This is part of an ongoing series called Godzilla & Friends: Reviews from the Godzillaverse and Beyond!. Feel free to look around.
As is becoming normal with watching Gamera movies, right after viewing, I sit down with the MST3K version. MST3K’s Gamera vs. Gaos first aired on July 27, 1991, about a month after their take on Gamera vs. Barugon.
While this one was definitely funny, it didn’t have as many quotable lines or memorable bits. What I took away from it was, “good episode… so what’s for dinner?”
You look at it, I’m bitter: The Movie
The first thing I noticed about the movie was just how bad this looked compared to the original version that I have. It’s washed out and dark and sort of blurry. This is definitely the print of the film (or crappy videotape of the film) and not the quality of the overall episode.
Also the dubbing, again by Sandy Frank, is bad. This is the worst to date. Though this would only get worse, in another Japanese movie, Time of the Apes (shown two episodes before Gamera vs. Gaos), an entire host segment is taken up by “The Sandy Frank Song.” Here, they claim that Mr. Frank is the source of all their pain. Oh I’m with you there!
The riffing is good throughout. Definitely no complaints on that end. And this one is very riffable. I honestly liked the original movie, but I am fully aware that the Gaos costume is horrible. It’s just crap. Crow notices this too: “Every time he screams a piece of candy comes out!”
Crow had a few good lines though this one, but he also dabbled in puns, yet again. But unlike the last two Gamera episodes, when Crow drops the pun, Joel just gives him a stern warning rather than ripping his arms off. Joel’s pretty mellow here.
“If you had a head shaped like a Dixie Cup, you’d be embarrassed too,” said Joel about poor Gaos. And it’s true. While the Gaos costume is bad, the real horror of this movie is the amazingly nasty voice acting. The comic relief guys and various old men being the worst.
I’m not saying that the original Japanese language restored print is a memorable classic to be cherished for generations to come, but at least there’s no Sandy Frank. And at least when there is Sandy Frank, there’s also Joel and the Bots to see us through.
We got commercial sign!: The host segments
In some episodes the movie segments outside the host segments, or vise versa. But in this one, it’s a draw. The riffing was good, the host segments were good as well.
We start off in a very surreal place. I like that. The bots are pretending that a raspy-voiced Lucile Ball is talking with as raspy-voiced Harvey Firestein. They only listen to Joel when he speaks to them in a raspy-voiced Brenda Vicarro. It all makes no sense, which makes for a happy me.
The invention exchange is up next and I usually don’t like these at all. This week, the Mads invent a printer that prints your self image (which is pretty clever) and Joel invents a tissue box fax machine that prints real faxes on real tissue paper. Eh.
The fun thing was right before they introduce the title of the movie, Frank and Dr. F’s self image printer has printed the torso and legs of Gamera and Gaos, respectively. Nifty!
Our first segment after the movie begins to roll is an arts and crafts demonstration. Joel is making a Gaos head out of an 8″ x 8″ piece of paper (his is bigger for demonstration purposes). As he attempts to keep it safe for kids, the bots interrupt with bad ideas like drinking the glue because it tastes like sweet, sweet honey. Joel counters that it does not taste like sweet, sweet honey. Servo is finally given a time out.
The next segment is all set up and is weird. They’re going to put on a production of “Gameradammerung,” sort of a Gamera-centric version of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Götzen-Dämmerung. But it never gets off the ground.
Joel apparently though the name “Gaos” would be a good name for a crappy magician/plate spinner. In the next host segment, Joel is Gaos the Great! He spins plates that look like Gamera while Servo quietly gives suggestions like “juggle or something!” It’s sort of become a fan favorite, though I’m not sure why. I like it too.
After the movie, Joel and and Tom Servo come up with really fun and elaborate ways to off Gaos, like “you invite Gaos to vacation with you in the Bahamas and after a leisurely lunch you invite him to come out deep sea fishing and it’s your treat because that scuba gear is really expensive and then you cut his hose!” Crow doesn’t get it and suggests “you could… um… chop his head off.”
We are then invited to send in our own ideas on how to snuff Gaos. I don’t think anyone ever did.
Your eyes won’t believe what your hands have done: The KTMA episode
These KTMA episodes are pretty tough to get through. Thankfully, the movies aren’t so bad that it’s impossible.
By the time they got to Comedy Central, they were often reading viewer mail during the last host segment, but while they were at KTMA, they played messages left by views on their answering machine. The first one complains about two Gamera movies in a row. Joel explains (for the first time ever) that he doesn’t control this stuff and that it’s all up to the made scientists back on earth, Dr. Forrester and Dr. Erhardt.
The movie itself is uncut. That means, like most Sandy Frank movies, there’s a long sequence of a monster fight scene before the opening credits. Why? Who can tell?
This time, Tom Servo joins Joel in the theater and there’s quite a bit more riffing. But since it’s all improv, it amounts to not much more than commenting about what’s going on in the movie. It tends not to be all that funny, though the “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” sequence of riffing on Japanese cast and crew names is neat and shows a bit of planning.
The second host segment is pivotal. I hated Servo’s squeaky first voice. Thankfully Joel announces that Servo is going to go through puberty and changes his voice. He went through several selections, including Kissenger, The Chipmonks and Droopy Dog (or Carrol Channing) before settling on the Josh Weinstein version of Tom Servo with a radio announcer/car salesman voice. Not bad.
In the next segment, Gypsy wants a voice change too. Sadly, she doesn’t get it. I hate her early voice as well. It’s this weird low-pitched something. Terrifying. Joel’s reasoning is “you don’t want to be like Tom Servo.”
A viewer calls in, asking for Crow to come back, but he won’t be unfrozen (remember, he was frozen in the episode before this one in order to be a Christmas tree) until the New Year’s special, which just happens to be the next episode.
In a very sweet moment, a boy calls in and invites Joel and the bots to his birthday party. Aww. Joel has to decline, but they’ve decorated the Satellite of Love for him and Servo with his new voice gives him advice (which includes “wear Old Spice”).
To wrap the show up, they run down the schedule for KTMA’s New Years Eve programming and Servo just loves his new voice.
So do I.
That was about the lamest attempt to get rid of a monster I’ve ever seen.
Well, this one wouldn’t be in my top ten, but it’s a good one. Maybe not the best to start out with, but a strong entry for season three. It’s no Pod People or Cave Dwellers, but it’s good.
This KTMA episode as well as the next really set MST3K up for moving onto bigger and better things. While it’s difficult to get through them, historically (if you want to cal it that) they’re important.
So grab some popcorn and a few friends and have fun with MST3K’s Gamera vs. Gaos. There are certainly worse things you could do with your afternoon.