Destroy All Planets (1968)

DESTROY ALL PLANETS (1968)
(a.k.a. GAMERA TAI UCHU KAIJI BAIRUSA /
GAMERA VS. OUTER SPACE MONSTER VIRUS)
Article #1684 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-24-2005
Posting Date: 3-23-2006
Directed by Noriaki Yuasa
Featuring Kojiro Hongo, Toru Takatsuka, Carl Craig

Space aliens intent on conquering the earth decide to force Gamera to do their bidding. They do so by kidnapping two children as hostages, as they know Gamera is a friend to all children, a fact they learned from watching twenty minutes of stock footage. The hostage children are given the run of the ship, however, and they discover that it is populated by robot-like zombie men and a strange caged creature….

The most common American title for this movie, DESTROY ALL PLANETS, has always seemed to me to be an obvious attempt to link the movie with Toho’s monster fest, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. Yes, there are a couple of similarities; it does feature space aliens trying to force a good monster to do its bidding, and it does feature many monsters from previous Gamera movies. However, I think a more apt comparison could be made between this and GODZILLA’S REVENGE. After all, both movies can be considered as plunges into juvenalia; even though the Gamera movies had a more juvenile edge anyway, this is the first one where the only major characters (other than the monsters) are children. The big difference is that the Godzilla movie remained an anomaly, whereas the Gamera movies maintained the juvenile theme. Also, both movies make extensive use of stock footage from previous movies in the series, and even here, the Godzilla movie comes off better; whereas that one incorporated the footage in such a way that if you didn’t know it was stock footage you might not have guessed, this one is obviously lifting footage, especially when the aliens tap into Gamera’s mind to learn his weaknesses and we are treated to twenty minutes of footage from GAMERA, GAMERA VS. BARAGON and GAMERA VS. GAOS. This footage takes up almost a third of the movie, and incidentally, when I mentioned that all the monsters from the previous Gamera movies appeared in this movie, it was only in stock footage. In truth, this is one of the lamest of the Gamera movies, though it does have some touches that I’ve come to identify with the series. Gamera’s foe is certainly bizarre looking, the scene where he becomes giant is truly surreal, and the violence is gorier and a bit edgier than you find in a Godzilla movie; in fact, Gamera sustains what must be the worst injury of his career in this movie. Still, almost all of this doesn’t really come about until the last ten minutes of the movie, so you may want to keep your fast forward handy.

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