Kaiju Appreciations: Iris (Updated)

My latest appreciation video is now up. This one’s a remake of the very first one, a tribute to Gamera’s most vile and sinister opponent, Iris.

Iris is a very interesting figure among the kaiju. He’s pretty clearly based on Viras from the Showa Gamera films – an alien squid monster – but they took him in such a different direction that he became a distinct character in his own right (the same thing happened with Legion in the previous film, who was based on Zigra). The story of Gamera III centers on Ayana, a teenage girl whose parents were killed during the climax of the first of the trilogy, partly, if I remember correctly, because a medical condition that she had prevented them from evacuating sooner. Ayana blames Gamera for their deaths, and when she discovers a cute, squid-like creature in an ancient cave, she decides that it will be able to enact revenge for her.

Except that the creature, which she names Iris after her dead family cat (symbolically incorporating it into the family she lost), has its own agenda; to use the psychic link it forms with the girl to become ever more powerful, and eventually consume her entirely.

(At times there’s almost a twisted sexual undertone to their relationship, especially in the scene in the woods. Yikes).

So, yeah, this is a really good movie (the whole Gamera trilogy is great: a shining example of making the most of unpromising material), and Iris is probably one of the best and certainly most vile kaiju villains out there. Remember what I was saying about how Lovecraftian influence is everywhere? Iris is a textbook example (no, not just because he has tentacles, but because he’s an ancient, eldritch being of uncertain origins and purposes brought into the present to corrupt and destroy the very mind and soul of the people he encounters).

He also shows off the then-increasing use of CGI to supplement the suitimation, and it holds up surprisingly well, largely due to the fantastic art direction on his design.

I made the original video over a decade ago (which is depressing to think about), and then I could only record with demo software, so the quality is awful and there’s a distracting ‘Unregistered Hypercam 2’ notice in the top left corner. I always meant to go back and re-do it in better quality (literally said I would in the introduction). Looking back, the editing choices are kind of odd and out-of-step with the rest of the series, focusing as much on Ayana as on Iris himself. She of course needs to be present in the video, but looking at the old one it feels like half the video is about her. So for the new one I used more footage of Iris wherever possible, in the process finding a lot of really impressive shots that I somehow missed the first time (or didn’t think I could use with the rotten film quality).

Original

“Poor Unfortunate Souls” as rendered by the Jonas Brothers is a lighter and, well, cheesier fare that I would have liked, but at the end of the day I decided that I didn’t want to open up the rabbit hole of swapping out songs on these ‘remakes’, as that would kind of mean they were simply completely different videos, whereas I think of them as just updates or remasterings (there may be one exception down the line, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it).

(Also, I had to try to recreate the title animation by hand, since that particular ‘style’ doesn’t exist on Final Cut).

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