Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack – I was looking for something a little different than the usual horror movie fare, and then it hit me: I never watch any animated horror movies. After a cursory Googling, it seems to be because there are very few animated horror movies. And most of them are anime. So with that limitation in mind, I set off to see what I could dredge up.
The first result that I found interesting enough to pursue was Gyo. This is a movie about fish that are attached to strange walking machines, which randomly start attacking Tokyo and other Japanese cities. It’s incredibly weird. Like, I expect anime to be weird, but this one is so far out there. Somehow, if a person is stabbed by the walking machine’s spidery legs, they contract a virus that makes them bloat up into a green mess, and then start farting and belching out a noxious gas. Then, they’re captured by the walking machines, which use said gas as a sort of energy source. None of it makes any sense, and at the end some guy makes an offhand remark about how the walking machines are not from Earth. Whaaatever. I really don’t like when the “it must be an alien” excuse is used to handwave away anything the writer can’t be arsed to explain, but then isn’t followed up on at all. Tell me more about the aliens, dammit!
Anyhow, the plot is about some girl who is on vacation, but then goes back to Tokyo to find her fiancée when the fish start attacking. Fish- and zombie-related horror ensues, that’s about as much as I care to describe. There’s plenty of violence and unsettling imagery, but it never gets overly gory. The bulk of the second act is mechanized sharks attacking the city, but you never really see anyone get bitten or anything. It’s mostly just gross, what with the gassy zombies and all. At one point there’s a walker that has captured dozens of zombos, which may be the most disturbing part of the movie. Also our heroine gets all groped up by a mechanized octopus, because it’s anime and of course that had to happen. I wouldn’t really say it’s worth watching, even if you really like weird stuff like this. I never felt compelled, and while I liked the nice, clean animation, that’s not really enough reason to spend to 90 minutes on Gyo.
Lily C.A.T. – My second choice for animated horror is even more sci-fi than the last, and significantly more enjoyable. This one is from 1987, and is very clearly inspired by the likes of Alien, The Thing, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. There’s even some talk about the effects of time dilation, which feels like it’s pulled straight out of The Forever War.
The story starts out with a number of volunteers taking off on a deep-space mission, off to explore a new planet, probably for colonization? I don’t think they ever said the exact goal of the mission. While the crew is sealed away in their sleepy-pods, the ship autonomously catches a hunk of space debris and pulls it inside. Obviously, we don’t learn what it is until later on, but it’s not long after everyone wakes up that people start dying left and right. Also their bodies vanish when nobody’s looking. Not only that, but it seems that two of the volunteers have gotten on the ship with false identities, and could possibly be out to cause trouble!
If you hadn’t come to this conclusion after that paragraph, this film is basically Alien. The extra-terrestrial in question isn’t nearly as iconic as the Xenomorph, but it’s definitely a force to be reckoned with. Should you need another reason to be interested in it, I don’t know if it’s because of the vintage, but it Lily C.A.T. doesn’t have that anime feel to it that normally turns me off. Like, there’s no close-up shouting, there are no gratuitous panty shots, there are no super-serious cliched lines. It’s very natural and could be done shot-for-shot in live action without looking or sounding odd. The one itty bitty nitpick I have is that there are several scenes where information is displayed through dialogue on a computer monitor, and those flash by way too quickly. You absolutely need to pause to actually read them, but thankfully they’re not overly important. I didn’t bother to pause at all, and don’t feel like I missed anything. At the end of the day, I’d definitely recommend Lily C.A.T.
It Came From Beneath the Sea – Switching gears completely, last weekend I felt like the best way to make use of my Sunday morning would be a good old-fashioned creature feature. So I pulled out this DVD from my library – one that I had purchased many years ago, but for some reason never got around to actually watching. The results were mixed!
This film comes from way back in 1955, which by my metric is the best decade for monster movies. You’ve got The Blob, you’ve got Them!, you’ve got friggin’ Godzilla. Whole lotta stone-cold classics. Sadly, I don’t think that It Came From Beneath the Sea really qualifies as a “classic” per se. While I absolutely appreciate the style of the film, it suffers from way too much in the way of people. By my estimation, it was nearly halfway through before we saw so much as a single giant tentacle. The monster didn’t even really get to wreaking havoc until the last quarter. Maybe the last third, to be generous. However, once the monster did show up, I was pleased as punch. The stop-motion effects are so delightfully quaint, but probably cutting-edge for the time, and I really can’t get enough of stuff like that.
As I said though, there’s so much focus on the characters here, and way too much time invested in the love story. And since it’s a 50’s movie, it’s not even so much a love story as it is the male lead forcing himself on the female lead until she decides to give in. She’s visibly disinterested for most of the run time, and I don’t think she was that into the dude even by the end. But whatever, it’s an artifact of the time. You can’t change history. At least they also spend a decent amount of time trying to explain the science of what’s happening, about how the monster came to be and why it’s attacking people. In the end, I think it’s worth watching if you’re into the genre. I know that sounds like a cop-out, but I don’t imagine that anyone who isn’t into monster movies would give even half a flip about this one. It’s alright, but not nearly good enough for mass appeal.