The Guyver (1991)

Rating: B-

Dir: Screaming Mad George, Steve Wang
Star: Greg Joung Paik, Jimmie ‘JJ’ Walker, Peter Spellos, Michael Berryman
a.k.a. Mutronics

[14] Hollywood is littered with the corpses of comic-book characters which failed to one degree or other – Supergirl, Swamp Thing and, probably the biggest turkey a l’orange of them all, Howard the Duck. Mutronics, as the live-action Guyver was called in this country, is the first anime/manga to be filmed in the West. Presumably, the film received a certain impetus from the Japanese origins of director Screaming Mad George. And it isn’t in the same league as the above mentioned failures, perhaps because its relentless stupidity is deliberate, and in fact, quite endearing.

The core story remains the same, albeit moved out of school, and there’s a love interest. The attitude is also seriously changed, with a large number of horror in-jokes, courtesy of people like Linnea Quigley and Jeffrey Coombs; the planned sequel is going to be darker and less humourous. While it loses on the effects side – there are too many rubber suits and off-camera transformations – it gains by being a complete story, rather than having to cram in some story, advert breaks and a climax into thirty minutes. The overall effect is more reminiscent of Japanese live-action shows like Kamen Rider than any anime, with people in strange costumes hurling each other around like rag dolls.

Overall, if you’re a fan of monster movies and horror films, then it will probably work. But if you’re not, then it may be just a little too silly to get a grip on. Fortunately, I fall into the former category and, as far as Americanised anime go, it’s a lot better than Battle of the Planets.