Gamera was always a poor rip-off of Godzilla, but after three relatively classy films (Giant Monster Gamera, Gamera vs. Barugon, Gamera vs. Gyaos) it's amazing how steeply the quality fell off. This disc preserves for posterity the American TV versions of the fourth and fifth Gamera movies.
Destroy All Planets (Gamera vs. Viras) was made the same year as Destroy All Monsters, probably the last great Godzilla movie. Destroy All Planets is not all that great. For one thing it contains nearly epic amounts of stock footage from the three previous films. Some of it is supposed to be Gamera's memories (apparently Gamera remembers stuff from outside his body), but some black and white footage from Giant Monster Gamera is passed off as new Gamera action. Tinting it doesn't really help the ruse. The plot has to do with two Japanese boy scouts (one Japanese, one Caucasian) who are kidnapped by aliens to blackmail Gamera into destroying cities. Eventually the kids escape and Gamera fights the aliens who have all combined into one giant octopus-like creature. Most of the money in this one seems to have gone into constructing the two elaborate, and fairly cool, alien spaceships, because the rest of the effects are threadbare.
Attack of the Monsters is more or less the same movie. Two more kids (one Japanese, one Caucasian) are kidnapped by aliens from a planet on the other side of the sun. Gamera follows and come to blows with Guillion, a monster with a big knife for a head. Both movies are padded with interminable scenes of the kids wandering around corridors, making all kinds of pronouncements about alien technology they shouldn't be able to comprehend; yet they are always right. The only reason anyone might want to watch these films is for the nostalgia, which they had for me in spades. I remembered every scene from both movies.
Retromedia released this disc with the names these movies had for U.S. TV, and that's what you get here. Cropped for the small screen, badly dubbed, horribly speckled, and the colors are faded. And let's not forget that Guillion's hilarious fight with a Space Gyaos was largely cut from Gamera vs. Guillion to make Attack of the Monsters. These are not for people who want the best possible presentation of these movies (Neptune's tape of Gamera vs. Guillion is highly superior), but they are an incredible recreation of watching afternoon TV in the early 1980's.
The only extras are two galleries of publicity photos, posters, and illustrations from Japanese books.
Scott Hamilton, 3/4/2002