Gamera vs. Gaos (1991)
Starring: Stars: Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu and Kevin Murphy

The Plot: Joel Robinson and his robotic friends Crow and Tom Servo are stuck in outer space aboard the Satellite of Love where they are forced, by the evil Dr. Forrester, to watch very bad movies. The crew try to make the most of the flicks that are presented to them by continually cracking jokes while the movies play on for the audience at home. This time around we delve back into the Gamera series and find that a team of construction workers are doing their best to pave through a wooded area right next to a mountain. This incites violence from the locals, but what happens next baffles everyone. When a UN survey team, flying in a helicopter, are wiped out by a beam of light coming from the mountain, a massive panic is felt by all involved. It turns out that the ball of light came from Gaos, a giant flying space creature! As mankind tries to figure a way to stop this giant monster, the only hope earth seems to have is with the giant turtle known as Gamera!

The Review
Continuing on in our exploration of the Gamera vs MST3K box set, we venture out into the third Gamera title. Also distributed by Sandy Frank, Gamera vs. Gaos is yet another poorly dubbed version of a classic Japanese monster movie. However, this time out the series is placed back into the formidable hands of director Noriaki Yuasa who created the series and nearly directed every film in the original run. Yuasa was discarded in the previous Gamera vs. Barugon but his touch was sorely missed from that film as it tried to reach a more adult tone that simply didn’t seem to catch on with audiences. While the Gamera series does play well enough to an adult audience, there tends to be a childlike innocence behind many of these movies and Yuasa brings that with gusto as he steps back into the director’s seat and truly epitomizes what a Gamera movie really is. While this doesn’t ultimately prove to be the very best film in the series, it is so preposterously insane in its logic that you almost can’t help but walk away liking it.

When the decision was made to return original director Noriaki Yuasa back into his rightful chair at the helm of the Gamera series, the heart and presence was certainly brought back to the Gamera movies. Yuasa showed that he had learned quite a bit during his hiatus from the series, and handles both the color format here as well as the larger production values to a far greater extent than even his more experienced predecessor did. There are sequences, such as the one where the young boy and a stranger from the forest wander out into a cave near the location of Gaos (who is resting in the early section of the movie), that show off Yuasa’s tremendous use of color and lighting. This scene, which comes early on, demonstrates a lot of visual potential from the director. The use of vivid blues and warm lighting within closeups (the rosy red cheeks of the boy stand out amidst the green and blues of the cave) gives the film a very otherworldly feel, and Yuasa continually makes use of this alien atmosphere. Although this is a stretch, the only thing I can think to compare this atmosphere with is director Nobuhiko Ôbayashi and the work he did in both the surreal titles Hausu as well as The Difting Classroom.

Often times what makes or breaks a good Kaiju movie is the level of villain presented. Sometimes the leading monster is our villain but often times we have a good monster versus a bad monster. Such was the case with the majority of Gamera titles, and Gamera vs. Gaos is no exception. Gaos is a tremendous villain for the Gamera universe. His design may actually be one of the most obvious in its hokeyness, as his head has a very square look to it that doesn’t invoke any sense of organic flow, he offers a number of troublesome functions for Gamera himself. The first and most obvious fact is that Gaos is able to fly. Although Gamera himself can match this ability, he is only able to fly whenever he sucks his body inward and propels himself by his rockets. So now we have Gamera dealing with a monster who flies above him for the most part and if you’ve ever seen this giant tortoise in action: you know he isn’t the most flexible monster out there. The main problem for Gamera however has to be Gaos’ ability to shoot a ray from his mouth that can actually pierce through Gamera’s incredibly thick skin. Never has Gamera at this point in the series been so harshly injured during a battle and it seems that through the first two thirds of the movie Gamera is consistently hammered by the Gaos creature. Yuasa handles this situation brilliantly and truly creates a creature that seems impossible to beat.

The movie however does come across as relatively silly and Joel and the bots make sure to point this out at every junction point. The character of young Ichi steps up to the plate as one of the most annoying children ever put to screen. The English dub makes the character absolutely unbearable in his whinyness. The character doesn’t so much recite his lines as he screams every single one of them… throughout the entire movie. In the grand tradition of Gamera movies, the character of Ichi is taken far more serious by the adults around him than one would expect which makes for some of the most hilarious riffing in this episode. Indeed, why is Ichi given as much credence as the adults like to pass upon him? Utterly ridiculous, but entertaining in all of the wrong ways. Another point of interest for those just looking to have their jaw dropped by the insanity of the Gamera universe: the plan to destroy Gaos, as concocted by the human race, may be one of the most idiotic and disturbing ideas known to cinema. Being that Gaos seems to love human blood so much, the scientists come up with the idea of creating a massive bird-feeder filled with BLOOD as a lure. When Gaos manages to sit on top of the perch the plan is then to start spinning him on a table… in the hopes that it would screw up the evil bird’s equilibrium… I think. Honestly, in a poorly dubbed affair such as this one, where you are laughing at both the movie and the brilliant banter of the MST3K crew, who can say?

The Conclusion
Although Gaos is a tremendous villain and the riffing is on par with many of the best in this series, this still didn’t turn out as one of my favorites. The plot is a bit too convoluted for the MST3K treatment to really get off of the ground. Still, not a bad showing at all! It gets a three out of five.

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