Every long running hero absolutely needs a villain: Batman has the Joker, Godzilla has Ghidorah and even I have an annoying cat that lives on my housing estate who throws me death stares whenever our paths cross…
The fire breathing, lover of children (steady now) Gamera is no different as here, in his third movie, he finally gets the arch villain he desperately needs in the form of Gyaos, the only creature in the giant turtle’s rogues gallery who’s ever made more than one appearance in the whole 40 odd years the franchise has been running (although technically a future film in the franchise was essentially a clip show from previous movies but there’s no freaking way I’m counting THAT!).
A volcano erupts somewhere in Japan because this is a Japanese monster movie and in Japanese monster movies volcanoes go off about once every two weeks, but this time Gamera shows up, crawls up the side and bundles himself into it. That would be strange enough but then days later a mystery laser fired from a nearby mountain range fatally bisects a helicopter carrying the team investigating Gamera’s odd behaviour. The culprit turns out to be Gyaos, a giant vampire bat with a triangle shaped head and the glassy-eyed stare of a chronic insomniac who causes Gamera to promptly resurface from his relaxing volcano bath to not only fight the crap out of him but save a young, obnoxious, moon-faced child from the winged villain’s man-eating clutches.
Repeatingly fighting each other to a stand still the monsters seem to be in a stalemate so it’s down to the humans once again to stick their noses in again and try to concoct a way to aid humanities amphibian champion involving rudimentary science and a chubby kid who keeps insisting on repeatedly yelling the creature’s name.
Far from being the Rodan rip off you may be expecting, Gyaos proves to be a somewhat versatile foe, either stuffing clawfuls of screaming civilians down his throat or unleashing a sort of anti-Kaiju tear gas from his chest and despite looking like he was designed by a committee of the mentally ill, is every inch a worthy foe in multiple, surprisingly brutal fight where both combatants squirt their blue and purple life blood all over the place.
Not only is this the resilient Gyaos’ first appearance but this truly is the first film to truly play up Gamera’s title as a “friend to all children” as he repeatedly goes out of his way to aid a child with a voice as shrill as a billion nails down a billion blackboard and who delivers every single line he has AT THE TOP OF HIS VOICE! Not only does Gamera save the little turd’s life a few times but even risks it giving him an incredibly dangerous looking piggy back on his massive shell as he flies around the country side.
Squaring up as once of the best of Gamera’s original 60’s/70’s run, this film obviously doesn’t hold up to much scrutiny when compared to the likes of, say Jurassic Park, but taken on it’s own, very strange, terms it may not be what you’d call a dignified film but it is fun in a deeply derpy kind of way.
Maybe not turtley awesome, but good enough.