After three films, Daiei noticed they have been losing money rather than earning. For Gamera vs Viras, they reused scenes from previous movies to cut costs and save money.
Director Noriaki Yuasa personally named this movie as his favorite film in the series as it is purely a children's film.
As part of an agreement with AI-TV, Daiei had to cast an American boy as one of the main children characters. Carl Craig was given the role only because there were no American child actors that could speak Japanese and he was the son of a U.S. Army man that was stationed in Japan.
Gamera vs Viras is the first film to feature Gamera's theme song, which has been parodied by Mystery Science Theatre 3000 during the Gamera vs Guiron episode.
When two boys are held hostage by alien invaders, Gamera, the friend of all children, falls under mind control and forced to invade the planet. After the two boys had saved Earth's only protector Gamera must face off against the alien monster, Viras.
In my previous three reviews, I found those three movies to be pretty solid even though they weren't great. All of them had a balanced, yet dark stories whether it was ripping off Godzilla with the atom bomb origin story or a story about greed. In Gamera vs Barugon and Gamera vs Gyaos, Gamera became a sort of hero to people and had a soft spot for children while also keeping his more animalistic nature in how he fought those two monsters. For Gamera vs Viras, this is where the movies in this era began going downhill. Yuasa's approach to making Gamera child-friendly goes way overboard and not enjoyable for everyone else.
The story focuses on two boys who are in the Japanese boy scout group. They are on a trip to see the new research submarine and the boys decide to change the controls as a prank. The adults were unable to drive the sub, but the boys know how to use it since they were the ones that caused the problem. While the boys were exploring, they come across Gamera, which came to only say hi and hang out with them. Suddenly, a UFO appears and traps Gamera as well as the submarine in a barrier. Gamera helps free the boys from the barrier and the aliens read his mind and learn about Gamera's past so they can find out his weakness. After fifteen minutes of flashbacks, they learn Gamera has a soft spot for children so they kidnap the boys to hold them hostage so they can force Gamera into submission. Gamera submits and obeys to land and an alien transmitter was planted on Gamera. The aliens begin their invasion by ordering Gamera to attack Tokyo and the JSDF and United Nations are already considering to surrender due to the aliens holding the two boys hostage. Meanwhile, the boys had freedom to move about for a while before being taken away for trying to look for weapons that can help them escape. They are able to free themselves from the restraints and use their prank they did for the sub as a means to reverse the transmitter controlling Gamera and escape from the aliens. They manage to escape and Gamera attacks the UFO. The aliens decide to release their leader, Viras, and Viras absorbs his entire crew to grow to large and fight Gamera.
When it comes to making Gamera a child-friendly monster movie series, it started off mild and balanced out with the serious tone of the movie's story. Gamera vs Viras, goes deep into the more goofy and child-like nature making it hard to watch to sit through and take seriously. I can't even take any of the adult characters seriously even when the JSDF got word the United Nations has decided to surrender without resistance and were ordered to stand down. Every plan to fight back was hatched by the two boys who were captured. Even watching the climactic battle between Gamera and Viras, Gamera's style of fighting turns from being animalistic to, once again, being goofy and childish.
On top of that, the heavy use of stock footage really drags the movie down. I get the reason for using it for a flash back segment, but the stock footage is used more than just flash backs. It takes up a majority of the film since Daiei was hurting financially and didn't have the budget to film new scenes showing Gamera attacking Japan. At the same time, the stock footage could have really been cut down and didn't have to show the entire fight scenes from vs Barugon and vs Gyaos. Those scenes took fifteen minutes to get through and could have been cut back to just snippets. A flash back scene should only show snippets of a scene to tell the audience an idea or a character's backstory. It does not have to go so heavy as this movie did.
I get what Yuasa is trying to do, but at the same time the silliness hurts the movie. You can have monster movie that is appealing to kids and still make a serious monster movie. Godzilla has managed to appeal to kids plenty of times in past and current movies and still find a balance for a serious story that is enjoyable for everyone.
Gamera vs Viras is not a fun Gamera movie at all. The child-friendly approach goes way overboard to the point where the movie is not appealing to everyone. Also, the heavy use of stock footage really brought down the movie's quality making the movie come to a fifteen minute drag.
What are your thoughts on Gamera vs Viras? Do you think the movie is boring or is this one of your favorites? Leave a comment in the comments section of your thoughts on this movie. Make sure to follow me on Facebook, Minds, MeWe, Gab, and TRUTH Social to stay up to date for more news, reviews, and discussions.