Turtle Eclipse

GAMERON VS GUIRON (1969) is dumb but good-looking. Like a kaiju Matt Dillon, if you will.

The Gamera series, about the misadventures of a giant jet-propelled turtle, is to me more fun than the Godzilla films, because Gamera is (a) aimed at children more clearly than the big lizard’s romps — children tend to play prominent roles in the stories, and Gamera is “the protector of children” and (b) they are also insanely violent — the monsters bleed various brightly-hued ichors, and get their limbs pierced, lopped off, etc. Because kids love that shit.

Argh! Gamera gets throwing stars stuck in his face! Urgh, Gyaos, the vanquished enemy from a previous film in the series, accidentally lasers his own leg off! Urk! Guiron, whose head is a cleaver, hacks off the disabled monster’s head!

I haven’t looked up what Gyaos’ star vehicle is called, but I’m going to take a wild guess and suggest it might be GAMERA VS GYAOS.

Weird, fun, ineffective stuff in this film:

It intercuts the big battles on another world, witnessed by our boy heroes, with the family members left behind on earth. Mom refuses to believe her son and his friend have taken off in a flying saucer. So nothing happens in these scenes, but it happens quite slowly.

There’s a flashback to Gamera’s previous escapades. An insanely long clipshow of previous kills.

Have to give director Noriaki Yuasa credit for this lovely image

There are two lady aliens, last survivors of a dying race. They want to eat the boy-heroes’ brains, and to this end they shave one kid’s head. As the author of a children’s TV episode about a brain-eating alien (the late, much missed Ricky Callan) I couldn’t not be down with this.

The process photography budget was apparently nil, so the kids sometimes stand beside giant photographic blow-ups of the model shot they’re supposed to be inhabiting.

One of the kids is a gaijin, so there’s a kaijin and a gaijin

Watching Gamera movies is definitely a waste of time but I’m probably going to watch them all now. Because if I tried to structure my viewing based on the principle of the finite lifespan, I’d probably be too depressed or anxious to watch anything.

8 Responses to “Turtle Eclipse”

  1. “Mystery Science Theater 3000” has riffed every one of the Gamera movies. They’re among the show’s funniest episodes, partly because of the winningly goofy spirit of the films themselves. However, Sandy Frank — the producer who packaged the English-language versions — is famously one of the only MST3K targets who got angry at the show, especially after they performed the hilarious “Sandy Frank Song.”

  2. David Ehrenstein Says:

    And here it is!

  3. bensondonald Says:

    I found a set of six Jungle Jim features, in which Johnny Weissmuller wears clothes but reveals he hadn’t learned to act over a decade of Tarzan films. Scripts, plots, and performances across the board are … well, dumb is the only word. Not sleazy or silly or crude but just dumb. Yet weirdly comforting, like a summer matinee in an air-conditioned cinema with just-stale-enough popcorn.

  4. “is dumb but good-looking. Like a kaiju Matt Dillon, if you will.”

    A great zinger, that one. Keep up the great work.

  5. Fiona asked me what I have against MD, I just recall seeing him struggle to put thoughts together on a chat show. Perhaps I’m unjust.

    I would probably binge a bunch of Jungle Jims if they feel in my lap.

    Only recently realised that song was a one-hit wonder. And a REAL wonder, with major cinematic applications.

  6. Matthew Clark Says:

    These older Gamera movies are fun. Made to appeal to a child’s point of view. Japanese films of these type, which needed to be dubbed for other counties, because the target audience could have trouble reading subtitles and following the action, were always mocked because of the poor dubbing that they were released with in the US. And, other Japanese genre films, like the “Starman” series, were not only dubbed, but were really a television serial cut down and pasted together to make a feature film. And were mocked for their choppy and rushed plots. Still, these interesting looking early television serials and feature films from Japan show an attentive understanding and realization of children’s views of the world,

    On another note, check out the 1995 Gamera Guardian of the Universe. All recent giant monster films from The Host, Cloverfield, Shin Godzilla and the like, are all inspired by this gripping thriller.

  7. Interesting… I keep thinking 50s sf movies are weirdly dumb, then consider that they may be aiming for that kind of child’s-eye view. What’s weird is that sf fiction from the same period, though clearly targeted as adventure stories that should appeal to kids, aren’t nearly so childlike.

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