By the time it reached its third entry, a “house style” had come into focus for the Gamera series. As such, Gamera Vs. Gyaos is the archetypal example of the series: a nasty monster is awakened from its slumber, Gamera rises up to take him on and Gamera also befriends an admiring kid in the process. As you might expect, there are plenty of monster-mash battles to seal the deal.
Gamera Vs. Gyaos begins on a suitably destructive note with a volcanic eruption. In the day-to-day human world of Japan, construction foreman Shiro (series regular Kojiro Hongo) is trying to convince a village to deal with him so he can build a road through their land but the town leaders are holding out for more money. Unfortunately, such wrangling is rendered moot when Gyaos, who looks like a giant-sized kiddie rendering of a vampire bat (or Rodan), emerges from a mountain after the volcano awakens him. In short order, he’s munching on people who get too close to his lair and shooting laser beams at aircraft that are sharp enough to literally cut them in half.
Gamera, who is drawn to the scene by the volcano’s eruptions, engages Gyaos in a fight but the creature’s death-ray abilities make it tough. Meanwhile, the military and scientists figure out Gyaos’ weaknesses with the help of an observant little boy Eiichi (Naoyuki Abe): he can only come out at night and can be killed by exposure to the sun. As you might expect, it all comes down to a rubber-suited mano-a-mano battle to settle things for good.
The results are a fun kaiju-eiga outing in the classic style. The human-based storylines recycle motifs from the first two films – the lonely who kid who idolizes Gamera, greed causing conflict between people, the military trying out elaborate traps on the monster, etc. – but it works and is delivered in a tight fashion. There is also some goofball comic relief in the form a Laurel & Hardy-style pair of road workers. Hongo acquits himself fine as the leading man of the between-monster-battles portion of the film, functioning as the Japanese equivalent of a Doug MacClure-style everyman hero.
However, it’s the monster battles that everyone is paying admission for and Gamera Vs Gyaos serves them up with plenty of miniature-stomping flair. Noriaki Yuasa returns to the director’s chair on this installment after only handling effects scenes on Gamera Vs. Barugon and he stages the monster scenes in a suitably comic-book style: highlights include Gamera saving Eiichi from Gyaos, giving him a piggyback-style flight through the air to boot, and the final reel of the film, which includes involves both the land and the sea. Yuasa obviously had a great time directing these scenes and they have a palpable kid-level surrealist vibe that remains fun today.
In short, there are no new wrinkles in the offing here but it all adds up to a solid genre entry for kaiju-eiga fans. If you like the series, you’ll like Gamera Vs. Gyaos.