Attack of the Monsters (1969)

Attack of the Monsters

Directed by Noriaki Yuasa

Run Time: 82 minutes

Other Titles: "Gamera vs. Guiron", "Gamera vs. the Devil-Beast Guiron"

Yes, he’s back.

Everybody’s favorite giant, flying, fire-breathing, child protecting, space turtle: Gamera. Created by the wild minds at Daiei Studios in an effort to cash in on Toho’s successful Godzilla series, Gamera has graced the silver screen since 1965 and provided countless hours of laughter and great kick-ass fights with a host of villainous beasts such as Zigra, Vira, Gyaos, Barugon, and, in this film, the giant Ginsu-knife beast, Guiron.

Our current feature is fairly typical of Gamera’s other early films: Capricious kids get into trouble, are kidnapped and taken into outer space by malevolent aliens, Gamera comes to the rescue, Gamera whoops some monster-ass, Gamera returns kids back home along with A Moral Message. (See Destroy All Planets…the plot is exactly the same.) It’s child-friendly, predictable, and above all, patently ridiculous. So let’s get started.

The adventure begins with pseudo-scientific blabber about space, galaxies, and all that "scientific" stuff that is suppose to lend some sort of credence to soon-to-come silliness. But hey, the stills of distance galaxies are pretty cool. The narrator ends his short opening by noting that a star is "in trouble!" Cut to opening credits overlayed with shots of molten lava. (Feel free to scratch your head while trying to figure out what the hell lava has to do with stellar explosions. Oh yeah. They’re both ‘hot’.)

As the credits sputter to a close, we are blessed with more strange narration combined with stock-footage stills of various deep-space radar dishes:

"All astronomical observatories catch waves…irregular waves that might have been sent from…outer space!" (Well, duh! Where else could they have come from?)

Anyway, inside an official looking building, Dr. Shiga (played by Eiji Funakoshi, a very scientific fellow who also played Dr. Hidaka in the original Gamera movie 4 years before this film) informs a gaggle of eager news hounds that some sort of "electric waves" have been detected. Alas, as we are told, the stars are so far away that it would take millions of years to reach even our closest neighbor, so we’ll just have to wait for them to come to us. Damn.

Cut to cute little Tom’s bedroom, the capricious American kid happily expositing about the latest space news to his pal, Akio, and his little sister, Tomoko. As luck would have it, Akio spots a flying saucer landing "in the woods across the river." The next morning, the curious youths discover the space ship sitting on the ground and, after some unconvincing special effects, clamber aboard (Tomoko wisely stays behind…smart!) and launch the ship into outer space. (Hoo hoo hoo…those wacky kids. I tell ya…)

Once in space the kids fly into a meteor storm ("This is terrible!" Tom trenchantly observes). But no need to worry, here comes Gamera right on cue. (I guess he just happened to be lounging around in outer space doing nothing). With a mighty head butt (ouch!), Gamera knocks the meteor out of the way and the boys are saved.

"Thanks a heap!" shouts Tom to the heroic giant space turtle who roars what I assume to be the space-turtle equivalent of "your welcome". (Wait a minute…he roars…in space? Oh, never mind.)

So, if I’m following this, and I’m not sure I can, the ship is on auto-pilot back to wherever the hell it came from, so obviously, Tom and Akio might be in deep shit. Luckily, Gamera, being "The Protector of All Children" flies along side the ship and escorts it back to the ship’s origins, just to make sure things are ok. Not like he could do a hell of a lot if things went sour, but whatever, Gamera, it’s your world. But no, somehow the ship automatically accelerates and not even the mighty Gamera can keep up, even with his "jet propulsion" of igniting all of his leg-holes and pin-wheeling in circles. Now at full thrust, the boys pull away while Gamera helplessly watches them fade into the distance as he pin-wheels like an idiot.

Attack of the Monsters Attack of the Monsters

After a crash landing (which the movie makers apparently didn’t have money to actually show), Akio and Tom dust themselves off and peer out of the open hatchway onto a wind-blow, desolate landscape dotted with domed buildings and other "alien" signs of civilization.

"The air here is like ours…so we don’t need any space suits!" (Gawd…if I had a dime for every freakin’ time I heard that line…)

"Thank goodness!" Tom exclaims. (Yeah. No shit.)

The seeming sense of security is rudely interrupted when Gaos, a gigantic, silver pterodactyl monster flies in and starts shooting laser beams all over the place for no apparent reason. Maybe he’s just feeling his oats. After blasting a few more buildings with his laser-beam breath (!), out of the ground clambers Guiron, a gigantic knife-headed bad-ass who quickly lops off one of Gaos’ legs. With his pride stung by this early defeat (not to mention is leg…ouch!), Gaos flies off in shame to lick his wounds and prepare for a future counter-attack. (You really can’t appreciate the true meaning of "men in rubber monster suits until you’ve seen movies like these. It’s awesome.)

Attack of the Monsters Attack of the Monsters

Now:

Why is Guiron here?

Why is Gaos here?

Where is here?

WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?

"From what I’ve seen," Akio says, " we’re on a highly civilized star."

Well, from what I’ve seen, we’re in a really goofy Japanese movie. Oh, and you’re on a planet. Not a star.

Ok, where was I…with Gaos massacred, Guiron crawls back into the ground and is covered by a gigantic sliding-door system (which must have cost the aliens a bundle to build and install). The boys decide to make the best of things and run into the first doorway they find in order to investigate this strange new world. Once inside however, the boys are quickly spotted by a pair of alien women, Floban and Barbella, who look very similar to humans wearing green tights, capes, golden boots, and yes, helmets with a pair of antennas protruding from the top.

Attack of the Monsters Attack of the Monsters

With the help of the "Ultra Translating Machine", the aliens explain that the boys have been transported to a planet called "Terra" which is situated on the exact opposite side of the Sun from the Earth. "We control the Laws of Nature here through our science."

Anyhoo, as everybody is so happily chatting away, Gaos returns with a shriek, sans right leg, ready to try his luck again. Barbella again releases Guiron, their "guard dog" as they oddly refer to it, in order to be rid of this flying pest once and for all. While Guiron lethargically crawls up from his hole again, Akio finally asks the question we’ve all been waiting for: If they are so advanced…why all the freakin’ monsters? (I’m paraphrasing, naturally.)

It turns out that despite controlling the Laws of Nature, long ago a misbehaving computer went amok and created a bunch of monsters, which, I guess, have sort of taken over the planet. I think that’s what’s going on. Soooo…the 2 surviving aliens (the rest of the population died in a space ship explosion) have sent out probe ships to find a new home…One of the probes was sent to Earth; the boys climbed in and were carted back to Terra and…voila! We have a monster movie.

Watching on a big-screen TV, the boys watch in mute fascination as the planet ices over (huh?!!!) and Guiron stomps around unchecked. (What the hell happened to Gaos? ARGH!). [NOTE: Sean, the ever diligent proof-reader and contributer pointed out that I was watching an edited version. In the unedited version Guiron proceeds to “de-wing” poor Gaos before slicing off his head!]

"If only Gamera were here," Akio wistfully murmurs.

"Gamera?" Barbella says.

Taaaa—Daaaa! Cue Gamera Theme Music and cut to see everybody’s favorite space turtle hurtling through space without any apparent destination. But then again, I guess it’s like that 800-pound gorilla joke:

Where does a 500-foot turtle fly to?

Wherever the hell it wants!

(rimshot)

Meanwhile, back in the control room, the Floban and Barbella promise to repair the space ship and return the boys to Earth (wink wink nudge nudge), but sly looks and stealthy nods indicate that Something Is Amiss! And indeed they are! The Aliens are actually planning to eat the boys for food while they travel to Earth. I must admit that this plot point was mildly surprising given the overall ‘childishness’ of the picture.

Soooo, the aliens lead Tom and Akio to a lounge where they can ‘rest’, but instead they quickly hypnotize the boys in order to ask them about the existence of monsters on Earth. (!) I don’t know why they couldn’t just ask the kids without hypnotizing them, but whatever.

"Gamera got them all," Akio informs his captors.

"Gamera?" Floban confusedly replies.

So, with a large-screen monitor displaying all of Akio’s thoughts, we are treated to tons of footage from old Gamera films, which is supposed to be Akio’s memories, but then, there’s no way in hell he could have seen this, so how can he recall it? Whatever. So here we go again, watching scenes from other Gamera movies while watching a Gamera movie. Hell, it worked in Destroy All Planets, so why not do it again? But folks, really, reusing rubber suits and monsters is one thing (hell, it worked for Roger Corman), but unabashedly splicing in entire scenes from other movies, well, it’s just wrong.

Anyway, the alien women are planning their next meal, "When the boys are under the effects of our [sleeping] powder, we’ll gobble their brains raw." ( I thought this was rather gruesome for what is essentially a rubber-monster movie for little kids.) One of the aliens explains that they will gain the boys’ knowledge by consuming their brain matter. But really, look at those 2 kids: how much knowledge could you gain?

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Akio’s little sister Tomoko is desperately trying to convince everybody that the missing boys have in fact been whisked up into space. Despite an understandable attitude of disbelief, she finally convinces the local cop, Officer Kondo, to accompany her to the UFO’s landing site. Unfortunately, since the ship isn’t there anymore, nobody believes her…and…and…another scene peters off without really adding anything to the story. Sigh.

Back on Terra, Barbella and Floban have successfully drugged Tom and Akio by feeding them powdered donuts, covered with "Sleep Powder" naturally. In yet another creepy scene, Floban immobilizes the unconscious Akio in some sort of contraption with just the top of his head protruding, which she immediately shaves in preparation of eating his brain. (A scene which greatly reminds me of the classic "monkey brain" scene from Faces of Death.)

Attack of the Monsters

Just as Floban begins to cut open Akio’s skull, (Good grief! This probably freaked the hell out of a lot of kids), an alarm begins blaring…that was…TOO CLOSE. Floban tosses the bone cutter aside and rushes up to the view screen just in time to see Gamera arriving to save the kids. (Please insert your "How in the hell did Gamera know where they were?" questions here.) Unimpressed, Floban smirks and releases Guiron to finish off this unwelcome visitor. (Floban first fires a rocket at Gamera to see if that would suffice; the rocket misses and hits the side of a mountain about 5 miles to the left of the target. Nice shot, Floban.)

Anyhoo, here comes the scene we’ve all been waiting for: Gamera vs Guiron. Am I right, or am I right?

Guiron opens with a serious of viscous cutting head-butts to Gamera’s back which opens a deep cut (complete with squirting, blue blood). Gamera, desperately clenches Guiron’s hand, or claw, or whatever, in his mouth and, with Guiron swinging him around in circles, manages to turn the tables on our knife-noggin friend, and launches him into a mountain where he gets his head stuck in a boulder. (Could I ever make anything like this up?)

Attack of the Monsters Attack of the Monsters

Gamera takes advantage of his opponent’s temporary immobilization, and rather condescendingly begins roasting Guiron’s ass with his fiery breath. If all this wasn’t already weird enough, a hole opens on the side of Guiron’s head revealing a ninja throwing-star!

Attack of the Monsters Attack of the Monsters

Before you can say "WTF?", a pair of ninja stars fly out of Guiron’s head and strike Gamera below the eyes. Amazingly, the ninja stars then disengage from Gamera’s flesh return back into Guiron’s head. Holy crap…that’s cool. Anyway, Gamera, partially blinded, stops the bleeding by pressing a couple of ice bergs against the wounds, but the blood loss proves to be too much as he loses consciousness and toppling backwards into a lake.

"He’s dead," Floban sneers

"Servers him right," Barbella adds with an evil chuckle.

Meanwhile, back inside, Tom awakens from his stupor just in time to overhear the dinner plans…with his brain as the main course. Rushing back to the lounge, Tom awakens Akio by punching him in the head (!) as he exclaims, "They’re cannibals!" (Which, actually, they aren’t since they’re not human, but let’s cut this movie a little slack, shall we?) After nearly escaping (read: eating up runtime), Floban and Barbella manage to recapture the boys and toss them into a cage until dinner time. Secure in the belief that the boys could never, ever, get out of the cage, the aliens return to repair their spaceship for the flight to Earth.

As soon as the aliens leave the control room, Tom pulls out his rubber-dart gun (where was he keeping that?!) and fires a couple of darts at a nearby control panel. As luck would have it, he Just Happens to hit the correct button to release Guiron from his lair. Oh goody. Sooooooo, feeling a little frisky, Guiron rumbles over to the UFO and catches Barbella and Floban completely by surprise. Realizing that they’d better skidaddle, the aliens attempt a quick lift off, but Guiron leaps into the air and slices the spaceship in half with his head. Amazingly, the aliens survive the fall back to the ground, but Floban is gravely wounded. Staying true to the Alien Code of Laws, Barbella coldly notes that "those that are useless have to go" before zapping Floban into smithereens.

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Meanwhile, Guiron has turned his attentions to the control room and starts hacking away at it with his head. The boys, realizing that releasing Guiron wasn’t such a hot idea after all, start shouting for Gamera to save them. (You have to wonder if Gamera ever gets sick of whiny kids always yapping for help. I know I am.) Gamera, still semiconscious at the bottom of the lake, tries to pull himself together but can only flop around on his back. Fortunately, a boulder topples off of an underwater mountain and smashes him in the head, providing the much needed proverbial ‘kick in the ass’. With a renewed glimmer in his eye, Gamera ignites his rear leg holes and flies from the water and into the air where he cruises around in circles before deftly dropping himself directly on Guiron’s back.

As Tom and Akio watch from the safety of the ruins of the control room (the control building was toppled, the cage smashed to pieces, but the boys emerged unscathed. Go figure.), Guiron strikes a mighty counter-blow with his tail and flings Gamera through the air. Not to be outdone, Gamera manages to grab ahold of a gigantic rod between 2 buildings (why is that there?) and starts spinning around like an Olympic athlete on a high bar!

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I can honestly say that this is a totally weird movie.

After showing off and performing a few spins, Gamera dismounts and executes a perfect landing. Realizing that he’s being completely outclassed, Guiron tries ups the ante by launching a pair of ninja stars into Gamera’s arms and legs. Bellowing with agony, the Friend of All Children stomps up and down in vain trying to pull the cruel devices from his flesh.

"A go-go dancer!" Tom says with a smile, "Gamera’s doing a dance!" (!!!)

"No he’s not!" Akio quickly corrects him, as he points out that as long as the ninja stars are protruding from his appendages, Gamera can’t retract into his shell and ignite his jets. (Did I just write that?) To buy some time, Gamera dives back into the lake to try and figure out what to do, but Guiron is close behind. Gamera quickly manages to yank out a couple of ninja stars so he’s now at half-strength, leg-hole jet wise. Guiron, not paying attention (again!), is rendered helpless when Gamera grabs his rear legs and pushes him up, up, from the watery depths and high into the sky with the help of his rear jets.

If you just HAVE to see the final battle…here you go:

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After pushing Guiron up into the stratosphere, Gamera executes a textbook vertical U-turn and plunges back towards the planet’s surface. Unable to do much of anything except roll his eyes and growl, Guiron is slammed into the ground with his head deeply embedded in the side of a mountain. Wisely taking advantage of the situation, Tom punches a button on a control panel and launches a missile at the hapless monster in an effort to soften him up for Gamera’s eventual coup de grace. In an amazing twist of fate, even for this movie, the missile ricochets off of Guiron’s knife-head and flies directly into the building where Barbella was watching, thus killing the last remaining alien chick. Wow. What are the odds, eh?

Actually, I’d believe almost anything after watching this movie.

OK, if I’m seeing this correctly and somebody didn’t slip a hit of acid when I wasn’t looking, Gamera is now holding a sputtering rocket in his hand (where did that come from?). Taking careful aim, Gamera slings the missile directly into the ninja-star hole in Guiron’s head. With a quick blast of his fiery breath, Gamera detonates the rocket and blows Guiron in half. (Delightfully demonstrated with a quick shot of Guiron’s legs flying through the air.)

"Hip hooray!" the boys shout.

Indeed.

Continuing with the ‘anything goes’ atmosphere of this film, Gamera grabs the 2 halves of the space ship (that Guiron early sliced…remember?), and pushes them back together to reform the ship. (Yeah, that really looks safe for interplanetary travel.)

Attack of the Monsters Attack of the Monsters

With the world-famous Gamera theme song playing in the background, (You do know the Gamera theme song, right?), our heroic beast carefully places the boys inside the newly repaired spaceship. For some reason the ship’s engines aren’t functioning, so Gamera gingerly picks up the craft with his mouth, boys and all, and flies them back to Earth where they are greeted with open arms, happy parents, and a sickening message about trust, kindness, and all that other feel-good crap.

Man. I’m outta here.

Dennis Grisbeck (May 2009)

Afterthoughts

As usual, this Gamera film provides a large dose of goofy, innocent fun. The final battle between Gamera and Guiron is pretty well choreographed, and man, who couldn’t love seeing Gamera spinning around on a high-bar? Unsurprisingly, the dialog is extremely wooden and completely unrealistic, for example, when was the last time you heard somebody yell "Hip hooray!" ? Then again, is it really fair to critique this film for its lack of realism? This is a Gamera film, for Pete’s sake…What do you expect? In summary: good fun for a rainy Saturday afternoon, and it’s safe for the kids to watch as well. How can you go wrong?

Read more about Attack of the Monsters at

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12 comments to Attack of the Monsters (1969)

  • Great review! This was also one of the best Joel era episodes of MST3K. I hope Shout Factory releases a set of Gamera MST episodes sometime in the future.

  • Karl

    “Thanks a heap!” shouts Tom to the heroic giant space turtle who roars what I assume to be the space-turtle equivalent of “your welcome”. (Wait a minute…he roars…in space? Oh, never mind.)

    George Lucas didn’t listen when told there is no sound in space and now he is a gazillionaire. I don’t believe that the Earth is round… Where is my check???

  • The Earth is round?

  • Guts3d

    Last I heard, but then those are the same people who claim that the Earth is not the center of the universe. This is so obviously untrue that I won’t deign to reply to it.

  • Screw-Hip

    “In yet another creepy scene, Floban immobilizes the unconscious Akio in some sort of contraption with just the top of his head protruding, which she immediately shaves in preparation of eating his brain.”

    With this I could try to trick people into watching the movie by telling them it’s the spiritual predecessor to Hannibal. (If it wasn’t for my rep.)

    Surprisingly, the kids in this one weren’t as irritating as I’ve come to expect. Akio’s road safety passion was a bit odd but maybe 1668-1669 was a very bad traffic-accident spell.

  • Yeah, nothing like a world free of war and traffic accidents 🙂

  • Screw-Hip

    Funny enough, round about a year ago I would have stridently agreed with Akio. But I was lying next to a road with a broken hip. 😯

    But now I consider a world free of war and dvd region codes a much worthier dream. Freedom from the non-existence of truly complete Ed Wood and Godfrey Ho boxs set would be nice as well. Speaking of which, am I dreaming or was there a review of Robo-Vampire in the previous incarnation (format) of Monster Shack?

  • Yeah, there was a version of it…I might have accidentally skipped over it in the migration from the old site…I’ll take a look in a little while. Wow..you ARE observant! 🙂

  • guts3d

    A world without taxes or mimes would be my wish…

  • Guts3d

    The air here is like ours…so we don’t need any space suits!” (Gawd…if I had a dime for every freakin’ time I heard that line…)

    This saves the costumer from making authentic looking ( and no doubt expensive ) space suits. No one ever seems to worry about microbes or spores from plants, tho…

  • guts3d

    The latest MST3K box set is all Gamera! I plan on a movie night real soon. Pass the popcorn!

  • seeingitself

    This movie is goofy to be sure, & nonsensical, but you have to remember this movie is for KIDS, it was geared for kids & is more like a cartoon than anything else. I wouldn’t take any of it seriously.

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