|Destroy All Planets / Attack of the Monsters
News & Updates
|Japanese Titles: Gamera Tai Uchu Kaiju Bairusu (“Gamera vs. Space Monster Viras”) and Gamera Tai Daiaiku Guiron (“Gamera vs. Giant Evil Beast Guillon”)
Alternate Titles: Destroy All Planets is aka Gamera vs. Viras (international title); Attack of the Monsters is aka Gamera vs. Guiron (Sandy Frank TV & video title), Gamera vs. Guillon (Neptune Media video title), and Gamera vs. Guiron, Giant Evil Monster (international title).
Director: Noriaki Yuasa
Original Release Years: 1968 (Destroy All Planets) and 1969 (Attack of the Monsters)
Running Times: 90 minutes and 80 minutes, respectively
DVD Released By: Retromedia Entertainment
Audio: English mono
Extras: Image galleries
Closed Captions: None
Chapters: 6 per film
UPC #: 802993104792
Catalog #: RMED 1047
Status: Out of print
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About the Site
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|The Films: Gamera, the benevolent flying turtle and “friend to children,” fights bizarre foes in two oldies from the vault.
Destroy All Planets: Two boy scouts, Jim and Masao, are adept with both high-tech gadgets and practical jokes. This combination may not endear them to the scoutmaster, but it comes in handy when they are taken prisoner by alien invaders. After Gamera destroys their first spaceship, the aliens’ second ship manages to subdue the monster and probe his mind. They discover his one exploitable weakness: Gamera is friend to children! The aliens take the boys as hostages and attach a mind-control device to Gamera. Luckily, the boys’ skills aren’t limited to what’s in the scouting manual. They manage to escape and free Gamera, who then attacks the ship. The aliens have to shed their human skins and combine their bodies to form Viras, a giant pale squid-like monster. With Viras adept at both land and underwater combat, Gamera may have to take to the skies to beat this foe!
Attack of the Monsters: Gamera journeys to Earth’s sister planet, Terra, on the far side of the sun. The last inhabitants of Terra are two women, Barbella (“Sweet as a little bird”) and Flobella (“Pretty as a flower”). They have abducted two boys, Tom and Akio, from Earth with a remote-controlled flying saucer. They have to leave Terra because not only is the planet freezing, it’s infested with monsters! Swarms of Gyaos (the flying reptile from the third Gamera movie) are ravaging the planet. The Terrans’ watchdog monster is Guillon, whose head is shaped like a butcher knife and is twice as sharp. This bizarre behemoth not only keeps the Gyaos at bay, he manages to knock out Gamera! The boys need to stay ahead of the Terran women (who want to absorb their knowledge of Earth by eating their brains) long enough for Gamera to revive, defeat Guillon, and fly them back home.
Destroy All Planets and Attack of the Monsters are the fourth and fifth Gamera films. With these movies, the series firmly established the formula of presenting the Gamera adventures as fantasies for children. In order to appeal to wide domestic and international audiences, both films pair a Japanese and a Caucasian boy in the lead roles. The kids are likeable and resourceful (especially Jim and Masao from DAP). Viras is a fairly lackluster foe, while Guillon looks like something a young child would design. DAP is the weaker of the two films, due to its reliance on stock footage. As the Virans probe Gamera’s mind, they (and the audience) see long scenes of Gamera battling Barugon and Gyaos from the two previous films. When the aliens order Gamera to attack, the scenes of destruction are also recycled from earlier films (including the original 1965 Gamera, which was black & white!!!). Combined with a lack of new miniature work, this makes the whole production look cheap and uninspired. Grade for DAP: C-
In contrast, AotM features some nifty set design, since most of the action takes place on another planet. The major problem with the film is that the version on this disc is a censored TV print! Scenes of Guillon dismembering Gyaos have been edited for violence. While gruesome in a comical way, these scenes weren’t gratuitous. They were basically a live-action version of Looney Tunes or Tom & Jerry cartoon violence. The famous (or infamous) Gamera song is also missing. A company called Neptune Media previously released this film on VHS, under the title Gamera vs. Guillon. They managed to secure an uncut widescreen print, and still used the original AIP dubbing on the soundtrack. The version presented here is a travesty in comparison. Grade for AOTM: C
Video: The Showa Gamera series suffers from a reputation as cheap, shoddy films. The terrible presentations on this disc will do nothing to change that. Both films are presented in fullscreen. Destroy All Planets looks absolutely horrible. Specks and lines are abundant, and the image is grainy. The colors are faded and washed out. Some scenes even have unnatural reddish or greenish tints to them. Attack of the Monsters fares somewhat better. The print is cleaner and in better shape, and the colors are more consistent. It’s far from being good, though. It’s still faded and grainy, and the fullscreen composition ruins the film’s colorful and imaginative set design. Grade: D+
Audio: The English mono audio is acceptable, but nothing special. It has very little range or impact. The dubbing on these films isn’t bad. These original AIP dubs are generally considered superior to the later Sandy Frank dubs that showed up on Celebrity’s VHS tapes and Mystery Science Theater 3000. While some of the dialogue is corny, the voices sound okay and the lip synch isn’t bad. Grade: C
Extras / Menus: There are two picture galleries on this disc. Each contains a series of still images that play automatically. Both galleries are set to Retromedia’s own music. “Gamera: The American International Years” runs 1 ½ minutes. It contains 11 images of movie stills and publicity pictures (all in black & white) from AIP’s Gamera films. “The Wacky World of Gamera” is more extensive, running 4 minutes and containing 32 images. These images include: The internal anatomy of various monsters, Japanese VHS and DVD cover art, and poster art for many films in the series.
Each of the two films has its own main menu, accessible from the title menu. From each film’s main menu, you can access that film’s chapters, or one of the picture galleries. All of the menus, except for Destroy All Planet’s main menu, are animated. All of the menus have music. Grade: C
Final Analysis: Destroy All Planets had never been released on home video in the U.S. before. It deserved better than this for its debut. Attack of the Monsters looks better, but Neptune Media’s previous VHS releases (uncut, available in separate dubbed and subtitled versions) were better than this edited version. It goes without saying that the region 2 Japanese DVDs are far superior to any version released stateside. The only thing that makes this disc even worth considering is that it contains two movies. Still, quality is more important than quantity, and Retromedia should have considered that. It’s inexcusable that in the year 2003, we still have to make do with fullscreen, edited movies on DVD. Final Grade: D+
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