For the final part of his lauded Gamera trilogy, director Shusuke Kaneko went for something a little different from the usual plotline of an evil monster showing up and Gamera kicking it’s tail – and by “something a little different”, I obviously mean something completely fucking left field.
The Gyaos, a race of carnivorous bat monsters thought extinct thanks to Gamera hate murdering the last surviving traces back in 1995, have somehow returned and in surprisingly high numbers. As the death toll mounts Gamera shows up fighting a pair in the midst of of a densely populated city and proceeds to utterly devastate the surrounding area, unthinking in his hatred of his winged foe. The damage is catastrophic, marking the once heroic Kaiju as a deranged force of nature no more virtuous than the monsters he destroys but there’s worse yet to come. A young girl who’s mother was killed during the original Gamera/Gyaos battles has discovered a small, tentacled sea monkey type creature she dubs Iris whom she hopes will grow and enact revenge by killing the towering rage-turtle. Of course this being a Kaiju movie means that’s EXACTLY what happens and Iris, who also has a weakness for draining the life out of other living things for sustenance like a spikey, tentacled vampire, finds itself on a collision course with the brutal Gamera.
Kaneko seems adamant third time around to gleefully fuck up the status quo that he, himself created by flipping literally everything we thought we knew on it’s head, and thank Christ he did because Revenge Of Iris is a wonderfully bold piece of genre filmmaking. While returning characters from the previous movies find out that just because Gamera is a protector of Earth, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to protect the things ON it, the former hero morphs into anti-hero territory by simply going full beserker mode. Getting stabbed in battle more times than a prison snitch in gen pop, Gamera is now a rampaging force of nature clearly in the Godzilla mode and with a darker, rougher look, looks the most threatening he’s ever been. Plus Gamera fighting a creature raised to destroy him by one of the only children around who DOESN’T think he’s hot shit adds yet another interesting wrinkle in a film full of them.
Iris, this movie’s big bad, has an interesting origin that’s bizarrely one part Studio Ghibli (young, damaged girl raise cute unearthly creature) to two parts David Cronenberg (she’s willing to be absorbed by it) and it’s final form is as esoteric and stunning as anything that’s come before and while the fight isn’t quite as involved as the one in Gamera 2, it’s still engrossing with crazy high stakes.
Dark and challenging, some might be outraged by a trilogy that actually dares to end on a cliffhanger on the scale of Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, but by that point it’s evident that the filmmakers are out to break all the rules and by doing so have created one of the greatest trio of movies in Kaiju history.
Shell shocking for all the right reasons.