In a cold open, a bumblebee spaceship with English-speaking aliens attack Earth because it’s the planet most like theirs in the universe. Actual logic in a GAMERA movie! Then Gamera the giant flying turtle attacks the spaceship because – whatever. An unseen commander onboard the ship, who might just be Richard Burton, elocutes orders to his unseen crew, and they explode after a few minutes, lamenting that “Spaceship number 2 would have to continue their quest of conquering Earth…”
How quaint – these aliens use the Indo-Arabic numeral system as well! Roll opening credits – DESTROY ALL PLANETS! (The American re-titled version of GAMERA VS. VIRAS, the fourth film in the “Shōwa” series – the initial run of Gamera films from 1965 to 1980). Of course the title has nothing to do with the asinine plot; just a marketing gimmick stolen from the GODZILLA title, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS.
GAMERA VS. VIRAS boasts the worst juvenile storyline of any Gamera movie. (But then, I say that to all the girls.)
Movie introduces us to two boy scouts (Japanese Masao and American Jim), who prank a prototype two-man sub by rewiring its controls (because you can do that to a technological submarine in a Gamera movie). Then another bumblebee ship aka Spaceship Number 2 appears (from a planet called Viras). The aliens read Gamera’s mind (padding the film with stock footage of previous Gamera movies and a running commentary by the aliens citing Earth dates and the Earth names of the monsters involved), discerning that Gamera’s weakness is his love for the Earth creatures. Really? Very perceptive to pick up on that metaphysical aspect via clips of daikaiju movies. So the aliens capture the two boy scouts and warn Gamera (in English, mind you), “To Gamera: we have the two boys. If you attack our spaceship, they will die!”
By now, my head has exploded many times.
The bumblebee spaceship lodges a “brain control device” on Gamera’s head. (Can’t figure why Spaceship Number 1 couldn’t do that before being destroyed, or why Spaceship Number 2 couldn’t do that before all that frickin’ stock footage padding.) Gamera is forced to destroy a dam, killing hundreds of people. Hmm, a choice between the lives of two boys or hundreds of lives… good choice, turtle! But then, he is being mind-controlled, so can’t help himself… So why keep holding the boys if they’re no longer useful as bargaining tools? Why did the concept of “love for the Earth creatures” enter into this equation at all if the aliens had a mind control device all along?
Meanwhile the two boys, now irrelevant to the plot, are wandering unsupervised around the alien spaceship literally behind the backs of the zero-peripheral-vision aliens, who are just guys in black smocks who talk like Hayden Christensen (i.e. with no emotion). The boys encounter an octopus-like creature in a cage and immediately prove the ignorance of everyone on the production crew by marveling, “Look, a space monster, from another planet.” If this creature is part of an ecosystem on its own planet, then it is from a planet, NOT SPACE, and being adapted to its environment makes it anything but a “space monster”! That inbuilt hubristic arrogant human provinciality; one-minded, one-sided, blinkered ignorance and limited imagination! Are we sure this is Daiei Studios and not Hollywood?
The United Nations gets involved, “taking the lives of human beings into account over politics.” Well, there’s a first time for everything.
To free Gamera from the aliens, in a grand callback that is also the stupidest plot point in the history of movies, the kid reverses the wires of Gamera’s brain control device onboard the spaceship. My screams of pain were heard as far away as the planet Viras.
Ten minutes before the end, we’re still wondering where the hell this Viras creature is anyway. The great plot twist – that octopus-thing that they called a monster… uh, is the monster. You wanted the best, you got the best, the octopussiest band in the land – Viras! He grows to gigantic size and engages in rubber-suited battle with Gamera, defying all physics laws and stupidity edicts.
To the Academy: I’d like to nominate GAMERA VS. VIRAS for Worst Film, Worst Editing, Worst Directing, Worst Acting, Worst Story, Worst Effects, and a special award for Worst Alien Foe. And worst Annoying Kids.
We can’t blame the filmmakers if GAMERA VS VIRAS is geared toward kids, but what makes it utterly unbearable to anyone with a functioning brain is that it doesn’t make sense within its own story structure. But who am I to talk? My head exploded so early, I couldn’t tell good from bad if it turtle-shelled on me… Maybe that was their plan all along?