12/13/06

312 Gamera vs. Guiron

(1969, Children-Rubber Monster, color)

A world without war, or traffic accidents…

Rating: ***1/2

In a nutshell:

Gamera rescues a pair of kids from a knife-headed shark and a pair of brain-eating aliens.

Summary:

The provocatively named Cornjob.Befuddled Japanese scientists receive a message from deep space, but don’t know what to make of it. Meanwhile, a young Richard Burton impersonator named Tom and his traffic accident-obsessed sidekick Akiro see a spaceship land by the river with their cheap toy telescope. They head out the next day with Akiro’s baby sister, wreaking havoc on the neighborhood and drawing the ire of a goofy cop named Cornjob.

They end up at the river, where the empty spaceship waits with its doors wide open. Tom and Akiro wander inside, only have it close on them and take off. Akiro’s baby sister runs off to tell her mom, Cornjob, Tom’s mom, and anyone else she can find, but no one believes her.

Out in space, the ship takes the boys through an asteroid belt. Just as they are about to be smashed to bits, Gamera shows up, flames trailing from his rear leg-holes. A children’s choir belts out a song in praise of him while he guides the boys safely through the asteroids. He falls behind when the spaceship accelerates.

The ship finally lands on a Fraggle Rock-esque alien planet on the exact opposite side of the sun from Earth. There they see an albino version of Gaos battling a giant knife-headed shark monster named Guiron. Guiron wins handily by dismembering “Space Gaos” and then thin-slicing his torso.

After some exploration, the boys find a pair of alien Japanese women with midwestern accents. They explain that they are the last two of their people; everyone else left in a giant spaceship when a flock of Gaos monsters arrived and their world started to freeze over. The alien women feed the boys drugged milk so that they can hypnotize Akiro and discover his most secret thoughts. Apparently, all he thinks about are donuts, traffic accidents, and scenes from previous Gamera films. They shave his head so that they can cut it open and eat his brain, but Gamera finally arrives and interrupts them.

The aliens send out Guiron, who shoots shurikens from his nostrils to injure Gamera and send him the bottom of the ocean. The boys escape while the aliens are distracted, but are quickly recaptured. They call for help; somehow Gamera hears him and struggles back to the surface. The ensuing chaos kills both of the aliens and frees the boys. Guiron dies in the final battle when Gamera spins on the parallel bars, catches an errant missile, and shoves it up Guiron’s nose.

Gamera puts the broken spaceship back together and has the boys climb inside. He flies back to earth with the ship in his mouth, while the children’s choir sings his praises once again. The boys arrive home safely, where Akiro makes an impassioned plea for the end of war and traffic accidents. The media circus surrounding their abduction and return makes everyone feel very sorry that they ever doubted Akiro’s little sister.

Introduction:

Michael Feinstein is a sheer delight.Crow and Tom eat their school lunches and trade food. Crow can’t have milk, and Tom’s dad only lets him eat health food. There’s a love note in Tom’s lunch from his mom. Crow reminds him that he doesn’t have a mother. Tom bursts into tears.

Host Segment One:

Joel reminds Crow that he can’t have milk. The Mads unveil their inventions, Rorshach centerfolds, which are basically giant inkblots that you have to imagine are sexy pictures. Frank recognizes his mother in one of the inkblots. Joel has invented the collapsible trashcan for camping, and says he’s still working on the collapsible porta-potty. Quoth Frank, “My mother’s a saint!”

Host Segment Two:

Joel and the ‘Bots sing an English version of the Gamera song. “Gamera is really neat / Gamera is filled with meat / We are eating Gamera!”

Host Segment Three:

Joel does a magic trick where he saws Crow in half. Crow walks in wearing a shower cap and towel, spoiling the illusion.

Host Segment Four:

Inspired by the movie character Tom’s vague resemblance to a young Richard Burton, Joel and the ‘Bots do a rather long pageant of Richard Burton’s life, liberally peppered with references to alcohol and Edward Albee.

Host Segment Five:

Joel and the ‘Bots sing a loud, enthusiastic version of the Gamera song, using made-up, Japanese-sounding words. Down in Deep 13, showtune-crooning lounge act Michael Feinstein shows up with warm anecdotes and fancy piano playing. He plays his own light-hearted version of the Gamera song that goes, “Gamera’s the latest thing / He fills our hearts with spring, spring, spring / We all love you Gamera!” The Mads sigh and smile…and then kill him.

Stinger:

The awed boys exclaim, “What a monster!”

Thoughts:

From left to right: Burton Jr., Traffic-Accident-Head, and The Girl With No Credibility.Far and away, this is the most violent and goofy Gamera film I’ve seen yet. That’s an odd combination, but it seems to work all right, as it’s also my favorite Gamera film. It’s not a good film, not by any means. Rather, it falls into the category of “transcendently goofy,” that blessed state where the truly awful film picks up it’s glaring inconsistencies and gaping plot holes, keeps up the pace, and rides boldly into the sunset—not taking itself too seriously, but making no apologies. As the audience I watch and laugh and grin and say to myself, “Boy, that was stupid.”

That said, this movie sets a new low for dubbing. Half the voice actors didn’t speak English very well and their halting intonation is distractingly unnatural. Akiro’s baby sister pronounces “mother” and “brother” exactly the same, everyone uses the words “star” and “planet” interchangeably, and there’s no standard pronunciation for “Guiron.” And what’s up with Akiro and traffic accidents? He gives a little speech about all the Earth’s woes three times during the film, and each time they boil down to “war and traffic accidents.” And how can a suction cup dart stick to a wall through a hankerchief? And what kind of a name is Cornjob? And what about Scarecrow’s brain?

The “sawing a robot in half” sketch and “young Richard Burton” sketch work okay, but aren’t special. The opening sequence where Tom and Crow trade lunches is clever and funny. Mike Nelson is wonderful as Feinstein; hearing him say, “It sneaks up on you. Boo, it says,” makes me laugh every time. The highlight of the host segments is definitely the Gamera song. The two odd translations of it are great, and the fake Japanese version is just so exuberant and joyful. After the first time I saw this episode, I taught the Gamera song to my son, who was three years old at the time. To this day he still runs through the house singing it at the top of his lungs, much to his mother’s consternation.

During the movie segments we get treated to the lengthy but funny “bicycle song” where Joel and the ‘Bots take turns singing to the idyllic pastoral music that plays during an early scene. The last half of the song is an apology about the song’s length and then it ends, “We are filled with shame.” When the spinning Gamera gets left behind in space, Joel remarks, “In space, no one can hear you spin.” Near the end of the movie, when the whole planet is falling apart, Crow says, “This is just like Hamlet; everybody dies.” It’s not the best monster movie I’ve seen on MST3K, but it’s the best Gamera movie. I’d see this one again.