All this happens on the construction site of a new expressway where nearby villagers refuse to sell their land to accommodate it. Foreman Shiro Tsutsumi (Kojiro Hongo, returning from Gamera vs. Barugon in a new, non-shirtless role) is in the middle of the disagreement, compelled to honor his bosses’ orders to forcibly remove the villagers, while struggling morally to do so. Maybe a giant monster crisis will cause everything to work out in the end... You know it will.
Original Japanese Version Daikaiju kuchusen: Gamera tai Gyaosu
Released March 15, 1967
RT 86 min.
Written by Niisan Takahashi
Directed by Noriaki Yuasa
Starring Kojiro Hongo, Kichijiro Udea, Reiko Kasahara, Naoyuki Abe, Taro Marui, Yukitaro Hotaru, Yoshiro Kitahara
US Version Return of the Giant Monsters
RT 86 min.
Home Video Blu-ray (Arrow Video, Gamera: The Complete Collection)