Guyver Out of Control

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Our rating: three LAVA® motion lamps.

Guyver comes equipped with a nightlight.
Not everyone in the world thinks that superheroes should wear spandex. As a matter of fact, the philosophy that those who serve justice should dress up with their underwear on the outside and wear ineffectual masks is pretty much limited to American comic books and Mexican sporting arenas. In Japan, superheroes tend to be totally alien in appearance. Check out Ultraman, the Power Rangers, or the subject of this review, Guyver.

The story of Guyver began as a comic book, and has been rendered in animation at least twice. There was a miniseries produced in 1989, known in the U.S. as Bio-Booster Armor Guyver, that follows the comic book fairly closely. There were also two live-action movies made in America, though they didn't follow the comic book very closely. Guyver Out of Control starts out like the comic book, but soon departs from the established plot and boosts the violence and sex quotient. Think of it as the exploitation version of Guyver.

"Puny humans! Zoanoid smash!"
High school student Sho and his girlfriend Mizuki are walking home one night, oblivious to a bizarre scene playing out nearby. Several jumpsuited and helmeted goons from the Chronos Corporation have cornered a shabbily dressed man. When the goons press the man for the "units" he has stolen from Chronos, the man transforms into a creature that kind of looks like Sylvester Stallone turned inside out. One of the goons then "hulks out" himself (into a large horned monster), and kills the other creature.

Sho and Mizuki are surprised to hear an explosion nearby, followed by the sudden appearance of a strange metal object from the sky. The object is one of the units that the man stole, and he booby-trapped the bag that the goons just opened. The unit grows tentacles and engulfs Sho, encasing him in a powerful suit of organic armor. Just as Peter Parker became imbued with power from a radioactive spider, so does Sho gain supernatural powers while wearing the Guyver armor. The Guyver also has several weapons, the most noteworthy being blades that extend from its elbows. A bit more proactive than web shooters, wouldn't you say?

It's embarrassing when you
show up at the office wearing the
same outfit as a co-worker.
After a brief but bloody battle with the goons obsessed with retrieving the units, Sho releases himself from the armor, which teleports away.The few surviving goons report back to Chronos, bringing with them the one Guyver unit they were able to retrieve. The head of Chronos Japan turns it over to his security expert, who just happens to be a beautiful young woman named Valcuria. In a typical move for an anime flick of this period, she takes a shower shortly after she's first introduced. She also accidentally becomes host to the second Guyver unit. When Sho became the Guyver, he was merely enveloped by the thing. But when Valcuria activates hers, her clothes disappear and we get lovingly rendered shots of tentacles violating her every orifice. It sucks to be a woman in Japanese science fiction.

The remainder of the story has to do with Chronos, which seems to have the combined power and stealth of the Illuminati, the Masons, and David Icke's reptoids, killing the people around Sho in an attempt to draw him out. And while none of the Zoanoids (Chronos' name for the monsters) are a match for Guyver, Vulcuria can now transform into Guyver 2.

Another Pokemon seizure victim.
Guyver Out of Control offers a slight narrative. The whole thing is less than an hour long, and it barely touches on some of the more complicated issues in the Guyver story line, like where the Zoanoids came from, or who the mysterious Guyver 3 is. Guyver 3 does show up ever so briefly in Guyver Out of Control, but the video never bothers to introduce his alter ego, so we wonder why they bothered.

The first US movie presented this material as slapstick, and the Bio-Booster Armor Guyver series presented it as violent sci-fi. Guyver Out of Control goes further by adding sex into the mix, so if you're easily offended, you will not want to watch this.

The animation is quite stylish, and action scenes are fun, in a chop-up-the-monster kind of way. There are some indications of a low budget, like the recycled shots in the Guyver on Guyver fight, but it still looks cool. The style of animation, along with the violence and sex, reminds us a lot of the Vampire Hunter D movie, even though we can't find any connection.

We can't say we've read much of the comic book, but of all the motion picture versions of Guyver, this is our favorite. It doesn't spend much time on character development or complicated plot twists, but if you want violent superhero action, this version of Guyver has it under control.

Own it!

Review date: 8/8/2000

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 * As of this writing, the IMDB lists the director of Vampire Hunter D as a producer of Guyver: Out of Control, but the credits on our videotape don't list him. Go back!