DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Noriaki Yuasa
Nobuhiro Kajima, Miyuki Akiyama, Christopher Murphy
Writing Credits:
Fumi Takahashi

Aliens kidnap two children and take them to another planet for the purpose of getting knowledge from their brains, but Gamera follows and tries to rescue them.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Japanese DTS-HD MA Monaural
English DTS-HD MA Monaural (AITV)
English DTS-HD MA Monaural (Daiei)
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 82 min.
Price: $179.95
Release Date: 8/18/2020
Available Only As Part of 12-Movie “Gamera Complete Collection”

• Audio Commentary with Film Historian David Kalat
• Introduction by Film Historian August Ragone
• Alternate English Credits
• Trailers
• Image Gallery
• Neptune Media Archive Gallery


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Gamera vs. Guiron [Blu-Ray] (1969)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 6, 2020)

Whenever anyone whines that Hollywood pumps out too many sequels, point them back to the 1960s. From 1965 to 1971, Daiei Studios cranked out seven Gamera movies – one a year!

We pass the mid-point of that run with 1969’s Gamera vs. Guiron. Like the last couple of films, this one emphasizes the child’s-eye viewpoint.

Youngsters Akio (Nobuhiro Kajima) and Tom (Christopher Murphy) scan the heavens through a telescope. To their amazement, they spy an alien craft as it descends to Earth.

When they locate it, they enter the ship and promptly get whisked away to another planet. There alien babes Barbella (Hiroko Kai) and Florbella (Reiko Kasahara) threaten the boys with various forms of harm.

Back on Earth, Akio’s sister Tomoko (Miyuki Akiyama) tells adults what happened, but no one believes her. Giant heroic turtle Gamera takes up the cause and tries to rescue the boys, a task that takes him on a path to battle space monster Guiron.

Of course – Gamera’s the “friend to all children”, right? As I noted in my review, 1966’s Gamera vs. Gyaos offered the first strong hint of that theme, and 1967’s Gamera vs. Viras pushed it even harder.

The concept intensifies with Guiron, and the producers make Gamera seem more heroic than ever before. We’ve lost the more animalistic Gamera of the first couple of films, replaced by one who consciously acts as a force of good.

I get this choice to some degree, as a series of movies about a creature without any kind of overriding intelligence or goals could run out of steam. Granted, it doesn’t seem clear how smart Gamera is – or even why he does what he does – but I understand why the producers thought he needed more of a character arc. You can only watch a giant turtle destroy Japanese cities so many times.

That said, the Gamera series doesn’t really make this character choice work, mainly because Little G finds himself stuck in such cheap, tacky movies. Godzilla gets the stereotype for movies with “Z”-level effects and production values, but the Gamera efforts exemplify those concepts.

In this case, the bargain basement vibe seems like a shame, as Guiron comes with some potential strengths. It feels more ambitious than prior flicks, as it takes us to an alien planet and depicts that society. The choice to leave Earth opens up intriguing possibilities.

Guiron himself becomes arguably the most dynamic Gamera foe to date. A beast with a literal knife for a head, he shows a real sadistic streak that makes him interesting.

When Guiron defeats a Gyaos-like monster, he then chops up the corpse for fun! Throw in alien women who plan to eat the brains of children and we find a more graphic, darker story than usual.

In theory, that is, but only in theory, as Guiron remains wholly kid-friendly despite the gruesome themes. Even with lots of violence and evil notions, the kids never feel like they’re in real danger, as the film comes with such a perky vibe that it refuses to indulge in anything scary.

Viras brought in a white, American kid as a main character, and Guiron continues that trend. This feels like nothing more than a marketing move, as it feels like the producers integrated non-Japanese characters to help sell the movies more easily in the US.

I mind that pandering less than I do the kiddie-oriented tone. As noted, Guiron could’ve become a pretty dynamic mix of monster battles and sci-fi.

Unfortunately, the combination of cheap production values and relentlessly sunny attitude robs it of its potential. If better executed, Guiron could’ve been the best of the franchise, but as it stands, the movie seems like a misfire.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C+/ Bonus B-

Gamera vs. Guiron appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Similar to its siblings, Guiron brought a good but not great image.

In general, the movie came with reasonably precise sharpness. Occasional soft shots materialized – some connected to effects, some not – so the flick lacked consistent definition, but the majority of the flick seemed well-rendered.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects emerged, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain felt natural, and print flaws remained restricted to a few small specks.

Guiron opted for a fairly earthy palette, with a mix of sandy amber and blue on display. While the hues didn’t excel, they appeared fairly vivid and occasionally came across as pretty lively.

Blacks seemed pretty deep and dense, while shadows displayed adequate clarity and smoothness. Overall, this became a mostly satisfying presentation.

Don’t expect much from the wholly ordinary DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack of Guiron. Speech felt generally natural, with lines that suffered a little edginess but that usually came across in a decent manner.

Though neither music nor effects boasted much range, they also didn’t show prominent distortion. The effects could become a bit rough around the edges, but they usually seemed accurate enough. The movie offered an average soundtrack given its age and origins.

As we shift to extras, we get the expected Introduction from Film Historian August Ragone. In this 11-minute, 25-second piece, Ragone gives us background for the film and a discussion of the production. He always provides worthwhile notes, and that trend continues here.

Next comes an audio commentary with film historian David Kalat. He provides a running, screen-specific look at filmmaker Noriaki Yuasa, cast and crew, aspects of the franchise/genre and production notes.

Kalat provides an engaging look at the subject matter, but his commentary points out one weakness of this package’s approach: different participants for most of them. Although variety may seem nice, the fact that we get new speakers across the films ensures repetition.

That becomes more prevalent here because Kalat spends so much time with historical elements and less with Guiron specifics. We find notes that we already learned on earlier commentaries, so a more unified approach to the tracks might’ve made them better.

Despite that, I do like Kalat’s discussion. He offers plenty of good comments and makes this an informative chat.

Alternate English Credits splits into two clips: “American International Version” (2:24) and “Sandy Frank Version” (2:44). Both show modifications made for US TV cuts. They’re good for archival reasons and that’s about it.

In addition to a Japanese trailer and a US TV spot, we find an Image Gallery. It brings 63 elements that mix production photos, shots from the set and advertising tidbits. This becomes a nice compilation.

Nepture Media Archive Gallery provides another 39 stills, all related to a late-90s series of collector’s videocassettes. It adds some useful materials.

Arguably the most ambitious effort in the series to date, Gamera vs. Guiron comes with real potential. However, it lacks commitment to its themes and ends up as a shoddy mix of bad effects and lackluster action. The Blu-ray brings generally positive picture and audio as well as a useful set of supplements. Guiron is far from the worst of the franchise, but it might become the biggest disappointment.

Note that as of August 2020, this Blu-ray version of Guiron only appears as part of a “Gamera Complete Collection”. This packages 12 Gamera adventures.

The “Complete Collection” also features a 120-page reproduction of a 1996 Gamera comic book and an 80-page retrospective book. My review copy didn’t include these components so I can’t formally discuss them.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Main