Gamera vs Guillon (1969)

Own it!

review by Scott Hamilton and Chris Holland
See also:

Giant Monster Gamera

Gamera, Guardian of the Universe

Gamera 2: Advent of Legion

Gamera 3: Incomplete Struggle

Gamera vs Guillon

Lava LampLava Lamp

Our rating: two LAVA® motion lamps.

This isn't a very good remake of
All Quiet on the Western Front.
It is a well-known fact that in the real world, everyone has an evil twin. So it isn't surprising that movies often feature evil twins. Remember the Cosmos Twins from Godzilla vs. Mothra and other Godzilla movies? Well, if they had evil twins (who would have to be evil twins themselves... think about it), those twins would be the Terran women from Gamera vs. Guillon.

Gamera vs. Guillon is probably better known to kaiju fans as Gamera vs. Guiron. And if you are old enough that you got your education in monster films from after-school TV on UHF channels, you probably knew this movie as Attack of the Monsters, the title it was given by American-International Pictures, its distributor of the time. The new dubbed tape from Neptune Media uses the AIP dub (as opposed to the later Sandy Frank dub), but restores some scenes of monster violence that AIP removed from the TV prints. Neptune has also done monster fans the favor of making this movie available in Japanese with subtitles. As with their previous release of Giant Monster Gamera, these prints are pristine and the video presentation is darn near perfect.

"...or Regis & Kathie Lee!"
Our main character is Akio, who is a Kenny. We've gone on at length elsewhere about Kennies, the little Japanese boys who befriend monsters and wear mind-numbingly short shorts (but not in that order). Kennies show up in a bunch of Gamera films, helping to cement Gamera as "friend to all children." Or at least those children named Kenny who show lots of leg. In any case, little Akio is obsessed with outer space, and seems sure that someday he will find a "star" (the term star is used consistently in the English dub when they mean planet) that is perfect, unlike Earth. This star will have no war or traffic accidents. This second point seems to be quite a sore point with Akio, because he mentions paradise as being a place with no traffic accidents three times. Maybe Akio lost his long pants in a tragic car wreck.

One night Akio and his Caucasian friend Tom spot a UFO. The two of them, followed by Akio's sister Tomoko, bike out to the desolate field where the UFO landed. Unlike most American science fiction films of the time, in which the UFO would have disappeared only to wreak havoc later on in the movie, this movie actually allows the children to find and approach the craft they seek.

Fins to the left, fins to the right...
This UFO is way, way cool. It has 1950s Cadillac-style fins on all four sides, a little spinning antenna on top, and lots of blinking lights inside. It's shame that NASA doesn't spend less time making boring black and white space shuttles and more time making flying saucers with fins. If they did, NASA scientists wouldn't be able to walk about in public for fear of being injured by people throwing wads of money at them.

In any case, Akio and Tom enter the UFO and push buttons until the ship takes off. They seem a bit surprised at this, which makes us wonder: what did they think would happen? As they fly off into space and threaten to collide with a meteor, Akio begins to think that a traffic accident might be a comparatively good way to die. But before the two children expire in a fiery collision, Gamera shows up and saves them. (Darn!) Using his mysterious Kenny powers, Akio determines that "Gamera is our friend." Then the Gamera song starts up.

"...Pink Lady is turning me on!"
Gamera, Gamera
You are strong Gamera
You are strong Gamera
You are strong Gamera
M! M! J! V! (Mars! Mercury! Jupiter! Venus!)
M! M! J! V! (Mars! Mercury! Jupiter! Venus!)
Monsters coming from Mars, or some other alien world?
Come on, space monsters! Bring it on!
Let's cut and poke! Okay, go-go-go...
Using spinning jets, he will win!

The spaceship then leaves Gamera in the dust and lands on a planet with no traffic accidents, but plenty of monsters. Be careful what you wish for, Akio! Shortly after leaving the spaceship, Akio and Tom spot a Gyaos similar to the one Gamera fought a couple years earlier in Gamera vs. Gyaos (a.k.a. Return of the Giant Monsters). The monster seems to be minding its own business, but the ground opens up, revealing Guillon, a quadruped monster who, apart from his arms and legs, looks like the unlikely marriage of a shark and a butcher's knife. The following battle was cut from those prints shown on TV, mainly because of the extreme monster violence involved. Gyaos just can't catch a break: he shoots Guillon with his mouth beam, but Guillon reflects it with his head, and the beam cuts off Gyaos' foot. Further attempts by Gyaos to combat Guillon only result in more severed limbs courtesy of Guillon's bladed cranium, until the poor bird-creature is finally decapitated by his opponent. It's a bit surprising to find such brutality in what is nominally a children's film, but there it is.

The original Ninja Turtle.
The movie continues to raise eyebrows with the further adventures of Tom and Akio. Soon they encounter the planet's only inhabitants, two women in space age outfits who identify themselves as Terrans. Terra, they explain, is a planet that always hovers on the opposite side of the sun from Earth. A much higher civilization than that of Earth has grown there, and now computers run everything on the planet. Unfortunately, Terra's inhabitants installed Windows 98 on those computers, and now the entire population is dead except for these two women.

The Terrans make their visitors comfortable, even providing them with donuts and milk after their long voyage. Unfortunately, Flowers in the Attic hasn't been made yet, so Akio and Tom have no way of knowing that you should never, ever eat powdered donuts in a movie. Thus rendered unconscious, Akio is taken by the Terrans and his head is shaved so that they might more easily (bum bum BUM!) eat his brain! The aim of this is to assimilate the kid's knowledge and blend in on Earth. As if knowing the name of every Pokemon in existence would help them to do that!

"But I don't want to join
the Space Marines!"
Of course Gamera will arrive to save the day before anyone's skull is used for a soup bowl, but it's amusing to see the villains shave Akio's head with a pair of clippers decked out like a futuristic ray gun. It's pretty plain that monster movies had taken a left turn into Bizarro World by this point. With all of the basic plots played out over the previous twenty years of science fiction films, moviemakers were trying any trick they could think of to spice up the genre. Thus we get movies brain-eating twin Japanese ladies with pet monsters, poisoned donuts, and mind-control machines. Although why you need poisoned donuts when you have mind-control machines is beyond us.

When things look their worst, Gamera shows up. By this point in the series, the formula was well worn: Gamera shows up, fights the bad monster, is badly defeated, recuperates, then shows up and kicks the bad monster's butt.

Gamera just loves the 4th of July.
The only wrinkle in Gamera vs. Guillon is some bizarre references to the Olympics throughout the fights. The summer Olympics were in Japan in 1964, and apparently the Mexico Olympics were a big hit in Japan in 1968, because their influence can still be seen. The most surreal bit is a scene in which Gamera uses an alien building like the parallel bars. The Japanese trailer to the film makes other references to the Olympics, claiming that various monster actions in the movie represent a "Judo flip," and "the high jump." The trailer even ends with the tag line, "Gamera? Or Guillon? Who will win the monster Olympics?" (Tiger Woods, probably.)

To round out this bizarre movie, the moral comes to us from Akio's mother, who apologizes to Tomoko for not believing her wild story about Akio and Tom flying away in a spaceship. "Elsa [Tom's strangely Aryan mother], we should have more trust in our children." Yes parents, if you're looking for that special children's film that includes bloody dismemberment and encourages children to tell tall tales to their parents, you must rent Gamera vs. Guillon!

Review date: 11/17/2000

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