The Guyver 1991
I was always a relatively big fan of anime. I watched a lot of the anime films shown on cable in the 90’s as well as the cartoons and shows inspired by anime and Japanese shows. This movie reminded me a lot of those types of kids shows with a mix of Ultraman, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Sailor Moon, and whatever else got in the mix. It also has a couple icons of TV and cinema, albeit for completely different reasons, as well as a small stable of horror regulars from both behind the camera and in front. The one thing this movie does well is a large number of creature effects including a small handful of amazing transformation. On the other hand, even though there are a few noted actors, there are plenty of amateurs and it definitely shows. There’s not a Troll 2 or the Room level of bad acting, but no one is winning any awards for their delivery here. There’s an overly complicated setup that makes very little sense when you get right down to it, and yet the whole thing is more or less supposed to be a comedy. While it did make me laugh out loud a small handful of times, it was often for the wrong reasons.
The general setup is one that should be pretty familiar. A teenager finds a mysterious object that turns him into a superhuman and put him in the middle of a plot to take over the world which he must now stop. This time around, it’s a “unit” that turns a human into the Guyver. And the villains are this corporation called Chronos which is run by a bunch of alien/human hybrids who are essentially were-creatures with a very generic “take over the world” plot. A “plot” which somehow involves the “unit” though there is no explanation outside of the initial text crawl at the beginning of the movie. It’s almost amazing how such a seemingly simple plot can end up making absolutely no sense in the end. I’m still not quite sure what the Zoanoids are. Are they part of an ancient alien race, or are they genetically altered humans using alien DNA, or are they something else completely? And the description of the Guyver “unit” makes no sense either, it’s described as being a shield when used by a Zoanoid, but when used by a human turns him into a superhero. And for some reason, none of the Zoanoids know how to activate the “unit” even though they apparently have had it for years and never tried hitting their head on it. Since that is apparently the only thing that the teenager does in order to have the “unit” attach itself to him and turn him into the Guyver.
It’s actually fairly difficult to review this movie with any accuracy. There is little to no depth to the plot or the characters, and the comedy is extremely corny. What this movie really feels like is an hour and a half showcase for creature makeup and special effects, especially owing to the fact that the directors are better known for their special effects work on other movies. There are about a dozen different Zoanoids which are all done with great detail as full body suits along with a few transformation scenes that are generally well done for the era. The Guyver suit is obviously the standout with all its moving parts, and it looks just like the manga come to life, at least from what little I’ve seen of it. There are also a couple great scenes of PG-13 gore, once when the Guyver essentially melts, and the other one where Mark Hamill has a very The Thing inspired death scene which looks absolutely amazing. Unfortunately the other Zoanoids don’t come off quite as well. The alien played by Jimmy Walker looks like a twisted cross between Jar Jar Binks and a Gremlin while the others look like fairly unspecific random alien creatures. One is lizardlike, one is fishlike, and another is more beastlike. And to top it all off, when the Zoalord finally reveals his alien form, it’s a giant, stop-motion animated creature that looks far worse than anything that had been shown previously.
It is somewhat surprising to find out that this movie is labelled as a comedy, and not just an unintentional comedy that comes from bad movies along this vein solely due to the poor acting. Most of the comedy comes from Jimmy Walker being typcast as his old sitcom personality, only as a jive talking zoanoid. Though he does manage to get the final line of the film, “dynomite”. There are some nice little background gags, like how the Zoanoids bring what they think is the case holding the “unit” to the Zoalord and it turns out to have been swapped for an old toaster. But then a couple scenes later when it cuts back to the Zoalord, the toaster is seen in the background setting a couple pieces of toast on fire. The rest of the humor basically boils down to bad acting and some just plain weird moments. Like when the flock of bullies descends upon Sean just before he activates the Guyver “unit” which includes his sparring partner from the martial arts class in the earlier scene. Overall, there’s not a whole lot to recommend in this movie aside from a few impressive special effects alongside dozens of mediocre ones, and Mark Hamill with a pedostash playing a streetwise detective, or at least a B-movie version of one. As far as bad movies go, I’ve seen a lot worse, and I’ve seen a lot more entertainingly bad ones. It just falls somewhere in the middle of the bad movie spectrum. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.