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"First off, these are the AIP edition of the movies. Uncensored prints of Attack of the Monster are extremely rare, and I haven't seen any uncensored English editions. These movies have changed hands more than the Godzilla movies, and I don't know the differences between the two English editions I've heard about besides the dubbing. Any older Gamera movie is hard to find in any video format so this could be all we see for a long time on DVD. Both movies are pan / scan editions and from 16mm. The first movie is Attack of the Monsters (aka Gamera vs. Guillon or Gamera vs. Guiron - depending on your source. Neptune Video used the first spelling, a reference book used the second). A boy and his friend see a UFO through his telescope and think they know where it landed. The boy's sister finds the flying saucer, and the two boys get inside just as it takes off on autopilot. The flying saucer looks alot like the Jupiter 2 with fins and a spinning thing on top. No one will listen to the girl's story about what happened except for one police officer. Meanwhile, the two boys are stuck on a planet with two female aliens who want to eat their brains. The monster Guillon is under the aliens' control. This print is censored with Guillon's fight with Space Gyaos being cut short. The second movie is Destroy All Planets (aka Gamera vs. Viras). This is the first time for me to ever see this so I can't comment on what might be censored. Two boys in an experimental submarine are captured by an alien ship and become prisoners. However, the aliens are really after Gamera since he is their main obstacle to conquering Earth. The aliens capture Gamera long enough to attach a mind control device. Later, Viras is released to fight Gamera. (I can't explain why without giving a spoiler.) This movie uses many scenes from previous movies as the aliens try to find a way to defeat Gamera. Even some of the "new" scenes appear to use old footage even from the original black and white Gamera movie - tinted red here. These movies are presented as you might have seen them broadcast on TV - before cable TV came along. The voice acting is OK. Both movies have a copyright of 1969. The original edition of Destroy All Planets was release one year earlier in Japan. I could do without the Dragnet-style music during the FBI warning. The face of the DVD looks like a video capture. I don't like the menus on this DVD. I normally assume that the brightest item is the selected one. With only two menu items (the title of each movie), it's not easy to tell at first that the item highlighted with green and somewhat dimmed is the selected movie. Plus, the menu comes up with the second (bottom) movie highlighted. The submenus for each movie are easier to navigate. Each movie menu includes a photo collection. Under Attack of the Monsters, the images include movie posters and artwork for the VHS cases, LaserDisc slipcase, and DVD inserts. This includes material for all of the old movies plus the 1995 one. There are even illustrations of the monsters' anatmony (the same ones that are on the official Japanese web site). Under Destroy All Planets, the images are mainly production photos. These pictures are not still frames. They are presentations set to music with each image appearing for approximately 7 seconds. Personally, I'd prefer to see the edition that Neptune Video had released on tape. I only got their subtitled letterboxed tapes so I don't know what their dubbed tapes were like except for the original 1965 movie. I don't know if their dubbed tape was like the AIP edition or not. I would like to see all of these older Gamera movies on DVD - released in both subtitled and dubbed as well as letterboxed."
The Best Gamera Film, Here's Why:
Slade Simon | 03/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gamera vs Viras is generally regarded as an average - if not subpar, entry in the 60's showa era of Gamera films. I disagree, I consider it tied for 1st with Gamera vs Monster X, which contains an excellent "Fantastic Voyage" inspired fantasy sequence. After Gamera vs Baragon, the showa series directed its efforts toward making science fantasy for children. Yuasa blazed a trail in developing this unique genre and in this film he hits his stride. Measured against this objective, Gamera vs Viras is both unique and effective. Watch it with an 8 year old and you'll see what I mean, the sense of wonder when viewed by its intended audience has not diminished over time. The film is probably 80% special effects, and the action starts in the first frame. The non-effects sequences are not over-long and do not tax the attention span of a child like many Toho efforts of the era. The children are not annoying and are resourceful and mischievious, children still relate to these characters. Don't laugh - Speilberg, I think, might have been influenced by many of the elements in films like this. Like Speilberg, Yuasa was one of the originators of shooting his films from the POV of a child. It's brilliant, effective, and he blazed the trail that other filmmakers followed. There's a reason why these films are still remembered fondly and are still effective with kids 40 years later, and their crude effects and low budget do not diminish their effectiveness. Do you think the filmmakers of today didn't run home to watch Gamera flicks as kids and weren't influenced by the techniques created by Yuasa? I do. However, what sets this film apart are the sequences aboard the alien ship. I find these sequences imaginative and display the bargain basement resoucefullness of Yuasa. These scenes, and the film as a whole, has a surreal dream-like quality that I believe Yuasa intended. It's like stepping into a child's giant monster fantasy, and succeeds in this regard far more than Honda's attempt in Godzilla's Revenge. Although a great deal of the film is padded with stock footage - particularly the scenes where Gamera's memory is scanned by the aliens to determine his weakness - and the complete battles with Baragon and Gayos are shown, it's a good way to see these other films if you don't want to purchase the collection. The incorporation of these flashback elements are done sensibley within the context of the plot.The effects are a mixed bag in terms of realism, as always. But - also, as always, are vivid and entertaining. There's some nice traveling matte work as Viras is shown growing form human size to a giant, and a particularly nice minature work of Gamera's destruction of a dam is included. It's nice to see Gamera destroying some cities while under alien control. And the film has a surprising number of reasonably effective composite shots. As typical in a Gamera film, Viras is an unusual, imaginative Kaiju - a cross between a space squid and a banana. The final battle between Gamera and Viras is one of the more epic Kaiju fights. The impalement sequence - which Gamera somehow survives, pushes the envelope in terms of intensity (and surrealism) for kids. The "water skiing" scene is a classic of kaiju silliness. Anyway - great underappreciated 60's kaiju flick. Well worth the bargain price of 8 bucks for the DVD."
Gamera double feature ...could be better.
ThatGuyAgain | The Meadows, Nevada | 02/20/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I was glad to see "Destroy All Planets" (Gamera Vs. Viras) finally get released to video for the first time, but disappointed with the quality. The film print has yellowed and the hue has shifted slightly red. Bit of a drag, because it's the better of the two movies. "War of the Monsters" (Gamera Vs. Guiron) the second film, was taken from a good quality print. The colors are rich and vibrant, and the transfer is very sharp. Both movies are on the same side of a dual-layered disk. Each flick has six chapters, and amusing menu screens. As an extra perk, there are two collections of promotion stills and Japanese movie posters. Both films have the original A.I.P. soundtracks, which are far superior to the versions re-dubbed by Sandy Frank in the 1980's. Unfortunately, these movies were released directly to television and mastered on 16mm, so the prints are somewhat grainy, and not widescreen. But what do ya want? We're talking about a giant fire-breathing, saber-toothed, prehistoric, flying turtle here. I predict this disk will end up being a collector's item, like the Simitar-Godzilla DVDs that sold out. If you're a Gamera fan, get this before it disappears."
FINALLY... AVAILABLE FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT
A. C. Cronvich | Planet Zeist | 12/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the fourth in the GAMERA/GAMMERA series. Its pretty clever in its plot. It is also the first movie in this series to be aimed squarely at children. And children will certainly enjoy it the most. The original title was GAMERA VS. SPACE MONSTER VIRAS But the title was changed to DESTROY ALL PLANETS when American International sold the film to TV in a package deal with DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. No planets get destroyed at all, but we do get to see three lengthy flashbacks to the monster battles from the previous movies. You will either love or hate this. Much of the destruction is also made up of stock footage from the first two films, some is even in black and white (its supposed to be tinted sepia or pink and orange during the fire scenes, but since this is a faded print it just looks B&W) You will probably hate this. Much of the real fun involves two boyscouts having an adventure while trapped on an invading alien spacecraft. They discover all kinds of weird things. Overall, an OK movie but great fun for your younger kids."
Gamera (and two boy scouts) vs. Viras (and stock footage)
Tristan P. Leck | Feasterville, PA United States | 10/07/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The fifth entry in the showa (1960s - 1980s gamera films) Gamera series, Gamera vs. Viras (Destroy all Planets as it was released in the US) is a most enjoyable, although juvenille film. In the movie, two prank-loving boy scouts are kidnapped by aliens looking to take over the world. Gamera attempts a rescue, only to be put under the Virian's (the aliens) control and forced to attack Japan. The two boys find a way to put an end to the Virian's mind control and escape. The Virans, in a last-ditch effort, fuse together into a gigantic, silver squid monster. Can Gamera defeat Viras and save the earth? (well, i can't give away the ending, now can I?)The quality of the print used is subpar, presenting a slightly faded picture and several scratches. However, the film is still completely enjoyable in this form and could be a lot worse . . . trust me. The audio is generally clear and crisp, showing little problems.The DVD itself has little to show. The menus are still images, with no music. There is however a picture gallery and a chapter index.As a hardcore kaiju (japanese monster movies) fan, I strongly recommend this DVD, even though its not in the best possible quality."