Review: GAMERA VS. VIRAS (1968)

The kids aren’t alright in GAMERA VS. VIRAS, the fourth film in the giant turtle series. Noriaki Yuasa is again in the director’s chair, but this entry is more truncated than it needs to be. The 1968 picture, released as DESTROY ALL PLANETS in the United States, features a chunk of footage from the first three outings and doesn’t unlock the chess game between man and monster. It does feature two frustrating Boy Scouts and a cheery score by Kenjiro Hirose, though.

The Scouts are Masao (Tôru Takatsuka) and Jim (Carl Crane). They’re pests and they fiddle around with a small submarine while on a trip to an aquarium. They even get into a race with Gamera, but trouble interrupts the fun when an alien craft snags the turtle in a catch-ray. The aliens want to take Gamera out of the picture so they can conquer the Earth and so forth. They subsequently control Gamera using a brainwave machine and wreak havoc on Tokyo using the indoctrinated turtle as a weapon.

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GAMERA VS. VIRAS isn’t without its fun, like when Gamera finally faces off against the giant sarcastic-looking squid giving the aliens their namesake. But the majority of the movie feels rushed and cobbled together from spare parts, with a significant portion spent reliving the past as the aliens “study” Gamera’s exploits. Even the footage of the brainwashed Gamera’s rampage comes from GAMERA: THE GIANT MONSTER, thus taking the shine off the proverbial apple.

Fans of silly sci-fi will have their fill as Masao and Jim take their irksome antics aboard the spaceship. They manage to order orange juice and sandwiches from the telepathic vessel, plus they outfox the casually-dressed aliens almost every step of the way. Masao is responsible for one of the best lines in the picture when he coolly states “Jim and I are fine, how’s the Earth?” from a position of vulnerability. Happily, the kids are saved by the better angels of our amniote nature. Unhappily, the UN seems prepared to throw us all under the bus on account of two annoying Scouts.

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